The Most Important Things I Learned From Oren Klaff
I got to work in the same office as Oren. I would shadow him on calls, negotiate contracts, and create pitch narratives. I would also get to do a lot of the heavy lifting when clients would come on-site for working sessions with Oren.
Our focus was on developing pitch narratives. Typically, these narratives would be used as the backbone of all sales, marketing, and messaging for raising capital.
Once these company narratives were refined, entrepreneurs and salespeople would integrate this messaging into their pitch (typically in capital raising and B2B sales environments).
Twice a year, we hosted events where dozens of people would come out to refine their pitches.
Needless to say, we got to work with companies from all over who were focused on any and every industry imaginable. This made the work engaging. New problems. New solutions. New value propositions. Lots of ideas (big, small, and everything in between).
This was not the traditional investment banking experience. Far from it. I was 100 yards from the ocean in Carlsbad California. No NYC traffic, and no suit and tie.
I got to learn the ins and outs of how the best narratives are structured.
Right now, I’m looking forward to sharing some of my notes from my experience working with Oren Klaff.
Oren’s First Book – An Instant Cult Classic
Pitch Anything has sold over 1M copies globally. It’s been translated into dozens of languages, and it’s how I found Oren in the first place. This book gave me insights and perspectives that really helped me take what I learned from Tony Robbins, and apply it.
Before I dive into a brief summary of Oren’s book Pitch Anything, I want to give you some context that can help you better understand Oren’s teachings. .
Oren’s 3 Things To Always Remember
- People want what they can’t have.
- People chase what moves away from them.
- People value that which they pay for.
Oren’s 6 Pitching Flaws
- Too much talking.
- Too vague / fuzzy.
- Too much neediness.
- Going too slow.
- Too familiar to other pitches.
- No frame to provide context.
Oren’s Rules of Thumb
Before we dive into some of Oren’s deeper content, I wanted to list out some of the thoughts and sayings he had that really helped me better apply his concepts.
- Only speak for as long as you can be compelling.
- How we’re told to sell is the opposite of how buyers like to buy.
- Cognitive psychology says that the span of human attention is 20 minutes.
- If you fail to control the social frame, you’ve probably already lost the deal.
- “You can have price or you can have terms, but you can’t have both.”
- Establish your ability to reframe competitors as the “last generation.”
- Stop thanking people for their time.
- “If it sounds rehearsed, you haven’t rehearsed it enough.”
- We don’t have a narrative until we have conflict.
- “RAISE THE STAKES – SHOW THEM HOW WINTER IS COMING!!!”
- Until someone believes what you do is hard to do, they won’t buy.
- The company narrative needs to be tied to the financial model.
- By packaging the information properly, you’re actually doing the investor a favor.
- “People don’t just pay with money, they pay with attention.”
- People in today’s world want edutainment (or educational entertainment).
- People don’t want things, they want the excitement of getting them.
- Don’t seek to understand what status you have. Build your status up.
- If you’re just sending information, don’t waste your time doing it in person.
- People need a frame and a narrative to understand something through.
- You have to understand the value you bring to the equation.
- The first law of randomness… There is randomness.
- Give people a glimpse into something that they’re not allowed to have.
- There are thousands of investors, but only one you.
- In your pitch, introduce the problem first… ALWAYS!!!!
- Introduce why the obvious choice is going to lead to problems.
- “You’re pitching to communicate authority, establish status, and create desire.”
- Recognize them socially before you recognize them intellectually.
- Bad board members, advisors, and investors can kill companies.
- “Pitching is my art form, and I don’t like to see people performing this art badly.”
- When it comes to the presentation, the fewer slides (and words) the better.
- Life is about resources, and in order to get resources someone has to vote for you!
- At first, don’t talk about how great your company is, talk about an idea worthy of discussion.
- Once we have something, having it has no value. It’s the experience of acquiring it that gives us a lift.
- “If you can pull back the curtain and show people the dynamics of the social environment that they live in, then they’re hooked.”
- “We need the investor thinking: this is new, novel, interesting, high stakes, economic in nature, but I don’t know the outcome, so I have to pay attention!”
So, now that we have a little bit of context, here is a brief summary of Oren’s bestselling book, Pitch Anything.
Pitch Anything – An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal
By: Oren Klaff
The Strong Method
Oren uses the acronym STRONG to show the process of a pitch.
- Setting the frame.
- Telling the story.
- Revealing the intrigue.
- Offering the prize.
- Nailing the hook point.
- Getting a decision.
A frame is a cognitive shortcut that people use to make sense of complex information. It creates a boundary, or perspective through which the whole picture is viewed. We all use frames in our daily lives. Each encounter we have with another brings about a new frame, and no two frames can coexist at the same time and place.
This is similar to emotions. You can feel gratitude or suffering; but neither at the same time. Conflicting frames (like emotions) crash into each other, and one inevitably gains control. The stronger frame not only absorbs the weaker frame but also governs the social interaction.
In every interaction, someone owns the frame, which means the others are being frame controlled. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re explaining your power, position, leverage, or authority; you do not hold the stronger frame.
Here are a few examples of frames:
- The Power Frame – Characterized by defiance and light humor. People that hold this frame are defiant and funny at the same time. The opposing person is pleasantly challenged, and intuitively knows they’re in the presence of a professional.
- The Time Frame – When people are tuning out, the answer is NOT to talk faster and shove more information down people’s throats. If someone tells you they only have 10 minutes, break their time frame with a stronger prize frame.
- The Intrigue Frame – You determine the rules under which the game is played. People will stop paying attention if they feel like they understand what they need to. If your target is drilling you on the technical material, break their frame by telling them a brief story.
The story must:
- Be brief and relevant to your pitch.
- Have the center of the story be YOU.
- Involve risk, danger, and uncertainty.
- Involve time pressure (there are consequences if action isn’t taken NOW).
- Involve tension (you’re being blocked by some force).
- Involve serious consequences if you fail.
When you’re pitching investors, the number one question you’re trying to answer is “are you the right investor for me?” It’s not the other way around. Money is everywhere. Investors know they are a commodity. The sooner you realize that the sooner you will control the frame.
- The Prizing Frame – is a way to deal with quickly approaching frames that are likely to push you toward a lower status. If you’re trying to win the respect and attention of your target, they become the prize. If they’re trying to win your attention and respect, you’re the prize. Prizing is the sum of all the actions taken to get the target to understand that they are the commodity, and you are the prize. Money is never a prize, it is a commodity.
Oren says that the most powerful frame is the moral authority frame. More on that later.
Attention is given when the originality and novelty of information is high, and lost when the novelty is low. Attention is given when a person is feeling both desire and tension. This comes down to 2 neurotransmitters in the brain: dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter for desire. Norepinephrine is the neurotransmitter for tension. And together, they add up to attention.
To increase dopamine and create desire – offer a reward. To increase norepinephrine and create tension – take something away. Dopamine isn’t the chemical of experiencing pleasure, it’s the chemical of anticipating reward.
Our brain is stimulated by novelty and surprise because our world is fundamentally unpredictable. You can create novelty by violating the target’s expectations in a pleasing way. The dopamine must be just right:
- Not enough and there’s no interest.
- Too much and there is fear or anxiety.
The Push/Pull Pattern
- Push: “There’s a real possibility that we might not be the right fit for each other.” [Pause and let the authenticity of your push sink in.]
- Pull: “But then again, if this did work out, our forces could combine into something great.”
Pushing and pulling, when operating simultaneously and correctly, introduces just enough tension to create alertness.
Constant pulling is a hard sell, and showing customers a sign of neediness. Over-extending your pull can make your target cautious or anxious.
If you don’t create a series of challenges the target has to overcome (with pushes, pulls, and tension loops), then you most likely have a weak pitch narrative.
The Heart of the Pitch – Numbers & Projections
Experienced investors know that you’ll:
- Confess that your budgets are “conservative.”
- Prepare extremely aggressive and optimistic plans.
Hone your focus on budgeting, which is a talent in and of itself. Spend very little time projecting revenue. When working with companies – I look to overestimate costs and underestimate revenues (by a certain percentage). This lets me know that my projections are conservative.
Realize that all great narratives are tied to a financial story. Without great economics, your narrative is just a story. Or, as Oren would call it, “a nothing burger.”
I remember Oren saying this to clients all the time. “This is all bun, no meat.”
When he said that, what he was saying is that there is too much fluff, and the economics aren’t tied to the reasons why this is a good idea.
Is it easy for competitors to jump into your game? How easy is it for a customer to switch out your product with an alternative?
Balance mentioning competition as a means to validate the market, with differentiating from the competition by building a moat. Making sure you know that competition exists will ensure that you don’t look naive.
One of the tricks here is to frame all the competition as “old.”
In this next evolution of the industry… *THIS* is what matters most.
Identify whatever *THIS* is for your industry, and make it part of your value proposition.
What is the one thing that will give you power over your competition? Your “secret sauce” is the unfair advantage you have over others. This is commonly referred to as your unique selling proposition (USP), differentiator, or value proposition.
Later in this article, we will discuss how to separate “what it is” and “how it works” from “what makes you different.”
Paint The Picture
What will your audience receive as a result of working with you? What are the outcomes they can expect?
Keep it simple. The person you’re talking to needs to know what it is, who it’s for, who you compete with, and why you’re better. They need to be able to walk around the office and explain it.
Imagine playing the game of telephone. If it is easy to repeat, you can’t lose.
Frame Stacking and Hot Cognitions
We tend to like (or dislike) things before we know much about them. The decision to like something before you fully understand it is considered a ‘hot cognition’. Most decisions aren’t made from analysis, they’re made from our gut (which actually happens in the limbic brain: the area of the brain that has to do with trust and gut feelings).
The data collected is typically used to rationalize decisions after the fact. People tend to make decisions based on emotion and rationalize with logic. Tony also talks about this topic.
Hot Cognition 1: The Intrigue Frame
Introduce something the target wants, but can’t get right now. This is a narrative that a target will really enjoy. “Who is this guy and how do we meet him?”
What happened is a boring story. Who it happened to and how that person reacted is much more exciting. A narrative where you only witnessed something is boring.
Create a narrative where you (or your team) were forced into action and overcame obstacles. This helps people see your character. Investors want to see that you’re someone who rises to ANY level necessary in order to overcome obstacles.
Hot Cognition 2: The Prize Frame (Includes)
- I have one of the best deals on the market.
- I’m very picky about who I work with.
- It seems like we could possibly work together, but I need to know more about you.
- Asking for materials on the investor.
- I need to figure out if we would work well together and be great partners.
- What did your last business partners say about you?
- When things go sideways in a deal, how do you handle it?
- My existing partners are choosy.
*Personal Note – tread lightly on all of these, as you don’t want to come off as arrogant or conceited. If this frame is authentic, it’s powerful. If it’s a facade, you’ll look like a schmuck.
Hot Cognition 3: The Time Frame
Adding time pressure to decision-making reduces the quality of the decision. Our brains have “scarcity bias,” so the potential of losing a good deal triggers fear. Too much pressure feels forced. It’s important to find the proper balance between fairness and pressure. There needs to be realistic standards for pressure. Deals that go on forever never get done.
Hot Cognition 4: The Moral Authority Frame
The president makes decisions that affect millions. He wears the pants for the country. But, when his doctor says “turn around and take off your clothes,” he complies.
Moral Authority is the most powerful frame. It occurs when you have the right to do something because it’s the right thing to do. In this instance, wealth and expertise get thrown out the window.
Avoid saying things like:
- “Do you still think it’s a good deal?”
- “So, what do you think?”
- “We can sign a deal right away if you want us to.”
Trying to seek validation is the most lethal form of neediness. One way to eradicate neediness is to enter every interaction with a strong time frame (that you’re prepared to use). This frame tells others that you are needed somewhere else.
There are other ways to get rid of neediness.
The basic formula is:
- Want nothing.
- Focus only on the things you do well.
- Announce your intention to leave the social encounter.
The 3 rules of the Tao:
- Eliminate desires: It’s not necessary to want things. Sometimes we have to wait and let them come to us.
- Be excellent in the presence of others: Show people what you’re very good at.
- Withdraw: At a crucial moment when others are expecting you to come after them, pull away.
The 7-Step Process for Implementing The Methods From The Book Pitch Anything
Here are 7 steps to help you better integrate the teachings from Oren’s book. If you’d like, come back to this section later after you’ve read through the rest of the article.
- Learn to recognize beta traps and how to step around them.
- This is a low-risk way to train your mind to begin thinking in a frame-based way.
- As you go about life, look for signs of beta traps.
- Identify anything designed to control your behavior, and think of how you would step around it.
- The key at this stage is to get good at seeing the traps (they are everywhere).
- Remind yourself that if you step into a beta trap, the next one will be larger and more difficult to overcome.
- In a gradual way, start stepping around beta traps.
- It may feel uncomfortable at first, of course, but it will push you forward to the place where it becomes natural and hardly noticeable to you.
- Work with a partner to practice beta-trap avoidance.
- This method is powered by its simplicity.
- Oren has been practicing it for over 10 years, and he’s survived and prospered using only four basic frames and the ability to avoid beta traps.
- So don’t overcomplicate this or worry over your lack of technique. It will come naturally to you.
- Just be sure to have fun with it. That is the secret to success.
- Identify and label social frames.
- Notice the frames that are coming at you on every level of your life.
- Power frames, time frames, and analyst frames are everywhere, and they crash into you on a daily basis.
- Develop your ability to see them coming, describe them, and discuss them with your partner.
- Become very good at identifying frames using the unique language of framing. This is where some research can help you.
- Begin to initiate frame collisions with safe targets: people who pose no major career risk to you.
- Working with a partner, begin to overtake opposing frames in a fun, light-hearted way.
- Remember that humor and a soft touch are absolutely necessary. Without it, you will appear rude and arrogant and will trigger croc brain defense responses instead of engaging your target in a fun and spirited social exchange.
- The small acts of defiance and denial you use to take control of a social frame create a certain amount of conflict and tension.
- Start playing with Push/Pull to see how it works.
- Delivering these acts with a soft touch reassures the target’s croc brain that everything is okay – that there is no clear and present danger.
- If you are having difficulty at this stage, it is because you are triggering defensive responses, which means you are coming on too strong.
- If this is the case, pause.
- Don’t press forward if you are struggling because that means that something is wrong.
- Find another partner to do this with, choose a different social environment, practice in another venue, or just punch “Reset” and start over.
- Frame control cannot be forced because it takes the fun out of it.
- This is a game for your own personal enjoyment. For a moment, consider why we play games: to enjoy ourselves in a challenging but fair way where we can rack up a win.
- If you find yourself forcing the method, fortunately, this is an easy problem to fix. Simply lighten up a little.
- When you say something that causes a frame collision, do it with a twinkle in your eye and a smile in your heart.
- Your target will feel your goodwill and good humor and respond in a positive way.
- Above all, remember that this is not a conventional sales technique.
- You don’t need to be a back-slapping, blow-hard to win business from your customers.
- There is no pressure here on your end, no brute force, and no anxiety.
- Think of this as a fun game that you bring to every target with whom you meet.
- Simply enjoy every moment, and others will enjoy it with you.
- It’s nice to know that your continued happiness is what will make you successful. What could be easier?
- Work with other frame masters.
- Now that you have developed a basic level of skill, seek out others who are better than you.
- As with any other artistic or athletic endeavor, apprenticeship leads to mastery faster than going it alone.
- Continue to work with others.
- Like a 10th-degree black belt, you never stop refining your technique and honing your mastery.
- Keep it simple: stick to a few frames that work for you, and avoid complications.
- In the PITCH method, less really is more. No need to get too fancy. As you advance, teach others. It’ll help reinforce what you already know.
- When you become a framing master, and even on your journey to becoming one, you will have the most fun you’ve ever had.
- Why not have fun with this? This is a game where you set the rules and then change the rules as needed to maintain your continuous advantage without ever upsetting your opponent. Imagine that.
- The only rule is that you make the rules that others follow. Because you set the agenda and control the frame, this is a game you can never lose. It sounds fun because it is.
There were many details I surely missed, but that is a general overview. Understanding framing is important to contextualize some of my distinctions from Pitch Anything, and other teachings from Oren.
Now that you have a general understanding of the book Pitch Anything, I welcome you to the teachings of Oren Klaff.
All Stories Are Structured The Same Way
Here is every story of all time:
- First, we were here.
- Then, this happened.
- Now, we are here.
When we say things like: “then this happened,” most often we are talking about some type of pain or struggle.
All stories have to do with people that had to overcome some type of obstacle. After all, what is a story if there is no struggle?
Have you ever heard a story of some guy that never had any problems, won the lotto, and lived happily ever after? I didn’t think so.
That’s not a story that resonates because it’s not realistic.
Typically, stories have 2 main areas of focus:
- Character development
These two things drive the narrative of the story. You’ll notice these structures are ubiquitous throughout books, movies, TV shows, and the narratives you see on a company website or pitch deck.
You may notice narrative arcs like “the hero’s journey” is a story template that is structured around conflict and character development.
The bottom line is: find the problem. Make it big and really difficult to solve. Introduce dynamics that make the problem feel like it’s impossible to overcome.
Now, you have the beginnings of a great story.
The Structure of A Narrative Arc
It’s important that people understand the sequence of a narrative arc.
By and large, most (company) narratives are structured the same way because of how the human brain works.
Here are how narrative arcs are sequenced.
- The Big Idea – Make it intriguing & raise the stakes.
- Change – What is changing and why is the impact of that change important?
- Problem – Make it big and really difficult to solve.
- Generic Solution – Show that others exist, but they’re positioned differently.
- Solution – Use simple terms that anyone can understand.
- What “it” is.
- How “it” works. (How our solution works.)
- Value Proposition – What makes you unique? Draw out the implications.
- Use Cases / Case Studies – Provide real-world validation to create tangibility.
- Economics – Make sure you have an underlying financial story to support your value.
- Team – Show them the leaders who will be supporting the company’s evolution.
- Next Steps – Lead people to the next part of the process.
This was important to explain because this sequence directly aligns with the STRONG method that Oren talks about in Pitch Anything
A Discovery I Stumbled Into
During one of Oren’s events, I was standing up at the whiteboard with a small group of 6 entrepreneurs. We were discussing narrative arcs, and how to best structure them.
While teaching, I had a breakthrough that I would like to share with you now.
In Oren’s first book, he talks about the STRONG method.
- Setting the frame
- Telling the story
- Revealing the intrigue
- Offering the prize
- Nailing the hook point
- Getting a decision
Conversely, we talked about the sequence of a pitch in the section above.
Below, I show how the STRONG method perfectly correlates to the sequence of a narrative arc (big idea, change, problem, solution, value proposition, etc).
|Set the Frame||Big Idea – get an investor into the proper swim lane. Show them that you understand the social and economic dynamics of how your industry (and this world) works.|
|Tell the Story||Change – all stories are stories of… Change. First, it was “this,” then “this” happened, and now we’re here. This allows us to use framing so that we’re not competing with the whole market, only a small segment of it.|
|Reveal the Intrigue||Problem (and Generic Solution) – What’s intriguing to the human brain? Problems. no one cares what you do until you show them that what you do is hard. You have to solve a hard problem. The generic solution allows you to tee up your value stack vs the competition.|
|Offer the Prize||Solution – This is the simple, fact-based, section of the pitch that is delivered with a flat affect. It’s “what it is” and “how it works”.|
|Nail the Hook Point||Value Proposition – this is delivered with authentic tonality and strong voice inflection points. What makes you different? Here’s the time to solidify your position in the market.|
|Get the Deal||Assumptions – (Use cases, team, economics, etc). This section is showing average assumptions with an average team and average execution. Use frame stacking and good questions to enroll your prospect.|
Here is a graph that charts Oren’s STRONG Method with the narrative arc.
You’ll notice that the 2 axes that we used in this chart were time and attention.
As a rule of thumb, attention is always highest at the beginning of the meeting. After a meeting kicks off, it’s not uncommon for people to gradually drift off. This is why, as a rule of thumb, you want to start a meeting.
Your goal is to increase attention as time goes on, and gradually pull away at the end.
Kick the meeting off. Set the agenda. Control the frame. Keep the energy high!
Typically, as people talk, their status, and the attention of their audience, go down in tandem.
Oren’s solution to this is that people need to become aware of social cues. This creates context for frames, gaps, friction, bridges, and leverage.
This also ties in 2 of Oren’s main concepts from the bullet points at the beginning of this article:
- Only speak for as long as you can be compelling.
- The human attention span is 20 minutes.
Pitches should be created with these factors in mind.
Oren On Keeping It Simple
Oren would always use these funny analogies. He would say things like “no green bananas, only yellow bananas.”
This one hit home. “We want plain vanilla – no chocolate.”
Oren would say this as a means to remind people that overcomplicating your narrative creates a lot of problems:
- It makes your story difficult to understand and repeat (think of the game telephone).
- When people have a high cognitive load, they stick to what they know (which is not doing a deal with you).
This is a trap that many entrepreneurs and salespeople fall into. They want to make their company so different and unique, that the person sitting on the other side of the table has nothing to compare it to.
The need to over-differentiate yourself is in direct conflict with a customer’s or investor’s ability to repeat what you do to others.
If you want people to easily be able to repeat the problem you solve, your solution, and what makes you different: keep it simple.
Oren on Capital Raising
When you’re raising capital, no means NO. It’s binary. THE STAKES ARE HIGH!
Since you only get limited times at bat, results matter.
Asking someone for millions of dollars is the edge of the human experience.
Oren would consider this the highest-stakes and highest-pressure part of the business world.
You get one bite at the apple… one shot… one kill. Oren would use the analogy of spearfishing to help people understand. You either nail the fish, or it’s gone forever.
The high-stakes environment is what distinguishes a pitch from a sale.
No matter who is sitting on the other side of the table, you want them to think: “I am in the hands of a true professional.”
Stop Just Giving Information. Move Them Emotionally.
Oren would say: “Information has no convincing power. We need to stop just giving information in presentations.”
- information flows through the crocodile brain (all fear-based), then flows through the midbrain which is social.
- If it does not believe you are a high-status individual (or have the power to control the social environment) then the information won’t even get to the neocortex.
I’ll spend some time on the parts of the brain a little later.
The Job of The Pitch Is…
…to raise your status so high that the buyer will give you lots of attention. Give them new and novel ideas to get them excited. Deliver your information in a very short package, and then challenge them in some way. Make them prove to you that they are good enough to do business with you.
The pitch has very little to do with giving information. Or the product. Or the company.
You’re in the room together because the deal already makes sense. All you have to do is get it closed.
What is The Job of The First 5 Minutes?
You want the investor to think: ”It’s short, concise, and in the language that I use to talk to my peers. I’m learning new things at a fast pace, and I’m getting insight. This is great stuff. I don’t know who he is, I don’t even remember where this guy came from, but I love him, and I want him to stay here as long as he can.” This is the job of the first 5 minutes.
The job of the first 5 minutes is not to compliment some BS. It is not about spending time building fake rapport. Or talking about the weather.
Your job is to let the investor know that you have so much valuable Information packaged so well, that there’s going to be such a huge payoff just for getting them to sit down and pay attention.
The 20-Minute Rule
Oren would always talk about the billion-dollar infrastructure projects.
He would say that the billion-dollar bridge is sold in 20 minutes. It might take years to fulfill (finance, legal, contract, permitting, build out, etc), but the decision is made in 20 minutes.
If everyone at the table decides that this is a good deal (and that the economics are solid) then the desire to get the deal done happens in 20 minutes.
It doesn’t matter if the product is $10 or $10B. You have 20 minutes, then time for discussion.
Here is a breakdown of time:
- Within 5 minutes, the person has a good sense of if they want to buy it.
- Within 10 minutes, they have moved past the 50% judgment zone.
- Within 20 minutes, they know.
For those that feel overwhelmed by the idea of a 20-minute pitch, don’t sweat it.
Comics don’t start off with 20 minutes. They start off with 2.
The same thing with a pitch. Build it up minute by minute.
Once the onion is properly built, you can peel it back for investors and customers, layer by layer.
A Breakdown of the Human Brain
The human brain can be broadly broken down into the 3 categories, the neocortex, the midbrain, and the croc brain.
- Croc Brain (Survival) – Focuses on primal needs.
- Mid brain (social environment) – Focuses on relationships and feelings.
- Neocortex (cognitive functioning) – Smart, linguistic, capable of decision making.
In order to get to the part of the brain that writes a check (the neocortex), people have to get through the croc brain.
The crocodile brain is at the base of the brain stem. It’s asking questions like should I eat it, should I kill it, or should I mate with it?
It wants things with high contrast (good vs evil). This binary nature makes decision-making easy.
This part of the brain wants information fast and summarized. It wants information in a narrative format that is visual in nature.
The croc brain wants novel information. If the information is not new, and the person is not dangerous, you will be ignored.
Look at the croc brain as the door that opens you to the other parts of the brain.
The neocortex consumes the most amount of energy. This means that the neocortex doesn’t want any more information. “If I’ve ever seen it before, then don’t send it back to me.”
The midbrain, which controls our social and emotional systems, is asking itself, how important are you to the world I live in?
Dopamine is linked to desire, and desire is linked to freshness.
This means a high-status individual delivering a concise, fresh, simple, and financially profitable story can streamline the pitch process.
You have to ask yourself, how does the mind of the buyer want to get information?
It’s your responsibility to package the information properly. In this sense, you’re doing the person you’re talking to a favor.
Oren On Neediness
There’s a fundamental misunderstanding from people who are going to raise money.
Entrepreneurs view money as the prize to be won. This is a massive mistake.
Money is the most basic commodity ever. It’s abundant. It’s everywhere.
YOU ARE THE PRIZE! That’s the proper framing.
There are millions of people with millions of dollars.
There is only one of you.
Strategies That Create A Great Pitch:
- Brains pay attention to things in motion, so paint a picture of your idea moving from an old market to a new one.
- The more you talk about your background, the more average the target thinks you are. People average the information; they don’t add it up. Stick to the high-level points.
- Create intrigue by raising your status while giving people something new and novel.
Oren On Relevance
You can tell that you’re raising your relevance by providing insight. You’ll see this working if you can get them shaking their head, or taking a photo or screenshot of the slide. You want them to write something down, or whisper (or DM) someone. “That’s interesting. I’ve never thought about it that way.”
The better you know your buyer, the more relevant you can be to them.
One of Oren’s rules of thumb is, if you understand the needs / problems of the person you’re talking to, you talk first. This allows you to control the conversation (and ask the right questions).
Oren’s Advice To His Younger Self
- Finish what you start.
- ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD.
- A mile wide and an inch deep is a recipe for disaster.
- If there’s an easy way to do it, that’s exactly what I want to avoid. I want the hard way.
- A will finds a way – the long road.
- Finding help and accepting help early on is a big win.
- I believe none of what I hear and half of what I see. Don’t accept most advice, take it with a grain of salt.
- You can’t be ON 100% of the time.
- And for any 25-year-old that wants to do what Oren does. His advice is “get reps.”
- too much information consumes our attention. This is why we have to keep our framing TIGHT.
If you Only Have Time For A 6 Minute Pitch
- Open with an idea – not a product description.
- Put the problem before the solution.
- Use time constraints to create and maintain a control point.
Questions To Ask Yourself About An Investor?
- Do we like each other?
- Do we love each other?
- Can we turn this into a relationship instead of a transaction?
You want to get enough people in so that you get tell someone to get out if they’re not a fit.
At the end of 20 minutes, you want the investor to think:
- I love the value proposition
- I love the ROI
- Love the ideas
- Love the narrative format
Again, you want the investor thinking “This is new, novel, interesting, high stakes, and economic in nature. But, I don’t know the outcome, so I have to pay attention to understand more.”
At the end of your 20-minute pitch, throw the ball back in their court. “So now you can see what we have, and why we’re busy. Now we’d like to hear from you how this could work – in the context of what we just discussed.”
Now you have the investor pitching you. They will wing it, and they will do it poorly.
Understanding Their Process
As mentioned, how buyers buy is different than how sellers sell. The tough part is, every buyer buys a different way.
The reality is, they have a way of doing things, and you’re not going to change it. What you have to do is run their process in a way that makes them feel comfortable.
Typically, this is how buyers buy:
- They get an email that’s short, sweet, and easy to understand.
- They respond.
- Both parties agree to an introduction call.
- You give a short (6-minute) summary of what you have.
- Then, leave them alone.
- They like what you said, but they don’t have evidence. You give them evidence that what you said is true with the proper documents (PDF, excel, etc).
- Schedule a follow-up meeting.
It is your job to figure out their process.
You can’t change their process, but you can do it effectively, efficiently, better than anyone else, and in a way that is relatable to the audience. This let’s them know that they are in the hands of a professional.
Oren On Being on Stage
- If you’re up on stage and helping people understand some of the randomness that’s in their life, you’ve got their attention.
- If you can help people understand some of the randomness that’s in their life, you’ve got their attention. But, if you can further pull back the curtain and show people the dynamics of the social environment that they live in – then they’re hooked.
- Give them properly packaged information that they feel is usable at the time they receive it. A great pitch is a simple pitch.
One Of My Favorites From Oren
Oren has a lot of great stories and mnemonic devices. He has a very creative brain, so I found joy in hearing how his toolbelt of prose impacted others.
One of the reasons Oren does what he does is because he believes his profession is on the edge of the human experience.
The difference between selling and pitching is that when you sell, you continue to poke the fire over and over again with the same products.
But, when you pitch, you only get one pitch. One Shot. One opportunity. One bite at the apple. He’s working with people through the highest-stakes negotiating environments.
Asking someone for $50 million is beyond most people’s conception of “day-to-day work.”
But, in one way, shape, or form, this is what Oren and his team are doing (or what they are helping other people do).
Inevitably, at events and in interviews, people would ask him how he (or they) could overcome their fear. Oren operates in high-stakes environments, which means a lot is on the line, all the time.
Oren has a little quote that I found to be a casual way to reframe yourself in the context of your environment.
He would say. “It’s time for little crybaby Oren to go sit in the dugout. Big Oren is up to bat!”
This could be a form of self-talk, or something said out loud. But, the concept of moving the smaller version of yourself over to the side so that the bigger version of yourself can step up to the plate is a BEAUTIFUL concept.
Actors, singers, and performers have been doing a version of this for ages. They create an identity (or version of themselves) where anything is possible. Then, they walk on stage as THAT version of themselves.
So over the coming years, when the going might get tough, in your back pocket, you can remember”
“It’s time for little you to sit down. Big you is up to bat.”
And when you step up to the plate (metaphorically speaking of course), smile because you deserve to be swinging the bat. You earned the opportunity to be in the high-stakes environment you’re in.
Oren’s Terms and Conditions
The way Oren communicates is very specific. It’s direct. Articulate. And grande.
He may be one of the best storytellers I’ve ever personally met.
One of the ways he does this is by balancing his intensity.
Oren claims that you have to have humility and humor to execute the style he talks about in his books and at his events. The intensity is overbearing (or just weird) if there is no comedy to help with the intense rollercoaster of thoughts and emotions.
The minute people pattern match (or feel like they’ve seen this presentation before)… BOOM, they’re done.
Humor keeps people light and on their toes.
Solid Next Steps
Since Oren’s first book Pitch Anything, he has published a second book called Flip the Script. I have not personally read it, but I know Oren’s attention to detail, so I’m sure it’s A+.
If you’re looking to get a sense of Oren’s personality, I recommend that you watch his interviews on London Real. Each interview is 90+ minutes and dives into a lot of interesting content.
If you think his book and video content is interesting, then you will enjoy his in-person events.
Each year he hosts a 2-3 day event called Pitch Anything Vortex. This event is for entrepreneurs and salespeople who want to get better at pitching.
As someone who used to help Oren host these events, I can tell you they’re a great time.
What Makes Oren Great
When I worked with Tony Robbins, I saw his ability to ask thoughtful questions that got people to stumble upon the answers for themselves. Tony always said that “if he tells you the answer, he’s selling you. But if you come up with the answer yourself, you’re more likely to implement it.”
Tony mastered interventions by getting clear on the question stack that could lead to a positive outcome, interrupting someone’s pattern, and getting leverage.
But, the reality is, a lot of Tony’s work is grounded in ancient philosophy and practical psychology. He makes these concepts tangible and applicable to the everyday person.
But, Oren is built differently.
Yes, Oren’s concepts are grounded in frameworks like neuropsychology and economics.
But this man has come up with a whole new way to sell and pitch. It’s not the same old stuff (Sandler, Grant Cardone, etc). These are traditional sales techniques that have been taught for decades.
Oren proposes that you can sell by having a thorough understanding of your narrative arc and using frame control.
This article is only a sliver of Oren’s teachings. If you’re interested, I encourage you to dive deeper.