Archives for March 2014

Hone your pitch!

We all have a pitch to make.  It can be to a potential client or customer, a potential investor or in a social situation involving a new potential friend, etc.  The point is that all of these situations are about conveying information to one or more people to obtain a desired result.  So how is your pitch?

Here I am thinking of the professional pitch, not personal.  I am a mentor for an event named Fast Pitch, which has a big event in Tempe tonight ( – if you don’t know about this, you should.  Great non-profit ideas and innovations on display!).  The idea is to help executive directors of non-profits hone a three minute pitch to potential investors/donors.  Sounds easy, but it is not.

Just ask Julie Bank, the Executive Director of Ryan House ( – a fantastic charity you should consider for volunteer work and donations!).  She is my mentee in Fast Pitch.  It is hard work to come up with a pitch limited to three minutes, let alone your thirty second elevator speech.  Julie did great, was open to suggestions and constructive criticism and through her hard work, made the finals of Fast Pitch.  Was it easy?  No.  Was it worth it?  Most definitely because now not only can she win awards and money for Ryan House, but has a pitch she can use in the future.

So what should you do?  Work on a pitch by thinking of your audience and the message you want to convey.  Don’t make it too long or use words people generally won’t know the meaning of, i.e. dumb it down so whoever you are speaking to, no matter their knowledge on the subject you are conveying, will understand what you are saying.  By doing so you will avoid your audience thinking about what a word meant and missing the next part of what you are saying.

And practice, practice, practice, both alone and in front of other people.  Take constructive criticism.  And then see where your new pitch can lead you!

If you want to discuss the idea of a pitch, have the pitch reviewed or need someone to practice in front, let me know.  I am willing to help you or try to connect you with a good person to work with on your new pitch.

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Things Change Instantly; Adjust on the Fly

I wrote about change being constant earlier this year, but had an experience last week that reminded me of the importance of remembering this.

We all know this, especially parents. Me, “don’t do that, you could get hurt.” Kid, “but I didn’t get hurt.” Me, “but you could.”  We all had this conversation a thousand times growing up and, if you are a parent, you are on your way to saying it a thousand times.  I know because this conversation could have happened last week when, with many family members, including my parents, I was skiing (in an aggressive manner, as I have since I was a kid), got hurt and could have been the kid in the conversation instead of the parent with my own children.

Why does this matter? Because things can and do happen, fast, and usually when you do not see it coming.  And not only to kids or related to physical injury.  This applies to business, dealing with others, customers, clients.  The contact at your best client leaves the company or is being promoted to a different position.  Your competition suddenly is closing more sales, with prior customers of yours.  You’re a lawyer and your best client hires in-house counsel.  What do you do?

Panic?  Maybe for a minute.  But you better instead adjust and think fast.  Is it having the contact at your best client introduce you to their replacement?  Is it speaking with your former customer about what has changed and what you or your company can do differently to regain a competitive edge?  Is it inquiring of that good client what work will be kept in-house, what will be sent out and how you can be a part of it?  Who knows other than you have to come up with a new strategy and deal with the change or be left behind.  No action most likely will equal no results.

And remember that change brings opportunity, but you generally have to take actions to find it.

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Treat People How They Want to Be Treated; Treat Clients’ Money as if it Were Your Own

We all know the Golden Rule, treat others how you would like to be treated. But that is relative to you and your expectations.  Your expectations may not be the same as those of your clients or customers.

Instead, you should be practicing the Platinum Rule: Treat others the way they want to be treated.  This obviously is a big difference from the Golden Rule and keeps the expectations, goals and concerns of your clients or customers in mind.

Most of us have clients or customers who are individuals or local businesses/business owners.  We know who is writing the check to pay us, in my case legal fees and costs (not that it matters or you should treat the situation differently if the check is coming from a large company).  In some cases we may know a lot about their personal life and finances, or at least understand the amounts they are paying to us matter to them.  For me, I generally know the financial burden a lawsuit or other legal matter is placing on my client’s family or business.

Even when that isn’t the case and the client or customer can well afford the expenses being incurred with you or your business, they are not looking to pay for work that doesn’t directly benefit them.  Put yourself in your clients’ or customers’ shoes and make sure to think from their perspective, and how they want to be treated regarding options in proceeding and choices that affect costs. Treat their money as if it was your own.  A great way to do this is to listen fully when speaking with them.

If you do so, you will be off to a good start on managing your clients’ or customers’ expectations, treating them how they want to be treated and not spend their money in a manner that will come back to haunt you in the future.

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