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?

 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!


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!



Saucy Saturday::LogoDoodles for Self-Awareness

I’ve been playing around with Logo symbols, and created two ideas. I used my new watercolor pencils for these, though I plan to revisit them with my rich new watercolors from The Modern museum in Ft. Worth.


These are not final, but they begin to touch on the energies I wish to invoke with my creative and healing arts retreat “The Blue Dome” and the subsidiary brands: think. Feel. Grow!, and Artful Transcendence(c)


Think::What do these images communicate to you? What meaning do you derive from the symbols and their placement?

Feel::How do you feel about a hand drawn logo, given the type of company/organization it represents? How do you feel about the idea of crafting your own logo?

Grow::What would your logo look like? What materials or medium would you choose? What shapes, colors, symbols would you use? What would it represent about you/your goals/your heart work (that is, the true work that you are here to contribute e.g. Healing, beauty, advisor, etc.)

Ah, therein lay the rub. To make a logo, you must first discover and decide on your contribution to this great social and ecological world we call home, That IS the Blue Dome! 🙂

Conspiratorially yours in creativity,

Just Married! Art and Craft!

I have encountered a number of uniquely crafted instruments over the years, however htis is the first moment when I’ve heard the artisan state that their work is a marriage between art and craftsmanship. Indeed, the look of the instrument and fine sound, also tells me that it may be a polyamorous relationship as *technicality* seems to have influenced this pairing.

Avocado Ukelele

Snail Shell Ukelele (Snailele)

Dove Hole Mandolin by Celentano Woodworks

To be an artist, artisan or fine crafter, one must fully embrace their medium, materials and tools for all of its possibilties, quirks and challenges. Then, one must consolidate that knowledge with the skills honed over time and circumstance to bring the idea to form and innovate. Truly the expertise, intensity, joy and beauty necessary for and produced by the artists and crafters derives from the same inner source, yet I am perplexed by the fact that society views one as finer than the other because the objects have different practical potentialities.

Navajo Spindle: Earth by Roosterick

Polwarth Wool Roving - Handpainted Felting or Spinning Fiber by Woolgatherings

Raibow Upcycled Sweater by Katwise

I wonder if one must devote themselves to one art form to truly be considers a great artist… or must you know everything about one craft to be a master craftsperson. What about the person who appreciates the vastness of any given art or craft area, endeavors to learn to do one thing really well, then pursues the next medium, material or art / craft form to repeat the process of learning. What is that person called? What is the name of the art of pursuing practicable knowledge about craft?

Offering No. 29 - Handstitched Clamshell Book Sculpture by Odelae

An Innocent Fluttering - Mini Handstitched Journal by Odelae

View the Craft In America Episode: Process that explores the makings of a craft career.  “What inspires a career in craft?  How does one learn a craft and make a living at it?”

1) Know what materials / emotions / places that make you want to create

2) Indulge your curiosity, inspiration is always near

3) Trial and Error. Even the “mistakes” can be beautiful!

4) Collect an email address for every patron who buys your art

5) Open an etsy shop. Start your own cottage industry!

6) Honor your vision. What is amazing to you will find it’s audience. See below!

All the artworks featured in this post are from some of my favorite artisans and shops on etsy! they inspire me. Saving them to y favorites means that I’ve created a small gallery of beautiful handmade items; I love to look at them!

Nevada Cut Coin Jewelry by bongobeads

Toothless Ring Made With Fake Tooth And Topaz by dolldisasterdesign

Tardis Corset- blue underbust corset, steel boned, custom made, doctor who inspired by Corset Wonderland

Monkeys, Mixtures and Magnamanities…

Movements for animal rights are not irrational denials of human uniqueness; they are a clear sighted recognition of connection across the discredited breach of nature and culture.

~Donna Haraway, from the Cyborg Manifesto, in Simians, Cyborgs and Women (1991)

Jacques Derrida on “Animals”

A mash-up of thinkers whose writing style, content and intellectual dexterity that inspires me and influences my work.

And so it is 🙂

Donna Haraway reads the National Geographies of Gorillas: Margie & KoKo

From spectacle to suburbs: “Race, Culture and Class are recoded at the boundary of nature and culture

This special tv feature disturbed me in multiple ways; the first is that the zoo and scientists co-signed on the forceful abduction of Michael from his home, family and social relations only to be airlifted to the science-fictionesque California lab setting. His life trajectory was altered so that he would serve as a consort, and in the retelling, it seems that there was no qualm about the “ethics” of doing so. Another disturbing fact is the hypothesis that  “we” (humans) could / would come to “understand” the “mentality” of another “species” through the use of sign-language as two-way “communication”; As a thinking, feeling being, this tells me that they had no sense of the ways that  human “language” is socio-temporally situated and is therefore not generalize-able to any and all experiences. Even if the words used may refer to some reasonably understandable thing, meaning, intent and underlying assumptions are never exact from one communicator to the receiver. Language is a tool that shapes understanding, thought, perception and notions of self and other. The underlying assumption is that scientists gave the gorillas a tool to express internal events. In fact, scientists acted upon the gorillas with the language-tool to show them to use that same uninvited tool to further, irrevocably change themselves, their perception and experiences.

No great inter-species understanding was accomplished here. That which the two gorillas expressed was unique to the experiences of two captive gorillas living in the bizarre human contexts of laboratory and suburb.

So I ask, just was inter-species understanding was truly achieved by this work? That “gorillas” feel emotions and have the desire and ability to communicate, and form deep, intense and persistent social bonds? these are things we learned by simple observation.

Projects like these to me have the appeal of fetish. The object of interest is not real for its true role, rather for its assumed entertainment value in an imbalanced power relationship.

I hadn’t expected to go this route when I posted the videos, however viewing them all in succession prompted these thoughts that I share with you today.

What is your takeaway from these videos?

The most important relationship

My Most Important Relationship Is With My Source… There is no relationship of greater importance to achieve than the relationship between you, in your physical body, right here and now, and theSoul/Source/God from which you have come. If you tend to that relationship, first and foremost, you will then, and only then, have the stable footing to proceed into other relationships. Your relationship with your own body; your relationship with money; your relationship with your parents, children, grandchildren, the people you work with, your government, your world . . . will all fall swiftly and easily into alignment once you tend to this fundamental, primary relationship first.

— Abraham

Excerpted from the book, The Vortex, Where the Law of Attraction Assembles All Cooperative Relationships # 270, Jerry and Esther Hicks


Last days in Brooklyn


My days in Brooklyn are winding to a close, and her beauty is returning to my eyes and heart. Places, spaces, people and possibility. Brooklyn has held me for three decades. Today, i am finally looking closely at our impending separation. To your beautiful blue skies and unexpected architectural juts that render you at once rough hewn and knowable. Brooklyn, you are loved.


What’s your passion?

Welcome to Spring, my Thinking Feeling Friends!

Meet the extreme hobbyists in the New York Times

I stepped away from think. Feel. Grow!  as I redirected my words and creative output to my research and accompanying multimedia.  I’ve finally collected all of my data, which means I’ve gathered into one place (really multiple sites), the car ads featured in National Geographic Magazine post-World War II to present day. I’ve started creating movie vignettes deconstructing the ads, and I am in the writing process. Yay! This is major, because now I can really work through my ideas with the data in hand! No more suppositions, time to engage with material reality.

Over the past five weeks, I’ve been pondering why do I blog, who reads my blog, and the most recent musing, today, is what is my passion? Well, I don’t know who reads my blog, but I know why I do it. WordPress is a great workspace for me to track my inspirations, share some of my thought process, and at times, write posts directly related to my research that I will include in my thesis. Unlike traditional “work”, intellectual labor is a path where one’s writing creates ones future, so what and where I write helps me find just where I would like to place myself professionally and to what end; I interpret that as work toward identifying my motivation or my passion.

I have many, many hobbies that I turn to at different times and seasons for different reasons. I used to think of myself as generalist: I am an urban cyclist (an extreme sport of its own!), I crochet and knit jewelry and accessories and am a teaching artist, I play the flute and the guitar, I prepare lacto-fermented traditional foods, and recently taught myself bookbinding and scrapbooking techniques.  I am a bit of a technophile especially as it relates to my research and academia, and I read copiously for pleasure. I recently learned how to swim, I am a gardener and all-around “nature-buff” who can lead a reasonable nature tour for friends in almost any region I visit. At times I’ve sewn my clothing from original patterns, I can organize sustainable green conferences, and I can give sound advice (though I think I am retiring from that sticky business!). All of these hobbies actually inspire my passion…to be an Expert; to be so versed, learned and engaged in an idea or phenomenon that I pursue it with zeal and uncover all that I can so that I can share my findings, impressions and understandings of  it with others. I heart this, and it is my motivator, my fuel, my passion.

My creative [writing] process has begun to unfurl, and the more I relax into it, the more I realize that I can wander on flights of intellectual fancy not just in my mind, but I can work it out on the canvas of the paper. Just as my body needs and enjoys physical exercise in the pool or on my trusty Brompton, my mind likes the playgrounds of Scrivener, MsWord, Personal Brain, Dipity, Prezi, WordPress, Omeka and Final Cut Pro and the many other softwares that I use to wrangle with my data, ideas and bring them to a format fit for sharing and discussion with interested others.

So, I have been away from think. Feel. Grow! for a while, coming to learn and accept this about myself and working hard to meet my self-imposed deadlines. My new task, is to continue to share my inspirations, the interesting retro advertisements I found and update you on my project, without judging too harshly, the look and content of my blog postings. So here is to a revitalized momentum here on think. Feel. Grow!, just in time for the warmer days of Spring!