Going Rogue with Denver Startup Week Organizer, John Wilker!

John Wilker

John Wilker knows what it takes to create events that don’t suck. 

He delivers awesome technical conferences for his independent startup 360|Conferences, brought the first Ignite event to Colorado and has helped organize Denver Startup Week practically since its inception. 

Did I mention he’s also author of the Sci-Fi book series Space Rogues? See what happened when Pitch Lab caught up with John Wilker to talk all things Sci-Fi, why old electronics are good for his back and how he got the nickname Chicken Bone!

 

What’s your favorite Dad joke

When the cashier at the grocery store asks me if I want my milk in a bag, I say, “No, just leave it in the carton.”

 

If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning a gold medal for? 

Nacho eating. I’ll destroy you at that. 

 

If you were a hoarder, what would you hoard? 

I like that you used “were.” 

Old electronics. It used to be books but, after a few moves, my back was like, “Hoarding, OVER!”

 

Do you have a nickname?  

The one and only nickname I’ve ever had was because I answered when someone called their dog. The dog’s nickname, Chicken Bone, transferred to me. 

In my defense, I wasn’t really answering to it; I didn’t hear what was said. Still, try to explain that to someone laughing so hard they double over while pointing and saying “Chicken Bone!”

 

What was your favorite TV show and movie growing up? 

TV show, Star Trek: The Next Generation.My folks and I always made sure to be home to watch it. Kids today are so lucky with DVRs and Hulu. I used to have to time my pee breaks to fit within three minutes of commercials!

Movie, so many. GooniesContactLabyrinth (“you remind me of the babe”). Most of the early Star Trek, the original three Star Wars (don’t get me started) and of course Fifth Element! Also, Robot Joxis an old guilty pleasure. It’s so horrible.

 

How did you decide to transition from science-fiction fan to author? Was there a specific moment or catalyst that started your journey? 

I’ve always been a writer to a degree. One of my last desk jobs, I used to write an email every week to let people know I’d brought in donuts. The emails were usually short stories, sorta mentioning donuts, but often not. I knew I was on to something when coworkers signed up to get the emails even when they didn’t want an actual donut. 

Space Rogues came about because I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for years but never got very far. When 2016 rolled around, my November was light, so I started and just kept going. Before long, I was half-way through the month and then I was done. (For the record, I finished on the last day around noon, LOL.) 

When I came back to the story a week later — it’s always good to let it sit after you’re done — I liked the story and thought it was worth sharing.

Space Rogues Cover John Wilker

 

For those not familiar, what is Space Rogues
 

Space Rogues is my first self-published novel. It’s your average — though to me, most awesome, ever — science-fiction adventure story. I’ve always loved Sci-Fi like FireflyGuardians of the Galaxy and Farscape, so my writing is very much in that part of the genre: fun and dialogue heavy, lots of witty banter and action. It’s not even remotely hard Sci-Fi, so you’ll never know how FTL works, or how comms can span the galaxy.

 

What’s the one thing you want Sci-Fi fans to know about lead character, Wil Calder? 

For one thing, he (and I) had friends in high school, despite what one mean reviewer said. 😱 Second, he’s my kind of hero. Altruistic to a fault, but honorable in his own way. Kind of Han Solo and Malcolm Reynolds rolled up with a little Inigo Montoya mixed in for honor.

 

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received? 

One is advice I’ve gotten, and one is my advice: 

One: Don’t read reviews. 

Two: Don’t be impatient. Self-publishing is so easy that it’s easy to make mistakes. I pushed Space Rogues out too early. I hadn’t invested in proper editing and proofreading, and I paid for it. I still do since I gave so many copies away people still randomly show up to write a review about a copy that’s not what’s available on the store now. It kinda sucks since I can’t really fix it, LOL. Make sure you go through the steps before sharing your work with the world. 

For what it’s worth, I'm sure you made Seth Godin proud by publishing too quickly. He says folks sit on their work for too long, paralyzed by the goal of perfection. It takes courage to say “fuck it, ship it.”

Space Rogues Cover Idea Sketch John Wilker

 

You’re a busy guy with 360|Conferences PLUS your work supporting the Denver startup community, yet you still managed to get two Space Rogues books published with a third promised in 2019. How do you find time and stay motivated to write? 

I’d say that I don’t sleep, but that’d be a lie. I love sleeping! Really, I try to keep busy, lest my natural lazy tendency overtake me. Plus, I really hope to improve everything I’m involved in — whether it’s Denver or the iOS or Android community, etc. So that keeps me going. Adding in writing has been a great outlet for me. I try to sneak in a page or two of writing when and wherever I can. 

As far as staying motivated, it’s a struggle to be sure. It’s so easy to just stay indoors and do nothing, but I haven’t gotten to where I want to be in life yet, so I have to keep working on it!

 

Denver Startup Week Logo

What’s your origin story in regards to Denver Startup Week? 

I was at the first meeting that kicked off the entire thing. Lunch at the Wynkoop Tavern. Heady times for sure. When I was approached after the first year — the original committee tried to do it all themselves — I eagerly accepted. 

For one thing, I can’t help but try to give back and make Denver better. Of course I was hopeful that my efforts would lead to opportunities. (Hint, hint universe!)

I’m still involved in much the same way as I was at the start, and I still love it. I’m given a lot of latitude to plan things that I think can make the week better, which is awesome.

 

What’s your most unforgettable experience at Denver Startup Week? 

Oh man, so many. From getting an email that literally just said “Drones!” to having one of my good friends, Eryc Eyl, DJ the opening party in his DJ Saviour Breath costume, and knowing how much “distress” it caused people.

 

Amongst all the speakers you’ve seen at Denver Startup Week over the years, what’s the common trait that makes them great? 

I’d say a willingness to add value. As I go through the submissions for headline/spotlight events, that’s the first thing I look at. Is the speaker trying to add value to the community and the week, or are they simply looking for one more speaking engagement to add to their LinkedIn profile. If the latter, I don’t even give it a second thought. They get rejected. 

“I want to work with people who put the Denver community before their personal fame and fortune.” 

 

When RJ Owen at Pitch Lab first approached you with the idea to be part of Denver Startup Week, what was your initial reaction? 

“I love this!” There are so many venture capital, money, funding and growth talks during the week that I like the headline/spotlight events to be more broad. I’m all about topics that help us be better humans.

 

Why do you think Pitch Lab was so well-received by the Denver startup community? 

Beyond being awesome, I think Pitch Lab was a change of pace. There are always so many similar events, so something that turns pitching on its head is welcome and appreciated. I heard lots of great things about Pitch Lab!

 

Denver Startup Week Crew 18000 Registered

Last year was your biggest attendance on record with 18,900 registered. How do you top that? What can the startup community expect from Denver Startup Week this year? 
 

Well, we’re aiming for over 20K. (Gotta keep those numbers growing!) I know on the headline/spotlight side of things, I’m working on some content to be kind of “DSW 101” on Monday for folks who are new to the week. I feel like the sessions we’re announcing are across the board great and an awesome example of what Denver has to offer the world!

 

Big thanks to John for everything he does to support the Denver startup community! 

Click here to learn more about John and his events that don't suck.

And we'll see you again this year at Denver Startup Week, September 24th - 28th!

Can I Introduce You to Mrs. Q?

Mrs. Q Pitch Lab

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Philip Worthman, President of Sandler Training Denver, and he asked me, “How’s it going with Pitch Lab?”

“Great!” I said automatically and launched into some of our new clients

But then after a brief pause I admitted, “We're not doing enough to continue the conversation after the workshop ends. A lot of our relationships are one and done. I want to do more to help attendees after our initial session together.” 

“I wonder if you’re not clearly communicating potential next steps.” Phil responded.

Then he asked, “Have you heard of Mrs. Q?”

“No. Who’s that?” I replied.

Then Phil went on to explain Mrs. Q is actually an acronym for a clear call to action at the end of each workshop:

M – If you found Pitch Lab valuable, are you interested in a meeting to discuss how we can work together at your office help your team be more confident, engaging presenters? 

R – Do you have anyone you’d like to refer Pitch Lab to that would benefit from a workshop or private coaching? 

S – Is Pitch Lab a fit for any upcoming speaking engagements? We’d love to hear more about the opportunity.

Q – After you left Pitch Lab and practiced the new techniques, do you have any questions? What can we do to clarify?

 

It’s hard to ask for what we want. 

It requires us to be vulnerable and opens up the possibility of rejection. 

These fears creep into our asks and make us less bold with our requests.

The problem is that when we are unclear about what we want, others can’t get clear either.

How about in your business? Are there more opportunities for you to introduce your clients to a version of Mrs. Q

We'd love to hear from you.

After the meeting with Phil I confess we at Pitch Lab haven’t asked these questions enough. But we need to. 

Is there more we can do together? If so, let’s chat. We’d love to continue the conversation.

8 Hard-Hitting Questions for Pitch Lab Improv Coaches, RJ Owen & Joel Lutz!

 Pitch Lab's Favorite improv comedy coaches: Joel Lutz & RJ Owen

Pitch Lab's Favorite improv comedy coaches: Joel Lutz & RJ Owen

There's no getting around it. We live in an unscripted world. If you mean to make an impression, you have to be able to think on your feet, hurl yourself into the moment and improvise. And like a great improv troupe, successful businesses must rely on similar tools to succeed.

We caught up with Pitch Lab’s own RJ Owen and Joel Lutz to ask them 8 important questions about their origin story, Dad jokes, and why you should sign up for their upcoming improv comedy workshop at General Assembly on June 26th! 

 

How did the two of you meet?

RJ: Joel and I were introduced when a pal of ours started a little breakfast club. We had a lot of similar interests and enjoyed riffing on each other’s jokes in conversation. Later when Jay and I put together the initial concept for Pitch Lab, I knew Joel would bring a lot of expertise from his perspective as an improv coach. It’s been great to collaborate with him.

Joel: What RJ said, except I had to beg him to be included in Pitch Lab.

 

What’s your favorite Dad joke?

RJ: Why did the chicken cross the road?  (Why?)

To get to the ugly guy's house.

????

Knock knock (Who's there?)

It's the chicken!!

 

If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning a gold medal for?

RJ: Lawn mowing. I’ve perfected flipping the mower around as I run across my yard, plus I train at high altitude!

Joel: Telling people why something won’t work. No problem goes unnoticed!

 

What is the next thing on your bucket list?

RJ: I’ve always wanted my bucket list to be achievable so it’s a literal list of buckets. I’ve recently built out my collection of Home Depot orange buckets. The 1997 HD orange is a must-have for any serious bucketeer. I’m hoping to pick up a classic 1930s tin pale at Bucketcon this summer.

Joel:  Paying off school loans... I'm right on track!

 

What is the best piece of comedy advice you’ve ever received?

RJ: “Stop trying to be funny and just listen to me,” (from Joel)

Joel:  You aren’t as good as you think you are.

 

If you were a hoarder, what would you hoard?

RJ: Bucket lists! (see what I did there? in the biz, that's what we call a "callback"

Joel: Better jokes for this interview?

 

How has improv helped you in your career?

RJ: I use improv skills every day. Improv’s focus on collaboration and building on each other’s ideas with principles like “Yes, And” are absolutely essential for getting the most out of anything we do collaboratively, and as a designer a lot of my creative ideas come this way.

Treating our team like an improv ensemble cast - where everyone wins or loses based on the success of the team and not any individual - also helps make our team a healthy place where everyone has a say and brings all of their creative energy to the table.

Lastly, we’re presenting to clients all the time. We use skills similar to improv comedians to connect with our “audience” and adjust our material on the fly to respond to their feedback or reactions.

Joel: Improv has helped reshape almost every part of my life. I have learned that how I react on stage to a suggestion or what another actor is offering, is very similar to how I respond in real life to challenges and obstacles.  

One of the best places I’ve found in life, is when I’m open to new opportunities and in a position to act so that I can capitalize on them in a meaningful way.  I believe improv can be a vehicle to incorporate these values/traits into one’s own life.

 

Why should I sign up for your improv workshop at General Assembly on Tuesday, June 26th? 

RJ: You’re going to learn how to explore new creative ideas and unlock innovation (as buzz-wordy as that sounds) and you’re going to do it through a crazy fun improv workshop. Even really good professional development events are rarely as enjoyable as this one will be - don’t miss it!

Joel: If you sign up RJ will guarantee you a new job, and a Tesla! It’s pretty amazing!

Register now for Pitch Lab: How To Use Improv Comedy As A Tool For Innovation! (sorry, Tesla not included)

 NO CAPTION NECESSARY.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY.

Creative Inspiration from Comedians @ Integer Denver!

Integer Denver logo
Integer Team Pic Denver Pitch Lab

Integer Denver collaborates with Pitch Lab to get a burst of inspiration from our favorite comedians and brush up on our presentation skills! 

Improv Comedy Pitch Lab Integer

The two-hour session was hosted by Pitch Lab’s founder, Jay Mays and 12-year stand-up comedy veteran, Daniel Reskin.

Pitch Lab integrated techniques from Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Sarah Silverman to teach us how to master voice control, stage presence and storytelling to make an authentic connection with our audience.

Improv Comedy Mirroring Integer Denver

To practice our skills, we tried our hand at comedy karaoke, improv comedy and wrapped up the workshop by pitching... Meat Water. And found out we aren’t half bad!

Meat Water Pitch Lab!

At least… that’s what we think. We’ll let our clients be the judge in our next presentation!

Integer Denver Fun Team Pic Pitch Lab

At Pitch Lab, our clients are smart people who do amazing work but want help presenting their ideas better.

Want to learn more about how we can help your team? Let's chat!

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

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

Denver Museum of Nature & Science teams up with Pitch Lab 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? Let's talk! 

5 Tips for Teaching Public Speaking to Your Kids!

Elementary School OI

When Pitch Lab was born we were certain only salespeople and entrepreneurs would attend our workshops. What a surprise to see the room also filled with so many talented marketers, project managers and executives!  

What we learned is most attendees have one thing in common: the fear of public speaking prevents them from helping their clients succeed, getting the promotion they deserve or landing their dream job. 

So when our local elementary school asked for public speaking coaches to volunteer their time, I jumped at the opportunity to give my daughter and her friends an advantage we all wish we had at their age.

And truth be told I've never been great at sports, so I was also stoked to be called “Coach.”

Then came the hard part: figuring out how to translate the techniques we use to help professionals at Pitch Lab to a room full of first graders. How do you simplify the message to resonate with seven-year-olds?

But fear not, teaching public speaking to kids doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are 5 easy ways to give your kids a head start: 

 

1 - Content Is Key

Make sure your kid actually enjoys what he or she is reciting. Don’t put more pressure on what’s actually being said than you have to.

Young kids are naturally going to gravitate towards Lego Batman over Abe Lincoln, so use that to your advantage. Get your kids started by reciting a funny poem from Shel Silverstein, a page out of Hop on Pop or their favorite monologue from Captain Underpants.

And to start out, keep it as short as possible. Comedy Works gives its first-timers two minutes max on New Talent NightTrust me, even those two minutes can feel like an eternity when things don’t go right.

 

2 - Manage Stage Fright from the Start

As a parent, I’m a huge proponent of validating your kids’ feelings. When it comes to stage fright, you need to do the same thing.

Share with your child that it’s not about getting rid of the butterflies in your tummy, it’s about getting the butterflies to fly information

During class, instead of trying to calm down before we went on stage, we stood up tall in our best Wonder Woman/Superman pose and said, “I AM EXCITED!” 

The superhero posture gives your child a subconscious feeling of confidence and also leads to a few laughs to keep it fun.

Furthermore, studies show that reframing public speaking anxiety as excitement leads to feeling more in control, and ultimately a better performance.

 

3 - There’s Power in Dramatic Pause

Most children tend to race through content while performing on stage. Maybe they’re excited. Maybe it’s a strategy to cover up their stage fright. Or maybe it’s simply because they want to get it over with. 

Here’s the punchline. Your child doesn’t talk too fast. He or she just isn’t pausing enough. 

Don’t tell your kid to slow down. Rather, teach her where to pause to allow the listener to catch up and build tension where needed.

Like a graphic designer uses white space, that’s how you need to instruct your child to use dramatic pauses.

 

4 - Over-prepare

When it comes to public speaking, nothing matches the advantage of preparation. Forget coaching your child's body language; keep focused on practice.

The silver bullet for helping your kid is repetition. 

As your child memorizes the content, her delivery will become more authentic and her body language will improve naturally. Start slow and build momentum as you go. 

At school, we practiced weekly in the classrooms, but their homework was to recite their piece two times a day. Every day.

 

5 - Give Lots of Positive Feedback

Never start critiquing right away. In fact, don’t do anything to discourage your child while practicing. 

Say you’re proud of him or her for getting up there, and encourage her to keep going. Your positive feedback is paramount. Build her self-confidence and the rest will fall into place. 

You’re giving your kid a head start on a skill that they will use for the rest of their lives. Is there really anything more to do than applaud? 

Pitch Lab is More Than Just Child’s Play

Our clients are smart people who do amazing work but want help presenting their ideas better. 

Pitch Lab produces custom workshops that break down the comedy techniques the pros use on stage to help your team be more confident, engaging presenters.

Want to learn more about how we can help your team? Let’s chat!

Climbing Mt. Cleverest with Ben Kronberg!

Ben Kronberg Last Comic Standing Pitch Lab

Ben and I have been friends for over 12 years now, but I’ve been his fan longer than that.

When you hear Ben’s jokes, it’s obvious his genius comes from the unique way he perceives the world. What makes him truly special though, is how he uses silence to build an almost unbearable tension in the room. Tension that begs to be released by a punchline only Ben can deliver.

If you don’t know him, Ben is a New York based stand-up comedian who headlines all over the world. You’ve probably seen him tell jokes on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night With Seth Meyers, John Oliver’s NY Stand-Up Show or his very own Half Hour Comedy Special on Comedy Central.

Pitch Lab caught up with Ben to ask him a few questions about his worst experience on stage, how he deals with “butterflies” before a set and why you should join his workshop at The Commons on June 5th.

 

Who is your all-time favorite comedian?

Troy Baxley. A local Denver comedian who was one of the first stand ups I ever saw live. Even though he was never "famous" he made such an important impact on the comedy scene in Denver and whenever I mention his name on the road, people who have seen or heard of him get really excited.

He had such a presence and flow that I could listen to him tell the same jokes over and over and never get tired of watching him work his magic. I conjure him on stage whenever I feel I have nowhere to go.  He gives me strength like a deity in desert. 

 

What’s the worst experience you’ve ever had on stage?

I love the stage cuz it gives me all of the experiences in concentrated form:  confidence, fear, curiosity, regret, happiness, anger...its life. Worst experiences are a value of "I hope this never happens again" but I feel that you have to be open to the worst to experience the best.

If you leave the house anything can happen, and no matter what happens you have to make the best of it.  That said, one time early on I had maraschino cherries thrown at me by an audience member. It stained my favorite thrift store Jacket, but then that stain became a story and a badge of courage.

 Ben Slinging One-Liners On Comedy Central!

Ben Slinging One-Liners On Comedy Central!

What’s the most nervous you’ve ever been in anticipation for a set?

Anytime I go up in Denver I can get nervous. It's where I started and I feel the most potential inescapable judgment there.  

I was also pretty nervous before my Comedy Central Half Hour cuz I was getting paid the most money I've ever been paid for a show. I looked at my hair a lot and shadow boxed backstage...JK.  

 

What’s the website you'd most likely get busted looking at while in the green room?

My ex-girlfriend's Instagram via Google cuz I blocked her after she broke up with me.

 

What would your last meal be?

Lasagna. It makes you tired. I would sleep through the execution. 

 

What is the best piece of comedy advice you've ever been given?

If the joke doesn't work, you're telling it wrong.

 

The first time you coached at Pitch Lab were you surprised how well stand-up comedy techniques translated to presentations in the workplace?

I wasn't surprised cuz the idea is really great and the applications of stand up are self evident in that way.  As soon as you explained the idea I was on board and I am a tough sell when it comes to ideas that aren't mine:) I can't wait to see where Pitch Lab goes.  The potential is endless for this type thing. 

 

Why should folks sign up for your Pitch Lab workshop at the Commons on June 5th?

It's a no-brainier.  No matter what you do professionally you will gain from taking part in Pitch Lab.  No matter what stage of the pitching process you are currently in: beginner to seasoned pitch-er, this workshop will absolutely help move you in the right direction no regardless your end goal.  

Can You Laugh Your Way to Better Public Speaking Skills? @ Inflow

Inflow Denver logo
Pitch Lab Inflow Battery 621

Words Are Meaningless and Forgettable

Have you ever bailed on buying a product or service because you didn't like the salesperson? Have you ever bought something you didn't need because you really liked the salesperson? 

Us too. At Pitch Lab we believe that when it comes to sales, you are the differentiator. Especially in professional services.

We had a blast with Forrest Dombrow and the rest of the Inflow team exploring the power of non-verbal communication to be more confident, engaging presenters:  

 

"Public speaking skills can be incredibly beneficial to just about anyone’s career, including Inflow’s team members who may not speak to large audiences but do regularly present information to potential and existing clients. Often times, public speaking can be a boring topic to delve into but our team recently learned how it can be made much more enjoyable. Enter Pitch Lab!

Last week, Jay Mays and Daniel Reskin of Pitch Lab came to Battery621 to demonstrate how they’ve combined their comedic talents and sales experience to capture the attention of their audience, leverage psychology to keep them on your side, and ultimately close the deal."

Pitch Lab Workshop at Battery 621 Inflow

What the Team at Inflow Said About Pitch Lab

“I thought the way Pitch Lab used different comedians’ styles to command the stage and audience's attention was very interesting and informative. The key technique that I came away with next time I give a talk to meet the people beforehand to take away the “strangers” feeling and build a stronger connection.”
-- Shaun Elley, Strategist @ Inflow
 
“Even though I’ve given 100’s of presentations, I absolutely learned new techniques at Pitch Lab. The workshop was informative for all levels and most important, hilarious! I highly recommend Jay and Pitch Lab to anyone looking to take their presentations to a new level.”
-- Forrest Dombrow, Director BD @ Inflow
 
Click here to read the full article on Inflow's Website! 

If You Blow the Pitch, You Won’t Win Regardless of the Idea @ Regis University!

Regis University Logo
Pitch Lab Regis Innovation Challenge

Regis University wants its students to be successful on their career path, especially if it's the road less traveled. That’s why the College of Business and Economics created the Regis Innovation Center.

The Innovation Center is a great opportunity for budding entrepreneurs to hone their ideas and build their teams, culminating with a massive Innovation Challenge where entrepreneurs get to present their ideas in front of hundreds of potential investors.

Be a More Confident, Engaging Presenter with Pitch Lab

Knowing that public speaking is a weakness for most Dr. Ken Sagendorf, Professor and Director at Regis University Innovation Center, thought it would be beneficial to equip his entrepreneurs with the skills necessary to “nail” their pitches. 

"You can have a flawless business plan, a marketing strategy that is innovative and unique, but if you don’t know how to convey any of those messages, connect with the audience, portray confidence and really sell the judges on what you’ve been able to accomplish then you are not going to complete that mission. You need to know how to pitch it. Period.

Jay brought a comical and relatable feel to what is arguably the hardest part of this competition. It’s difficult to give a presentation, let alone a presentation that you have poured all your time, love and energy into. They want to get it right, and we want them to get it right too!"

 

Jay Mays Pitch Lab Regis University

 

Why Slack's Origin Story Matters

At Pitch Lab, we believe that when it comes to pitching, you are the differentiator. This is especially true in the ultra-competitive startup world. To this end, we opened the workshop by sharing Slack’s origin story:

In 2008, Stewart Butterfield was an entrepreneur building a desktop game at a time when users were migrating over to mobile devices. Consequently, after only a few years Stewart and his partners made the difficult decision to shut down.

Stewart broke down in tears telling his staff it was over. They then offered the VCs their remaining money back, about $5 million, but were told to keep it and try to build something else with a skeleton crew. 

Why? Because the investors believed in Stewart. Even without a new business plan in hand.

And from the ashes of a gaming company, Slack was born.

The rest is history. 

 Dr. Ken Sagendorf & Team Honing Their Improv Skills With 1-Word Stories!

Dr. Ken Sagendorf & Team Honing Their Improv Skills With 1-Word Stories!

 

What Regis University Said About Pitch Lab:

“Jay left our program better than he found it. Not only did all of the startups improve their overall presentation, but those that did not win top prizes went on to be approached by community members to talk about potential outside investment. 
I don't believe this would have been a reality without Jay. We're grateful to utilize his expertise, and I hope he continues to be a part of the Regis University Innovation Challenge.”
-- Ethan Lockshin, Director of Regis University Innovation Challenge
Ethan Lockshin Pitch Lab Regis

 

Click here to read the entire article on the Regis University Innovation Challenge Website!

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 an accomplished speaker and champion for homeless children.

He shares his story in “Changing Sight,” a TEDx he hopes will help people see things differently.

We caught up with Giuseppe to talk about the power of vulnerability, dealing with stage fright and helping homeless youth: 

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. =)

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.

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.