I got out of my chair and yelled “I’m going to pitch James Altucher!”
Spur of the moment inspiration can teach you a lot. You have probably been inspired by a writer or podcaster or vlogger before and dreamt of emailing them to perhaps make a new friend or change your life.
That’s what happened to me last week. I listened to a podcast with James Altucher (Top 10 iTunes Podcaster) and blogger Jon Morrow. I have had a secret desire to help James on this platform.
His stories break all the rules: caps in the headline, odd formatting, the occasional clickbait title, confusing images, etc.
I thought I might be able to help. Maybe James would let me offer some free advice or allow me to manage his account. I was living in a fantasy land.
I sent James an email early morning. I made sure that I got straight to the point and didn’t waste his time. I told him my credentials, lowered my ego and offered to help with no hidden agenda. I even told him that there was no obligation to reply.
James rejected me. How?
The way all influential people do: by not responding.
I sent the same message to him via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Every influential person has one platform they actually use and respond on. The others are managed by their team.
Even with my omnichannel approach, James still ignored me. I respect James for doing that.
James ignored me for many reasons. Let’s explore a few:
- Too busy — Influential people are busy. They often see email and direct messages as a full-time job they don’t want. So they ignore almost all messages. They have a virtual assistant that skims their inbox looking for 1–2 nuggets of gold. The rest goes into archive without guilt.
- Lousy pitch — There’s a good chance my pitch was lousy — despite me reaching some influential people like Derek Sivers via email over the years. A pitch you think is good could be tone-deaf. Unless you know someone who spends time with the influential person you’re pitching, you probably have no idea what they’re up against. Your pitch could be the last thing they need.
- Doesn’t like advice from people he doesn’t know — I am a stranger to James. We have zero mutual friends. He has never read my work. So my offer to help is a long shot. Influential leaders get help from people they know or that are recommended to them. If Richard Branson recommended me to James then perhaps he would go “holy shit,” followed by hell yes.
- Covid brain — The overwhelm is real.Being locked in your home and going to the shops with a mask can take its toll. A lack of human touch can make you feel disconnected. As a result, you develop what I call covid brain. It’s where you become numb. Your priorities change. A response to a situation is often your last thought. Non-reaction becomes your driving force.
- The offer doesn’t match his goals — I have never seen James’s goal list. Perhaps this platform I’m pitching him is the last thing he cares about. Perhaps he is one month away from closing his account. If your pitch doesn’t match a person’s goal then they probably won’t respond.
- He can find better people — I pitched myself as an expert. The reality is James can find people way smarter than me to help him with social media. He’s probably friends with Zucks, Bezos, Dorsey. So what the heck can I tell him that he can’t already acquire from people that own the tech platforms? Not much.
Do This Next Time You Pitch
A silent rejection to your pitch is a blessing. The key is not to let a failed pitch to a person like James Altucher get you down.
If you expect to be rejected then the outcome won’t matter to you.
The moment you attach expectations to a pitch, you’re screwed. I’ve said this many times before: an influential person, when you see how they act behind the scenes, will probably disappoint you. There are a few like Gary Vee that buck this trend, though.
Pitch for the joy, not the reply.
Pitching should be fun. To pitch an influential person is to believe in the impossible, the unlikely, the esoteric.
To send a pitch is to believe in yourself.
Learning to pitch is fun. It requires you to put yourself on the line and to be vulnerable. This discomfort from pitching pays off in the long run.
Expect rejection as the likely result.
Assume rejection. Then you won’t get romantic about the outcome and blame the world for the overwhelming blow to your fragile ego. Most pitches you send will be ignored because you can’t read people’s minds.
The secret to any pitch is not the first message you send.
The first messaged has a high chance of being ignored. Influential people like James Altucher appreciate the hustle. What is hustle when it comes to pitching? Following up on your message with empathy. Assume they are busy and send them a gentle reminder in 1–2 weeks.
This strategy has worked for me many times. I follow up at least four times across many channels. I reword the subject lines too, to see if I can get better cut-through.
Think of an email subject line like a book title or a headline. You have to grab their attention straight away.
Pitch someone different.
If James rejects your pitch then move on to the next person. The art of the pitch is to move on to the next person. You can always revisit an old pitch in a year’s time.
What I didn’t mention yet was that I pitched James a year ago. That pitch failed, too, so I let the storm pass. Don’t let one failed pitch stop you.
Keep pitching. Improve your pitch. Seek feedback on your pitch. Find the next person to pitch who might say yes.
The pitch I sent James Altucher received no response, and in a way, I’m glad. The lessons of rejection are far more important than the outcome.
A pitch is not about you and your selfish agenda for success. Someone might be going through hell right now and your pitch could land right in the middle of a disastrous period in their life. For example, your pitch for a podcast interview during the middle of an influential person’s divorce is meaningless.
Pitch often and don’t expect a response.