Ecommerce Power cover

Pitch Anything

Author – Oren Klaff

High tech ventures – Gordon Bel

The Method

Pitching is one of those business skills that depends heavily on the method you use and not how hard you try.

A great pitch is not about procedure. It’s about getting and keeping attention.

You have to own the room with frame control, drive emotions with intrigue pings, and get to a hook point fairly quickly.

Crocodile brain“: responsible for the initial filtering of all incoming messages, it generates most survival fight-or-flight responses, and it produces strong, basic emotions.
Mid-brain: determines the meaning of things and social situations.
Neocortex: problem-solving ability and is able to think about complex issues and produce answers using reason.

Our thought process exactly matches our evolution: First, survival. Then, social relationships. Finally, problem solving.

First, given the limited focus and capacity of the croc brain, up to 90 percent of your message is discarded before it’s passed on up to the midbrain and then on to the neocortex.

Unless your message is presented in such a way that the crocodile brain views it to be new and exciting-it is going to be ignored.

If your pitch is complicated-if it contains abstract language and lacks visual cues-then it is perceived as a threat.

Pitches are sent from the modern-and smart-part of the brain: the neocortex. But they are received by a part of the brain that is 5 million years older.

First, you don’t want your message to trigger fear alarms. Second, you want to make sure it gets recognized as something positiveunexpected, and out of the ordinary-a pleasant novelty.

The pitching formula begins by setting the frame for your pitch, putting your big idea into an easily understood context. Once the frame is established, you must seize high social status so that you have a solid platform from which to pitch. Then you must create messages that are full of intrigue and novelty.


  • Setting the frame
  • Telling the story
  • Revealing the intrigue
  • Offering the prize
  • Getting a decision

Frame Control

“Look, I only want to know two things from you. What are monthly expenses, and how much are you paying yourself?”

Frames are extremely competitive; they are rooted in our survival instincts, and they seek to sustain dominance.

When frames come together, the first thing they do is collide.
They collide, and the stronger frame absorbs the weaker.

Understanding how to harness and apply the power of frames is the most important thing you will ever learn.

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

  1. Everyone uses frames whether they realize it or not.
  2. Every social encounter brings different frames together.
  3. Frames do not coexist in the same time and place for long. They crash into each other, and the one or the other gains control.
  4. Only one frame survives. The others break and are absorbed. Stronger frames always absorb weaker frames.
  5. The winning frame governs the social interaction. It is said to have frame control.
If you have to explain your authority, power, position, leverage, and advantage, you do not hold the stronger frame.

A successful pitch depends on your ability to build strong frames that are impervious to rational arguments.

Going into most business situations, there are three major types of opposing frames that you will encounter:

  1. Power frame
  2. Time frame
  3. Analyst frame
    You have three major response frame types that you can use to meet these oncoming frames, win the initial collision, and control the agenda:
  4. Power-busting frame
  5. Time constraining frame
  6. Intrigue frame
    There is a fourth frame you can deploy. It’s useful against all three of the opposing frames and many others you will encounter:
  7. Prize frame

For example, if I know the person I’m meeting is a hard-charging, type A personality, I will go in with a power-busting frame.
If that person is an analytical, dollars-and-cents type, I will choose an intrigue frame. If I’m outnumbered and outgunned and the deck is stacked against me, time frames and prize frames are essential.
I am also ready and wiling to switch to a different frame as the social interaction develops or changes.

Power Frame

When you approach an opposing power frame, your first and most important objective is to avoid falling into the other person’s frame by reacting to it. And make absolutely certain that you do nothing that strengthens the other person’s frame before your frames collide.

If a guy is going to dominate you, let him dominate you on the price of something like a hand drawing in this case, something that doesn’t matter.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, then pick something abstract and start an intense price negotiation over it, and it doesn’t matter if you win or lose.
The power of the person’s frame is rendered trivial, and the focus is back to you and what you want to do with the meeting.

To instigate a power frame collision, use a mildly shocking but not unfriendly act to cause it. Use defiance and light humor. This captures attention and elevates your status by creating something called “local star power”.

Some subtle ways of taking the power frame away:
As soon as you come in contact with your target, look for the first opportunity to

  1. Perpetrate a small denial or
  2. Act out some type of defiance


  1. Place a folder on the conference table that is labeled “Confidential-John Smith”. When the target reaches for the file, you grab it and say “Uh-uh, not yet. You have to wait for this.”
  2. If you deal in creative work and you brought visuals, let the target sneak a peek and then, when you see him curiously looking, turn it over, take it away, and deliver a soft reprimand that says, not until I say you’re ready.

This is a quick tease followed by a strong denial, and it is massively disruptive to the target’s croc brain. What you are doing is not offensive, and it’s not mean. It’s playful and it tells the target subconsciously, “I’m the one in charge here, not you, my friend.”

When you are defiant and funny at the same time, he is pleasantly challenged by you and instinctively knows that he is in the presence of a pro.
This is the moment when he realizes that this is a game, that the game is now on, and that you are both about to have a lot of fun playing it.

Prize Frame

Prizing is a way to deal with threatening and fast-approaching frames that are likely to push you into a low-status position.

When you prize, you frame yourself as high value in the eyes of your target. Prize correctly, and you will have your target chasing you.

If you are trying to win your target’s respect, attention, and money, he becomes the prize.
When your target is trying to win your attention and respect, you are the prize.

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.
Successful prizing results in your target chasing you, asking to be involved in your deal.

Another common situation occurs when the key decision maker does not attend the meeting as was agreed to. This situation requires a special kind of response that not only will reaffirm your control of the frame but also will establish you as someone unlike anyone else they have dealt with.

  • You can say “So you guys are asking me to delay the start? Okay. I can give you 15 minutes to get organized. But if we can’t start by then, then let’s call it a day.
    “I can wait 15 minutes, but then I have to leave.”
  • And if he does not show at that point, you leave. You do not deliver your presentation, you do not leave brochures, and you do not apologize. Your time has been wasted, and you don’t even need to say it. They know.
  • If it seems appropriate, and if this is a company with which you want to do business, tell the most important person in the room that you are willing to reschedule on your turf. That’s right, you offer to reschedule and acknowledge that these things happen, but for the next meeting, they must come to you.
"Can you tell me more about yourself? I'm picky about who I work with. I am looking for a certain type of person to work with."

When two frames come together, the stronger frame absorbs the weaker frame. Then weak arguments and rational facts just bounce off the winning frame.

Why does prizing work?
The croc brain would like to ignore you. But if you are dynamic enough-giving new and novel information-you will capture the croc’s attention. Once that happens, the croc is going to have one of two primal reactions:

  1. curiosity and desire
  2. fear and dislike

3 most fundamental behaviors of human beings:

  1. We chase that which moves away from us.
  2. We want what we cannot have.
  3. We only place value on things that are difficult to obtain.

Prizing 201: Avoiding the Mistakes
The prize frame works only if certain conditions are fulfilled.
2 basic ideas:

  1. Make the buyer qualify himself back to you. Do this by asking such questions as, “Why do I want to do business with you?”
  2. Protect your status. Don’t let the buyer change the agenda, the meeting time, or who will attend. Withdraw if the buyer wants to force this kind of change.

Prizing offers additional lessons beyond the previous learning:

  1. There is a great temptation to use trial closes because we’ve all been told this is how selling should be done: “So, are we in the ball park?” or
    “What do you think so far?” Don’t do it. This shows you as being too eager to get a deal done. Anyway, trial closes are crude and ineffective.
  2. Instead, take the time to step back, to withdraw. Work to control the underlying prize frame—then you don’t have to push your ideas so hard.
    Instead of a trial close, you might issue a challenge (do it with humor or it will feel forced): “So many buyers, yet only one of me. How are you going to compete for my attention.” I left out the question mark for a reason—because you are not seeking validation from the target. You don’t have to ask it as a question; just issue it as a statement. It’s important to get used to making statements instead of asking questions.
    Doing it this way shows that you aren’t constantly seeking validation.
  3. Make the target perform a legitimate task to earn the deal. For example, BMW has a special-edition M3 that requires you to sign a contract promising to you’ll keep it clean and take care of the special paint. The company won’t even let you buy one until you promise this in writing.
  4. What follows might sound like advice from the positive-mental-attitude crowd, but it’s an important part of the learning: The prize frame works best when you change your attitude about money—fully realizing that money is almost useless to any buyer/investor until it purchases what you have. Oh sure, the investor’s money can earn a few bucks in Treasury bills or corporate bonds. But that’s not what money wants to do. It wants to go to work by investing in deals and buying products. How does this work in the real world? This can seem a little abstract until you fully internalize the following fact: Money cannot do anything without you. The money needs you.

How to set the prize frame firmly in place: “I’m glad I could find the time to meet with you today. And I do have another meeting right after this. Let’s get started.”
This is always a good start because it tells the audience that there are many like them but only one of you.

As you move into your pitch, find moments to reinforce the other frames you hold. For example, make appropriate comments about the value of your time to strengthen both your time frame and your prize frame.

Time Frame

When you see attention begin to bottom out and expire, that’s it. You’re done. Stay in control of time, and start wrapping up.

Running long or beyond the point of attention shows weakness, neediness, and desperation.
  • When attention is lacking, set your own time constraint, and bounce out of there: “Hey, looks like time’s up. I’ve got to wrap this up and get to my next meeting.”
    If they are interested in you, they will agree with a follow-up.
  • The mistake most people make when they see their audience becoming fatigued is to talk faster, to try to force their way through the rest of the pitch. Instead of imparting more valuable information faster, however, they only succeed in helping their audience retain less of their message.
  • When you encounter a time frame like(“Hi, yes, um, well, I only have 10 minutes to meet with you, but come on in.”) quickly break it with a stronger prize frame of your own. Qualify your target on the spot.
    “No, I don’t work like that. There’s no sense in rescheduling unless we like each other and trust each other. I need to know, are you good to work with, can you keep appointments, and stick to a schedule?”

Intrigue Frame

Most intelligent people take great pleasure in being confronted with something newnovel, and intriguing.

Of the four frame types at your disposal, intrigue is the most powerful because it hijacks higher cognitive function to arouse the more primitive systems of the target’s brain.

The Intrigue Story
Needs the following elements:

  1. It must be brief, and the subject must be relevant to your pitch.
  2. You need to be the center of the story.
  3. There should be risk, danger, and uncertainty.
  4. There should be time pressure-a clock is ticking somewhere, and there are ominous consequences if action is not taken quickly.
  5. There should be tension-you are trying to do something but are being blocked by some force.
  6. There should be serious consequences-failure will not be pretty.

Use the elements of surprise and tension, and as you approach the most interesting part of the story, move away from it and leave the audience intrigued-until you are ready to reveal.

Analyst Frame

A deep dive into the technical details.

Especially common in industries that involve engineers and financial analysts.
This frame will kill your pitch.

The moment your audience does a “deep drill down” into the minute details, you are losing control.

Problem solving, numerical calculations, statistics, and any sort of geometry are called cold cognitions.
Nothing will freeze your pitch faster than allowing your audience to grind numbers or study details during the pitch.

The key to preventing this is to control access to details.

Sometimes, however, a drill down will happen anyway, and you have to act fast.

Hot cognitions are feelings like wanting or desire or excitement, and cold cognitions come from cold processes like analysis and problem solving.
To maintain frame control and momentum, you must force your audience to be analytical on its own time. You do this by separating the technical and detailed material from your presentation.

You answer the question directly and with the highest-level information possible. Then you redirect their attention back to your pitch.

In financial deals, I respond with something like this:
“The revenue is 80𝑚𝑖𝑙𝑙𝑖𝑜𝑛,𝑒𝑥𝑝𝑒𝑛𝑠𝑒𝑠𝑎𝑟𝑒62 million, the net is $18 million. These and other facts you can verify later, but right now, what we need to focus on is this: Are we a good fit? Should we be doing business together? This is what I came here to work on.”
If you’re pitching a product and the drill-down is on price, don’t chase this conversation thread. Do answer fast, answer directly with high-level details only, and go straight back to the relationship question.
What this tells the audience is that

  1. I’m trying to decide if you are right for me.
  2. 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.
  3. I care about who I work with.
    Keep the target focused on the business relationship at all times. Analysis comes later. This is the best and most reliable way to deal with a target who suddenly becomes bored and tries to entertain himself with the details of your deal.

The most effective way to overcome the analyst frame is with an Intrigue Frame.

If someone asks a question that is relevant yet veers toward an analytical tangent, let the question just bounce off your stronger power frame.

Save the discussion of details for later, after you have said what you want to say.

Remember, small acts of defiance and denial, combined with humor, are extremely powerful in maintaining your frame control and in reinforcing your high status.

Humor is important here—don’t leave it out, or I guarantee that you will encounter unpredictable responses.


How others view you is critical to your ability to establish the dominant frame and hold onto the power you take when you win the frame collision.

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.
They do nothing for your social position except reduce it.

People confuse status with charisma or ego, which are entirely different things.

If you are pitching from a lower-level platform, or low social status, your ability to persuade others will be diminished, and your pitch will be difficult, no matter how great your idea or product.
However, if you hold high social status, even on a temporary basis, your power to convince others will be strong, and your pitch will go easily.

It doesn’t matter how well you argue, the way your points are crafted, or how elegant your flow and logic. If you do not have high status, you will not command the attention necessary to make your pitch heard.

Pitching any kind of idea or deal involves playing complex and tricky status game.

In general, public spaces are most deadly beta traps and should be avoided.
For a real pitch, coffee shops are an absolute last resort.
Trade shows and conventions are an absolute beta trap.

If you wish to elevate your social vale in any given situation, you can do so by redirecting people into a domain where you are in charge.

Local star power: the ability to create temporarily high-status position.

The ability to create and sustain local star power literally is going to mean the difference between success and failure.

If you think you’ll start a meeting from the beta position, always be on time for that appointment. When you are late, you are giving away power.

Momentum is key. Create high status immediately. Do not hesitate. 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.

Avoid social rituals that reinforce the status of others. Idle social banter diminishes your status.

Have fun. Be popular. Enjoy your work. There is nothing as attractive as someone who is enjoying what (s)he does.

Steps involved in elevating your status in any situation:

  1. Politely ignore power rituals and avoid beta traps.
  2. Be unaffected by your customer’s global status(inside and outside the business environment).
  3. Look for opportunities to perpetrate small denials and defiance that strengthen your frame and elevate your status.
  4. As soon as you take power, quickly move the discussion into an arena where you are the domain expert, where your knowledge and information are unassailable by your audience.
  5. Apply a prize frame by positioning yourself as the reward for making the decision to do business with you.
  6. Confirm your alpha status by making your customer, who now temporarily occupies a beta position, make a statement that qualifies your higher status.

💡”Remind me again why in the world I want to do business with you?” (with a smile)
some response
“Yeah, that’s good, I’ll keep that in mind.”

Keep the customer qualifying back to you as long as you can. Do it as much as possible right up to the point where it becomes a little awkward-or is just taking too much time.

💡”Have you ever done a deal this large before?”
some response
“What was the largest deal you have ever done?”

Pitching your Big Idea

As soon as the pitch or presentation begins, one critical thing must happen: The target must feel at ease.
In the vast majority of cases, they don’t because they don’t know how long they’re going to be stuck listening to you, and you’re a stranger.

“Guys, let’s get started. I’ve only got about 20 minutes to give you the big idea, which will leave us some time to talk it over before I have to get out of here.”

💡You’re going to make the pitch in 4 sections:

  1. Introduce yourself and the big idea: 5 minutes.
  2. Explain the budget and secret sauce: 10 minutes.
  3. Offer the deal: 2 minutes.
  4. Stack frames for a hot cognition: 3 minutes.

Phase 1: Introduce yourself and the big idea

The very first thing you need to do-even before you think about explaining your idea-is to give people your background.

But you have to do this in a specific way; your success depends on how well and how fast you do it.


  1. My degree is from Berkeley. I did my MBA at UCLA.
  2. After that I was at McKinsey for four years, but really, my only homerun there was the sales program I did for Lexus. Saved them about $15 million, and they still use it today.
  3. I left consulting six months ago to work on the “big idea”.

“Why now?” Frame
It’s vitally important that the target knows that your idea is new, emerging from current market opportunities and that it’s not some relic left over from bygone days.
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.

3 market forces pattern: trend casting

  1. economic factors
  2. social factors
  3. technology factors
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. Once this story is told, everything you say in your pitch will be legitimized by it.

As you craft your backstory, think in terms of how it came to be where it is today and how you found it. Describe the steps in its evolution, and show how it evolved-how it moved-to finally become the opportunity you have now identified and captured.

3 basic steps:

  1. Explain the most important changes in our business. Forecast the trends. Identify important developments-both in your market and beyond.
  2. Talk about the impact of these developments on costs and customer demand.
  3. Explain how these trends have briefly opened a market window.

Your idea has a history, an exciting evolutionary path to the present time, and credibility. The idea is displayed against the economic, historical, and sociologic changes that made it emerge from the shadows-but it has just barely emerged. You were alert and saw the potential and are now developing it. (This is a nice point to strengthen your prize frame.)

Move is a critical element in the “Why now?” frame. Your target needs to understand the forces that are pushing your deal and to understand that your success is inevitable and imminent as a consequence of these greater forces.

A huge part of the brain is devoted to detecting movement.

Movement captures your attention.
This is what you want to take advantage of with your pitch.
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.

You cannot just show audience members two possible states and hope the difference captures their attention. You need to show them the movement from one to the other.

Introducing the big idea

It takes 1 minute.

Idea introduction pattern:
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).”

Example 1:
For companies with large buildings in California and Arizona
who are dissatisfied with their aging solar panels.
My product is a plug and play solar accelerator
that provides 45 percent more energy from old panels.
Unlike the cost of replacing panels,
my product is inexpensive and has no moving parts.

Example 2:
For busy executives
who don’t have enough work space on their computer monitor.
My product provides eight flat-screen monitors, linked together, that can fit on any desk.
Unlike the common do-it-yourself solutions, having just two or three monitors,
my visual array lets executives use Excel, Firefox, Word, Gmail, Skype, Photoshop, Explorer, and Trading Desk at the same time with no confusing windows.

Example 3:
For investors needing a 10 percent cash yield or better
who are dissatisfied with risky investments such as stocks.
My airport deal is a project with low risk and lots of protection
that provides a current cash flow.
Unlike most development projects, you can cash out any time you want.

Phase 2: Explain the budget and secret sauce

In phase 2, you have to explain what problems the big idea really solves and how it actually works.

Simplicity doesn’t really matter.

Simplicity can make you seem naïve or unsophisticated.
You can underwhelm the target with too little information just as easily as you can overwhelm him with too much information.

What you really want to do is tune the message to the mind of the target.

Ideas you come up with using your problem-solving brain-the neocortex-must be intentionally returned for the croc brain that will receive them.

It doesn’t matter how much information you give, a lot or a little, but instead how good your theory of mind is. In other words, it’s important how well you can tune your information to the other person’s mind.

All the important stuff must fit into the audience’s limits of attention, which for most people is about 20 minutes.

Attention will be given when information novelty is high and will drift away when information novelty is low.

When a person is feeling both desire and tension, that person is paying serious attention to what’s in front of him.

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter of desire.
Norepinephrine is the neurotransmitter of tension.
Together they add up to attention.

If you want someone’s undivided, fully engaged attention, you have to provide these two neurotransmitters. These two chemicals work together and each has a different triggering mechanism.
To give dopamine a kick and create desire, offer a reward.
To give a norepinephrine kick and create tension, take something away.

Brain scans show that dopamine isn’t exactly the chemical of experiencing pleasure. Instead, it’s the chemical of anticipating a reward.

“How do you get more dopamine flowing in your brain?” Novelty.

You create novelty by violating the target’s expectations in a pleasing way.

Getting what you expected to get produces no dopamine kick, but a novelty in the form of an unexpected gain gives the brain a blast of dopamine.

People enjoy some intermediate level of intellectual complexity.

Curiosity derives from an information gap-the difference between what you know and what you want to know.

When a signal from the pitch tells the target there is something new to be discovered, dopamine is released in the brain. Unexpected (and pleasant) rewards release more dopamine than expected ones.

Tension is the introduction of some real consequences to the social encounter. It’s the response to a clear and unequivocal realization that something will be gained or lost. It is letting the target know that are high stakes. Tension indicates consequences and therefore importance.

In narrative- and frame-based pitching, you can’t be afraid of tension. In fact, you have to create it.

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 in. 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.”
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.)

If there’s a single reason why some of my most important pitches failed, it’s because I was nice and the audience was nice, and we were all very polite with each. There was no tension or conflict.

Conflict is the basis of interesting human connections.

A pitch narrative can be thought of as a series of tension loops. Push then pull. Create tension. Then resolve it.

The Heart of the Pitch
Once you have attention by creating desire and tension-you’re ready to deliver the heart of your pitch. But keep moving fast because this cocktail of dopamine and norepinephrine is only available for just a few minutes.

Package the information for the croc brain: Big picture. High contrast. Visual. Novel. With verified evidence.

The following items are a simple punch-list of issues that most pitches have to cover. These are the prerequisites. The stuff you have to have no matter what. It’s the minimum information you need to show up and be relevant.

  • I would start by presenting the budget.

Pitching Numbers and Projections
Spend almost no time on skills at projecting revenue-a task any simpleton can perform.


  1. How easy it is for new competitors to jump in the game?
  2. How easy it is for customers to switch out your product with another?

Secret Sauce
In almost every pitch situation, you need something special. Briefly describe it as your “secret sauce”-the unfair advantage you have over others.

Phase 3: Offer the Deal

Describe to your audience what they are going to receive when they decide to do business with you. You’ll want to push through this quickly for the sake of time-and get back to framing.

In clear and concise terms, tell the audience exactly what you will be delivering to them, when it will be delivered, and how.
If they play a part in this process, explain what their roles and responsibilities will be.
Don’t drill down into a lot of detail; just provide summarized facts that they need to know so that their mental picture of your offering is complete.

There will be a fulfillment process involved, and that is what you must explain.

Remember, the most important deliverable in your deal is you.

Frame Stacking and Hot Cognitions

Phase 4: Frame Stacking and Hot Cognitions

We tend to like/dislike things before we know much about them.

In our pitch, we are not looking to engage with the cold neo-cortex. We are not going to push the target into paradigmatic mode.

Hot cognition

  1. intrigue
  2. prizing
  3. time frame
  4. moral authority

When the target starts getting analytical and cold, it’s time for the four-frame hot cognition stack to enter the pitch.

Hot Cognition 1: Intrigue Frame

This is the kind of narrative that targets truly enjoy. Who is this mystery man, Joshua, and how do we meet him? This works because it is not about what happened. That’s actually a boring story. What’s important is who it happened to and how the characters reacted to their situation.

Nobody cares about narratives where you witnessed something.

They want to see someone forced into action and positively overcoming obstacles.

The targets have given you their time because they want to visit a new world to learn about new things and become involved in the lives of unique, interesting, and talented people.

No one is seriously going to go into business with you until they know something about how you conduct yourself in tough situations.
People want to know how you have faced obstacles and overcome them. They want to see you 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.

This kind of story puts the target into narrative thinking mode. In narrative mode, we seek to understand reality from events in terms of “human actors striving to do physical things over time.

Your big idea is probably an abstract notion. If you are honest with yourself, what is it really? A pile of financials, a bunch of timelines, some customer orders, a marketing plan, an Internet site, and some smart new ideas. You probably have projections, information technology, competitive analysis, and market timing. This kind of info is much too abstract.

This is why you need analog human narratives to do your explaining.

Why is the intrigue frame best performed as a narrative?
A narrative that feels correct in time will convey a strong sense of truth and accuracy.

Short and strong narratives that introduce characters who are overcoming real-world obstacles can ignite hot cognitions-which, in turn, push the target out of paradigmatic and analytical thinking mode.

Pattern to use:

  1. Put a man in the jungle.
  2. Have beasts attack him.
  3. Will he get to safety?

Things don’t always need to be told in terms of extreme events-but they always should be extreme in terms of the character’s emotional experience. This is what makes a good narrative.

When we listen to your narrative, it’s not what happens to you that makes you interesting, but it’s what you do about the situations you are in.

The emotional power in a narrative comes from a character that engages difficult obstacles and finds ways to overcome them.

Hot Cognition 2: Prize Frame

What follows can be used toward the end of the pitch session:
“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?”

💡Basic elements include:

  1. I have one of the better deals in the market.
  2. I am choosy about who I work with.
  3. It seems like I could work with you, but really, I need to know more.
  4. Please start giving me some materials on yourself.
  5. I still need to figure out if we would work well together and be good partners.
  6. What did your last business partners say about you?
  7. When things go sideways in a deal, how do you handle it?
  8. My existing partners are choosy.

Unlike some of the other frames, the prize frame relies a great deal on how strong your conviction is.

Over time, as you get good at this stuff, you’ll begin to see that the prize frame does not rely on words and explanations. It’s more about the strength of your convictions about who or what is the prize.

Hot Cognition 3: Time Frame

When I was selling a deal to Boeing, I used this version of the time frame:
“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 al 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 to decide by July 18 if you’re in or out.”

The effect of time on decision making has been researched for 100 years, and nothing has changed about human nature in that time: In nearly all instances, the addition of time pressure to a decision-making event reduces decision quality. It is true, for instance, that you can get someone to buy a car more easily if you tell him that the sale ends at the end of the day. Why does this strategy work so well? There’s a scarcity bias in the brain, and potential loss of a deal triggers fear. But just because imposing scarcity works wall isn’t a recommendation to use it—we don’t want to taint our deal with the whiff of cheap 1980’s sales tactics. We want the target to see us as a professional agent. To trust us. So I tend not to use much time pressure at all. Extreme time pressure feels forced and cut-rate. But the truth is that time is a factor in every deal. You have to find the right balance between fairness and pressure and set a real time constraint.

💡Here’s the time frame pattern you can use and follow:
“Guys, nobody likes time pressure. I don’t like it, and you don’t like it. No one does. But good deals with strong fundamentals are like an Amtrak train, or more like a deal train. They stop at the station, pick up investors, and have a set departure time. And when it’s time—the train has to leave the station.
“You have plenty of time to decide if you like me—and if you want this deal. If you don’t love it, there’s no way you should do it; we all know that.
“But this deal is bigger than me, or you or any one person; the deal is going ahead. There’s a critical path, a real timeline that everyone has to work with. So we need to decide by the 15th.”
That’s it. You don’t have to do any more. With just that simple pattern, the time constraint is set. You don’t have to be overt or aggressive with time pressure. Every single person knows what you’re talking about when you say the train is leaving the station at such and such date and time.

Hot Cognition 4: Moral Authority Frame

Ritual elements of social interaction: in every social interaction, there are basic, human, hardwired functions.

All social encounters are framed.

Hot cognitions are:

  • primal
  • unavoidable
  • tend to be instant and enduring.

Focus your energy on getting the target’s croc brain to want your product.

Eradicating Neediness

“Son, you’re going to these meetings… needy.”

Neediness is a signal of threat. If you display neediness, it is perceived as just the kind of threat that the crocodile brain wants to avoid.

Solution to eradicating neediness:

  1. Want nothing.
  2. Focus only on things you do well.
  3. Announce your intention to leave the social encounter.

3 main rules of Tao:

  1. Elminate your desires.
    It’s not necessary to want things. Sometimes you have to let them come to you.
  2. Be excellent in the presense of outhers.
    Show people one thing that you are very good at.
  3. Withdraw.
    At a crucial moment, when people are expecting you to come after them, pull away.

The Tao of Steve is the perfect philosophy to use when you finish your pitch. Use it to stifle the urge to seek approval from your audience.

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 trigger a powerful prizing effect on your audience. They will come to you.

Case Study: The Airport Deal

My research had shown that the small talk at the beginning of a pitch typically was fruitless.
People who make million and billion dollar decisions don’t care.

Focus instead, on a unique theme and storyline. A compelling human drama.

Beat it into yourself: Every pitch should tell a story.

My competitor did not respond to me when spoken to. He knew anything he said I would be framed, defamed, reframed, and flipped.

“Jeffries would be building an airport on 1,000 acres of southern California land, land with a history dating back to the 1920s. This didn’t have to be a deal about money. Instead, it could be about something bigger, something that tapped into the human desire to be the alpha in a social situation. The brain is wired to do things to achieve status, not money. And within that notion, the big idea was born. This deal was about legacy.
This deal was about building a legacy from a piece of American history. Simon Jeffries wanted to be remembered for doing something important. That is desire working, not greed.”

Any product that your target consciously or subconsciously believes will enhance his social image will get his brain hot with desire. Show the brain something that society values, and you won’t just be hitting hot buttons, you’ll be stomping on them.

My pitch:
“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 mal or motel. We are building an airport, and we are doing it on hallowed ground. This has to be done right.”

Let me explain. There 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 have a chance.

  1. Social factors
  2. Economic factors
  3. Technology factors

“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 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.”

I wasn’t going to start selling and promoting before I was done framing. That would be a mistake.

“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 will be judged by generations to come by what you build here.”

Our plan gives plenty of profit to investors but also gives them a chance to be part of an amazing story.

Flood the target’s brain with dopamine by focusing on 3 ideas:

  1. the idea of social rewards
  2. the idea of becoming a hero
  3. the idea of making a lot of money.
    The purpose? Ignite desire.

Over the next five minutes, I gave highlights of the budget and what timeline I could deliver on. If I could not pitch the full plan in five minutes, then the last two months would become a very expensive waste of time and money.

“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.”

💡”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.”

Morality frame: impacting the lives of a community of more than 100,000 souls.

“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 it. Imagine getting married to someone you only ‘liked’.
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 possibly work with you if you didn’t love our big idea. We believe in the big idea that strongly.”

“So if you love the idea, 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.

I discovered that people won’t do what you tell them to.
They must feel as if they have free will to make their own decisions.

Get in the Game

The crocodile brain is the same everywhere.

Every croc brain responds the same:

  • When something is boring -> ignore it.
  • When something seems dangerous -> fight/run
  • When something is complicated -> radically summarize

With my approach, you are respecting the croc brain by introducing a game, and you are inviting others to play with you. It will feel new and different to everyone involved-because it is. Instead of flogging people with canned responses and pressure tactics, frame-based interactions excite the senses and engage people in a much more social way. In a world of robotic sameness, this approach will distinguish you from others.

Frames are psychological referencing systems that all people use to gain a perspective and relevance on issues. Frames influence judgement. Frames change the meaning of human behavior.

Frames shape the underlying meaning of every social interaction.

2 principal insights into social dynamics:

  • Structural—you have to package ideas for the croc brain in such a way that you are generating hot cognitions. In other words, you 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.
  • Procedural: 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.
    But now, there’s a third element that I believe is fundamental to successful frame control, to seizing alpha status, and to social dynamics in general: humor and having fun.

Importantly, 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. Perhaps it’s best to think about it this way: People who have lots of options are not uptight, and they don’t take themselves too seriously.

If you talk to frame masters, they’ll tell you that the secret of success is to create tension in a fun way that invites people to join in the frame game.

💡Once they come across someone like you who doesn’t submit to these whims, they take notice, thinking, This person is interesting. He isn’t falling over himself to impress me like all the others.
What’s going on here?
Becoming a frame master isn’t easy. It takes thought, effort, and will, but the rewards are substantial. The good news—this is a journey that is fun from the very start, and if you are doing it right, it remains fun. In fact, if at any point you find that you are not having fun, something has gone wrong.

Over time, you will begin to notice an increase in the velocity of your work and leisure activities. This is so because strong frames allow you to selectively ignore things that do not move you forward toward your goals, and such a recognition amplifies your focus on the things that do.
In a natural way, framing keeps you focused on what is most important—human relationships—and prevents you from becoming distracted or burdened by unimportant matters when you are in social situations. Your abilities to discern, judge, decide, and act will vastly improve because the frame guides you.

Learning to manage social dynamics is not an intuitive undertaking.

Fortunately, frame control method comes naturally for most people who can follow the blueprint here and have a good sense of humor and a positive outlook on life.

Progressive steps to learn framing:

  1. Learn to recognize beta traps and how to step around them.
    Identify anything that is designed to control your behavior, and think of how you would step around it.
  2. In a gradual way, start stepping around beta traps.
    It will feel uncomfortable at first, but it will push you forward to the place where it becomes natural and hardly noticeable to you. Work with a partner to practice beta-trap avoidance.
  3. Identify and label social frames.
    Notice the frames that are coming at you on every level of your life. Develop your ability to see them coming, describe them, and discuss them with your partner. Become very good at identifying frames using the unique language of framing
  4. Begin to initiate frame collisions safe targets-those who pose no major career risk to you.
    Remember that humor and a soft touch are absolutely necessary.
  5. The small acts of defiance and denial you use to take control of a social frame create a certain amount of conflict and tension.
    This is the point. Push. Pull. Delivering these acts with a soft touch reassures the target’s croc brain that everything is okay-that there is no clear and present danger. If you are having difficulty at this stage, it is because you are triggering defensive responses, which means you are coming on too strong. If this is the case, pause. Do not press forward if you are struggling because that means that something is wrong.
    Find another partner to do this with, choosing a different social environment, practice in another venue, or just punch “reset” and start over.
  6. Frame control cannot be forced because this takes the fun out of it.
    This is not theater for someone else to enjoy. It’s not a dog and pony show. It’s a game for your own personal enjoyment-and for a moment, consider why we play games-to enjoy ourselves in a challenging but fair way where we can rack up a win.
    When you say something that causes a frame collision, do it with a twinkle in your eye and a smile in your heart. Your target will feel your good will and good humor and respond in a positive way.
    Above all, remember that this is not a conventional sales technique. You need not be a back-slapping, guffawing blow-hard to win business from your customers. There is no pressure here, no brute force, and no anxiety. Instead, this is a fun game that you bring to every target with whom you meet. Simply enjoy the moment, and others will enjoy it with you.
  7. Work with other frame masters.
    Now that you have developed a basic level of skill, seek out others who are better than you. As with any other artistic or athletic endeavor, apprenticeship leads to mastery faster than going it alone. Continue to work with others. Like a 10th dan black belt, you never stop refining your technique and honing your mastery. Keep it simple, stick to a few frames that work for you, and avoid complication. In the PITCH method, less really is more. As you advance, teach others.

This is a game where you set the rules and then change the rules as needed to maintain your continuous advantage without ever upsetting your opponent.

The only rule is that you make the rules that the others follow. Because you set the agenda and control the frame, this is a game you can never lose. How could that not be fun?
We need to use strong moral authority and a power-busting frame to win this frame collision,

Future conversations with your partner or group should sound like this:
“These guys set beta traps from the lobby all the way to the conference room. You have to time frame them immediately and withdraw. After that, they just hit you with power frames. Just break it with a prize frame. And then frame stack a few push/pull patterns.”
“Here comes the analyst frame. Let’s hard-core intrigue frame, seize local star power, and withdraw.”

Here are the most important terms for you to know and to own personally:

  • frame control
  • power-busting frame
  • frame collisions
  • prizing
  • beta traps
  • seizing status
  • local star power
  • push/pull
  • alpha
  • hot cognition
  • crocodile brain
  • neocortex