The nature versus nurture debate has raged hot and heavy for decades, if not centuries. Leadership has often been the main topic of contention with some believing deeply in the idea of natural born leaders with others considering it to be a matter of training and circumstance. The latest trait to become part of the debate is entrepreneurship.
While it’s unclear whether Millennial parents believe entrepreneurs are born or whether it’s simply important for everyone to build some entrepreneurial skills, entrepreneur camps are becoming the “next big thing” for kids. Which means parents at least seem to feel entrepreneurial skills are essential, even if they don’t lead to their child becoming a successful entrepreneur. After all, not all parents that sent their kids to basketball camp expected their kids to play in the NBA.
In some ways, the nature versus nurture debate is somewhat of a moot point. The truth is that no matter what types of skills, traits or attributes you are born with, it’s what you do with them that matters. While Michael Jordan may have had some natural talent or ability that gave him a passion for basketball, even Michael Jordan would not have the astounding success he had without thousands of hours of practice and an almost cult-like devotion to improvement.
Malcolm Gladwell was the first to introduce the idea that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve greatness at anything. Even Gladwell, however, doesn’t discount the idea that just practice alone will not automatically make you great at anything, instead of that talent alone will not make you great. The truth is, 10,000 hours of practice might hone the skills of a gifted musician into a Yo-Yo Ma or a Luciano Pavarotti, but it might not do anything for a person with little to no innate ability.
So, the truth is, there is no answer to the question of whether or not entrepreneurship is an innate talent. You are born with it, or you aren’t. Of course, an argument could be made that even without natural talent and ability, spending ten years or more learning to master a particular skill you weren’t born with will get you far further than not spending any time developing a talent you were born with.
Mastering your elevator pitch is both an art and a science. It’s not a task you should take lightly, as your elevator pitch could make or break your career. Your elevator pitch is often your first impression to potential business partners, investors, clients, employers and all other professionals.
From time-tested guidelines to recent trends, here are the best practices for mastering your elevator pitch.
Timing Is Everything
Busy professionals can’t waste a minute of their precious time. We’ve all been told that an elevator pitch shouldn’t exceed 30-seconds, but is someone really going to intently listen for that long? Recent research suggests that an adult’s attention span averages only 8 seconds. Instead of trying to cram your entire resume into the shrinking amount of time someone will listen to you, shift your focus to what really matters. You want them to know what you do, what you need, and who you are.
Know Your Audience
Your elevator pitch is quite literally all about you, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be tailored to your audience. Tell them what they should know in a way that will hold their attention. You want to leave the best, most memorable impression in the short amount of time you have. If the person you’re speaking to genuinely cares about what you’re saying, that’s immeasurably better than them just passively listening. They’re also more likely to remember you.
Showcase Your Expertise
The more trustworthy you prove yourself to be, the more likely someone will buy into what you’re pitching – even if what you’re pitching is yourself or your company. However, rattling off a list of accomplishments sounds boastful, so you should construct a 1-2 sentence story that demonstrates your expertise. It could be how you’re solving a large problem or why you’re uniquely qualified to do so.
Even if you are not actually confident, you need to act confident. If you’re anxious, that will come off in your pitch. As cliche as it sounds, you should practice your elevator pitch in front of a mirror or trusted friends. The only way to tell how others might perceive you in conversation is to see for yourself. In addition, repeatedly practicing your elevator pitch will make you more comfortable when delivering it to a real person.
Although a lot is riding on the perfect elevator pitch, remember to take a deep breath and relax before starting the conversation. You’re probably more knowledgeable about your subject matter than the person you’re speaking to. If you’re lucky, you might get some follow-up questions from whomever you’re pitching to, and being prepared for those questions is just as important as the elevator pitch itself.
Commuting to work is a mundane task that most drivers dread. Your hour plus time on the road is your least favorite way to start the day, but is somehow unavoidable. You’re not the only employee that travels quite the distance to and from work on a daily basis. On top of your heavy workload, your commute only adds to your stress level. Follow these simple life hacks to make your commute more fun and stress free!
It’s no cliche that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Skipping breakfast will only cause harm to your body. By getting into the routine of eating breakfast daily, you will find yourself feeling more energized and generally happier on during your commute. Eating breakfast is a way to jumpstart your metabolism each day, and fill your body with vitamins and nutrients it needs to make it through the day. Your commute will be much more enjoyable with your stomach full and your mind not wandering about what you’ll be having for lunch.
Listen to a Podcast
Successful businesses leaders recently shared one of their hacks– many successful leaders will start their day by listening to a podcast. There are easy ways to listen to podcasts like downloading them from iTunes, listening to them on Spotify or subscribing through various apps. For those seeking daily motivation and learning, Ted Talks, The Upgrade, and The 5am Miracle are great places to start. Other podcast genres vary from discussing your favorite television shows to murder mysteries and more.
Fun fact– you don’t have to make your commute alone! If you know a coworker or friend that live near by, reach out to see if they’re interested in combining commutes. Sometimes people who live near each other and work near each other will join together for the morning commute. Not only does this save time, but it also saves gas and reduces the carbon footprint too!
Create Your Daily To-Do List
Okay, so you won’t be able to have a pen and paper in hand while driving, but there are great apps for hands-free planning. Dragon Dictation is an app that types out what you speak into a recorded microphone. Evernote is another app that has the same kind of function. Using these apps while you drive is a great way to write out your thoughts and plans.
For example, you can plan out your meals for the week or jot down the tasks you need to complete for the day. Some use this time to journal and simply get their thoughts out. It’s also great if you need to leave yourself a quick note while remaining hands-free so your full attention is on the road.
No matter your choice in what you do with your commute, these easy hacks will make your commute noticeably less stressful and easier on your daily life!
About Graham Zahoruiko
Graham Zahoruiko is an organizational effectiveness leader, but his endeavors, both in business and otherwise, extend far beyond this.
In his current professional role, Graham Zahoruiko leverages his early roots as a startup entrepreneur, having previously founded two Software and IT services companies – Refresh Software and SpaceWeb Corporation. Graham designed and implemented the initial concept, business plan, fundraising, go-to-market and ongoing sales strategy, leading to $5 million from a syndicate of over a dozen private investors, venture capitalists, and venture debt firms for product development, marketing, and sales.
Given all of the hats an entrepreneur must wear, and the necessity in such environments of thinking outside the box, innumerable skills are acquired through the founding of startups, including the ability to make adjustments, fundraising, product development, marketing, and sales strategy, and the ability to create innovative business models. Graham Zahoruiko brings a strong focus to each assignment with his roll-up-the-sleeves execution style. Graham understands the importance of surrounding yourself with a quality team and working together to achieve success, knowing that the success of a team is more rewarding than any one individual. This wide array of talents can subsequently be applied to almost any business, and to any department within it.
Even more important than Graham Zahoruiko’s business ventures is his passion for humanitarian and philanthropic causes. He is the Director of Organizational Effectiveness, Public Benefit Corporation (www.oepbc.org) who’s own advocacy efforts focus on families, children and disadvantaged. As a participant in the Boy Scouts of America and a recipient of the Eagle Scout Award in 1987, a lifelong passion and drive to participate in the advancement of causes in which he believes was instilled in Graham from a young age. One such cause to which he is dedicated is the fight for the civil rights of the voices of children, which he promotes through his active efforts to transform our justice system through greater independent oversight.
Graham Zahoruiko is also deeply committed to his work with the 911 Foundation and participates in “the 911 ride”, a yearly 1,000-mile motorcycle event in which participants travel to all three 911 crash sites. This event raises thousands of dollars every year that go toward scholarships for the children of people who died on September 11th.
Most importantly, Graham Zahoruiko is a deeply committed family man and father, dedicated to providing a consistent moral compass for his children. His philanthropic efforts are an important key to shaping this outlook, and to instilling decent values in his family. Through his professional experiences, both in his own businesses and in advising others, Graham Zahoruiko has learned and internalized the all important values of responsibility and hard work, which he also wishes to impart to his children and those close to him. Of course, it is also important to take the time to pursue recreational activities that fulfill and rejuvenate you. For J Graham Zahoruiko this means hitting the open road on his motorcycle.