Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Protagonist at Work

For truth, justice, and the American way.
A few weeks ago I had the good fortune of presenting my company (Divvy Investments) on stage in front of a couple hundred people.  I analyzed the potential audience for days.  I prepared some slides.  I thought about what I'd say and when I'd insert some dry humor (really grade A comedy set).

I was pretty pumped the day of the event.  About 30 minutes before going on stage the moderator checked in with me to make sure we were good to go.  He wanted to make sure I wasn't doing a pitch, no death by powerpoint, and that the cables on hand connected to my computer. I had planned on doing a pitch via powerpoint and the cable he was holding up needed some serious re-engineering to plug into my computer.

I had two choices:  cancel the demo or adapt to the situation.

OMAHA!  OMAHA!  OMAHA!  Check 6.  I-Right.  13 option on 1.  On 1.  OMAHA!  OMAHA!

One lesson I value a lot from my time in the military is the ability to move forward on an 80% solution, then adapt/overcome as needed.  This holds very true as an entrepreneur.  You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable and confident that you'll land on your feet (or at least go down swinging in a blaze of glory).

I called an audible at the line of scrimmage.  I decided to use his MAC computer (which I've seen used by many) to walk through the "How It Works" page on my website off the top of my head.

I somehow managed to fumble through the technical difficulties of not having a mouse, not really knowing how to use the operating system, and executing a very loose plan B.  I received a lot of good questions and feedback during the Q &A.  After the event I even had a line about 4 deep of people wanting to talk more!  This was great!

Unfortunately I didn't get the chance to talk to everyone because one guy monopolized a good chunk of time and people had to leave.  This guy was an analyst with a mutual fund company.

His job was to constantly search for ways to hedge against the future of the market and pick the next great stock to maximize returns over the short term.  Fundamentally we were on complete opposite ends of the investing spectrum, neither believing in what the other was doing (fortunately I was armed with a lot of facts and he was armed with speculation....I held my own).

It was useful in the sense that others got to see me defend my service.  It was unproductive in that neither of us were going to change the other's mind.  And towards the end he was starting to get frustrated.

Why did he feel the need to challenge me?  Why not just say to yourself "this guy's crazy" and go on your way?  I'm not really sure.  I guess I have that effect on people sometimes.

The conversation ended with him saying "You're a protagonist for all your clients."  Then he stormed off.  If I'm being perfectly honest, I had no clue what that meant.

As soon as I got in my car I had to look it up to see how offended I was going to be.  I'm mean, how dare he publicly say that to me ...

According to the Google and the interwebs...
The protagonist is the leading character in a story and champion of a cause.  The protagonist is often the good guy battling the villain, the antagonist. The protagonist is often referred to as a hero.  Examples of protagonists include:  Captain America, Spiderman, and Luke Skywalker.

Just to recap, he basically called me a hero for my clients.  I'm pretty sure he meant to say antagonist, but he sure was confident in his insult...

Mr. Mutual Fund guy, instead of being offended I'd like to say THANK YOU!

The moral of the story, have a plan but be flexible.  And the power of speaking with confidence is huge.