You need something special to break through from the crowd. Passion is not it.

I hear it every day, “I am very passionate about this idea”. The founder/CEO sits in front of me and delivers the line with all the gusto they can muster. Somewhere in their mind they think that this notion is the key element to getting what they want from me (investment, time, introductions, etc.).

As an advisor and investor for startups and early-stage companies I am lucky enough to be sitting on the easier side of the table. You need me. This arrangement clearly sets the roles for each of us.

Are you clear as to your role in our meeting? My role is clear to me. I am to evaluate you and your idea against my minimal standard for getting involved. That minimal standard is set by all of your peers who have sat across that table.

Your role is crystal clear in my head. You must tell me why either you and/or your idea are special. In fact, the bar is even higher than you think. You must clearly explain to me why you or the idea is so special that it rises above the other 10 people who have sat in your chair this week.

I use the rule of three whenever I am pitching. The rule is simple enough–what 3 points do I want the person to remember. Think about it. If I only had 3 points to get across what are the 3 most important points.

And that is why passion is not your superpower. Everyone is passionate about his or her idea. It is the ante into the poker game. If that is all you are selling, you have just placed yourself tied for last place in my mind.

Pitching is an art, and like art, the more you do it the better you should get. Focus on the 3 elements of your story that clearly position you as different than your peers. Then follow my pitch guidelines here (there are only 3).