Prepping for Warren Buffett: The Art of the Elevator Pitch (Videos)

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The Oracle of Omaha, the world’s richest man. (Photo: Stephanie Kuykenal/Bloomberg News/Landov)

It’s 1:33am in Omaha and I can’t sleep.

Much like pre-Santa jitters as a 7-year old, I’m so excited to potentially meet Warren Buffett tomorrow for the 1st time that my little reptile brain won’t turn off. Ridiculous? Perhaps, but he (Warren, not Santa) is perhaps the greatest investor the US has ever produced.

So what do you say to the world’s richest man if you, by some miracle, end up standing at the urinal next to him? You better know in advance or you’ll sound like a Hannah Montana fan.

This is why learning to elevator pitch — how to deliver your message is 60 seconds or less — is one of the most important skills to develop if you ever plan on interacting with real players and demi-gods like the Oracle of Omaha…

Why? One example: there are 10,000+ people camping in the rain overnight just to attempt to meet Warren when he walks into the annual shareholder meeting tomorrow morning. 10,000 people.

Here are two examples of my elevator pitches, both related to the book.

The first was impromptu answer to “what is your name and what do you do?”, and the latter was filmed late one night for my new page on German Amazon.com.

For meeting VIPs in crowded settings, the goal should be to do 3 things in an introduction of no more than 60 seconds:

1st. Establish credibility. Cite 1-2 examples of social proof like media or association with reputable companies/organizations. Do not speak quickly during an elevator pitch. Slow and calm.

2nd. Make it clear you are not looking for money (unless you are) but have something of interest to discuss after much research, and then ask how you can follow up in a less hectic environment. Give them your card with below #3 handwritten on it.

3nd. Mention something very, very hard to forget about you that separates you from the rest. It doesn’t need to have anything to do with your reason for wanting to meet them. For me, tango is my default. I’ll close with something like: “Just so you remember, as I know you’ll meet a million people today, I’m the world record holder in the tango. Happy to give you and Astrid a lesson sometime if the stars align.” Referring to this odd fact will be important when you follow up.

If you meet them at an event or around other people, do not follow up within the next 3 days, as everyone else will. I like to give at least one week and then cite the bolded reason in the previous sentence as my reason for waiting.

Enjoy the below videos, and check out the timing on both ;)

###

Odds and Ends:

I’ll be doing a 90-minute Q&A May 8th at the SanFran MusicTech Summit, and the interviewer is the very cool and clever founder of world-famous CDBaby (look at “statistics” here), Derek Sivers.

The German edition of 4HWW just came out, and I LOVE the cover. ‘Nuff said.

Posted on: May 3, 2008.

Watch The Tim Ferriss Experiment, the new #1-rated TV show with "the world's best human guinea pig" (Newsweek), Tim Ferriss. It's Mythbusters meets Jackass. Shot and edited by the Emmy-award winning team behind Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Parts Unknown. Here's the trailer.

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110 comments on “Prepping for Warren Buffett: The Art of the Elevator Pitch (Videos)

  1. Zehr gut :-) I agree that the elevator pitch is extremely important, as is learning to pitch in general.

    I was watching The Apprentice last week (series in the UK about people competing to get a 6-figure-salaried job) – one team hadn’t prepared their pitch properly and watching it was extremely painful!

    Like

  2. Interesting (and fun) to see those videos Tim :)
    I think my German is not as good as yours even though I’m living next to Germany, but I understand what you’re saying.

    I really like the cover of the German version of the book. I just read the Dutch version, but the color scheme on this one is much nicer! Do you make those choises or does the publsher do that?

    ###

    Hi Farfield,

    Thx for the comment and kind words. The publisher makes these decisions overseas, but I did have some input in the US.

    All the best,

    Tim

    Like

  3. Hey Tim,
    I wonder if you will get this excited the day your first child is born? LOL I hope you get some rest. I am sure you will be great and your pitch will ignite something in Mr. Buffett and he will want to share a Coca Cola with you. Buffett is extraordinary man. To his credit he is a man with integrity and uses his intuition wisely. If I were to pick his brain I would ask intimate questions if he were so inclined to share about how he feels about and connects to the people he employs. If he believes in God or something bigger than himself and how that affects his choices in his life. I would also ask after all these years what gets him excited or gets him up in the morning beyond the throng of business.

    It is 5:15 am in NJ. Even though I am not nervous about meeting an impressive man, I have been up all night none the less. :) It’s all good Carolyn Myss kept me company. Ha-ha.

    Good Luck, I guess this is the excitement you live for? I hope the excitement lasts more than 60 seconds of a pitch.

    Hugs,
    Jen

    Like

  4. So you’re preparing for meeting a guy that’s made a name for himself by being notably conservative by adopting what are essentially guidelines for finding a date. Best of luck to you.

    Like

  5. Tim,

    I´d offer him the “four hour solution” to radically improving his chess game. Make a bold promise based on your experience in different sports and activities.

    Have fun.

    Like

  6. Tim,

    Congratulations! You did it. That was about the best German speaking I have heard from an American in a VERY long time! Awesome – even better if you learned it with your “language structure deciphering method”. I am amazed.

    Have a great day with Warren Buffet.

    Hubert F.

    ###

    Thank you, Hubert! It’s been a while, but I hope to get my Berlin accent back up to speed soon :)

    Bis dann,

    Tim

    Like

  7. Haha,

    Your German is pretty good :D
    Although I’d rather adress the potential customer on Amazon.de as “du”, since most of them are going to be heavily influenced by American “you” culture. “Sie” in Germany is for old people and those you HAVE to respect (police, teachers).

    I think you make a better “du” person than a “sie” person. Especially on such a personal topic as YOUR LIFE.

    Have fun,
    Bleicke

    Like

  8. Tim,

    Next time when you travel to Germany, try to meet Harpe Kerkeling (German comedian, actor, show master and author). I bet you guys would have a blast

    Hubert F.

    Like

  9. For added razzle dazzle factor, some people add magic tricks to their elevator pitch. Learned this from a magician turned corporate pitchman Joel Bauer, it’s pretty entertaining and surely would catch anyone’s attention.

    Good luck!

    Like

  10. Hi Tim,

    1.) Does it matter whether the target is interested in your “unique” accomplishment.

    For example, if you knew Mr. Buffet absolutely hates dancing would you still mention the world-record in Tango dancing and offer to give him a Tango lesson?

    or

    Let’s say I have a very large collection of marbles (which I assume most would find BORING). Would it be worthwhile to let Mr. Buffet know this and offer him the opportunity to see them?

    If so, is the goal not only to come up with something unique (who cares how interesting it is) but, more importantly, to provide a kind gesture to show you aren’t just a “taker” but a “giver.”

    Without offering the Tango lesson, would your elevator pitch have been effective?

    Just wondering.
    EJ

    ###

    The memorable part is intended to be that and nothing else. It need not be an interest of theirs, and if you’re not sure, there is no need to make an offer. Hope that helps!

    Tim

    Like

  11. I noticed in German you’re much more serious and did not smile once. Is this a cultural difference?

    Like

  12. Tim, I actually sent Warren Buffett a letter from the advice you gave of contacting famous people in your book. I was even more surprised when he replied. My name will link you to the blog post I wrote about it, how exciting it would be to meet the world’s richest person in person.

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    Congratulations, Josh! I can’t wait to see it!

    See, guys? It can work. Compared to Warren Buffett, the CEOs of AT&T and Samsung should be a piece of cake :)

    Tim

    Like

  13. So what do you say to the world’s richest man if you, by some miracle, end up standing at the urinal next to him? You better know in advance or you’ll sound like a Hannah Montana fan.

    You know Tim, it wouldn’t be a crime to just leave Warren Buffet alone, perhaps nod to him politely, and let the man pee in peace. :-)

    This scenario reminds me of a mini-interview of mine with business author Jeffrey Fox, whose bestsellers include How to Become CEO, Don’t Send a Resume and many more. Here is a link to the article:
    http://www.bostonproducts.org/articles.php?ar_id=79

    We talked about the career value of *not* attending the annual company holiday party. The advice in this excerpt might be applicable to this scenario. I welcome any comments:

    [Jeffrey] Fox also insists the CEO would prefer not to be regaled with party-going employees reciting their clever witticism/self-serving diatribe. “I put that on a par with employees who plan ahead to sit next to their CEO on a five-hour flight to bend his or her ear, thinking it will boost their career,” says Fox. “Don’t do it! Again, it’s an example of doing the wrong things right, which will only harm your career.”

    I guess it all boils down to the point of authenticity. A bridge player for instance could legitimately chat a bit about bridge to Buffet – an *authentic* point of discussion. Peter Murphy (above) mentioned chess – unfortunately bridge, not chess, is Buffet’s game of choice. (Too bad, I play chess too).

    Tim, great job on the tagline on the Deutsche cover: More Time, More Money, More Living — well done, Tim [thumbs up]. Best wishes for continued success.

    Mike

    Like

  14. Tim

    My name is Jake Shellenberger and I am a swimming coach at Penn State University. If you ever want to learn how to swim or go to a Penn State football game let me know. Now that Michigan is renovating their stadium we have THE LARGEST college football stadium in the country and no doubt the loudest. See you in State College!!

    Jake

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    Hi Jake,

    Thanks so much! I’ll definitely take you up on teaching me to doggy paddle if I land in PA soon :)

    Tim

    Like

  15. P.S.

    Awesome to see Zach Even-Esh on a Tim Ferriss blog… Zach if you are reading this I am a fan of your site and DeFranco’s site and all the other “underground” strength sites… good stuff. I do a bit of your training when I can with my athletes at Penn State and they love it. As far as me personally I grew up on a farm and manual labor aka “underground strength” has been a part of my diet for quite some time. Keep lifting!!!

    Jake

    Like