Written by an entrepreneur 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 on my ability to remain cool, think logically, and present facts/value better than anyone else.
Several years ago, my logical life was interrupted. I got a testicular cancer diagnosis and chlamydia diagnosis on the same day. I wrote about my experience, and subsequently, talked with 100’s of people about their own sexual health situations. After all that I concluded that how we do sexual health today is broken. I decided to do something about it. I launched a technology company called Biem. Biem redesigned how we do sexual health, to eliminate the inconvenience, anxiety, and judgment 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 what I was working on, confident I could prove I had a solid idea.
After the pitch, I already felt the truth each friend revealed to me 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 the 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 Pais’ Master Class. I 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 once again Josh asked, “What are you feeling now?”
For the first time in my life, I decided to actually say how I was feeling. No planned script. Not 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 through 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 recognized my feelings, Josh then taught me how to use that emotion/energy creatively. How to be spontaneous in situations that are typically the opposite of that (such as pitch presentations/scripted auditions).
Suddenly, I realized that I didn’t have to “fake it” anymore. Each class built on the idea that whatever I was feeling was ok, and perfect.
After the third class, I found out Biem was selected as a finalist for a pitch competition, out of 700 applicants. 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 they called “Biem”, I was still nervous…and that was ok. I was able to use the nervousness as fuel. One hour later, they announced Biem was the winner and we received $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 Pais 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 I’m also 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 was enough of a friend to tell me my first pitch sucked, and recommended CI. I found feelings!