Book Summary: Pitch anything…

…even yourself in front of:

  • Women.
  • Her parents during the first dinner together.

Wait a minute bbdirector!

Isn’t Pitch Anything By Oren Klaft a book that explains a method to win business deals?

Of course it is. Some people pitch new clients, some pitch women when they go out, some pitch the girlfriends parents when they want to leave a good impression. The method is the same. And this book explains this method thoroughly.

I don’t think Oren meant to use this book to pitch women and parents, but hey, what do I know? I will just lay out the most important lessons from his book and you can decide if you want to use them tonight in the club or tomorrow during the first dinner with her parents.

If you do decide to use them, DO NOT bring a powerpoint presentation with a projector.

Use Virtual Reality instead and give the parents a true feeling of why you are Mr. Right.

BTW, even though this post has almost 8000 words, around a third of the words, go in a case study. So do not be alarmed.

OK, the TL:DR version of the summary:

Understand how the audience’s brain works and the parts it is divided in, and learn how to pitch those parts separately.

Now the TL summary:

Note: Some of the points are copy pasted from the book in order to best preserve their meaning 


The audience that you pitch to, has two brains:


Croc brain | This is the brain that you pitch to first. It is a small child that wants to be entertained.

  1. Some of the main traits of the croc brain
    1. It oversees survival and replication.
    2. Does not have time.
    3. Likes facts clearly explained.
    4. Going to ignore  you if  possible.
    5. It wants to choose between just two clearly explained options.
    6. Only focused on the big picture (and needs high-contrast and well differentiated options to choose between).
    7. Emotional, in the sense it will respond emotionally to what it sees and hears.
    8. Focused on the here and now with a short attention span that craves novelty.
    9. In need of concrete facts—it looks for verified evidence and doesn’t like abstract concepts.
  2. Usually, the croc brain treats pitching like this:
    1. 90% of the content you pitch is discarded
    2. Lack of interesting and exciting way of conveying  message means discarding of that message.
    3. Lack of clear language and no visual cues means getting perceived as a threat and therefore discarded.
  3. The croc brain wants it’s information:
    1. Simple
    2. Clear
    3. Nonthreatening
    4. Intriguing and novel

BRAIN TWO: Neo Cortex 

Don’t communicate with this one. It’s a brain of logic and rational thinking and you can only get to him after you win over the croc brain. So focus on the croc brain.

Now lets see the method of pitching. But before that, a short intermezzo

General stuff about the method.

The pitching needs to answer and address:

    1. Why now
    2. Why us
    3. Critical path
    4. Upside
    5. Downside
    6. Competitive advantage

Your  message needs to fulfil two objectives:  

  1. First, you don’t want your message to trigger fear alarms.  
  2. Second, you want to make sure it gets recognized as something positive, unexpected,  and out of the ordinary.

Three things to ask after pitch for analysis:

  1. Did I get through?
  2. Was my message well received?
  3. Does the target want to buy your stuff, be a part of your team, or invest in your idea?

How to approach and prepare for pitching:

    1. acronym STRONG:
      1. Setting the  frame
      2. Telling the  story
      3. Revealing the  intrigue
      4. Offering the  prize
      5. Getting a  decision

What are frames.

“no  situation  has  real  meaning  until  you  frame  it.”

Antique wooden gold frame, intricately carved

Frame  is  the  instrument  you  use  to  package your power, authority, strength, information, and status.

Oren gives a simple example to demonstrate a frame. Imagine a cop stops you for speeding. Why do you comply with his requests?

Because his frame is a frame of authority, power and position. You know he is a cop and you have to comply with what he says. He does not need to explain to you why he is a cop. Your croc brain has a natural reaction to him and his frame. This is what YOU need to instill before you approach any deal, woman or parent.

If you can pull out the frame that the cop has, then the deal is already won. You already got the woman. Her parents are already calling you “son” and love you more than her.

General stuff about frames

  • If you have to explain your authority, power, position, leverage, and  advantage, you do not hold the stronger frame.
  • Your frame will collide with the enemy’s and only the stronger one will survive.
  • The one who frames first, leads. So frame first and keep the frame. Be the frame master.
  • No one likes to be dominated, so once you own the  frame, use this power in ways that are fun and mutually exciting.
    • Unless maybe if she is into dominatrix. Or her parents.
  • Never react to another frame. Reacting means you fall under that frame.
  • Never allow to be told what to do.
  • If you DO however encounter a situation where someone else has established a frame, the way to take it away is by denial, defiance and humor combined.
    • Perpetrating a small denial – this is the same as not letting small children get the sweets until they do something you ask – you make them wait but give them a double reward at the end.
      • It means “not yet, first let me come to do what I came to do, and afterwards we will have sex”
    • Always use humor otherwise you will come across as an arrogant, insecure prick.
    • Smile and be polite when you defy. It is a gentlemen’s game.
    • Reframe everything they are saying, as if they are trying to win you over.
      • HE: I got 5 minutes. YOU: That’s ok i only got 2.
      • HER: I got an STD. YOU: Just one? I got all of them.
    • Qualify the audience. Make them justify why they are good enough for you.
    • Use time constraint – let them know how long the meeting or the seducing will last and let them know you are gone as soon as the time is up.
    • If they change the length of the meeting, bust them for it. Remind them that this is not professional and be ready to leave.


  • POWER FRAME. The cop frame.
  • INTRIGUE FRAME. This one best works when you are dealing with someone that is plain logical and analytical. You must give this person some drama (because he does not have it enough in his life), a certain intriguing story that will hook his croc brain, and make his croc brain take over control.
    • This type of person:
      • Focuses on hard facts only.
      • Says that aesthetic or creative features have no value.
      • Says that everything must be supported by a number or statistic.
      • It holds that ideas and human relationships have no value.
    • The story/drama needs to have the following elements
      • It  must be brief, and the subject must be relevant to your pitch.
      • You need to be at the center of the story
      • There should be risk, danger, and uncertainty.
      • There should be time pressure—a clock is ticking somewhere, and there  are ominous consequences if action is not taken quickly.
      • There should be suspense, surprise and tension—you are trying to do something but are being blocked by some force.
      • There should be serious consequences—failure will not be pretty.
    • If they ask a question they will ask a deep drill one – meaning they will want information that is irrelevant at that point of the pitch.
      • You answer the question directly and with the highest-level information possible. Then you redirect their attention back to your pitch by saying something like
        • Are we actually a good fit for each other?
        • Should we be doing business together at all?
      • What this tells the audience is that
        • I’m trying to decide if you are right for me;
        • If I decide to work with you, the numbers will back up what I’m telling  you, so let’s not worry about that now; and
        • I care about who I work with.
  • PRIZE FRAME. Prizing is the sum of the actions you take to get to your target to understand that he is a commodity and you are the prize.
    • How does prizing work. Think of a diamond.
      • Not everyone can have it.
      • Scarce.
    • Prizing guidelines.
      • Money is a commodity and it is abundant. You are scarce.
      • Always be ready to leave.
      • Always make the buyer qualify himself.
      • Do not seek validation. Particularly at the end when you naturally want to close. Do not force the close. Let the girl close by herself.
      • Do not ask the client if he wants to do business or not. Give him the pen to sign the paper while telling him how great it was to meet him
      • Don’t ask the girl if she wants to kiss you and take you home. Kiss her on the way home.
    • Social status for a prize frame.
      • If you do not have high status, you will not command the attention necessary to make your pitch heard. You will not persuade, and you will not easily get a deal done.
      • You don’t earn status by being polite, by obeying the established power rituals of business, or by engaging in friendly small talk before a meeting starts.
      • Within seconds, we each need to decide, for the sake of our own self preservation, who in this room is the dominant alpha?
    • Avoid beta traps to avoid your prize frame being destroyed.
      • The first step toward elevating your social status is to avoid the beta traps. A beta trap is a subtle but effective social ritual that puts you in the low-status position and works to keep you there, beneath the decision maker you have come to visit, for the entire duration of the social interaction. Waiting in the lobby is one of them. Engaging in small talk is also one of them – you do not have time for this. 
    • Get the local star power.
      • The first impression we make on another person is based on that person’s automatic calculation of our social value. As a survival mechanism, the other person’s brain is making it a priority to understand where you fit in the social structure. The person makes a hasty judgment using three measurable criteria: your wealth, your power, and your social value is fluid and changes with the environment you are in—or the environment you create.
    • Seizing Situational Status.
      • Politely ignore power rituals and avoid beta traps.
      • Be unaffected by your customer’s global status.
      • Look for opportunities to perpetrate small denials and defiances that strengthen your frame and elevate your status.
      • As soon as you take power, quickly move the discussion into an area where you are the domain expert, where your knowledge and information are unassailable by your audience.
      • Apply a prize frame by positioning yourself as the reward for making the decision to do business with you.
      • Confirm your alpha status by making your customer, who now temporarily occupies a beta position, make a statement that qualifies your higher status.

Things to remember.

  1. Always be on time for the appointment.
  2. Momentum is key. Create high status immediately. Do not hesitate.
  3. Choose a frame, and force a collision at the most opportune moment —and do it early. The longer you wait, the more you reinforce the status of your target.
  4. Avoid social rituals that reinforce the status of others.
  5. Have fun. Be popular. Enjoy your work. There is nothing as attractive as someone who is enjoying what he or she does.

The pitching itself.

Four parts:

  1. Introduce yourself and the big idea – 5 minutes
  2. Budgeting and secret sauce – 10 minutes
  3. Offering the deal – 2 minutes
  4. Frame stacking for a hot cognition – 3 minutes

Introduce yourself and the big idea: 5 minutes.  

  • Short explanation, focus on that ONE BIG WIN in life
  • Why now?  -The target needs to know that you are pitching a new idea that came to life from a pattern of forces that you recognized, seized, and are now taking advantage of. And the target needs to know that you have more knowledge about these things than anyone else. Use the triforce analysis for that purpose:
    • Economic forces. Briefly describe what has changed financially in the market for your big idea. For example, are customers wealthier, is credit more available, is financial optimism higher? Increases or decreases in interest rates, inflation, and the value of the dollar are considered as prime examples of forces that have significant impact on business opportunities.
    • Social forces. Highlight what emerging changes in people’s behavior patterns exist for your big idea. An obvious example in the market for automobiles, concern over the environment—a social force—is driving demand for electric vehicles.
    • Technology forces. Technological change can flatten existing business models and even entire industries because demand shifts from one product to another. In electronics, for example, change is rapid and constant, but in furniture manufacturing, change is more gradual.
  • Describe the genesis of your idea, how it evolved, and the opportunity you saw as it was emerging. The backstory of the idea is always interesting to the target.
    • Explain the most important changes in our business. Forecast the trends. Identify important developments—both in your market and beyond.
    • Talk about the impact of these developments on costs and customer demand.
    • Explain how these trends have briefly opened a market window
    • Movement is a critical element in the “Why  now?” frame. You don’t show people a static picture of how the world would be if your plan were implemented, but instead you show them how  you’re idea is moving away from the current standard to a new way of doing things. REVOLUTIONARY
  • Introducing the Big Idea.
    • For [target  customers] Who are dissatisfied with [the current offerings in the  market]. My idea/product is a [new idea or product category] That provides  [key problem/solution features]. Unlike [the competing product] my idea/product is [describe  key features]

General info about this first part.

  1. First, do not explain the economical, social and political situation to the girl nor her parents. WHY WOULD YOU?
  2. Second, do not introduce the big idea to the parents, the same way you would introduce it to a potential investor. WHY WOULD YOU?

Budget and secret sauce: 10 minutes

Here u have  to  explain  what  problems  the  big  idea  really  solves  and  how  it actually works.

  • Secret Sauce
    • It is what makes the Big Idea unique and difficult to copy.
  • Pitching Numbers and Projections
    • Avoid focusing on projecting revenue. Instead focus on showing your skills at budgeting.

Offer the deal: 2 minutes.

Describe to your audience what they are going to receive when they decide to do business with you.

Stack frames for a hot cognition: 3 minutes.

What is a hot cognition? Deciding that you like something before you fully understand it. The client or woman, needs to feel as if their gut feeling is telling them that  this deal is great for them. This deal is just right.

How to Stack Frames

  • Hot cognition 1: intrigue. There is something in it for you if you get in on this
    • The purpose is to get a large dopamine dump into the croc brain of the target—and build desire – do this by introducing something the target is sure to want—but cannot get right now.
      • The targets have given you their time because they want to visit a new world to learn about new things and interesting ideas and become involved in the lives of unique, interesting, and talented people.
      • People want to know how you have faced obstacles and overcome them. They want to see you in situations that reveal your character. They want to know that you are someone who rises to whatever level necessary to overcome obstacles and someone who travels in the company of interesting people who are players in whatever game you are playing.
      • Stories put people in narrative mode- a good mode that the croc brain understands
      • Narrative Pattern for building an Intrigue.
        • Put a man in a difficult position
        • Make him face conflict and tension – problems in other words
        • Hold him short of safety all the time to keep the audience engaged.
  • Hot cognition 2—prizing – but they need to prove themselves they are worthy of this deal
    • Let’s you position yourself as the most important party in the deal, not the people on the other side of the table.
    • Example
      • Example of prize frame delivery “Guys, I’m glad I was able to find some free time to come here and show you my deal. I don’t always get to meet the buyers. I know we’re having fun here, but I have to wrap up. I have another meeting. We are busy, and there just aren’t many deals like this—and obviously none that include me—and I’m fortunate to be in demand. Getting serious for a moment, I do have to choose which investors to let in and which to turn away. Before things go any further here, I need to figure out who you people really are. Yeah, we have your bios and know your reputation. But we have to be cautious about who we bring on board. And I have to sell you to my partner, Joshua—who is going to want to know why I think you would be good partners. Can you give me that—can you tell me why we would enjoy working with you?”
      • Analysis
        • I have one of the better deals in the market.
        • I am choosy about who I work with.
        • It seems like I could work with you, but really, I need to know more.
        • Please start giving me some materials on yourself.
        • I still need to figure out if we would work well together and be good
        • 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.
  • Hot cognition 3—time frame – give them a time frame upon which they must give you an answer – any answer is fine since you are waiting on the answers of many other clients.
    • “Guys, my company, Geomark, is a great deal, and you can’t bluff me about what you are thinking; I know you agree. Consider the situation we’re in. We are here for a third meeting at your corporate headquarters. Right now I’m looking at your team: four Boeing executives, three engineers, and two of your consultants. Why are you here in force? Because you love the deal. And you should love it. The deal is hot, that’s no secret, and I’ve never used this fact to pressure you, but we can’t ignore it either. For this reason, we have all got to make a decision about the deal in the next week. Why one week? This time constraint is not under my control; it’s the market working. It’s harsh but true: We have todecide by July 18 if you’re in or out.”
  • hot cognition 4—moral authority – use your impeccable reputation and experience.


  • Hot cognitions are primal. Whenever there’s a rush of excitement, it’s hard to get the neocortex to do any work at all. To protect us from potential physical or social threat, the croc brain hijacks brain function. No analysis gets done. As a result, it’s much easier and natural to react to what’s hot and vivid and moving right in front of us.
  • Hot cognitions are unavoidable. You might be able to control the expression of emotion, but there’s no way you can get out of the path of having and experiencing it.
  • Hot cognitions tend to be instant and enduring. Do you like the movie you just watched? Do you like the new model of Ford Mustang? Do you like eating snails? You never sat down to analyze these things; they’re obviously hot cognitions—you got a sense of these things the moment you encountered them.
  • Hot cognitions encode value. It’s the anticipation of a large financial gain that is emotionally compelling to the target.
  • A hot cognition is the inner certainty of “knowing” something that comes through feeling it. A cold cognition is the certainty of “knowing” something is good or bad by having evaluated it.
  • Hot cognitions develop through the ancient brain structures—the brain stem and the midbrain—our croc brain. Cold cognitions are analytical and develop in the neocortex. Cold cognitions are calculated and take time to suggest a solution—this is how the neocortex goes about its business—it aggregates information over time and solves problems. You’ve heard the expression, “Just give me the cold, hard facts?”

Some additional hacks to control and win the deal.

One of the purposes of the pitch is to get the audiences attention and keep it to the end.You get their attention by

  • providing something new, exciting and never before seen. In one word, provide novelty.
  • using push pull and creating tension.
  • Not showing neediness.


  • Novelty grabs attention.
  • A short product demo provides novelty.
  • A new idea provides novelty.
  • Good metaphors for otherwise complex subjects provide novelty.
  • Bright objects, moving objects, and unique shapes, sizes, and configurations all provide novelty.
  • Not enough novelty, and there is no interest in your or your ideas; too much, and there is fear or anxiety.
  • people are curious about things they cannot explain but that seem explainable.
  • Curiosity is the croc brain becoming interested—feeling like it’s safe to learn more. Curiosity derives from an information gap—the difference between what you know and what you want to know.

Tension (PUSH PULL).

Tension indicates consequences and therefore importance. There are three tension patterns, each with an increasing level of intensity. These are conversational patterns you can use at any point in a presentation when you sense the target’s attention dropping.

  • Low-Key, Low-Intensity Push/Pull Pattern.
    • PUSH: “There’s a real possibility that we might not be right for each other.” [Pause. Allow the push to sink in. It must be authentic.]
    • PULL: “But then again, if this did work out, our forces could combine to become something great.”
  • Medium-Intensity Push/Pull Pattern.
    • PUSH: “There’s so much more to a deal than just the idea. I mean, there’s a venture-capital group in San Francisco that doesn’t even care what the idea is—they don’t even look at it when a deal comes. The only thing they care about is who the people are behind the deal. That makes sense. I’ve learned that ideas are common, a dime a dozen. What really counts is having someone in charge who has passion and experience and integrity. So if you and I don’t have that view in common, it would never work between us.”[Pause.]
    • PULL: “But that’s crazy to think. Obviously you value people over smart ideas. I’ve met corporate robots before that only care about numbers—and you are definitely not a robot.”
  • High-Intensity Push/Pull Pattern.
    • PUSH: “Based on the couple of reactions I’m getting from you—it seems like this isn’t a good fit. I think that you should only do deals where there is trust and deals you strongly believe in. So let’s just wrap this up for now and agree to get together on the next one.” [Pause. Wait for a response. Start packing up your stuff. Be willing to leave if the target doesn’t stop you.]

Eradicating Neediness

It’s incredibly bad for frame control. It erodes status. Neediness triggers fear and uncertainty, causing the target’s croc brain to take over Neediness is a signal of threat. neediness equals weakness When we set ourselves up to need the target to accept us, we have trapped ourselves.

  • Formula: How do you spend weeks or months working on a big presentation and not be anxious about it?
    • Want nothing. Eliminate the desires.
    • Focus only on things you do well.
    • Announce your intention to leave the social encounter.Withdraw at a crucial moment when people expect you to go for them. The willingness to withdraw demonstrates a self-control, strength, and confidence that most targets will greatly admire.People want what they can’t have. So, when you finish your pitch, deny your audience. Start to pull away. In so doing, you banish insecurity and
  • What Causes Neediness?
    1. When you notice that audience members are uncomfortable, you feel yourself losing the deal
    2. When we want something that only the target can give us (money, an order, a job,) we set the stage for neediness.
    3. When we need cooperation from the target and can’t get it, it’s frustrating and causes us anxiety. And audiences, at some point, always become uncooperative. Audience members turn their attention elsewhere—usually by texting, scanning e-mail, or taking phone calls. They allow interruptions by people coming in and out of the meeting room. Or they cut us short—before we’ve made our key points.
    4. Neediness is created inside of us when we firmly believe that the target can make us feel good by accepting our pitch and by saying “Yes.” When we set ourselves up to need the target to accept us, we have trapped ourselves. The more we want the target’s desired behavior to occur, the more neediness we broadcast, and the less likely the target is to give us what we want. It’s a downward spiral.

That is the end of the summary.

Now, the best way to see how all of the above written works, is to… try it for yourself. Those that are not ready to do just that, the following is a story, about a pitch that Oren was making for a client. A pitch that got him 7 mill $ in fees.

Case Study: The 1$ bn. deal. Warning: it’s a very long and interesting story. Whenever I pitch, I read this before hand just to get in the zone (plus I put on some AC-DC for added effect)

Scene: Greenberg, Orens former boss is trying to make Oren come back to the office, after being away for a while, to pitch one last time.

“You know I can’t let the plane idle on the runway for too long, so pack up and let’s head back,” Greenberg said with a straight face.

Ahhh, the time frame—it would need to be dealt with. “At this altitude, after your 25-minute short hop, that jet can idle for three and a half hours in 98 degree heat with a half tank of fuel,” I said, cracking Greenberg’s power frame in half with the stronger expert frame. “And I’m hungry. It’s your turn to buy lunch.”

Greenberg countered the expert frame with a prize frame. “You’ve never made as much money as you have working with me,” he calmly replied. “Look at you—you’re leaning forward, hanging on every word I say. You’re practicality drooling. That’s how much you want this deal. It’s almost sad.”

“Ah, you’re throwing a prize frame at me! I taught you too much!” I said, easily handling Greenberg’s reframe. “Look, we could do this all afternoon. Forget it. Let’s go eat. You’re still buying. Follow me.” On the way to the sandwich shop, we continued to frame and reframe and deframe about who would buy a $20 lunch, even though Greenberg’s fueled, piloted, and fully staffed jet was on the runway burning $8,400 an hour.

“Let’s get back to doing what we always do,” Greenberg said, continuing the conversation at the restaurant.

“Market says that’s a bad idea,” I replied.

This was probably an anticipated objection. He decided to challenge me..

“Why exactly did you come here?” he asked. “You just ran away. You left because you lost your edge,” Greenberg continued. “There was a point where I thought you might be one of the best,” he said. “Now, the only thing next to your name will be … quitter.”

That one made me clench my teeth. I stood up and gave him a long stare. I was ready to walk away right there.

“You’re mad because I’m right,” he said. “Maybe you’ll come back with me and prove me wrong. You can’t hang out and be a hippie—or whatever you call this—the rest of your life.”

“What exactly are you offering if I get back in the game?”  – the hookpoint –

7.5 mil USD in fees

Oren and Greenberg are pitching for a 1 bill dollar project that requires the restoration of an airport in a community where 100k people live. This airport is very important historically. Oren and Greenberg were up against a much wealthier competitor and they knew this.

Pitch day:

To win the pitch Oren needed to hit the right tone, get the frame right. The competition would make this about money and profits. They were sure to frame this deal as a “money-making opportunity.” Oren knew that This deal was about legacy. The client wanted to be known as the man who saved the airfield when others could not

The Presentation

Best idea frame as begining.

In other words, I was telling the targets that they should forget about picking a bidder with size and power. Instead, they should focus on the quality of ideas. We could not compete on size and power against the others, but if I changed the frame, if my big idea frame was stronger than Goldhammer’s, then we could still win.

“There is a tremendous responsibility for all of us today. This is a decision not about who is the most charming or the most skilled in finance but instead about who has the right ideas that can raise $1 billion for Davis Field. Others have tried this kind of thing before and failed, so it’s not that the best man should win or that the best team should win, but instead, the best ideas should triumph today. This runway has served the United States of America in World War II and hosted squadrons of B-17 bombers and other fighter planes that took part in the Pacific campaigns. Today, we are not talking about building a shopping center or strip mall or motel. We are building an airport, and we are doing it on hallowed ground. This has to be done right.”

The next task was to reframe the competition:

“We are honored to be competing against two other great firms today. I know each of them could serve you well because they have large teams, multiple offices, legions of young, energetic researchers, and the bestpaid analysts in the world, and when working a deal, these firms spare no expense to tackle the job.”

This was my way of saying that Goldhammer and the group from London were big, bloated corporations with too many people, many of them young and inexperienced.

Explain the three market step to show that there is a market for this

“Simon, the vast majority of people you have met in the last three months have told you that the market is flat and that nothing has changed for some time. But if you start challenging the way these folks are thinking, you can start to see this market through a different lens—the lens we use. Let me explain. Three market forces that we follow very carefully have formed an important market window that we can step through—if we time it right. We don’t think the window stays open for long, but if we do this now, we can go get $1 billion from investors faster than any other deal out there. Here’s our analysis of the way markets are moving:

  • “Social factors. Everyone is tired of investment bankers getting fat off these deals with no risk, so we have to be more transparent on fees.
  • “Economic factors. For deals that are transparent, where the bankers and consultants are willing to risk alongside investors, there’s a glut of investor money in the market now. $5 billion more than last quarter.
  • “Technology factors. If we go green and make the buildings LEEDcertified, I know a government agency that will get us a 10 percent reduction in taxes. “I know this is news to you, but this is how the market is moving, and these three forces are important to our strategy. Again, we have a short market window to step through. If we fight against these forces, we will struggle. If we hit it right, though, we’ll be one of the few deals that gets through this small market window.”

A challenge to the committee – it creates a dopamine and norepinephrine kick at the same time

“Before going into my plan in any detail, let me tell you what we recognized some time ago. This project is more than an airport upgrade or an airport relaunch. It is a legacy you will leave behind. You will have your names written in history, and you we will be judged by generations to come by what you build here.”

big idea introduction pattern.

“Simon, Jeff, Jim [I addressed the committee by their first names], I know you need to find investors for this airport as fast as possible, and Iappreciate how questioning conventional wisdom is hard to do when time is tight. But today we are going to ask you to question how things have always been done because lately, the ‘usual’ way of doing these deals turns out to be wrong or wide off the mark or both. “There are too many similar, me-too deals in this market. Right now, unless you are different in your approach from all the others, you will be wasting time and money. “That’s why our big idea is different from all the other plans, as you’ll see.

[I flipped around a few big posterboards with the theme and logotype boldly printed.]

“As you can see, our theme is ‘Invest in an American Legacy.’ “Our plan gives plenty of profit to investors but also gives them a chance to be part of an amazing story. Unlike the other bidders here today, who will just be telling the potential investors a profit-and-loss story, we plan to tell the investors a wonderful story about an airport that has a rich aviation history. “The combination of the ‘American Legacy’ theme with our financial plan will work best in the market. Our approach will raise $1 billion faster and more easily. Our big idea delivers a better velocity of capital and more certainty that you will get the money you need. We are going to set our sights high, to literally become heroes by protecting—not destroying—a piece of aviation history and get $1 billion at the same time.”


First, the most basic working principle of the brain is: Decisions of wanting something are not conscious. Second, the opportunity to gain a social reward, such as becoming a “hero,” is even more enticing than making money. Third, you can flood the target’s brain with dopamine by focusing on three ideas: (1) the idea of social rewards, (2) the idea of becoming a “hero,” and (3) the idea of making a lot of money. The purpose? Ignite desire.

proceed with the boring stuff: the numbers. quick push/pull:

“Is this plan bold? Well, we can certainly debate if my numbers are 5 percent too high or 3 percent too low, but there is no doubt the big idea is bold. We think that boldness is important. And if you don’t like bold plans, then there’s a real possibility that we are not right for each other because my team would always be working quickly in an entrepreneurial way, and you always would be responding like a big corporation—slow and methodical. And how could that ever work? So I’m okay with the notion that our plan is too bold and that we aren’t right for each other.”


the push/pull pattern, which challenged the targets and amplified tension. It’s also a way to  back off and avoid meking the target feel scared and leeting him enjoy a pressure free decision After letting the croc brain know that it didn’t have its back against the wall, it was time to complete the other half of the push/pull pattern:

“But then again, if this did work out, our forces could combine to become something great. Imagine, your aviation experience and passion combined with our strategy and financial know-how. Almost like some kind of superpower, when we focus our gaze on any individual investor, he would just explode with desire!”

I then returned to the idea of status.

“Look, in all seriousness, we love this project.” “And I know how difficult it is not to choose Goldhammer or the London team, sitting here with us. How great are those guys? Is there anything they can’t do with all that youthful energy and those amazing bespoke suits? But one thing I would have to ask them: How much do they know about Spring Hill pickup football?”

Explanation: This was a novelty play that would keep attention high.

“There’s a reason I ask, because the full story of Davis Field and why the previous attempts to build a new airport here failed cannot be fully told until you meet Joe Ramirez.”

Explanation: The parts of the brain where memories are stored needs to distinguish between significant experiences and those which carry less importance. This was one such moment. -meeting and listening to joe ramirez

The wanting has been created morality frame into play.

“Simon, committee … You see, we can look at the numbers behind this deal all day long: 24 percent of this, 15 percent of that, $100 million for solar panels, $100 million for construction of just one terminal. One billion dollars. It’s all just numbers. We have all been thinking of this airport as if it is a purely financial transaction. As if this is a 7,000-foot runway in some kind of cyberspace. What I realized just 30 days ago, and what has been forgotten in all our desire to design it and build it and profit from it, is that this airport isn’t in cyberspace and it’s no longer 1948 when this runway was in the middle of nowhere. What I’m saying is, 50 years ago, Spring Hill was populated by fewer than 1,000 people, who were probably outnumbered by the jackrabbits. Now, 115,000 people live here. Think about that. We are deciding in this room, 50 miles away from the site, what will be done with 1,000 acres of land in the middle of a community.”

Explanation: It would be hard for the other groups to find a higher set of values to champion than protecting a community of more than 100,000 souls. This frame is so basic, so tied to the workings of the social animal, that it had to be deployed. This was the right moment. Next, the time frame would be used:

“I have to finish in five minutes, so I don’t have the time right now to introduce you to the 37 other friends of mine who live in Spring Hill. You see, I’ve been living there for the last few weeks in a cool little hotel on Main and 19th Street. I’ve played pickup football in a dirt field outside town. That’s where I met Joe. So I can tell you that this is an amazing community that will support us if we play fair and support them as well.”

Simon Jeffries couldn’t hold off any longer. He was already leaning forward in his seat almost past the edge. “You lived there? You know all these people?” Jeffries asked. What had been a formal pitch was now becoming a casual conversation. “They’re your friends, and you know their names?”

“I’m good with names,” I said. “And those people all had something important to say about this project.“This is why our plan includes an athletic park to return to Joe and the community the football field he loved so much growing up. We also want a young aviators’ center added to the build. With $1 billion, this is a rich project, and we can afford it. We’ll pay for it ourselves. Here are the plans.”

I flipped around another posterboard. Now it was becoming like a game show.

“Are you sure that you want to commit to these things?” Jeffries asked.

“How can we not do it?” I said. “You can’t just pull value out of a community. You have to put value back in.

Explanation: Following the principles of seized status, I would now redistribute some of the alpha status and frame control I was holding to some of the other players:

“And the park plans with the restoration of the historic football field are complete. They’re not just part of my theory. These are real plans. We completed the engineering specifications, and I want them to be part of any plan that goes forward. Five minutes ago we e-mailed these plans to everyone in this room. No matter what happens with our bid, whether you choose us or not, we want the football field to be restored.”

Explanation: I flipped around the final display boards with their beautiful, evocative visuals of aircraft overhead and kids playing football and proud community members holding their arms in an open embrace. These were all big-picture visuals meant to stoke the fires of hot cognitions

For a closing statement, I would bring it all together. Time frame. Prize frame. Intrigue. Morality frame. Push. Pull. Desire. Tension. It was a fireworks finale of frame collisions:

“Committee, the only thing worse than an idea you hate is an idea you just like.  When you only ‘like’ an idea, then you are still unsure about. Imagine getting married to someone you only ‘liked.’ It would seem cold. If I were sitting where you are, what would be important to me? I might think, if we don’t love this idea of ‘American Legacy,’ then we have to throw these guys out of here right now. “And by the same measure, if you only ‘like’ us, then you also must throw us out. And I’m totally okay with that, too. Because we could not possible work with you if you didn’t love our big idea. We believe in the big idea that strongly. “Right now, as we are sitting here, the terminal paint at Davis Field is peeling, the old observation deck is rotting, and a local park has been paved over. Almost everything about Davis Field Municipal Airport shows age and neglect. It is a place that by almost every appearance has been left behind in time.

“But time should not leave this place behind. The war in the Pacific was fought from this field. Bomber squadrons had thousands of movements here. Men left this field to fight for our country, and for some, it was the last patch of American soil they ever touched.

“So if you love the idea of an American Legacy and you want Joe Ramirez’s kids to be able to play on that field, and you want to be known as the capitalists who built a legacy for the ages, then we are the right team to pick today because we know how to do this better than anyone else. But we are not going to do this for you. We will have to do it together with you. When you feel that the time is right, I encourage you to come to our office and talk over how we can make that happen.”


The prize frame can be boiled down to one thing: Withdrawal. At a crucial moment, when the committee was expecting me to come after them, I pulled away.

Needless to say, Oren got his fees.

To conclude,

  • The audience has a croc brain and an analytical, neocortex brain.
    • Every croc brain responds the same:
      • When something is boring: Ignore it.
      • When something seems dangerous: Fight/run.
      • When something is complicated: Radically summarize (causing information loss) and pass it on in severely truncated form.
  • Unique theme, storyline and a compelling human drama is the key to pitching.
  • The slightest perception that you are taking away free will (scientists call this reducing the autonomy of choice) will trigger a threat response.
  • Avoid the kind of cold analysis that is done by the neocortex. Instead, you use visual and emotional stimuli to push your target’s primal hot buttons—to create wanting.
  • You always have to be on the watch for opposing power frames and then win the ensuing frame collisions with better, stronger frames. And then you must further your frame control by perpetrating small denials and showing defiance.
  • Humor, fun, and light-heartedness are crucial components of every pitch. The humor is not there to relieve tension. Instead, it’s there to signal that although the tension is real, you are so confident that you can play around a little.
  • The purpose of perpetrating denials and defiance is to reframe social situations and to prize—that perhaps you aren’t really selling them but that they need to sell you, that your own time is even more valuable than theirs, that under the circumstances, if they try to beta-trap you, you’re willing to withdraw.



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