It’s All About the Pitch, Baby

<This Article originally appeared on dreamerdoers.me>

What do a platform connecting Brazilian jui jitsu fighters, genital icepacks, a roommate matchmaking service and an interior design firm have in common?

A lot, actually. Their drive, passion and willingness to help their fellow entrepreneur aside, the owners of these businesses, and over 100 more business owners, side hustlers and dreamers convened at the Dreamers//Doers “Making it Happen Soiree with Kelly Hoey” last week at General Assembly.

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Part of the impressive crowd; image courtesy of Kelly Hoey

And what a soiree it was.

We got an intimate peek into Kelly’s views on everything from saying “no” to pitching investors and the media. I typed, court stenographer style, while taking it all in and thinking of real life applications for my and my friends’ and DDers’ businesses. I looked down at one point and had four pages of single spaced notes of juicy goodness to share with ya’ll- and we were only halfway into the talk. So, fellow Dreamers and Doers, without further ado, the key takeaways:

Self-Awareness: Kelly talked about how self-awareness is a key component of success as a startup. She said- and this is pretty verbatim, because I really could have a third career as the aforementioned court stenographer,- “Understand yourself and when you work at your best. Where do you perform at your highest and best and remember those moments…[It’s about] knowing what you’re good at and want to do, and then putting yourself in the position to go get it.”

Aptly put, I’d say, wouldn’t you? A lot of times we slog through something that isn’t our true calling because we feel like we ‘have to’ or we’ve already started it and put a lot of time into it, so stopping now would be failure. It’s actually the opposite, according to Kelly and the guys and gals at 37 Signals behind the book Rework. Get out there, and scream from the rooftops what you can do and how you can help and get in there. Kelly’s version of this was quitting her job as a corporate lawyer to help launch the global women’s professional network started by the woman of Goldman Sachs (85 Broads) and now helmed by Sally Krawcheck, Ellevate Network.

Personal Brand is Queen: Your LinkedIn profile is your pitch. Your Facebook page is your pitch. Your headshot is your pitch. Your handshake is your pitch. Basically, if you don’t have a presence online (and offline), it’s being defined for you – and probably by your competitors. There can be no disconnect between all of those things- and they have to be moving in the same direction to make sense to the big, bad world out there.

Dreamers//Doers Co-Founder Gesche Wai-Yi Haas then pulled out her interviewing hat and asked a series of important and impactful questions on pitching the media and investors. I’m including a redacted version here so you can find what you need easily:

Q: What Makes A Really Good Pitch?

A: A pitch deck is a really good idea because it allows you to distill your thoughts down and get specific in terms of what you’re doing and what your value proposition is. It’s also a good exercise in terms of ‘why you want it’ and the ever-important, “What’s the problem and how do you solve it?” question-duo.
But the best pitches- and Kelly has seen tons of pitches- are for the startups that have researched the audiences they are in front of. There’s a difference between pitches for, say, Y-combinator and actually sitting across from Gene Sullivan or Kathy Utecht. It’s knowing that audience and prepping for that context. In addition to solving the great problems of the world, why do you want to solve itwith them?

 

Q: How can you actually prep for a specific meeting?

A: Answer the question, “Who is this individual that will be sitting in front of me?” Check out the websites or LinkedIn profiles of the people you want to pitch. Joanne Wilson, for example, is transparent on how to reach her and what to give her in advance of the pitch. Kelly said this was essentially a low-hanging fruit kind of approach- you wouldn’t believe how many people don’t pay attention to that or research it in the first place to know this vital information.

Q: What are some common pitch mistakes?

A: Rehearsing your pitch so much that you feel you HAVE to stick to it is a mistake. You need to be able to pitch through tech snafus and distractions like babies crying or phones ringing. If you are the founder of your startup, you need to know EVERYTHING. Kelly said that female founders get “universally crucified” for not knowing their numbers and projections. Even if you have someone doing this on the daily for you, you gotta know it too. Anyone who is a non-technical founder needs to speak the language. Your company’s technology is the underlying business. Kelly likened it to being the CEO of Ford and not knowing how cars are made.

Q: What are the differences between VC and Angel Investors?

A: It’s simple- angel investors are using their own money, so you need to treat it as if you’re spending your own money. VCs are raising money through limited partners (e.g pension plans, endowments), but it’s not their own money, which is also why they take huge risks because they have huge funds through which to spread the risk. They have a specific lifetime on the fund and have to return results to investors in that time period. So, you need to understand the differing underlying motivations and ask yourself, “Does this align with what I need?”

Q: What’s a good way to pitch your story to the media?

A: Well, according to Kelly, a bad way is to confuse the fact you exist with being a story.

This is the formula she laid out: 1) Is this news? 2) Tell me why this is a story/ what’s the angle/why are you the expert? 3) Why is this new news? It could be that you have a credible second day story, and that story is NOT “We do X too, cover us!” It has to be a new take on another story. Why are you the credible expert that I would use to be the source for a story? Oh, and remember that personal brand stuff from earlier? The media will look at your LinkedIn, so it all comes full circle- everything has to be rolling in the right direction on the personal brand front.

Q: How do you contact the media?

A: It depends on the journalist but consider the 24/7 news cycle- the “I want the news now” mentality. Journalists’ jobs are really hard now, so make it easier on them. Don’t make them ask you questions- tell THEM why this is news. Find the journalist’s twitter handle and follow them and engage them and retweet them. See what interests them and what they’re writing about so you can tailor your pitch appropriately. Keep track of this!

 And of course, my favorite part? Right before we moved into introductions to the group, Kelly pointed out that one of the best places to pitch yourself and raise awareness is in just these types of situations like the soiree. Stand up, say who you are, what you do and what you need help with. With a captive audience and a clear, concise spiel, it’s way more than likely that someone will come find you during open networking with help, a resource, an introduction or an idea.

 Jill Ozovek (CPC, ACC, ELI-MP)  is a Certified Professional Coach who works with millennial women on finding their dream job when all signs point to the impossible. Through highly tailored group work and one-on-one coaching sessions, Jill focuses on helping clients keep their career change and job hunt top of mind even when their busy lives try to dictate otherwise and she also helps clients uncover what it is they want to do with the rest of their career, even when they walk into their first session with no earthly idea. As a former hiring manager at a large event production company, she has extensive experience with crafting resumes that will get you noticed, writing targeted cover letters to potential employers that clearly show why you’re the best fit for the position, using LinkedIn to your advantage, and navigating networking events. She also has extensive experience  helping clients in their transition to their new role that keeps them sane and doesn’t burn any bridges. She has a private coaching practice and recently launched her Career Chat N Chew Supper Club & the 30 Day Swift Kick in the Pants Career Change Program- info here. To sign up for a complimentary consult, clickhere. 

 

How to Take That Career Leap When You’re Scared Sh*tless

Let me be clear. I agree with Donald Trump on approximately -10% of his policies and ideas (yes, negative ten). So it’s a little (a lot) weird of me to invoke his response when Jimmy Fallon, dressed as Trump for a skit, asked him how he would do this-that-or-the-other when he became president. Trump’s response? “I’d just do it!”

And that, my friends, is how you take that career leap when you’re scared sh*tless! End of blog.

Ok I’m kidding, but only kind of. Yes, career leaps are complete switcharoos are scary and there is a lot to consider. And it can take some time! So I’m here to give you real life perspectives from clients past and present, taking their words nearly verbatim but with code names, to give you a little boost today:

Sally Ride: “I’ve been going back to our conversations and notes and themes over the last few sessions and it suddenly dawned on me. I started to think about what it’d be like, if later in life, I didn’t do what I was passionate about and instead stuck to marketing, which I hate but it pays well. I couldn’t live with that idea.”

Betty Draper: “I thought I would NEVER quit the 9-9 (you know, the new 9-5!) slog to pursue something I wanted to do. What about money? What about health insurance? What about a steady paycheck? I was terrified. But now I know that putting together this freelance life and building real relationships and getting to do work that actually matters to me is worth it. And the money and health insurance and stability will follow THAT, rather than the other way around.”

Susan B. Anthony: I used to go to tons of networking events in my desired field and sure, I’d learn a ton, but I figured no one of importance wanted to talk to me. Me with no experience in the field. However, I was getting nowhere. No bites. Applications in the ether. I was about to give up and go back to my old field because this was just too damn hard. But once I used the networking approach we talked about, got over myself and introduced myself to a mover and shaker, it was game over. I followed up and got an interview with her…in my dream field!

 

jay z

So a few pointers to start to get less terrified about a career change:

1. REALLY interrogate the reality of the situation. Some people tell me they’ve “tried absolutely everything and nothing is working so what’s the point let me just stay where I am AHHHH” Have you tried everything? Have you altered the approach at all to see what tweaks might work better than others? Have you talked to a mentor, coach or other non-biased 3rd party (read: not your mom) to get objective advice on how you could improve? Most importantly, are you OPEN to receiving such feedback? (In other words, pay attention to your level of defensiveness- that could be playing a role)

2. Get CLEAR on what you are willing to sacrifice. Changing careers is not a bed of roses a lot of times- at least at first. Start to think about what might take a backseat for awhile while you make this change. Is it possible? (Think: travel, hobbies, volunteer work, friends, investments, savings, etc). What options are at your disposal to make a career change that might result in a lower salary at first (e.g. moving in with roommates or to a new more affordable neighborhood, taking a part-time job doing easy work to make a few extra bucks, etc). If you are ok with these short and mid term sacrifices, you’re more ready for this than you think!

3. Ask yourself what’s the WORST that can happen?  I hear this a lot: “There’s a lot at stake with me changing careers.” I get it, we all have sh*t. You are not alone. When I decided to let go of a paying job and just make my own income, I pretty much emoji pooped my pants every day. I was getting so spastic that finally I sat myself down and said, “What’s the worst that can happen?” For me, it was “get another job in corporate America.” And then take it to the other extreme: What does going for this new life and new profession give me access to? “Ultimate freedom and a new adventure ever day” was my answer. What’s yours? Don’t cheat and answer both questions. Is it really so bad?

4. UNDERSTAND that it’s a journey (ie give yourself a break!). A new client just today told me that she spends a lot of time beating herself up over not making more progress in her dream field. I do that too! It’s a universal feeling, I think. But it’s one we need to be wary of. Think about how much of your time is spent in that mode and then think about the longer lasting effects of that. How was your energy throughout the rest of the day? Were you able to do anything productive on your dream that day or did you need to give it a rest for a few days after the breakdown? I’m by no means saying to not feel your feelings, but I’m more saying to pay attention to how they impact you. Beating yourself up could be the very thing causing your strategy to falter (see #1 above). I recommend keeping a little diary with you that you can jot notes down in whenever this comes up. Make it a habit for a month or two and then see how much of your mindspace over time is taken up by this kind of behavior.

So, after reading this, you’re ready to get out there and make a change right?! Ok maybe not quite yet, so while you’re contemplating these ideas, click here to get a free tool I developed to get you moving on your career change NOW. And then book some time to talk through this all here!

The Topic on Everyone’s Mind This Week

No, I’m not talking about the NYC Pizza Rat (although, gross). Nor am I talking about the 30 pound burrito challenge (although, intriguing).

I’m talking about balance. And before you roll your eyes and say, “That’s impossible,” or “What is she going on about now?” (said in a British accent), hear me out.

First of all, when I say ‘balance’, I don’t mean everything is hunky dory in all aspects of your life. Nor do I mean you are essentially holding a million balls in the air in perfect balance and the strain is killing you. A balanced life shouldn’t feel like a constant struggle. It shouldn’t feel like, “One wrong move and it all comes toppling down- dun dun dun!” It should feel….easy. (And no, not ALL the time, every SECOND, but overall.)

Why am I noticing this topic this week? 

1. It’s literally on every client’s mind. (OK not literally- that’s impossible). Every client I have spoken with so far this week and end of last week has mentioned balance in some way shape or form. Someone I just started working today pinpointed it as her #1 criteria / priority for her life.

2. Social media is abuzz over it. A colleague of mine posted this on Facebook: “Researching full-time jobs and am kind of flabbergasted by the number of companies that require nights, weekends, holidays, and even availability “in December and January with no special time off” (taken word for word out of a job description with a reputable brand). Why is zero work-life balance not only the norm but the standard now?”

49 people ‘liked’ it and there are about a dozen comments so far and counting.

Additionally, whole articles are being written on company culture at places like Google, Zappos and the like and how employee happiness and engagement is paramount.

3. There is a craving for this kind of personal or inner work and development. Whole companies are cropping up over it. (Check out Mindvalley Academy for one such group- maybe a great place to be EMPLOYED at, huh?)

So, with so much interest and intention around having a balanced life (which oftentimes seems to stem from having a balanced professional life rather than the other way around), why are there so many craptastic companies to work for and what can you do about it so you don’t end up at one of those?

1. Ask the right questions. I did this exercise with my 30 Day Bootcamp last week– think of culture questions to ask that are not, “So how’s the culture here?” Things like, “What’s the difference between a good employee in this role and a great one?” can give you a glimpse into whether the company’s values are aligned with yours. “How do you onboard new employees and how do you handle beginner mistakes?” could give you insight into how supportive a company culture is. Pro tip: “We don’t think people make beginner mistakes” or “We hope people don’t make them,” is not the answer you’re aimin’ for.

2. Research! Glassdoor is of course a great tool to see employee reviews, but not every company is on there slash getting feedback from a human you know or know through someone is better. Make sure you have specific questions before talking with someone. Also, know your parameters/non-negotiables before heading in. What will you or won’t you tolerate? Would the job description referenced in my colleague’s post above- long hours and weekends and holidays- be amenable to you? Get specific.

3. Know Your Narrative. Yes, yes, that pesky topic I keep talking about AGAIN. Know your story- where you’ve been and where you’re heading – so that you are only going for companies that are a match for your specific case. A lot of times we end up at crappy companies because it sorta relates, but not really or we’re not sure how it relates, and we don’t pay attention to red flags because we JUST WANNA JOB DAMMIT….you see how it can go. But knowing what you want, what you don’t want and how to craft questions to determine fit will go MILES and MILES toward you finding that balance. If you want to learn more about how we can work on your narrative together, go here. 

4. The Lever Approach. Lastly, let’s incorporate a little of the rest-of-your-life into this post. It’s the lever approach and one I started using recently, albeit a little late. I’ll give you a personal example to demonstrate.

For anyone looking at my life currently on paper, it’s insane. Lots of amazing work, clients, business opportunities- and that’s just work. Some family stuff is taking priority as well as my relationship with my partner. But I don’t feel insane overall. Yea, there are moments when I’m a little rushed, but I gotta say- they’re few and far between.

It’s because other levers in my life are dialed way down for now- namely personal development classes that I like to go to, social engagements and friends. They’ll be there when I’m back! (By the way, the first time i used this lever approach, it was tough to let go, but the benefits are so worth it that it’s easier and easier to do.)

So in closing, I’m not saying, “Follow this recipe and you’ll achieve nirvana and bliss!” but instead, play with some of the ideas above and see what works for you over time- and let me know how it goes!

Want to talk about any of this? Maybe a way to put some of this in motion for you? Sign up to chat for a brainstorm call here. 

 

 

I Think I Had an Epiphany Today

I think I had something of an epiphany/breakthrough moment today.

For the first time, I took something off my plate. As opposed to…adding yet another thing to it. And I feel relieved. I’ve always been a ‘I can get everything done’ kind of lady. And I mean everything- not just every last to-do item on my work list, but also sleep, exercise, eat right, meditate, keep up with news and trends in biz, pleasure read, do my hobbies, travel, be there for friends and family and cultivate a loving and lasting relationship with the person I love with all my heart.

(Whoa, I got a little tired writing out that paragraph.)

For as long as I can remember, friends and colleagues have commenting on my ‘efficiency’, ‘can do attitude’ and ‘ability to get it alllll done’. I used to wear it as a badge of honor, and I’d smile when I heard it or saw it on an annual review.

That isn’t working for me anymore, and I feel like this is a breakthrough not just for me, but can also help those of you reading this and my wonderful clients and peeps.

And I think, on this lovely fall Friday, it’s worth taking the time to step back from the go-go-go nature of life (I bet some of you can relate!), and provide the following “permission” for lack of a better word:

It’s OK to take something off your plate.

Phew, I said it. 

Life happens sometimes, and you work through it and with it with as much grace/calm/fortitude as you can cultivate, and you try your best not to view it as an epic uphill battle. (Old Jill= “OMG I’m MELTING! HELLLLLP!”; New Jill= something a little (ok, a lot) calmer and kinder to myself :) )

Starting a business or pulling the plug on a corporate paycheck or changing careers drastically- whatever it is you’re working through- is no easy task, as many people who’ve done it or are doing it know. And like I said, life does continue to happen no matter what kind of change you’re grappling with. So be a little kinder to yourself and a little more understanding and allow something to take a back seat for awhile. Only you know what that thing might be and the way to figure that out is to look at your priorities and why you’re placing priority on them. If it’s for anyone other than you, it’s time to shift focus.

“So, Jill, you said you’re ready to say ‘no’ to something, so what is that exactly? What is taking more of a front seat and what is taking more of a backseat for now?” Well, right now for me, family (blood relation and otherwise) is front and center, followed closely by my 1:1 clients. And certain business expansion initiatives are on hold for the time being as well as most social events.

It’s literally LITERALLY the first time I’ve said no. There will be others I am sure. It was a hard decision to make, because things have been going so well with my business and I’m feeling so fulfilled and happy with it, but now’s not the right time. And “muscling through” to just do it all anyway will un-align me in the long run, so it’s best to shut this ish down NOW. As as I’ve pondered this epiphany last night and this morning, I know it’s this new mindset is what’s going to keep me not only sane, but also will allow me to be the nice, caring individual I think I am when I’m at my best.

PHEW.

With that said, I’m off to go hang out with my sister from another mister and help her with her newborn, take her to lunch and maybe fold some baby clothes. And then I’m gonna go hang with my dad and go to a college football game, because he’s itching to go.

glo jillMe and aforementioned sister from another mister, evading an evil lurker at Storm King Sculpture Center

We can’t be our best career/professional selves without being our best selves first , so now it’s your turn: What will you take off your plate today? What do you want to make more room for? Leave a comment below or email me at jill@jillozovek.com to share (or ask for help prioritizing!). 

 

 

 

Totally Doable Job Tip of the Week: Getting Through the 3pm Hour

We all have that time of the day. It may not be 3pm, but it’s sure as heck sometime of the day, and you know it: it’s characterized by lethargy, maybe a headache/head explosion feeling or if it’s hot in my office, a lethal combination of the lethargic sweats. (TMI?) Also, with my pesky lil back issue, I sometimes feel like the C3PO, or another robot of your choice.

In other words, it ain’t pretty. And it ain’t really that healthy either.

So, what are ways you can take control of your least favorite or least productive working hour?

What’s included here is not some magic elixir I whipped up- although, LGS, wouldn’t that be nice?- but instead most likely some reminders for the brain-stretched among us:

Block out your calendar: Seriously, I do not allow calls or meetings at specific times of the day. It’s not selfish- it’s for the common good of those also involved in the meeting. If we wanna make the big moves like Jermaine Dupri in 1998, then it’d be a disservice to my peeps to show up and half-arse something.

Know your body: Is it hungry? Is it tired? Is your mind buzzing a million miles a minute? Get into the practice of checking in with yourself. My Alexander Technique and Mindfulness teacher, among other people, talks about a full body scan. Just now, I was nauseous and realized I had had too much coffee and not enough food, so I ate part of my healthy snacky stash. And that motivated me to write this blog. Since I needed a reminder and maybe some new ideas, I figured others might as well. Real time, Jill, at your service!

Go Away. Hopefully you work for a company that isn’t tracking your every move, or you work for yourself or you work from home or you work for a sane company. My point being, we’re not robots, so our break times and work flow is all different from one another. Go for a walk, get some frozen yogurt, go get some errands done, call your momma…these are all things I did during a brief 15 minute break during my 3pm slowdown time at my contract job I worked at while I was building my business. I came back refreshed and was more alert/able to contribute. Boom.

Boost Ya Brain: Is there a crossword that’s been in your bag for forever? Or a magazine article you almost finished on the train. Take it out and get your brain working in a different way than the ‘work way’. This was huge for me as I transitioned from my contract job working on events during the day to my evenings of building my biz (TOTTTTALLLY different mindset/skillset and my brain often hurt). Or, combine brain boosting with connectivity. Maybe you’re playing Words with Friends with your sister- get a dose of friendly banter and competition along with connectivity and brain fodder.

Take a Nap: Ok this one’s not always possible for many of us. But if you work at one of the increasing numbers of companies that have nap rooms or couches and the culture encourages it, do it. 15 minutes alone can boost how you feel for the rest of the day. I ran a morning workshop recently at 8am-10am, meaning I had to disrupt my normal sleep pattern to get my morning routine in there AND get to the place. So what did I do when I finished? I took a 25 minute nap and then had some of the most productive and sharp 2 hours of work in my life. It’s not lazy, it’s life changing.

What other tactics do you use to get through your toughest hour? What’s worked and what hasn’t? Leave some comments!