I just finished reading Oren Klaff’s book, Pitch Anything. As the title would indicate, it’s all about how to strategically pitch a business, an idea, or yourself in any situation.
While summarizing and taking notes on the book, a folk tale I was told while in the Amazon about a man and a crocodile came to mind. It’s called, The Legend of the Lagarto, and it just so happens to encapsulate many of Klaff’s concepts.
It turns out that if you can catch a crocodile, you can pitch anything.
The Legend of The Lagarto
In the depths of the Amazon once lived a gigantic crocodile called The Lagarto. For years it terrorized the neighboring village and, by some counts, it had devoured over fifty people in the last ten years. Many of the victims were hunters. Enticed by the wealth and renown they could attain by capturing the beast, they venture to the Lagarto’s lair. Few ever returned.
That’s why when Ismail went out to capture The Lagarto, the whole village tried to stop him. Sure, he was a clever young man, but he was small and more of a healer than a hunter. Making matters worse, he planned to do it with nothing more than his bare hands and a switchblade. It was crazy.
Nothing the villagers did could sway Ismail though. As soon as he left his family wept, knowing for sure he was destined to be croc food.
Face-to-Face With The Lagarto
It took exactly one week for Ismail to come face-to-face with The Lagarto.
Ismail found the beast was relaxing on the shore beside a pile of skeletons. Upon seeing Ismail, The Lagarto didn’t even bat an eye. Having just feasted on a family of wild hogs, it had little interest in the small sack of skin and bones that was Ismail.
Isamil wouldn’t let The Lagarto ignore him though. He beached his canoe only a couple anacondas’ lengths away and slowly approached the Lagarto.
The Lagarto wearily and warily turned its head towards his intruder.
Ismail took another step forward.
Then, the Lagarto lunged.
Any other hunter in their right mind would have run for cover in face of such a terrifying oncoming Lagarto attack.
But Ismail wasn’t like the other hunters. He lunged back.
And he smiled.
This stopped The Lagarto in its tracks. Why didn’t this little creature give in to its power? And why was he smiling, not screaming and yelling like the ones before him?
Suddenly full of doubt, The Lagarto decided this crazy little man wasn’t worth pursuing. It turned back towards its bed of bones.
Back and Forth
Just as The Lagarto was turning away from Ismail, the crazy young “hunter” put his left hand in his pocket, from which a strange buzzing sound was emitted.
Having never head such a sound before, The Lagarto was intrigued. It turned back around.
Ismail smiled once again and took another step closer.
The Lagarto tensed.
Ismail kept smiling. He once again made the buzzing sound and took another step closer
The Lagarto cocked its head.
This strange exchange repeated itself a few more times until Ismail was close enough to smell the pigs on the Lagarto’s breath. But then the beast started to lose interest in the buzzing. It started looking around and ignoring Ismail.
Instead of making more or louder mysterious buzzing sounds in his pocket to regain The Lagarto’s attention, Ismail did something else. He turned his back and started walking away from The Lagarto, not back to his canoe but, inexplicably, into the woods.
The Lagarto’s curiousity was reignited. It followed Ismail, slowly and cautiously.
For a couple minutes they walked slowly in a strange procession.
Then Ismail took off.
He sprinted as fast as he could.
The Lagarto reflexively chased after him, then…
And it was all over.
Catch Your Own Crocodile: Pitch Anything
Before revealing the fate of Ismail and The Lagarto, let’s answer the question you have probably asked yourself by now: “How does The Legend of The Lagarto teach me to pitch anything?”
Simple: Whenever you pitch anything, you should follow the approach Ismail used to hunt The Lagarto.
The first step is to assume alpha position. No matter how “inferior” you are to the person you’re pitching to, you need to seize the superior role. One very effective approach to this is to do something unexpected. Ismail did this by lunging back at The Lagarto when it lunged at him. You might do so by sitting on the desk of the person you’re pitching to, instead of the chair provided, for example. Keep it lighthearted, though. You are likely overmatched and would lose in confrontation, so smile as Ismail did.
Once you have seized alpha status, pitch to that person’s emotions—their reptilian brain—and never their analytical brain. Rationale and data don’t close deals; that stuff is dealt with in due diligence after the handshake. Steer any analytical talk back to emotion. When it comes to pitching anything, the most powerful emotion is intrigue, so use it, just as Ismail did with his buzzing noise.
And the second you notice the interest of the person you’re pitching to begin to fail, take that as your cue to close your pitch and leave. If you execute the timing correctly, as Ismail did, you’ll have the person you’re pitching to right where you want them. They’ll be chasing after you.
Speaking of which what became of Ismail and The Lagarto?
Ismail 1, Lagarto 0
When Ismail sprinted away from The Lagarto, he ran right over a large pit he had dug earlier. He had covered the pit with sticks just strong enough to support his own weight, but that had no chance of holding the behemoth mass of The Lagarto.
It fell right in, right onto a series of sharpened stakes.
Ismail had vanquished The Lagarto using the same skills you can use to pitch anything to anyone.
Many of the most important make-or-break moments of your life will be pitches. It doesn’t matter if you’re a businessperson or not; your pitch may be requesting a raise, applying to get into a school, or asking someone out on a date. Whatever your pitch may be, the tools that Oren Klaff shares in his book, Pitch Anything, may help you succeed and maybe change your life.
Or at least help you catch a crocodile.
If you’re interested in Pitch Anything, another book you will certainly enjoy is Never Split the Difference, by Chris Voss. It’s the best book on negotiating I’ve ever read. To read the summary and learn more about the book, click here.