you & me

Do You Really Need A Pitch?

Hardly anyone likes to answer this: “So… what do you do?”

Here’s me after you ask, during a polite birthday-of-your-boyfriend party, or worse, a network meeting: “Eh… (stammer)… (suddenly looking for an answer-postponing snack)…Good question. (Deep inhale)… (sitting up straight to rouse courage)… I’m a writer.”

Which is about the worst thing to say if you don’t wanna go there, because it inevitably leads to ever more complicated questions, like the understandable “Interesting. What do you write?” Somehow I can converse about almost anything, from bumblebees to the situation in Syria to the best ways of plucking your eyebrows, but wrapping up what I actually love most is what I find nerve-racking. Weirdly enough.

I wish to be as brave as one of my favorite innerpreneurs, Tim Ferriss, who after being tired of answering this koan-like question, replied “I’m a drug dealer” for quite a while.

But I’m not. So I stumble my way out of this common and awkward social dance. After which my inner critic whispers, “Tsk tsk, you should know better by now.” Over the last decade, I’ve been bombarded with the belief that it’s essential to have that 30-second pitch ready like a gun in a cowboy’s belt.

Blogs, network gurus and business plan templates insisted: you must be able to say Who You Are and What You Offer, in an elevator ride space of time.

I never could. And felt bad about it.

I realize this pitch-fever wasn’t limited to work or business: who are you-one sentence-go! has become a cultural side effect of everything speeding up. Through social media, we’ve all become experts at telling the most epic story of all time: who we are. We have become so good at it that at times, you’d almost believe it.

Now here’s how truth works for me: I could hear a 100 things that aren’t true for me and just one that is, and that single one has the power to knock the other 100 down. It’s how I recognize innerpreneurs.

Marie Forleo, another one of my favorite innerpreneurs, recently vlogged on pitch, basically claiming she’s been doing just fine without one. I felt relieved and empowered.

It made me realize that others might need your pitch more than you do. I remembered my grandmother’s trouble in explaining to her friends and family what (the heck) I was doing in life. Anthropologist didn’t make a lot of sense to my grandparents.

After the ceremony where I received my MA, my gentle and wise grandfather came up to me, all dressed up and holding a glass of wine, saying, “I’m not exactly sure what you did, but I’m very proud of you for doing it.”

Yoga events, my next field of business, didn’t make much sense to them either. But when, for a brief moment in my twenties, I worked as a model, they caught on like sparks. I did something they could actually picture — and when I saw them talking about it, they seemed almost relieved.

I’ll still drop the occasional pitch to give the outside world a similar picture, but I’m officially retiring from believing that I have to drum up anything about myself or what I do in one sentence.

How much more fun is the prospect of actually meeting another being and having a fresh, customized conversation about what you do? Just think about it. Getting a pre-fab elevator pitch from someone can feel like getting slapped in the face with a piece of social plastic. (I know you’ve been there) Someone who takes the time to tune into the reality of themselves, you, and the situation, is a moment of true connection.

Who needs a stuffy elevator ride when you can stand in the ever-changing fresh meadow of nowness?

Edelweiss power to the pitch.

Now, what do you think about my revelation? Do you struggle with being brief about What You Do? Or has a pitch worked like magic for you? Improve or lose? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.



GeertjeCouwenbergh02Geertje Couwenbergh is a columnist, innerpreneur and author of four (Dutch) books. She teaches Yoga, writing workshops and retreats in Europe. She is currently writing a new, non-fiction book on innerpreneurship. You could support her project on Kickstarter.


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