Why Your “Elevator Pitch” is Hurting Your Self Concept

This article is an excerpt from The Thing About Creators by Jessica Carson. Read other excerpts at the end of this article. 

Give Me Your Elevator Pitch — Duality v. Fluidity

We live in an age where people, not just companies, demand impeccably crafted elevator pitches.

You can attend classes where an ex-founder will help you construct a 30-second sound bite on who you are, what you do, and why you matter. It’s repurposed on every resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn bio.

It’s a commercial. And you’re the product.

Do you want money? A dream job? Respect? You can get it all with a killer elevator pitch. But first, you must productize yourself. No pressure.

So we embark on a mission to define ourselves with perfect precision. To create laser cut distinctions around who we are.

The elevator pitch an exercise in dualism if there ever was one: I am this, not that. Independent or collaborator. Marketer or sales. Leader or follower. Go-getter or easy-going. Skilled or unskilled.

And these distinctions are reinforced by popular tools of psychological measurement. Chances are you know where you fall in these categories: Thinking or feeling. Introvert or extrovert. Open to experience or cautious.

The pitch also defines what we want. Our goals and long-term plans. So we puff our chests and declare these ambitions. I am heading exactly there, with clear and direct vision. Eyes on the prize, no hesitation permitted.

And while an elevator pitch is a toy in the professional sandbox, these definitions can intoxicate the entire identity. Because if you’re “logical and goal-oriented” at work, that must certainly spill over into your personal life too.

What can we say? Us humans, we like consistency.

The elevator pitch is a favorite among disruptors, innovators, and entrepreneurs.

This is because success often hinges on other’s ability to neatly pinpoint your niche or expertise, “Oh you’re that person.” And when networking is a core part of the job description, brevity and clarity are appreciated.

Creators are complex and curious by nature. They love tangents and rabbit holes. If you let them, their personal bios would be novellas. The elevator pitch forces Creators to define their lane, which is a saving grace for the pitch-off or business expo.

So there you are, distilled into a pithy bio. Encapsulated in a neat, tidy, and perfectly practical package that’s bite sized and ready for the networking event. The descriptions and distinctions are crisp as a freshly printed resume, with no tolerance for ambiguity.

We cling tightly to this portable personal pitch, with its clear delineations and easy to recall sound bites. Words that certainly capture you in all your complicated brilliance.

And look, I get it. I’m a sensible gal. I understand the appeal of a coherent and concise calling card. I don’t like socializing with the longwinded networker more than you do.

But the elevator pitch can do a lot of unseen damage to the identity.

The identity crisis comes when we don’t live up to (or like) the elevator pitch we’ve created. When we find ourselves stuck in a definition that is too big or too tight. When we realize we don’t like that job, resonate with that skill-set, or want that future.

The pitch becomes our story and we buy into it as much as any employer.

For many, the elevator pitch is a constitution by which we focus our energies. We double-down on the qualities around which our pitch is crafted and ignore opposing strengths. We invest so heavily on one end of the spectrum that we grow limply underdeveloped in others.

And once the pitch is plastered about town, it can be intimidating to change your tune. When you’ve smeared your LinkedIn and other professional properties with your pitch, the damage can seem rightfully done.

More and more, we ourselves outgrowing the pitch or realizing the original definitions were poorly formulated. But fearing contradiction, we keep to a storyline that no longer aligns with our path. We become convinced you can’t teach an old dog, so we carry on with outdated tricks.

In our desire for efficiency and distinction, we lose the nuance and spectrum of experience. As we strive to identify ourselves so concretely, we lose our ability to identify ourselves at all.

The relief from these too-tight pants comes when we define our contribution potential in flexible and nuanced terms. When we identify themes, intentions, and archetypes over rigid functions and skills.

Don’t worry, Creator. You can still give your pitch in the time it takes to ride an elevator. But now, you’ll avoid the risk of a free fall.


Pitch Perfect — Deepen, Distill, Direct


There are four big things I’ve learned about the elevator pitch & Creator identity:

-Creators are pressured to develop a tight elevator pitch
-The self is in alignment when it is defined fluidly
-When the identity is forced into a strict, ill-fitting definition, it can undergo crisis
-Creators can secure their identity with a flexible, thematic, and fluid pitch

Here is my three step recipe for a Creator-friendly elevator pitch:

1. Find Your Themes Over Aspects – Deepen
2. Find Your Mantra Over Goals – Direct
3. Find Your Archetype Over Function – Distill


1. Find Your Themes Over Aspects – Deepen

So first, what the hell is an aspect?

Aspects are the words you use in your elevator pitch. They are your interests, skills, or characteristics. Your aspects might include team player, data-driven, or the ever popular, “results oriented.” Eye roll…

But here’s the thing about aspects — they change.

Most of us concoct our aspects based on past work experience. Based on what we think we know of ourselves. But when we’re in environments that flex new muscles, we often realize our aspects are wrong or outgrown.

The first step is to find your theme. Make a list of all the aspects you currently include in your elevator pitch. Cross out the ones that you know are BS.

With this fresh list, create several themes that capture the essence of your aspects.

Example
Aspects: Writing, Psychology, Mental Health, Speaking, Venture Capital, Entrepreneur, Technology, Innovative, Curious, Driven, Scientist, Aggressive, Structured, Confident, Logical, Creative, Intuitive, Power, Masculine
Themes: Leader, Teacher, Healer

 


2. Find Your Intentions Over Goals – Direct

It’s great to have goals. Really, it is. But I’m just going to come out and say it — don’t contaminate your elevator pitch with your goals.

Like aspects, goals change. But goals are weightier and more visible than aspects. If you don’t achieve a stated goal, it’s more damaging than wavering on an aspect.

When you sprinkle your elevator pitch with goals, you lock yourself into a commitment. Which is fine if you’re certain about your commitment. But let’s be real, most of us aren’t.

If someone says their goal is to be a leader in venture capital and a year later they no longer work in venture capital, everyone will be confused. First and foremost, their own identity.

The second step is to find your intention. Unlike a goal, an intention is created around values. An intention is reflective of a more stable part of the self. An intention won’t change with your job or day of the week.

Write down the goal(s) you currently use in your elevator pitch. Then shift it into a more identity-friendly intention.

Example 

My goal is to be a psychologist. 

My intention is to inspire and uplift others through self knowledge.

3. Find Your Archetype Over Function – Direct

Now for one of my favorites.

Archetypes are invaluable in refining the identity. They are fundamental, universal characters in the collective unconscious.

Each archetype is characterized by its own values, behaviors, beliefs, personality traits, and motivations. Depending on your dominant archetypes, you are more or less likely to have certain jobs.

Like aspects and goals, job functions are likely to change. You may be a marketer now, but a business development executive next year. Instead of rigidly committing to one job function, find a fluid and stable archetype.

There are many different archetype resources, but I like the Michael Teachings version listed below.

Step three is to find your archetypes. Using your themes and intention as guidance, you can uncover your archetypes. You may strongly identity with one or several.

While your job function will change many, your archetypes are a solid foundation.

  • The Artisan: Artisans are creatives, innovators, and always try to see the world through a fresh lens. They are eccentric, inventive, and mood creators.
    • Professions: artists, inventors, poets, writers, craftspeople, actors, architects, engineers, mechanics, repair people, and athletes
    • + Creative, expressive, fresh, imaginative, inventive, innovative, original, spontaneous, stylish
    • Artificial, dreamy, emotional, flaky, moody, picky, self-delusional, self-distructive, skeptical
  • The Sage: Sages are communicators, storytellers, and performers. They are entertaining, dramatic, inquisitive, colorful, and light-hearted.
    • Professions: authors, actors, public speakers, journalists, entertainers, and teachers
    • + Articulate, colorful, dramatic, entertaining, enthralling, expressive, friendly, fun-loving, humorous, informative, inquisitive, knowledgeable, light-hearted, perceptive, storyteller, verbose, wise
    • Arrogant, bag of wind, deceptive, demands attention, drama queen, egocentric, gossipy, hogs conversation, intrusive, loud, oratorical, overblown sense of entitlement, sleazy, tactless bore, tasteless
  • The Server: Servers are focused on service, inspiration, and nurturing. They are devoted caretakers and exude warmth, love, trustworthiness in relationships.
    • Professions: doctors, nurses, therapists, waiters, service people, bureaucrats, and homemakers
    • Capable, caretaker, caring, competent, devoted, friendly, inspiring, loving, nurturing, practical, sweet, trustworthy, warm
    • Covert, domineering, doormat, enslaved, frustrated, martyred, manipulating, overworked, self-sacrificing, subservient, victimized
  • The Priest: Priests are inspirers, spiritual leaders, and healers. They have a vision for the moral and ethical future of society. They are compassionate and dedicated to making a difference.
    • Professions: healers, psychologists, spiritual leaders, military leaders, and high profile positions
    • Caring, compassionate, guiding, enthusiastic, healing, humanitarian, inspirational, nurturing, on a mission, visionary, spiritual
    • Evangelical, fanatical, feverish, impractical, irrational, proselytizing, visionary blindness, vague, unthinking, zealous
  • The Warrior: Warriors love challenge, adventure, and action. They are results oriented, productive, structured, principled, organized, and aggressive.
    • Professions: policemen, athletes, business people, laborers, and soldiers
    • Deliberate, energetic, determined, focused, grounded, loves challenges, maternal, organized, principled, productive, protective, proud, resourceful, skillful, survivor
    • Blunt, brutal, bullying, coercive, devious, evasive, explosive, hot-tempered, intimidating, narrow-minded, pushy, seeks conflict, stressed, suspicious, unforgiving, violent
  • The King: Kings are charismatic and authoritative leaders who demand excellence. They are self-assured, strategics, commanding, delegators, and good with money.
    • Professions: presidents, executives, generals, and politicians
    • Benevolent, charismatic, commanding, composed, comprehensive, expert, inspires loyalty, magnanimous, masterful, natural leader, perfectionist, stable, strategist, trouble shooter
    • Arrogant, controlling, demanding, extravagant, haughty, heartless, inflexible, intolerant, overbearing, ruthless, tyrannical
  • The Scholar: Scholars seek knowledge and truth. They are curious, observant, and logical.
    • Professions: philosophers, historians, scientists, researchers, mathematicians, and professors
    • Adventurous, curious, easy-going, grounded, knowledgable, logical, mediating, methodical, neutral, observing, studied, understanding
    • Abstract, arrogant, boring, dusty, intellectualizing, overbearing, passive, pontificating, reclusive, slow, theoretical

Archetypes from Michael Teachings

Example
Priest: moral, psychology, compassionate, healer, spiritual, on a mission
Warrior: energetic, loves challenges, resourceful, productive
Some Artisan: creative, innovative, inventive
Some Scholar: curious, observant, knowledge loving

 

Find Your Themes Over Aspects – Deepen Find Your Intentions Over Goals – Direct Find Your Archetype Over Function – Distill
Aspects:
Writing, Psychology, Mental Health, Speaking, Venture Capital, Entrepreneur, Technology, Curious, Driven, Scientist, Aggressive, Structured, Confident, Logical, Creative, Intuitive, Powerful, Masculine
Themes:
-Leader
-Teacher
-Healer
My goal is to be a psychologist. 
My intention is to inspire and uplift others through self knowledge.
Priest: moral, psychology, compassionate, healer, spiritual, on a mission
Warrior: energetic, loves challenges, resourceful, productive
Some Artisan: creative, innovative, inventive
Some Scholar: curious, observant, knowledge loving

The Thing About Creators

Don’t be fooled: Breakdowns aren’t reserved for your burnout roommate. In fact, the most spectacular freak-outs, funks, and crises are saved for disruptors, innovators, influencers, trend-setters, and go-getters. It’s basically a right of passage. Welcome to the club.
The Thing About Creators explores the crisis of meaning plaguing modern day success stories. The Creator is a powerhouse of psychological and energetic strength — but these rarified abilities make them uniquely vulnerable to funks. Add to this our current work and play climate, and we have an epidemic in the making. But Creators can capitalize on their crisis unlike any other. They can disrupt themselves.

Check out other excerpts from The Thing About Creators:

–  The Thing About Creators– An Overview
I.  How to Manage Your #FOMO as a Creator
II. How to Find Your True Competitive Advantage as a Creator

III. Why Your Elevator Pitch is Hurting Your Self Concept
IV. How to Handle Your Restlessness as a Creator
V. Why You Should Think Twice About Being an Impression Manager
VI. How Your “Personal Brand” is Keeping You Stuck

VII. How to Maximize Your Resonance With Others as a Creator
VIII. Why You Need to Stay in Your Body as a Creator

I hope this taste of The Thing About Creators serves you. Share your thoughts with me — I can’t wait to hear from you, Creator.

6 Comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s