Show up, believe in yourself and be fearless. That’s the key.
A few weeks ago I attended my first Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council conference on my first anniversary as a certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE). When asked if I would also participate in “The Bears Den”, GNEMSDC’s version of TV’s Shark Tank, I immediately said yes. I then changed my pitch deck, tailoring it to the specs of the event and shared it with GNEMSDC ‘s tech staff.
Over the years I’ve pitched, promoted and presented the services that Benay Enterprise provides probably more than a thousand times. I even once did my elevator pitch while actually in an elevator! However, the Shark Tank-style event was a first, and despite being nervous about participating in such an event, I thought, “what have I got to lose?”
It was my first time pitching Benay’s services to a ballroom full of people — what Benay does, our unique proposition value, and why people continue to use our services, year after year, decade after decade.
Was I prepared? Yes.
Was I nervous? Yes.
Most importantly: did I believe I could win and was I prepared to win? Yes and Yes!
All four contestants were grilled after each of our five- minute presentations by a panel of three judges who had many, many insightful and sometimes surprisingly incisive questions. I thought I successfully answered their questions with confidence and clarity. The people at my table all congratulated me as I returned to my seat. I gave myself at least a 50-50 chance of winning after all the presenters were done.
As the moderator took the mic, I breathlessly awaited the announcement of the winner – but it wasn’t me. My spirits momentarily sagged but my tablemates quickly congratulated me on a great effort and my mojo bounced right back.
I had no further opportunity for disappointment, and as the day progressed and I went from meeting to meeting, event to event, people continually approached me to say they’d heard my presentation and congratulated me on a great job. More importantly other attendees wanted to know more about Benay. And many said that they’d thought I’d given a winner’s presentation, which truly made my day.
As I mentally replayed my business pitch presentation, I realized that just having taken advantage of the chance to present my business to a ballroom of people and expand my speaking skills, was the winning event for me.
I’d won by taking the risk of losing.
In our business culture we often focus on the winner, the victor, the champion of a particular event. We often say that just showing up is half the battle, but I think giving it your best effort, testing yourself , taking on the challenge and then learning from it is a winner’s position. From now on I welcome any opportunity that gives me the chance to lose while winning, and to anyone who wants to give me that opportunity again, I say bring it on!
Dawn Reshen-Doty, CEO of Benay Enterprises, received the Bookkeeper Partner of the Year Sage Circle of Excellence Award for 2019. She serves on CEDF’s Foundation Board of Directors and is a former CEDF client.