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What I'm Learning: The Elevator Speech (and humility)

March 28, 2012

A few weekends ago I found myself at a gorgeous wedding in Chicago nestled between my adorable toddler and a table full of well-adjusted successful business women. I didn’t think that when I first sat down. Well, it’s not that I didn’t think it, I just didn’t have time to think much between trying to quiet the toddler for the wedding toasts and preventing him from spilling water all over the clothed tables while he transferred water from one glass to another. But, at some point during our meal I made the mistake of asking the feared question, “So, what are you up to now?” to a table half full of people I knew in another life and the other half of complete strangers until that night.

“I’m a videographer,” one said. “I teach at  . . . University and . . . College, and also . . .” “I’m a Creative Director” “I’m a graphic designer for  . . . in Chicago” I melted. My turn.

“Oh, well,” I stumbled over my own words, getting flush in the cheeks with nary a bit of alcohol in my system, “he’s my full time job,” and I glance down at the cuter than cute creation next to me. That should be enough. He’s enough. He’s plenty. He’s MORE than plenty. “And I also run an online store where I make and sell handmade leather journals and hollow books,” I laugh here, because it’s always awkward explaining what a hollow book is, “you know, a book that is carved out to hold . . . stuff, like, a flask or something” and I’m done. That’s my “elevator speech” and I immediately feel deflated, like I’m nothing. Like my ‘job’ was summed up in that horrible fragmented sentence and since I tripped all over it from here to there, I figured I should just shut up now and and let them focus on the cute baby because they were in no way shape or form ever going to be interested in that which I claim to be my ‘real job’.

And so with that  I’ve decided I really need to work on this ‘elevator speech’ thing. As defined by Wikipedia;

An elevator pitch (or elevator speech or elevator statement) is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, or organization and its value proposition.

And while I find value in that (obviously) I think what might be more important here is the lesson of me learning to value my own work and what I do, instead of tripping over my words afraid of what other people will think of me. I think the catch in this definition is that last line “and its value proposition”. So, in this three minute summation of ‘what I do’ you’re going to put a value on not only my career choice, but also me as a person? Are you serious? No wonder I was floundering!

So, yeah, value yourself. I’m working on that. Humility. Or the opposite I guess. And that led me to this great Handmadeology article about just that -how to be a walking talking brand and leaving that elevator pitch in the dust.

After all, I helped make this. I must be pretty good at something.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 30, 2012 9:20 am

    Great article and I totally relate. It isn’t that raising children isn’t an important job, it’s trying to find your title that makes it difficult.

    When my children were all grown and I was longing to snuggle more babies I took a full time job as a Nanny for a lovely family. I spent 40+ hours a week with them and then came home to my own family. I had set roles to play in my job as a Nanny and loved every minute of it. But yet my Mother in Law would always ask me ” Are you still doing that baby sitting?” and it would scratch on my nerves as I considered working full time more than “baby sitting” So I would correct her over and over. Til I realized that I needed to find my self worth. When she would ask I would later respond with ” Yes, after 2 years of working in Toddler Time Management, I have been moved up to Lead Supervisor of a creative team that has been successful in many endeavors. How’s retirement? ”

    When I chose to start my own webshop I felt like I had to start over with trying to define what I ” DO ” and it’s been a bit of a challenge. I range from “Creative director at a up and coming Indy company ” to ” Owner of a trendy boutique. ” Both are true and both make me smile when I tell people and watch their faces.

    Go, be proud and kick some butt! You are more than you think you are!

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