Last fall I read a blog post by Seth Godin titled No One Ever Bought Anything on an Elevator. In that post, Seth emphasizes that when you are having a quick conversation with someone about what you do, what your dreams are, etc. you are going to lose them if you try to sell them right out of the gate with a long two or three-minute description. Better to keep it short, simple, and to the point. From there, if well crafted, they start asking the relevant questions and the conversation advances naturally.
This resonated with me, but I have to admit I did not apply it to my own situation. That became abundantly and even somewhat embarrassingly obvious when I attended the World Domination Summit 2013 (WDS) in early July. As I described in my last blog post, Pushing Way Past My Comfort Zone, each year Chris Guillebeau hosts WDS with a focus on how to live a remarkable life in a conventional world. The conference attracts a huge number of people (over 2800 this year) with big ideas, strong passions, and lots of creative energy.
Attending WDS reminded me a lot of my college days. In college, I met a lot of enthusiastic people who were eager to learn, and had hopes of doing things to make the world a better place. I had the same experience at WDS. In college, when you met someone new, usually you asked them two questions.
1) “Where are you from?”
2) “What is your major?”
At WDS when you met someone new, the first two standard questions were:
1) “Where are you from?”
2) some variation of “Why are you here?”
Before I even attended the WDS Opening Ceremony at the Portland Zoo I had probably already met close to 30 other WDS attendees. I met 5 just riding from the airport to downtown Portland on the MAX Light Rail. The others I met at unofficial meet-ups that were hosted by other WDS attendees and that were encouraged and even promoted by Chris Guillebeau and other WDS staff. On the bus ride to the zoo I realized my description of what I wanted to do wasn’t working. The disjointed description of how pointing to the positive and wanting to promote peace and compassion and joy and how I was planning to do all that was too much of a traditional elevator pitch. It was too long-winded and generally lost the listener in the details. It is safe to say that WDS attendees are generally supportive but I saw at least a few eyes glaze over during some of my initial conversations.
While at the zoo, I started to panic a little. I needed to do something. I needed a way to describe my passion in a nice concise statement. I had no idea how to do that. I had been formulating ideas for over two years and had not come up with such a statement. How could I do it right away. I took a deep breath, relaxed a bit, and kept talking to people. Each conversation led to refinements in my description and by early Saturday morning (the 1st official day of the conference) I had developed what I call my Anti-Elevator Pitch. And here it is:
I want to help people discover more peace in their lives.
Future blog posts will detail some of the things I want to do to help accomplish this and this blog is certainly a place for me to start.
If I had not attended World Domination Summit or some similar type of event, it might have taken me another two years (or more) to summarize my hopes, passions, and goals into that one simple statement. In my regular life, prior to attending WDS, I just did not put myself in many situations where I had to answer that type of question. At WDS, I was asked questions like “Why are you here?” or “What is your dream?” at least 100 times and answering those questions 100 times helped me really get a better understanding of the core of my passion. With that understanding I was able to develop this simple statement to define my passion – I want to help people discover more peace in their lives.
Have you developed what I refer to as an anti-elevator pitch to describe your job, a dream you have, or a current project?
Please let me know your thoughts and dreams. If you have an anti-elevator pitch please share that if you would like as well. If you do not have one yet, I would love to help you with it!
With Peace and Gratitude,
For those that would like to know more about World Domination Summit from the perspective of other bloggers, I have included a few links below to blog posts that I feel help capture some of the spirit of WDS.
52 Unconventional Ideas & Stories for Moving From Idea to Impact – Scott Dinsmore (#31 really resonates with me. I will explain in a future post.)
And finally, Chris Guillebeau provides a recap of WDS 2013 as well as a sampling of about 40 attendee blog posts (at the bottom of the post below the images) titled WDS 2013: A Partial (And Impartial) Recap.