You get home from work and your partner asks what you want to order for dinner. Somehow that simple question seems impossible to answer. You toss the choice back to them. And so the game of “I don’t care. You pick,” begins. What’s going on here? Why does take-out suddenly seem so complicated?
Our brains are constantly processing a barrage of information. To handle all of this input efficiently, our minds relegate a fair amount of thinking to our “adaptive unconscious,” a concept made famous in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink. Gladwell likened the adaptive unconscious to a “giant computer that quickly and quietly processes a lot of the data we need in order to keep functioning as human beings.”
You’ve rehearsed your presentation. You’ve got a smart outfit picked out. You’re ready to give some firm handshakes, smile, and make eye contact. And you’re probably more than a little amped up on adrenaline. Your client, on the other hand, has been in meetings all day, feels pressed for time, and has a million other concerns on their mind. To avoid looking at blank faces while you try to make your case, you need to go beyond the usual preparation tactics. Here’s how to break through the boredom barrier and make a memorable impression in your next pitch meeting.
Many top executives have long touted the benefits of an early morning start. Apple CEO Tim Cook famously wakes up at 3:45 am. PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi is up by 4:00 and in the office by 7:00. General Motors CEO Mary Barra is at her desk at 6:00. And, perhaps with the help of a grande latte, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz arrives to work by 6:00, too.
When it comes to decision-making, knowledge is power. But what about knowledge that comes from an unconventional source? That pit in your stomach each time you meet with a potential business partner. The frisson of excitement that accompanies a sudden insight into a design problem. These gut reactions can convey valuable information about potential choices—in a fraction of the time it takes to consciously analyze your options.
A shadow crosses your desk. It’s your supervisor, asking if you can squeeze in another “little project.” Your stomach drops as you picture your calendar, already packed with pressing assignments. Adding more will mean sacrificing quality—not to mention sanity. You take a deep breath and face your boss: “Sure, no problem.”