who recently completed CI with a 70K award.
Feelings vs Facts
by Bryan Stacy
With 13 years in corporate America I became a well-trained machine. This was my program: Listen to a client, don’t react, think, structure the problem,
develop a solution, and pitch a proposal. With every win, I congratulated myself for my ability to remain cool, think logically and present facts/value
better than anyone else.
Several years ago, my logical life was interrupted. I was diagnosed with both testicular cancer and chlamydia on the same day. After writing about
my experience, and subsequently talking with 100’s of people about their own sexual health situations, I concluded that how we do sexual health today is broken, and decided to do something about it. I launched a technology company called Biem, which redesigned how we do sexual health to eliminate the inconvenience, anxiety and judgement which typically prevents people from getting checked.
Through my years of corporate consulting I knew how to put a company together, run a team, design the technology, and most of all, develop the proposal (slides) to pitch prospective investors and clients.
I practiced my first pitch in front of a group of friends. I looked forward to showing them what I had been working on, and confident I could prove my idea was solid.
After the pitch, I already felt the truth which was revealed to me by each friend on their way out. It was a disaster.
Here were the reviews:
“We get it, STDs are bad and getting tested sucks.”
“Bryan, do you really care about this?”
“Maybe put some emotion into your story? I didn’t feel anything…It was boring”.
One of my friends, an actor, suggested I check out Committed Impulse.
“An ACTING class? You’re joking. I’m a professional.” But, as time came closer to pitch real investors, and reflecting on the worst performance of my
professional career, I decided it was time to try something drastic. I signed up for Josh’s Master Class, and had no idea what I was getting into.
After class one, I almost quit. I felt ridiculous doing awkward things in front of 20 other adults. The class was a weird mix of mindfulness exercises and the incessant question “what are you feeling right now?” This was acting class? Waaaay worse than I thought.
Towards the end of class two, I had enough. I stood in front of the class, and Josh asked me once again, “What are you feeling now?” For the first
time in my life, I decided to actually say how I was feeling. No planned script. No hiding behind facts or a façade. No saying what I’m “supposed” to say.
Bryan: “I’m frustrated. I don’t think this class is right for me. I’m not getting out of it what I should be.”
Josh: “Great. How are you feeling now?”
Bryan: (great? WTF? How is that great?!) “Angry.”
Josh: “Try this….” (Josh took me though an exercise)
After doing the exercise, and taking a seat, what started out as frustration, turned to anger, somehow developed into excitement and curiosity. I didn’t know emotions could move that quickly! Josh helped me recognize something I spent years hiding. That was the key for me. Once I was able to recognize these feeling, Josh taught us how to use that emotion/energy creatively. How to be spontaneous in situations that are typically the opposite of that (pitch presentations/scripted auditions).
Suddenly, I realized that I didn’t have to “fake it” anymore. Whatever I was feeling was ok, and perfect, and each class built on that idea.
After class three, I was notified that Biem was selected from 700 applicants as a finalist for a pitch competition. I hadn’t done a pitch since the disaster pitch with my friends.
Over the following three weeks, I put together a script, a pitch deck, and practiced like crazy. On the day of the pitch I was nervous…and that was ok. At the venue, I found an open office, worked through some of the exercises I had learned at CI, then walked to the front row and waited for my turn.
I was the second of six companies to pitch that night. All my friends from the disaster pitch, were at this one too. When “Biem” was called, I was still nervous…and that was ok. I was able to use the nervousness as fuel. One hour later, Biem was announced as the winner, along with $70k+ in awards.
Here were the reviews:
“That really resonated with me”
“Did you almost break down up there, that was great”
“An emotional roller coaster”
I give Josh and CI credit for enabling me to get out of my head and feel. To be ok with whatever feeling that is, and to “party with it”. I still have a long way to go, but after completing CI, I live life in a more open, honest and curious state than before. Not only is that more fun, but it’s also made me less judgmental (of myself and others) and more present in every moment of life.
When I describe CI to friends and colleagues, I stopped calling it an “acting class” because it’s a “life class” that anyone can take something from.
Thanks to Josh for being a master at what he does and spreading that knowledge to anyone who’s curious enough to ask. A BIG thanks to everyone who took the class with me, and showed me that it was ok to be vulnerable, act a little strange, and live in the moment. CI wouldn’t have been the same without you.
Finally, thanks to Rachel Begelman who recommended CI and was friend enough to tell me my first pitch sucked. I found feelings!