Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


Imagine you spend your days listening to pitches from entrepreneurs.

One by one, people desperate for your money display PowerPoint presentations, neurotically put together, and gush with alarming positivity about how their new gadget, widget or app will change the world by making it a better place.

Wouldn't your ears start to beg for a little relief? Wouldn't your eyes plead for a touch of nuance? Wouldn't your brain begin to wonder whether it had been secretly transported to "The Truman Show"?

Adam Grant, a management professor at Wharton Business School, thinks that to get the investment you want, you might try curbing your enthusiasm.

Try, for example, telling potential investors why they shouldn't buy your idea.

"Oftentimes entrepreneurs who get the most investment are actually the ones who are the least enthusiastic," he told Business Insider.

He worries, you see, that there's just too much conviction in the world.

I suspect this comes especially from an American business culture that treats self-doubt as if it's a virulent strain of chicken pox.

American kids are taught that they're wonderful from a very early age. They get trophies even when -- please, don't tell them -- they actually lost.

So the more self-help gurus peddle the idea of self-belief above pesky concepts such as objectivity and sense, the more entrepreneurs bubble away with their unassailable bravado.

Until they realize that reality has taken substantial chunks out of their backsides and slapped them about the chops with several powerful downsides.

Grant understands that flipping the script to Gale Force Negative might seem like just another piece of shtick.

But don't lovers adore it when you show a touch of weakness? Don't they fall in love with you more quickly when they see you're at least aware of some vulnerabilities in your otherwise wonderful self?

In his book Originals, Grant suggests that it's worth at least considering all the potential objections to your undoubted excellence.

An investor isn't just investing in an idea. They're investing in the people who will be developing that idea.

If they're so full of themselves, so blinded by their own genius that all they're peddling is upsides, perhaps they're not the right people to invest in.

Don't you get suspicious when you're at a party and someone comes up to you, chin higher than their nose, and tells you how wonderful they are?

Don't you wish they didn't think they were quite so perfect?

Why should it be any different in pitches?

Perhaps a little modesty, a little trepidation, a little realism might go a long way in convincing a potential investor that they're dealing with a real human being, rather than a happy glove-puppet.

Look, here's why you shouldn't believe anything I've just written.

Business professors are all out to make a (lot of) bucks, so Grant had to find a new shtick, didn't he? He found one. Bravo.

And me, well, it's raining outside and I get seasonal affective disorder, so I could be talking miserable nonsense in every word.

Moreover, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has got away with that insane enthusiasm thing all his career and he's the richest owner in sports.

I wasn't even smart enough to get Golden State Warriors season tickets.

So please don't listen to a word I say. However, if you want to offer me money, please email or tweet me.