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Getting what you want often involves putting forth an idea and convincing others of its merit.
To do so, you could go the conventional route and list all the reasons why your idea is so awesome.
Or you could tell the people you’re trying to convince why your idea stinks. This less conventional route is surprisingly effective, Adam Grant, a professor of management at Wharton and author of the new book, “Originals,” tells Business Insider.
“Something that really surprised me when looking at what makes Originals successful is that oftentimes entrepreneurs who get the most investment are actually the ones who are the least enthusiastic,” Grant says.
The common misconception is that investors are more likely to bet on entrepreneurs who are the most passionate, optimistic, and excited about their idea. But one of the problems that investors see with passion, Grant says, is that you come across as too convinced that your idea is brilliant and not perceptive enough to see all the problems associated with it.
Instead, entrepreneurs who express uncertainty and admit some of their challenges, struggles, and weaknesses are oftentimes more likely to get the investment.
Grant cites Rufus Griscom, cofounder of parenting blog Babble, as an example. When Griscom pitched the site to Disney, he listed five reasons Disney should not buy his company. Disney wound up buying Babble for $40 million.
“Now some of that seems like a little bit of a marketing gimmick, right? It’s grabbing attention, it’s different, you don’t expect it,” Grant says.
“But it also shows that he’s self-critical, he’s honest. It makes it harder for Disney to think about their own objections, because he’s already covered them all,” he says. “And it sends a clear message: If he’s confident enough that the company is high quality that he’s willing to talk about its weaknesses, it must have some strength.”
In his book, Grant says that anyone can practice this principle when pitching an idea.
He suggests starting by describing the three biggest weaknesses of your idea and then asking the other party to list several more reasons not to support your idea.
“Assuming that the idea has some merit, when people have to work hard to generate their own objections, they will be more aware of its virtues,” Grant writes.