Today, businesses are spending millions on marketing firms and utilizing unmeasurable hours while trying to create perfect pitches, brand lines, presentations and stories to establish their credibility in the eyes of their target audience. Even after all this, they keep struggling with inferior outcomes and loss of irreplaceable work-hours.
Donna Griffit, on the other hand, has carved out her own impressive way as the go-to expert by nailing the art of corporate narrative. She is a globally renowned pitch alchemist and corporate storyteller who has assisted more than a thousand start-ups, corporates, and investors in raising funds and growing their revenue at any phase with a distinguishing mark and unique messaging-sense in any field. She has been in business since 2003 and is based in Mountain View, CA.
“I have the uncanny gift of taking all of this raw data, putting it through my “magic filter” and emerging, in a VERY short time, with the perfect story, the perfect pitch – the message that they “get” and that “gets” them results – funding, sales, partnerships, recognition and more. I’m not paranoid about anything – I am adamant and committed to giving them the best outcome possible!” tells Griffit.
“There’s nothing I love more than helping a company cut through their bits and bytes, cracking the DNA of their story and turning it into captivating messages that wow.”
Griffit’s story is that of thriving in an unconventional career path. Although she is a firm believer in serendipity, she claims that every individual is responsible for their luck. They should be able to look out for the right opportunities at the right moment. When describing her journey, she says, “My career path has been a series of “aha moments” that I was smart enough to take notice of and do something about.” Her first big moment came when she was just sixteen and she came across the ‘drama therapy’ course which included the very two things she was most passionate about- acting and people. For the next six years, she worked diligently to get admitted to the MA program in drama therapy at NYU and at last, she successfully turned her dream into reality. Although over time Griffit realized that her choice of the profession paid a very limited artist salary. But the good thing was her determination wasn’t something to be put down so easily. She thought to herself, “There’s got to be a way to take it to another level.” This hurdle brought her to her next “aha” moment when one of her professors told her about a friend who traveled around the world speaking and training groups. Griffit says, “It was as if everything in my life was leading to this moment – this was what I wanted to be when I grew up! A speaker, a trainer in front of a group, entertaining, teaching, inspiring.” Following this, she got post-master certification in training and organizational development. While looking for jobs as a corporate trainer she saw an advertisement on Craigslist posting a requirement for trainers for presentation skills with a compulsory acting background. Without wasting any time, she went for it and soon within two weeks she was signing a contract with Brad Boyer, the Founder of Boyer Communications Group, as a trainer for his company. He turned out to be an incredible support and inspiration for her.
On joining the firm, Griffit was set out on a global whirlwind. She was traveling worldwide helping out people to become good communicators, tell better stories and in between all that she was having the time of her life. But in 2008, came another big blow to her swiftly advancing career when enterprise organizations started cutting down non-technical training as it wasn’t deemed vital at the time. She shares, “I found myself at a crossroads. What was I supposed to do now?” This particular roadblock marked the beginning of Griffit’s career as the corporate storyteller. By chance, she was introduced to a prominent cardiothoracic surgeon who needed help with his professional speeches and presentations. Griffit exclaims, “I immediately said yes- a story is a story, right? How different could it be from helping corporate execs? We worked hard and he asked me to present on his behalf. The big day arrived; the pitches went off without a hitch! But the other companies that had been selected got shot down within 30 seconds. My heart broke for them. They didn’t have the right message for this very prestigious audience!”
“aut viam inveniam aut faciam” (“I shall either find a way or make one.”)
Griffit now had her final eureka moment that changed her life completely. She shares, “This was now going to be my focus. The only push back I got was when I announced I’d be focusing on startups. Many people scoffed, said that startups had no money, that they wouldn’t pay, that they think they know it all and wouldn’t take guidance. But as I wrote, I didn’t let that deter me – if I couldn’t get in the door I was coming through the window – and I did! I started by offering “services as a sponsorship”. I’ll coach pitches for competitions and demo days, you put me as a sponsor and thank me at the event.” Through in all Griffit mentions, she was lucky to have a supportive mother who backed her decision and gave her all the pep-talk she could need. Just at her first event, Griffit blew everyone’s mind with her pitches. In no time, people were asking for her card, and her calendar was booked watertight. She proudly mentions, “Over the past 11 years I’ve established myself as one of the leading pitch coaches/storytellers for startups in the world.”
As a one-person operation, Griffit has to handle everything from marketing and sales to the actual work to invoicing and bookkeeping. She shares, “Over the years as my business grew, I tried to outsource anything that didn’t require my professional acumen – like the bookkeeping and great automation software for scheduling calls, etc. With me working as fast as I do, I have a rapid turnover, so I am constantly on the lookout for new sources of leads.” Outside work, Griffit loves to spend her time with her two daughters and husband. They typically spend their weekends going hiking, on road trips or just cooking and hanging out with friends to unwind.
The success recipe!
Griffit sees success as a golden triangle. She explains, “Without one side, it’s not quite there. I am blessed to wake up each day doing what I love, making an impact and getting paid for it!” Griffit is highly dedicated to her clients and gives more than her best to create a successful story for them. Undoubtedly, it is her expectations with herself that have helped her stay on the top of her game. She asserts, “I want the world to understand the power of a good story – I want them to leave the details behind and speak in stories. I want to get the message and the know-how out there and be the leading authority on it.”
To the women who are striving to build thriving careers just like her, Griffit’s says, “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no! Never shy away from asking for something – whether it’s an improvement in conditions in your job, a raise, a promotion, or a recommendation on LinkedIn, and invite, a meeting, even a discount! The worse they can say is no – but if you don’t ask, you got that no anyway! And if you don’t speak up for yourself – nobody will do it for you! Learn to communicate your value so you get the yesses!”