Heritage Wednesday::The Elevator Speech


A Heritage Elevator Speech? Yes. If you are a professional, a small-business owner, an academic, an artist or a dreamer, you have inherited a culture that is short on time yet ravenous for great ideas. The elevator speech is what bridges the gap between innovators and their supporters. If you are fortunate enough to encounter an interested or strategically placed person who can propel you on your path, you need a hook, a compelling and SHORT story to engage them in your vision. These interactions are often the result of chance social encounters with friends of friends, colleagues at professional conferences or all-staff meetings at work. At best, you may get a 1-4 minute audience with this person, so make it count!

Elevator Speech Opportunities

“So, what do you do for a living?”

I have heard it said a few times by artists and academic-types that the sales-pitch feels like the hardest part. “Why must I sell people on my idea when it is clearly something that: will inspire others / help the greater good / is intrinsically valuable”. Yes, your idea may be all of those things, but no idea is helpful without the support of other people. It’s a condition of being born a social being. The truth is, if you have a degree, a job, or you have friends who support your endeavors, then your inner-salesperson is alive and well. We sell people on ideas of who we are, what we are capable of, and even convince companies and institutions to believe that we are ambassadors for the best interests of an academic discipline, department or product line.

If you dislike the “sale” then that is an indicator that you approach the sales moment with the sensibilities of the inner artist, or academic etc, that is to say, you may be approaching the sales moment with the portion of yourself that prefers to be alone and simply do the work, rather than drum-up support for it. That frame of mind is good when creating or writing, but does not directly serve the proliferation of your goal, project or idea. You will need to free your inspired salesperson self to share your idea, or it will remain small and undernourished, and will eventually wither and die young, never having received support from those who could help it thrive.

Overlapping interests are the bounty of the elevator speech

“No kidding? I have always been interested in that! Let’ set up a meeting time to discuss this further. I’d love to help you in any way I can…”

Approach the following exercise with the passion of the artist, the honed expression of your inner academic, and the tact and extroversion of your inner salesperson.

Elevator speeches should be customizable on the fly, so this requires you to really think about your project, ideas or goals, and think of as many possible applications or collaborations that you would ENJOY pursuing. This refines your thought process about the project, and cultivates a flexible approach to describing your idea.

If your networking goal is to meet as many allied people as possible, then your elevator speech goal is to craft as many versions of an introduction.

Now that you know the “whys” of an elevator speech, let’s discuss the “how”.  There are five dimensions to the elevator speech. They cover the points most likely to interest the listener, yet leaves them enough time to comprehend the information and ask for more if they so choose.

  1. Who am I and what is my research / project / initiative?
  2. Why is this new fangled thing better that what already exists? What does your offering give that has never been offered before?
  3. What makes your approach/ project/ initiative/ research so important, notable or special?
  4. What are your desired outcomes / goals?  What is your vision?
  5. BREATHE

 More on STEP 5

After the sales pitch, the rest is up to the listener / audience. You can make a quick introduction, but the buy-in cannot be rushed.  After you finish your elevator speech, make eye contact, smile, take a deep breath and relax your shoulders while counting to 5.  By the time you compose yourself, you will be ready to listen to their response, and answer any questions.

Remember, this is a conversation, and questions signify interest and active listening, not necessarily criticism (remember: critique is good); so receive their questions as guidance toward the clarification and manifestation of your goal. No idea is created in a vacuum.

Give the listener time to digest and respond to your “speech”. Let them begin to sense the greater implications and importance of your work. If you give them time to respond, inevitably, they will respond with thoughtful questions. Keep your answers concise. Less is more. The “less is more” speech is composed of the prize nuggets that makes listeners want to seek more information. This is salesperson-ship at its best! Your brilliant idea enhanced by a refined presentation does all the work!

Congratulations!

Kudos to You!

Congratulations! This was a long post, so if you’ve made it this far, you’ve already primed your inner salesperson to do you proud. The hardest part is writing the speech, so once you’ve written the first draft. Say it aloud, practice it, test it on your friends and family, coworkers, and your boss (if appropriate). When you can improvise alternate versions and feel comfortable with the process, you’re ready to take it into the field…

I thought I’d share my revised elevator speech with you as an example, so here it is, in outline format:

  1. Who am I and what is my research / project / initiative?
    1. My name is Shawndel Fraser and I am an Environmental Psychologist. I am building a creative and healing arts retreat for women survivors.
  2. Why is this newfangled thing better that what already exists? Why is your project / goal / idea unique?
    1. Where most retreats cater to luxury consumers, yogis, or spiritual seekers, The Blue Dome is a retreat for women who wish to hone new emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual tools to transform limited and limiting beliefs about past intense experiences.
  3. What makes your approach/ project/ initiative/ research so important, notable or special?
    1. The Blue Dome is a restorative and safe place where women create community; they repose in physical, emotional and psychological comfort, and take part in creative and healing art activities that help them realize one thing: survivors don’t simply survive, they Artfully Transcend. Any survivor has the potential and ability to transcend all types of violence and circumstance.
  4. What are your desired outcomes / goals?  What is your vision?
    1. My goal is for the women to realize during their stay, that their past traumas were divine lessons in disguise.
    2. My vision is that they will come to learn that their survivor status is actually a call to contribute in global healing though their unique expression of leadership in their everyday lives.

I hope this is helpful, do share your elevator speech should you feel so inclined. I will offer constructive critique if you do!

Shawndel

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The Choice You Make is the Shape Your Life Takes


It is not the conditions that shape your destiny, it’s your decisions. It’s in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped. ~Tony Robbins, Ultimate Edge Audio Session 1

Image of a road sign which illustrates the way life changes according to choices made.

The choices you make determine the direction of your life.

Tony Robbins offers us great thought exercise to determine “why your life has turned out the way it has”. Think about the decisions you’ve made your life over the past 5 or 10 or 15 years.

  1. What decisions have you made to physically place you in your geographic location? Your physical location affects your thought, friendships and activities, among other things.
  2. What emotions have you chosen to focus on and / or act upon? Those choices shape your beliefs, your body shape, relationship status, and landscape of your life.
  3. What decision can you make today to shift your outlook on your life, to improve your relationships, to deepen your ability to live an authentic life?

Grow Food::Grow Fiber


Rebecca Burgess is one of my modern day inspirations for creating a local (North California) network of artisans, and fiber, and food farmers. Rebecca has trained with master natural fiber dyers, she teaches adults and children how to create natural low-impact color, and she inspires people to support local artisans.

I can imagine creating such a network here in North Texas, as I’ve already connected with two fiber farmers. My next activity will be to create a local, seasonal dye-map of plants, trees and shrubs in my area from which I can harvest for color through the seasons. It seems the first step to creating a fibershed is to learn what the environment / area offers by way of resources, then to create relationships with people who own, manage or care for the land, and with fellow artisans who can make beautiful things from twigs and berries!

 

 

Humans Have Gone Rogue


Humans can choose to avail ourselves of kinship with and empathy for our non-human family…

My friends and colleagues who label themselves Environmentalists, use language that masks the intensity of the violence committed against sea and ocean life. Even well-intentioned allies that I admire and respect, unwittingly use the same violent euphemisms that obscure the true injustices hidden inside words like “offshore drilling” and “marine bio-exploration”, both code for business based manifest destiny and the ghettoization of the seas. I am committed to peaceful practices, and strive to use peaceful, clear language, however I do believe in naming things as they are so that we clearly understand our challenges. Oil exploration is more than a “noisy and chaotic rudeness” that scrambles sea mammals’ perceptual organs; “drilling” essentially overwhelms and clouds the senses that they use to survive, to find food, to find and communicate with family and pod members, to travel safely and avoid predators and environmental risks. What scientific terminology and current environmental language lacks is any indication or acknowledgement that oil companies purposely use violent, gitmo bay-esque sensory deprivation tactics. The risks are not a harmful by-product of oil exploration technology, they are the purpose of said technology. Science and industry can create many painless and helpful things, why then do they create harmful techniques and machinery to search for oil? Oil technology actively dissipates and discourages ocean animals’ life re-producing behaviors and opportunities. IT IS WARFARE. Oil explorers intentionally use WMD’s (the sonic air-guns and other devices) to displace the animal populations. Just as sea trawlers were created to rip up the seabed in search of Blue Fin Tuna, Oil drilling IS the intentional slaughter of sea-life so that oil will become easily accessible.

Humans have gone rogue because those of us who truly empathize with the dire plight of other life forms on our planet number less than our counterparts who are either numb to it, or economically oriented in their opinion. Humans have no more right to earth’s “Stuff” than other life forms, yet we plunder forward as if imperialism, and the plundering of resources is the natural order and all existence awaits colonization.

The Situation Today

In the same ways that ghettos around the world represent the isolation and containment of socially undesirable people within one under-served location, and jail is the first step toward sociocultural exile or physical death, oil exploration and drilling ghettoizes sea life.

Drilling nullifies opportunities to thrive, and natural, life-sustaining resources like nutrient–rich food, space to exercise / play / stretch is aggressively occupied by armed men. Traditional nee customary procreation rites and techniques of child-rearing all but disappear when external forces isolate generational knowledge into disparate locations, eventually sapping the spirits of the young and wizened elders alike. Oil rigs, air-gun based oil-exploration and oil ships ARE seek and destroy based weapons, they ARE the patter-rollers that isolate, capture, torture and/or destroy sea-life. It is their purpose. Each time our elected representatives make concessions to the oil industry, they spit on the trust and power that we’ve lent them. We elected them to do what is true and just for all, yet it is often the last item on the agenda. Do we really need to amend the founding documents to include  the sovereignty and inherent value of animal, human and plant life? Why can’t we trust our elected representatives to simply uphold the most peaceful of all sentiments? If not through representation, what shall we do? I think that we should simply hold ourselves accountable  in our daily life by setting new standards, ethics and practices. We can reclaim power from those who squander public trust.

Paul Nicklen

Image by Paul Nicklen, high quality wildlife photography available for purchase on Art.com. Click image to visit.

I’ve chosen to speak out, to take the time to write about this, to sign the petition and make my voice heard in a state where Oil they drill oil then ship to Japan and other points east. Not many Americans realize that we SELL oil, we don’t just consume it. In Texas, the United States sells oil for use elsewhere, so know that any congressional bill in favor of Arctic oil drilling only seeks to drain the geologic lifeblood from under America just any other “third-world nation”; that is, a weakened nation-state that must exploit and sell its natural resources because it’s finished products are intentionally undervalued or overpriced in the global marketplace.

What Can We Do?

Each of us must be honest with ourselves to make different choices about the ways we travel, what we choose to buy and consume, and then shift our philosophical approach to match. Our next steps must show our willingness to consistently choose to do things differently. This includes shifting our approach to democratic representation. It is time for us to fire, impeach, un-elect poor congressional, executive, gubernatorial, mayoral, any and all elected representatives who knowingly pass bills that advocate for the deaths of the innocent or deny legal standing or rights to any citizen, human, animal or other life-form. It would be unacceptable if the people were to re-elect, or otherwise positively reinforce elected officials who undergird their voting and alliances with violence.


An image of: Free Beluga Whales Swimming in the Ocean

Available for purchase at art.com. Click image to view original.

A Pod of Beluga Whales Swim at the Waters Surface by Norbert Rosing

Why must we voters must always petition politicians to do what is right and just? Why don’t they automatically vote against greedy, trickster bills and policy, and then tell us that they did so? Inaction indicates that they do not have a positive, peaceful / non-violent moral compass and therefore SHOULD NOT represent the people. We hire them to do good works on our behalf at the policy level in the Nation’s capital, so that we can work, provide for our families and build a social fabric and nurture an environment that nurtures life in all its life-affirming forms. Why then must we always chide, cajole, and hambug elected officials to do these very things? If they DON’T affirm peace, freedom or sacredness of all beings everywhere, then what IS their orientation toward life, your life, my life, and who did we really elect to represent us?

The Visionary Activist – Diving into the Dark – February 23, 2012 at 2:00pm
http://kpfaweb.kpfa.org/misc/utilities/players/1pixelout/player.swf
Click to listen (or download)

Since we live in the age of digital petitions, you should sign the petition with “Don’t Be A Bucket Head”. This effort is from a vetted source and the signatures will be hand delivered to Washington. I trust mytho-astro-poetic genius, seer and weaver of aligned context Caroline Casey, and she trusts Michael Stoker. On her KPFA show, Visionary Activist, she invited Micheal to speak, and he explains the situation and shared the beautifully melodic vocalizations from Beluga Whales, and Ringed-Seals.

Listen to the amazing sounds of Ring Seals, Beluga Whales and learn about the 5-Year Oil Exploration bill before Congress

SHARE THIS WITH OTHERS, and WAKE THEM UP!

Public Art and Environmental Healing


Handmade Portraits: The Public Art of Maya Hayuk from Etsy on Vimeo.

Art + Environment = Place Attachment

Check out my new Magnt site!


Check out my new Magnt site!.

The Right to Look is more our duty than a “right”


Book Cover: The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality by Nicholas Mirzoeff

“RSVP for the Book Launch for Nicholas Mirzoeff’s
The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 5:30 pm at 20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor, New York, NY

Space is limited and reservations are required. To RSVP, please visit: http://bitly.com/nicholasmirzoeff.

Register to attend a reception celebrating the publication of The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality (Duke University Press, 2011), by Nicholas Mirzoeff, Professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, NYU.
In The Right to LookNicholas Mirzoeff develops a comparative de-colonial framework for visual culture studies, the field that he helped to create and shape. Casting modernity as an ongoing contest between visuality and countervisuality, or “the right to look,” he explains how visuality sutures authority to power and renders the association natural. Encompassing the Caribbean plantation and the Haitian revolution, anticolonialism in the South Pacific, antifascism in Italy and Algeria, and the contemporary global counterinsurgency, The Right to Look is a work of astonishing geographic, temporal, and conceptual reach.”This event is free and open to the public.

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I studied with Nick during a semester “abroad” at NYU, yes, venturing beyond the 14th street divide counts as abroad for many New York City graduate students! (joke). That spring, I took a class in visual culture called “Modernity and Climate Change” in the Media Culture and Communication Studies Department. The class was simply amazing, with the range of discipline and perspectives represented. Our group conversations were candid, intense, exciting and enriching. Nicholas was a confident leader and didn’t overly direct the conversation or derail fruitful trains of thought.

I invited him to speak at the Ninth Annual Nature Ecology Society Colloquium where he delivered a talk “Islands of Justice: Imagining Climate Change. He made a big splash with they way he integrated images, and audience assumptions and cultural readings of climate change images and information, specifically that of islanders around the world whose lives are changing at the prospect of climactic shifts and sea-level changes.

He was a truly welcome addition to our roster, a major coup, I might add, and  he represented the start of a rich relationship between NES and NYU. I found him to be an engaging speaker, brilliant thinker, witty, real and personable!

I definitely recommend that people who grapple with visual studies and / or use digital media (as a theoretical foundation, for data collection, analysis or presentation) should attend. If you tell him I sent you, it’ll elicit a smile!

Let me know if you decide to go, I’d love to hear about it!

 Shawndel