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Pitching is not Selling is not Pitching

There’s a difference between “selling” and “pitching.” Companies raising money “pitch” investors.” Creative agencies pitch potential customers. They pitch creative concepts to existing clients. Writers pitch concepts to publishers and agents. What do these people have in common? The center of gravity is the big idea. The premium is on controlling the narrative (it’s not […]


How many fountain pens are the right number to own? Seems like a silly, first-world kind of question. The inside joke with pen collectors is, “Just one more.” I’ve heard the same answer from people who are into motorcycles, cameras, lenses, carving knives, and lots more. The same idea shows up in our daily activities. […]

Wants are Not Needs

Some people can describe their feelings. You’d think we all could do that, but at least half of us find that difficult. Many people can describe their wants. No accuracy or precision is required. Just like feelings, you can want whatever pleases you. Needs are something different. If we’re being precise, “need “transcends “want.” What […]

No Agenda. Just Be There.

The thing about selling is every conversation has an agenda. You’re there for a reason; you’re there to persuade. Conversations between parents and children, teachers and students, coaches and athletes, bosses and employees also have agendas. Charles Duhigg, the author of Supercommunicators describes these as practical conversations (What’s this really about?) Mischief ensues when we […]

Pattern Interrupt

Click-Whirrr. That pretty much sums up how we navigate our day. Get up. Run the “get ready for work” routine. Click-Whirrr. It’s time to go to work. Run the “head out the door and start transportation” routine (assuming you leave home for work.” Click-Whirrr. It just goes and goes like that. Click-Whirrr. Not all day, […]

What’s Your Scurvy?

We don’t talk a lot about scurvy these days. Vitamin C deficiency is still a thing, but other things feel more interesting and urgent a quarter of the way into this century. Go back in time, and it’s a different thing altogether. We find evidence of it recorded as far back as 1500 BC, and […]

I Really Don’t Care, But in a Good Way

Some years ago, I was involved in a drawn-out negotiation with a Fortune 100 company. The team I was part of had been doing good and richly rewarded work, and we were all interested in upping our game. The client wanted more access to our intellectual property. We wanted a more predictable revenue stream over […]

25 People

In the 1990s, a man named Dunbar suggested a correlation between primate brain size and social group size. Without litigating his research, he proposed that we humans can comfortably maintain between 100 and 200 social relationships. Ever after, this has been referred to as “Dunbar’s Number.” Many people split the difference and call it 150. […]

Rinse and Repeat. Rinse and Repeat. Rinse and . . .

Did you think the word “Repeat?” You did. We’d like to think we’re good judges of the accuracy and value of the information we receive. The truth is, we’re not. Or not as good as we think. Why? Two reasons come to mind. We’re overwhelmed with stimulus. We use mental models and shortcuts to manage […]

Talk Less

Conversations between strangers almost always start on familiar territory. Buyers rarely reveal something meaningful in the beginning. It might be interesting, but it is seldom important. The good stuff always comes later. Unfortunately, many sellers never get there. Why? The temptation to start talking kicks in. They hear a “need,” and off they go. But […]