Just be yourself—-I imagine that you have heard that advice all your life from friends, family, and co-workers. And it is true.

This weekend I watched 12 student teams from my New Venture Creation class at CSUF present their business plan concepts to an executive panel made up angel investors, bankers, and entrepreneurs. The small student teams each had 15 minutes to pitch their business ideas.

The teams were all prepared and were quick to describe the merits of their business ideas including value proposition, strong return on investment, and competitive advantage. Yes, they presented exactly as I had coached them to do.

But, guess what factor meant the most to this panel? Interestingly enough it was the authenticity of the presenters. The panel responded most positively to the students that were the most passionate and genuine about their ideas—this heartfelt enthusiasm trumped the ornately prepared spreadsheets and the overly scripted delivery by the more academically inclined students.

In reality, the panel responded to eye contact, smiles, and passion of real people who were just being themselves.

Another lesson leaned by Professor JJ.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2009 All rights reserved.

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  1. I learned two things when doing these angel investor pitches:

    First, don’t argue a point (even if you are right).

    Second, don’t interrupt people’s questions with your answers.

  2. Anonymous


    The guy with the money needs to have his say. Your turn comes later.


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