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Did you memorize that?

The 15-year-old musician finishes a breathtaking rendition of Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5 at the local piano recital, and her friends and family swarm her, practically knocking her over in an attempt to ask her a most surprising question: “Did you memorize that?”

She’s clearly taken aback.

Because of course she memorized it.

That’s the very first step.

Once her fingers know which notes to play,

Then the real work begins.

Turning the notes into music.

A little bit louder here.

A little bit slower here.

Repeating the trickier sequences over and over to smooth them out.

To her, the memorization isn’t what’s most interesting about what she does.

She’s expecting different kinds of questions.

Questions that get to the core of who she is.

As a musician.

And as a person.

Instead, people are asking her about the rote and mechanical part of her work.

And it gets me thinking about your Elevator Pitch.

Because when you ask people

“What do you do”

Most, (at least those who haven’t trained with me)

Give a rote, mechanical answer.

Which doesn’t help you get to know them.

So instead, ask them:

  • How they got into the field they’re in.
  • To describe the best project they ever worked on
  • What they love about what they do.

Get to know them rather than the mechanics of what they do.

And in terms of the musician…

Here are some good questions to ask your niece after a recital:

  • Why did she choose that piece of music
  • What that music means to her
  • How did she got started on that instrument

Just like you,

Their work means something to them.

That’s what they (and you) really want to talk about.

Discussion questions:

1. Are you an artist, musician, athlete, …? What non-business skill are you most proud of?

2. What’s the most common misunderstanding about your business expertise?

3. Have you ever actually given an Elevator Pitch in an Elevator?

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