Enhance how others perceive your communication style!
After leaving the Silicon Valley high tech world working at Hewlett Packard, LSI Logic and Philips Semiconductors, Doris launched Silicon Valley Speaks, providing a platform for creating and delivering highly positioned Startup Pitches, Elevator Intros, Speeches and TED Talks.
Customized programs train professionals and executives to create and deliver concise, compelling and engaging presentations through one on one coaching, corporate training and group workshops.
Director Tom Clark
Technical Director Tom Clark
Sound Technician Bill Lindemann
Character Generator Michelle Yuan
Floor Director Jim Seawright
Camera 1 Christine Cray-Rubin
Camera 2 John Farley
Camera 3 Jim Twu
Creative Designer Sergio Smirnoff
Intro speaker 0:05
Welcome to Silicon Valley successes, we interview experts and entrepreneurs to give the world access to the knowledge and experience that is here in Silicon Valley. Our mission is to create opportunities for those who seek them and tell you to become the next Silicon Valley success.
Shawn Flynn 0:25
Welcome to Silicon Valley successes, where we interview experts in Silicon Valley to bring you the knowledge of years experience here to help you at home with your startup. So we're creating this reference leap, right, that reference library that can be accessed anywhere in the world. And today, our guest is Dorothy Pickering, who is the founder Silicon Valley speaks doors. Welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. Sean, please tell us a little bit about what Silicon Valley speaks is.
Doris Pickering 0:54
Well, Silicon Valley speaks was founded to help executives and professionals in brace how these speech and how they communicate their value propositions to whoever is listening, what's value propositions, what they do in their essence. So for example, if you are a startup with and you're selling, whatever you're selling, get to the heart of what it is, and why would anybody want to buy it. And so you're not wasting a lot of people's time going to places where they don't care, get to the point quickly and move on. Okay, so
Shawn Flynn 1:29
if I had a startup, and I was pitching to an investor,
what would that structure kinda look like? Would it just be me talking about why I formed this company for five or 10 minutes? Is that getting to the point? Or is it like a problem? Or what do you mean by getting to the point? Well, I
Doris Pickering 1:47
need pants on who your audience is. So for example, if you're just said a networking event, say like you're at the Mountain View chamber at one of their events. And if you're just saying, hey, so what do you do? That would be a different conversation, then if you're doing a formal pitch to a cat, venture capitalist where you're seeking money? Ok, so again, what I work with people is what are you trying to say? Who is your audience, and then I help them crystallize and get to the very nitty gritty of what they're saying, because again, the audiences are very different. So if you go in and you have one message, and you just say the same message to everybody you're talking to, that's the wrong approach. So you're saying, I have to tailor my message for who I'm speaking to? Correct? Correct.
Shawn Flynn 2:31
Okay. So if I come to you, and I say, I want to tailor my message specifically to talk to investor Mm hmm. What would your recommendation be for that? And
that would depend on are you at doing the angel seed or that early round investor if you've already been funded? So because they're different conversations? How about let's go the angel and actually,
Shawn Flynn 2:51
let's go to the seed very early friends or family, and then let's move up,
Doris Pickering 2:55
right. So that the early stages, you really need to prepare forth your passion and answer the question, there's two questions you always want to answer. So what and why should anybody care? Okay, right? Because, again, at the end of the day, no matter who you're talking to, you need to keep those two in mind. Okay? Because if, if you're selling something that's been out in the market for 20 years, and it's just another flavor, typically, that will be a who cares, right? Okay, nobody's going to get excited over that, that the excitement really starts with you. So you need to communicate your excitement about it and evangelize your own products in a way where other people will go, Wow, that's really cool. Okay, even if they really don't understand your product, or they're kind of doubtful about it, if you can convince them with your passion, and that you totally believe in it. A lot of people will get beyond the that stage and go, you know what, I'm just going to keep pursuing that because I believe in you, and then go to the next stage. So you're saying at the very beginning, the earliest stage of a startup trying to raise funds, right? It's to convince the person through their message with passion? Correct? Okay, what about the next stage? So the next stage, that's where you still really need to bring your passion, but people will really want to know, so what's in it for me? Like, if you're wanting me to be an investor? Okay, why would I want to be an investor? So again, that's where I'm listening to, is, again, your passion? And do you really believe in you, okay? Because if you don't believe in you, then people will feel that energy. And they'll typically walk because, again, as the bar first bar that you have to meet, do you believe in your product? And again, if so, why? And then what's the next stage? So that's where you really want to hone in on, you know, the return on investment? Who is your team? So do you have experienced as your team have experience? Why would I, as an investor want to, you believe that you are a good CEO, to manage the business part. Okay, so, but by that, who have you chosen to be part of your team, because that's one of the first decisions that you will be making. And if you blow it on that, then again, you're not a good decision maker. Interesting. So
Shawn Flynn 5:20
talking about that. So I'm selling my company and myself at the same time, direct with my emotion, my passion, but really emphasizing the team at the same time, I'm kind of confused, right,
Doris Pickering 5:32
going to love our team is critical if you have a team because again, if you're early, early in it, and it's just you. Yeah, that's a different value proposition. Then if you have you have the team of one, the most important team, but again, if you have, say, 10 people, who are those 10 people? And are you thinking critically strategically and intentionally where each person has their own specific role? Or are you going this is my best friend, George. I really like Sally, too. So I just thought I'd bring them along with me. And they really don't have any experience. And oh, by the way, they don't like each other, right? So that'll be the kiss of death, if people are looking at your org chart, and going, So who are these people? And why are they there, and they don't care if they're your best friend from kindergarten. Yeah, they want to know that you as a CEO, or the leader of your startup can make these decisions wisely, that will propel your company because that is the way the investors are going to get their money back. And so if you're stumbling out of the get go from that decisions you're bringing on your team, again, that will be a really impediment to you up front interest. So if you have a team, you need to be really thoughtful about who those team members are, and how you have them set up. And then
Silicon Valley speaks, it sounds like it's more business coaching than just speaking or are those to relate all, it's all one in the game. Because the one in the same because to have a strong business, guess what you get to do you get to talk to people about it. So if you're stumbling over, how do you how do you sell this glass of water, this is the best glass of water on the planet. Because it's not too long, not too short. It keeps your cold Street, you know, your drinks cold, it keeps some hot, you have to sell that because guess what, there's a Million Cups out there. Yeah. So again, if you don't have down pat the explanation of why people should choose this cup versus that cup, again, that will impede you from getting more market share, and attention. It's all about visibility. So you have to be able to sell yourself and your product in different types of situations. Whether you're in dinner party, you're on the golf course, you're still selling yourself, no matter where you are. And a lot of people don't think that way. They're just thinking about, I'm going to do this pitch to this investor. And I have to say this, this this, but again, your next investor may be at the barbecue down the street for Labor Day, right? That may be the next investor. So are you going to just if somebody says, so what do you do? Are you just going to hit them with that can speech because nobody wants to listen to that. So again, that's a lot of what I work with people is, if you're in this situation, you want to say it this way, if you're in this situation, nobody cares. Okay, go there. Right? So again, if you just logically thinking, where are you? Who will you be talking about? What do we think they want to hear? talk about that a little bit more about analyzing the situation before you speak, right? So that takes a lot of experience. And one of the biggest things that it takes is confidence in yourself. So that's, it's all like your mindset. So again, people think that you can just practice practice practice, which I always encourage that you do want to practice, but it's practicing, what what are you practicing? So it could be I need to nail my 32nd elevator pitch. Like if you're in a networking meeting, or if you're at the chamber and you're going to an event and 50 people say, so, Sean, what is it that you do you want to have a good pitch that will pique their interest, not bore them and not think it can pitch. But again, if you're talking to Sally, and she's an insurance agent, and you're talking to Joe and he's a fellow startup, hopefully, you'd be saying two different things. Because their their experience and their understanding level is different. So again, if you know who you're talking to, you can tailor your pitch. So say it's a room of strangers.
Shawn Flynn 9:43
Uh huh. Would you ask them questions first, before going into your pitch? Or how would you kind of analyze who you're talking to, if they're all strangers
Doris Pickering 9:52
right before you before speaking to them? Well, that's helpful if they have a name tag. And you can kind of sort of see what they do. But a lot of people's names of their business don't give you much guidance on what they do. So if someone says, Sean, what do you do then you know Cavalli six? Yeah, you could have Silicon Valley success. So I'm going oh, well, what is what does that tell me more about that. So like, in 10 or 15 seconds? You can tell me a little bit. Oh, that's really great. Because this is what I do. And that that's how a really good conversation starts at a networking event. Also, it's not just your can 30 seconds, because people's attention span is seven seconds. Oh, if you go into 30 seconds, they're going to go. What a dunderhead, right? I'm tired of listening this guy already. And it's only been 20 seconds. So people's attention spans is 22nd, I mean, at seven seconds, which is why a standard elevator pitch of 30 seconds is often too long. Interesting. So do you practice as short as a second? So I teach people how to say what you do in 10 words, or less people freak out going 10 words I can make have received what I do in 10 words, but it's actually very easy. Once you get to what is the compelling thing about what is it that you have to say, and again, that the other trick is, you don't want just one again, you want several of them, depending on who you're talking to. And the beautiful thing is, once you get the great tan word statement, that seven seconds if you're talking in a normal pace, and so that somebody's attention span, brilliant time. It's brilliant. So when
Shawn Flynn 11:30
you work with a brand new client, what's kind of the process is it Tell me about your business? Now, let's get your 10 words. And now let's take those 10 words and do them in 10 different situations that are now we're doing to like, what, right, what a new client work with you I what's the process. So for
Doris Pickering 11:47
me, it's very organic, and very individualized. So some people may come to me, I work a lot with one on one and a lot with businesses. So if you come to me, Sean as an individual, and you want to work with me, one on one. And you what we do is basically this, right, so I will be just talking, having a casual conversation, because I can glean a lot of information about you in this conversation that you don't even know I'm gleaning. So I will ask questions about so you know, why did you want to seek me out? But tell me about your business? Okay, are you from here? Have you lived overseas? You know, are you married? You like pets? What was the most challenging thing you've ever done? What do you love about doing what you're doing? collecting information? collecting information and body language? Because I'm collecting art? Do you talk fast? Do you? Are you talking in a way that's halting? Do you have to stop and think about things before you continue? Are you slow and methodical Are you just like, so I can gather all that information just by a casual conversation. Okay. And then I'm also getting more about how I think I could help you and a lot of it is you don't even know it. Okay, right. So you may have flinches or body movements that you're not aware of. Most people are not aware of what they're doing, because we don't think about it.
Shawn Flynn 13:13
Now, when you're getting all this knowledge from a person. Are you later taken notes? Or how would you How would you remember this for the second time you meet the person. So it
Doris Pickering 13:22
depends again, on who I'm with some people, I will meet with them. It's a formal meeting. And I will have my notebook out there with their name, because it's customized. And I will tell them I'm, by the way, I'm taking notes. And I always photocopy it so they can know the notes that I'm taking, because I'm taking notes, not only for me, but also for them. Oh, right. Like, they're really good about this, you know, I'm noticing they're doing this, oh, they said, this is their goal. They went to law school for 10 months, but dropped it because, and I'll say Why? Because, again, all of this is information about what kind of person are they, if you're an engineer, or a law school person, you have a different way of thinking then if you're an artist, and yet, if you're in a startup, a lot of startups, maybe around art or a creative band, if your startup is around an engineering app, you think differently than this person. So again, it's all about information from me, and then also about, you fascinate. Yeah.
Shawn Flynn 14:21
So we're here today on Silicon Valley successes, interview and doors. Pickering, who was the founder of Silicon Valley speaks
back Yay, back. Yeah. So.
Shawn Flynn 14:33
So as founder, they have a product Mm hmm. They've gone to a few investors, they've not raised any funding and they're frustrated, right? They come to you for help, come to
Doris Pickering 14:45
me. Because typically, what I will do will say, OK, pretend I'm the investor. And I want you to give me the pitch that you've been giving. And usually, I will also say, if you have a slide deck, send it to me before we meet so I can glean a lot, again, from people slowly decks, okay. Because, again, it's not about the slide, right? So for me, it's not so much because there's a lot of different opinions out there. You know, a good rule of thumb is 10 to 12 slides, you don't sign slide with people, some people are going, you need to start with the team. Other people are saying, you need to start with what it is and why people should care and end with the team for me, I've asked many, many, many people, and it doesn't, in my opinion, doesn't really matter as long as the information you need is there somewhere and also that you're comfortable presenting the information, okay, but for me, I can look at their slide deck. Is it too busy? If it's all text? That's the kiss of death? If there's too many graphs, and there's 18 bars on a graph is too busy? Because people don't think that way. So again, is it clean? Is it too busy? Is it messy? If if you're just handed the slide deck with somebody know what you're trying to say, right? And if it doesn't, then that's where I can start. Okay. And the other thing I'll do is say, Okay, I'm an investor, you know, tell me your pitch. And I'm going to give you 100 million dollars if I liked your pitch, right? No pressure. But again, it's like I can tell a lot, are they Amanda? We're so like, here's their slide deck and their first slide, but is it taking 10 minutes to talk about this slide, okay. And then they're going, Oh, I know I'm at a time and they fast forward it. But this slide, and then they meander, right. So I can tell a lot by how I think they're losing the investors by how they're presenting. And it could be your like, a lot of people they get nervous they'll do is they'll do they'll do this or like the early messing with their hair or, and it's all usually they don't know they're doing it? Well, it could be clearing their throat, they could if they're standing up, they get the shifting you know, I know a couple of people and they just have this this action around their throat, right? But they don't know how long
Shawn Flynn 16:55
would it take them to untrained one of these habits, after you've pointed out to
Doris Pickering 16:59
on what habit is because, again, different habits are formed for different reasons. If they've been doing something since they were little kid, it'll be harder to end do that habit than if they just started it recently. And surprisingly, people start a pickup and lose habits all the time. Unaware. Typically, the worst habit that people pick up quickly is that the tick with the words like like, you know, then you could go for 20 years and never saying like, and all of a sudden by osmosis, who knows where they just start saying, like all the time, that's an easier habit to break. Then if you've been like doing your eyebrows since you're six years old, okay? Because, again, that's a lot longer that you've have. So it'll take a lot longer to break. But if it's just a stance, like if you're like, for me, I realized, and I didn't know it that I caught my head all the time. Well, so I didn't realize that until I saw myself on camera, because I started doing this, am I Why am I crock and my head all the time. So now I can through learning that took about six months. Well, yeah. So again, it just depends on what it is and how long you've been doing it. And the big key for me is, how coachable you are? Okay, and are you willing to change it and going, you can't tell me anything. I already know everything. So some of that comes to you with a pitch deck that's very cluttered, and I need you know, it needs to be cleaned if they're not wanting to change anything. And right there. That's assignment not coachable. Correct? Would you drop the client right there? No, not necessarily. It depends again, on their personality, because I'm, I will, and some I won't, because some people, it just takes more convincing, okay, and, and letting them understand. So if you've been giving this pitch six times, and you've gotten zero feedback, at what cost? Do you want to keep continuing with this? So again, it's like a choice. And they came to me for a reason. Yeah, right. Something isn't working. So again, it depends on their personality, because I've dealt with a lot of different ranges. So I can usually see beyond that first objection, where I think it's great. It's like, well, this, let me show you this versus this. So I'll show them what I think is a good slide versus their slide. And then they'll get it. Because a lot of times, it just takes people we're all human. Yeah, they're human, they have an ego, because they just founded a company and you it's not for the faint of heart. So you know, they have an ego up front. So again, it's just like, how do you work with them in a way that will soften their defenses and really make them understand is to their benefit to have a good slide deck? So
Shawn Flynn 19:43
of the founders that you've talked to you've met, what percentage would you say, if they were just alter or be able to speak a little bit better, a little bit clear of a message would be at a whole different level than where they're currently? I
Doris Pickering 19:57
would say, probably 90%, really not 90%? Because again, if you're the founder, you're not, that's not top of mind for you. Your top of mind, is my product, right? getting it out? Because usually the founders of the ones that created the product initially, not always so typically, they're, they're good in that there, they've never really thought about going out. Gosh, now I have to do this dog and pony show all the time, how do I do that? I'll just do what I've always done. But what they've always done is this on
Shawn Flynn 20:30
the prod not presenting in a situation like that, would you recommend that they train themselves to become better speakers, or to bring in a co founder or a salesperson or someone they could sell for them, or pitch the
Doris Pickering 20:41
idea hands on how they're going to structure their company, okay, so I would recommend that they do at first, because you don't want to remove yourself from the end user or your product up front, you want to be sure that you as the CEO can sell it, because if you as a CEO can't sell it again, you're not going to be taken very seriously. Most CEOs of big companies, they're there for a reason. And that's to sell their products, they sell that company image right there. Again, if they're a big company, like say, HP, they're not out selling them mice and keyboards, but they're selling hp. So if you as a CEO can't be believable and credible to sell your stuff, you're not going to be a credible CEO. So you have to start with you. So
Shawn Flynn 21:29
is there any time in the growth process of a company or someone can say, you know, I, I've spoken for several months or years, I've brought this company from two people to 50 people. I think I'm a good speaker I've done yet or they always train and always learning both. Yes,
Doris Pickering 21:47
there. they've passed the test. They're a good speaker, but you never stop. I'm still learned. I still learn every day. I had a wonderful client this morning. And I learned from him every client I have, I learned something from and I am an avid learner myself on my I'm on my own lifelong journey to learn everyday voracious consumers with Ted Talks, vast library and the planet with Ted Talks. And I help people do TED Talks. So again, you know, it's just it, you can be the starter of your own startup company, but still have a greater vision for something other than your own company. And that's something that I also encourage people to do is there's something beyond even that, what is it and always try and do that, because you can get pretty boring if people go, Oh, my God, here it comes. Sean, again, as always going to do is talking about a stupid company, right? And you don't want to be that person. So you want to have people this is the best company. Sean, he said something great. And also, Sean is really avid in his community about this, did you know that. So you always want to do something bigger than yourself, and bigger than your company.
Shawn Flynn 23:02
So so you're selling kind of the vision of where the company's go, right? Okay. How important is visualization in be being a good speaker? So what
Doris Pickering 23:13
do you mean by by the visualization scene where you want the company to grow where you want it to be? One day in the future? Oh, I think it's very important. But again, a lot of times, you don't want to be able, you're a lot of people aren't set up to think 20 years out. So again, when you say, visualize the future, how far out are you really thinking, because, again, you know, to get seated, and, you know, round a round be around, see, you have to think in those terms. But always around, you know, the end goal that you may not know what the end goal really is, you may be starting your company go, I want to be sold to Google for 100 million dollars. And then five years in, you're going, I never want to sell my company. I love my company. So that may shift. But to start out, you really want to end goal interested. Yeah.
Shawn Flynn 24:01
Now, let's recap a little bit of what we've talked about today. We've talked about having a different presentation for different stages of your company, whether it's with friends and family Angel, or later investment, how important it is to have confidence and to sell yourself when you're speaking, right. Also the pitch deck, how important a nice clean pitch deck is to talk about your message and how important it is to be able to communicate your message to your your team. Right? What, what else is what am I missing here? There's
Doris Pickering 24:35
a lot Well, I again, we could go on all day. But for me, the number one thing is to have Believe in yourself and have confidence in yourself. Because when you don't have confidence in yourself, people can feel it. And people want to work with confident people. What are
Shawn Flynn 24:50
some tips or tricks that you'd give a founder to gain confidence to gain
Doris Pickering 24:54
confidence is, again, what I said earlier, is practice. You need to be able to have clear, compelling crystal clear message that you need several messages. And they need to be practiced enough where you can just pull this one out of your pocket and then pull that one out of your pocket. But it doesn't sound rehearsed. But you know it well enough that Wow, it's it's sounds great. Wow, that's great. Because you've done it enough where you won't have to go. Who am I talking to you? Which 1am I going to say now it was mentioned TED Talks is a great resource very,
Shawn Flynn 25:29
or is there any particular speakers or CEOs or anyone that you'd recommend people to really pay attention to and try to gain knowledge from it or emulate
Doris Pickering 25:39
you mean away from Ted toxic or loss. So Amy, so if you look at TED Talk, Amy Cuddy. She has she's one of the most watched TED Talks ever. So she does a great talk on your body language, and how, even if you're not confident, you can pretend you're confident and it actually changes your chemical makeup, which will then change your body image about yourself. So that's a very, very good one. So, Amy Cuddy, Amy Cuddy, really good business leaders or people such as Meg Whitman and just pick your political person that you want to choose. When then what I also say is pick a political leader that you don't choose because no matter who they are, part of our challenge that I always say is incumbent upon people is you need to be able to not be resistant to somebody that you're coming across. Because resistance is an energy that's very negative, interested,
Shawn Flynn 26:39
and what would be one piece of advice you'd give a founder or starter startup,
believe in yourself and go for it. Great advice. Go for it.
Shawn Flynn 26:48
Alright, so I'd like to thank everyone for watching us and Silicon Valley successes. If you'd like to find out more information visit Silicon Valley successes. Calm but before we end this show for today, doors, could you please give a little bit of recap on your, what you work on and how people can reach you. Sure.
Doris Pickering 27:08
So my business name is Silicon Valley's speaks and it's Silicon Valley speaks calm, so that's nice and easy. But I work with executives and professionals, startups, people who want to either create a speech or a pitch deck I work with PowerPoint slides with, but basically, I can create your speech, edit your speech work with your body language. So people go away from you going, that was an awesome person. Oh, I will sign up for that guy.
Shawn Flynn 27:38
I can't wait to to learn more about presenting myself a little bit better. And do you have any suggestions for me after watching that are being interviewed on this show. Now, I
Doris Pickering 27:47
love your smile. You have an awesome natural smile. And believe it or not, that's one of the biggest challenges people have. They think they're smiling when they're not someone. Just one brownie points. We're good. We're happy to get here.
Shawn Flynn 28:04
we didn't need makeup for today. Hey. So we're definitely have to get you back on the show. And then there's still a little bit of time left. Okay, so one more tip you'd give to a startup
Doris Pickering 28:15
to a startup is video yourself giving your pitch before you go to a VC? Great advice.
Shawn Flynn 28:22
Thank you doors.
Intro speaker 28:27
Thank you. From all of us at Silicon Valley successes. We hope you found the information presented today useful in your path to success. For further information on accessing the resources in Silicon Valley. You may visit us on the web at Silicon Valley successes. com on Facebook and YouTube. Thank you. And remember, we want to help you in your journey to become the next success.