This week we decided to make all our sessions purely internal and give our mentors a week off. We focused on the art of negotiation, capturing attention with a humble brag, and building a personal board of directors. We continue to encouraging our founders to practice the skill of incorporating only the feedback that resonates with them personally and letting go of everything else. We also incorporated several rounds of pitch practice this week. The continuous cycle of pitching and receiving feedback is essential preparation for when they begin raising capital. Our founders will share their pitches with the community during our second premiere night on December 6th. Mark the date on your calendar!
This weeks programming and tools are useful for anyone looking to get more out of their careers. Whether you’re a founder who’s currently fundraising, a manager building a kickass team, or an employee asking for a raise – you have to know how to negotiate. So we dove into breaking down the fundamentals of negotiating. When we begin to view all daily transactions as negotiable, it’s less intimidating to think about asking for a raise, a new hire, or fundraising. Fortunately there are a few ways to prep before you make an ask. The first is to know what you want and what you’re willing to accept. But it’s equally important to know what the other party wants. This is a great time to admit that you don’t know what you don’t know. To really figure out what the other party wants, you will have to ask. It’s also a good idea to know what is a good deal. Know your bottom line, your aspiration, and have a few alternative action items ready in case no agreement is reached.
Negotiation is also the key to closing gender gaps. Understanding gender biases associated with how men and women ask for capital is where we started our female founder discussion at Ad Astra this week. The art of negotiation is a skill we all need to hone, but research suggests that women can negotiate differently to be more successful. This is important to remember when pitching investors. One known bias is that women can be seen as greedy or demanding when they talk include their own needs and ambitions in their pitches (https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/cfawis/bowles.pdf). Research suggests that women tend to see better outcomes when they incorporate a communal concern into their ask. By sharing how the business helps counterparts solve their problems in a pitch, women can begin to preemptively combat the greed bias.
Another way to capture attention and combat biases is by incorporating a humble brag into introductions and pitches. Any social media user should be familiar with the humble brag; the modest or seemingly self deprecating statement used to draw attention to something of which the speaker is actually proud. This week, our founders worked on making their humble brag into a narrative to make people believe that they are the best person to run their respective businesses. When carefully constructed, a clearly articulated modest boast can dispel the myth that someone else could run your business better than you.
Entrepreneurship, especially as a female founder is a rollercoaster of a journey. And it’s a journey that one person can’t do alone. AAV could not operate without the support of our community and we aim to help our founders build their own community. One way to do this is to think about your current personal relationships and develop a personal board of directors from them. Your PBOD are the people that you call for direction and guidance. They’re your North Star people. Ideally they are 6-8 people in your life that have a variety of skill sets. They tell you the truth, know and share your core values, and care about your overall success. We recommend reaching out to them individually to formally let them know how important they are to your success. This will deepen your connection to the individual and enhance your overall relationship by getting their buy in. They might even help hold you accountable – for free.