It was in 2010, I was driving in the industrial area of Moulali, Hydereabad; it was my first customer meeting, my first potential sale from my first startup, and in my car I had the song from Eminem “Loose Yourself” playing in a loop.
I was a bit lost, nervous, beaten from the sleepless nights preparing for this meeting and was physically shaking thinking how important this sale was. Sometimes when you are at your weakest self some signals come by that lift you up, I was choking when I started off the sales pitch but thanks to Eminem, in some ways I made that sale and onboarded my first customer who remained our customer for many years to come (till recently, as we were aquihired and we moved on to do something else)
I also went on to do 100+ VC pitches for the next 5 years, and finally managed to get funded. You can watch the video here
I happened to read this book called “Reinvent Yourself” and the following is a similar observation and some quotes are from the book and some are from my story.
This song “Loose Yourself” is from the movie “8 Mile”. Its a powerful movie to draw inspiration from for all people who want to do well in their career, at their startup (if you are an entrepreneur), for freshers, for students and anyone who want to get a mini MBA and face your moment.
Eminem in that movie is poor, broken, white trash guy living in a trailer park. He is beaten on, works odd but bad jobs, gets betrayed by his own friends and many bad things happen. But he lives to rap and break out of all the bad somehow.
In the first scene of the movie he is shown having a battle against another rapper and he chokes. He gives up the battle without saying a word. Since then, for a long time he will be known as someone who chokes under pressure and he seems definitely heading towards being a huge failure.
- Until “he chooses himself”
Here is 10 ways to sell like Eminem
You may have watched this movie, but not as closely as what I am going to break it down and explain it to you.
Let me take you to the final scene of the movie, the final rap battle. He will be the only white guy in a black people community and he is up against the reigning champion that the audience loves.
He wins the battle and I want you all to focus on the techniques, that you can use what Eminem used to go up against any competition, any tough moment and come out victorious.
After he defeats the best, he can go on to do anything he wants, win any battle, even run the battles each week and make money. But he walks off because he is going to do his own thing. He chooses himself. The movie is a real story and autobiographical. And 300 million records later, even to this day, he is the most successful rapper in history
Read the following carefully and slowly.
The current human brain was developed to its current state of structure and capability about 400,000 years ago. No evolution since then. Our brain then was mostly used to survive in nomadic, hostile situations, thats why humans had higher IQs than they have today. But, it was trained to find ways to survive and find short-cuts to survive.
For instance, a very common one is that we have a bias toward noticing negative news over positive news. If you had to choose to see a man happy and living a good life or a man run over by a bus or mauled by a lion/tiger which one would you choose to watch? This is called “negativity bias”. This is why newspapers still survive, people still sell negative media and show bad things and seldom good things. The fraction is 10:1.
Its only in the pat 50 years, after the world-war and few other civil problems, may be that we are relatively safe from most of the dangers that threatened earlier humans. Thats why we evolved technology, we got creative, now that we stopped fighting, we started solving problems.
2. Eminem kills the “Race” bias and takes advantage of the “Herd Behaviour”
Notice Eminem’s first line: “Now everybody from the 313, put your mother***ing hands up and follow me”
313 is the area code of Detroit and included Blue Collar, black detroit community where the entire audience is from. With this one line he kills the race and favoriteism bias. People raise their hands and start following him
3. Eminem uses “Presence of mind”
Once you see the audience eye-balling at you, you can ask them to do things only if you apply your presence of mind. This is psychological human behavior. He says “Look, look” and when he says that the audience looks at his competition, the rapper Papa Doc, where he is about to point out, he is making stage for what is called “Cognitive Bias”
4. Eminem sets up Bias or creates his own Group
Human brain likes to be different if they are evaluated the same time as opposed to evaluated separately. Eminem wants his opponent, Papa Doc, to be evaluated right then as someone different from the group, but he does it so well he brings the crowd on his side and removes Papa Doc out of the group who is actually the crowd’s favorite by saying the line ” Now while he stands tough, notice that this man did not have his hands up”
In other words, even though Papa Doc is black, like everyone in the audience, even though he is the favorite, he is no longer in their group. He completely changed the conversation from race to Area code.
5. Ambiguity Bias
He doesn’t refer to Papa Doc by name, he says “this man”. In other words, there’s “the 313 group” which we are all a part of in the audience, and now there is this ambiguous man who is attempting to invade us, show us something new.
Have you watched the US presidential campaign debates. A candidate will rarely refer to another candidate by their name. They say “My opponent might think X, but we here know that Y is better”. Thats how you actually talk in front of a VC about another competitor. You don’t bad mouth another competitor, or don’t only talk how great your product is, but you should focus on the value of YOUR product without taking the name of any competition.
6. Credential Bias
Because the brain wants to take short cuts, it will look for information more often from people with credentials or brand or lineage than from people who come out of nowhere
When you are in front of a VC pitching your startup, you are a nobody, your product is a nothing, but when you are from Harvard or IIT or IIM, they have a bias and they believe you more. Unfortunately, this is true and its not a VC problem but a general human problem.
Eminem fights this subtly to lines later. He says “One, two, three, and to the four”.
This line is from Snoop Dogg’s first song with Dr. Dre, “Nuthin’ But a G Thang”. It is the first line in the song and perhaps one of the most well-known rap lines ever. Outside of the context of the movie, Eminem was actually discovered by Dr. Dre. There is an interesting lineage of NWA, Dr.Dre, Eminem and 50Cent. The most popular rappers ever.
But in this battle, Eminem directly associates himself with well-known successful rappers and uses Dr. Dre and Snoop when he uses that line.
Then he says “One Pac, two Pac, three Pac, four”, he associates himself with Tupac and isolates Papa Doc with the line “You’re Pac, he’s Pac, you’re pac, NONE”. Meaning that Papa Doc has no lineage, no credibility, unlike Eminem and the audience.
7. Basic Direct Marketing Technique: List Objections.
Any direct marketer or sales person knows the next technique Eminem uses. When you are selling a product, or youself, the person or group you are selling to is going to have easy objections. They know those objections and you know those objections. If you don’t bring them up and they don’t bring them up, then they will not buy your product or invest in it either. If they bring it up before you, then it looks like you were hiding something and you just wasted a little of their time by forcing them to bring it up.
So a great sales technique is to address all of the objections in advance.
Eminem does it brilliantly, he says, “I know everything he’s got to say against me.”
And then he just lists them one by one:
“I am white, I am a fuckin’ bum;
I do live in a trailer with my mom;
My boy Future is an Uncle Tom;
I do got a dumb friend named Cheddar Bob
Who shoots himself in the leg with his own gun;
I did get jumped by all six of you chumps.”
and so on, he lists several more. But at the end of the list, there is no more criticism you can make of him. He’s addressed everything and dismissed them.
In a sales pitch, rap battle or an investor pitch, if you address everything your opponent can say, he’s left with nothing to say. When he has nothing to say, the audience, or the sales prospect or the VC will buy from you.
Eminem uses this to his strength, he says “I know something about you”. He sings it playfully, with such a timing that it stands out and everybody laughs. Sometimes when you make people laugh, make it seem cool, you have them on your side. They will focus, they will stop thinking and they will listen to you. Believe me it worked (See my vault show pitch)
“You went to Cranbrook”
And then Eminem turns to his “313 group” for emphasis as he explains what Cranbrook is,
“Thats a private school”
BAM! There is no way now the audience can be on Papa Doc’s side but Eminem makes out the group even larger.
“His real name’s Clarence….And Clarence’s parents have a real good marriage”
BAM and BAM! Papa Doc out of the crowd.
Eminem says, “Cause here no such things as….” and the audience chats with him: “Halfway crooks!”
9. Create Scarcity
The music stops, which means Eminem has to stop and let Papa Doc have his turn. But he doesn’t. he basically says, “F*ck everybody, f*ck y’all if you doubt me. I don’t wanna win. I’m outie.”
He makes himself scarce. After establishing total credibility with the audience he basically says he doesn’t want what they have to offer. He reduces the supply of himself by saying he’s out of there. Reduce the supply of yourself while demand is going up and what happens? Basic economics
Value goes up.
The opponent has nothing left to say, so Eminem wins the battle. And what does Eminem do with this victory, he walks away. He thinks big, he choses himself. If he hadn’t, we would not know who Eminem is, he would not go out to sell 220 million records worldwide. He discovered and produced 50 Cent, who also sold hundreds of millions more.
I know the article was long, but I had to tell you this story. Don’t get me all wrong for analyzing a rap song for a sales pitch or for a VC pitch. But I tried this and it worked!
1o. Be strong and don’t appear desperate
One last piece of advice, Interview, Sales Pitch, VC pitch etc., is almost where you would sell your soul. Its not a nice thing, its not something you want to do often. But never oversell or undersell yourself. Don’t step down your dignity and always choose yourself, be yourself! Good Luck
Go there, KILL IT! One Chance, One opportunity!! One YOU!! And a Billion F***in dollars out there for you for the taking, don’t hold back. Think big, it will take time, it’ll be worth it!
Enjoy the battle here