Why You Need to Play By Different Rules
Greetings, Chief Storytelling Officers.
I was watching a podcast episode with Robert McKee who wrote the book Story He had a great line in it where he said “stories are metaphors for life.”
What a beautiful way to say it and a reminder why sharing yours will create greater impact than you can imagine. After all, Plato summed it up this way…
“Those who tell the story rule the world.”
“I’m sorry, did I overreach?”
There’s a scene in The West Wing where Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe’s character) is about to be on the fictional version of Meet The Press. He’s representing the President.
His opponent is a political commentator named Ainsley Hayes (Emily Proctor’s character) who is appearing on the debate show for the first time. Like any smart person she listens to the host when he offers some advice.
He tells her “Don’t overreach. Don’t try to do too much. Don’t try to know more than you do. My show’s not the place to become a star.”
In the first segment she comes alive and destroys Sam in the debate. Once they go to commercial break she delivers the killer line…
“I’m sorry, did I overreach?”
So now you might be asking yourself why I would start the newsletter with that example. It’s simple.
Founders you are Ainsley Hayes.
Investors are the show host who are out there telling you “don’t overreach.”
The crazy thing about the example I used above is that the show host couldn’t have been happier with the performance Ainsley Hayes gave. She completely made the show by destroying her opponent.
But what if Ainsley had listened to his advice?
She would have been okay. She would have blended in. She would have been just another political commentator among hundreds or thousands of others.
This is why it’s so frustrating seeing the difference between the advice that the vast majority of investors give versus what they actually invest in.
What they say in public is follow the rules that they set out for you and don’t be too pushy. But that’s not what works. If you follow the rules they talk about in public you are playing a game you won’t win.
That’s because the founders out there finding success aren’t doing things that way. They are playing by their own rules. The ones that investors can’t deny they love to see.
If you want a real life example of what “overreaching” looks like you got it yesterday. Deion Sanders took over the Colorado football program and unapologetically talked about what they were going to do.
Nobody believed them. Colorado was 1-11 last season.
Yesterday they came out and upset TCU who lost in the National Championship Game last year.
That right there is the mindset and attitude that it takes to play the game by your own rules and come out on top. Just like Ainsley Hayes.
Deion knows he’s the guy. Always has been. Always will be.
That’s what gets an investor to fund you. It’s not about making them like you. It’s about making them believe in you.
A simple example of this idea is Peter Thiel’s famous question. “What important truth do very few people agree with you on?”
So as you’re out there on the founder journey remember to overreach. There are lots of ways to develop this ability and that’s a much lengthier topic to breakdown.
There’s a reason I got a text message yesterday from a founder I work with saying “we just got a pre-emptive term sheet” for their series A. I’ve never bought into what investors say in public and instead rely on human nature. That’s why we play the game by different rules.
We play by the rules that land investment. We play by the rules that have shaped the leaders throughout history.
And just like Deion, I keep receipts.
What I’m seeing
Deals are happening. Sentiment is improving. Show them how great you are and watch what happens.
Selling vision vs. traction from Scott Hartley, Managing Partner at Everywhere Ventures. Great storytelling breakdown from an investor’s perspective. It follows a very similar format to the Triangle Frame I see work with my founders fundraising.
Collecting great lines from Nathan Baugh. I love this idea as it refines your taste and helps you build out your own set piece library. The more beauty (and yes single lines can be beautiful) you bring into your life, the better your storytelling will be.
A bit of personal writing on how I learned storytelling.
Ainsley Hayes clip
The West Wing: Ainsley Hayes - "I'm sorry, did I overreach?"
Need help with your fundraise or storytelling?
I’m currently fully booked and the waitlist is growing.
If you’re looking for help with your fundraise or your storytelling, reach out to us to get on sooner rather than later.
A former trial lawyer and prosecutor in Dallas, TX, Robbie trains founders to become world-class storytellers and venture capital fundraisers.
In barely two years, he's helped founders raise $575,000,000 of venture capital.