Back in 2001, I started my 3rd company out of my 3rd bedroom in my newly rented townhome on the beach after separating from my oldest son’s mother. I had no choice. I had just sold my last company and I needed to keep busy. I built and built and built and one day, I wrote a business plan and sent it off for review to an angel funding group. I pitched 4 locations, including Hawaii. I got a few bucks out of a guy that wasn’t even in the room, but overheard from outside the banquet room. Not a nickel from a member. Not even a call or an email. Overall, it was a massive failure. Hawaii was fun though. I knew I was in trouble though when the guy sitting next to me responded to my question, “How many of these have you funded?” with “I’m not an investor. The guy running this thing is my neighbor and he paid me to come sit here.”
When I had the chance to pitch another angel group in Los Angeles, I was so reluctant, but I did it anyway.
After passing the initial review, I was signed up for my first pitch. I arrived at a big building on Wilshire or maybe Santa Monica Blvd. I’m not sure this matters, but it was one of those roads and it was a copper colored building, about 25 stories or so. It’s all a blur now, and honestly, it was then too. I was scared…really, really scared. Not of failure. I was scared to speak. Absolutely scared to death. I almost turned around and went home. But I didn’t. I parked, walked in and to my astonishment, the 25 or so I was expecting in attendance was actually over 125. Now, I wanted to puke. I started to sweat. I lost my focus. I couldn’t think. I wanted to run.
Then, I heard them call my name. It was my turn to speak, to pitch. There was a podium. I NEVER use a podium. I like to wander, walk about, sit on tables and such. But this time, as it turns out, that podium was a lifesaver. As I approached it, I felt my leg start to twitch. No, it wasn’t a twitch, it was a rattle. No, not a rattle, a violent and uncontrollable shake. It was going crazy. I couldn’t focus. My leg was spazzing and I began to sweat more. I kept talking, pitching, working through my deck. I don’t even know if I was speaking loud enough or if anyone could understand me. All I could think about was my leg. I was worried they could see it, even behind the podium. I could sit it. It was nuts. And then, suddenly, it stopped. I was so overwhelmed that I just gave up worrying. I just figured it didn’t matter anymore, and I would just do what I came to do so I could leave. I did. I finished. I left. I think…most of it’s a faded memory.
Over the next few months, I landed the most funding of any company to date with that organization. I hit a homerun.
Today, I rarely get anxious on stage. I just picture that moment and it all just seems to drift away. Experience. Completion. Commitment. Devotion. A Podium.