Author Brant Pinvidic: “Why Sometimes Saying Less Can Get You More”

SAYING LESS CAN GET YOU MORE. It is so important in today’s world to get to the point quickly and clearly. Simple is the most compelling way you can tell your story. If you focus on the most valuable elements of your offering and put them together in a compelling narrative that people want to […]

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SAYING LESS CAN GET YOU MORE. It is so important in today’s world to get to the point quickly and clearly. Simple is the most compelling way you can tell your story. If you focus on the most valuable elements of your offering and put them together in a compelling narrative that people want to hear, you can achieve great things.

Aspart of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brant Pinvidic. Brant is an award-winning film director, veteran television producer, C-level sales and presentations coach, keynote speaker, top-rated podcast host, and a columnist for Forbes. He has been named to the Hollywood Reporter’s 30 Most Powerful Reality TV Sellers and is widely recognized as one of the great creative sales leaders in Hollywood. Brant has taken the life, business, and storytelling lessons he’s developed during his Hollywood career and used them to uniquely bridge the entertainment industry and the business community. Through his journey, he has realized that weaving your most crucial points into a compelling, concise narrative structure can make or break your pitch, particularly with today’s “hyper-savvy” consumers. He shares the methods that have helped him sell projects and ideas in three minutes or less in his first book, The 3-Minute Rule: Say Less to Get More from Any Pitch or Presentation (Penguin Random House).

Thank you so much for joining us Brant! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?

Iwas pitching some of my latest TV show ideas to some visiting family at the bar in the Luxe Hotel. Eventually an investment banker asked me if I could teach his clients to pitch their ideas without putting people to sleep. It sounded crazy but I headed down to Florida to meet with his clients. The first was an oil and gas executive presenting at the conference. His presentation was 23 minutes of very convoluted and hard to follow information. Over the next two days I helped him simplify his presentation and he noticed a significant improvement. The following week he came to LA to work with me to redo his entire presentation. About a month later he called and left a voice message where he said “You’ve changed my life”. No television network executive had ever said that to me before, and it made a real impact. I started working with other clients and very soon I realized that helping people simplify and deliver their message was really what I wanted to be doing.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

I was developing a weight loss show and had been spinning my wheels for weeks trying to get the show ready to pitch. It was a complicated show with a lot of moving parts and some very difficult production issues. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not get other people to understand the concept. Every rehearsal pitch we did with employees in my company crashed and burned before I was even half way through. If I couldn’t get my own employees on board what chance would I have convincing the network presidents? One day I was staring at the wall that was covered in post-it note ideas from the show and something clicked. I was trying to say everything I wanted and not ONLY what was needed. I called the head of ABC and begged him to take a meeting that afternoon. I drove there and I pitched him the idea for Extreme Makeover Weight Loss in nine simple sentences. The meeting lasted less than 5 minutes and the show went on for 5 seasons. That single incident changed every pitch I made for the rest of my life and became the foundation of my book, The 3-Minute Rule.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I was in Banff at a ski lodge and the night before, I had been showing a friend how to pitch his plumbing business. I demonstrated to some of the other skiers at the lodge and I did a few other businesses during the night. The next day I was in the sauna after skiing and a giant Dutch man game in and asked (demanded) that I do the ‘pitch thing’ with his financial planning business. He stood there stark naked in front of me pacing back and forth telling me about his business. The more we spoke the more exited and passionate he became about his ideas. The sauna was so hot that I was getting light-headed, but we were in the groove and I didn’t want to stop the magic that was happening. In the heat of the moment the door opened and another skier walked in. He stood there frozen as the giant Dutch man turned to him naked with a huge smile and said, “Jerry, wait till you hear what Brant and I have been doing in this sauna together.” I’m not sure I ever laughed that hard in my life. When we finally left the sauna, I was so overheated that I had to miss the next morning helicopter skiing session so I could recover. I think the lesson is obvious: be careful how long you stay in a hot sauna with a naked Dutch man. But it also really underscored the excitement and joy that comes with helping people find the right way to tell their story so that others will see the value.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m getting deeper into my love of business with a new podcast series called IPO — Ideas, People and the Opportunities they create. It’s really exciting to speak with some of the most interesting business leaders that had ideas that seemed crazy at the time but eventually proved to be wildly successful. I love exploring the process of how they developed and pitched their original ideas and the opportunities they created.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?

I live with intensity in everything I do. I believe that the same feeling of purpose and sense of accomplishment you get succeeding at the office or in business you can practice feeling in your relationships, your recreational time, your parenting, etc. I work and play and speak and write with the same intensity. For example, when I take my kids out, I pretend I’m in a contest to see how much fun and excitement I can achieve with them in the next few hours. When I bring them back home I feel like I’ve won something. I follow that pattern across all elements in my life.

Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

The San Francisco 49ers were looking to convince Vince McMahon and WWE to bring WrestleMania to the brand new Levi Stadium. Teams from all over the country descend on the WWE offices once a year to make their pitch for WrestleMania. You get one chance and one meeting only. The President of the 49ers pitch wasn’t about the size of the stadium, how new it was, what the city would provide etc. This pitch was completely different and spoke to exactly what the WWE really wanted out of an event. It worked, Levis Stadium was the home of WrestleMania 31. The book shows how that pitch was crafted and why it was so effective, and how anyone can do the same with their ideas.

What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?

SAYING LESS CAN GET YOU MORE. It is so important in today’s world to get to the point quickly and clearly. Simple is the most compelling way you can tell your story. If you focus on the most valuable elements of your offering and put them together in a compelling narrative that people want to hear, you can achieve great things.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming a bestselling author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?

The biggest challenge transitioning from a TV producer to an author was having the confidence to put it out there and say, “This is it.” To send those first drafts to the publisher with the idea that it says, “This is best I can do.” Even though I have been perfecting my craft for almost 2 decades, it’s still hard to get over “Is this good enough?” The challenge of doing something new or going outside what people expect from you is always more difficult in your mind than it is in reality. The transition from TV producer to author and speaker was far easier and more accepted than I expected. Once I let myself believe what others were telling me, it started to pour out of me. It took me 4 months to write the first two chapters. It took only 2 months to write the next 11. I wasn’t better or smarter for the last chapters, I just had a different mindset.

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

I’m a bit of a science and phycology geek these days. I love the journal of emotion, motivation, and personality. I’m so intrigued with the theory of why people do what they do.

How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?

There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to explain to others ideas that are so clear to you. If more people could learn to convey their information clearly, concisely and effectively in three minutes or less, the world would be a happier place ☺

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?

One of the greatest television writers in history, Stephen J Cannell, said to me when I told him I wanted to be a writer like him, “No you don’t. If you really wanted it, you’d be writing and not talking”. I meet a lot of people who want to write a book. As it turns out, only the people who actually start writing end up being a writer.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. “You are ready.” — I was always waiting to be ready or prepared to transition out of TV. I was always thinking that I needed more to finally get there. If it wasn’t for the kick in the butt my agent gave me, I’d still be waiting.

2. “Take notes.” — I think of all the speeches and coaching and consulting I did when I was starting and I never took notes. I know there was some profound thoughts and experiences that I have lost because I didn’t think in the beginning I’d ever need them in the future.

3. “Time is more precious than money.” — As I achieved more success and my reputation grew, I started getting more offers. I was so excited to help others and to be wanted that I said “yes” to almost everything. I ended up taking on too much and overwhelming myself. I missed out on many months of joy trying to please everyone.

4. “Nobody has all their sh*t together.” — I remember being so nervous when I was hired by this big biotech company. They had board members with wings of hospitals named after them, so what business did I have telling them how to craft their message? I’ve learned since that all companies, no matter the size, are struggling in some or many areas. Nobody has it all together. Everyone focuses on what they do well and they stumble through the rest.

5. “Ask for help.” — We tend to get trapped in the idea that to be regarded as an expert or an authority we need to be good at everything. I spent a lot of time trying to hide my shortcomings and figure it out. But once I realized that people want to help you if you ask, and that it’s ok to be great in some areas and struggle in others, everything started to change for the better.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

It’s the Say Less To Get More movement. When people realize that they don’t have to try as hard, they don’t have to over-complicate things, they can simplify their thoughts and message and others will not only appreciate it, but understand and respond more favorably, it changes the way people communicate. It gives them confidence and helps every aspect of their life.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I’m at all the platforms @brantpinvidic and my website

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!

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