Ron Porat
January 14, 2024

How to GIVE an effective Pass Call/Video

Stating the obvious

Nobody likes getting “no” as an answer. This is true in all aspects of life. We all like to feel validated and acknowledged, and being rejected is something we all take slightly personally.
This is also true in the StartUp sector. When you dedicate your life and your passion in order to step out of your comfort zone and try something new, it can feel like a heavy blow, not only professionally.
However, there is another side to this. There is also the side that makes the decision, based on objective criteria, sometimes after long deliberations and engagement with the founders, and has to deliver it. This is no walk in the park. It becomes your job to crush someone’s dreams, and it’s never a nice feeling.
However, let’s put curiosity aside for a minute and see if we can transform this “rejection” into a learning experience for all sides on the table, both investor and founder. Can we create an unexpected catalyst for growth and insight that is still rooted in rejection?
This article aims to explore navigating the rejection process in the entrepreneurial journey and, perhaps, show that other than initial disappointment, there is a real opportunity for positive transformation and shared understanding.

First things first

Embarking on a ״Pass call״, a task that admittedly is no one's favorite, demands a serious and respectful approach. This isn't a task to be taken lightly or casually. Instead, it calls for a scheduled meeting – not a mere email or an unexpected phone call.
The crucial question remains: how do you prepare for this challenging conversation? The answer lies ahead as we delve into the essential steps. So, buckle up and read on to navigate the Pass Call process with professionalism and empathy.

The “How”

DBT's (Dialectical Behavior Therapy, a type of “talking therapy”), GIVE skillset, is one of the most effective tools for cultivating the right mindset before and during a Pass Call. As with all soft skills, the effectiveness of the GIVE method unfolds through experimentation, gradually evolving into a powerful and indispensable tool in your life's toolkit.
So, what is GIVE? Give is an acronym for:
  • Gentle (Give is) - Being gentle is about kindness and respect. Even in discussions that might seem tedious or uncomfortable, maintain a polite and respectful demeanor. If the conversation becomes uninteresting or uncomfortable, exit gracefully. Avoid judgment and interruption; let the other person express themselves.
  • Interested (Act) - Show genuine interest in the other person's perspective. Listen actively, make eye contact and lean in attentively. Refrain from interrupting and be patient. Acknowledge their desire to postpone the discussion if needed. Your interest and patience contribute to a more constructive exchange.
  • Validate - Validation is key to understanding the other person's viewpoint. Verbally express your understanding, acknowledging their thoughts and feelings. Create a private space for such conversations, avoiding public settings to ensure a more comfortable and open dialogue.
  • Easy Manner (Use an) - Incorporate humor, a friendly demeanor and a light-hearted approach. Smile and opt for a "soft sell" rather than a "hard sell." Be diplomatic and leave any negative attitude at the door. An easy manner paves the way for a smoother and more positive exchange.

The “What”

When navigating the delicate terrain of a "pass call," two pivotal considerations come to the forefront:
  • Assessing Investment Worthiness: Before articulating why you view the investment as unworthy, reflect on the key factors influencing your decision. Elements such as the team's capabilities and your belief in their execution prowess often stand as make-or-break scenarios for investors. Identify and prioritize these factors to ensure clarity in your communication.
  • Balancing Honesty and Sensitivity: The art lies in determining the level of openness regarding the reasons behind rejecting the deal. Striking a delicate balance between honesty and avoiding potential harm is crucial. While transparency is valued, it's essential to tread lightly and offer constructive feedback. Choose one or two major reasons that contribute to your decision, providing insightful critique aimed at fostering growth rather than outright rejection.
By approaching the "pass call" with these considerations in mind, you not only offer valuable insights to entrepreneurs but also contribute to a constructive and respectful dialogue within the investment landscape. It's a nuanced approach that guides the rejection process with professionalism and empathy.

How to prep yourself

Before joining the call, make sure you prepare with this quick checklist for 5 minutes before your call:
  • Review key points: Briefly review the key points you want to convey during the call. Having a mental outline will help you stay focused and articulate what you want to say.
  • Mindset check: Take a moment to center yourself. Adopt a calm and composed mindset to approach the conversation with professionalism and empathy.
  • Anticipate reactions: Consider potential reactions from the other side and think about how you can respond with understanding and sensitivity.
  • Eliminate distractions: Ensure you're in a quiet and distraction-free environment. Turn off notifications, put your phone on “silent” and close any unnecessary tabs or apps to maintain focus.Remind yourself of GIVE: Recall the GIVE skills – Gentle, Interested, Validate, and Easy Manner. These skills can guide your behavior and communication during the call.
  • Practice empathy: Cultivate empathy by putting yourself in the other person's shoes. This can help you approach the conversation with greater understanding.Take a deep breath: Take a few deep breaths to center yourself. It's a simple yet effective way to manage stress and maintain composure.
  • Positive Affirmation: Offer yourself a positive affirmation to boost confidence. Remind yourself that you're approaching the call with respect and professionalism.

About the author

Ron serves as Chief Technology Officer for AnD Ventures, an early-stage Venture Capital firm that invests in extraordinary people & cutting edge technologies. Ron joined AND following his tenure as Founder & CTO of L1ght, a company dedicated to saving children’s lives by detecting online toxicity and dangers (e.g. shaming, bullying, self-harm, grooming, predators, and more). Prior to founding L1ght, Ron founded, headed and sold several high-tech companies in the cyber security arena.