Tag Archives: Persuasion


FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2111-3001by John Jonelis

This is a winner. You wanna wow the judges?  Win the crowd?  Get your game face on, kiddo!  Hit ’em with real passion, overflowing personality and a canon shot of enthusiasm.   State what you want to do with bravado.  With humor.  With intelligence.  With dazzle and power.  While you’re at it, throw in a pair of fitted black leather pants so they’ll sit up and bark.  It never hurts to be feminine and smart.  By the way, she’s an award-winning mathematician from MIT.  Really!

This is Joy Tang and she’s pitching InstanTagThe Social Fashion Network at the Funding Feeding Frenzy in Chicago—a private equity arena with no speed limit in an industry dominated by sweaty men.  Men pack the judging panel.  Men pack the audience.  That doesn’t stop her.




Tang moves forward with authority, hitting every detail and point required of a superb private equity pitch. She plucks an orchestra of human emotions and plays each to her favor.  Curiosity, Compassion. Avarice. Anxiety. Hope—lots of Hope..

FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2128-500

She isn’t tall, isn’t boardroom, and speaks in somewhat broken English.  You think that slows her down?  Guess again buddy!  Tang is stunning, smart, and rivets your attention.  We know nothing about her but make no mistake—she steals the show.  Everyone falls in love with her sizzling energy and she backs it up with a complete business story for as nice a package as I’ve seen in a long while.  She’s not asking for your money, Mr. Investor.  No—she’s demonstrating an opportunity, and she’s ready to sail.

FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2127-500So I’m thinking, Another social media play?  But this is different—it’s all about fashion—and she’s holding the judges between two dainty fingers.  You think, just maybe she might pull this off?  Yup.  I’m betting Tang will turn a successful business no matter how many times she pivots in this or that ballroom.

FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2132-300Between pitches, the leadership of three angel groups ask me what companies I like. I like Nano Gas Technologies.  I like Team Interval.  I like Geek Bar.  But most of all, I like InstanTag’s Joy Tang.  Turns out, she’s already at the top of those three lists.

FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2157-500


Two weeks later at Business Network Chicago, it’s a reunion of FFF FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2136B-200speakers. And in a roomful of sweaty men, there’s Tang in her black leather pants, asking the tough business questions—pinning down the speaker and making him squirm—but with such consideration and aplomb!  As the lyrics to the song go, “Don’t change baby, please don’t change.”

And Mr. Investor—catch this boat before it sails. This is the time to bet on the captain, not the ship.





InstanTag – The Social Fashion Network

Joy Tang, CEO & Co-Founder   jtang@instantag.com


FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2117-200Nano Gas Technologies

Team Interval

Geek Bar

Funding Feeding Frenzy

Business Network Chicago

Photography Copyright © 2014 John Jonelis

Lyrics from the song Bella Donna as performed by Grace Slick


Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2014 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved


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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, Bella Donna, big money, BNC, Characters, chicago, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Events, FFF, Heartland Angels, Marketing, new companies, pitch, Social Media, Software


The trouble begins with a thoughtful reminder—a polite email sent the night before I am to speak. The 5-minute time limit. This is something I entirely overlooked. So I scramble to cram my talk into a small cup. I know the story. I can ad lib it well, but not in less than five minutes. Tonight I will unwittingly play the Walter Mitty. I’ve seen so many people fill this role. I warn against it. It doesn’t boost my ego to learn it can happen to me.

Walter Mitty is the character from James Thurber’s famous short story. He slips into fantastic daydreams and loses contact with those around him. Danny Kaye re-interpreted the role for a terrific movie. I use the term “Walter Mitty” to describe a speaker that slips into his technical world and fails to connect with his audience. Some people say “geek” or “nerd.” I prefer “Mitty.”

I get off the train, grab a cab, and soon I’m at Kellogg for another session at Esther Choy’s Leadership Story Lab. Why am I here? Yes, I’m a writer, but I’m here to learn to TELL stories. That’s not the same process as writing and it’s not the same as giving a lecture.

Why is learning to tell a story so important? Story is a powerful business tool. Few know how to use it. It differentiates you from all the other equally qualified people.

It’s taken all my free time and the train ride downtown to hack my narrative down to five minutes. Now the sequence seems entirely unfamiliar to me and there’s no time to memorize, no time to rehearse. I figure I’ll rely on my notes. I’ll be all right. No problem. Amazing how one deludes oneself. I have no clue that I am about to fall into the trap around which I steer my clients.

Esther starts the workshop by telling her own story. She tells it as a story. She’s poised, confident, but not at all arrogant. It’s a joy to hear her speak. And it’s fascinating. This is a gal that knows her business.

Then she surprises us. By way of contrast, she begins again, this time listing her background and accomplishments the way people usually do—chronologically. And it’s an impressive list.

Which of the two introductions is more effective?

The story–no contest. I’ll remember the specifics told in the story.

Leadership Story Lab

Throughout the session, she gives pointers on storytelling:

You don’t have to be a superhero to tell a rousing story.
The way you tell is more important than what you tell.
You need some tools.
You need a process
You need to practice

You need plot, characters, conflict and resolution, just as you do in writing. But of all the lessons I learn tonight, the one that sticks out is this: “The hardest thing in telling a story is knowing what to leave out.”

Now I’m hearing four speakers—all fellow Kellogg grads. Some of them perform brilliantly. I’m last. I’m confident. I have no idea that I’m about to fall into the role of Mitty.

Where is the podium? Where will I put my notes? I lay them before me on a low table. Yes, I can just make out the print. I don’t yet realize it’s happening, but instead of the all-important eye contact, the audience is getting a glare off the top of my head. The notes are actually slowing me down.

Esther walks up to me.

She purposely seizes my notes—one sheet at a time.

She walks off with them.

What do I do now? I object. “I can do it without notes if you like, but not in five minutes.”

Her response? “You know your story.”

Tough love.

It takes me a few moments, but without my notes I ad lib. I make eye contact. I gesture with my hands, and generally become more animated. It’s probably too late to salvage this disaster but everything is going so much better.

Now Esther is standing beside me—close beside me. I glance at her. “Am I out of time?”

She smiles with compassion. “Yes,” she says quietly. I quickly skip to the takeaway points of my story and wrap it up.

Esther Choy

Esther Choy

Now for the comments from the audience. Turns out, I lost them right at the start. I won them back after Esther intervened. As I had assumed, I wandered and didn’t finish the story but just as Esther said, delivery was more important than content.

This will not go into my memory banks as a delightful experience. It’s another lesson learned the hard way—the way I usually learn my lessons—with pain and humiliation. But Esther points out the word LAB in Leadership Story Lab. It’s a controlled and safe environment where you can experiment—where you are allowed to fail. And fail I did. And I’m thankful. I’m thankful for the opportunity to fail here rather than in the cold world of business.

Learn. Practice. Practice again.

Find Leadership Story Lab at http://leadershipstorylab.com/




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Comments and re-posts are welcomed and encouraged. This is not investment advice – do your own due diligence. I cannot guarantee accuracy but I give you my best.

© 2012 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved.


Filed under Leadership Story Lab