Have you ever sat across from someone on a first date and seen them glance at you over the table as if you were the last lifeboat on the Titanic?
Often times this person might drop a few hints/landmines such as, "I haven't been intimate with someone for seven years" or "I'm really looking for someone to father a child with me" or "I'm hoping to find someone that loves me unconditionally until we both perish."
All of these remarks fall into the category of "unsuitable first date conversation" because they all originate from the same place: desperation.
No one wants to sit across from a person who projects desperation. It means you are near someone who views themselves as life's-consolation-prize.
This is particularly true when it comes to business. Professionals everywhere are becoming way more protective of their time and realize it truly is our most valuable commodity.
A single whiff or drop of desperation can instantly destroy your chances of getting what you want in any meeting, pitch, interview or any opportunity where you want someone else to do something for you.
The most successful meetings are ones where the person being pitched doesn't feel that the prospective partner wants or needs anything from them.
That's all very well and good, but what about the entrepreneur who has taken a beating and been hit with a lot of rejection? Circumstantially, all those dead-ends can make the most reasonable person feel desperate at the sight of any promising open door.
Here are three reminders to deter the stench of desperation from saddling down upon you.
1. Remember all the times you bounced back.
A tsunami of rejection is common for any person embarking on a path of dare-to-be-greatness. The problem with wave after wave of rejection is that it can get a business professional into the mindset of "if I get one more pass on this project, I don't know what on earth I'll do."
These thoughts are traitors.
Most start-up leaders, entrepreneurs, and business people have been painted into a corner numerous times--it's part of the job description.
No dead end is fatal.
Think of all the times you came up with plan b (and c, d, e, x, y, z, etc) after receiving a fresh no. Your ingenuity is armor and you should congratulate yourself on your own resilience.
2. Remember when all this was fun.
Reconnect to your sense of joy, to that initial "wouldn't it be a cool idea if..." and bring that novelty into your meeting. The ultimate goal is to make the people you're pitching to feel that your ideas, personality, and passion are familiar to them.
Essentially, it's your job to engage, be fun and inspire.
3. Remember that the person jingling the keys to the kingdom is you.
You have to go into every meeting and interview believing that you are the DaVinci or the diamond in the rough. You're screening the interviewer/investor/financier/executive the same amount they are scrutinizing you.
Rather than being desperate for them to realize your talent or accomplishments, project the vibe that you're evaluating them. You are attempting to determine if they can understand the value and vision you have to offer.
Such a slight adjustment in your mindset can easily shift the balance of power at the table.
If you were interviewing candidates for an open position in your company, would you ever hire the slightly nervous person who says, "I really need this job" during the interview? Of course not.
There's something icky about it, and it also indicates that the person interviewing for the position doesn't understand that the whole point of interviews is to find the most qualified candidate, not the most desperate, despaired or financially strapped.
In the entertainment industry, the process of actors auditioning for major film and TV roles is cutthroat.
A friend of mine who is a major feature film casting director recently met with one of my clients as part of a "general meeting" designed to gain familiarity with this actor and her personality.
The casting director reached out to me later, saying it went very well. He told me that it was so refreshing to meet an actor who didn't need anything from him. He was struck that the actor was able to engage with no desperation, allowing him to get a real sense of her authentic personality.
He went on to say that this actress was someone who he would have no hesitation referring to the producers of the project as a viable option to fill one of the major roles.
It's normal to feel desperate at times, given the level of competition and the obstacles that abound.
It is your job to pinpoint each desperate thought as treasonous and to immediately exculpate it from your mindset and persona.