What Do You Do?

I try to take the stairs when I can. I won’t enumerate the reasons why I take the stairs, though I want to make it clear that I do not think I am better than you because I take the stairs.

I think the negative side-effect of taking the stairs is that I suffer from deficiencies in my elevator pitch. Perhaps, I am not as practiced at that art as I would be if I took the elevator more often. If you don’t take the stairs at all, you are probably much better at elevator pitches than I am.

Usually when I am in an elevator ,the extent of the interrogation is “Can you push ‘7’ for me?” elevator. Though there is something about a coat, and/or a tie ,that prompts people to think that they have the right to ask you, “What  do you?”

I am not sure why people assume that if you’re wearing a coat and/or tie that you do something, or that if you’re attired in a Red Sox hat and cargo shorts you probably don’t do anything.

I struggle with the question  “Scott, what do you do?” I wish that “It’s complicated.” were an acceptable answer to that question, as it is when people describe their relationship status on Facebook.

Though I think my biggest fear surrounding my response is that I was humbled to be in the presence,  of  the greatest elevator pitch in networking history.

A score, or so ago,  I returned to Gainesville a few months after having graduated from the University of Florida. Eventually I took a position with a local radio station. The title on my card said “Account Executive” which seemed to generate more confusion than clarity.

During that time, I attended a March of Dimes fundraiser which I intentionally didn’t hand out cards, because I didn’t want anybody to see my title. For the first time in my life I was able to succinctly and irrefutably satisfy the inquiries with “I sell ads for KISS 105 FM.”

Though one gentleman was persistent and soon I found myself repeatedly dipping into my pocket. That was all she wrote. I fell into a trap of continually explaining that  “No, Account Executives don’t do accounting….”

Weary of trying to explain what I did, I turned to a gentleman who was in the current chat-circle. I didn’t know him, but his facial features were somewhat-familiar and his surname on his name tag was even more so. I asked him, “So, what do you Neil?”

He seemed surprised, but quickly answered:

“Oh, I’m George Bush’s son.”

Succinct. Irrefutable.

True, the response might have been better suited to a question like “Who are you?” or even “Who’s your Daddy?”. But his response obliterated any aspirations that the  crowd  had of asking further questions. Nobody dared to inquire how much that job paid, or whether they were hiring.

It was over in less than three seconds, though  it was  so beautiful in its parsimony and clarity that the mere  memory of the moment turns my knees gelatinous. Truly the gold standard of elevator pitches. I knew then that I could never love another. Nor would  my own elevator pitch ever feel adequate.

By the way, what do you do?






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