Dear family, friends and colleagues,
I hope this update finds you all well.
This update contains two parts: Firstly, a story that I hope you find informative and entertaining. Next, a quick summary of Unleashed VR’s plans for the remainder of 2016.
Entrepreneur Lesson #1: You will fall. Then what?
Last Thursday marked the official end to the Perth Winter 2016 Founder Institute Accelerator program. It also marked me self-delivering a firsthand lesson in entrepreneurship: You will fall flat on your face at some point. What I’m referring to is the total memory blank I experienced as I pitched Unleashed VR to a room full of 100+ individuals including professional investors, mentors, friends and family. I mention family last for a reason.
As I stood up to give my pitch, I was full of confidence. I’d nailed my rehearsal at least 20 times that day. I’d presented confidently throughout the whole program, so I had no reason to feel concerned: I knew the material and I was among friendly faces. What I didn’t prepare myself for was pitching in front of my family. I’d never done it before and had no idea what impact it would have on my performance.
Somewhere through the second slide I made eye contact with each of my parents. Instantly, the pre-rehearsed persuasive gold I was about to win over my audience with disappeared from my noggin. The next thought that crossed my mind was a string of scrambled expletives, indicative of my utter confusion as to what was happening. I looked at the ground to try and recall my words. Nothing. I looked at the audience. Nothing. I looked at my family. Still nothing. Around three seconds into the awkward silence someone kindly yelled “You’re awesome!”. Thank you, anonymous motivator.
During my mental melee, I recall making eye contact with a fellow FI graduate. I could feel his empathy, his eyes calling for me to recall my lines and put everyone out of this awkward stalemate of Ben vs the silence. After a second, he stopped looking into my eyes, and, instead looked to the ground. Ben: 0; The silence: 1.
I continued to don the bamboozled expression of Hillary Clinton after finding out she’d been Trump’d for around another 10 seconds and then incoherently began to stammer onto the next slide.
All was going well, for around 15 seconds. I then made the unwise decision to make eye contact with my dad again. It didn’t work out so well. I fumbled my words again like a drunken octogenarian with extreme dementia, but managed to regather after a mere five seconds of damnation.
By now, everything was a bit of a confused mess. I battled through, formed some sort of momentum and then had one last hiccup of memory loss, just for good measure (good things always come in threes…right?!).
I got through the presentation in the end, but was unlikely to win over any investors or true believers, unless someone was looking to take a punt on the one eyed, three-legged horse. Some audience members said I managed to pick the pieces up and soldier on into some form of rational disposition, but maybe they were just being kind.
Like anyone else who has ever been in that ponderous circumstance, at the time, I wanted to create a diversion and run for the door. At first, I was annoyed at myself. How could I stuff up so badly when I knew the material so well, understood the subject matter so well, and have presented it so many times before? However, within five minutes, I had changed my tune.
I’m a firm believer in taking the positives out of any bad circumstance. I may have looked like I was ill-prepared or unprofessional at the time, but I know that I wasn’t and I’m not. I worked my guts out throughout the FI program and inadvertently performing a fine stunned-mullet impersonation could’ve happened to anyone.
The two key points I take from my temporary public humiliation is the following:
- We determine how we react to events: Yes, it was an embarrassing situation but I wouldn’t change it for the world. We become stronger for every difficulty we endure, and in the scheme of things, this was nothing. I’ve been focusing on the positives (I recovered well and didn’t wet my pants. Both two significant hurdles cleared).
- The 6 P’s: 100 times over, I would invite my family to watch me pitch again. The only thing I would do differently (apart from building a VR public speaking training program to practice with) is to practice in front of them. Speaking of family, my wise father once taught me the maxim “prior proper preparation prevents piss-poor performance”. By not even contemplating what it would be like to present in front of my family, I hadn’t adequately prepared myself for the pitch. Next time I will know better.
So, that is the story of my first punch in the guts encounter of being an entrepreneur. I hope there are plenty more to come for me to share with you. Onwards!
Plan for the remainder of 2016
I now find myself in control of my own time, having graduated from FI and the weekly task list shackles being removed. What to do?! There is plenty to crack on with. The focus for Unleashed VR between now and Christmas is to lock in the remaining components of the team and complete our demo program.
The demo, which will be the company’s minimum viable product (MVP), will focus on customer service and sales and will aim to educate and challenge a learner under certain difficult circumstances. The key purpose of this demo is to go beyond the academic and prove VR is a superior tool for training over current modalities. More information to come soon!
As always, I’d love to hear if you have any comments or feedback.