After witnessing over 50 pitches and hearing feedback from over 100 investors it was clear to me what investors believe the key to growth is, and it’s not what I or the presenting companies imagined.
It was fall 2008 and I was enjoying a luxurious corporate evening event at the Bellagio in Vegas. Fabulous patio! My thoughts were freely flowing about how happy and amazing life was. The US recession had not hit Canada, my business results were fabulous, we had recently purchased a larger home, kids had entered private schools and my husband was thinking about quitting the job he hated and starting his own business. My personal happy reflection was interrupted by a senior leader who wanted to give me a heads up that, due to the hit our US counterparts had experienced, bonus dollars were being cut and details would follow. As the last sentence was completed, my cell phone rang. My husband shared his great news – he quit!
I grew up as a 100-metre sprint athlete. I love winning. When I was about 8 years old, I was on a winning streak. I had won all my races that season. One mild South African winter's day, I was far ahead of the pack and looked behind me to see where the other kids were. That day, I came second. I was devastated.
I could see only shock and horror on the faces of my team members as the road to almost certain victory dropped into a steep decline, leading them to a guaranteed defeat. The project was a complete failure in their eyes and it was fascinating to watch the cacophony of emotions from stress and fear, to disappointment and embarrassment slowly taking their toll on them individually and on the team cohesiveness. A well-oiled machine that once worked so smoothly together now resembled a scene from a kindergarten playground: utter chaos and screaming.