Are You “Backable”?

Have you started a business? Applied for a job? Do you plan any of these?

Have you struggled to find the financial backing you needed to get the business “kicked off?” Many, if not most, entrepreneurs have stumbled on this block.

Alex Sanfilippo, (Creating a Brand podcasts), recently interviewed Suneel Gupta, who talks about his recently published book Backable.

In the beginning of the conversation with Alex, Suneel describes his extensive research. He talked with many well-known people. How did they become “backable”? What’s the unique story they told, or personality trait, that caused people to write a big check?

He says he wrote the book because the question was burning in his mind. He says, “I’m not backable. I look too young. I’m a serious introvert. Etc.” And he wanted funding for his business. He says he felt confident of his qualifications, but he’d been rejected by several prospective employers and investors. So he felt a need to answer this for himself, as well as to impart what he learned to others.

Suneel tells the story of his interview with Jack Dorsey, founder of Square. Again, he felt qualified for the position he was being considered for, but he blew the interview. He believes this happens more than many people would like to admit. It could be in front of prospects, clients, teachers – anywhere one is seeking to demonstrate knowledge, sell something or influence someone else.
From the many ideas in the book, Alex and Suneel select three elements of influence techniques to dig deeper on.

  • Storytelling: Make your story relate to one particular person, ideally someone close to you personally. You may want to expand into the data after you’ve made your point with the personal story. Example: One person in 25 experiences what my friend, my father, or whomever you focused on, experienced. Suneel tells the story of his experience with Groupon as it grew from a small company focused on small customers. It grew, went public, and lost its focus on individuals. H feels that held it back from its full potential.
  • Share an “earned secret”, Explore insights that truly enlighten people about something they probably don’t know – something that’s not “Google-able”. Intoxicate people with your effort!
  • Turn “outsiders into “insiders”. If you come across as someone who has it all figured out and you’re just sharing your knowledge, you keep them on the outside. Pull them into the process of reaching a conclusion. Tell enough of you’re story to make it cohesive, but leave some dots for the listener to connect.

As an example of the third technique, Suneel goes back to the 1940’s and tells the instant cake mix story. Initially the mixes didn’t sell well.- they were so easy to use that the user didn’t feel involved. When they left out an ingredient for the home baker to add (Just stir in an egg and make a beautiful cake!), sales took off! Now the homemaker could be proud of what she created. Before, she felt like she was just “watching something happen.”

When you’re rejected, Suneel advises, pick the refuser’s mind. What could I have done differently to get you to say yes. How can I improve my process. Make sure you do this with a positive approach, not “sour grapes.” If the other person gives you meaningful advice, apply it and come back to let them know they were helpful. You may get accepted, or not – do it anyway!

If you’re seeking funding, applying for a job, or in any way trying to influence someone else’s decision, this interview might provide the “golden nuggets” that help you succeed in your effort. I hope you enjoy it and find it valuable. If it really resonates with you, you may want to buy Suneel’s book as well.

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