Many years ago when my first show was just a baby and I had no idea what I was doing I managed to get a meeting with the owner of an online gambling website. This guy had heard about my show and liked the premise and had money to burn. Perfect.
I was hoping to get some funding from him to make my show independently and then sell it. Now I have since learned that doing it that way is a very risky venture because you can’t know what the broadcasters are looking for, however, I didn’t know that then and I was pushing forward in the hopes of getting my show made.
Anyways, I’m sitting in this meeting and this guy starts asking the stupidest questions I had ever heard. It seemed everything he said was stupid. How could a man this rich be this stupid? I found myself angry defending my “brilliant” show. It came to the point where I couldn’t even hide it anymore. I didn’t care about the money. He needed to know that his ideas would never work on a show as well crafted as mine.
Needless to say the meeting didn’t go well. How does he have the audacity to suggest what if “we” did it this way? “We”? What the? There is no “we”! This is my show and it’s brilliant and he’ll be lucky if I let him be a part of it. Right? Wrong!
By the end of the meeting I’m pretty sure we both knew that I thought he was an idiot. And I think we also knew he wasn’t investing in anything of mine, ever.
As I walked out of the office building I knew I had completely blown it. I also knew that you do not get do-overs nor do you get too many of those types of meetings. So, as any good sales rep does, I went back in my mind to review what had happened.
Wow. I was so disappointed in myself. He wasn’t an idiot. He was seeking to learn. Brainstorming. Getting to know me. And I any time he suggested a bit of a change for my show I got my back up.
My job that day was not to have him understand the soul of my show. It was to get him to write a check at best, or be interested in being a part of the show, or at least get him to like me enough so that maybe he might want to meet again and continue learning more about my project. The point of the meeting was not to show him how smart I was by explaining to him all the reasons why his ideas wouldn’t work. It was a valuable lesson.
When you sit in a meeting you need to be prepared to have the person sitting across from you suggest the exact opposite of what you’re show is. And you need to be ready to hear it.
They may have some brutal suggestions. But they may have something brilliant. I was fortunate that the meeting I blew was with this guy and not a production company executive or a broadcaster.
When you are going into meetings you need to ready for two things. One, to listen to ideas differing from yours without getting your back up, and two, to calmly direct the conversation to why it works the way you have written it, all the while, listening with an open mind just in case.
It’s a tough thing to master but it’s worth doing. I’ve recorded a videocast about how to get ready for this exact situation so when you have 3 minutes click on Stupid Questions and see what works to help with this problem.