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Imagine you’re stuck in an elevator with the one person who could launch your business into the stratosphere. How do you convince them in two minutes about your lifetime of passion and hard work? What do you possibly say? In this special “Ask Us Anything” segment, Tom and Tracy Hazzard call upon their friend John Bolka of i3D Creatives/i3D Club to discuss special tips and tricks for pitching your business – and yourself. Whether it’s an investor or a mentor, these tips will help refine your ability to add value into any pitch and help grow your business.
Listen to the podcast here:
This is our Ask Us Anything segment, but we’re going to do something slightly different.
We’re approaching a little different because we have our Mentorship contest and we’ve been listening to pitches. We thought we were injecting either questions or tips or things that we may have come up with as we’re going through this process with our finalists all through to the episode when we make our announcement. John Bokla, our friend at i3D Creatives has been back and forth with us and we’ve been helping him focus his pitch for investors. He’s been doing so much of this pitching, he offered to coach our finalists for a quick little segment. They would Skype with him and he helped coach them through their pitch to be concise.
That is before they pitched to us, for us to decide who would be the winner.
He was helping to give them a little bit more focus. That’s a great mini-mentorship session. If you have an opportunity to do something like that, you should take advantage of it.
Most especially, if you’re getting ready to pitch your business idea to an investor or advisor.
The more rehearsal, the more practice you get, the more you hear from someone outside, especially someone who maybe doesn’t know you well, is always a good thing because are you coming across clear. Are you getting to the point fast enough? There are a bunch of things like that. We should throw it to John because he says something interesting at the beginning of our conversation. This is the clip.
It was great to talk to some of your finalists because they’re in an interesting position where they’re pitching to a mentor. I advise them to come into, similar to the way they would pitch to an investor because your time is valuable. That’s one thing that when you’re talking to mentors, you want to be able to add value to everyone in those three chains.
That was great because it is true. Our time is valuable. We’ve only listened to one so far. We’re about to have the other two. As we were listening, it was coming across that not only are we judging them on the viability of their business, but also on whether or not we connect with their goals and who they are. That’s an interesting analogy because I always hear from a lot of investors that they invest in what they know or who they like.
A lot of investors that I’ve talked to have the airport meeting mentality. If you are stuck at an airport meeting with this person for two hours, would you enjoy that time with them? Would you be okay with it? When you’re getting into an investment position, you’re creating a long-term relationship with someone else and personal relationships are very important even in the new technology world that we’re living in.
The other thing that’s an interesting thought about your mentor being invested in you is the idea, “I don’t want to bring on somebody who I don’t think can succeed because I don’t want to be a failure as a mentor either.” It’s no different than losing your money. You don’t want to lose your money, but I don’t want to lose my time and my reputation by investing time in someone as a mentor and have them fail.
That’s the advice that I would give to someone who’s seeking a mentor. Show them that you’re a go-getter. Show them that you’re going to take their advice. Show them that you’re passionate and that you care. You have the drive to do the thing that you’re saying that you want to do. The next time you sit down with them, outline what steps you took and what advice you listened to that they gave you. That will be you giving value back to the mentor. That’s what they’re often in it for to see someone who’s got passion and drive and that they can help.
That’s a good point, John. Even in this one pitch that we’ve had already from the finalists, I was struck by how passionate this individual was. He got an A for enthusiasm and drive for sure.
The interesting part, John, is that the three finalists had all reached out to us separately in some way, shape or form during the contest. One of them contacted us on Facebook, the other one sent a voicemail over SpeakPipe before the contest starts. They were all in our minds. When we read their pitches, we already had a sense of who they were by the questions they had previously asked us. Showing that passion was already there.
That’s exactly what you guys are outlining and I assume a big part of why you took them as finalists. They have that drive, that passion and that relationship that we’re tying back into where you guys feel like you know them. We like to do business with people we know, like and trust.
I hadn’t ever thought about pitching to a mentor in a similar way you would pitch to an investor, but it’s astute.
Our time is valuable and we are going to invest our time in someone. It is the same thing and you have to think about it like that. That’s a good point. Whenever you have an opportunity, whether you’re pitching investors or pitching a mentor, start making contacts, following up, doing everything that’s offered to you. If you’re participating in a contest and somebody offers to say, “You also have a chance to do this,” which is in this case, John Bokla’s great offer to give them a little pitch mentorship. You should take advantage of it because it demonstrates an extreme go-getter attitude, which is always important. This episode went lengthy with John, which we decided to use as a whole separate one. Next episode, we’re going to have John and we’re going to go over it. We’re going to talk about masterminds, mentors, investors and pitching all of those. I’ll be looking for the longer version of this. You just got a little tease of it, but there’s a bunch of great information.
It was a good conversation. It’s useful not only for entrepreneurs in the 3D printing industry, but any entrepreneur who’s starting in business or growing their business.
The thing about what happened there is that only one of our finalists took advantage of that. The interesting part of it was convenient and it’s hard.
A couple of them are from different countries and in very different time zones.
It’s hard to always take advantage of those things. You should try to do that because the more you can prove to a mentor that you are going to follow their advice and put it into action, then you’re not wasting their time.
Not only that, considering and preparing to talk to a mentor is like preparing to talk to an investor. That mentor’s time is valuable. You need to make sure that what you’re going to say to them is very focused so that they have your pitch down and they know how to help you. They can understand what you’re trying to do and they can think about how they can best help you and you make good use of that time.
Any negative things or barriers that come up to mind, if you hadn’t ever thought of that and you get into there and you’re like, “I don’t know, I’ve never come across that before.” It gives you a chance to have at least put thought into it even if you don’t have a solution. Now you have something to go to the mentor and say, “I know that this might be a problem, but this is where I need your help to solve it.” That’s a proactive way of turning a negative into a positive as to why you should be chosen.
Rehearsal cannot be undervalued because you need a mirror held up in front of you or your pitch to hone it.
We appreciate John’s offer of doing that. We have a cross-mentorship going back and forth with John, which is fun. It’s more of the model of the mastermind because we’re both in the same industry. We’re doing two different parts. It’s good to do that because as a mentor, you learn as much as from those that come to you for help as they do from you. It does inform your advice and your counsel and what you’re going to do.
It can also help your experience become a little more modern. A lot of mentors are older and have more experience in business, but maybe not in certain modern aspects of business, especially as technology changes. I think there can be a mutually beneficial result.
You can develop more relevance for your counsel and advice. Thanks again, John. Wait for the full episode of our talk with him.
It was very engaging and dynamic. You’ll like that one.
As always, Ask Us Anything anywhere.
Just because you weren’t one of the finalists or you didn’t enter into the contest because you weren’t ready yet, doesn’t mean you can’t ask us a question.
There may be another contest in the future at some point. We found that those that communicated with us in other ways and ahead of time were more in our mind and ended up being finalists more than others.
They rose to the top of the pile.
Check it out. Thanks for reading and we will talk to you next time. Thank you.
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