October 29, 2007
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Life's a Pitch
Most of us tend to think of our business and personal lives as two separate lives, and to a large extent, this is true. We all strive for a sense of fulfillment at home and in the workplace, and most of us want some separation and balance between the two worlds. Regardless of how successfully we keep our personal and professional lives separate, some of the skills we use in each are the same. Life's a Pitch addresses these similarities. It is actually two separate books bound together and written by two authors. Both books are about presentation, or how to make a pitch, but they approach the subject from different angles.
Roger Mavity wrote the first book, a more traditional business book. He gets into the nuts and bolts of how to organize yourself and your team, set the message you want to deliver, and how to present that message most effectively. He argues that people respond more to emotion than logic, and that how you pitch yourself is more important than what you're pitching. To put it simply, a pitch is theatre, not information. Stephen Bayley's book, the second part of Life's a Pitch, is far more provocative. He writes about how to present--or "pitch"--yourself in your personal life. He sees life itself as theatre, and writes on how to "design your personality" to be a better actor in it.
They both approach the subject bluntly, some may even say ruthlessly (they dedicate the book to Niccolò Machiavelli, and write that his "ruthless understanding of personal ambition has inspired us both") but they deal with it honestly. They deal openly with topics most of us would prefer to keep at arms length. Bayley references Gandhi and Patton as good examples of presentation in two consecutive sentences, which is bound to make people of all temperaments wince. Similarly, Mavity talks about how the Mafia calls itself a "family" while the British royal family refers to itself as "the firm." This book is more interested in broadening our view of presentation than playing to our prejudices of it. Pacifist and warrior are treated on equal footing here. All that matters is the pitch.
Most of all, this book is well-written and intelligent. Everybody who reads it is bound to get something out of it, whether it is how to make a presentation in a boardroom or how to present yourself at lunch. This book is what it preaches: a great pitch.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.