“Remember, you’re a lot more interested in what you have to say than anyone else is.” –
Andy Rooney

Are you going into a meeting today to introduce an idea, request funding or propose a program?

Did you know its success depends on whether you get people’s eyebrows up in the first 60 seconds?

Sam Horn eyebrow test

Sam Horn's The Eyebrow Test®


People at many meetings are either jockeying to get THEIR idea heard – or they’re bored, distracted or just waiting for the meeting to be over so they can go back to work on the UPO’s (Unidentified Piled Objects) stacking up on their desk.

The good news is, you can test in advance whether your idea is going to get any traction.

Just ask a colleague for 60 seconds of their time.

Explain your idea/proposal/request to them . . . using the exact same 60 second opening you’ll use in the meeting.

Now, watch their eyebrows.

If their eyebrows are knit or furrowed, they’re puzzled. They didn’t get it.

And if they didn”t get it, you won’t get it.

Because confused people don’t ask for clarificaiton and they don’t say yes.

You want their eyebrows to go UP. That means they’re intrigued. They want to know more.

That means you just got your idea or request in their mental door.

If what you’re pitching gets their eyebrows up, good for you. That means, “Game’s on.”

If it doesn’t, back to the drawing board.

Or, as comedian George Carlin said, “What did we go back to before there were drawing boards?”

Want specific ways to win buy-in to what you’re proposing?

Email us at Sam@SamHorn.com with The Eyebrow Test® in the subject heading and we’ll send you three ways to get people’s eyebrows up in the first 60 seconds.

Or, purchase a copy of POP!

It has 25 innovative ways to create communication that quickly captures favorable attention from your target customers, investors and decision-makers, has been featured on MSNBC and in the NY Times and Washington Post. Sam’s keynote with these techniques has won raves from convention audiences around the world.

And subscribe to this blog if you’d like additional ways to craft intriguing openings that pass The Eyebrow Test® so people are motivated to give you their valuable time, mind and dime.

“The only danger is not to evolve.” – Jeff Bezoz, Amazon.com

How could I have known my whole approach to communication would evolve because of a petite powerhouse named Dr. Betty Siegel?

Here’s the back-story of how I came to believe our traditional, information-based way of communicating is outdated and sorely in need of being overhauled – and came up with a methodology for doing so.

Several years ago, I was asked to be on the closing panel of a major conference held over the holidays. Pulitzer Prize winners, astronauts, political leaders and Nobel physicists were on the panel and in attendance, so I was excited about this opportunity.

The challenge? I had two minutes max to share an intriguing epiphany with the group.

The night before the panel, I skipped the New Years’ celebration to work on my remarks. My son Andrew came back to our hotel room after midnight and found me still up. “Whazzup, Mom?”

“Well, I’ve got something to say, but I know it’s not special.”

“Do what you always tell me to do when my brain’s fried. Get up early in the morning and the ideas will come when you’re fresh.”

“Good advice, Andrew. Thanks.” I set the alarm for 6 am and went to bed.

The next morning, I went in search of some caffeine to kick-start my creativity. I turned around after getting my coffee and bumped into the aforementioned petite powerhouse who was wearing big red glasses. I smiled and said, “Happy New Year.”

She looked at me, eyes bright, and said, “Start to finish.”

I was instantly intrigued. “How did you come up with that great phrase?”

She said, “Want to sit for a spell and I’ll tell you?”

I had a decision to make. Was I supposed to go back to my room and work on my two minutes – or was Dr. Betty Siegel my two minutes?

Suffice it to say, I went with Betty (literally and figuratively).

Betty, President Emeritus of Kennesaw State University, is, quite simply, the best communicator I’ve ever known. She doesn’t tell, she shows. She introduces each idea with a vividly-told, real-life example so you see what she’s saying.

Our conversation not only yielded a fascinating story for my closing remarks and a rewarding friendship; it crystallized the following insight which has forever changed the way I communicate (and hopefully, the way you communicate too.) That insight is:

We live in a society stuffed with information; we’re suffering from info-besity.

We don’t want more information.

We want epiphanies.

And we don’t get epiphanies from wah-wah information.

We get epiphanies from real-life examples that cause the lights to go on and the band to play.

Vividly-told, put-you-in-the-scene examples have the power to turn wah-wah into aha.

As a result of that insight; I’ve developed something called The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule®.

The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® is an evolutionary approach for Socratically engaging people so they’re eager to hear what you have to say next. It “peoples your points” so they’re right-brain vs. strictly neck-up rhetoric (left-brain).

The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® creates two-way connection (the ultimate purpose of all communication) because people relate what they just heard to their situations so it applies to them.

The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® includes the 4 essential elements of communication – but in their proper order and proportion – and it works equally well for written and spoken communication.

The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® increases real-world results because people are motivated to do something differently . . . not because they have to; but because they want to.

When best-selling author Elmore Leonard keynoted our the Maui Writers Conference, an audience member asked, “Why do people like your books so much?”

He smiled and said, “I try to leave out the parts people skip.”

Simply stated, the 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® makes you a more compelling communicator because it helps you leave out the parts people skip.

Would you like to know how to capture and keep interest – from start to finish?

Check out my Win Buy-In and my 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® e-book TODAY so you can start using their disruptive techniques to make your information infinitely more intriguing.

Thanks to Duke Ellington for his insightful lyric that inspired the above title.

This is the final post in a 5-part series sharing some of the coaching tips given to Springboard Enterprises clients.

Part of the advice given was “If you want investors to care, you’ve got to show F.L.A.I.R.”

Many investors have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of pitches. After awhile, they all start to sound alike.

One way to stand out and get noticed and remembered – for all the right reasons – is to use R = Rhythm and Ryhme.

Tip 1. Duke was right. When you put things in a beat; you make them easy to repeat.

Hence the enduring popularity of such “earworm” ad slogans as:

“I Can’t Believe I Ate The W-h-o-l-e Thing” (Alka Seltzer)

and

“Takes a Licking and Keeps on Ticking” (Timex)

Chances are, you haven’t heard those jingles for years: yet you can still repeat them, word for word, in the same cadence you first heard them.

When I work with clients, one of our priorities is to create a proprietary phrase that pays that showcases their strongest selling point.

We work on saying it with “pause and punch” so anyone can repeat it, word for word, after hearing it once.

Tiip 2. Be sure to pause and punch when introducing yourself and when wrapping up.

When nervous, or when trying to jam a lot of material into a short amount of time, many speakers jumble their words together.

The consequence is people don’t “get” your name – which means they won’t be able to repeat it a minute, hour or week later – which means you’re out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Not good.

Put a pause between your first and last name (i.e., Sam – Horn) so each word is distinct and can be heard clearly.

Then, e – nun – ci – ate each syllable of your business name – and put a 3 beat pause between words – to make sure it’s imprinted and so people get it the first time.

For example, In – trigue . . . In – sti – tute.

This may sound petty or like I’m making a big deal out of nothing.

However, if people can’t repeat your name, they didn’t get your name . . . which means you won’t get their business.

Tip 3. Rhyme is sublime . . . because it helps you get remembered over time.

One of my favorite examples of this comes from the U.S. Government.

They were concerned years ago about the number of fatalities and injuries in car accidents so they invested a lot of money to create a public service campaign called “Buckle Up for Safety.”

Hmmm. Are you motivated to just run out and fasten your seat belt?

No one seemed to care and no one was inspired to change their behavior.

So, they went back to the drawing board. Or, as comedian George Carlin was famous for saying, “What did we go back to before there were drawing boards?”

This time, they put their slogan in a rhyme that had a distinctive beat. I bet you know what I’m talking about.

Yep, Click It or Ticket.

Not only did that phrase that pays catch on, it’s motivated people to buckle up and, as a result, the number of injuries and fatalities has decreased.

All this goes to prove that phrasing isn’t petty.

You can spend hours and thousands of dollars on fancy power point slides, bar charts and graphics.

But if you rush through your material and your audience can’t understand or remember anything you said – it will all be for naught.

Remember these 5 elements when preparing for and delivering your pitch . . .to increase the likelihood YOU’LL be top-of-mind at the end of a long day.

F = Fun. If you’re not having fun; they’re not having fun.

L = Link. Compare what you do to something with which they’re fond and familiar to fast-forward comprehnsion and buy-in.

A = Alliteration. It’s working for Java Jacket. Why not for you?

I = Inflection and In Your Body. Tower (vs. cower) and speak out – loud and clear – with downward inflection so you have the look and voice of authority.

R = Rhythm and Rhyme. Craft a phrase that pays and make it easy to repeat so you’re the one who gets remembered.

Want more tips on how to POP! your pitch, close the deal and get the money?

Check out POP! – which has been featured on MSNBC and in the New York Times and Washington Post – so the next time you present, you are confdient of your ability to intrigue and favorably impress everyone in the room.

Guy Kawasaki . . . Genius in Action Part 3,

By Sam Horn, The IntrigueExpert

This is the final post detailing the excellence in action that Guy Kawasaki demonstrated during his keynote for Ruth Stergiou’s Invent Your Future Conference in NoCA.

Guy Kawasaki Genius in Action Part 3, By Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert

Guy Kawasaki Genius in Action

Actually, there were many more things Guy did extraordinarily well . . . however these blog posts are already long enough.

Want to know what I suggest? Go see Guy in person if you have a chance.

I am a firm believer that our personal and professional impact is directly proportionate to our ability to communicate compellingly and convincingly.

If you’d like to turn no’s into yes’s – if you’d like to win buy-in from the people who have the power to scale your career, buy your products or services or support your message and mission – do yourself a favor and study great communicators like Guy (on the stage) and Seth Godin (on the page).

Then, adopt and adapt (don’t copy) their masterful approaches so you too know how to capture and keep everyone’s attention and respect – from start to finish.

7. Guy featured a kaleidoscopic mix of reference points.

“Let’s give em something to talk about.” – Bonnie Raitt

Hmmm. Let’s see.  Grateful Dead. Check. Steve Jobs. Check.

Personal examples. Professional examples. Check. Check.

United States anecdotes. International anecdotes. Yep.

Fortune 500 success stories. Small business success stories. Yep. Yep.

Some speakers commit the cardinal sin of focusing solely on a few “favorites.” sports. Kids. Corporate life. That leaves some people out. They may not like sports, don’t have kids or work for themselves.

Guy gave everyone something to “talk about.” By using a wide range of “demographically-correct” reference points, he made sure everyone felt included, honored and acknowledged.

The eclectic mix kept us eager for what’s next. Novelists call this a page-turner. The speaker equivalent is a “seat-edger,” as in, “We were on the edge of our seats the whole time.”

One of the most effective ways Guy modeled this was by using “pulled from the headlines” or “signs on the street” slides to prove his points.

For example, he mentioned he was just in New England checking out colleges with his kids. To illustrate how “disenchantment” can be caused by overcomplicating things, he popped up a Smartphone photo showing a sign from an Ivy League university campus that went into great detail on how to . . . (wait for it) cross the street.

Embedding his point in a recent, first-person story lent instant credibility to his case because it had currency. This isn’t
tired shtick – it just occurred yesterday or last week.

And he did this with EACH of his points – providing a “couldn’t see it coming” reference that explored the point in a compelling, convincing and creative way.

If you’re about to give a presentation, go back over your planned remarks. Double check that you have balanced gender, age, ethnic, work-life, geographic and industry diversity.

And, hold up a prop! Make it show not tell. Sharing an article from THAT day’s newspaper that’s relevant to your topic will charm your audience and turn “blah-blah-blah” into “rah-rah-rah.”

8. Guy was in his “Tony Bennett” zone.

“I have found if you love life, life will love you back.” – Arthur Rubenstein

Have you ever had the distinct privilege of seeing and hearing Tony Bennett in concert? If not, do yourself a favor and grab a ticket for his next concert in your area.

Tony Bennett is the consummate entertainer. Not just because he has a voice like “butta” and not just because he’s a great song stylist.

It’s because Tony Bennett LOVES HIS AUDIENCE . . . and isn’t afraid to show it. When singers (or speakers) love what they’re doing, we love ‘em back.

Tony may have sung I Left my Heart in San Francisco a thousand times but you’d never know it. He gifts each audience by singing that song as if for the first time.

What many speakers don’t understand is that our audiences will feel the way we feel.

We won’t have fun if you’re not having fun. If you’re not happy to be up there – we’re not happy to be down here.

We want speakers who welcome the opportunity to add value and who show up fully present with an unapologetic, unabashed personality.

Too many speakers dread speaking. I remember attending a book-author event in Washington, DC , where a famous actress who’d just written a memoir got up and said, “I rather be dead drunk in a gutter than standing up here speaking to you today.”

Yikes. How do you think that made us feel?

Guy brought his A game and his whole self to the party. Guy was in his body, in his element and in the moment. And when speakers invest themselves 100%– we feel lucky to be along for the ride – because it’s a great ride.

9. Guy replaced wah-wah information with real-world WWW stories.

“The world is not made up of atoms; it’s made up of stories.” – Muriel Rukeyser

Actually, as explained in a recent Newsweek cover story entitled Brain Freeze, the world is not made up of atoms; it’s
made up of information. And we’re drowning in it.

We don’t want more information. We want epiphanies.  And we don’t get epiphanies from wah-wah information. We get them from “WWW” stories” that vividly portray Who, Where and What was said.  WWW stories are pulled from real-life – NOT from the internet or from your colleague’s books.

If we wanted stories from the Internet or from your colleagues
books – we’d go online or go buy those other people’s books.

When you speak, we want to hear what you think, what you have experienced, what you have gleaned. And we want you to re-enact those lessons-learned so we’re in the room with you as they happened.

We want you to make your story our story by putting us in the story. You can do this by putting yourself back in the moment
and place it happened and describing:

WHO? Describe the individuals involved with specific physical and emotional details so we can SEE him or her in our mind’s
eye and know what’s going through their mind.

WHERE? Put us in the room, on the plane or in the pool (or as Nancy Duarte – author/speaker on Resonance
did so vividly in her keynote that day – put us on Half Dome). Make us a fly on the wall so we’re standing right next to you.

WHAT WAS SAID? Re-create and re-quote the dialogue so it’s as if it’s happening right NOW.

For example, Guy shared a story where he was speaking for a client in South America and realized, shortly before his talk, that he had a washing machine made by this manufacturer.

Understanding this was an “enchantment opportunity,” he quickly texted his sons and asked them to take a picture of the family washing machine and send it to him so he could incorporate it into his program.

Here’s where Guy got it right (yet again.)

Instead of just mentioning his sons sent him the photos – he put up a slide that showed the actual back and forth texting from his sons. He talked us through the chain of events and turned it into an unfolding mystery that brought it alive and brought it home. Guy’s message had the ring of truth – because it was true. Kudos.

10. Guy created the exquisite state of entrainment.

“What did the meditation teacher tell the hot dog vendor? Make me one with everything.” – poster in yoga studio

Have you ever experienced that lovely peak performance state of flow?

If you’re an athlete, maybe you were immersed in your golf, tennis or basketball game and played out of your head (literally and figuratively).

If you play an instrument, perhaps you lost yourself in the music and weren’t even aware of the passage of time.

If you’re an artist or author, the world slipped away and you were completely absorbed In your painting, dancing or writing.

That flow sate – when we are one with what we are doing – is also called “entrainment.”

And Guy created it. There was no shuffling in the seats. No checking of watches or email. We got swept up in his world.

Everyone who’s experienced this state of flow knows it is a powerful and persuasive high. Everyone was bliss-fully entrained– or as Guy calls it – enchanted.

As The Intrigue Expert and author of POP!, ConZentrate and Win Buy-In, I have studied the art and science of entrainment for the past 20 years.

What I have learned is that while we can’t force it, we can facilitate it.

The ten ingredients above all combine to create entrainment.

The good news is, you can too.

Yes, Guy is a master at what he does. The good news is that speaking eloquently and “intriguingly” is a skill that can be acquired. I know this because I’ve helped many entrepreneurs and executives create more compelling, convincing communications.

We can all get better at this because these are replicable steps.

Do you have a presentation coming up? Use these 10 points as a checklist while preparing your communication so your audience will be seat-edgers.

Get Anyone Intrigued in Anything in 60 Seconds

Get Anyone Intrigued in Anything in 60 Seconds

1. Have us at hello by leaving out the parts people skip.

2. Engage everyone’s head and heart with facts and feelings.

3. Condense your concepts into one-of-a-kind sound bites.

4. Have the courage to be counter-intuitive.

5. Honor your family, mentors and contributors.

6. Use the power of three to create oratorical flow.

7. Feature a kaleidoscopic mix of reference points.

8. Get in your “Tony Bennett” zone.

9. Replace wah-wah information with real-world WWW stories.

10. Create entrainment by getting in the flow.

If you do these things, your audience will care about what you care about. They’ll be engaged and enchanted from start to finish. You will have delivered substantive value and they’ll be more likely to buy into and act on your ideas and initiatives.

And isn’t that a primary reason we communicate?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert, and author of POP! and Win Buy-In, is an award-winning communication strategist who’s worked with clients including Cisco, Intel and NASA.

Her work has been featured on NPR, MSNBC, BusinessWeek.com and in Readers Digest, the Washington Post, New York Times and Investors Business Daily.

She helps people crystallize their strategic, signature message and get it out of their head and where it can make a positive difference for others and a profitable living for themselves. . www.SamHorn.com Sam@SamHorn.com

What did the meditation teacher say to the hot dog vendor? “Make me one with everything.”

Have you heard of the concept of “entrainment?”

When you “lose yourself” doing something you love, (whether that’s reading a great book or working in your garden), that’s the exquisite state of entrainment.

When you’re completely immersed in your sport and playing “out of your head” – that peak performance zone state is a form of entrainment.

When you spend hours happily engaged in your hobby and you’re not even aware of the passage of time, that’s entrainment.

As someone who’s earned her living as speaker/author for 20 years presenting to clients ranging from Intel to Cisco; I’ve studied the art and science of intrigue and have developed specific ways to “become one” with our listeners, readers and viewers.

See, one of our goals as a communicator is to establish this exquisite state of entrainment. And one of the best ways to do that is to re-enact real-life examples so they come alive.

People are yearning to be swept up. When we re-enact something important that happened to us, everyone is right there “with us.” They’re not just passively reading or hearing about it; they’re experiencing it as if they were there too.

For example, when I’m speaking about SerenDestiny and the importance of taking wise risks, I love to relive a memorable day at Hawaii’s famous North Shore.

I was living on Oahu at the time. My firend Leslie and I were both young, fit, and bold/brave enough to tackle Waimea Bay’s winter surf. (The inside waves – not the huge, 20 foot outside waves.)

Two Bodyboarding

Waimea Bay’s winter surf.


I don’t just tell my audience what happened. That would still be my story, not theirs.

I act it out so participants can see us standing on the sand watching the waves come in. I paint a vivid word picture so everyone in the room is in the scene and in the story. I re-create the dialogue . . .

“Leslie and I stood there with our boogie boards wondering, ‘Should we go in, shouldn’t we go in? Should we go in, shouldn’t we go in?

If we go in, we could have the time of our lives. We could also get tumbled around, inside out-upside down and deposited on the beach.

Thirty minutes later . . . we were still standing on the beach, ‘Should we, shouldn’t we? Should we, shouldn’t we?’

Leslie and I finally looked at each other, simultaneously nodded and said, ‘Let’s go in.’

We kicked as hard as we could to get out past the surf line and then bobbed in the water, gripping our boards, waiting for a suitable set. We knew once we committed, there’d be no turning back. You can’t tell a 6 foot wave, ‘Sorry, I changed my mind.’

We finally saw a wave we thought we could handle. We kicked, kicked, kicked to match the momentum of the wave and caught it at the same time. The swell lifted us up and shot us forward. Whoosh.

Aaahh . . . the thrill of cutting back and forth on the face of that powerful wave and riding it all the way in until we scraped our bellies on the beach. We looked at each other, grinning from ear to ear, and decided to go back out again for another ride, another shot of adrenalin.

Later that day on the drive home, we debriefed and both realized . . . we never would have had this exhilerating experience if we’d stayed on the beach, wondering, “Should we, shouldn’t we?”

I then ask the audience, “What is something you’ve always wanted to do? Write a book, start your own business, get your pilot’s license? Are you standing on the beach going, ‘Should I, Shouldn’t I?’

You’ll never know standing on the beach. Go in!

I’m not suggesting we wade into 20 foot waves. I’m suggesting we take the first step towards making our dream a reality – we initiate one action that will move us closer to writing that book, starting the business or getting our license to fly.”

Soren Kierkegaard said, “We always experience anxiety whenever we confront the potential of our own development.”

We are not here to play it safe. We are here to appreciate and act on the opportunities of life. Do what makes you anxious. Don’t do what makes you depressed.

What’s something you’ve been wanting to do? Ask someone out? Train for a mini-triathlon? Go back to college to get a different degree?

As Hue Wheldon said, “The crime is not to avoid failure. The crime is not to give triumph a chance.”

Give triumph a chance . . . today. You won’t regret going in, you’ll only regret not going in.”

Break, break (as pilots say when they want to change the topic.)

Are you wondering, “And how does this relate to entrainment?”

I frequently get emails from people who tell me about a dream they’ve realized because they remembered that “Should I, shouldn’t I?” story and decided to “go in” instead of standing on the beach and letting their doubts get the best of them.

When are you speaking next? What article, blog or chapter will you be writing next?

If you want to win over your audience – and if you want a long tail of positive influence – identify a real-life example that is original to you, that illustrates your point, that is on-topic and that is relevant for your readers/listeners.

Put yourself back in the scene and re-enact what happened so you put everyone in the story and establish that state of entrainment where your readers or listeners are right there with you.

When everyone feels “one” with you and your message, you will have connected. And isn’t that the ultimate goal of all communication?

If you’re preparing a presentation or writing a book and would like to work with Sam to create a state of entrainment to win buy-in to your message, mission, cause, company; contact us at Sam@SamHorn.com

One of the best conferences I’ve ever attended was BIF-6, held in Providence, RI and hosted by Saul Kaplan of the Business Innovation Factory.

was BIF-6, held in Providence, RI and hosted by Saul Kaplan of the Business Innovation Factory.

Saul Kaplan of the Business Innovation Factory.


Saul and his team collect an eclectic mix of pioneering thought leaders ranging from Tony Hsieh of Zappos to Alan Webber, co-founder of Fast Company, Jason Fried of Rework and Keith Yamashita, who believes many of us “fritter away our greatness.”

Each presented a TED-like 18 minute presentation introducing their latest invention or insight.

I was on the edge of my seat the entire two days.

There was a recurring, underlying theme to each presentation. These visionaries had either:

A) seen something wrong and thought, “Someone should DO something about this. After being bothered about it for awhile, they finally concluded, “I’m as much a someone as anyone. I’LL do something about this.”

B) witnessed something that wasn’t what it could be. They thought, “It doesn’t have to be that way. There’s got to be a better way. An easier, greener, more satisfying, profitable way. And I’m going to come up with that way.”

I’ll be featuring some of their intriguing stories in upcoming blogs.

For now, I want to share the opening of the individual who did the best job at winning buy-in the first 60 seconds.

Are you wondering, “Was this someone who’s given hundreds of presentations, who’s done lots of media?”

Nope. The person who had us at hello was a surprise.

She walked to the center of the stage, centered herself (literally and figuratively) and stood tall and confident until everyone in the room gave her their undivided attention.

Then, flashing a playful grin, she said, “I know what you’re thinking.”

Long pause.

“What can a 7th grader possibly teach me about innovation?!”

Big smile.

“Well, we 7th graders know a thing or two. Like,” and here she spoofed herself, “how to flip our hair.” At this point, she tossed her long hair over her shoulder.

The crowd laughed, (with her, not at her). Everyone was instantly engaged and impressed with this young woman’s moxie and presence.

“We also know we have the power to make things better if we put our minds to it. For example . . . ” and she was off and running.

12 year old Cassandra Lin had us at hello.

12 year old Cassandra Lin had us at hello.

12 year old Cassandra Lin had us at hello.

The Cliff Notes version of her story is that she and her class discovered the clogged sewer pipes in their city were the verge of causing a disaster because so many restaurants and industrial companies were pouring their F.O.G (Fat, Oil, Grease) down the closest drain.

After doing some resarch, she and her classmates started T.G.I.F – Turn Grease into Fuel – an award-winning recycling effort that generates money for needy families.

You can find out more about her brilliant social entrepreneurialism in the BIF-6 Summit Book and also find out how to register for this year’s BIF-7 summit.
Why did Cassandra have us in the palm of her hand in 60 seconds?

She anticipated what her audience might be thinking – and said it first.

She anticipated these successful executives and entrepreneurs might be a bit skeptical that a 12 year old could have anything valuable to contribute – so she addressed it and neutralized it up front.

She established instant credibility and earned the respect of everyone in the room.

How about you? Are you giving a presentation in the near future? Who are your decision-makers? Will they have their mental arms crossed?

If so, SAY WHAT THEY’RE THINKING.

If you don’t voice what’s on their mind, they won’t be listening. They’ll be resisting everything you say.

For example, if they’re thinking, “I can’t believe you’re asking for money. We don’t have any left in our budget” . . . then guess what your first words better be?

That’s right. “You may be thinking I’m crazy coming in here and asking for money because we don’t have any left in our budget . . . and if I can have your attention for the next three minutes, I can show you where we’re going to find this money and how we’re going to make it back, and more, in the first three months.”

Now you have your audience at hello . . . and now your idea has a chance.

During a recent Win Buy-In: Get Anyone Intrigued in Anything in 60 Seconds workshop I gave in Europe, a participant raised his hand and asked, “What can we do if we anticipate our decision-maker is going to say no? Do you have a way to turn that into a yes?”

“Certainly. What do you have in mind?”

“Well, my son is on a traveling soccer team. We just hired a professional player to coach his team and we need to raise money for his salary.”

“So, how are you planning to do that?’

“Well, we’re going to approach our local bookstore, but we know the owner gets hit up for donations all the time.”

“Good for you. You’re already half way to winning buy-in because you’ve already put yourself in the shoes of your decision-maker and read his mind.”

Sam Horn Turn No into Yes

Make it easy for him to say yes.


“What do you mean?”

“Ironically, the key to getting a yes is to ask yourself, ‘Why will they say no?”

“Why is that so important?”

“If you don’t voice your decision-makers’ objections right at the start, they won’t be listening to you – they’ll just be waiting for you to stop talking so they can tell you why this won’t work.”

“How can I do that in this situation?”

“Let’s read the mind of this bookseller. The good news is, I know this industry pretty well because I Emceed the Maui Writers Conference for 17 years (MWC was to the publishing industry what Cannes is to the film industry). I know how booksellers think and what’s important to them.”

He said, “Ok, how do they think and what’s important to them?

“What’s important to every retail business owner – whether that’s a bookstore, dry cleaner, florist or restaurant – is having paying customers onsite or online buying their services and products.

What they don’t like is people taking up their valuable work time asking them for money without offering something in return.”

“That makes sense. How do I do that?”

“Here’s how. When you walk into the store, wait until the owner is finished taking care of paying customers so you’re not pulling him away from his #1 priority.

Then, make sure the first words out of your mouth are, “I know you’re busy, and may I have 3 minutes of your time?”

“Three minutes?!”

Three minutes of your time?

Three minutes of your time?

“Yes, putting a time parameter around your request immediately lets the owner know you’re aware of his busy schedule. It increases the likelihood he’ll give you his time of day.”

“Then what?”

“Use the magic words, ‘I can only imagine . . . ‘ as in “I can only imagine how many times you get asked for donations by local organizations.”

“What does that do?”

“He’s probably too polite to mention it, but it lets him know you know the school band, scout troop and local charities are constantly asking for donations.

It shows you’re not just thinking of what you want, you’re empathizing with what it must be like to be put in this challenging situation where he’s pressured to give to every worthy cause that walks in his door.”

“What do I say next?”

“Immediately jump in to how you’re going to make this a win for him. Say, ‘So I’d like to propose an event that draws people to your store, boosts your sales and gives you lots of positive press.”

The participant smiled and said, “That probably would get his interest.”

“You’re right. It at least motivates him to keep listening because this time-sensitive approach is so rare and welcome.

Then say, “I’d be glad to arrange for a professional soccer player who’s written a successful book to appear at your store on the day of your choice for a book signing/mini-seminar. In fact, in exchange for becoming a financial sponsor for our youth soccer team, we’d be glad to put your logo on our team jerseys.”

Soccer Pro book signing, good for the Pro and good for the store. -sam horn

Soccer Pro book signing

The participant asked, “What if he isn’t convinced?

Anything else I can do to turn a potential no into a yes?”

“Yes, continue to put yourself in his shoes. Ask yourself, ‘What matters to him? What else would make it easy for him to say yes?’ Chances are, asking these questions will help you think of even more ways to make it a double win.”

The participant thought for a moment and then said, “I know. My friend is a reporter for the local paper. We could ask her to interview the soccer pro and cover this event so the bookseller gets lots of publicity. He could put the clipping up in his store to show how he supports his community.”

“Great, but don’t stop there. Keep brainstorming. Anything else?”

His eyes lit up. “Yah. One of our team parents owns his own internet marketing company. I bet he’d be glad to blog about this and promote it to his social media network so even more people are aware of it and show up.”

“Good idea. That will put even more ‘cheeks in the seats.’ Keep thinking, because the more ways you can make this a win for him, the more likely he is to say yes.

For example, if one of your team parents is a good photographer, you can sweeten the pot by saying you’d be happy to arrange for someone to take photos of the soccer pro with customers in front of the bookstore’s logo for $5 a pop. That money will go toward the soccer team, making it even more of a successful fund-raiser . . . plus, it would give the bookseller a long tail of good will because those photos will stay on people’s refrigerators for a long, long time.

Notice, all of the above actions benefit the bookseller and your son’s team. That’s the beauty of this approach. When you create a win for everyone involved; you’re more likely to get a yes.”

Want more ways to quickly win buy-in to a priority project?

Contact us at Cheri@SamHorn for details on Sam Horn’s upcoming teleseminar on Win Buy-In: Get Anyone Intrigued in Anything . . . in 60 Seconds.