Category Archives: Energy

You need the energy of a Tarzan.

Tarzan has swung back into action. As the Mail said: “Still bursting with ideas at 79, Michael Heseltine makes many ministers half his age look burnt out by comparison…. If this near-octogenerian has infected them with one ounce of his dynamism, he has done us all a service.”


His Growth report, like the man, is bursting with ideas. Whether you agree with them or not, and whether Cameron can act on any of them or not, is almost secondary to the sheer impact of the energy he brings onto the scene.  Interviewed on Radio 4, it was this sense of energy, rather than any particular remark, that made you feel optimistic that some positive change was in the air.


Right now few politicians are blessed with conspicuous energy. Although more energetic than most, David Cameron’s is being sapped by infighting and incompetence and Obama’s dipped, perhaps disasterously, in the first television debate.

And yet in any pitch, political or business, energy is fundamental to success.

In his remarkable book, It’s Not How Good You Are. It’s How Good You Want To Be, the great Paul Arden wrote: “energy is 75% of the job, if you haven’t got it, be nice”. 

Energy. The deciding factor?

It has been a war of attrition and we still don’t know who will win and when we do, will it have been down to campaign strategies, tv debate performances, personalities or policies? Or will it be down to energy? Who has more of it? Who has managed it better?  Who has made it work for them?


Brown has it. As Tom Bower wrote in the Observer:

“His indomitable energy during the final days of the campaign sabotaged an Old Etonian’s assumption of a graceful drive to the Palace after winning an overall majority”

Cameron also has it but now needs it more than ever. Peter Osborne in the Sunday Times:

“Sleepless, dog-tired and under immense pressure, David Cameron is being forced to compress a series of life-defining decisions into 48 hours. They will determine not only his political future, but the future of the Conservative party and of Britain.”

The reality in numerous competitive pitches is that the winners are those who sustain and manage their energy best. David Cameron supporters will be crossing their fingers that he keeps on flying!


 ‘Managing Energy’ is the subject of a Best Practice Guide. (see listing on right).

Do looks matter? Let’s discuss.

Two articles this weekend discussed looks in politics and entertainment. Catherine Bennett in the Observer asked, “What it is with male politicians and their obsession with looks? Couldn’t they work rather than work out?”

She cites Blair’s scrupulously maintained tan, balanced diet and faultless body mass index, jogger Sarkozy’s spartan regime and poseur-in-chief Berlosconi with hair transplants and cosmetic work. All examples of an “age of image-obsessed personality politics….but no one expects a senior economist- Mervyn King, for instance -to jog like Boris”.

AA Gill writes that “almost every medium for entertainment or edification is myopically lookist, sizeist and pulchritudinist… even opera singers can’t be fat anymore”. He then contrasts this with the success of  Andrew Marr, “who has a face for radio and a voice for mime”.  He succeeds with a punchy delivery and because he is “bright and perceptive and just a touch iconoclastic”.

Marr is not a bad role model for business.  Energy, exuberance, excitement and passion will outperform any beauty formula!

Pitch winning:E for ENERGY

  For energy, you can read all the e words – enthusiasm, emotion, exuberance, excitement and enjoyment.  Teams who exude energy are more successful than those who don’t. Simple as.  They are more attractive to potential clients, who are only human after all, and who will be seduced by an engaging (another e word) smile or upbeat personalities like the rest of us.   

 The energy teams win more often.

 Paul Arden in his ‘world’s best selling book’, “It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be”, wrote “energy is 75% of the job.   If you haven’t got it, be nice”.

 When it comes to pitching, even the sleepiest of teams will be energized by the spirit of competition and the adrenalin in the room, so generating more energy, winning energy, should be the challenge. Not as most teams believe, the charts, content et al. The issue is one of harnessing and managing it.

 The notion of ‘energy’ is more than the sensible project timing plan that most will put in place for any pitch. Don’t just think time, think energy.  Here are a couple of practical energy amplifying ideas.

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 First, the concept of ‘morning energy’. Most of us are fresher and have more energy at the start of the day so early morning time will produce better thinking, faster. Particularly is this true in the team context.  As the day wears on, client issues distract!  Give the pitch preparation morning priority.

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 Second, avoid the ‘macho’ energy trap, the one that says you have never failed to deliver on time because everyone worked till midnight the day before the pitch. People put off rehearsals till the last minute, when they are too tired to care, and it shows the next day.

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 Don’t waste energy.  Do the worst thing, first thing.   Start with a ruthless timing plan which keeps the energy up every day and, most important, in each rehearsal meeting.  When the team are each given their responsibilities, make them think Carpe Diem. 

 Make the content watertight, which is the rational part of the presentation, but remember the winning ingredient will be emotional.  Does the client want, need and love you.  This will only come with the E word.

(This bit of energy now also on

A formula for conversion (the holy grail)

It goes wIthout saying that the end game in any pitch is to convert the prospect into a client. Companies that are good at pitching will win more pitches, and have a better conversion rate, than those that are not, even though they may be similiar in other aspects of their performance.

This obvious truth holds across all types of business, where pitching is equally competitive,  but it tends to be more publicly discussed in advertising than other fields.   The award winning TV series Mad Men spices its drama with pitches but it is the trade magazine Campaign that leads the way with its league tables.

The most recent of these just published is the AAR’s Pitching Tables for 2008. This reveals that “the best performing agency in terms of pitch conversion was Team Saatchi which converted all of the five pitches it competed in”.  No other agency achieved a 100% strike rate!

Having handed over to managing director, Sophie Hooper, three years ago, I have a good idea of their pitch winning formula.  Great ideas, of course.  As important, if not more so, intensity, infectious energy, a very real sense of team, and making the prospect feel like the most important person in the world.

A simple formula brilliantly executed.  Congratulations Team!