Day120 — Practice for Summit

Pitch Happy (hint: it’s Super Better)

December 2nd, 2016

Jog. Shower. Class. This morning’s session was with Teju from the Unreasonable Institute. This is Teju’s third time coming to Watson to help us with our ventures. And we are so so fortunate for his time and investment. He really cares about Watson and its students.

The purpose of the session was again, to prepare our pitch. For those of us in the For-profit track, we have had many sessions this week focused on this topic. For those in the Non-profit track, they have focused on other topics such as writing grant proposals for their ventures.

Each of them has an opportunity to actually attract funding for their non-profits. A foundation is awarding a total of $5,000 to one or several Watson students with non-profits. Wow, totally unfair for those of us who chose the for-profit track! Oh well.

Teju asked us, why are we pitching? What is the purpose anyway? It’s simple. We are looking for engagement. Our job, to invite others to help make our ambitions a reality.

And then we talked about stories and storytelling. Remember, the story is about the audience. A quote: “it is not Luke Skywalker defeating Darth Vader, it is us.” According to a book called The Power of Myth, there’s only one kind of story. And that’s the Hero’s Journey. We spoke about that structure & those elements. I added this book to my reading list (it’s ridiculous how many books I need to read).

We then took time to work on our pitch and get feedback from classmates. Three rotations. First with Dwayne, Second with Zake, Third with Teju. I was very glad to have had the opportunity to pair with Teju for feedback. Thinking back to about a month ago, pairing with Teju during one of his exercises proved very helpful & clarifying. The same proved here.

Overall, Teju felt connected to what I shared. He liked the story and he liked the flow of the pitch. It tied together well & made sense. Areas of improvement: spend a little less time during the first part of the pitch. Tie the solution closer to the problem. And maybe drop one or two of the statistics I shared, they didn’t stick very much with him. The timing was a little over. So continue practicing. Sweet! Positive experience.

I then walked to SparkBoulder to meet with Kendall. Kendall was one of the five who joined my team during Startup Weekend. She was our designer. Like me, she’s a recent graduate and she is currently job hunting. For now, she has time to work on FailUp as a side-project and be supportive.

We talked about three topics. First: designing a challenge card for the pitch. Second: designing the pitch deck. Third: systems for collaboration. In my pitch I will be ending with an ask, for members of the audience to share a failure story, either with a stranger, friend/ loved one, or myself. And the card will serve as a reminder for them.

I then shared my pitch with Kendall so she could hear it and help visualize what the pitch deck could look like to complement my presentation. I have not spent any time on the pitch deck because it has been difficult for me to figure out the visuals. As a designer and artist, she likely has better ideas than me. So, she will work on the pitch deck throughout the weekend and we will meet on Sunday to finalize. It was great to meet with Kendall again, a few weeks after we initially met. It means she is still interested, at least for now, in being supportive.

Had an hour or so to eat lunch and get some work done on my computer. Then it was time for Pitch Practice. The whole Watson team (the students & staff) came together at Spark where we each would practice our pitches in front of one another and get feedback. We broke up into two groups.

Our pitches are 4:00 long and we each went twice with time for feedback. The pitch practice took about 2 hours. I presented second to last. Overall, it went well. I felt confident and I was able to deliver. My first pitch and second pitch were a little different, since I am partly improvising. The feedback I got was positive. Some room for improvement, some rearranging. It’s mostly a matter of time. And picking out the lines that work best for me.

The group informed me that I have improved tremendously in my pitch compared to the beginning. Or even for my first pitch at the New Venture Challenge. Everyone has been commenting that they have observed growth. This means a lot. It’s exciting to hear. Another positive pitch experience today.

Spent an hour or so at Spark on the computer then headed back to Chautauqua park with Dwayne and Jordan, the Watson intern. We cooked and shared dinner and each continued to work on our computers. What a pleasant way to spend a Friday night. Indoors, eating food with friends, and getting some work done. A full day.

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Research on Super Better (recommended by Kendall)

Watch this, it’s incredible!!


Everything in this game is designed to help you get stronger, by building up your personal resilience. Resilience is the ability to stay motivated, optimistic and determined even in the face of a tough challenge.

When you’re resilient…

  • Your body is better able to withstand stress and heal itself. (That’s PHYSICAL resilience.)
  • You have the mental focus and determination you need to be successful. (That’s MENTAL resilience.)
  • You’re able to activate positive emotions when you need them most. (That’s EMOTIONAL resilience.)
  • You get strength from your friends and family. (That’s SOCIAL resilience.)

So why are we so focused on increasing your personal resilience? It’s all based on scientific research. Study after study shows that resilience is the single most important personal skill you can develop — if you want to be happier, healthier and more successful in whatever you do.


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Also, I Need To Play This Game Called Bigger or Better!! (recommended by Megan, from Watson)

3 Things I’m Grateful for

  • Funders Week, wow, that was something
  • Kendall, for continuing to show support for FailUp & reminding me about Super Better!
  • All my Watson peeps who have been helpful in providing pitch feedback, the feedback goes far

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