Why Startup Founders Fail: Hidden Desperation

Are you leaking confidence without even realizing it?

Joe Procopio


image by benzoix

I’m going give you — completely for free — one crazy-simple life hack that’s going to make one of your most painful moments a little less painful.

This is the fastest way to get salespeople off your phone.

Not a lot of people have my phone number. But every so often, due to one business circumstance or another, I have to pick up a call from a number I don’t recognize. Most of the time, I accept the call and it’s the person I was expecting. But every once in a while, a telemarketer slips through.

Cue silent swearing as they start their pitch.

I don’t interrupt. I wait for the question, because there’s always a question. It doesn’t matter what the question is. Instead of answering it, I ask for their name and I use it. I tell them that I respect them, both as a person and for what they’re attempting to do. I tell them I want them to have a great day. In fact, I want them to make a bunch of money today — and the quickest way they can do that is to stop talking to me and go to the next person on their list, because that person might buy whereas I most certainly will not.

I don’t lie. I don’t make excuses. I don’t hedge. I don’t hint. I leave no door open.

I wait. And it works every time.

I know it’s going to work because even if they slog through their pitch, I can hear the desperation leak into their voice. They can’t win. That’s clear and they know it. It doesn’t matter how good they are. They’re never getting to yes. There’s really nothing left for them to say.

Most of the time, they say that I should have a great day too and they’re gone. Sometimes, they’re grateful that I haven’t wasted their time.

Desperation is a quirky and nagging little fault because you can’t see it unless you’re looking for it.

For the record, this doesn’t work at time-share seminars. I found that out the hard way like 20 years ago.

Here’s the moral of the story. I shower telemarketers with kindness because I’m desperate to get off the



Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com