Thursday, October 15, 2009

Elevator Speech

During a meeting in my office yesterday, the phone rang. Usually I would ignore it in favor of the people that were sitting in my office, but I was surprised by the name of a colleague on the caller id, so I picked it up.

As it turns out, it was a group of people using another person's phone. One of them told me that they were all chatting about me and "the different personas that [I] have gone through since I have been with the firm." It was a light-hearted conversation about the fact that I wore a black cowboy hat every day for about a year (I really liked that hat, but eventually Tracy gave me an honest assessment of it), that I used to ride a motorcycle (though I never rode it to the office and, unfortunately, did not ride it very often), that I recently have shaved off my facial hair, etc.

At the end of the conversation, one person asked, "What persona are you going for now?"

I didn't know what to say. I attribute it partially to the fact that there were still people in my office listening to half of the conversation and I felt like I needed to get off of the phone. But I also attribute it to the fact that I did not have a ready answer to that question. That second point bothers me. The question is a perfect invitation to talk about what is important to me. To persuade. To direct.

In business, this is similar to the elevator speech. The idea is that you get on an elevator with someone and they ask you something like "What do you do?" You then have thirty seconds, or less, to clearly articulate who you are and how your services or products may help the other person. It is not exactly a sales pitch - that will take you more than thirty seconds. It is just enough to convey the primary points and, hopefully, get you into a situation where the person asks for more information.

I'm not saying that I have the best business elevator speech in the world, but I had never even thought of a personal elevator speech before. What is the thirty second answer to the question? In my prayers almost every day I include a request that God help me to be a living example of a Christian man. To show people, through my words and my actions, what a relationship with Christ means and has done for me. To honor that relationship in the way that I live, and to let that be obvious to others. Yet, when asked "What persona are you going for now?" I didn't know how to answer the question.

I know that I quoted this passage here only a month ago (a different translation), but the whole idea of shifting personas has really drawn me back to this passage:

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."

Romans 12:1-2 (Message).

So what is my personal elevator speech? I honestly don't have it all figured out. I am going to be working on it. But after spending some time thinking about it, I know that shifting personas is about culture - fitting in (or consciously not fitting in, particularly in the case of the cowboy hat). My real persona is about being fixed on God and letting Him change me and direct my life. So, like I said, I'm working on my personal elevator speech. The next time that the opportunity presents itself like that, I want to be prepared with an honest answer so that I don't miss that ministry moment.

1 comment:

Heidi Willis said...

That's so funny that you think of things like that. In publishing, there's something called an elevator pitch, which is the same thing, only a 30-second summary of your book designed to hook a potential reader.

I never thought of it in terms of me...I guess because few people ever ask.

I think I might have liked that hat, though. :)