The Story Rules Podcast E01: Mohit Bansal – The Guy who Creates Multi-Million $ Decks (Transcript)

5. General

The Story Rules Podcast E01: Mohit Bansal – The Guy who Creates Multi-Million $ Decks (Transcript)

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Intro hook:

“One, that’s one that you know, I’m reminded of is a, Instamojo,  Sampat, the founder of Instamojo. We were in the middle of an engagement, I think at one point. He was one of those who said that, that Mohit, we have been running this business for seven, eight years,  but it’s only now we have understood that what do we really do”

Welcome to the Story Rules podcast with me, Ravishankar Iyer, where we learn from some of the best storytellers in the world, find their story and unearth the secrets of their craft.

Today we speak to Mohit Bansal of Deck Rooster – the guy who went from getting fired as an intern to now building multi-million dollar decks for India’s leading startups.

We speak to Mohit about why it’s critical for him to find the “anchor” of the story first, his unique visual approach to crafting a startup’s narrative and also some of the tools he prefers to create his stories.

Let’s dive in.

Ravi: 00:01:10

My guest today – Mohit Bansal – creates multi-million-dollar decks for a living. Welcome to the podcast Mohit! How are you doing?

Mohit 00:01:17

I’m good Ravi. Thank you so much. I’m equally excited to be part of this. Looking forward to the game the engagement, interaction today

Ravi: 00:01:25

So, Mohit’s company creates two types of decks. Investor decks, when companies are trying to raise money from investors and sales decks when companies are trying to pitch to a customer. Now, before we start ok, so I wanted to give some context to the quality of work that Mohit does. All of us tell stories at work. And these stories might be in the form of conversations, emails, reports, and presentations. Presentations are a crucial way in which we tell stories. Now there are different types of presentations. It could be on the one end of the spectrum, you’ve got something which is like a mundane weekly review that you probably just sent to your client, probably, you know, not so high stakes. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the pitch deck that you’re sending out to your potential investor for raising money. Now, the stakes there are incredibly high, because the quality of that deck could determine the difference between you getting funded versus not getting funded. Between getting a 10 million valuation or a 100 million valuation. And so, your story game has to be top notch for that particular story for that particular deck. And which is where Mohit and his team come in and before I kind of, you know, ask him how he does this magic. Let’s find out about this magic. Right. So here are some of the clients that Mohit has worked with. There is this huge funding event that happened recently where KhataBook got funded. Mohit and his team helped with KhataBook deck, Instamojo, Games2win, Bractlet, IIMJobs, Polycycl, Jombay. All of these companies have used Mohit’s services to build their decks and these have been funded by companies whose name you might have heard. So, these are some of the investors like Goldman Sachs, Accel Partners, Khosla Ventures, Sequoia, IDG, Blume, Y Combinator. That’s some pretty seriously impressive names Mohit. And before I hand it over him a few last words from some of Mohit’s clients.

“Don’t waste two percent on a Banker, These dudes at Deck Rooster rock!” This is by Ravish Naresh, who is CEO at KhataBook. Here is one more. “Mohit is great at visualization, creating awesome optics and subtle but effective diagrams and charts, but what was most stunning was his deep dive into each of the businesses to actually unearth insights and key speaking points. 

After the intense few sessions that delivered us ‘wow’ presentations, Mohit’s rigor and focussed application made me learn more about my business than I originally did!

This is Alok Kejriwal the CEO of games2win. What magic do you do like this Mohit?

Mohit: 00:04:20

Ha ha. I think that this makes the makes the task of explaining things even more difficult. See, for us, when we look at a, or any of our decks, we, we really don’t try to take credit of somebody being able to raise money or we don’t even try to take the blame of somebody of not being being able to raise money, because we believe that our job is to put the story well, in front of other people. So, the way we gauge our performance is if the founder feels excited and happy about putting across a story that he feels comfortable with, and he feels people can resonate well with, and that’s a that’s, that’s a job well done for us. The outcome of that whether funding happens or not, we believe there are many, many other parameters which are outside of our control. And even outside of a founder’s control even founder doesn’t have a control over you know, how’s the funding ecosystem looking like or what what’s a you know, the pandemic situation going on? Though that’s an extreme case, but even, you know, one big competitor getting funded and somebody nobody else is putting money to any of the competitions. There are so many other factors which go go behind some the decision of being funded or not getting funded. So, we really don’t try to take a credit or blame of that, but I think our focus is on really deeply understanding what a founder wants to say, what’s his story really like? So, see, I think largely at very 10,000 feet view, what we try to do is we look for a business where the business is working really well, which is basically that there are many customers that business has, and the customers are happily using the product. And that, for us is a sign that there is some underlying story. That’s a parameter we look for when taking up a client. If that’s the case, we know there is something underneath, it may not be articulated. Now our job is to get in, uncover all of that, and articulate a story around it. And the purpose of story for us is simply something which is easy to understand for other people. We believe that most businesses and most communication can be simple enough to explain to anyone even if somebody doesn’t come from a background of that business. So, we look for ways to create a narrative. Story is a fancy word, but basically, we try to create a communication which is simple enough for someone else to understand; that’s largely what we try to do.

Ravi: 00:06:44

Fabulous ya Mohit. So yeah, I think looking at some of these reactions, founders, you know, they are great, and would be probably telling the story themselves. So, when they give such high praise, clearly, there’s a lot of effort, thought, and I think skill that has gone into it. And that skill is not something that you have, I guess, you know, built over the last two, three years, it’s been probably decades in the making. And I’m actually going to start with your own story Mohit. And then we’ll move on to saying, you know, how is it that you approach telling a story or narrative of a start-up. So, I, you know, a great place to start, by the way, all listeners is to go and read Mohit’s LinkedIn profile. Just have a look at it. And one thing that struck me was how candid, honest and vulnerable he is. So, I am gonna pick up some lines from his LinkedIn profile, and we’re gonna ask him, you know, what was the thought process writing it like that. So this is one thing that he writes about when he says about. Yeah, so it is very beginning of his professional career, he took on an internship and this is what he writes “what could be the worst start of someone’s professional career would getting fired as an intern make it to the top of that list.” And then he goes on to talk about getting fired. Then he talks about a job with a company called Mahindra SSG, where he says “when I joined Mahindra SSG, my greatest fear in life, probably was public speaking. Apparently, the interviewers couldn’t figure that out, or maybe they didn’t care.” And then this one, when he moved on to a manufacturing start-up with a friend with a partner in Chandigarh, it says “we started everything from scratch and did everything it required from getting bank loans to getting tons of government clearances.” And then in brackets. “bribing officials was a part I hated the most.” And this is rare Mohit I don’t see people pouring their heart out so openly in some of these, you know, profiles where it’s more you know, talk, let’s talk about the good things or you know, it’s more anodyne very, very basic and you know, banal and boring. So where does this openness, this candidness, this vulnerability come from?

Mohit: 00:09:03

I don’t have a good answer to that Ravi. I see it now. I think it has. It came naturally to me at some point probably. And I think now I see it in action quite a bit, because I see we being rewarded for this candidness and honesty, you know, at the cost of being sounding immodest. But we see this every day at Deck Rooster talking to our clients also, but I think I’m not too sure how, where it comes from. I think a lot of these things become part of you as you’re growing up, age. Something in probably in our family environment in our family culture, the way my parents probably behave, something of that might have triggered something in me. And that’s how I, I am. But I think I think it’s just I think all of us want to be more authentic. It’s just as probably we sometimes we feel it puts us at some risk or something. But I think once you try it, and I think it becomes very hard to go back. So I don’t know. I mean, I don’t have a good answer on where it comes from. But I think I just started being this at some point without realizing and now I’m quite aware of that. How this is actually helping us. Rather sometimes now being honest, and I know that how the reactions of a potential client will be, it makes me feel Am I being really honest, because I’m being aware when I’m being honest. So, when I’m telling something, honestly, I know how the reaction is going to be and I can I can feel is it? Is it a manipulation that I’m doing by being honest to someone? That’s how I look at it right now.

Ravi: 00:10:47

That is deep. So, I’m sure it has helped you at work also. Of course, you know, one is, maybe when clients ask for too much, or you know, there’s an assignment that you don’t want to do, or do you know, can you give me examples of situations where it’s helped you at work?

Mohit: 00:11:03

So, it didn’t start with a conscious thought Actually, I mean, we, we will be being whatever we were, and or other I was being whatever I was. And so, over time, what we have come to realize, having heard from many sales, many prospects in the process of selling the first call that we have, whenever people reach out to us; In whichever the case we feel that the Client should not work with us because of the stage the company is in, or because of where the story is. Or if it don’t think we can add a lot of value to this client, no matter how much the client wants to work with us, we tell them that if we would be in your place, we would not work with ourselves. And we would, I would strongly recommend them to take a stab at their own deck. At that stage, maybe a few iterations if I really liked the client, and sometimes offer them a review of their deck, also, because I, if I genuinely feel that they should not work with us, I will do whatever I can to, to to warn them that this may not be a good idea. And in many cases, the reason is pretty simple. I think it comes down to some logic. So just to give you a quick background on why I do do this, let’s say for the clients, why do I tell them is because I’ve come to realize that whenever we are working with an early stage company, the pitch is very fragile, no matter what they do what they tell us. And then what we do as story for them, there is a very high chance when they when the pitch is ready, and they go and talk to some investors, they might give them a perspective that completely change the story for them, they might want to come back and change the whole thing. And suddenly, they have invested this much of money with us working with us. And but the story is changing. And I can see that already, that’s going to happen. So, I tell them that that’s going to happen. So, they like it, they can see basically, and many times they know it, that’s the right thing to do, that they have to do the deck themselves, but just nobody is telling them that they should be doing it. So, they keep looking out for some solution. So, when we tell them they really like it. And in many cases that helps us in a way. So, whether in some cases they will convert for us as a client because they really trust us. Two even if they don’t convert, which many of them do not because we tell them not to, they become like Brand ambassador for us. They go out and confidently tell even if they have not seen a deck. They have not worked with us; Engaged fully, but they’ll go out and tell many people and that’s how things have really worked out very well for us. There are many, many people who keep referring us to other people.

Ravi: 00:13:33

That’s a great point Mohit. And it you know, when I teach storytelling in sessions, one thing that I tell participants that you know, it it resonated when you were talking with me is that stories have both a short term and a bit of long-term impact, right. So, in many times people are worried about the short-term impact. And so, let’s say there’s a business division leader who has to present to the board and that quarter has been a bad quarter, right. So there is a huge tendency to ‘Yarr, chupate hai’. Let’s hide some of the stuff that’s not show everything. And we just weather the storm in this board meeting and then we will see later ‘baad ke baad dekhenge’ types right. So I think that’s a very risky strategy because what you’re doing there by not being authentic by not being honest, is that you might escape that particular moment or that particular review, but it will catch up and when it catches up, then the damage will be far worse because it’s your reputation that gets damage. On the contrary, when you do what you’re doing, sure, there may be some short-term loss, you know, maybe it’s a, it’s a month in which you don’t have any other client. And that’s the only guy who’s come knocking to the door and you telling him, No, I don’t think I can help you; I don’t think I’m the right person to help you, you lose that business then. You get that short-term hit. But as you’re rightly saying, the long-term benefits that you will get from that are far, far better. So thanks for sharing that. Hm, now moving back to your story with you, you’ve been you know, had a very diverse set of work experiences. So, as you have said, you know, from being a poultry farmer, to being in manufacturing, to various kinds of services. Two I think, when you started to probably find your mojo was the LPad in Chandigarh, which was which was a launch kind of a thing for start-ups was it something like that. That’s right. And then from there you move to this company called Sokrati, where you were, as you rightly say, with this tent, I took on another fear of mine sales. And then you talk about how you went out and pitched to clients and got deal some really big deals done. And here, you are kind of saying that, you know, here’s where you love to bring stories to life with kickass PowerPoint presentations. And you say on your profile, that is hardly a deck across the company that gets done without my input. That’s great. Right. So here is where I feel that you discovered or, you know, the inner storyteller flowered. And can you take us back to this stage of your life? What do you think were the influences and what was, was there a moment or an incident that you know really struck? A chord remains with you.

Mohit: 00:16:12

So, my journey with the presentations actually began when I was doing L Pad. Just before Sokrati, which was supposed to be incubator for start-ups. They started when I came across, somebody introduced me to somebody presentation, which was very simple presentations, which had, every side had one, one image and a little bit of text. And I really loved that format of presentation. From that day onwards, I started really making all the presentations like that. When enjoying Sokrati, so Sokrati was a digital marketing agency. And I joined them as a first sales guy. So, having the sales role there, we started by revamping the deck because that gave me a chance to understand the offering better. At the same time, the company really was in need of simplifying their offering for people to understand So, so what we ended doing was basically start by redoing the deck. And in the process, we kind of simplified the entire offering. Now from there on, I realized that, you know, I was good at making the deck. And whenever we were doing the sale deck, of course, I was the one doing it because I was part of the sales team. But from then on, people have been realizing that I’m good at making decks people had not seen kind of good-looking decks until that point, and they probably hadn’t come across someone who, who can make good looking decks. So, I think then on, every deck which is getting made in the company kind of somehow found a way to me for some inputs, because I was sometimes good at putting together the story flow, and sometimes, you know, helping them get better visuals. But I never really took it very seriously. I mean, I was just doing as, as any of us to will, like writing an email, somebody might be good at writing emails, but you don’t think of it as a really as a strong skill in the sense of taking up as job. So, I mean, I really enjoy doing the whole process of making presentations, but kind of never took it very seriously. I think it was only when I was thinking of leaving Sokrati, that’s when I was thinking of what to do next. And that’s where the, this thought came into my mind of, you know, this is one skill that I’m good at, which is designing presentations. But I was very unsure, very doubtful about if anybody would have actually ever wanted. So so, but that’s, that’s how that’s when it’s, for the first time a thought of presentation.

Ravi: 00:18:40

So how would you know because many times when we think that we are good at something, we look for some external validation. Was there something or someone or somebody telling you something about that?

Mohit: 00:18:51

Yeah. So, the first external validation came from me making all these decks that I was good at it.  Now, I was also seeking still external validation in terms of whether this is a good idea to start with, so I dropped an email to four of my friends, saying, “Hey, you know, here’s what I’m thinking of doing. I’m good at making presentations, here are a few sample presentations that I’ve recently made. And I’m thinking of offering this as a service.  What do you think? So interestingly, two of them replied, it’s great. Go ahead and do it. And two of them said, No, it doesn’t seem like a great idea.  That didn’t help much. Well, I think, yeah, so but I think then, but that thought stayed with me for some time. And I was thinking, whether that will really make sense. It wasn’t a really very exciting idea. It just seemed like something that I would love to do, but didn’t seem like a very great business idea in that sense. So essentially, what I did and ended up doing was I did a quick back of the envelope calculations on how much I might end up charging for a deck  and how the many decks we can do in a month.  And that seems like a fair number to say that it can take care of our expenses. So, let’s let’s jump in and Do it. That is largely it,

Ravi: 00:20:06

How did you get your first client?

Mohit: 00:20:11

That wasn’t very difficult to, actually. So, because I was thinking of leaving Sokarati and think of doing something else, I was already in touch with a few people trying to trying to just get the suggestions on of all the various things that I had in mind to do. I was just bouncing off these ideas with people. And once this idea of doing offering presentation designer service was sort of nearly finalized. I started telling people, this is what I’m thinking of doing. So, I had a pretty decent network, probably because of my Sokrati days,  being a sales guy. And even before that, I had been fairly active in the start-up network. So, I had a decent network. And I reached out to my network and told them, “Hey this is what I do.” Quite quite a few of them came back and said, “Hey, we can use this service. This looks very interesting for us.” But I think the first client came from a friend who was working in some company and when I told him He said, “hey, maybe our company can use this.” So, he, you know, put me in touch with the the CEO and we had a quick discussion.  Interestingly, they were looking for a deck. They had an investor meeting in four days. And we were having this discussion and they were like, you know, “We need a deck by Monday.”  This is probably Thursday.  and I like, “okay, we can do it”, but I don’t know how much time it will take  because it’s going to be my first deck. . And so, we said, okay, let’s do it. I mean, you’re you have meeting on Monday, you have a meeting on Monday. We can’t do anything about. ( So let’s work as a team. And let’s see what is the best we can do from wherever you are. So, we actually for the first project, I ended up just picking a, templates from the web, and redoing their presentation to whatever extent we can so made the visuals a little better, make the flows better.  And I think by working day and night for a few days, I think we ended up giving the presentation by Sunday evening, so they they had a good. The company actually ended up raising some money also. ,) again but haha not a credit for that, haha 

Ravi: 00:22:09

Amazing, Well, you could, couldn’t ask for a better start that way….but I it also kind of shows the, the effort and the stretch, which, which I guess, you know, most start-up founders are. So now but you ware now pretty much an entrepreneur yourself, right with Deck Roster. And one temptation that many founders have is to say that, you know, let me take what I get. There’s this famous line that I remember by Subroto Bagchhi, one of the Mind Tree co-founders, right where he says that when you start a company, you’re a bit like a street dog that you know, you don’t know where your next meal is gonna come from. So, you’re going to be like very scrappy, that whatever you’re getting, just get it and do it. Right. And you have a very clear point of view that No, we are not going to be making anything, any presentations for anyone. We are going to be making two types of presentations, investor pitch to decks and sales decks So how did you get that clarity of focus? And especially in the early days, how did you manage to you know, not get distracted?

Mohit: 00:23:07

So, I think it wasn’t so well thought as it might seem now. I think what we have done well over time is to stick to that. But in the beginning, I think it was all just a various things coming together, for example, when we started, the so I was discussing with a friend. And what we’re discussing is whether to quit offer the service to larger companies, corporates,  or to offer this to start-ups. And one common thought that we both had is that it doesn’t make sense to offer this start-up because they don’t have the money already. And we can’t, we can’t, you know, sort of try to charge them for this.  It will be better to go to corporates,  because they already have the money, they can pay you better.  So while you were thinking logically, in the sense of saying, let’s let’s go and pitch this to corporates, but my somehow My heart was always to with start-up  because that’s the world I came from. So, I thought, let me try it out for some time just offering this to start-up and then see where it goes. If it doesn’t go, maybe we can come back to corporates But, just thinking in my head about offering the service to corporates versus start-up somehow, it just the idea of offering this to working with start-up pulled me towards it and that’s how I started doing it. And so, I think that’s one, and two, my network was around start-ups. So, my initial clients were coming from start-ups. And I think that’s how it came from all of that. Very soon, we had an experience of working with a larger corporate, we realized that the it’s better that we stay away from probably larger companies, because we realized that when we have to do a good deck, it’s very important that we have a face time with the founders. (And we realized that the larger corporates, very hard to get a face time with the founder. And that’s how it worked out. So, I think in the beginning, it just happened for us. But I think we stayed the course and we stuck to that. Probably we made our own market in the sense of offering the service to start-ups.

Ravi: 00:25:00

And, you must have had some tough no’s, right? You know, I’m sure. Opportunities came for doing this for non-start-up or non, non-sales decks and you, you. Was it easy, difficult, very difficult to say no? 

Mohit: 00:25:16

No; Of course, it was. It was difficult because, you know, as you rightly said a bit earlier that, you know, there were many months were dry months. Right? You are always looking for, how would you pay bills for the next month.  And that never, that is never, that never always happens. So, you are always hoping that next month will be better than this one and at least next month will not be a dry month. But that that month is always waiting out there waiting to happen. So that there were many months of course, I think in the beginning, I think the first six months or so we did have a couple of dry months after a great start in the first three months. And at that time, I think my expenses were low so I could focus on just fixing things at my end  what we ended up doing at the time was with a I am good at making presentation. So, I don’t have work coming in, let me do this. Let me make a SlideShare on how to make a better deck And maybe that will help. So, we put that up on SlideShare. You know, I spent a few days making that and put it out on SlideShare. Interestingly, in a few hours, I get an email from SlideShare that it has been published on the homepage. Hmm, that is like a good surprise. I mean, I never expect that will happen.  So, that got picked up. And then there was a lot of leads coming from that a lot of traffic came from that. So, that’s how we probably whenever we had a dry month, we were probably spending some of this time to, you know, do a little marketing at our end but that’s about it.

Ravi: 00:26:48

That’s a fabulous insight. Mohit And, you know, I’m, this is, I think, a great learning for listeners, anybody who’s doing their own stuff, or even if in a mid-sized start-up, right, you know, marketing is always a better approach than sales and you know, you can’t keep chasing people to say that, you know, “Hey, give me business.” Put your work out there, you know. So, there is this concept and storytelling that we talked about, which is ‘Show; don’t tell,’ Don’t tell that you’re an expert show me that you’re an expert. And you know, that deck that you put up on SlideShare showed the world that you know your stuff, and I think a great call that you took, and I think great learning for anybody who wants to showcase their expertise. So that was great. Now, if you kind of look at some of the things that differentiate you, of course, you know, very high quality of work, which goes by in terms of the clients that you work with .This razor focus on this domain of start-ups and sales decks and third thing that I like, when I was looking up your Twitter and LinkedIn profile was your data point that almost 100% of your clients come through reference or recommendations, so you you’re not really going out and you don’t need to go out and actually canvas for business which is a which is a great place to be. And there you mentioned that to drive in referrals and recommendations, you need an army of referrers. So, I love that concept and how you’ve kind of, you know, broken that on how do you actually build an army of reference? Would you like to talk about that?

Mohit: 00:28:14

Yeah, sure. I mean, this was again a, something which we, it is not like we knew, and we did it, like it happened. And we we look back and say, how did it happen?  why do we have all these? So many references coming in? And I sometimes feel it’s the idea is pretty simple. And I really hope if I can tell everyone how to do it, but I just feel like it’s simple, but like many good things, I think it’s it’s a very simple idea, but I think it’s hard to, to implement hard to stay the course with. So, because we have been through that we just, we have been through that now. Now, we can easily say that, you know, you should do it. But I’m not sure if I will be doing it if I had to start all over again, if I will still be able to do it.  So, the idea is pretty simple. I think what we realized over time that almost all our clients were coming from references and again, not as a plan but we but we were I think, by my nature, I think I was doing things which drove more leads towards us which, you know, put out good words for us, and not really trying to go and do active sales. So, we were doing marketing and not sales, whether it was publishing a pitch deck,  SlideShare , writing an article,  posting something on Twitter or doing some events, we are always trying to do things which will bring back people to us. So, what, what what we realize now if I have to repeat all of this, if I have to make this happen again, I think what really helps us is largely, one is a super focus on one niche. This really helps people in multiple ways that one I think for example, I think the best thing that happens because I’m only doing presentations, and I’m only doing investor deck and sales deck, 24by7, I can just think about that.  the only reading I have to do is only about how to do better decks or better investor decks right?  I don’t have to worry about anything else. I don’t have to think about anything. else I don’t spend time thinking how to get better at this or how to make a better deck, just just deck is the only thing I have to think about  nothing else like . So it’s really one it I think creates a perception that we are we are experts because we know if you are looking at out looking at any one, let’s say even if you’re looking at a at a doctor, you will, when you have a specific problem, you will want to go to a specialist  and not to a General Physician, right?   Because we feel that the specialist would know something more than the General Physician for sure. And hence, even if the general physician is charging the specialist charging more you, you might even pay that more. So we realize that we are able to really use this advantage use this to our advantage being focused on just one thing, because one it creates a good perception of us and two, it allows time to really be better at it. So, we are continuously learning and become better at it. And it helps us create a perception of it. Quality offering is was definitely one thing I think goes without saying that if you’re core is not good, the core is the your offering. If that doesn’t solve good problem, if that is not high quality, then of course, nothing else will work that that is at the core of it. And the third thing that we also felt is that, you know, because we would, as a we are a small business, and we work with like 2, 3, 4, clients every months,  that’s a very small number of clients, we add up every month,  But what we realize is that we do interact with many more.  So specially the sales prospects that come to us towards us, we talking to all of them, if we can utilize them. So, it was not like a conscious thought that we thought and did it I think, now we then look back and they realize that we are talking to each one of them. They had a good experience of talking to us in that one-hour call. And that actually, these guys went back,  even if they did not work with us, they went back and told many other people because many times whenever somebody comes to us, we ask them, “Hey, how did you get to know just curious to know that,”  and most of times name people throwing up at US was something that we had never interacted with.  So, at the minimum what was happening is that somebody we have spoken to had spoken to someone else. And those guys were telling someone else, and these guys have come to us. So what we realize is, I think, a few things one, because we were so focused on one thing, it gives a perception that we hare expert two, they had a good experience with us; of having the call. Three, the the proposition is very simple to understand, I really feel that this is also something critical that if you’re doing something, some something which is easy to understand, and hence easy to explain to someone else. Now, when does the referral happen? So reference happens when I know that the problem that you’re facing this, the someone that I can refer, if I have a good match, if I know if I’m confident in my head,  that what you’re looking for exactly that guy, I’m going to make the reference if I have a doubt, I might avoid it. So, I need to have a good confidence that one. You are exactly looking for that guy, two, I know that guy is also good. It is those two things are true. I can actually drive the reference I Make the reference happen. Right? So, I feel this single-minded focus on one small thing and making sure everybody is, who is interacting with us is finding some value through that interaction, even if they don’t work with us. So, I think those things kind of helped us, sort of, I mean for lack of better words of words to build this army of reference referrers.

Ravi: 00:33:27

And if you’re like dealing with 2, 3, clients, actual paying clients in a month, how many people would you actually deal with or just prospects? Roughly?

Mohit: 00:33:35

So, we do end up having probably around maybe 20 odd conversations, we end up having 20 odd people might end up reaching to us.

Ravi: 00:33:44

So that’s almost 200 to 250 in a year. That’s that’s a huge number. Yeah, that’s so that’s a great point that Mohit makes here, that don’t think of your references only coming from your clients. Every prospect who comes and talks to you can possibly be a great referrer for your business for which you have to even give them value even though they are paying us zero. Right. And so, let’s talk about how you drive that value, right? So, you talk about doing a quick slide deck review, even if you know they’re just a prospect. So, here you are doing a call with a prospective start-up. And you have what a one-hour call with them? (Mohit: Yeah, typically) in one hour now, how do you approach trying to quickly understand what they are trying to tell and, you know, giving them feedback? What’s your, you know, if you break down that approach, what would be some of the things that you will try and do?

Mohit: 00:34:37

I think a large part of this Ravi is basically, many of these many of the decks that we come across, have very standard problems I think I can look at, you can send a cross, you can tell that you have a deck and I can choose not even look at it, I can tell you 10 things that will fix it. And because those standard problems across all the decks, right? So, even if I don’t look at it, I know that most decks have this problem, And so that makes it very easy because we know that, for example, titles are mostly wrong.  People don’t get the right titles. So, even if you make suggestions on title, they suddenly realize that, ‘hey, this makes so much more sense’,  we should do this.  And this can add so much value to the deck right then and there, that the story comes up more clearly, we tell them not to follow templates you know, again, this standard list of things, we ,many people are so confused about how to make a deck, they go on on the web, look for a template,  replicate their deck into a template, and try to put out the story there, but never comes out. And hence, when you tell them that forget about the deck, don’t start from the sorry, forget about template, don’t start from template. Here is how you have to think about  the story that you want to tell the, you know the questions that your audience has, and then think of the answers so we don’t have the answers for them. But we can make them think we can give them a framework to a think  So it’s largely helping them tell that “hey,” you know, standard things will go like “cut down a lot of text, make it more visual,” you know, “start with the title put the titles.” “let the story flow  form titles and then see what what data has to go in the slide.” And many times people confuse between whether they’re pitching to a customer or to investor because the while they think of making a deck for one specific use case, they end up you know, the language that they use in ta deck sometimes confuses whom they’re talking to.  Right from the the cover slide, somebody might say something on the, a tag on a cover slide, if you read and if you just think about the tagline for a second, you will realize that the while the deck is for investor, the tagline is for the customer, then you tell them small things they are able to really fine. fix some of these, you know, these are all low hanging fruit. Basically So I think in that one, hour call typically do this. But how it is structured is would give them 15 minutes to sort of tell the story that they want to tell to us the way they pitch the deck that gives us some more specific context about their business and their deck and what they’re trying to say. And then you start you know partly some of this standard list of things that we can we can find wrong in the deck that we can tell them to fix and some ideas which might occur at that point time of how if I have to fix this in next one hour  what things I’ll fix, you know, again, low hanging fruit, but something more specific to their deck. That’s, those are the suggestion that we give them.

Ravi: 00:37:26

That is so good. Yeah. I mean, it comes from multiple, I think positive things. One is that the desire to give you know, even without having anything come back in return, I think that that’s a great thing, just paying it forward or giving it and also the experience and the expertise from years of having looked at something just helping you Right, so ,ya, the lesson for I think anyone who’s trying to pick this up in becoming better storytellers is that keep honing your craft. Whatever that may be. Of course, it may be storytelling as it is for you and me, but it could be any other craft but keep honing it and then don’t worry about saying “hey every interaction, I should be getting something back for the craft,” no, just you know, keep giving it and then the references will come. So that’s, that’s great Mohit, I think very useful, you know, practice that you have. And you that’s how instead of 20 to 30, you’re creating 200 to 250 reference you’ve 10x to your referrers in a year. So that I think that that’s how you create your army of referrers I love that. All right, so now let’s come to your the main one, which is you know, now you have a person who’s a client and you have a client engagement going, how do you break that down? What are the process steps that you take and then we’ll kind of you know, maybe work through each of the steps?  So, what are the key broad big buckets?

Mohit: 00:38:47

So, so see one is a process is quite messy.  I think that’s how we feel. I think the first half of the process extremely messy, where we start feeling very uncomfortable, you know, we really feel that we, we not sure if we will be able to bring out the right story in this deck. And I think that happens quite often nor let’s say almost in every deck that we make. Early, in our early days, I think we used to feel very uncomfortable the feeling we used to  feel like, Oh, this won’t work out. But I think over time, we’ve gotten used to that. the we realize that this is the nature of our work, probably because we have come to realize that whenever we had this feeling of this one won’t happen well, the deck actually comes out much better. That probably is a sign that there is a lot of mess in the way the information is currently presented. And hence it seems like it’s a it’s a whole mess. It’s not going to work out. It will be very hard to uncover the story. But I think those are the ones where we add maximum amount of value. So, when we are not having this feeling rather now  we get uncomfortable that this one is going to be a not much value added from our side. But in terms of process, I think we still struggle a lot in terms of how do we how do we get someone else to do the same thing that we do. We have been constantly trying to document it our end. So that one day we can publish it so that more people can do the deck. But I think I’ll just walk you through on how we do it, maybe that helps someone. So, So typically the process is around four to six weeks long for us to do one deck. The way it starts is is we asked them for all the existing information, any existing collaterals any industry articles, any reports that, you know, that might be helpful for us to sort of like a primer for us  to get to know their business and industry.  And the second thing that we do is we do an interview with them, which is like a one to two-hour kick-off call. So, we have prepared a set of questions for safe deck as well as for investor deck, that we start asking them. You know these are basically starting point questions where, which allows us to sort of uncover various various areas of the business. And from then on whatever are the answers we follow on further probably that’s where our understanding of business comes in or our ability to quickly understand something and ask more questions round it comes in. That. So, because we believe that most information is required for us to make a deck is typically in the head of the founder itself, so, so we do even if we don’t look at anything else, and only work with the founder and the information that he has in his head, I think we have 90% of things covered already. So, so our job is to really uncover what’s there in his head and articulate what he’s trying to say. So, we start with this interview, I think with this interview, it’s like dump taking dump off his head. Now we have large amount of universe of data. So once you have this, once this data gathering is done, we go back to reading a little bit more on the industry, the competition websites, in any other industry reports in other article, that we can come across. So once with this data gathering is done, then you spend a lot of time to put our head around this. That’s where we start sort of creating a mental model of the business where we are trying to see what are the various pieces of this engine, the business is,  and how does it work with each other? What are the, who are the various stakeholders and how does engage with each other, who sends what to whom? Where’s the value added? How does the money come back? You know, and how the various product lines sort of fit in all that. Basically, we realized that it’s once we are clear about this information, it becomes like a one mental model, which we can explain to someone and someone, someone can get what you’re doing. Many times, many people feel that they go through the entire deck or entire pitch, but they can’t figure out what, what the company does.  It’s like, you know, “Karte kya ho bhai?”  So, I think we spent a lot time trying to figure that out that exactly, very, very clearly. What are you doing, because when people tell, especially when founders tell, I see there is a lot of overlap in the way they’re telling, telling things and the you know, so we spend a lot of time putting information in different buckets. Thinking more clearly, many times I think visual thinking is also wanted to also end up using which is basically simply sketching out things when you’re putting out thinking about you know, how does money flow from the customer to the company, and if there are multiple stakeholders. So just to give example, let’s say if I have to think about Amazon, I can start thinking about what does Amazon really do, right? So I’m thinking of Amazon as one sort of a place where a lot of shopkeepers can come in, they can put up a shop on on Amazon,  and a lot of customers can come in, they can now start, you know, on the layer that Amazon is created, they can start looking at all these shops and a lot of these products that these shops have, and when they buy, now, suddenly Amazon on one side, sends a confirmation to the customer and on one side sends a confirmation to the shopkeeper and said this product has to be sent to this customer.  Now they’re continually tracking all of this information. And now the shopkeeper is going to send this in this product to the customer. And the he’s going to pay the money the money is going to come to this delivery boy the delivery through and deposit money is some central location,  and then it has with the Amazon and Amazon’s going to keep cut of it and keep and send some money back. Now, when you can think of this structure clearly, then suddenly we can see where are the gaps in someone who’s telling us how it works. And even if I start thinking about, if there are two other ways to make money that lets say Amazon has,  then we can think about how does that fit? How does this money flow from the customer again,  to something else? Or how does the money flow from merchant to a, to Amazon? So, we can look at all of that becomes very clear for us. That’s the second part of the data gathering we we sought this information out, put it all in a very structured manner. So we end up using tools like a workflowy, which is simply a bullet list,  which helps us think more clearly and structured. Once we have this universe of information, we have been able to put our head around this whole information. I think sometimes stories start emerging, we start realizing what is uh, what is that we really want to say if you have to say this enough. few words, what is this? What is the story we want to convey? So, the way we look at it is we starts bottoms up, where we look at all the information down on the ground and see if they can, a story can emerge out of it. That’s bottoms up, and then we switch back to top down,  and then start thinking because we have a good sense of now the entire universe of information. They start saying, Okay, let me think of this, this narrative can start saying this, does this make sense?  And then because we have all this information in our head at the back of our mind, we can quickly validate those narratives and say, does this make sense? No, no, because if I say this, my that piece about how I make money would not fit in here.  So we, so we start going top down. Sometimes this narrative emerges when we are looking at all this data. Sometimes we have to forcefully spend time and think about what the narrative could be. And once we have this narrative, we start detailing it out, which is basically mapping the top down and bottoms are very detailed out step by step what the flow of my story will be what do I say first? What do I say second? What do I say third? And what supporting data points do I have, from all the universe of data that I had?  So, I start plugging some of these data points, some things under these, each of these points of the story. And once you have this story, I think we work with the client. Share, this is what we have done, they are able to really start seeing how we’re thinking about their business. You know, and we are able to discuss certain areas that we probably would not have focused enough which requires more attention.  And certain areas, which we might have given more attention to when we’re not right, maybe we’re not important enough. And something we might have missed and all. So, we, we discuss with the client of our thought process and they they kind of are able to share what they feel about it. And we work like a team and iterate on the narratives a few times. And once you have narratives in place, I think then the the process of visualization and design starts then you start sketching out the slides,  we we make slides we use this app called OneNote

Ravi: 00:47:05

So, I’m going to request you to just hold on for that one. (Mohit: Sure) So, let’s kind of dig a little deeper in the narrative part itself, because it’s fascinating how you kind of talk through the process, we’ll come to the visual space after this. So, some things that I really, you know, found striking when you were talking Mohit; One is, I love when you’re saying, when we are not comfortable with the story, that’s a good sign. And I think that’s a great takeaway for anybody who gets stuck in creating a story. And it may be of course, people who are working on start-up decks, but it could also be somebody who’s a consultant working on a, you know, an industry report for a client, an analyst who’s you know, studying the financial markets for a particular company, or it could be a business guy who’s you know, trying to understand his business. Of course, in that case, they they know the lay of the land better, but it’s okay to get stuck in your story because it’s meant to be messy, and especially if you’ve got a ton of information. It’s a great point to making that you know, if it is messy, it’s a good sign. Because that means your audience is also going to struggle to get it, which is where the skill of the storyteller becomes powerful and useful. So, I loved that point. The other, you know, I think fascinating insight was to understand the business through the money flow. And it seems it’s one of those beautiful insights, which is obvious in hindsight. But you know, when you actually think about it, ha, I never thought about it like that. to kind of know, almost draw it like you’re a child and saying “achha paisa” So, this guy gets a money, then he pays and then he pays him. This is how it’s going. So, I think that’s a very powerful way to simply understand the business. I think. I’m sure you’ve had some interesting conversations with founders, where they themselves probably get some insight by explaining it to you anything that strikes you or that you remember.

Mohit: 00:48:53

Yeah, I mean, it does strike me that many, many founders do come up and tell us that I’m in now we have had many conversations where somewhere in the middle of our engagement. We can either see it on the face of the client,  that they they’re seeing it for the first time, they are realizing they have never thought of their businesses is like this. And I think almost in every interaction or at least 80% of our interactions. Clients do tell us that. This is a very interesting way of looking at our business.  And we haven’t ever looked at this. And I think that’s why did they end up wanting to use a lot of this insight from the deck to make their website to make some other collaterals. Because they suddenly like this clarity. One, that’s one that you know, I’m reminded of is a, Instamojo,  Sampat, the founder of Instamojo. We were in the middle of an engagement, I think at one point. He was one of those who said that, that Mohit, we have been running this business for seven, eight years,  but it’s only now we have understood that what do we really do? So, So, I think that yeah, I think it’s, it’s again, I mean, the information is already there. They’re headed they already know it.  They’ve been doing it, probably subconsciously. But it just said, somebody from outside like us comes in and helps them articulate what they’re doing. And they suddenly feel more empowered, that now they can tell more easily because otherwise it was working fine. When they sell products to customer customers are happy, all that is working fine. But when they start telling someone, it all falls apart, somebody doesn’t get it, why it is working? And I think they just feel empowered when they they can see that, “hey, here’s a very simple way that I can tell my story to someone.”

Ravi: 00:50:38

Fabulous Ya. So, it reminds me of that quote by Ben Horowitz right. I’m sure you know that story is not marketing. The story is the strategy. And your what you’re doing is actually helping them clarify their company’s strategy, which is I think, very, very high, high order high quality work. And so the we mentioned two things which was striking one is your discomfort at the beginning is actually a good sign that it’s going to be a good story, the focus on the money flow and really understanding what’s the value that’s added at each step. And the third thing that you talked about this interplay, this, this jugalbandi, between the bottom up and the top down approach, and you know the details, spending your time on the weeds, and also taking that helicopter ride up to say, ‘Hey, what’s the big picture story here?’ And that’s where the magic happens when you’re able to kind of try out various patterns and then say, ‘hey, this pattern seems to be fitting well but no, this this part is not fitting. Okay, let’s redo this part.’ So any instance or example that you remember of, you know, having gotten this pattern idea suddenly as an ‘aha’ moment ‘aha’, because that’s that’s the the fun part of us readers, you know, getting that pattern. Any incidents or moments that you remember from from doing that?

Mohit: 00:51:51

Yeah, I mean, again, I think I’ll be shy of sharing whatever goes on in history like but I think because Instamojo had published an article sharing this part of story I am okay sharing this. I think Again, so we had been working on Instamojo for for a while.  And then one of the big questions was that who exactly so Instamojo just a quick background for someone who doesn’t know is like, is a online portal where somebody can go up and start their own store. Very similar to Shopify  that is more popular, but you know, they are more more specific to the let say the Indian businesses, , so, so, the question that we’re trying to answer, as a process of the storytelling was, who are the clients of Instamojo really and anybody who’s trying to start their business online?  And during this process of discussion, who is it really Who is it? Is it a Paanwala,  or is it a Is it a general store? Or is somebody who’s trying to set up a fashion blogger on Instagram? Who is it really whom we are targeting? And the answer really was all of these because we had all kinds of examples. And potentially could have all of these kinds of people on Instamojo. And but how do we explain this to investor? And I think this just occurred to one of us in the team, that the question was that, okay, let’s look at who is not, let’s say which kind of businesses we cannot serve. And we were realizing that there is really not no kind of businesses we cannot serve. And the insight was basically that there is no offline business today. So, this deck actually does start from talking about how the age of offline businesses is over for good. there is not often in business at all. And and the slide that follows basically talks about how some businesses are less offline or less online.  But every business is online, somebody might be simply listed on Google, which is almost everyone. And somebody might be on JustDial somebody might be on Amazon, somebody might be on Instagram, for example. Or somebody might have their own website, but everybody is online, and hence they are all trying to be more and more online for various reasons.  And that’s where Instamojo comes in. And that’s that was really for us. And I think for hopefully for Sampat also was something that kind of really resonated with all of us. And this made all the sense. And suddenly it felt like all the pieces have fallen in place. And I think that became the anchor for our entire story and we built up everything from there.

Ravi: 00:54:24

That’s an amazing example. Yeah, I love that. No offline business, even the Paanwala is in online business, and yeah, you’re right. So everybody takes you know, either payments or they are, they’re up there. They have some reviews. (Mohit: Or they’re on they might be on WhatsApp, right? That’s also online) That’s also online. Absolutely. Yeah. So, it’s Instamojo is one of those guides who’s helping the vast legion of businesses to transition from this world of offline only to a world of offline plus online business fascinating. That’s I think that’s the magic is once you have given that insight, then I think the rest of it is is important, but easier is my sense. (Mohit: That true) Would you agree?

Mohit: 00:55:06

Yeah, that’s true. that is completely I think we feel this almost all the time. I just meant, we have found that anchor for us  the story,  we keep struggling, because everything seems like different pieces are not part of one big thing. (Ravi: Yeah). And once you find that anchor, it suddenly start falling in place, we start feeling like, you know, everything is moving with this big engine. So yeah, you’re right. That’s how it feels.

Ravi: 00:55:30

What is Mohit, a better way for you, in your experience to find that anchor insight? Is it a reflection where you you just think about it, maybe you know, when you’re walking or when you’re jogging, or whatever? Or is it more discussion, talking to other people brainstorming?

Mohit: 00:55:47

I mean, I would love to figure out what it is.  But I think it’s a mix of all of these things.. I think having discussions with people forces you to think more clearly  because if I might talk to you, it might you might ask questions, which I might not have thought of, and suddenly that makes me think more clearly and question myself.  That helps you think very clearly, that’s a forced way of thinking more clearly because you uncover certain gaps in the thinking. But I think most of the times the story gets uncovered, you know, while you’re not not at work, I think most of times, I think, I think I’ll say it’s a mix again. So, I think sometimes, but I think it’s very important to have it off time  to let the stories seep in the data seep in.  And it might come back to you while you’re not doing work, and it might come back to you when you’re doing work,  but I think I will never be able to do it. If I don’t have that, you know, off time from the, from the project, and that’s why many clients want the deck almost every time he wants a deck  yesterday, but but we tell them we can’t do it because we know that it won’t take less than four weeks in any way because it does take time for us to sleep over the of the idea  and information and  hence it takes time.

Ravi: 00:57:05

Do you have shower moment kind of things, epiphanies?

Mohit: 00:57:08

I sometimes do. Ya,  I mean, I may not mean shower, but  it does happen all the time where I think of that, hey, I want to take a good note of this because this seems like a anchor  or close to that anchor for my story.

Ravi: 00:57:23

And for me too, right. So just, you know, comparing notes here, reflection really matters. Of course, I work alone, I don’t have a team and I sometimes miss that. So, I’m really looking forward to this podcast by the way to fulfill my need for discussion. But so, I hear a lot, I read a lot, I see a lot and then I need to process it right. So, I call it the three R’s strategy. So, you need to read and reading means or all kinds of information input you need to reflect, and then you need to finally write. So the reflection part  is incredibly important. And I have realized that, you know, you can’t, you know, leave it vaguely that I’ll reflect at any point. So, at least whenever time permits, and I try and go for a morning cycle ride, and that’s where I almost sometimes give myself a problem. Okay, this client meeting is coming up. And here is a problem now go. And it’s almost like I have told my brain to focus on that problem. Invariably, I will get something at the end of that, ride. So, I think reflection is…

Mohit: 00:58:20

No you are right, actually I do that too many times when I will go for a cycle ride too actually And give myself this problem of saying that, no, I am struggling finding this anchor for the story. I want to think about it. And I just go and sometimes it does come sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes it comes at different time. But I think that’s the cycling and thinking  in the back of the mind  has a role to play, even if it doesn’t come at that point of time. And I really like this concept of reading, writing, and then reflecting. I think for us,Yeah, so for us, I think the writing also happens with the Visual Thinking  so many times, instead of just writing many times when we start sketching a slide, or a concept, it does make us think clearly because we can now visually think these various pieces how they’re moving and what you’re thinking what what is the gap – basically  allow us to properly uncover a gap in our thinking?

Ravi: 00:59:14

That’s a fascinating point. I’ve never thought, of course I’ve I do that obviously, when I’m getting stuck, I’ll I’ll try and you know, just sketch it on a piece of paper. That’s what you’re trying to tell them. Yay ya, Absolutely. And so, because in your mind, it will be all over the place in on a piece of paper, when you see the pieces how the pieces interact, it becomes easier. So so, great. So now if we come back to the, you know, your process, you’ve done the brainstorming the reflection, you’ve come up with, let’s say, the anchor, and you now have a broad sense of the narrative. Now moving on to the slides. How would you describe your process for that?

Mohit: 00:59:47

So, we basically starts sketching the slide, that’s the first step. I think for us every step, whether it is drafting a narrative, or sketching the slides, or designing the slides, all of these steps are actually in parallel while we’re building the deck in parallel, they’re also helping us discover the gaps because when you move from story to sketch  the sketch being a visual format, it allows us to uncover some gaps. It allows us to uncover the gaps and then fix those gaps. Similarly, when we move to design, we again realize there are some gaps in our thinking and fix those gaps. That’s, that’s happening in parallel. But what we do in sketching is basically, now we have this story pieces, we’ll look at each of them. And, again, let us absorb the whole story once  and then start sketching the slides out. What what I do what what works really well for me is I use this app called OneNote. on iPad,  I use a iPencil and iPad to sketch because it becomes really easy for me to edit and replicate components and even share with my team. But so, I make these blocks which are slides. And so for each section, I’ll put a section slide and then to the right side of it, I’ll keep putting all the slides which fall in the section and then under the section slide, I’ll put the second section and then to the right of it again, all the slides that go into that section. That way I have like six or seven or eight sections, vertically. And then horizontally, I have all these slides which fall under each of these sections. And that’s where I’ll start sketching these things out. And iPad again, allows me to cut paste and move around and add a slide between two slides, or remove something. So so that’s how I do my sketching. And once we have the sketch, I run the sketch by, you know, someone my team, that, again, if there are something that I have missed out on,  they can uncover that. And once we have sort of decently approved sketches, we again share with the client, client gives some inputs, they are able to start visualizing how we’re thinking of the deck. And they again, help us uncover some some gaps. Once we have to a few iterations we have to seen like the sketches are in place parallely we start the design process to someone in Our team will pick up the sketches will explain them what we’re really trying to say on this each slide. Again, the process of explaining them, we discuss and figure out if there are some gaps and we fix those sketches, they will take up the sketches and not just replicate them into design but the sketch becomes like an input for them to think what you’re trying to say.  Instead of me just telling them and telling them plus giving my sketch and that becomes like a double layered input for them. they use these to re-visualize the slide  if they want to, and then design the slide and that’s where a finals decks are taking shape. And over time, we have like the whole deck which comes out

Ravi: 01:02:49

Lots of fascinating points ya Mohit. So, one is I just love this idea of seeing the visual is not just an addendum or you know, okay, we have done to the narrative now the story is locked. Now just you know, convert it into visuals, you’re actually making the visual process a very active part of the storytelling process of the story narrative processing, it’s a great way to stress test your narrative, is it really holding up and I think that’s I love that concept. And you know, throughout the point whenever you’re explaining it to other people, you’re constantly testing it out, which is which is great because you’re constantly then strengthening, tying up the loose ends making sure that the links are going well, which is great. OneNote, I would normally have thought people would use you know, PowerPoint or pen and paper. One note is, is a very interesting choice. And if you have a visual example of you know, how this looks, I was trying to you know, picture because I know broadly how OneNote looks, but it might be useful and, you know, maybe I can share it as a link separately, not really necessarily required, but in case you have something would be great. But that that was I think a very cool point. And..

Mohit: 01:04:00

I’ll answer this question of this OneNote. Basically, I think so, OneNote is definitely a not a usual choice for somebody who works with start-ups It comes from Microsoft. So I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t go to Microsoft to look for a tool that I can use. But interestingly, there’s nothing which even comes close to OneNote. So, few reasons. I think one biggest reason is I think, the unlimited canvas. So, I can create this to as much width  and as much length so both sides, it’s unlimited. And then it has, it’s very versatile in terms of I can sketch, I can type in text, I can copy paste images to it, so, it just works very smoothly in that sense.

Ravi: 01:04:44

Fascinating. Also love this point where you say that you actually run your sketch by the client, which is slightly risky strategy, right? Because the client may say, ye, this is not complete, or how do you do that? How do you manage that part?

Mohit: 01:04:56

So I think so I think rather it helps us, it’s not may not be that much of a risk because it allows us to be able to showcase our thinking  of how we think of making the deck,  the client, and they can point out the errors in our gap in our thinking much earlier. So that, you know, it saves our effort on designing  for us. And although they think it delays the project, it puts makes us do more iterations on the on the design side. So, I think it’s more helpful if you can share the sketch. So, I mean, we really haven’t faced much of the problem. Sometimes there are clients who are more finicky. And so, I think the good times never have given us a problem looking at all of this messy stuff, which is happening in the background.  It’s only a only the not so good clients, probably.

Ravi: 01:05:49

No, but It’s a great point you make. I think it’s a it is probably risky not to do it. And, you know, I’m realizing the thing in my question, which is that if you don’t do it, and you end up spending a lot of time and effort in creating beautiful slides, which then the client says “nahi, ye to chahiye hi nahi mujhe” I didn’t want this at all  then that a bigger risk so it’s, it’s great. It’s very rare though, but for a designer or a consultant or anybody to it’s almost like a chef telling a customer that “hey, come in and see my dish half half cooked. Is this okay? Is this what you want?” And

Mohit: 01:06:19

Ya, I mean I’m not sure. I mean, I think we, we probably I have no background of having worked with any design agency.  So to say,  and probably whatever we are doing is we are learning first-hand and trying it out. So probably we are slow in that learning hence, but at the same time, I think we are discovering…

Ravi: 01:06:40

No, I think what you’re doing is smart. And so, there is a fabulous video by Steve Jobs, and I’ll put a link to that in the podcast, you know, comments where he talks about how Pixar is different from most of the other companies. And he talks about saying that in animation, you cannot shoot or you cannot animate more than what’s required as against normal life you know, action movies. So, in a live action movie, let’s say it’s a one and half hour movie. They end up shooting maybe three, four or five hours, because the actor is going to be there only once. So, you take five takes or whatever you take extra. And then you shoot a lot of extra footage, and then you edit, edit, edit. So, because you know, you can’t get the actor again, on the other hand in animation, it’s very, very expensive to, you know, to render the level of detail that they do. So, if they end up making an animated movie for even 10 minutes or 15 minutes more that extra ten minutes will be very expensive, so they need to know the story really well. And so he talks about how Walt Disney himself had, you know, found a solution to that problem where they will create a story and then they will do this very scratch, kind of an output, you know, rough drawing scratch voices, and they will actually try and show it as a movie to an audience. And then they will say or the story is not working you know, it’s it’s falling apart here. This is not a good segue blah, blah, blah. And then they will keep reworking the story till they get it right. And that’s the reason why Pixar you know, pretty much all their movies do so well. So, you’ve kind of internalize that lesson, I think and you’re doing that, you know, sharing of the, the sketch even before the final deck. I think that’s a great.

Mohit: 01:08:16

very interesting, very interesting. So that’s something I didn’t know about. That’s very interesting

Ravi: 01:08:22

I’ll share that. It’s a, it’s a; Yeah, it’s a fascinating insight. And so, I think all of this and also the point of, you know, you’re not treating the design person, the person who’s actually creating the slide as just a person say, “hey, please take this and create the slide exactly as I want.” You’re giving him input and saying, Okay, now you take your call, you’re the visual guy, you’re the designer, how will you will retell this story? So, I think a ton of insights from from that section, too. Do you guys then once, let’s say he is kind of completed, I’m guessing there will be, you know, some back and forth and some finalization, from a visual point of view, is there any other step that’s remaining?

Mohit: 01:09:02

Not really, it’s just a few rounds of iteration.  So when we have five, six slides, which we like after some few internal iterations, we share it with the client to run it by them to  see if this is the visual language we’re thinking. And again, if they kind of feel okay, which most of our clients are, typically are. And then it’s, you know, when you continue building in the same direction.  So, I think our own standard of design so high that most designers, most of most of our clients never have a problem with the design quality anyway,

Ravi: 01:09:33

I can imagine. And then now let’s say you’ve completed and you shipped the final product. Do you guys get involved in some way in the delivery also? I guess not. Right?

Mohit: 01:09:44

Yeah, we don’t. We don’t. Our job is basically to just put the story. , bring on story and put it in a structured format of presentation and hand it over to the client.

Ravi: 01:09:56

And what So, you know, just to for the listeners, broadly, two types of decks, you know, decks that exist on a spectrum. So, on one end of the spectrum is a deck that is supposed to be read by itself. It’s something that’s typically emailed. Let’s say to an investor in this case and the investor opens up on his or her phone or, or desktop or whatever, and then flips through the pages and the, you know, the writing has to tell the story on it. So, there’s nobody talking about it. So, there’s an email deck to be read. On the other end of the spectrum is a presentation where the person is there very much there either physically or virtually, and taking the audience through the slides. So, in your case, you’re creating primarily the email.

Mohit: 01:10:37

That’s right. In most cases, that’s what happens but people do end up using our decks for in-person meetings also. So, what we end up doing actually is creating two levels of slides within the same slide. , we make the slides in a way where if somebody you know, skimming through the slides, there is just the right amount of information he can see and skip the all the detail,  and when someone is reading through the slides and want to spend more time. He can actually find the details there itself, but it is designed in a way the contrast between the two sets of information so much that he knows this is detail and can skip it. And everything else will give me just enough information. So, if the same deck is presented on a projector, then he would not be bothered by or distracted by all those details,  But when he’s reading the deck, he can choose to go and detail and understand all of those points with the, with the details written there.

Ravi: 01:11:34

Ah, that is a fascinating point. Normally I would think of having two separate decks altogether. One for emailing and one for presenting. But you are doing is you are giving interesting via media which is have a single deck but use what I call visual hierarchy and what you are calling as the contrast between two sets of information, to make it work for both use cases, both reading and for watching as presentation, very interesting. All right. So that was very useful Mohit, in terms of understanding your process, all the key steps. I wanted to now talk about some specific types of information that slightly more difficult to present and whether you have any approach or something for that. So, for example, let’s say you’ve got a company who you’re trying to write a story for, which is quite a fairly technically difficult to understand product, you know, very esoteric, technological terms, etc. How do you try and you know, explain that in an easier way?

Mohit: 01:12:34

So, I feel that most concepts actually at a very fundamental level, they’re fairly simple to understand.  If you can, if you can break down the concept into a few pieces, I think most people can make sense of it. That’s what we have come to realize, I think what makes something look complex is typically because you know, somebody is trying to say too many things. And those too many things  can wait out for some time. And if you if you build out the complex system in a way as layers, let’s say, where you explain the most fundamental layer to understand and you know, so to give example, let’s say, if I have to talk about Swiggy  as a company,  you might, it’s easier for someone to understand Swiggy as a, as a food delivery company,  Or even Uber as a taxi company. But if you start looking more closely, you know, because we know, now we know the narrative, we can think of the simple one. But let’s say if you have to understand Swiggy or Uber for that matter, we’ll start seeing them as more of a transportation company right they do a lot of other stuff. For example, Uber would do pool  and they will do five different kinds of cars and they will do intercity and intercity. And now Uber in some some countries is also doing pickup and drop service like Swiggy does  locally, right. So, so they become like a transportation layer. And but if you have to know explain the transportation layer to someone it becomes very hard, but what what we see why why we are able to understand Swiggy or Uber for that matter is because we understand the first basically so we understand Swiggy as some Someone will pick up an order who has a bunch of guys with them. So they will once the order comes to so we can go to an App as a consumer, we can go to an app, post an order  from a hotel, or from a restaurant, they will send that order to some other guy who’s a delivery boy, he’ll go pick up the order from that place and send it to us. It’s a food delivery app. And then on top of that, you can say hey, by the way, now, we have all these people roaming around in the city, they can also help you pick up stuff from one person  to and drop it another person . And that’s how, if you understand this in layers, you’ll start understanding what Swiggy really is or any other business for that matter, right. So, so, I think in most cases, if you can break down into layers  anything, I think it becomes fairly simple to explain to anyone.

Ravi: 01:15:00

Interesting concept to use of layers instead of typically people will take component parts or process steps. A layer is a is a you know, instead of looking at it from individual separate parts. You are kind of thinking it was a multi-layer cake. So that’s very interesting. Any kind of esoteric example that you remember where somebody came to you with a and of course, it may be difficult for you to share the name of the company. But you know, what, what technique did you use to make it easier to be understood for the investors?

Mohit: 01:15:33

I think this happens quite often.  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to not just share the details, but I think I’ll be able to explain without really going in depth of what someone does. But we were recently working with a company which basically, basically what they do is they they leverage the local merchant in the rural area,  to deliver services and products to them, so that he can now help serve the customers in his area. Right. Now, this company has a very different approach. So, there are quite a few companies in this domain, but the company we’re working with has a quite a different approach on how they do it.  And because what they had is basically, they have a very open platform in which any company can come and sign up and submit their services,  which will go to this merchant, instead of this merchant, this company controlling all the services which are going to go to the merchant. So, so they’re like an app store, let’s say, where somebody can come and publish their app, which will be published to the merchant and our merchant can use this app to help people shop from the website. Now, I think there was we have come down to this understanding this clarity of how to explain this, like the way I explained to you I think, the first time and when they came in, they were trying to explain the whole concept.  It is it sound very messy to us. I mean, it was not very clear. And now, when we put it back like this to the company, they also kind of really like it and they have, they have adopted this approach.  Basically, what we had to do was basically cut down on a few things and say, we will not talk about these three things because they don’t, they’re not adding a lot of value. And he was this is not contributing significantly to your revenue. So maybe we can leave it out. And they said, that’s fine. that’s a that’s a good idea, we can leave it out. And we simplified a few terms like, they were using terms like our developer portal, which is basically a technical term for this. People, developers can come and use an API of a company and do something with that,  And we like sort of calling developer portal, why don’t you just call it a brand portal where brands are coming in publishing it like an app store, you know, maybe call the app store  where you come in publisher app. So just simplifying those terms, which are more easy to relate with, and cutting down on some of the scenes and keeping the whole model simple. I think so. So, I think that kind of helped us

Ravi: 01:17:58

That’s fascinating. I think that really explains. And so what, you know, for the listeners, what’s been used here is, I think, one of the most powerful techniques in storytelling, which is to try and come up with the right analogy. And the idea is that you have something which is technical, but what is it that you can connect it or make it relatable to the audience in terms or concepts that are known to the audience, and that’s a constant tussle and we always, you know, in our mind, we try to kind of think of it but a storyteller will try and do it more deliberately. Add the value add that as is, you know, Mohit can be really huge because it makes it easier for the audience themselves to understand. Right. So, for the start the founders themselves to understand, I think there’s a huge value. And so, I think technical concepts, I think analogies are really powerful. That’s a great example there Mohit. A couple of other points, if you have numbers, so traction numbers, or you know, you know, scale increase, decrease any tips or thoughts on showing numbers better?

Mohit: 01:19:03

I think those are simpler ones, maybe I think, though most people do get that wrong. But I think it’s fairly simple for us. And so Okay, so basically, for us anything is driven by the, the primary story, we’ll look at what we’re really trying to say in the whole deck. And we’ll look at what we are really trying to say, in each section.  And that sort of drives the the content of the slide the message of the slide. Once you clear about the message of the slide that we want to say It really just allows us to figure out what to what to bring attention to. So, when we’re presenting data, many times, the client will say, “hey, let’s put this data chart of let’s say how my number of apps grew”,  number of downloads grew, or my how, a number of merchants on the platform grew. And we’re like, what are you really trying to say? So, you’re putting this graph, but what do you really want to say? Because in their head, the, the, the, the takeaway is obvious,  but mostly the audience, for the audience, the takeaway is not obvious, right? So, when they look at the graph, they are saying that this means that you know, we have been growing so fast or the pace of growth is is what is coming out of this, but it is not coming out. They feel it’s coming out because they already know the story. So, we, we make sure that one we uncover what are you really trying to say? What’s the key message of the of the graph of the data that you’re trying to show and then make sure that use our visual abilities graphic designer abilities to sort of emphasize that point to bring attention to that point. So if I’m only focusing on on the, if I want to bring attention to the speed of it, I will maybe put an arrow which is going growing very fast on top of a bar chart,  if my objective is to bring attention to the last but the latest data points, I will color it differently versus the other ones. Right. So that’s how we’ll use a graphic design as a tool to enhance that communication.

Ravi: 01:21:03

That is so insightful Mohit. I think. I cannot stress on that enough that numbers itself by itself, don’t tell stories you have to find the story behind the numbers. And to really the the right word you use there was a message to try and find the message that you want to highlight. And then everything is going to be in service of that message. The right visuals you would use, what will you highlight? What will you push to the background? So yeah, I think that that’s a great point on on highlighting numbers. Another element of storytelling is telling what I call us human stories that there are of course numbers on saying okay so many merchants, so many now you have to tell the story of an individual merchant or an individual customer, or sometimes the story of the founder, founder or founders themselves, how do you approach that?

Mohit: 01:21:55

So, those also the, so those are again, we look at as tools that we have available that we can use in our deck. Right. So, we don’t go by deciding we have to use it because we have it, we look at what purpose does it serve. So for example, if I need to bring out the idea that this founder has spent a lot of years in this industry, or they have, you know, really built this grounds of they have spent time understanding the by being the doing everything with their hands in this industry, then I would maybe use the founder story in that way, so that the story highlights those points, they have done this, . Similarly, if I need to, if I feel that the product is very hard to explain, or maybe the value proposition is very hard to explain, because the value proposition is not coming out so much clearly in the numbers. And that’s when we might end up using the customer stories because as soon as somebody relates to the story, it becomes more clear for them to be able to see the non-quantitative parts the benefits of the product value proposition. So, though that’s that’s how we decide whether you want to use it or not. The weight of representation, again, is driven by the fact that what is that we really want to bring out, typically capturing, highlighting those specific areas  that we think are important to bring out. Whether it’s a, the founder having worked in a specific company has to has to come out or, you know, they haven’t spent many years doing it has come out. Or the founder, the two founders, knowing each others for many years, does that have to come out? So, depending on what has to come out, the visuals are just a tool for us to bring that part out of the story.

Ravi: 01:23:44

Superb Ya. So, again, for me, the connect that happens with normal business storytelling is that highlight what is variance from the norm. So, what do I mean by that the norm, is the regular, the usual, the average. So, if you’ve got a founder who doesn’t necessarily have a very extraordinary background, who doesn’t have necessarily, let’s say, more experience than other typical founders, or who doesn’t have any, you know, patents or whatever to his credit, then maybe there’s no major story to be told. But if you find that the founder is a person who’s got a great differentiated story, His story is a variance from the norm of other founders. And I think that’s a great point to highlight that. So that’s, I think, a great point. you made and the second one, I was saying that, you know, if you have a product that is slightly difficult to understand, nothing makes it easier than a human story. And, you know, tell me the story of one consumer who’s actually benefited real consumer, if possible, and that really makes it and this I find this is very useful for anybody who’s in technology. Because in technology, you’re almost always talking in, you know, the technical terms, and you’re sometimes far removed from the end user or the end customer. So, I think tell it in in the form of the impact or the benefit for the customer, it’s a great way to make it easier for the audience to understand. So, these are very useful Mohit, I think, all these points that you mentioned. Now, let’s say there’s a start-up founder or a sales leader who doesn’t have the time or ability to engage Deck Rooster, what can they do? Of course, you know, the all these tips are there, but if you are them and let’s say they have a critical presentation or meeting coming up next week, they’ve got about a week to make it What would you advise them to do? What is the approach you would advise them to take?

Mohit: 01:25:40

That’s interesting question. So, I think what I would tell them is so, so I think one is, if they have already spent time making the deck a few times a few iterations, that puts them in a good position to be able to really do to make use of it,  the best way to make it better because if somebody has not done the deck actually and they have to the first time they’re making the deck for that purpose, , I don’t think any of the inputs can really help them because they really have to, you know, sort of let all this information that they have seep into them. And so process of making the presentation sort of forces that seeping in happen and once you have this information in the That’s when you are in a position to basically start crafting a better narrative. Now what I would say once you have gone through this iteration a few times yourself, and then you making a deck or say, even if you’re making this the first time, let’s say, what I would say is to start thinking about the audience first and say,  who is my audience? And what is one thing that I want to really tell them? So, if they have to go away from my presentation, or my pitch, what is it, I want them to move away? And how do I want them to tell to someone else what they have? What is the takeaway, in many sales calls in many sales processes, also, the sale doesn’t happen with a meeting that you’re having typically happens when this guy that you spoke to, he goes and tells someone, some other stakeholders in the company, right? So, you have to really empower this guy to become your brand ambassador,  or your, the flag bearer of your message. for that the message has to be simple enough. So, you have to think about it if you have I mean, the common word for This could be lets say elevator pitch. But let’s say if you, here’s a guy that you have in front of you, and what does he feel? What does he believe? And what is that you want to tell him? Right?  If you can nail down the message that you want to tell him? Now, from there on, you can start thinking about, okay, if I want to tell him this, what are the hesitations that he has? So, make sure that in my message to hesitations are taken care also, because when I tell this message is going to go against this message because of these hesitations. So, my message plus answer to his hesitations probably becomes my anchor, forget about story for a moment and say, here is my message, right? Now, if you have to tell that message, and you have more time to expand that message to say, here is how I will say it. State it, like statement number one, what will you really say? statement two, statement three, this kind of become your titles for the slides,  right? So, don’t think of any templates. Think of these as slides, each slide having a message. So, if you’re entire message can be conveyed by 15 sub messages, that’s all you should think of is what are those 15 sub messages that you only tell him in a certain order that at the end of this 15 messages, he kind of believes, or at least he gets a message right? Now, you can say that, you might tell the message,  but he might not believe in those messages, the sub messages, right. So, for each slide, the way we use each slide is that the message of the slide we put in the title and the data to back that message is, becomes the content of the slide, right? So, think of your slides as if somebody is skimming through it, then the title can do its job.  And they can, you know, get done with it in like couple of minutes, just going through the titles, and they get the story. But if they want to doubt, if they have doubt on any of the message, and if they want to spend more time, truly believing in what you say, they can look at the data in the slide,  and the slide data is continuously, supporting the message, right? So that’s how you should do Look at making the deck and not look at any template, I think, over time, the templates template will emerge and you can improve. And then you can look at once you have this base structure with you, then you can look at the template and say, “hey, my template says that I should cover about the opportunity also”, have I covered enough about the opportunity as Yeah, then you can go back and say, “Hey, 15 messages become 16 messages”,  Because I missed out opportunity. And I see that after my fourth message, the opportunity point becomes really critical to speak here. And then you go back template again and say, “Hey, templates say that I should talk about competition.”  Hey, I’m not talking to the competition here, or not talking enough. So that’s how you can look at you can look at templates and any others any anyone else’s deck to sort of verify whether you’re covering everything or not. But I think I think otherwise just go by look at what the core messages is and what are sub messages to convey that message.

Ravi: 01:30:28

That’s super Mohit. So, no, sometimes people think of templates as visual template. Of course, what you’re referring to here is the contents, template, and oh my god, every VC PE worth their salt will have some sort of a template right on their, on their site. And I’m sure a poor founder will say, Okay, first I have to talk about the opportunity, then I have to talk about ye. So, if you do that, then that’s not going to be a great story at all. So, I really like the way Mohit saying, you know, think through the story and write it down on paper. Do not use the template as a recipe book. It’s not a recipe book. It’s a checklist that at the end, you’re just checking to say, have I put all the ingredients that are relevant, and maybe one or two of the ingredients may not even be relevant for you, so don’t fuss too much. But to use it as a checklist, great point.

Mohit: 01:31:16

So, these templates, I have a I mean, other way to look at this is a think of your CV that all of us made the first CV that we made in our colleges.  You know, if you ask anyone, how did you make your CV in the college? The answer typically is that you know, you’ve picked up somebody . Yeah, that’s how we all did. And many times the mission of mission saying the hobbies have changed right? So that’s how we all made CV now see what, what if you look at it closely what really happens is those CV format are actually coming from employers or let’s say even if not coming from employer, they are very employee friendly. What I mean by saying that is basically they allow an employer to skim through hundred CV very quickly and say, “Hey, you don’t tell me your story. You don’t try to pitch to me as an employee of why you might be good for my company by just telling me you know, which school you went and how much marks you got.” I know which ones to pick up, right?  now that’s a very employer friendly format, what you want. What you want as an employee is basically you want to have something which is more employee friendly, only. I know some of you might be employers and you know, many of us come across once in a while this resume a CV which is, which is not like a sentence format. It just saves things in such a way Some story. Now it might be harder for us to go through hundreds of those, Ravi: Right) But it is very employee friendly. Now put yourself in the shoes of that employee when you’re pitching someone something, it could be a sales pitch or investor pitch. Well, what we’re doing by picking up somebody else’s template, or Airbnb deck,  which is very popular is basically we’re looking at something which works for someone else, replicating it,  most templates actually forget about Airbnb deck, but most templates that have come is basically they are very VC friendly,  in the sense that they will help a VC go through hundreds of pages and say, “hey, I’m a smart guy, you don’t have to explain things to me, you just tell me this 10 points and I’ll figure out whether you are, you know, worth the salt for me or not” well, but what you need to do as a as a founder is basically found a find a format which allows you to tell your story better. So, you know, look at what somebody is saying when you look at a template by a VC look at it in a way that “hey, okay, so this VC saying I want all this. Okay, I’ll think about it, but I have not been Give it all to you like it, right?” I’m going to make my own format.  I’m going to check that Oh, you care about competition? Let me think about whether competition makes sense my story or not, right? You care about the business model. Let me see if I’m covering business model enough or not, right? So, don’t go by any of that advice. don’t implement it basically  incorporate it. Right? So that’s how we look at the templates.

Ravi: 01:33:57

Don’t implement it in That’s a lovely line, don’t implement but incorporate the template using a checklist. I think that’s that is very, very powerful advice. It’s also it is not easier it is hard because it’s easier to say achha template just fill it up and then we are done. But I think your your work your hard work deserves a better story. So, I think it is worth to invest that extra time. And you will you will stand out in the eyes of the customer or the investor who’s over the audience might be. This is lovely Mohit, I wanna, you know, you’re kind of coming close to wrapping up Want to talk to you about? Who are some of the storytellers, the business investor other kinds of storytellers that you look up to in the world?

Mohit: 01:34:43

I don’t know. I mean, I, I don’t I’m not fan of anyone in the sense, I think but I, I love it Elon Musk, the way he,  he basically allows people to connect with such complex stuff like, you know, going to mass and all  or electric cars, which is not something which, which is very, let’s say consumerish, , in a sense. But he has been able to simplify those messages in such a way that we all feel excited about going to Mars. You know, and that’s the power of story because the way he tells him the narrative narrative,. It you can sort of resonate with that. Right. And I think it’s, it’s also part of whenever you come across Elon Musk, he never comes across someone who is very well crafted in his speech. you he is fumbling. Right? And ya, you have you have to be someone who seems like a real person., not like a super well-crafted person. I think that’s something that we consciously try to use in decks also we and this is something that we heard from though we knew from looking at Elon Musk, but, you know, one of the VCs tells me one on that, you know, whenever we look at a very well crafted deck, we suddenly become too conscious of it and say this, this deck is so well crafted, that there has to be loopholes. and this so we make sure that our decks they look very nice, but they don’t look like, like a work of art. Right?  They look messy enough to some extent. That seems real enough, right? So, I think we because when I started this I was not a graphic designers, formally. . I think that kind of worked in my favour.  You know, I’ve made probably a lot of mistakes from a graphic design perspective. But I think I looking back now I think it’s it is all good. So, to answer your question, I think coming back to it, I think Elon Musk is one guy that really fascinates me in terms of the way he’s able to connect all this complex stuff with people.  Yeah.

Ravi 01:36:50

Anyone else? It could be outside the business world also.

Mohit: 01:36:54

Nothing comes to my mind.  I think nothing comes to mind specifically, I think. I do, ya I think, this I mean, Steve Jobs and Elon Musk are more popular and more visible ones  there. Yeah, that’s all I can think of. I think Apart from that, now when you’re asking it, I think whenever I look at, you know, Shekar Gupta  who’s telling you stories on your friend, right, or, you know, John Oliver on, last week., I think I feel like all of them are great storytellers. Because whenever they’re putting together this videos, I think Because of their storytelling abilities, they’re able to figure out how to connect these complex subjects are talking about  simplify them  and build them layer by layer.  I think a lot of these also and even all I think a lot of these stand-up comedians, right.  Many of us guys are like, great storytellers. The concepts of storytelling are underlying in any of these things, whether it’s John Oliver or Shekar Gupta or any of these stand-up comedians, they all use the same concepts.

Ravi: 01:38:00

This Yeah, it strikes me so much Mohit because if you look at my website, of course, it’s due for an overall no but one of my original themes or you know, objectives was this you know, to try and study some of these guys and you’re right, if you go to Shekar Gupta, you go to Harsha Bhogle, you go to you know, guys who write about science Bill Bryson who writes brilliantly about science. Malcolm Gladwell writes about nonfiction, social science. All of these guys are great storytellers. And if you kind of unpack their techniques, you will pick up things that can be used in in regular business everyday work right. So, I think it’s fascinating. Any books or podcasts that have had a big influence on you Mohit. Books, podcasts videos?

Mohit: 01:38:44

Yeah, I think so. I really enjoy listening to the knowledge project by Shane Parrish,  On the podcast, I think I I just love that I I think Naval Ravikant. He’s very active on Twitter and on his podcast, I think I love listening to his thoughts,  Even kunaal Shah for that matter from Cred. I think this some of people that kind of look up to probably and do read up what to say regularly.  I think in terms of books, I do end up reading quite a bit around presentations, I think. So, Nancy Duarte, who runs this company called Duarte, . Which does something similar to what we do. I think I love reading her books. I think they have been doing this for 25 plus years and they have been in to crystallize their thoughts  really well, and I think great work, they’re putting all this information in the books and put this out. I love reading that I think Jerry Wizman I think that’s a book that you recommend it to me the presenting to win. I loved it, I think thoroughly loved that book. And again, the pyramid principle was also one of the books I keep referring back to,  when you’re structuring the structure of the information that you have in a deck.  That’s in the book. Yeah,

Ravi: 01:40:04

It’s a great, great choices. Duarte. I sometimes call them as a McKinsey of the storytelling world.. Yeah, they’re really the top of the notch and I loved one quote by Kunal Shah that you had, like don’t think and i think so. And it I think it resonates a lot with what you do, right. So I think it said that. If you try to be everything for everybody, before you’re something for somebody, you will end up being nothing for nobody. (Mohit: That’s true) Ya, ya, It’s a trap. It is something that all of us can fall into, ya great

Mohit: 01:40:38

It’s just too hard to, to stick to one thing.  I think it’s, I mean, I tell so many people that technically you can do 20 things, you know, even we can do 20 things, the skills required are the same. And it just seems so counterintuitive. Not do all of them because the clients needed, we can do it. And why not? It just said, I think in the long term, it’s going to harm you more, and doing fewer things will help you so much more. That it just makes more sense. But I think it’s harder for people to see long term.  It’s shorter term is more easy to see. It’s just human nature that we have.

Ravi: 01:41:20

Hey this has been fabulous Mohit. Is there something else that you’d like to talk about that I’ve missed asking?

Mohit: 01:41:24

No, I think, I mean, I really enjoyed  being part this conversation. I think you have been able to play like so many things out of me that I myself had probably stopped thinking about some of these things. And I think many of my own ideas you articulate so well, back to me, I they seemed like a new ideas to me I so thank you so much for making me part of this I loved it,

Ravi: 01:41:44

You being too kind I was thoroughly enjoying it and so many new points that I had not thought of that and of course, you know, many of this corroborated what I kind of think and know and have read off but many of these were very new points or new takes on the same point. So, I absolutely love that things, a lot of value for anybody who will be listening to this, whether they are from the start-up world or not.

So when I thought of creating a podcast on the art and craft of storytelling, conversations like these were what I had in mind. 

Mohit has been extremely generous with sharing his hard-earned insights and I’m sure anyone who wants to improve their pitch storytelling can learn a ton from these.

Perhaps you know some of those folks – it would be great if you can rate and review this podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to them. It’ll help others like you discover these insights!

Until next time, may the force of good stories be with you

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