Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What I Do That's Special

Last week, I was sitting in a continuing education class, listening to a marketing and communications expert.  He was a terrific, down-to-earth, practical speaker, and he made a big point that you can walk up to a sales booth at a convention, ask the person what they have for sale, and then be shocked that they can't explain what they're selling in a few words and explain what the benefit is to you.

I was a little ahead of the group, since I'd already taken classes where they talk about your "elevator speech," that is, the few sentences that you should be able to rattle off on the spur of the moment explaining your business to a total stranger.  You should be able to show what's important and special about what you do.   I already have an "elevator speech" for my accounting job.  I can explain very quickly what I do at work.  Can you? 

I tell a complete stranger that I take care of the finances for the Scout council where I work, that I make sure the managers and board members know where we stand financially, that I ensure we have accurate financial reports and a clean audit every year, and I mention that I also take care of human resources, insurance, and computer needs at my office because we are a small nonprofit and don't have a big staff.  I love the variety and especially that I'm part of a terrific mission, Scouting.

A. Few. Sentences.  You want the 30,000 foot view, not details.  You want it to make sense to someone who is not in your field, so avoid jargon.  Since you do lots of different things on a job, talk about the important items, the ones you care deeply about; in other words, if you're an obstetrician, you'd talk about giving prenatal care, not supervising the nurse, and if you're a firefighter, you'd talk about saving lives, not polishing the fire truck.

Believe it or not, if you have something like this prepared, you WILL find opportunities to use it.  I actually gave mine in an elevator once...but I digress.

I also have a little elevator speech about why kids ought to be involved in Boy Scouts.  I have a little elevator speech about machine knitting, what the machines are and what we do.  I'm pointing out what's special, what's exceptional.  Yes, it's salesmanship, but why not spread the word about something good?  You may already have an elevator speech, and you don't even realise it.  Maybe yours is about vegetarianism, home schooling, fitness, your faith, or something else that is important to you. 

So this time, after listening to my neighbor tell me how she got started in public accounting before she got around to telling me what she does, and then my other neighbor get into the weeds about a payroll conversion and how the need for her job arose, and then my final neighbor who said he had no brief description of what he does at all, I felt fairly good about my having a coherent elevator speech.  Of course, it wasn't fair, because I had a class like this before and figured mine out.

Then, my mind wandered to my knitting teacher elevator speech, and decided that I ought to compose one:
  • I teach people to knit well, and they learn quickly.  My specialty is learning curve demolition!  I have figured out how to teach, which is not the same as knowing how to knit.
  • I reduce frustration and increase joy for knitters.
  • I design and teach patterns that are easy to do, look great, and are fun to make. 
And that is my mission, in a nutshell. 

Challenge:  Share your own "elevator speech" with us, in a brief comment!  I would just love to hear what y'all do in your day jobs, or perhaps your mission as world's greatest grandpa or super volunteer.


  1. I manage the Passenger Service employees and operation for 10 different international airlines. The different Account Managers report to me their financials, employee concerns, employee kudos, hiring needs, H.R. concerns, contractual concerns and changes. I make certain we are up to budget goals day by day, week by week and etc. as I manage 200 employees. When you arrive at the Las Vegas airport to take a flight all of the employees you come in contact with up to the moment you are on board the plane could be my employees!

    My goal is to ensure our Customers have a very pleasant and safe experience.

    It's fast paced and at times insane, but very rewarding to see it all come together.

  2. I sell floor covering. I match a person's personality, taste, and budget with the perfect floor that they are sure to enjoy.

    I also teach geometry. I open young minds to the many possibilities that math offers. I show them that math doesn't have to be hard; in fact it can be fun!

  3. Wow this is actually quite hard to do. So it makes me quite determined to see if I can sum myself up in three sentances. I hope to post back when I do.

  4. Parenting:
    I follow the 7 principles of attachment parenting, such as sleeping near baby, babywearing, breastfeeding, believing in instincts, and respect. I trust that my babies do the things they do because of instinct, and that the best way to respond is as simple and "old fashioned" as possible. Attachment parenting respects the developmental needs and stages of growth and teaches kids, naturally, how to be respectful. It's also great for lazy and frugal parents! Slings instead of strollers are great for exercise, time, storage space and budget. Safe bedsharing means more sleep for mom and baby. Fewer gadgets and gizmos in the house. No need for baby foods. I've saved a lot of money by being an attached parent and my kids are mature, respectful, independant and charming because of it :)

    I'm still working on one for low carb eating. Often though, I'll have in my mind what I want to say, but the conversation gets started in a different way than I expect, so I flounder as I try to re-work my speech :(

  5. I was a 30-something new mom. I breastfed, used a baby carrier on my body, as did John, put the baby in bed with me if I got up with him during the night, and never used "baby" food. I didn't know there was a name for these things; they were just things my doctor told me to do.

  6. I love these and want to reply to them, but Blogger is midbehaving. Tom, when my job is nuts, I often think about you. Love the Geometry one, about making math fun.

  7. Five things:
    Have a foot care nursing practice (elderly, homebound, etc)
    Manage the affairs of a parent with dementia
    Visit Hospice and dementia patients with my therapy dog (a border collie)
    Maintain a flock of sheep and goats for fiber; dye, spin, weave, felt, etc (thus, interest in knitting machines)