Elevator Pitch

Apparently it's a phenomenon within both the corporate and creative world that you need to have an 'elevator pitch'. This is what you would say to someone powerful - someone who has the ability to change your life for the better - in the twenty / thirty seconds available if you accidentally bumped into them in a lift.

So, for example, if I bumped into the Managing Director of a major publishing company and told him I had written a book, "What's it about?" he might ask and then I would launch into my elevator pitch. "Well it's about the end of the 60's, then end of fascism in Spain, the making of movie in Franco's Spain, the collision between liberal Hollywood, authoritarian Spain and the ordinary people caught in between."

Yeah - you don't have to say it out loud: Crap, Tim. Needs work, yeah?

Let me tell you about one time that I did have need for an elevator speech. I worked for a US multi national company and I was at a sales conference in Cannes. Hungover to hell one morning, I was late for the first session of the day. I pressed the lift button, the doors opened and there, in the lift, was the CEO of my company, apparently a surprise guest on the conference agenda. Well, he looked at me, with my company laminate pass, and I looked at him, exactly as he looked on the company website. If ever there was a time for an elevator pitch, about me, about my career, about my plans, then it was now. In a company of 100,000 employees this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to make an impression, to further my career and get my name 'out there'.

Looking at him and then swallowing with my dry mouth, feeling the nausea rising from the previous night's activities, I thought, 'fuck it' and then turned to face the other corner. My plan for paperclip harmonisation could wait for another day. We spent the next thirty seconds in a conspicuous silence.

I think he appreciated my reticence - who the hell wants to be assailed by wannabes every hour of the day, with their fake smiles, fake positivity, burnished resumes? "Hi! I'm Donna from marketing, can I tell you about this exciting, game changing project I'm working on?"... "Nah, fuck off, Donna," would be my response. I guess CEO's have to be more circumspect and grimly listen to the widget reduction project in Luxembourg.

My reward for giving the CEO the space and time and courtesy he deserved, was, well, nothing, of course. My boss, when I told her the story, believed, perhaps rightly, I was an 'asshole'; that I had shockingly given up such a career advancing opportunity. She, by the way, like all powerful people, kissed butt beautifully to any passing superior. You have to drop to your knees to raise your profile. There's a lesson there Tim, somewhere.

Anyway, I tell you this story because I'm Prometheus unbound these days. I'm all about truth and honesty and authenticity (to steal back a dreadful corporate phrase into the real world).

Yeah. Authentic. Living my own values. Mainlining the personal code. But it has to be you, ultimately. Has to be your turf you're prepared to fight for. Otherwise it's an insincere elevator pitch with a hangover, with a CEO who doesn't give a toss, tired from a transatlantic flight and showing fear of intimacy in his eyes.

I'm all right. I'm cool. I am Tim. I Said. (I'm sure there's a Neil Diamond song in there somewhere!)

Hit and Run Lover, here we come.