Make Bigger Leaps, Explain Fewer Connections

A big difference between being an implementer or solo driver and being a leader pitching and rallying others around a vision is how many steps need to be skipped in the story.

When you’re selling an idea, you need to cover the top level stuff really quickly. Your narrative needs as few points as possible. This means you’ve got to describe your history and process in a way that’s really hard for the implementer inside you.

Say I’m working on a pitch deck. I want to show what our company has done so far. I get one slide to show traction, so I display numbers from our beta period and our live period. The story is a simple A to B journey. We got a little something with a beta, and moved to a launch and got a little more. It makes sense.

But the implementer’s left eye twitches on this slide. They want 10 slides. Because really, we started with plan A, got it halfway there, than altered to plan A2, making our previous success measures irrelevant. A2 moved to B, then we switched to C but it was a gradual morph from BC with no clear change point. After all this shifting and changing and measuring different stuff, we got to D, our current product and way of measuring it.

But A-A2-B-BC-C-D isn’t a vision. It’s a treatise with footnotes and bibliographies. No one but you understands or cares, even though the process was necessary from an implementation standpoint and what you learned going through it is valuable.

To sell your vision, you’ve got to simplify the past and fit it into the present paradigm. You collapse everything before point D into one and call it A, apply your current measures to it, and make point D your point B. Everyone gets it. You started at A and did such and such numbers, moved into B and are doing such and such numbers.

You have to make a bigger leap in your story than you made in your experience. And you can’t take time to explain that leap. “You see, what A really means is that we did this and this and this” is too much. Let it go. A contains a whole universe of lived experience, but it’s just a small point in your narrative and vision. Let the details die. You can always revive them in your 700 page biography later.

The people following your pitch don’t care about everything that went into A or they take it as a given that A is shorthand for A-A2-B-BC-C.