Grow BIG Playbook: How To Focus. BD Insights From...Francis Ford Coppola?

By Mo Bunnell

What's On My Mind

28 minutes well spent.

​My publisher sent me something last week, an interview of Francis Ford Coppola.

It's one of the most insightful interviews I've watched in years.

My takeaways:

​Coppola's wife recorded him worry – a lot! – about the quality of what he was creating.

​Fearing he would get an F grade as he was creating a film was incredibly inspiring, especially given how great it turned out to be.

The best worry, a lot, forcing them to sweat every detail, to perform at the limit of their abilities.

Worry is a signal you're striving to do your best work.

Coppola took risks.​

Did you know he personally underwrote and paid for the creation of Apocolypse Now?


Think of the pressure that put on him to get it right.

The best bet on themselves, even paying for their own advancements when needed.

Coppola chooses one word that describes the core of each film he creates.


He goes back to that one word to make any decision that seems unclear: writing, lighting, emotion, actor selection, everything.

For the Godfather, it's succession. Apocolypse Now, morality. The Conversation, privacy.

He says this in the interview: "That’s the word I use when I say, 'What should I do?'"

The best simplify.

This last point of simplification can be applied to BD meetings.

When I go into a meeting, I choose one goal, one thing that distills the complex meeting down to a simple idea.

For later stage meetings it's usually around a specific next step, a Cliffhanger we can all look forward to next, one that's a win for all.

(CLICK HERE for more about Cliffhangers. So powerful!)

For earlier stage meetings, my one goal is usually one of these three:

  1. Build Trust
  2. Find a way to be Helpful
  3. Offer so much future value the person wants a Next Step.

I italicized the idea I have in my mind, depending on the context.

(More on picking one goal for meetings HERE. This is important for your teams too.)

Important: note the theme for first time meetings–my focus is not on me or BIG. Not on accolades, our amazing client list or qualifications.

The focus is all about them.

Building trust. Being helpful. Finding a follow up.

Sure we might talk about our game changing trainings or coaching, client lists, quals, or more, but only in service of trust, helpfulness or next steps.

I choose one of these themes.

One theme. One idea.


One idea is easy to keep in your mind.

Easy to act on.

OK, here you go.

The most important link in this email.

HERE is the Francis Ford Coppola interview.

Check it out. I hung on every word.

So good.

What one thing stuck with you?


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