As the 5 year anniversary of Pitch Practice rapidly approaches, the path and brand of the meetup continue to amaze me. In the last month, we’ve had one of our largest groups ever to fill The Pitch Practice Boardroom made up entirely of people who are not members of ATV. Then just yesterday, my friend and mentor Charlie Paparelli tells me that he references part of the Pitch Practice methodology – how to articulate the problem – every time he speaks to entrepreneurs now. Furthermore, Charlie suggested that the core message behind Pitch Practice was far bigger than I had ever envisioned, something similar to Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” movement.
What is Your Why?
The focal point of the Pitch Practice Methodology for developing your pitch is “the problem.” For a founder, the problem is the why. The problem is the reason for creating the startup that you will work to transform into a repeatable, profitable business. This approach originates in The Lean Startup methodology, which directs entrepreneurs not to “think of a great idea”, but instead to solve a big huge problem. When you start by identifying and then solving a problem, that problem becomes your why, your reason “to get up in the morning” and the reason “anyone should care”, according to Sinek in his 2009 TED Talk. How you solve the problem can and will change over time. The problem, if big enough, will only be eradicated when you are 100% successful.
Can You Articulate the Problem?
I’ve noted before, many times, that the most difficult part of creating a pitch is identifying, defining, and articulating the problem that your organization solves. I cannot emphasize enough how hard it is. And now Charlie has confirmed the level of difficulty through his hundreds of conversations with entrepreneurs. It’s incredibly difficult for entrepreneurs to articulate the problem without talking about themselves or their organization.
That’s where Pitch Practice’s message and methodology can help anyone, not just new entrepreneurs. Simon Sinek, in his book “Start with Why“, tells many stories of how organizations that originated with a very clear “Why” statement later lost their way. Businesses like Dell, Motorola, Kodak, and Microsoft come to mind.
Microsoft and Dell have moved so far away from their original “why” that we don’t recognize what they do anymore. The same thing can happen to new, young, small companies.
What’s Your Problem?
If you’re a leader or founder, what’s the problem you solve? Can you articulate that problem without mentioning your organization? That’s the key, because the problem has nothing to do with you. You are supposed to solve the problem. Give it a try. See if you can say what problem you solve without saying “I”, “me”, “we”, “our” or “us”.. The problem is not about you. It’s out there in the market, and it’s very difficult to express if you don’t understand it perfectly well.
Simon Sinek preaches “Start with Why”, and I am a strong proponent of that mindset. However, before any startup can start with why, the organization must be able to articulate the problem it solves. That problem then becomes its WHY. Sinek very succinctly explains the importance of being able to articulate the problem you solve:
“If you don’t know why you do what you do, but people respond to why you do what you do, then how will you ever convince people to buy your product?” – Simon Sinek