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The Origin Myth of the Elevator Pitch Coach

Sometimes you have an experience so profound that it changes the entire trajectory of your career, and you won’t become aware of its impact until many years later.

For me, this happened in 2001.

I had recently finished my training as an improvisational actor, and joined as a founding member of a troupe we called “Myths & Legends.” We focused on dragons and princes and queens – epic stories from days of yore.

And we were having a serious crisis of confidence.

It got so bad that one of the guys I had trained with, who was already a better improviser than I would ever be, completely forgot all his training in a scene during rehearsal. It’s unusual to completely ruin an improv scene, especially for someone of his caliber, but he absolutely did.

And he came off stage shaking his head and saying what we were all thinking: “What’s going on?”

So our director steps in and gathers us into a circle and says, “What we’re going to do now is to go around the circle. When it’s your turn, you going to tell the person on your right one thing you admire about them and one piece of work they’ve done that really caught your attention.”

I vividly remember two startling discoveries from that day:

1. It was easy coming up with what to say. Nobody hesitated. Nobody wished for a different partner. Any one of us could have talked about the great work being done by anyone else in that circle. We have praise for people in our heads – we just never say it.

2. It’s powerful being seen. The person on my left turned to me and said, and I remember it word for word to this day, he said “You know, you really play regal characters well, like the princes and the kings. You have a real knack for that.”

I was stunned because I had been actively trying to avoid playing princes and kings. It seemed like I always gravitated to them, and I didn’t want to get pigeonholed. I wanted to play other types of characters.

But on that day, my fellow actor gave me permission to play to my strengths. He reflected back to me a piece of myself that I couldn’t see from the inside.

And, thanks to Charlie Savill’s insightful interview, I now recognize this as my pivotal moment. Every day I listen closely to people and reflect their strengths back to them in the form of an Elevator Pitch.

They are always surprised. Their strength doesn’t feel like a strength to them. But wow – it sure is to the rest of us.

Now, as an Elevator Pitch Coach, I help consultants identify and articulate what makes them unique and memorable. By highlighting their inherent strengths, they can make a powerful impression and stand out from the crowd. There’s nothing to memorize and nothing to make up. It’s them, clearly and authentically as we see them.

The transformative power of identifying and acknowledging your strengths is a lesson I learned back in 2001, and it’s a lesson that continues to drive my passion for coaching today.

What’s your origin story for your work?

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