In business, the elevator pitch is meant to get a listener’s attention in 30 seconds or less. For our purposes — getting unstuck as a Fuzzy Forecaster — we use some of the pitch principles to sharpen an idea to a fine point.
Think about 3 key messages
• What makes your idea different from similar ideas?
• What is the primary benefit of your idea?
• What do you want from the listener? Is it to gain understanding of your idea? Do you want the listener to help you in some way?
Consider these pointers
• Imagine your listener knows nothing about you. What do you need to convey about yourself?
• Speak in plain language, which means no jargon or highfalutin words. How can you clearly describe your idea so that it paints a picture in the listener’s mind?
• When you first start writing, put the 30-second time constraint aside. Get all your ideas down, then go back and highlight the best points, letting go of the details that can easily be discussed later.
• One way to make a complicated idea sound simple is to use the Hollywood formula of mashing up two items or subtracting from an item. “Star Wars” meets “Sleepless in Seattle.” San Francisco without the hills.
• Step away from your first try for a few hours or a day, and then come back to it with fresh eyes. Read it and revise. Read it out loud and revise. Read it to someone else and revise. Repeat as necessary.
Try this format
One of our favorite elevator pitch approaches comes from Richard Fouts. His three simple questions really get to the heart of an idea:
1. What’s the conflict?
2. What’s the impact of the conflict?
3. What’s your resolution?
If you just can’t whittle down your words to 30 seconds, you may need to develop your concept some more. Try “5 steps to get crisp about that idea floating in your head,” then give your pitch another go.
Getting stuck as a Fuzzy Forecaster is like playing a game of tag with a wisp of an idea — and you’re always “it.” You can never quite grasp the full picture, no matter how fast you run.
So stop running. Catch your breath. Then come at your idea from various angles, putting the picture together piece by piece. In writing. It’s almost uncanny how thoughts get clearer when we write them down.
What do you see as the end result? In other words, when this idea comes to be, you’ll know because….
What problem are you trying to solve? How is this problem being solved now?
Who will care about this idea? Why will they like it or not like it?
How is this idea different from other ideas about the same topic or issue?
What does this idea require in order to get off the ground?
Get as specific as you can in all of your answers, because those specifics are going to connect the dots for you. They’re going to tell you both what your idea is and how it works.
When you think you’ve got it, say your idea out loud two or three times. If you want to get your idea even sharper, turn it into an elevator pitch. Going up!
What causes something we love (or at least enjoy) to go a bit stale? We can think of three broad reasons: The situation is more complicated than it needs to be. Or the situation is more limiting than it needs to be. Or we’re taking things for granted. Finding fresh perspective is a strong antidote.
If your situation is kind of complicated:
• Simplify. In our pursuit of perfection, many of us tend to add steps or people to the process that aren’t absolutely necessary. In addition to freeing up time, minimizing or eliminating can cut through the noise that blocks motivation.
• Stop stressing. Habits like procrastination and excessive worry introduce pressure that instantly saps inspiration and joy.
If your situation is kind of limiting:
• Change things up. Is there another way, maybe even a better way? Challenge yourself to improve the process. Just thinking about making a difference can get the adrenaline flowing.
• Learn something. Surely, you don’t know everything about what you’re doing. Is there a skill that could use some honing? Someone you could trade insights with? How about blogging?
If you’ve forgotten what you admire:
• Get grateful. List all the things that drew you to your situation. Savor them. Maybe even share them. Gratitude is a powerful reminder and motivator.
P.S.: Unstuck’s “Shake Up Your Routine” tool can help you think about ways to simplify or enhance your situation. You can download the free Unstuck iPad app here.
There’s bored, like when you’re a kid.
You: “I’m bored.”
Your parent: “Then go clean your room.”
Instantly, divine intervention guides you to make an entertaining mess somewhere else in the house. Problem solved.
And then there’s seriously bored. It’s serious because it involves whatever takes up the lion’s share of your day or thoughts (job, housekeeping, another person). Most likely, you can’t just up and leave your responsibility, but the prospect of staying stuck in a rut as a Deflated Doer does give you the itch to run.
Well, don’t. At least, not yet. Instead, spend some time pondering the reason you put yourself in this position in the first place. In other words: What is your purpose behind what you’re doing?
“Why?” you may be thinking, perhaps with a sulk. “How’s that going to change anything?” To which we reply: It won’t change anything about your situation, but it could have a profound effect on your level of enthusiasm for what you’re doing. It could also direct you to move on from your situation. Don’t you want to find out which it will be?
It’s not complicated to define your purpose, but it takes thought, and usually more than one try. Answer the following 4 questions, step away for a while, and then review your answers. Can you dig a little deeper?
Thinking about your situation:
1. How much does this matter to me?
2. Why does this matter?
3. Which of my talents does this make use of?
4. What do I hope to achieve?
Now fill in the blanks with your answers.
“This matters to me [answer 1] because [answer 2]. It uses my talent for [answer 3] and is a way to achieve [answer 4].”
If your completed sentence is mostly positive, you’re probably on the right track. To re-ignite your enthusiasm further, consider these 5 ways to get re-inspired.
If your completed sentence reads negatively, you may want to do something that is more meaningful to you. One way to explore that is to use our “Visualize It” tool. You can download it free as part of the Unstuck app here.
We’re not sticklers for New Year’s resolutions. Of course we want you to exercise more, stop smoking, and find that perfect job. But sometimes the pressure of a new you in the new year sabotages best intentions.
At Unstuck, we believe that change most likely will occur when you realize that something has you stuck — that moment when you say to yourself this isn’t acceptable to me anymore and I need to do something about it. Now.
In that spirit, consider the following 10 aspects of your life (listed in no particular order). These are big ones. Habits and attitudes that can make a real difference.
If, and when, you think any one of these could use some attention, click through for tips and ideas to get you started.
1. Confidence. This ebbs and flows for all of us, even those with the biggest swagger.
2. Procrastination. Recognizing our avoidance tactics is half the battle in stopping them.
3. Knowing what you want. It’s easier than you may think to lose sight of what’s important to you.
4. Facing your fear. This is the mother of many, many stuck moments. These tips will help you stare it down.
5. Perseverance. Getting started isn’t the hard part, keeping on is.
6. Anxiety. Excess worry can be paralyzing. These 10 pointers will help you stop anxiety before it stops you.
7. Asking for help. There are far more benefits of getting some assistance than always going it alone.
8. Happiness. It’s not something to pursue, exactly. It’s more about your approach to life.
9. Fresh perspective. When things start seeming stale, it helps to look at them in a new way.
10. Gratitude. This can strengthen relationships, improve your health, and reduce stress.
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