Nailing Your 60 Seconds: Elevator Talent Pitch

Nailing Your 60 Seconds: Elevator Talent Pitch

When interviewers or anyone in a position to hire asks, “Tell us about yourself”, many people either wing it and end up talking way too long or they only mention their job title and a few unremarkable things they’ve done in the past. In a workshop I attended recently, the instructors outlined the ingredients for a perfect elevator talent pitch. It’s an opportunity to give brief but powerful information with a few “wow” achievements. In a sea of job applicants and the need to impress connections, being memorable is even more important. Knowing your skill set, passion and the value you can bring to an organization will lead to an elevator pitch that’s natural instead of contrived or boring.

This can also be an opportunity to explain where you see yourself in the future and why, especially if you’re planning on pivoting careers. Explaining why you took the leap into a different field by talking about your transferable skills helps people understand where you’re headed. The first step is to prepare a short pitch about yourself that outlines three talents and ties them to the proof of your accomplishments. Keeping it to three skills is one way to keep it short and memorable. Second, practice it several times before your next interview. Try it on someone you know and see what their response is to it. My friend, JoAnne, was able to tell her elevator talent pitch to someone she met on a plane and landed a new job a month later because of her career storytelling ability. 

6 Steps To Create Your Highlight Reel:

  1. Write It Down: Kerri Twig, a career story coach, recommends setting aside 5-10 minutes a day for a week in order to write out your most amazing achievements. This helps clarify which ones you want to highlight. She also recommends writing your own job description/ad that you want. Keep it to three talents at the most.
  2. Time Box It: Try two versions. One is 30 seconds and one is 60 seconds. It will come in handy when you actually only have :30 seconds to impress someone casually. You may also want to have a few different versions based on who you’re talking to at the time. It will be more relevant for them and because of that - will make you more relevant and memorable.
  3. What’s Compelling? Anyone can say they are awesome but few can prove it. Have one or two lines with the proof. Consider including hard numbers and goals achieved so the other person can visualize how you can contribute to their company or who they’d want to introduce you to in the future.
  4. You’re the Product: Treat yourself, business or product like a brand. What’s the one thing you or your business can offer than nobody else can? How are you different? Think about your unique value proposition and what you bring to the table.
  5. Keep It Fluid/Revise It: Your elevator talent pitch should be a living, breathing thing - just like your resume. As you learn more and upskill, it will evolve and become stronger.
  6. Add A Tagline: Including a phrase at the end of your elevator pitch can help solidify a positive first impression in the other person’s mind.  Examples could be the following:
    • Building X has taught me
    • Leadership has recognized X 
    • I help transform X
    • I’ve been passionate about X

Since your “loose connections” tend to be the strongest in terms of landing a position, it’s time well spent practicing your elevator talent pitch.

Reviewed & Recommended:

Kerri Twig is an expert in career storytelling and has recently written a book: The Career Stories Method: 11 Steps to Find Your Ideal Career—and Discover Your Awesome Self in the Process

Kerri also has a huge YouTube following with loads of content on career storytelling: Land a job without applying | Career Stories Live Episode 10

How to Answer Tell Me About Yourself - the opening line

What's Shame Got To Do With It?

What's Shame Got To Do With It?

Turns out a lot. Shame about age and being recognized as someone who happens to be older. If it’s regarding age and searching for a job – shame is especially egregious. What’s interesting is that we shame ourselves. When we admit that maybe age was the reason we did not get that interview or land that job, then we’re admitting that we are a victim. And being a victim is not who we identify with if we are ambitious and want to do interesting and challenging things even - god forbid - in our 50s, 60s and beyond. 

 It’s time to swap age shame for age pride.

                                                                            -Ashton Applewhite


A few months ago, I went on a hike with someone who had been looking for a position in marketing - for two years. She had an amazing background working for big tech companies in the Pacific Northwest. You know what else she had? Beautiful gray hair. Perhaps she’s a terrible interviewer or didn’t prepare well before speaking to a hiring team - but I doubt it. She talked about the shame she felt and the word “embarrassed” came up several times when friends would ask how the job hunt was going. When I asked several people if they’d consider signing up for a career matching platform for people with 20+ years of experience, their response was enthusiastic at first and then lukewarm. They did not want to self select as someone who needed help landing a job because of their age. 

When I went through Founder Institute last September, one advisor said after my pitch, “I don’t believe it. It’s not a thing. Ageism at the hiring level is not a problem to solve.” I could feel my face burning but since we were not allowed to respond to an advisor’s comments, I said, “Thank you for your input” while inwardly screaming. Which brings me back to denial and shame. My hunch is that she didn’t see it as a problem because a) She never experienced it and b) She believed it’s all about having a “growth mindset”. Growing, learning, falling down and learning from it are valuable lessons in life and I’m a big fan of Dr. Carol Dweck who covers this topic.  But this is different. It’s a societal construct that needs to be dismantled and it’s a damaging one at that. Since longevity and the 100 year life are here to stay, we need to make sure that opportunities exist to earn at any age. In fact, it’s so critical the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals calls for “decent work and economic growth” as their eighth initiative to be achieved by 2030.

We believe it’s time to lose stereotypes about people over 40.  We believe the hiring process is flawed and that age bias is all too common.  More than anything, we believe there’s an untapped market filled with amazing, talented people who can help companies excel and rise above the economic impact of the pandemic.

That’s why we’re building a pilot program for people with 20+ years of experience. We have 400 spots available and the deadline is May 14, 2021. Please review and share this link with anyone who’s interested in participating in our pilot program. There’s no fee to apply. Join us for positive change and an easier way to be matched with companies that know the value of hiring older job candidates.

Reviewed & Recommended:

Recruiting Actions Companies Need To Take Now To Improve Workplace Inclusion

Why Social Constructs Are Created

Ageism is a global challenge: UN 18 March 2021

Longevity & the YOLO Life

Longevity & the YOLO Life

Earlier this week, The New York Times wrote about a new trend. Apparently, younger workers are leaving their well paying jobs in droves. They call it the “YOLO economy” which stands for “You Only Live Once”. The pandemic has changed many people’s priorities and with so much time to reassess our values and figure out why some of us are so unhappy, it’s not a big shock. 

Time For An Extreme Pivot?

The desire for a YOLO lifestyle is trending for older professionals as well. People in their 40s, 50s and 60s are deciding to exit long term careers, downsize earlier than planned, and do life differently as a result of the pandemic. They are seizing the day and reimagining their futures. Some older professionals believe now is a good time to make a career pivot and explore more meaningful options. A woman I know decided to leave a hospitality design firm and start a clothing line (targeting older women) using recycled cashmere. Another person I know is making plans to leave her tech job and become an organic farmer in France. They’re both in their 50s and although they have savings, neither of them are wealthy. Both of them evaluated their current situation and felt inspired to make enormous changes. With work from home technology advancing rapidly, it opens up so many opportunities for everyone. 

Others are leaving because their companies want them back in the office full time. The remote work genie is out of the bottle and when companies insist on being in an office, it feels a bit like big brother is trying to gain control. I don’t know anyone who likes that feeling or believes that will attract and retain talented employees - no matter what age you happen to be. Many employers realize it’s going to take more than a $50 Amazon gift card to keep their talented staff from leaving.  In fact, The New York Times wrote, “A recent Microsoft survey found that more than 40 percent of workers globally were considering leaving their jobs this year. Blind, an anonymous social network that is popular with tech workers, recently found that 49 percent of its users planned to get a new job this year.” The Microsoft survey was conducted with all different ages in the workforce.

On April 12th, 2021 in response to the YOLO trend,  @analogbath responded on Twitter:

“This is 100% a thing and has been for the last year or so. I have a handful of 

friends who have left their jobs from IT executives to lawyers jumping in 

a car and living out of it while working remotely. I’m fucking 40 years old.”

- Dee Rock

The Resilient X Factor

Older generations have seen economies crash and have weathered storms in the U.S. such as the gas shortage in the 70's, recession in the late 80s, 9/11 attacks and another slump in 2008 thanks to the financial crisis. My friend, Jim who is in his 60s said, “Bring it on, global pandemic. I’ve been through it all and COVID will not bring me down”. Maybe that’s one reason why they’re doing better psychologically during the pandemic than younger generations. “Older people have been through more. They show more resilience and emotional intelligence and fortitude than any other generation” said Ken Dychtwald, the founder and CEO of Age Wave. Gen X, born between 1965 and 1980 are often referred to as the “sandwich generation” because many are caring for children and older parents. They’ve also been the generation of “latchkey kids” being left alone after school since both parents went to work. The theory is that because they were left alone at home for years, Gen Xers have adapted more easily living in isolation.

The Reality

While the YOLO economy sounds aspirational and exciting, we realize that some older professionals have either been pushed out of the workforce or they simply do not have the means to take the leap. And many of them are forced into early retirement as a result of the pandemic. According to the Pew Research Center, “In the third quarter of 2020, about 28.6 million Baby Boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – reported that they were out of the labor force due to retirement. This is 3.2 million more Boomers than the 25.4 million who were retired in the same quarter of 2019.” And we all know that getting back into a full time job with fabulous benefits is more difficult for many older professionals and we all know the reasons why. The most sage advice from coaches and future of work specialists we’ve had on the illume hire webinar has been consistent. Whether or not you plan on being in the tech field, learn more technology. Make it a goal to learn about trello, airtable, loom, miro, crowdcast and so many amazing (and easy) tools.

If you’re rethinking your life purpose and crave the idea of disrupting yourself to achieve a YOLO life, having a game plan and asking these questions might help before taking the leap.

5 YOLO Questions to Ask:

  1. If I don’t do this, will I regret it?
  2. What’s the worst thing that could happen? 
  3. Can I live with that worst case scenario?
  4. Have I mapped out the next year or two?
  5. Do I have a plan C?

Since you only live once, why stay at a job that makes you miserable?

Separately, if anyone is interested in joining a community talking about the future of work and different opportunities that exist for professional “olders”, please send me a note at Make it an awesome week.

Should You Be in a Paid Community?

Should You Be in a Paid Community?

Last week I was at a Zoom event hosted by a popular coach for older professionals. There were over 700 people on the call and she was primarily focused on the benefits of LinkedIn. While LinkedIn is the default social media platform for career information,  I had anticipated the topic of networking and developing deeper connections to be a bigger topic.  I began looking up people on LinkedIn who were on the call and I connected with someone who was also from Portland. During the presentation, we wrote back and forth about the content we were listening to and I said, “I’m surprised the speaker hasn’t mentioned paid communities as a way to network and land a job.” She responded, “What’s a paid community?” If a person’s background is not in technology or the startup world (and if they are not following any of those people), I can understand how they might not know about some of the terminology used.

Although digital communities have been around for awhile, paid communities have been on the rise since the pandemic as a way for people to connect on a national and global level. If you’ve taken an in depth course that includes workshops, live events and an area where people can post articles and respond to one another, you’ve most likely participated in a paid community. In the last year, I’ve been able to network through paid communities with people who are interested in social impact initiatives and building tech for good. These communities provide an area to discuss ideas, share articles and connect when it’s clear we have similar interests and goals and can help one another.

5 Benefits of Being A Paid Community Member:

  1. Provides a private and safe community for members - without any trolls.
  2. Opportunities to expand your network whether it’s to find a job or business partner or someone to connect with about ideas.
  3. Learn about resources that you didn’t know existed through other people who have similar interests.
  4. An opportunity to showcase your talents and thought leadership - whether it’s posting a blog you’ve written or providing a short video course on something you’ve learned that could help others.
  5. If you want a career pivot or want to learn more about a certain topic, this is the perfect way to gain insights about what to read, courses to take and the paths people have taken in order to achieve their professional goals. 

Building Your Own Community

Building your own community is another option. It’s a monthly financial investment and it will take time creating content to include on a community platform.  If you know you can gain an audience large enough for the numbers to work, it’s worth your time and effort. Making sure there are consistent and interesting people who are contributing will be critical. It’s also important to have extra products available within the community such an eBook that’s just for members. Many businesses have found success by testing a community concept (for free) by using Slack. That way, the person who wants to build their own community can gauge whether or not there’s enough interest to move forward with a community platform and charge a fee for it.  If you already have a significant following on Twitter or LinkedIn or even Facebook Groups, consider steering them over to your own community where you have more options to organize different topics and set up live events. As a community builder, paying for a community platform such as Circle or Mighty Networks or Kajabi might be worth it. There are also plenty of wordpress plugins that serve as an online community platform. Here are reviews of different platforms to check out. Building online communities saves time and resources—while being impactful when it’s filled with valuable information that people are unable to find elsewhere.

Direct to Community 

The new “direct to consumer “(DTC) terminology in marketing circles is now emphasizing the importance of a “direct to community” strategy. It’s one way for brands to engage with their audience and provide valuable content while also getting paid by their audience through memberships. The communities I belong to have rules of engagement and explain who they are and why they exist. It’s also a way for people to opt out who may not be a fit for a certain kind of community.

3 Tips When Building Your Community (by media cause)

  1. Understand the purpose of your community.
  2. Understand the rules of engagement.
  3. As a Community Builder, it’s important to be empowered and excited to contribute to the group.

The Benefits of an Online Community for Your Business:

Having a community can elevate your brand and be an additional revenue stream.

According to Software Advice, these are the top reasons to build a community in order for businesses to achieve their goals:

  • Provide a forum for discussion/feedback and better insights about your audience’s needs.
  • It can foster a unique community culture and purpose.
  • Most importantly, communities should provide value to the end user.

Whether you decide to join a community to expand your network and learn or build your own community focused on a particular niche, it’s another way to build amazing connections and help each other with career and life goals. 

Reviewed & Recommended:

How to Create an Online Community That People Will Pay For

Building a Community-Based Brand

How to build an online community (and why I'm all in on Circle)

The Rise of Side Hustle Platforms + 3 Ideas

The Rise of Side Hustle Platforms + 3 Ideas

There’s a wave of technology companies catering to people who want flexible work and projects that help fill in their salary gaps - and many of them were launched in 2020 and 2021. So right now it’s much easier to set up a side business because these platforms have the tools built into their platform to succeed. Many of them are not the typical side hustle business model and some focus on a specific niche. A few of them have a membership fee while others take a small percentage. Whichever one you choose, they all align with the future of work trends focused on giving more control and earning potential to the person providing the service. Some of these creators/service providers are earning on average $1,500 per month. Here are a few to check out and get started.

Curated: Expert Shopping Advice for Sports Enthusiasts

This platform matches consumers searching for the ideal sporting gear with a vetted expert in the sport they want to pursue. Instead of combing through loads of reviews for a pair of ski boots and skis, for example, you’re matched with an expert who not only knows the right questions to ask but can also be discerning about which products are best for a certain skill level. Becoming an expert on Curated is where you can make some money. Are you considered an expert skier, tennis player, golfer, or maybe you’ve recently earned your wine sommelier certificate? A friend of mine played golf for the PGA and has won several golf tournaments. In his 50s, he works in insurance and works part-time for a golf store at a resort. His background is perfectly suited to serve as an expert and help consumers looking for golf gear. Curated is expanding into different areas such as being matched with wine experts so check out the site and see what other experts will be needed in the future.

Dumpling: Grocery Delivery

Becoming a member of dumpling is a way to run your own grocery shopping & delivery business from your phone and become your own LLC. There is a membership of $20 per month for people who do the grocery shopping. Although each order only garners an average of $33, it’s not bad income if you’re already going to grocery stores during the week anyway. Dumpling is an attempt to disrupt the gig economy and corporate options such as instacart or Amazon Prime. On their site, it reads “We realized that the only thing standing between these workers and the ability to start their own personal shopping and delivery companies was access to the right technology. So we built it for them.”

Steady: For Media Makers

Coming from traditional media, I’ve seen how newsrooms have been decimated because of free online news sources and advertising dollars overflowing into Google and Facebook’s coffers. That’s why I was so happy to discover Steady which supports journalists and all media makers. They’ve been around since 2016 created by a few journalists who quickly realized that media creators needed an all-in-one platform where they didn’t have to be concerned about implementing a newsletter or setting up Stripe. In 2021, Steady added a publishing platform: publishers can host their content on Steady, send newsletters and collect subscribers. Writers and content creators can start a publication with a newsletter on Steady that they can then monetize. Those who already have a publication of their own can integrate memberships directly on their website. Their site reads, “It's never been easier to do your own thing: You don't need a radio station to broadcast your podcast, a TV station to produce your own show, or a publishing house to reach thousands of readers. Musicians have already been able to release music independently for quite some time. Still, it can be hard to be an independent media maker. That's why we built Steady.”

If you’re considering another revenue stream or curious about the best way to move forward with a side hustle idea, consider what might be an ideal fit based on your background, expertise, and flexibility. I highly recommend following people who talk about the “Passion Economy” and who discuss the newest products with the most earning potential available. Sometimes, you can get in early and be a beta tester and it won’t cost a thing. It’s clear that this trend isn’t going away anytime soon.

Reviewed & Recommended:

The ultimate side hustle guide for 2021

How to Start a Business (on the Side) in 2021: Free Guide

Side Hustle Nation Podcast

Recap: Happy Hour with Jack Phan

Recap: Happy Hour with Jack Phan

Last week we had Jack Phan, a serial entrepreneur as our guest discussing the importance of building a digital footprint strategy - especially if you’re a job seeker, pivoting careers or want to build your personal brand. It’s difficult to know what types of content will resonate with others while also showing our best selves but Jack offered his social media expertise and advice on how to do it and why it matters. Here are the questions and abbreviated answers from that discussion. If you’d like to hear the full version, find the replay here.

Questions & Answers with Jack Phan

Before we dive into questions, I wanted to ask a bit about your background. You majored in computer science at a local college, you’ve held CTO roles as well as CMO roles and have been successful building companies and sold a few of them. Can you talk about how you got you here? What motivated you?

In 1997 I graduated from college and I came back to Portland from studying abroad in China. There was this new thing called the internet and I worked with a friend who was painting houses. He kept getting referrals for remodeling homes. I started out at his company as a telemarketer. One of the skillsets I have is looking at something and saying, “What’s a new way of doing something old? How can we improve what’s already there?” The innovative mind in me made me look for different avenues and different opportunities. Once I looked at what he was doing, I took it to the internet and we created a business and it became homeadvisor. And then we built another company. Over time I started building this wealth of knowledge through my experience. Once I sold my second company and became an investor, it was one of those things where I was sharing an incredible amount of knowledge for people and to me it was just something I learned and things I just did but that knowledge is transferable. The more I could share that knowledge the more people looked at me and wanted to connect with me on a deeper level. That led me to different opportunities. I’ve always been a communicator and networker. I’ve turned it into thought leadership that is valuable to people.

Why do you think it’s important to have a digital footprint strategy if you’re in the job market? What skills, competencies and experiences do you feel people should consider sharing online?

Today, everyone knows what you’re doing and how you’re projected to others is very important. You’ve heard stories about a person applying for jobs and getting rejected because of a post on Facebook or an inappropriate tweet 5 or 10 years ago. These are things that can come back to bite you. I’ve always been very conscious of sharing things personally and professionally but that connects to the audience. I like to keep things positive and that’s just my style. Because when I meet new clients and when I have an opportunity to work with new people, every opportunity I’ve landed, people look at me with respect. My digital footprint is very authentic. It’s who I am. That’s because I project a positive image. Some people use social media in different ways and use it only to complain to customer service of different companies. What you’re putting out there is viewable to the public and people need to remember that. When I am looking at working with different people, I make sure our strategies and goals are aligned. If I look at their social media, it doesn’t take much to see that we are NOT aligned. They may say something but then their digital footprint says something else. I’m careful about my digital footprint and it’s very clean but still very authentic and people recognize that and connect with me because of it.

Can you talk about some of the amazing connections you’ve been able to develop that would not have been possible if social media didn’t exist? I’m thinking about the OnceUncle story and how that all happened.

It’s been a blessing being part of #NASASocial and #AdobeInsiders but one of the most amazing experiences was a few years ago. I was watching the Apple event and saw that #Momo was trending above Apple. So I wrote “What is Momo?” and it’s a member of a K-Pop band. People kept writing and sending GIFs after I asked the question and I started engaging with the K-Pop fans directly. They could have ignored me or said, “Who is this guy?” but they paid attention to me and it was great. I checked out the band and they have a positive vibe and their fan base was really positive towards me. They told me all about K-Pop and alerted me about their digital events. During that Twitter interaction, I got another 5-10k followers on because I engaged with the fans. It’s actually been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Let’s talk about the human piece. What do you recommend when people make an error and are called out on it? Should they go with the flow? Delete it?

I’ve been on social media enough and I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. Myers Leornard made anti-Semitic word and now he’s apologizing about it. Someone said, “Hate is still hate and whether or not it was a mistake, you need to learn and approach it in the right way.” I’ve shared things for fun. There’s a selfie day for TWICE and people imitate one of the band members so I’ll do that and just have fun with it. You’ll see my twitter feed is filled with furry animals. Who doesn’t enjoy puppies and kittens? Since I’m a K-pop fan, it can seem weird to outsiders. Some people attacked me and thought I was being creepy. There was a moment when I posted something but didn’t want to cause controversy. There were times when I thought I should delete posts because it was misconstrued. Other K-pop fans said, “No. Keep posting”. I’m definitely aware of the perception but it’s all in fun and it it’s wholesome. When you make mistakes, things can be turned into a positive. Mistakes happen and I’ve been told more often than not, “It is what it is and just own up to it.” That’s the reality of using social media.

What would you say are your main rules that you adhere to when engaging with others online? What are the “best practices” for managing one’s reputation online?

I try to keep things positive and upbeat. I try not to engage in things that are controversial. There are times when I am passionate about things and when there are movements and stuff is going on in the world, there are times when my voice is important to people. To me, it’s questionable because I never felt I had that much strength in what I had to say. But the more my career grew and my following grew, I realized that people expect me to have a response and really steer that conversation in a positive way. You can have tough conversations but not be judgmental. It’s part of trying to be able to connect with the audience in multiple ways. My audience is varied; left, right, Black, White, Asian. Advice I’d give is, to educate yourself and learn about things. I’m open to learn from others and it’s also important to fact check before making a comment.

Who are some of your favorite influencers online? In your mind, who is extraordinary in providing valuable content or that you feel comes across as authentic in their approach?

In my Adobe group, I have loads of influencers I follow. Goldie Chan, Lolly Daskal, Winnie Sun (Forbes Contributor to help people be more financial savvy). I like following people who share knowledge but I also love humor. Someone I follow who does that quite a bit is Rex Chapman. He’s a former basketball player and he shares fun and unique things that are happening. I recommend that people expand their following on Twitter and then follow their followers as well. People know that I like Baby Yodas, puppies and kittens and rolling pandas so they know I’m going to post things like that. When you establish trust and share things behind the scenes, people will recognize that and want to connect with you.

Would you recommend some social media over others for career and pivoting one’s career?

LinkedIn has recently changed their algorithm but it’s still the main career hub. Facebook has so many amazing groups and that is where they win. I’ve developed loads of relationships on groups within Facebook. I still love Twitter but it can be very distracting. I had to take a Twitter break because in the last year, it became too much. There’s Clubhouse and when there is a small group, it’s a great way to connect with others. I’m always looking for new ways to do old things and so I try loads of different social media and when I see results, I go deep on them. I keep my options open and I’m able to engage with many different kinds of social media.

Having over 1 million Twitter followers can attract a few trolls. How have you handled that situation and how do you recommend others do the same?

Sometimes when you hold people accountable, they back down. Some people just want to draw the ear from you and make you frustrated. You feel like you have the right to justify your post. It’s not worth it. I focus my attention on the people I want to engage with and who are positive. So now I don’t respond to the negative trolls.

More about Jack:

Jack is a visionary and serial entrepreneur from the Pacific Northwest. For over 20 years, he has been building and scaling businesses in online marketing, lead generation, affiliate marketing, advertising, news and media. Currently, Jack is the CEO of PhanZu, a media services agency for online publishers, CMO of AirDeck, an audio tool for presentations, CTO of AGEIST, a lifestyle media company, and Board Member of DollarFor, a non-profit that has helped eliminate over $4.0 million in medical debt for families. He has sold two of his companies and has helped several founders go through the process of selling their businesses as well.

Jack has over 1.2M+ followers on social media engaging in topics on leadership, entrepreneurship, he’s a space enthusiast and posts about #NASASocial, he’s also an industry leader in the #AdobeInsiders group, and living his legendary status as #ONCEUncle to the fanbase of K-pop sensation #TWICE. Read more about Jack Phan’s impressive background here.

You can find Jack on twitter @jackphan