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What Does It Take To Be Backable

Lesson 1 of 1

What Does it Take to be Backable with Suneel Gupta

 

What Does It Take To Be Backable

Lesson 1 of 1

What Does it Take to be Backable with Suneel Gupta

 

Lesson Info

What Does it Take to be Backable with Suneel Gupta

you know what? Nobody makes it alone, but there's a reason that some people can get investors to get on board or bosses to believe in them, why others struggle in that area. And the reason has a lot less to do with experience, a lot less to do with pedigree or some polished plan for approaching it in short back kable, people seem to have some hidden quality that inspires others to take action on their ideas. We chalk it up to some natural talent or charisma or some it thing, but I'll tell you what my guest today had that same epiphany and wanted to know if it, this magic thing could be learned and my guest today is Sunil Gupta. Now Sunil is the founder of Rise, which is a health company that he sold. He's on the faculty at Harvard and today we're talking about a bunch of things about the psychology behind helping people understand your idea pitching, if you will, helping people um connect with your big dream, whether that is starting a new company shifting careers, whatever it may be, ...

today's episode is a winner and I can't wait for you to meet Sunil. And when you talk about his new book, which is right here, called back double The surprising truth behind what makes people take a chance on you. So, I'm going to get out of the way and let's get into the conversation. Mm I love you. See, Neil, Welcome to the show, my man, It's great to have you. Thanks for being here. It's good to be here. Chase, thanks for having me, Congrats on the new book. Well thanks. You know, it's funny because when I was thinking about writing it, I don't know if I told you this before, but I hadn't written a book before, I had no idea how to do it. Brand new creative project. So where do I go? I go to Creative Live to figure out how to do this thing and I remember this is maybe you know, this is years ago, but I watched the class with tim Ferriss and Neil Strauss man and it was and and it set all the initial groundwork for me writing this book. Like all the tips, all the things they talked about, and in fact, I ended up featuring both of those guys in this book is just going to say, I know, I know they're both in there, This is this is amazing, it sounds planned. What a way to start a podcast. Um I don't need to do a read, I don't need to do creative Life sponsorship. Read for this episode of the show. Um Now I was going to ask you um you know, tim comes up a couple of times, he comes up in some of the pr materials around it, but before you in the book again, I love to feed your people when they've got new material out in the world. But let's go back to, you know, your roots, you got some Harvard roots, um but let's go back further than that. Let's go back. Uh tell us a little bit about how you came to be interested in um startups, how you became an entrepreneur, a little bit about the back story behind that. Just, I like a little grounding, a little orientation to start off shows. Uh and if you if you're just uh tuning in here and you're walking down the bike pattern, reading on the bike path or walking down the walking path or maybe sitting on a park bench, your commuting again. Um We're sitting here with steel, he's going to tell you a little bit about his back story. So let's get into it. Yeah, early, early in my career, I started out as a writer. I was working for the Democratic National Committee and you know, I was I was I was speechwriting mainly. And so I found myself backstage in boston, the Democratic National Convention. Um and if you're backstage at a convention, it's sort of all the usual suspects at that time, it was like john Kerry and al gore and the Clintons. But there was one person that nobody really recognized and it was a state senator from Illinois who happened to be giving a big speech that night and I watched Barack Obama delivered this speech. And just, and just as good as the world seemed to be watching him, I was backstage, almost watching the world. And what I saw was this just electric wave of current almost ripped through the audience. And I became that night one of, you know, I think millions of young people who became fascinated with Barack Obama so much so that when it became clear he was going to, he was going to run. I I went to Chicago and started working on his campaign, knocking on doors in places like Iowa and new Hampshire and got involved in what was happening at headquarters as well. And uh, that really kind of pulled me into tech in a different kind of way. Um, you know, it was sort of this, this blend of activism in tech and as a result of that, I started to meet people who I don't think I would have ordinarily have met, one of whom was Reid Hoffman, who was also interested in this intersection of activism in tech at the time. Reed was was chairman at Mozilla. Um He had started linked in and he was ceo of linkedin, but he was also spending time at Mozilla and he and he thought that that could be a really interesting fit for somebody like me. Um so we started talking about the company and I went out and I visited and I fell in love with with what I saw and I decided to join and and that that kind of set, I think the framework for this sort of career that, you know, certainly my family really doesn't understand, which is which is, you know, kind of a blend of activism and tech and writing. Um you know, I've run for public office now I've started a company, a start up of my own called Rise, which focuses on health care, one on one health coaching, which we ended up selling to one medical. And now I've written this book, wow, we got, we got superstar entrepreneurs dropped in there. Uh, the fact that your family doesn't understand you, I want to go back to that for a second before we get into the meat of this because as you know, so many people are listening and watching our uh, have visions and dreams and goals and right now there parents or their career counselor, they said, you know, you need to be a doctor or a lawyer or heck you just need to do something that I understand because that's what makes me feel good as your parent guardian, uh, spouse partner, career counselor, I need to know what you're doing. So I feel good about you. But clearly when you say, yeah, there's this intersection between activism and technology and, and writing. That is a sweet spot for me. And I'm guessing that the people in your family or like uh, sorry. None of what you said. Neither of those things. None of those things are a job in and of themselves and certainly combining them is not one plus one equals three or one plus one plus one equals four. This is like, I don't get it. So I got to explain that to people that are close to you. Well, I get it all the time and I don't know if I have a clear explanation but I will tell you something that you said has actually really resonated with me and I plan on using it more often, which is you talk about the difference between the map and the compass. Yes. And I think that you know oftentimes we want this master plan right? And we want to make sure that every single dot that we lay down connects to the other dot. But I love, I love your metaphor of the compass where it's like, well it's the next best thing. What am I where am I right now? And what's the next right move for me? And that's, that's kind of how I've tended to sort of, I think live with my life. It's interesting because I didn't mention this. But while I was in Chicago, I did go to law school as well and and I didn't Yeah, and it's funny, I went back to my reunion, uh, and it was, it was a 10 year reunion. I went there recently and I'm hanging out with some, some of my friends from law school and some of them are quite happy practicing law. But I will tell you that quite a few of them are not. And and one in particular, I went and grabbed drinks with him afterwards and we were talking and he's like, man, I'm just miserable right now, and I'm like why don't you just go do something else, go do something different, and we kind of had this back and forth and it was actually a little bit more intense than I I intended it to be, because I wasn't trying to judge him or anything like that, but I think he felt, I think he felt judged and eventually he just kind of like snapped and he's like, I'm doing this because I have a law degree, right? Like I'm practicing law because I have a fucking law degree, right, and I'm not gonna I'm not gonna go do something else, like I invested the time in doing this, and, you know, it really made me think of the story that um I was told when I was a kid and it was, it was, it was the buddha who had gathered his disciples around him and he told the story of a man who, who arrives at a river that is way too choppy to cross. And so he builds this really robust raft in order to cross it, and after months of work, he finally has a robust enough raft where you can get across the river and so he gets to the other side and he knows the rest of his journey is now on foot. So the question that buddha asked his disciples is like, does he then pick up the raft, and does he carry it the rest of the journey, or does he leave the raft at the side of the river? And of course the disciples say, well no, he leads the raft, the side of the river, right, but at this point is like, we oftentimes we build this raft and then we feel like we have to carry it the rest of the way, we have to carry it on our heads. And often times I think that that's true, we have a tough time detaching from the wrath when it comes to bad things in our lives, like abusive past abusive relationships or things that we want to forget and leave behind, but also good things, relatively things that were actually success stories, we feel like, well we then have to carry that on our head and connect whatever happens next to that thing instead of leaving it behind. Um, and I guess I've never really had an issue with that, which is why I think the map versus the compass makes so much sense. Yeah, and just to recap for anyone who may be new, uh, the map versus compass that came from my world and uh specifically my book creative calling is around, you know, a a map is a is a specific path that tells you how to go. You need to, you know, it's like directions, right? You go left on 24th and right here and then if you get off the map, or if you get off the path, rather you're like, oh my gosh, the map is, I'm off the map right now. What's happening versus the compass is just a general direction. And as long as you're imperfectly walking in the general direction that, you know, you need to go north, then gosh, you're making progress. And the distinction between those two can be simple or and subtle or it can be profound because for the person who is reliant on this map, that we were also like if you go to this school and get these grades and then get this job, you're going to have this level of success and happiness and fame and money and all those things, but not only does that not match anyone's reality that I've ever met, it's actually a counterproductive one because it teaches us to panic when we lose track of the map or we're off the map or where there isn't a map or where the map that we have bought or been sold rather is busted. Yeah. Uh thank you for bringing that up. Um but the point that you made about the buddhist story is I think it's fascinating because we do carry so many things forward with us and um many of them which don't serve us or others, we feel like we have to um does this, you know why? I mean, obviously this is germane to the story with your friends at law school, but how has this played a role in your life? Did you have no problem bailing on lawyered? Um because it just didn't serve you? And are there other examples this an easy thing for you? And clearly I played a role because you're telling us a story about it and we see so many people who don't and your friend from law school being one. Yeah. Give me level deeper here. Yeah, I mean, you know, I guess the path the path has been from me from writing to law to tech too. Politics back to now writing um and I guess it's just kind of been always sort of a you know, a step back moment of kind of what feels right right now right? Like what what what what makes sense at this point? And I guess um you know, the analysis that I never really kind of go through is how does the past really connect to the future? Like I guess I don't feel that pressure to connect the dots. Um and in the end, I don't know, maybe, you know, maybe I'll look back and be like, well you should have, you should have connected the dots. I don't think I will actually our our friend Taylor had a pretty good interest, interesting metaphor for this. You know, he called the the architect versus the archaeologist, The architect has to sort of build has a has a has a blueprint and we'll build the building, right? And no matter what, that's the building they're going to build and the archaeologists is sort of goes on a dig and focuses on that big and then and then, you know, goes to the next big and, and I guess at the end of the day, I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I think, and my career with with this sort of almost like bag of things that I found, rather than sort of a one building that I can point to and say, hey, I spent my career building that I'm, I'm inspired and I'm, I think this is a thing, we're, I'm stumbling on this. I didn't want to go too deep here in my notes, but like, this is a real thing, like what we're uncovering right here. This is like early on here and again, we can talk about this, there's a part of the opening to the book where you talk about incubation time, I think is really interesting. Um, but how this is all tied together for me is people, but we have, and this is very buddhist, but we have um, an attachment uh conditioning is the way that they talk about it in my wife's practice. She's, she studies under a buddhist at a buddhist monastery. And we are we believe that all these stories that we have about ourselves that came from this background and I went to the school and like your friend did the law degree in that, that that somehow has to play a role in the next thing that you do. But the reality is all of us, whether you're again, you're commuting or running right now or sitting on a park bench or laying in bed staring at the ceiling. You could do anything right now. You can take a right turn and jump up and down and rub your belly and pat your head. You can literally do anything right now. And if you were told not to celebrate, well, you can start to celebrate. If you were raised in a family didn't show emotion. You can scream at the top of your lungs right now. All these things can be true for us and yet we bring along so much unnecessary baggage. I think this is, I think this is fascinating. Um, and that you're, you're, you've articulated that. Why do you think that you you are, um, not attached to that when so many people are? Yeah, I mean, I guess the, the idea of, you know, throw away work, are you okay with this idea that you did all this work? And it and it, and it ultimately it's not actually throw away work did help you in seven years, right? It did it did actually inform you in some way, even if it showed you what you don't want to do. Like I did spend time working in law and I don't regret that because I realized that it's absolutely not what I want to be doing with my life. I don't consider that to necessarily be a complete waste of time. Um you know, it shaped me in some ways, but I think this idea that your past can influence your future, your past can inform your future, but your past doesn't determine your future is really what sticks with me. Well, let's shift to one of things. You you get to early on in the book. Again, the um, uh, if you're just now joining, I haven't said it that the title of your book is back. Herbal, surprising truth behind what makes people take a chance on you. And again, whether you're trying to get your first job or a new job or raise venture capital or get someone to buy the product or the thing you're putting out in the world just pay attention when they wouldn't otherwise. All these things are examples of being back herbal. But early on in the book there's you have a really clear arctic articulation of this concept of incubation time and so many may, let's just pretend where your friend who's in law school and what we might say to them, they're like man, I am a lawyer because I went to law school and you're like, yeah, but what did you learn in law school? You learn so many things you don't have to write well how to research how to communicate, articulated point. Any of those things and all of those things really are things that you have in your backpack that are useful things. You might not be the buddha and want to set the raft down, but raft might be lawyer nous. But all of the things that you learned all the skills and making the raft or in how strong you needed to be to carry it, all those things are valuable and in some ways they go into what you're going to do in your next chapter. So how is this true for you? You clearly you wrote about it, you know, convincing yourself that you needed time in order to sort of stew in all of these different ideas that you have about what you want for this one precious life. Give us a little bit of a narrative around that. Yeah, yeah. You know when I first started writing the book and back, Herbal is all about why is it that certain people have this mysterious equality, this ability to have us take a chance on them? Right. And even when even when they don't have an obvious idea or even if they're not the obvious candidate for a job or a project, we still kind of feel motivated and inspired to give them a shot. Then I wanted to understand what this it quality was. And so I've spent the past five years now studying hundreds of bankable people from all different walks of life, from Oscar winning film makers to Michelin star chefs, to iconic founders, military leaders. And what I found is that, you know, if you rewind the clock and their careers most of the time they actually did not start out by being back Herbal, they weren't born makable. They sort of learned this set of qualities along the way. And that's good news. I think for us, because that means that any one of us can learn how to make ourselves more back Herbal. And so what this book is is the seven most surprising qualities of of what it is that truly does make someone packable and, and the one that you were just talking about is this idea of convincing yourself first and that's that's step number one's quality. Number one. And when I was writing the book, I kind of assumed that I was going to find that back. Herbal people, we're going to have their, we're all going to be charismatic. That's what I thought. And that couldn't have been further from the truth. You certainly had, you know, folks who came off as much more extroverted and gregarious and good inside a room, but many, many people did not, you know, they're much more shy, much more quiet, just not the, not the poster child for charisma. It's just a quick example of that. If you go look up the number one most popular ted talk of all time, What you might be surprised to find is is actually a very untested like presentation. It's brilliant talk given by Sir Ken Robinson on creativity in schools, over 65 million views, but he's got like one hand in his pocket, he sort of meanders on and off script. He, he, he stands naturally with a bit of a slouch and it's just not what you would imagine for a charismatic presentation and there are plenty of examples of this, What I found is that it's not charisma that makes a person convincing its conviction back to Bill people take the time to convince themselves first and then they let that conviction shine through in whatever style it is, that feels most natural to them. But I think the mistake that we make sometimes is that when we come up with an idea, inspiration strikes, and I think this happens to all of us were with friends or with colleagues and all of a sudden, you know, an idea comes up and we feel like the need to blurt it out immediately, right? And then we and then we don't get the reaction that we're looking for a lot of the time. What happens is we'll put that idea in a drawer, a mental drawer and we'll walk away from it. One of the things we found is that inside big companies, when we when we paid attention to how ideas bubble up inside larger organizations, what we found is that most ideas actually don't get killed inside the conference room. They actually don't get killed inside formal meetings. They, most ideas actually get killed inside the hallways, around water coolers or through casual conversations most of the time, because we end up sharing the idea before it's actually ready to be shared. Don't get the reaction that we want to get out and walk away from it. So what back up, what people tend to do is they tend to almost do this very quick little decision tree, which is before blurting out the idea. They ask themselves, do I have high conviction for this or not? Like, is this a peanut M and M where you can squeeze it and it won't crack immediately? Or is this a chocolate Eminem? Or as soon as you squeeze it, it cracks cracks. If it's if it's a peanut M and M, then by all means share it. You know, there's no time like the present, but if it's a chocolate Eminem, what back will people tend to do is take incubation time. They resist that temptation to share the idea in that moment and they take some quiet time to really nurture their idea and put a peanut inside before they share it. So I'm just now connecting an interesting set of dots based on what you said right there and and uh something you mentioned earlier about being inspired to write the book from tim Ferriss and um uh Neil Strauss and the conversation, they had a creative Ivan Tim's class called the four our life um and they both, if you think about, they're both amazing at everything they do. But writing in particular right there, insane writers multiple number one new york times bestsellers and they had ideas went around and tested those ideas. Tim built the company and basically lived before our life traveling the world and had a business that was running on autopilot. Um and Neil did a bunch of research, he had these ideas and then went research them when he found them to be true, wrote a bestselling book. So this idea of marination of um testing your peanut, I think it's, I think it's fascinating and this idea of being, of believing deeply in something and let's go back to the founder concept, right? The, when you hear someone talk about something that they have deep conviction around, it's almost as if it's already true. Yeah. What were some of the other characteristics you found? Because I know you, you know, you talk to a bunch of different founders and you yourself are investment things like Airbnb and a number of others. But what are some of the things that the characteristics that you found in people who obviously had convinced themselves but share with us some other that what you just brought up is a really interesting point, which is almost almost seems to be a sense of, hey, this is already true when they, when they shared the idea. One of the things that I think that as, as with any new creative idea, we sort of want to talk about why it is new, why it is exciting. And that's good. That's, that's a good thing, you know? Um, but what I found is that back, couple people tend to really also talk about why an idea feels inevitable and in some ways what they're, what they're doing. When you talk about an ideas, Inevitability is you're almost removing yourself from the equation a little bit. You're actually removing your idea from the equation to begin with. And you're talking about like where is the world headed? Like what's happening right now? And you know, let's paint that picture first and then let's talk about how the idea actually fits in. And it's a little bit counter I think, especially to Silicon Valley types, because oftentimes we want to talk about why our idea is going to change the world, right? Whereas I think most bankable pitches though come from the point of view is this is the way the world is changing already and this is the way that my idea really fits into that puzzle that's into that equation. Um, and it just tends to work I think is just so much better because look, I mean at the end of the day, investors are pretty risk averse to, you know, like, I think venture capitalists are seen as like risk takers that are costly, taking risk. I don't think they enjoy taking risk. I don't think anybody really enjoys the risk side of the business. It's something that they accept. You know, if you follow like Daniel commons research on just all human beings with, he published a nobel prize winning study that showed us that as human beings, that the pain of losing is twice as powerful as the pleasure of winning, right? And that's the mindset that you're, that you're sort of, I think trying to convince somebody that too, you know, buck and say, I'm going to take a bet on something new. And again, the way we do that isn't just by talking about why it's new and shiny. We do, we do it by talking about why it's inevitable. That's the thing as if it was already true. Now I want to put a pin in this because I also want to shift gears and go to your bio for a second. Um you know, you've, you've created rise, you sold that company and before then you have also, and in your bio it talks about this been known as the face of a failure for the new york times. So in a small twist of fate here, give us a little bit of give us a little back story there and and help us reconcile clearly if you have experience that failure and that here you are getting a book, it sounds like, you know, people's lives aren't over, but give us that story. Yeah, yeah, no, I certainly have if you had success column and failure column, I certainly the failure columns certainly is longer for me. There's no doubt about that. I think I think it was Bill Gates that said that success is a lousy teacher and if that's if that's true, and I think it is then, like, I I consider myself to be very, very well educated. I got this call from uh an organizer of a conference called Falcon, which literally stands for failure conference and it's a humbling experience when somebody calls you and says, hey, like I'm organizing this conference on failure, I would love for you to be the keynote speaker. Uh so I I do this speech and I have no idea that there is this writer from the new york times in the audience. So flash forward. I'm sitting in my apartment at that time, I was living in SAn Francisco and that day is new york times is this full length feature story on failure. And and my face is at the top of the story. And and it's interesting because failure became a topic, you'll remember this chase where all of a sudden, like everybody was talking about failure. And so that article went viral and there was, there was literally a period of time I tested this in incognito windows where you could google failure and my face would have been one of your top search results. Uh and you know, uh so uh you know, when something like that happens, you can, you kind of have a couple of options. You can either you can either bury your head in the sand or you can try to figure out how to make some meaning out of it, do something with it. And a friend of mine, a good friend convinced me to make some meaning out of it. And so what I did is I started to email people who, you know, I I didn't know who I admired, um and and use this article as an ice breaker. So what I would do is that email people and I'd say, hey, um as you can see from this article, I I don't know what I'm doing, But would you be willing to grab 15 minutes with me to give me some advice? And the response rate on that email was just much higher than anything I'd ever experienced before. Um, I, I just think people appreciated an email that that wasn't like talking about success, wasn't talking about resume. It was more kind of like, hey, like this funny thing happened, people got a kick out of it. They thought it was funny. But, but the more important thing is when I was having these conversations, they were much more open and honest about their own failures. And I guess I began to realize something that may be obvious to others, but wasn't to me at the time, which is, which is like, we see the current version of who these people are, these people we admire. We don't see what happened in the past. We don't see the mistakes, We don't see the failures, We don't see the setbacks. And and when I started to realize that um it really inspired me to say hey like I can you know I can bounce back from any of this, right? I can I can learn, I can learn some of these things that these guys have learned, I can incorporate them and I can start to turn things around. There's something about that, that vulnerability and embracing it. I just think of the just people in my life who have um just openly acknowledged one comes to mind right now just because I um I I was in my email before we jumped on today and I got an email email from someone who all spent on this show, Sophia Amoruso and she has arguably like celebrated her um you know whether you consider them failures or not just very publicly like her girl boss. Um first of all this nasty gal uh and then and then girl boss, both of which we're um their demise was shared pretty publicly and she just owned it and it's just been an incredible, seems like a um an incredible boost for her. Just the like the the humanity and the connection and also the resilience to me, those are experiences that signal um being a phenomenal human and a great entrepreneur and someone that you would want to, you know, forgive the analogy here, just go to battle with like whether they're your spirit, spirit animal or in business. Um and you know, you talked also in the book about pitching all kinds of investors and getting rejected, Is there some sort of a pattern where you got confidence the more you were rejected and then we're able to stand up and with that email I'm guessing seeing the disproportionate positive response from sharing an email that most people would hide under, for example. Yeah. Well, you know, one of the, one of the people that we just, we were talking about earlier is tim Ferriss and tim gave me some really good feedback during all of this, which was at the time while this article had come out, I was also pitching my company, which was called rise. It was, we were doing one on one nutrition coaching, um, and tim had just written before our body and he was also investing in companies and I was like, tim would be the perfect investor for something like this. And so I ended up getting lucky enough to pitch him and he ended up passing like dozens of others investors at that point. But, but he was great. I mean gave me some great feedback and in particular, the way that I pitched him is I had spent basically the entire entire deck walking him through the market. They're talking about how big this could possibly be, the rising rates of obesity and hypertension and diabetes. And then at the very end of the pitch, I told The story of my father who had his first, he had, he had a triple bypass surgery when he was in his 40s rushed, rushed to the hospital emergency surgery. It was about nine years old at the time. And I went to the hospital And I remember feeling like my dad had just aged years overnight. And when we left the hospital, we get a couple of pieces of paper on how to basically how to live our life, what changes we needed to make it home. And on the paper were things like eat broccoli, eat brussel sprouts. We're an indian family, you know, we didn't, we didn't eat broccoli, we didn't eat brussels sprouts, you know, and there's nothing on that paper about chicken tikka masala or the things that we did at home. And so lucky for us, insurance kicked in and help pay for some of the cost of a nutritionist to help really customize our lifestyle at home and really make some of these things that needed to happen stick. And I believe that that that's the reason that my dad is still alive today is because of that. All those habits and behaviors that we built at that time are still things that he keeps intact today. And I'm telling tim this story and he's like, let me ask you a question, why the hell did you save that story to the very end of the pitch? Like you should be telling that story up front because it's you know, we don't we don't we don't get pulled into an idea on the numbers. We get pulled in by by a story, right? And that's a good one. And you should tell that one up front and then you can zoom out and talk about, you know, the millions of people out there that are going through their own version of what your father went through, right? You can talk about the market from there, but but flip the order and until that story first. And so I did. And you know, even though tim passed, I took that piece of advice into other into other meetings with with other investors. And I could just tell immediately which is that one tweak just that ordering switch. They're responding very differently. I think it's the story that pulls us in and then I think it's the substance that keeps us there. It's so true. I couldn't underscore that enough of my own experience. Like starting off at the some compelling story. People's brains go from like the crocodile brain first, right? Like my attention, my attention. I need a reason to get sucked into even listen to the numbers and the graphs and all of the other details that you talked about, obesity rates and diabetes rates and whatnot this concept. We are we are wired for story where storytelling, there's jeans, right? We're just like we're creating machines. Part of what we're creating so many times in a piece of art is a narrative, right? Yeah. And and we we we we lose that. I'm going to go back to the thing you said earlier, which is I'm skipping a couple steps. But as just as a reminder, the book back, herbal is your deconstructing the folks who you found in your studies were bankable, had that. And it wasn't just, it wasn't just charisma, wasn't that they were an extrovert, it wasn't It was that they had a handful of steps, seven I think is the right number and you've sort of articulated them. And so I'm going to, you know, one of the early ones is, you know, you're, you're so convinced yourselves, but I want to go up to this because we've already talked about it this Step four Around making it feel inevitable. Yeah. Does does this have roots in in psychology or human psyche? And I may be making a link that you wouldn't make or maybe you did, which is part of what I'm trying to get out here. This idea that as humans were, visualize ear's right. If the difference between um practicing in real life and practicing in our mind is almost indistinguishable to the human brain and any any elite athlete visualizes what they're doing, where we've been taught to manifest things from the secret we've been taught to visualize success before we go into any arena. Is this idea of inevitability of your idea, your passion and getting people to to back you? Is it, is that the root of it? Did you find that in your research or where did this this idea of inevitability? Is it a sales pitch or is there something deeper there? Yeah, yeah. You know, I think it is, I think it is such a good point. I think it is something I think is something deeper in the book. We talk about it as you know, we we need to put on our anthropologist hat right? And instead of just our advocacy hat put on our anthropologist hat and think about where is the world really headed? And so it's really in the framing of how do you get people to get on board with your idea? But I do think it runs deeper and it comes back to this idea that we were talking about before around conviction, right? And building the conviction that, you know what, what is going to happen as a result of all the work you're putting into something is going to be some inevitable success. And I think that there's a lot of power to that. And it's also related to one of the, I think one of my favorite concepts and it's so simple in the book, which is this idea of playing exhibition matches. I literally, I'm literally open to that venue is too small for exhibition matches. So I keep going to interrupt you. No, not at all. But it's a constant theme, which is that when we see people who seem to be these natural oils, these people who we really respect. Oftentimes they're the product of lots and lots and lots of practice. Um, in the book we call these exhibition matches, which are low stakes practice sessions before you get into a high stakes venue. And so I think the thing that that that bankable people tend to do well is if I'm going to have these sloppy sort of moments, why don't I do them in front of friendly audiences before I get into the real thing? You know, there's a mantra that came out of this research for me personally, which is that long term success comes from short term embarrassment, but you might as well have that embarrassment happened in front of these low stakes crowds. Right? And and and so they played lots and lots of these exhibition matches. And and there's a couple of, I think, you know, important ground rules that I found have come out of have come out of these sort of watching people do these exhibition matches and and and one of them is that when you're when you're doing an exhibition match and this could be in front of a friend or a family member, and again, this is just you giving the presentation or giving the interview or giving the pitch that you're going to give when you when you get in front of the real audience, but giving it in front of a friendly, don't give them the director's commentary version, don't don't don't say things like, well here's what I'm planning on doing, and then I would do this and then I would do that, give them the real version, like the real exact thing, right? And that is what actually prepares you and gives you the muscle memory to be effective inside the room. The second thing is that, you know, when we, when we give an exhibition match, oftentimes, you know, we'll ask somebody or share an idea or, you know, a pitch with a friend and we'll say, hey, what did you think? Right. And what I found is that the question, what did you think very rarely gets us the feedback that we need. Love that section of the book. You just don't ask this. Don't ask that. Don't ask it because it's such a low signal question. It just doesn't like people just typical like, yeah, I liked it. Yeah, it's pretty good. You know, I liked it much more precise question is, is to ask what moments stood out to you most. Yeah. Right. Because that then they really have to think about, all right, what really resonated with me and it gives you much better signal or actually one of my favorites is to ask someone like Chase. If I was giving you a pitch right now, I would definitely ask you to do this, I would say, could you describe back to me what you just heard exactly? I think that's brilliant, identify deeply with that. I think that's the ability if I'm teaching someone something and I'm like, okay now you teach it to me because then I immediately see where their knowledge gaps are. It's a very it's a very powerful framework for sure. Yeah. And chances are you would explain my idea better than I could explain my idea. I'm going to pick up. Like I was doing this when I was writing back double in the early days, I was going to people like Daniel Pink and I talked to Neil Strauss about it and the way that they were describing my own work was more compelling, the way I was describing my own work. And so I used it, great, thank you a lot of that, A lot of that went to the back flap. It's true. It's true. I think this idea of and I feel like the getting feedback from people who have done the work before having them explain it to you as just go back to your commentary around tim right. He was able to say, gosh that part, right, there was so compelling because you know, they've heard so many pitches and they know where whether they're either fired up or not. And what about the thing? Um captured their head, mind, heart, soul. This idea of I'm going to share a personal example here when I, so many of the concepts in my book or with Creative live or have come off when I come off stage or when I'm, uh, and there's, you know, an extra 100 people who stay after the show to talk because I'm eyeball to eyeball with them. And when I say something like, you know, the most important words in the world are the ones you say to yourself and someone there just, you know, their eyes pop out or they take a note and they're like, oh my gosh, right. You know, like you get to road test that and I've said things, you know, hundreds of thousands of things that people are just like they were when they bounce off their 400 their shoulders and there never to be said again. But I just want to underscore this idea and you gave a couple of different examples and you call in the book, you call low stakes, but like this with friends and family and what gets people's attention, what makes them say, wait, say that again. What are those moments? That's where there's this, you know, that turns me the question, you know, or the commenter into the excavator, like I want to know, okay, cool. I watched you take notes that or if you're talking and to a crowd and everyone's head goes down and they take the same note. This idea of mental queues. So it's so interesting by the way, because again, all roads lead back to creative live that talk that class that I listened to you with Neil and tim. He said something very similar, which is that when he when Neil writes his books and he gets too close to final draft. One of the things he'll do is he'll read the book, word for word in front of someone in front of a friend, but he will ask them not to interject with any type of feedback instead, what he's doing is he's paying very, very close attention to how they're acting to their body language and he's taking little notes to himself and the margins as they do it. Oh, interesting Chase usually nods, but he didn't, not at all during that section. Right. And so interesting. You know, and he'll take those little notes because yeah, we get so much from the from those nonverbal cues. I don't if I ever told you this before, I was raised in large part by my grandmother who who did not speak a lick of english nothing. And and and uh and I she, you know, my mom is a refugee and so they came from this sort of this middle ground between Pakistan and India right after the country's split into two and I could not speak her dialect. And so I was raised by somebody who I could not communicate with with words. And as a result of that, we just paid very, very close attention to each other's behaviors. And it was interesting because I always found it to be annoying as a kid. But years later, I was in a I was getting feedback from a boss and he was like, you seem to have this ability and other people have picked up on this to to read people really, really well. Um she's like, I just wanted to mention that and that was something that continue to come up over and over again. And I always sort of thought, all right, well I guess I'm pretty good at that. And it wasn't until years later, I'm like, wait a second. I was literally at my grandmother's funeral and I was thinking to myself, I remember how her and I would communicate through these nonverbals and she's the one who taught me how to do that. That's incredible. This idea of um having mentors leads me to a piece of the book that I recall about uh, having your circle and um I'm wondering if this is this is not new, but this concept of when I hear people talk about pitching their idea and it's there are all sorts of opportunities and all sorts of places and ways and whether you're pitching your idea in an elevator to venture capitalists are trying to get your boss to give you an extra day off. Like there's, you know, pitching is like this, this concept, we think of it just as getting funding for a start up, but as you lay out, it's like, it's everywhere, it's it's the ability to connect and persuade, I see a huge disconnect with people believing that in in just being absolutely cold, now this is a skill to be absolutely cold and to get someone to persuade someone to lean in, that's, you know, that's a craft that is, as you talked about, they've done many rehearsals, all kinds of practice, but so much of this is around building relationships and in the book, you know, I talk about it as community in your in your book, you talk about it as a back herbal circle, and when you uncover this a little bit, you start to find out that, wow, you know, I thought that was this is this is tied to imposter syndrome inside all sorts of things, but give us your concept of your back Herbal circle, you know, one of the things that I realized is that back, Herbal people tend to surround themselves with a with a trusted group of people that they're constantly going to and bouncing ideas off of and and oftentimes these are long standing relationships. I think when people find someone for that circle, they really nurture that they tend to do a good job, making sure that are keeping in touch and keeping that relationship. In fact, one of the things I thought was interesting is I started to deconstruct these circles is I realized that there are 44 different types of personalities that Always seem to be in everybody's circle. And I like to I like to call these the 4Cs. So the first is your collaborator, this is someone in your life who you can always go to with an idea and they're going to build on top of it they're using language like, yes, and when you're with them, you feel like you're in a musical jam session. The second is your coach and your coach is different than your collaborator because while your collaborator has a lens of thinking about whether your idea or what your plan is going to fit the market or fit the company or fit your community, whatever you're trying to do, your coach is really thinking about does this actually fit you? Because whenever, when we're trying to do something new, you know, it takes a lot of energy. You're going to be on the receiving doubt of receiving end of doubts and rejections and you need to have enough gas in the tank and you can only do that if that idea makes you come alive. And so the coaches, somebody who knows you intimately well enough to be able to say like, Yeah, this is a fit for you. Like my wife is my coach and I bring her ideas all the time. And she would constantly say to me like, look, this is a good idea for someone else, right? Like you're not gonna want to spend five years doing this. Yeah, it'll probably work. But it's not something that I can see you doing and being excited about 12 months from now. And that's the value of a coach. The 3rd sees your cheerleader and it may sound a little bit sappy, but we all, we all need someone who we can just call and no, like they are going to, they're going to give us a pick me up, they're going to give us that little bit of juice that we need. One of the people that I profiled for the book was Ellen Levy who fast Company magazine called the most connected woman in silicon Valley, right? And She got members of Congress and Fortune 500 ceos and her rolodex. But when I asked her, who do you call before you walk into a huge meeting, a key moment, she's like, that's easy. I call my mom. So I think we all need this cheerleader in our lives. And then the fourth, which is my favorite is your critic. But I like to call this person your cheddar. And the reason I call this person your cheddar is because if you've ever seen the movie Eight Mile and I'm coming to you right now from Detroit and if you've ever seen the movie, Eight Mile, Eminem is surrounded by a circle of friends in that movie and they're all kind of building him up. Except for one, this guy named Cheddar who's constantly kind of poking holes in Eminem's ideas and what we realized throughout the film is that it's really cheddar who is getting Eminem ready for the stage and I think we all have like a cheddar in our life, this is this is somebody who has our best interest at heart, but they're not they're not they're not afraid to point out our blind spots and you know, while cheddar can be annoying at times, right? We don't we don't like to have holes poked in our ideas. Um it is it is cheddar who ends up getting us ready for the room and so back herbal people embrace, embrace their cheddar, This idea of having these people in your circle, I want to define circle because in a way the story um you tim Ferriss happens to be a very dear friend, he's been on the show many times. I've been on his um I don't know if you and him are close but what I heard you talked about earlier is when he rejected your pitch to invest you like one of the most valuable things that sound like in your process because in order to you had to get backers and then have backers and then build the company in order to sell it. Like it seemed like that was a really important thing. And so what role it seems like I want to understand a little bit more about this concept of circle because everybody feels like the circle, their closest friends used examples like you know your mom for example, But in a way would you would you consider in this case tim or could people who are listening and watching, consider online mentors, people who are willing to poke holes. Or even if you know, you can be a part of a mastermind or some sort of growth group find find a little more meat to the concept of circle. Yeah, I think it can be people that you meet in a mastermind group. I think it can be people that you meet online. I think that there's a couple of qualities of a circle. I think one is that it's not just a transactional relationship, this is not a one time thing. This is something that that is that is that you repeat, it's a long term relationship you're investing in it. And I think the other quality of a circle is that you're part of their circle as well, right there, part of yours. And it's a circle, it's not a line. You know, I I think we may have talked about this briefly Chase when we chatted last, but I took a trip to Bhutan a couple of years ago, and this idea of a circle really came up while I was out there. And the way the way it came up is that Bhutan is one of the only, I think it's the only country in the world that measures itself based on what they call gross national happiness. So economic growth GDP is a factor, but it all rolls up into something bigger, which which day to find the happiness ultimately of their people. And, you know, it's been going they've been measuring doing this metric now for over 50 years, and I got a chance to spend time who are with people who are in the field doing this research. And I asked them when you're when you're talking to people, is there a question, is there a single question that you can ask that can really give you a good sense of someone's happiness? And they said, yeah, as a matter of fact there is. And the question is if you were in real trouble right now, Who could you call and know with 100% certainty that person would be there for you and they believe that people who can answer that question are much more likely to be happy. But there's a twist, And the twist is who's list are you on? Who can call you? And know with 100% certainty you will be there for them. It isn't it isn't, in other words, a line, but it's a circle. We're building this, we're building the sense of community that I know you talk about a lot, right, where you're there for me and I'm there for you and we both know that, and I think that's the qualities of having really good people in your circle. It's so crazy how just community is so powerful. I mean, that's if I'm not mistaken, that's, you know, very early in the book, and I'm gonna actually might even be in the marketing copy here, that I got an advanced copy of this focus just to let you know, I mean, er um so now and congratulations. I saw it one, number one on the new releases categories. That was awesome. Um yeah, here it is. It's the first line of the, the copy on the flap. No one makes it alone. Um, there's a reason some people can get investors or bosses to believe in them while others cannot, and that reason has little do with experience, pedigree or polished business plan back. Herbal people seem to have a hidden quality that inspires others to take action. We often chalk this up to natural town or charisma you have it or you don't and that is the mission and vision of the book, but it's so true. Like nobody makes it alone. We all need these books and yet the folks again, when I'm, you know, either talking to people who are trying to get some left the ground or someone wants to pitch me their idea, I walk up the stage or I see in the internet, you know, adding me, it's like there's this belief that, um, that the work alone, get the job done and I was wondering if you could comment on that. Yeah, yeah. I mean, you know, it's just, there's so much good work out there that never sees the light of day or you know, it gets dismissed. I mean right now as we're, as we're sort of hopefully kind of at the tail end of this pandemic, we're world is focused on vaccines. And I think we've been taking a look at other vaccines and other breakthrough medical moments. And you know, just the other day, I was talking to an audience about the story of penicillin and it's a fascinating story because Alexander Fleming, who was a physician, came up with penicillin in the 1920s and at that time hundreds of thousands of people were dying every year because there are wounds were becoming infected and there was literally nothing in a doctor's toolkit to save them. So he comes up with a cure, he's got it, he goes to pitch investors and you know, he went to this place called the Medical Research Club of London and he was turned down, he was dismissed. And so, you know, he he pitched, he pitched a couple of others, same result. He ends up taking his invention and he puts it on the shelf and he walks away. And it wasn't until 10 years later that another physician, a guy named Dr. comes along and says, Hey, like you published this article and I think you might actually have found the cure for this problem. And it's getting really bad now because we're in the middle of World War II and you know, it's just it's out of control. And so flurry convinces Fleming to partner with him And they take it out together and that's how they end up getting investors on board. They get pharmaceutical companies, they get retailers on board and eventually they make it into something that you can, you can find at the local pharmacy. And to date, I mean, penicillin has saved nearly 200 million lives, But it was an invention that was turned down for 10 years. It's the electric car shot down for we know why, but like God, it's just these patterns repeat themselves. All right. Um, One last question and then I've got a couple of comments and I wanna, I'm gonna say two last questions. But my first, my last, First of the last two is uh, there's a concept in the book called the rule of 21 and I think it's worth sharing just as a little nugget, little sneak peek in the book. Yeah, yeah. Well, you know charlie parker, the great jazz musician has this quote and he was, he was on stage and he was he was performing. And as he was walking off stage, somebody walked up and said, Hey charlie, like how do you do it man? Like how do you, how do you have such a great stage presence? And he says to him, well, you got to learn your instrument and then you practice practice practice. And then when you get up there on stage, you forget all of that and you just wail and I love that. I love that line because You know, basically captures so much a bankable just in 30 seconds was just frustrating, right? I spent five years writing this book and Charlie Parker just like, but again, it kind of come back to this idea that like practice is something that we don't see people do, right. And so we kind of assume that their natural oils and one of the hesitations that I found or one of hesitations I had was that if you over practice, if you practice too much, you're going to come off sounding mechanical. But then I found that the average Packable person, Especially when it comes to anything new, a new presentation, a new type of pitch. They were practicing 21 times before they walked into the room and what I found is that it doesn't actually make you less natural, it actually makes you more natural. Why? Why is that? Well? Because when you, when you have mastered something at that level, well then you actually have the ability to walk into the room and forget yourself and just wail because now you're not married to your script anymore, you're not, you don't have this sort of map in your mind where you're like, I'm going to say this and I'm going to say that and I'm gonna say that you can kind of let that go and you can be fully tuned in to what's happening in the room, you can be completely present with the other people who are there and that's where packable moments happened. That this idea of mastery is so compelling and everybody we want to show off as being great at so many things. And the reality is if you look at people who are great at so many things, they first mastered something and they understood mastery. And this idea of mastering, this is what I loved about the book is this idea that the concept of practice is so simple and so trying to but to know the material front and back to be, you know, to charlie parker, your instrument and the song like that is what mastery looks like. It's not a it's not a willingness not to make mistakes. It's this ability to immediately recover such that it seemed absolutely natural. And this goes for photography for writing for certainly public speaking for any sort of performance for sure. And I believe in building companies and launching ideas and in getting people to, you know, latch onto your idea. Um, thanks for that charlie parker. That's charlie parker. Yeah, Cool. Well, again, congratulations on the book. Um, it's as someone who's raised venture capital and has been trying to get people as an artist my whole life to back basically things that haven't been made yet. Right. If you're going to hire me to take pictures for your campaign or build a business with you, neither of those things happen. You have to get on board before those pictures happen. Um, I just, it resonated deep with me. Congratulations. It's a really important work. I'll say the title again here for anyone who's listening back, Herbal, the surprising truth behind what makes people take a chance on you. Uh, Sunil, one final question and that is give us a macro take away. You know, there's a lot to digest in this book. I think you've done a nice job. There's even a little um as I'm turning back here, there's even a cool appendix where you've done some summary work, which is pretty cool. Um yeah, let's give us something two on two as we ride into the sunset together here. Yeah, Well, you know, you have kids chase and I do as well. I've got two little girls 18 and once four. And you know, during this pandemic, we've been doing this little routine where every morning I asked them two questions, I asked them what is the meaning of life? And they say to find your gift? And then I say, well what is the purpose of life? And they say to give it away? And it's all it's based on the Picasso Picasso quote, which is to the meaning of life, is to find your gift and the purpose of life is to give it away. And I love that. And I really think back, Herbal is very much at its core about how we give our gift away, how do we take, what's inside of us and how do we shirt with the outside world? Make sure that we don't have unused creativity inside of us. But I think that there are three words that I found that tend to hold us back and those three words are I'm not ready, I'm not ready to run with that idea, I'm not ready to step into that leadership role, I'm not ready to speak my mind. And I guess if there's one macro take away from my past five years of studying hundreds of extraordinary people, it's that none of them, we're really ready. Three friends from design school, we're not ready to start Airbnb. Mid level Talent manager was not ready to, to, to start Soul Cycle A 15 year old from Stockholm. Sweden was not ready to build an environmental movement. And yet today Greta thunberg is Time magazine's youngest person of the year and like, don't get me wrong, there were, there were setbacks and mistakes and failures along the way, but they all seem to adopt what I call in the game, the book, the Game of Now and in the Game of Now, the opposite of success is not failure, it's boredom. So I'll leave you with that. Samuel, thank you so much for being on the show on the fact of the Harvard wrote the book back of all, encourage you all to check it out. Uh, there is true wisdom, uh, congrats on a great launch and um, I appreciate you being on the show and putting your work out there into the world. Um Thanks again man. And any other coordinates where you want to steer us, how to pay attention to you enter more of your work. Besides just the book. Just yeah, just go, you can go to backup all dot com. B A C K A B L E dot com and you'll find some free content out there. Come check it out awesome. Thank you so much for being on the show and for everybody out there. I hope you have an amazing day and from yours truly and cynical, we bid you. Thank you. Thank you. Chase. Mhm. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Mhm.

Class Description

There's a common misconception that artists have a monopoly on creativity...But the very act of making waves - no matter the career - is a creative one. The Chase Jarvis Live Show is an exploration of creativity, self-discovery, entrepreneurship, hard-earned lessons, and so much more. Chase sits down with the world's top creators, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders and unpacks actionable, valuable insights to help you live your dreams in career, hobby, and life.

ABOUT THIS EPISODE:

In 2008, Suneel Gupta watched a young Barack Obama deliver a speech at the democratic national convention. From his perspective backstage, he saw the faces of the crowd as they became visibly moved. This made him ask, what is it that makes people backable? What is the intangible ‘IT’ factor that makes people take a chance on you?

Suneel shares stories and lessons from his journey co-founding Rise, a company focused on health care and health coaching, and writing his recent book “Backable: The Surprising Truth Behind what Makes People Take a Chance on You.” Suneel is also on the faculty at Harvard, where he teaches students how to become backable. This episode explores the ingredients to discovering the “right path,” the stories we tell ourselves and the baggage we carry, and the undeniable importance of community throughout.

Other topics from this episode include:

  • Focusing on the next right move
  • Not feeling pressure to connect your past to your future
  • How to develop conviction for your projects
  • Resiliency and the value of failure
  • Storytelling and pitching
  • Not sharing your idea too early
  • Finding meaning in difficult situations
  • Low stakes practice for high stakes performance
  • Essential backable qualities

For more information about Suneel, head on over to backable.com and order a copy of his book!

Enjoy!

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