TEDx Speaker Finds His Purpose Through Storytelling

Giuseppe Pizano Changing Sight TEDx

Giuseppe Pizano: From Being Homeless & Living Under the Bleachers to Fighting for Underprivileged Kids Everywhere

We first met Giuseppe Pizano at a Pitch Lab team building workshop for Genesis Contractor Solutions. But that’s not where this story begins. Abandoned by his mother and left homeless at the age of 14, Giuseppe overcame incredible odds and is now a champion for homeless children. An accomplished speaker, he shares his story in “Changing Sight,” a TEDx he hopes will help people see things differently.

We caught up with Giuseppe to chat about talking through his backpack, dealing with stage fright and helping homeless youth: 

 

Tell me a bit about how you prepared for your TEDx “Changing Sight.” How much did you practice leading up to the talk?

I have told my story so many times that I pretty much already knew what I had to say. I didn’t write out an entire script word for word. I wrote specific bullet points on note cards and began rehearsing every day for about 2-3 weeks leading up to the talk.

How nervous were you before your TEDx, and how did you deal with stage fright? 

I was extremely nervous before my TEDx talk, but I dealt with it by listening to other motivational speakers on YouTube to pump me up mentally. Then I did a ton of push-ups right before I went on stage.

Giuseppe's backpack TEDx

I love the creative decision to tell parts of your story through your best friend, your backpack. How did you get the idea?

I got the inspiration to speak through the eyes of my backpack from my adopted parents, almost at the last minute, two weeks prior to my talk.

What was the main catalyst for deciding to tell your story in such a public way? Have you always known you were going to help others, or did a specific moment motivate you?

I didn’t know until about my sophomore year in college that I wanted to help others. It wasn’t until I realized how much of a story I had that I began to slowly visit high schools to talk to other underprivileged kids about the things I went through and how I was able to come out of my situation. The feeling I had after one girl came to me and told me that I was an inspiration to her surpassed any sort of gratitude that I had ever felt. It was that gratifying feeling that made me find love in what I was doing. I finally found my purpose.

How has being on stage as both a TEDx speaker and a model helped you most in your role as Business Development Manager at Genesis?

I think both speaking on stage and modeling have helped me in my job with Genesis by giving me a level of confidence and authenticity to talk to almost anyone without being scared or caring about what other people think of me.

How has opening up in such a vulnerable way and telling your amazing story helped you be more authentic at work?

Being vulnerable is often looked at as something negative, but if you know how to use your vulnerability in the right way, it can be the most powerful tool you have. Especially in the sense of being authentic. That’s all anyone wants.

We were thrilled to hear you call Pitch Lab one of the best interactive workshops you’ve ever attended. What made the experience most valuable for you?

I really enjoyed that Pitch Lab was able to make a bunch of our most introverted employees a little more comfortable interacting. It truly turned the workshop into an uplifting session rather than making it into just another meeting of death by PowerPoint.

Giuseppe Pizano TEDx Changing Sight

What’s next in your quest to provide kids with a best friend in their backpacks, and the ability to know that they have a chance in life?

My next step is to get my idea for a backpack that is sturdy yet practical for homeless youth across the country in the right hands to make this a reality. And hopefully being able to talk to hundreds of more people across the country, maybe even the world.

At the end of your talk, you quoted a staggering 1.6M kids living on the street today. What can we do to help right now?

Anyone can help by visiting their nearest homeless youth shelter and volunteering. You will never understand how impactful it is to build a simple relationship with one of these kids. That’s speaking from personal experience.

Pitch Lab's Origin Story!

Pitch Lab B2B Revenue Executive Experience

How to “Own” a Room and Increase Your Presentation Skills

Big thanks to Chad Sanderson for inviting Pitch Lab onto the B2B Revenue Executive Experience Podcast. 

Being at the intersection of sales + comedy helped me see the benefits that an “open mic” environment provides to professionals who want to improve their presentation skills.

If you're in sales or part of a client facing team, you are the differentiator to buyers in today's competitive marketplace. Here's an excerpt from the interview: 

"After several years as a regular in Denver’s stand-up comedy scene, Jay Mays noticed something remarkable was happening. He was becoming better at sales. The connection between public speaking and sales may seem obvious, but Mays wondered why there weren’t more opportunities for salespeople to practice their presentation skills publicly.

"That idea was brought to life as Pitch Lab in 2016. With Denver’s burgeoning entrepreneurial scene, Mays noticed that the only pitching practice many entrepreneurs had received was in front of actual investors. “That’s not the right time,” Mays said.

“I always thought that the idea of an open mic – that comedians were always out there, once, two, three times a night hitting these mics, whether there’s an audience or not to hone their skills, to practice their material, just to get up there and work that muscle was always so fascinating.”"

Click here to read the full article via Brian Fey @ Value Prime Solutions

Jay Mays JD Lopez Left Hand Right Brain Podcast

Left Hand Right Brain 140: Pitch Lab w/ Jay Mays

And thank you to JD Lopez for inviting me as a guest on his Westword-winning Left Hand Right Brain podcast! 

JD is one of the hardest working comics in Denver. He's a writer, producer and genuinely hilarious guy who represented Team Comedian during Denver Startup Week's Battle of the Startups: "Entrepreneurs vs. Comedians!"

I had a blast reliving my glory days as one of the biggest names in Denver Unpaid Comedy as well as telling the origin stories of Pitch Lab & Have-Nots Comedy.

Click here to listen to the full Left Hand Right Brain interview

At the end of the podcast JD asked me if I was an artist. I struggled with the question. I didn't feel authentic saying yes, but aren't we all artists to some degree? Even if I'm not an artist in the traditional sense (painting watercolors on a canvas in front of a serene mountain creek) I am a creator. We are all creators. 

Pitch Lab creates experiences to help professionals like you be more confident and engaging speakers.

Want to learn more? Join us at our next public workshop, or contact me directly to chat! 

Stand Up for Science @ Denver Museum of Nature & Science!

Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Pitch Lab Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Pitch Lab teams up with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science to help scientists improve their public speaking skills!

“What we do is very relevant, and not just to us as professionals,” Nathan Boyless, president of Metcalf Archaeology recently told a group of fellow archaeologists at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. “The stories that we’re discovering out there as scientists are relevant to the broader public and it makes sense to get the message out. You are a differentiator, and how you’re presenting your idea has an effect on how it’s received.”

Nathan was introducing Pitch Lab’s session as part of “Pushing Boundaries,” a three-day symposium for archeologists hosted by Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Alongside presentations like “Re-thinking the Protohistoric Pueblo Economy in Light of Plains-Pueblo Exchange” and “A Zuni Perspective on Bears Ears National Monument,” Pitch Lab was on-hand to help scientists develop new strategies for unpacking their discoveries to the general public, colleagues and stakeholders.

Improv Comedy Mirroring DMNS

“93% of what we’re communicating is actually non-verbal,” Pitch Lab founder Jay Mays explained to the audience as the session got underway. “All information is good information: body language, the voice, the inflection, the eye contact. All of that energy is important.”

Things quickly got interactive with a round of Comedy Karaoke, wherein a handful of participants shared an examples of things that trip them up when speaking in public and then delivered a one-liner from Steven Wright, Mitch Hedberg, or Demetri Martin.

“My goal for public speaking is never saying ‘um’, which I know I do too much,” one attendee shared, before delivering the following quip to thunderous applause: “I’m sick of following my dreams, I’m just going to ask them where they’re going and hook up with them later.”

93% Communication Non Verbal Pitch Lab Jay Mays DMNS

Mays asked the speakers what they felt leading into the exercise. One common answer was “fear,” to which he exclaimed, “That’s ok! I got nervous before this.”

“It’s not about killing the butterflies,” he continued. “it’s about getting them to fly in formation. Try to reframe your nervousness as excitement. The way the body reacts to nervousness and the way it reacts to excitement are very similar.”

Mays was joined on stage by local stand-up comic Daniel Reskin, who reminded the group, “If your heart is pounding, that means you care. If your heart’s not pounding, something is wrong.”

Pitch Lab Scientists Improv Comedy Denver Museum Nature & Science

Mays also said that you can set yourself up for success by never starting until you have the room. He suggested having someone introduce you or come out and start saying “clap if you can hear me.” The duo suggested taking time before your talk begins to introduce yourself to the front row so you can establish a connection with your audience.

Reskin and Mays then took the group through some stage presence tips from Robin Williams—chiefly that the more you practice your presentation the more natural is will seem on stage.

From there, they unpacked strategies for being visible on stage, reducing distractions, and staying present, pointing to a host of beloved comedians for examples of how to deliver material effectively. They also encouraged the group to embrace opportunities to react to the audience, to eliminate “ums” by speaking louder, and to build a cadence that uses pauses the way graphic designers use white space.

Improv Comedy Scientists DMNS

Other interactive exercises segued into the virtues of improv comedy, with participants building empathy by doing mini impersonations of a partner, matching tone and body language. This was followed by a game of shoulder-to-shoulder storytelling, with each person contributing a single word, moving down the line.

“I’m excited to break the fourth wall!” one participant shared, as the session concluded. “Most of us get up and have a script, but I’m going to try really hard to actually get people more engaged.”

The now-giddy archaeologists left Pitch Lab armed with new techniques and some suggestions of where to sharpen their skills: namely open-mic nights and improv groups.

“In your town, if there’s a thing called Peer Review, it’s stand-up comedy by scientists,” added Stephen Nash, Department Chair and Curator of Archeology at DMNS. “I’ve participated twice now and it was the hardest public speaking I’ve ever done. That’s why I fell in love with Pitch Lab: they are spot on about what these kinds of skills will do for your and for your public speaking.”

Jay Mays Daniel Reskin Pitch Lab Denver Museum Nature Science

Want to learn more about how Pitch Lab can help your organization be more confident and engaging speakers? Drop us an email, we'd love to chat!  

MBA Students Learn the Art of the Pitch @ CU Boulder Leeds School of Business!

CU Boulder Leeds School of Business Pitch Lab
CU Boulder Leeds School of Business Pitch Lab

In a unique, professional development workshop, Leeds MBA students learned how to harness public speaking techniques used by their favorite comedians.

In collaboration with Dr. Peter McGraw, Pitch Lab helped incorporate communication, creativity, and charisma lessons into CU’s already stellar Marketing Management course. 

“These skills are valuable for your pitch and in the real world – business schools tend to overlook these lessons,” explained Professor Peter McGraw, who considers these skills essential to the MBA student experience at Leeds.

"A presentation can have good content, but it can still be dry. I wanted to give students the opportunity to learn about the importance of engagement in their presentations.”

Peter McGraw Leeds MBA CU Boulder Pitch Lab

What CU's MBA Students Said About Pitch Lab:

“The Pitch Lab guys are engaging, funny, and, most importantly - practical. They provide valuable public speaking tips that can be used to improve presentation skills and life in general.” -- Cory J.
 
“Simple, engaging and brilliant stuff for anyone who talks.”-- Vijay Y.
 
“Outstanding workshop. Ideas presented in an easily digestible way that the audience can then put into action. Excited for my next presentation to put these ideas to work!” -- Hank P.
 
“Pitch Lab made me excited to get up in front of people and share my ideas!” -- Elizabeth S.
 
“Pitch Lab should be mandatory for anyone who has to or wants to open their mouth.” -- Eddie M.

 

Click here to read the full article on CU's Leeds School of Business MBA Blog.

How To Be A More Confident & Engaging Storyteller @ General Assembly!

General Assembly logo Pitch lab
Pitch Lab General Assembly Denver Storytelling Workshop

In this workshop hosted by General Assembly Denver, Pitch Lab helped a diverse group of professionals from DaVita, Monarch and Company & Ibotta learn how to be more confident, engaging storytellers.

Tim Shisler, founder of RackFocus, was on hand to share a decade worth of startup storytelling experience he's gained from working with organizations like Techstars, Denver Startup Week and TedXBoulder

Kylie B Kicks off our Storytelling workshop at General Assembly Denver! 

Kylie B Kicks off our Storytelling workshop at General Assembly Denver! 

First we dove into the essential elements of telling a great story including why you need to keep your setup brief, the power of segues and the importance of authenticity + vulnerability to build trust.

Then Tim took the stage to share examples of how Amazon and Twitter use vibrant details to make their stories memorable. And how Hollywood stories amp up the drama to create captivating scenes as illustrated by the Square Peg in a Round Hole scene from Apollo 13

Ibotta crew workshopping their personal stories 

Ibotta crew workshopping their personal stories 

After a brief breakout session, attendees practiced crafting their own personal stories and received actionable feedback from Tim on how to make their next presentation more memorable.

storytelling GA denver Pitch Lab
Tim Shisler Pitch Lab GA Denver

All the attendees shined in their final presentations and in closing out the workshop Tim reminded us that storytelling is a process and pointed to Ira Glass' fantastic quote on why great storytelling takes time and hard work. 

Make A Good Decision For Once At Your Office Holiday Party!

spike the punch Pitch Lab Corporate Event

The holidays are full of cheer, let them be full of laughs too.

Make a good decision for once at your office holiday party and host a Pitch Lab comedy workshop!

Did you know humor is a key to success at work?

"Organizations are tapping into the humor advantage. Companies such as Zappos and Southwest Airlines use comedy + a fun culture to attract & retain employees.”
        -- Abraham Lincoln

 

Find Out How Pitch Lab Has Helped:

Americorp Improv Comedy Workshop Pitch Lab

Americorps

Improv Comedy Workshop

Volume Nine Pitch Lab workshop

Volume Nine

Engaging Speaker Workshop

Moore Communications Group Pitch Lab Workshop

Moore Communications Group

Sales Pitch Workshop

Colorado Academy REDI Lab Pitch Lab

Colorado Academy

Public Speaking Workshop

 

Want To Learn More?

If you're interested, contact us and we'll set up a 15 minute phone call to find out if a Pitch Lab team building workshop is a good fit for your company.

Thanks & Happy Holidays from all of us at Pitch Lab!

Top 7 Sales Superstitions and Why Your Team Believes in Them

sales superstitions

We’ve all been there; you have the opportunity to pitch your dream client.

You take your time during discovery. You gain access to all the decision-makers. You expertly differentiate from the competition. The numbers make sense. Your entire team rallies around the pitch—and you crush it.

But then… nothing. Your dream client goes dark.

Not long after comes the “no.” And it’s over. There’s little consolation. No second prize for “Closed Lost” in Salesforce. 

 

Sales Is Full of Uncertainty

That’s the thing with sales. Even when you work hard and do everything right, sometimes it feels like winning needs a pinch of luck.

So we try to capture that luck. Manufacture that luck.

The belief that we can win is what keeps the wind in our sails, even though deep down we know we can’t control the outcome.

But science shows us that the feeling of control, even an illusory feeling of controlcan reduce stress and thereby increase performance. 

 

Why Superstitions Work

Superstitions help us because they provide a feeling of control, and that feeling of control actually helps salespeople perform better under pressure.

I have my own rituals and started to wonder, does everyone? I reached out to my favorite salespeople that I’ve worked with over the years, and here’s what they had to say about superstitions:

 

“I NEVER celebrate a verbal close or tell my CEO a deal is done until I get final signature from my client.”

– Patrick M., Pandora  

 
“We all have reps on our teams that consistently sandbag. Some of my most senior reps still refuse to tell me when they had a good meeting or even move a deal to a higher percentage in Salesforce for fear of jinxing the momentum.”

– Austin L., Smaato

 
“I once had a building in my territory in SoHo where I literally lost every single deal. It was my Temple of Doom. After a while, I determined the entire building was jinxed and never set foot in there again.”

– Daniel E., Konica Minolta

 
“I have a lucky business card holder. I used it so much the button broke and wouldn’t clasp, but I still rocked it for years.”

– Ed G., Pabst Brewing

 
“I’ll never duplicate and reuse a proposal from a previous ‘Closed Lost’ opportunity.”

– Antonia M., IKE GPS

 
“I have one special mug I'll drink coffee from in the morning if I have a big meeting with a new client or if I’m negotiating a house that day.”

– Ana W., Keller Williams

 
“I always wear a blue shirt if I’m closing a piece of business and if I know there’s a cattle-call pitch that lasts the whole day, 12 noon is my lucky time slot. (Also, it doesn’t hurt to bring the client lunch with heavy carbs so they slip into a food coma while listening to your competitors’ afternoon pitches!)

– Mike H., iHeartRadio

 

Getting Lucky Takes Work

If rituals and superstitions provide you a feeling of control, by all means, use them to combat the stress that comes with the territory (pun intended).

We all welcome a pinch of luck. Unfortunately, it’s not predictable, repeatable or scalable. An even better strategy to feel in control during your pitch is to train harder.

Pitch Lab logo

Lucky for you, Pitch Lab can help you be a more authentic and engaging presenter using proven techniques from your favorite comedians like Chris Rock, Jim Gaffigan and Tina Fey.

In the same way a stand-up comic hits an open mic, Pitch Lab is designed to help you clock the 10,000 hours of deliberate practice Malcolm Gladwell says make a master.

Join us at one of our upcoming Denver workshops, or contact me to learn more about how Pitch Lab can help your team.

Until then, good luck… I mean, break a leg! 

Public Speaking: Terrifying or Terrifyingly Funny? Pitch Lab @ Moore Communications Group

Moore Communications Group Pitch Lab
Pitch Lab Moore Communications Group

Pitch Lab joined Moore Communications Group for an afternoon to improve pitch delivery while intertwining interactive exercises to build new strengths for their customer facing team. The workshop concluded with a few brave members of the MCG team being put to the test by presenting a humorous, fictional product pitch for 3D Cheese Printers!

Together we broke down stand-up comedy techniques the pros use on stage to help MCG team members be funnier and more engaging during their sales pitches (minus a few of the dramatics and most of the profanity).

Not only did the exercises elevate their public speaking skills leaving them with actionable takeaways, but it served as a fun event that united the team by forcing vulnerability.

What The MCG Team Thought About Pitch Lab:

"I would recommend this workshop to any company. It was the best professional development workshop I've ever taken in my 8 years of experience in my current industry. Jay was extremely personable, smart and kept my attention the entire time. It made the entire learning experience a memorable one." - Marissa 
"The Pitch Lab team was great to work with. They were informative, funny and made everyone feel comfortable. For a very dreaded topic (public speaking), the workshop allowed everyone to be involved and excited to get their turn! I would highly recommend to any company looking for a fun team builder." - Danelle
"Pitch Lab does a great job merging comedic relief with important concepts that make learning informative and fun." - Stacey
"Given my fear of public speaking, I never would have imagined having so much fun practicing pitching in front of my co-workers. We're excited to put the key takeaways to use in our next client pitch!" - Ashley
Ladies and Gentlemen... Jay Mays & Tommy Y!

Ladies and Gentlemen... Jay Mays & Tommy Y!

Whether you’re pitching a product or service or trying to convince your significant other how much you need that Harley or pair of Gucci pumps, our pitch tips can help you get that ‘Yes’ you’ve been hoping for.

Read the full article via Ashley Brafford on MCG Insights

Pitch Lab at Thrive Workplace ft. Ben Kronberg from Comedy Central!

PitchLab in Oct 2017

On a somewhat standard Tuesday, a group of salesmen, entrepreneurs, and creative minds gathered at Thrive Workplace to learn about and practice public speaking.

What made this Tuesday special was Ben Kronberg from Comedy Central, Late Night with Seth Meyers & Jimmy Kimmel Live was on hand to break down stand-up comedy techniques the pros use on stage to help these Denver professionals be funnier, more engaging speakers at work.

Between the basics like breaking the 4th wall and dramatic pause, to the more advanced concepts like improv and storytelling during sales, attendees got to practice telling jokes, improvising and mirroring one another. 

 

What Attendees Said About The Workshop:

Who would have thought that stand-up comedy and pitching share so much in common? Jay and Ben deliver a slew of invaluable tips and tricks to improve your public speaking ability in a fun (and funny!) way. 
— Kevin C. @ Amazon
Great workshop that helped develop my confidence while speaking in public or for during sales presentations. I strongly recommend for all sales professionals! 
— Doug K. @ ServiceNow
Jay and Ben were really engaging and fun! This is a great program for anyone who wants to understand how to incorporate comedy into your pitch and can benefit from discovering exactly how to command and maintain your audience’s attention. 
— George B. @ BentlyBaths
Ben Kronberg Pitch Lab

If you're interested in learning a thing or two about public speaking and incorporating humor into your pitches, join us at our next event!

Til then, enjoy this photo of Ben Kronberg and Jim Gaffigan's comedy love: 

Ben Kronberg Jim Gaffigan

Pitch Lab Headlines Denver Startup Week 2017!

Pitch Lab Denver Startup Week

2017 marked Denver Startup Week’s 6th birthday and a record breaking 18,900 registered attendees!  

Pitch Lab was honored to be selected for two headline sessions during the week. These events were without a doubt, the highlight of our year. 

Over 1,100 folks registered to see Pitch Lab and we had a blast helping Denver’s startup scene find its funny!

Big thanks to John Wilker for all the hospitality and support. Below are our favorite pics from the week courtesy of Jim Darling.

Cristian Whitney Pitch Lab
Denver Startup Week Pitch Lab opener
Pitch Lab Garage Denver Startup Week
Find Your Funny Pitch Lab
Pitch Lab panel Denver Startup Week
pitchlab_dsw17_finals-42.jpg
Pitch Lab Denver Startup Week laughter
JD Lopez Pitch Lab
JD Lopez RJ Owen Pitch Lab Denver Startup Week
Audience Laugh Pitch Lab
Heidi McGuire Pitch Lab
Pitch Lab Improv Comedy
Pitch Lab Crowd Laughter
Anthony Franco Pitch Lab Denver Startup Week
LOL Pitch Lab
Anthony Franco Garage Pitch Lab
Joel Lutz Pitch Lab Panel
Daniel Reskin Pitch Lab
Crowd Shot Denver Startup Week