Tag Archives: Conversations

Love in an Elevator…

A few years ago, I facilitated a training session for a global sales team. The team had been assigned the task of creating an Elevator Pitch — a self-contained value proposition of no more than three paragraphs.

A great elevator pitch is an understandable summary of what’s being offered and why it’s important. The whole idea is to tell your story in the time it takes to ride an elevator from the lobby to the floor on which your client’s offices are located.

Because of the limited trip time, elevator pitches must be self-contained, requiring little, if any, context or set-up.

After several hours of diligent preparation, the sales team leader stepped up to share the three paragraphs his team had constructed. “Before I start,” said the sales leader, “I do need to offer a little CONTEXT.

And so he began


21 minutes later

After he felt comfortable that he’d covered all the stuff we needed to know to understand what he was offering… he finally read the three paragraphs.

Silence in the room.

He stood there looking at me…

Waiting for me to say something…

My response?

“Unless your client is in Dubai [home of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building], that elevator ride doesn’t exist!”

The moral of the story?

Less IS more!

Show your love and respect by:

  • Owning your material
  • Stating your value
  • Keeping it short. Then…
  • Drop the mic and exit, leaving them wanting more


This week’s shout out goes to Adrian Smith, the architect of the Burj Khalifa building and the man who gave long winded people hope for completing their elevator pitches after all. Amazingly, he shared his idea while riding in an elevator and his original plans were created and submitted on a cocktail napkin (just kidding).

Until next week… Stay connected!



Hailed or hated, prophet or poison, Donald Trump’s presidential bid has fundamentally changed political discourse in ways that will benefit our nation and the world.

Here’s why:

  1. Symbols & Systems: Humans are incapable of understanding complex systems as a whole. Instead, we rely on symbols to help us comprehend what we otherwise could not. For example, it is impossible to conceive the intricacies of the entire world or even a large city, so we use maps to represent its various parts.  Change the symbols and you change the way we view the system. Political punditry aside, I think it’s fair to say that Donald Trump is not your typical republican candidate. In fact, he’s not a typical candidate—period. He’s challenging our accepted symbol of political leadership.
The word is not the thing and the map is not the territory.
Alfred Korzybski
  1. Petulance & Permissions: Surrendering ideology in favor of anger, angst and frustration with the status quo, Trump appeals to groups of people that defy political boundaries. His raucous ranting and insult slinging has, in effect, given millions of people permission to venture outside the lines of traditional political rhetoric.
  2. Conversions & Conversations: Whether you are among the converts or appalled beyond belief, chances are you are having conversations about things you wouldn’t normally talk about and with people with whom you wouldn’t normally speak—AND that is why we owe The Donald a BIG THANK YOU.

The tectonic events that change industries and organizations, the unforeseen forces that drive the cultures of countries and companies are exceedingly difficult to control, but one thing is for sure—in the aftermath of great upheaval comes new resolve. Either we redouble our commitment to our values and our way of life or we simply say enough is enough and start fresh.

America, and the rest of the world, has an amazing opportunity to face the very real issues that have, for far too long, lingered just beneath the surface. We have the opportunity to reexamine our expectations of the social systems and the leaders that serve us.

This may also be an opportunity for you to lead the change conversation in your own organizations:

  • Are there things in your organization that everybody knows – but no one will talk about?
  • Are there better ways to do things that are blatantly obvious – but no one is willing to act on?

There may never be a better time to question the symbols around us and have the conversations that need having…

It’s been said that, “There is never a failure when a flower blooms” and I guess Donald Trump is proving that it’s true for a cactus too!

As always, I welcome your comments and questions directly, at jeff@jeffkaplan.com.

Stay connected,