September 16th was the 8th annual Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship Energy and Clean Technology Forum. We won an award at the elevator pitch competition last year and we were excited to be asked back to compete again this year. I love these forums as there is so much energy, so many good ideas, and so many great people throughout them. Anyone who knows me knows how competitive I am, though, so I don't consider such events successful unless I come away with an award. Some people go into such events casually and speaking extemporaneously. I do not. I come to win and prepare obsessively for it.
I spent the plane ride back from Italy refining our message down to just the bare minimum and rehearsing it to ensure that it could be delivered in less than 90 seconds. In my IMD marketing course, we learned that branding is about sacrifice; people can only absorb a few messages. Nothing could be truer about elevator pitches; they are like branding statements for your company or idea. There were many things I would have liked to have included in the pitch but there just wasn't enough time. In many ways, this is similar to the "How do I spend my time?" challenge with which the entrepreneur is faced every day: distilling the top 3 most important things from the top 30 really incredibly important things from the top 300 really very important things. For this reason alone, I think periodic pitch preparation is a helpful exercise in prioritization.
If you would care to see the fruits of my labor, a video of it is available at The BusinessMakers Radio Show's review of their favorite pitches from the event. Looking back at it, I clearly rushed delivery a bit and didn't pause to "plant" my points as much as I would have liked. I welcome additional feedback as well!
Long story short: we won an award again--2010 Rising Venture! I am once again supremely humbled, honored, and thrilled to have won. There were some great pitches and it was exciting just to have been counted among them. As was the case last year, the whole event was a very good one and we made several new very interesting contacts.
The following Sunday I had to shift out of Rice business school mode and into IMD business school mode as we hosted the very first event of IMD's new Houston Alumni Club. It turns out that there are 500+ IMD alumni in Houston so I and a few other "enthusiasts" thought it was criminal not to have some kind of organization to bring us together.
Our first event was a simple networking and brief talk event. IMD professors Don Marchand and Michael Wade were in town for a Shell program so they came and talked with us about their research. The rest of the evening we sipped wine, networked, and discussed the future direction of our nascent organization--it was a great first step!
Then last weekend Katie, I, and my favorite wingman made a very quick (~48 hours) trip to Paris for the Jimmy Buffett concert. It was marvelous and exactly what I had hoped it would be. We spent most of our time walking around Paris, eating, dropping into museums, and drinking great wine. Friday night we tailgated with 96-point Bordeaux (Chateau Pontet-Canet 2005, way too young but still delicious) then made our way to the concert. The total attendance was maybe 1,000 people and, because everyone there was a big fan, it was basically one long, glorious sing-along. It was so much fun, as was the after-party at O'Sullivan's!
Now we're back in Houston with no travels abroad planned until our wedding in May. We came back just in time too; the weather is gorgeous! As Jimmy Buffett would say, the weather is here; wish you were beautiful!