Yesterday I attended an important meeting with important people. I was not scheduled to speak. And then, sure enough, I was given the opportunity to give my elevator speech.
A good friend of mine in Finance (p.s. always have a good friend in Finance) batted the conversation my way game on.
- What’s our channel’s mission?
- How are our results?
- What’s our team best at?
- How have we improved?
The buttons on the figurative elevator were pressed time to roll.
You see, I am familiar with elevators, and what can happen in them.
Very early in my career, a VP several levels above me asked me to attend a very controversial meeting on his behalf. To this day, I don’t know if it was deliberate (because he thought I could add value), or if he really didn’t understand the controversial nature of the meeting, or if he was just scared.
The minute I walked in, I was questioned as to why I was there ( instead of the VP). I stayed (not knowing if I should), and it was down hill from there.
I listened to all the ideas for the major undertaking that were being presented. Being completely naive about how to approach such things, I said everything that was on my mind no filters to everyone in the room. This involved questioning the entire methodology of some very well-thought out plans of some amazing leaders. I was discounted, and should have been. I did not approach it well.
So, later that day when I ran into that VP in the elevator (huge building, crazy coincedence), I looked at the floor. The next thing I heard Karin, I have been thinking. You may be on to something. Please tell me what you wanted to say.
I told her and got involved. That project transformed my career, and she became a fantastic mentor.
A bit later
So years later, as I grew in leadership responsibility, I wanted the best folks on my team to always be prepared to tell their story and share their ideas in a meaningful and concise way. From time to time, I lead “mentoring circles” on the subject of elevator speeches.
I always begin these sessions with my latest “elevator speech” as an example
- what our team is about
- how we are making a difference
- real statistics of how we are improving
- and my leadership vision to lead that team
One time, after doing the session with a great group of front line leaders, I got into the elevator. We had just been through a reorganization that week and I had a new senior leader that I had not yet met (but he must have seen my picture).
He looks at me and says, “Hey, Aren’t you on my new team? What’s your story?”
So I shared my newly minted elevator speech.
That worked too.
Since then, I always keep one fresh.
I am attending another important meeting in a very big hotel lots of elevators lots of people.
Keeping it fresh.