I’ve got a new thought for the New Year: tell the experts they’re nuts. Well, on just one subject: explaining yourself…in business. For the New Year, commit to “be yourself” and to hell with the so-called authorities and all their fancy “service platform explanations.” (Does that make any sense? I didn’t think so either.)
In the process, you just might find that you like yourself, and others, just a wee bit better. And, that you’re not always measuring yourself against an untenable yardstick of “professionalism” and “propriety.”
OK, if someone is explaining his/her business service to you, hang in for a minute: you can do it. Don’t assume s/he will get it all laid out quickly, efficiently and elegantly; sometimes, the smart ones need time, you know. And, this is how we build connections: what we crave. We listen. (Ask the expert, pensive, in the picture; he knows.)
If you’re in the professional service business, you’ve been told — how many times? — how important your “elevator speech” is to promoting your business. (I’ve got news for you: you could be the Bill Gates of Consultants right now: you ain’t gonna sell nothin’ because no one’s buying nothin’. Just the way it is. [Excuse all of my colloquial double negatives, please.] Well, they’re not buying much!)
What spurred this counter-revolutionary theme? (Some think it was my birth!) I got to hear an “award-winnng” journalist and consultant speak recently on the subject of partnerships. The talk was a “blur” but I seem to recall a strong emphasis on the “message;” saying what one does in a specific format so that she, the speaker, or some prospective partner, could understand quickly. Transactions not relationships: isolated vs connecting. The old industrial model: we are “units of labor.” Not my cup of tea.
From now on, I’m going to revolt against this type of “packaging:” I really don’t need someone to explain to me his/her business to know whether or not I’m going to like that person and can possibly do business with him or her. (You know that language is less than 10% about words?)
Some call it the “elevator speech” or “escalator speech.” I call it “deadsville” because it seeks to package what is hard to wrap: my passions, my expertise, my life.
So, if the experts suggest you have ten seconds, tell ’em off and use thirty, hell, use sixty, instead. I’ll listen and if I don’t, I’m not being respectful. How’s that for a New Year’s resolution: I will behave more respectfully in 2010. Towards others, the planet, my clients/customers, my colleagues. I’ll listen: I’ll make more of an effort to connect.
I’m being encouraged, no coerced, to commoditize myself so that you can understand, in an instant, whether or not I have anything to offer you, as another business person, potential partner, etc. How have we arrived here? Slick commercialism? Greed? Fear? Whatever it is, I don’t want to buy it: if you want to tell me about your work, your livelihood, I’ll wait to hear what you’ve got to say: I’ve got plenty of time: I am interested in connecting.
So, when I’m told that I have to explain my work in the “right format,” (What do you offer?…To Whom?…How do they hear about it?…) I’m being told to state my rank and serial number. I’m being told I’m a “thing.” Corn, soybeans, crude oil: I’m a commodity. Trade me on the Mercantile Exchange. That’s not connecting! But…it is safe. (We crave safety, too.)
If I’m a “thing” to you, a tool of some sort that seems to fit your current conundrum, don’t buy me. If you want to know who I am, great. I’ll tell you. But, it will take more than ten seconds. Sorry, just the way it goes if…you’re interested in connecting. How’s that for a New Year’s resolution? We’re not in an economic crisis…we’re in an emotional crisis: a lack of meaningful connection.
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For example, the more sophisticated publication and layout practices of some journals are not accepted in theses