Thanks again for joining my free course on public speaking — I hope you found it useful — and give yourself a pat on the back: you just took a huge step towards learning how to be a more effective entrepreneur and I’m looking forward to helping you in any way I can.
There are plenty of blogs out there giving advice to entrepreneurs — as if all you need is the right growth hack to become the best entrepreneur overnight.
Being a great entrepreneur is about keeping it simple: focus, execution and iteration.
Every week, 30+ people email me for advice. I used to tell them to “just give a shit” or “just be passionate about a topic, you’ll be fine” but I now realize that advice was useless. (I’m sorry, you guys.)
Here’s the thing: they’re trying to raise more money for their company, or trying to influence more customers or just trying to get noticed at work — they’re all trying to get ahead — just like you and me.
As you know, there’s no way to become a great entrepreneur overnight. The problem doesn’t lie in you getting that one killer tip to become a better entrepreneur. The problem lies in you understanding why certain tactics and behaviors are so important.
Get ready to learn the invisible game.
That’s probably why you’re here. You’ve felt that invisible game being played when you read about other entrepreneurs getting ahead and you want to earn that same success for yourself. You want your personal brand, your career, your business and everything you make, to be more effective. Becoming a great entrepreneur is your ticket to the next level.
To gain a better sense of how to improve your own entrepreneurial skills, you need to start listening to other great entrepreneurs — but in a different way. You need to start paying attention to what great entrepreneurs do, not what they say. Don’t worry, we’re going to get into more of that later.
The invisible game isn’t something I was born knowing, it’s something that took me a long time to learn. Let’s rewind the clock back to late 2009 and let me share a bit of my story: 500 Startups didn’t exist yet and I was working for a small family office in San Antonio, TX where I was charged with managing the existing portfolio of tech investments and looking for new companies to invest in.
Every venture firm — like every successful person — has some form of uniqueness but, at their core, the most successful have two job functions: attract and hunt opportunities.
That sounds obvious, yet most get it wrong. My job as a professional was (and is) to end up with financial stakes in successful companies and projects. Frankly, that’s not so different than what I — and you — need to create a successful career.
Here I was with my first opportunity in the venture capital industry and I had to figure out how to make a name for myself. I came up with three operating rules for myself that I still use to this day. I call these the Rules of the Invisible Game:
Invisible Game Rule #1: Your personal brand isn’t what you say it is. Rather, it’s how other people perceive you.
I grew up in the DC suburbs — I didn’t have connections, contacts or experience — I was an outsider to Silicon Valley, I didn’t know anyone. So I Googled them. I dug around their LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter profiles.
I studied everything about them: who they hung out with, what they were wearing and what they had accomplished in the past. What I noticed is that what they said and what they did seemed to be very, very different.
It turns out: who you know, what you wear and what you’ve done are certainly helpful but how you make people feel is extremely important.
Through that careful study, I also noticed something else: these people were very, very good at what they do. They understood that credibility was table stakes. Once you’re credible at something, you should focus on notability. In other words: once you’re good at something, it’s important that others view you as the expert.
So the key is to thoughtfully shape your personal brand once you understand that personal brand is how others perceive you.
Invisible Game Rule #2: Never pick a fight with an elephant head-on.
Regardless of the industry you’re in, there are two important facts to recognize: the incumbents will have more money and experience than you. They are your competition in an already-crowded market full of similar resumes, similar goals and a vested interest in staying on top — they don’t care about you. I call these the elephants and you should never attack them head-on. It’s best to flank them.
If you want to be relevant, you need to say (and do) something that matters. This will be the base that you use to dominate the market.
In my industry, attacking the elephant head-on meant that I’d need to (1) blog about venture capital and (2) spend all my time in Silicon Valley. I chose to do neither of these — I chose to flank the competition. I wrote the five most common things I saw them doing in their professional careers. Then I sat down to figure out what I should do that they weren’t already doing.
I chose to focus my efforts on spending time outside Silicon Valley and learning how to be a better public speaker. Neither of these were something that my competition wanted to do. (Seriously, when is the last time you saw a Partner at a major VC firm get on a flight to some small town in the Mid-West to meet with founders or speak publicly about something? When was the last time you listened to a VC on stage that wasn’t boring? Go ahead, I’ll wait.)
Unless you’ve got unlimited time and money, it’s best to out-skill the competition — beat them before they ever see you coming.
Invisible Game Rule #3: Never forget the psychology of the person sitting across from you.
Humans are funny but predictable: we haven’t changed much since the beginning of time — we want to get paid, made or laid.
Whether you’re hustling publicly or privately, remember that no one cares what you need. They only care about what they want. Your job is to figure out what they want and give it to them.
When I studied investors that did speak on stage, they tended to be boring, self-focused and (perhaps unwittingly) prone to using off-putting body language. These speakers gave little thought to their audiences. At times, I suspect they forgot there was an audience at all. Their missed opportunity was going to be my gain: I would shape my content and my presence to serve the listeners’ needs. Pumping up my ego didn’t need to be done on a stage.
Someone really smart once told me, “if you help other people get rich, you will too.” (I’m pretty sure his name was Hiten Shah. 🙂 Again, the key is to focus on what your audience wants — not what you need.
And with all of that in mind, let’s bring it back to the point: what you’re working on simply doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have a system for improving your skills and abilities — and that’s what I hope to share with you through everything I do.
Introducing the Results Junkies Brain Trust
Unless you’re already based in Silicon Valley, NYC or some other large tech hub, you’re facing the same challenge that I faced in the early days of my own career: finding and connecting with smart, like-minded people on a regular basis is incredibly tough — especially when they don’t live near you.
Over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege of meeting (and investing in) some of the smartest people in the world. I hop on regular video calls with them each week to exchange tactical tips, learn about new things they’re testing and introduce them to other investors and founders I’ve met along the way.
Now I’m opening it up to you too.
Each week, I coordinate a video call for the Brain Trust and we all hop on together. On some weeks, I’ll bring fellow investors (or founders in my portfolio) on to the call for a no-bullshit chat. On other weeks, I’ll do live office hours to review your pitch, critique your term sheet or answer any of your other questions. I’ll even tell you the behind-the-scenes details of what I’m working on too.
I want the Brain Trust to be an exclusive group for smart people focused on growing their startups and small businesses. And I’m hopeful that you’ll join us. You can find all the details here: www.resultsjunkies.com/brain-trust
P.S. While you’re waiting for your first weekly Brain Trust call, join me in-person on myNorth American Tech Tour or follow my firehose on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram andSnapchat.