Why We Care – Where We’re Coming From: The Intrigue Agency Origin Story


I had the privilege of working with John and Shannon Tullius to help start and run the Maui Writers Conference (MWC) from 1992- 2009.

What Cannes is to the film industry; MWC was to the publishing industry.

We did something at our first conference that was unprecedented at the time.

We gave attendees an opportunity to jump the chain of command and pitch their work directly to top decision-makers, all of whom had the power to green-light a project on the spot.

Many of the editors and agents would start their pitch sessions with the question, “What’s your book about?” What we discovered was people were woefully unprepared to quickly and clearly get across why their work was worth buying.

They would start talking – wah-wah-wah-wah – and talk themselves right out of a deal.


I talked with a Random House Sr. VP that night and asked, “What’s happening?”

He said, “Sam, we’ve all seen thousands of proposals at this point. We make up our minds in the first minute or two whether a project is commercially-viable.”

That next day I stood in the back of the room and watched as people from around the world, many who had spent years on their manuscript or screenplay, pitch.

To my surprise, I could predict who was getting interest in their work … without hearing a word being said.

It was all about the decision-maker’s eyebrows.

If their eyebrows were crunched up, it meant they were confused.

Confused people don’t say yes.


If their eyebrows didn’t move, it meant they were unmoved. Or, they’d had Botox.

If they arched their eyebrows; it meant they wanted to know more. Which meant the author had just gotten what they cared about in the decision-maker’s mental door.

Try it right now. Lift your eyebrows. Do you feel intrigued? Curious? Like you want to know more?

From now on, that’s your goal for EVERY online, in-person, on-the-phone and written communication.

Whether you’re delivering a presentation or giving a campaign speech, writing a book or a blog, lobbying before Congress or your community association, pitching your start-up or requesting funding for your cause … your goal is to get your audience’s eyebrows up in the first 60 seconds.

We can help you do that.


We’ve developed original techniques and a step-by-step I.N.T.R.I.G.U.E methodology that gets eyebrows up … and keeps them up.

Our innovative process has helped our clients win awards, get elected, create breakout books and brands, deliver memorable TED talks, and receive millions in contracts.

In fact, one of our clients, Barry Raber, credits us with helping him raise $20 million for his business … and that was from a one-day consult.

Client Kathleen Callendar of Pharma Jet, used our “Did You Know…” pitch opening to land funding and was selected as BusinessWeek’s “Most Promising Social Entrepreneur of 2010.”


Why are we on a mission?

Because quality, talent, integrity and hard work are important. But they’re not enough.

We’ve seen too many talented individuals NOT get the support, traction, customer buy-in, funding and impact they, their ideas and priority projects deserve.

And it wasn’t because their ideas and projects weren’t worthy. It was because they didn’t know how to crystallize what they had to offer and communicate its value clearly and compellingly so people GOT it, WANTED it, and ACTED on it.

We hope to have the opportunity to serve you.

Our I.N.T.R.I.G.U.E. process is available though:

  • One-on-One Coaching

  • Organizational Consulting

  • Conference Keynotes

  • Workshops and Training Programs

  • Books, Blogs and Articles

  • Online E-Learning Systems

  • Media Interviews

You’re welcome to contact us at a cheri@intrigueagency.com to share your goals and desired outcomes for your program, project or priority.

We will match you with the right person and process so your goals become a reality.

Want a speaker you can trust to thrill your audience from start to finish - with original insights, laugh-out-loud humor, relevant examples and inspiring stories that motivate them to act?
Work with Sam and the IA team to position, message and craft your presentations, books and priority projects so they win buy-in from your target audience and decision-makers.
Want to create intriguing, one-of-a-kind ideas, projects and communications? Our books, videos and e-learning products show you how.
Want recent insights, examples and action steps on how to create interest, earn respect and connect with anyone? Our blogs (often featured in Fast Company, Inc.com, etc.) show how.