4 Steps to Crafting, Testing & Perfecting Your ‘Everyday’ Elevator Pitch

General Sherman - Scott wants to climb biggest tree on earth

“Even the biggest ideas in the world start with the smallest of conversations. Say something.”

“So, what do you do?”

“Um, I’m in sales. What about you?”

“I’m an accountant.”

Sounds like the start of a mouthwatering conversation, eh?

I’ve never liked this question, especially since it’s one of the first things that often gets brought up in a new conversation. It assumes you are your job (which you’re not) and it opens a topic most people don’t enjoy talking about.

But here’s the beauty – you can answer it any way you want.

It’s the perfect chance to test out your ideas. So is just about every interaction.

Why answer “I’m in sales,” if what you’re actually excited about is your side project to help people find confidence through fitness (or whatever)? Hiding behind a label that doesn’t represent who you are does no good for anyone – and certainly not for your chances of making your difference in the world.

Instead, treat every interaction as a micro experiment – an opportunity for discovery.

That’s where your elevator pitch comes in.

Everyone needs one, and it’s not just about some pitch to get investors and customers. It’s simply a way for all of us to share and test our assumptions and ideas in real time with the people we might be able to serve.

Important: You don’t even need a specific grand idea or vision – at least not at first. You just need to get in the habit of sharing the things that excite you. And give them a chance to lead to the places you’d never expect.

Every person you meet and discussion you have is an opportunity for discovery, if you decide to treat it that way.

Here are 4 steps to crafting, testing and perfecting your ‘everyday’ elevator pitch:

1. Create a minimal viable pitch.

Don’t over-think this. For starters, we want to have an interesting response to the “what do you do” question. You could write and rewrite your pitch until your pen runs dry, but it’s next to useless until you get it out in front of someone. All you need is enough to test. Ideally, have a few versions ready to go.

Your pitch (and follow-up discussion) should answer some or all of the below:

  • What am I excited about?
  • Why am I excited about it?
  • How will it help people? Who does it serve?
  • How does it uniquely tie into my story, passions, talents and/or experience?
  • Why do I care and why should the world care? (Watch my interview with Simon Sinek for a review on the importance of Starting With Why.)

The real goal of our pitch is to talk about something you’re excited about and get a feel for how others react to it.

These days my response to “What do you do?” goes something like this:

“I have a business that helps people find and do work they’re excited about.” And lately I’ve been adding “and surround themselves with the people who make it possible.” Then I might mention that we have virtual and in-person communities all over the world. Or I could take it a totally different direction, depending on their reaction.

I don’t mention anything about a blog or even a website. That wouldn’t tell them anything. I just leave the focus on what I actually care about and how and why I’m trying to help people. Usually that’s enough to pique their interest enough to ask a few more questions. Then we might get into specifics.

Take a few minutes to answer the questions above and sketch out a minimum viable pitch. Keep it to 1-2 sentences, 4 max.

If you’re totally drawing a blank on what you’re excited about, here are two resources to check out:

  1. The Speak Like a Pro virtual conference where I recently spoke. Access details here and more info below.
  2. Our First Steps to Doing Work You Love workshop

2. Test it – a lot.

This is where the real learning happens. What seems crystal clear to you while hiding behind your whiteboard or notebook is often anything but for those around you.

We assume people will “get it” like we do. That’s almost never true. And the more you share ideas with others, the more you’ll realize this and have a chance at explaining things in a way that actually connects.

Treat every interaction as a testing ground. Experiment with friends, family, colleagues, peers and mentors. Just realize that their relationship to you makes them biased, which can be good if it keeps them from sugarcoating feedback, but bad if they can’t offer good constructive criticism.

Then get in front of as many unbiased strangers as possible. If you know the specific type of people you’re trying to serve, spend as much time with them as you can. What really matters is getting the idea out of your head and into the world as soon and as often as possible.

Notice the way they react to your first sentence or two. Do eyes glaze over or do they lean in with excitement?

Also get virtual with it: Share it on your blog, Twitter, Facebook or whatever social channel you prefer. Post it on our LYL Facebook group. Ask for feedback and compile as many responses as possible.

3. Rapid prototype it in real time.

Do this as in-the-moment as possible. If your first pitch clearly doesn’t resonate, then modify the next few sentences. Try to keep going until something connects.

If you’re at a party or event, you could rapid prototype this dozens of times in a night, and you’ll learn more than months of spinning an idea around in your own head. Have a few modified pitches you want to test and have fun with it.

Then as soon as your conversation is done or event is over, take a mental note or write down a few ideas about what connected and what didn’t. What confused them? When did their eyes go glossy? When did they lean in, smile, raise their eyebrows and ask for more info?

4. Refine, repeat and “perfect”.

Steps 1-3 are a constant cycle. I still find myself explaining things in different ways depending on who I’m talking to or what I’m working on. I still get the blank “I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about” stare every now and again. I welcome it. I learn from it. Then I test out something different.

It’ll never be perfect. That’s the fun part. Every interaction with the people you’re trying to serve is a new data point. What you thought you knew last week is probably slightly different than what you believe you know now, which may be altogether different a year from now.

Constantly create, test, learn, refine, repeat, and it’s pretty tough to fail.

Embrace the Never-Ending Experiment

LYL just turned three, and I’m still learning like crazy from all of you.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve done 17 one-on-one user interviews with some of LYL’s most dedicated readers and customers. I spent 30-40 minutes on Skype with each of them hearing their story, finding out what they’re trying to achieve and listening to their current struggles, all to see how LYL could best serve them going forward. (This post was inspired by Mike, one of the LYLer’s I chatted with).

Their responses (along with hundreds of yours from surveys, comments, etc.) will determine the next phase of LYL, and of course, the way we communicate our value (i.e. our elevator pitch) through future articles, tools and the new LYL website we’re working on.

It’s been incredibly enlightening and a ton of fun – I cannot wait to share what’s to come!

For LYL, it’s always been a constant refinement process. Create, test, learn, refine, repeat. You tell me what you need and we do our best to provide it. That’s the beauty of having an open line of communication with the people you’re trying to serve.

And the reality is that everyone has that opportunity, at least on a micro scale. You might not have a global audience of thousands (yet), but you do have people to interact with every day. Bounce your ideas off of them. Test your hypotheses.

Start identifying yourself with who you want to be and the difference you want to make.

Stop responding in a way you’re not proud of.

Get in the habit of talking about the ideas that set you on fire.

Just because you work a sales job you can’t wait to leave doesn’t mean you ever have to talk about it.

No one wants to hear about a job you don’t care about, anyway. We want to be surprised, to be inspired, to have an unforgettable conversation. You can show up with an answer that shuts a conversation down or share an idea that lights it up. That is your responsibility – and an incredible opportunity.

If you want to live a life pursing work and ideas that excite you, then you have to get in the habit of talking about exciting things.

You have to start identifying yourself as the person who pursues things you care about.

The more you represent that to others, the more you represent it to yourself. And the more committed you’ll become. Just like a person who’s known for being a health nut wants to be seen drinking a kale smoothie, not scarfing a chili dog. If you become known as the person building towards things that matter to you, that’s how you’ll show up in the world.

Every interaction is an opportunity to end up somewhere you never imagined when you started.

Even the biggest ideas in the world start with the smallest of conversations.

Say something.

So…what do you do?

Leave us a comment with your minimum viable pitch – anything goes, and try not to over-think it!


And if you need more help, learn how to ‘Speak Like a Pro’…

I recently participated in a virtual conference on How to Speak Like a Pro. There were presentations from 25 influencers, business leaders and TED Speakers. My topic was “How to Give a TEDx Talk that Goes Viral,” where I cover what I think helped my TEDx talk get over 1.6 million views (and counting) and rank in the top 20 of over 40,000 talks.

Nothing has transformed my career or the LYL movement more than taking the stage and learning how to present an idea. There’s also probably no faster way to becoming a trusted expert and getting people to happily pay you for your talents and passions, so I know this topic is huge for many of you. And so much of it starts with the elevator pitch.

You can see all the speakers, watch a free preview of each talk and get full access here.

As a speaker I’ll get a small commission if you decide to join, and you know I only recommend things I believe will make a huge difference for you all. This is one of them. 


Image credit: Taken on a backpacking trip in Sequoia National Park last weekend, as I got a little perspective from General Sherman. By volume, it’s the largest known living tree on earth.

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12 People (Just Like You) Prove that New Surroundings Make Their Impossible Possible

people like you

Traveling the Unexpected Path

I just got back from the most invigorating run I’ve had in months. Here’s why…

In the past day, 60 new people joined our Connect With Anyone course and community (we prefer to call it a family). They’ve come from Canada, U.K., Italy, Brazil, India, France, Japan, Denmark, Germany, Singapore and the U.S. Seeing them join and connect with our alumni lights me up. And I can’t help but think of the potential – and the possibility that they’ll have the same kind of experience that so many of our other alumni have had (Btw, enrollment is open until this Friday at midnight PST – unless the 250 spots fill up sooner).

And as if that wasn’t enough reason to party, last Saturday Live Your Legend had its 3rd birthday!

Over the past three years this community has turned into something I could have never imagined. Not even close. So that is what I want to celebrate with you all this week.

When I first created LYL, I had a vision for creating a resource to help people find and do work they love.

But I was missing the biggest part of the equation. As it turns out, even if you managed to find the hands-down best career tools in the world (a very hard thing to know), they’d still be useless if the people around you told you you were stupid for using them. You’ll eventually give up or never start in the first place – the ultimate tragedy. The same goes for anything in life.

The data on the importance of community is startling (i.e. terrifying).

The best-selling author of Influence and leading persuasion psychologist Robert Cialdini recently shared a study with me about what causes kids to smoke. If their parents smoke, a child is 26% more likely to start.

But guess what happens to those odds if three or more of the child’s friends are smokers?

The likelihood of him smoking goes up to 2,400%. That’s not a typo.

Starting with Norman Triplett’s work in 1898, that later lead to the idea of Social Facilitation, countless studies have proven the same things at all ages and stages of life – you are a product of your peer group. You’re the average of the people around you, for better or worse. If your friends are overweight, you’re probably overweight. If your friends run marathons, you’ll likely be a runner. If they hate their job, you’ll probably accept the same fate.

But if the people around you are dead-set on making a difference in the world and being their best self, you’ll start to change the world alongside them.

Realizing all this is when my light bulb exploded.

That is when the LYL vision started to transform into: finding and doing work you love and surrounding yourself with the people who make it possible.

I wanted to provide a place where we felt like it was okay to think differently – where our ‘crazy’ ideas would be encouraged.

That is what brought Connect With Anyone to life in 2012.

It’s hard to know where a project will lead on the day you take the first step. It’s impossible, really. Ideas are funny like that. And even if you think you know, you’ll likely be dead wrong. But that’s the beauty of pursuing the spark. That incomplete and imperfect path turns into the most perfect part about the whole process.

Start before you’re qualified to finish.

That was me when first creating CWA. I had no idea what it would turn into, but based on the 10,000+ feedback points I had from all of you, I knew it was the work I couldn’t not do.

So in early 2012 I set out, alone, to create an in-depth course to teach people how to connect with the world-changing people who refuse to let you fail, so you could build your ideal business and career.

But what I never expected was that the CWA Experience would turn into a full-blown global community of those very world-changers.

To see what I mean, have a look at our LYL Local global meetup and dance party that happened in 150 cities in 48 countries, on the same day. It all started with our CWA alumni, who hosted most of the meetups. We just released the video this week…

LYL Local dance party

Today, it’s clearly not just me.

We have a team of a dozen people, paid and volunteer, who worked their asses off to bring the CWA Experience to life for this week’s opening.

We have certified Connection Coaches and Mastermind Team Curators do all they can to ensure connections and success from the start, including hand placing you into your own mastermind & accountability teams with 3-5 other like-minded members near your city, so you have a new support team from day one.

We have over a dozen Connection Crew (all alumni volunteers) who welcome new members and show them the ropes so they have new people in their corner right from the start.

And then of course our incredible and inspiring members – nearly 1,000 people just like you from more than 30 countries.

They come from just about every age, background, culture and industry you could imagine – but they all share our common belief in possibility and the importance of community. And with every new member, the strength and possibility of the community gets all the more powerful.

So the real difference between our first CWA launch in 2012 and CWA5 today is simple…

The People.

It’s become a community of like-minds dedicated to making their own difference in the world and helping all of us do the same.

We’ve gotten to see what nearly 1,000 members have done with it, and the results have been pretty overwhelming.

Twenty-eight of them were courageous enough to film their own video stories of their experience, and you can watch them all on our brand-new sexy members story page here. The most beautiful part is how often the community has worked with each other to get the results they have. I’ve never been more proud of anything in my working life.

So to kick off LYL’s birthday – let’s celebrate a few of you right here (read their short story or click the image to watch the actual video) …

12 short stories of people like you who have made huge changes by connecting with people who refuse to let them fail.

Mastermind to Biz Partners – Naz and Leah in Sydney/Brisbane, Australia

Naz Leah

Naz and Leah met in their mastermind, became best friends, quit their jobs, launched a successful business together, became the CWA Certified Connection Coaches and have new lifelong friends all over the world. They also form all the CWA Mastermind Teams. Watch their story.

 New Full-Time Business – Ryan in San Diego, California


Ryan moved to his dream city of San Diego, met his business coach, launched his own full-time video business and used his CWA skills to get free tickets to a 4-day Tony Robbins Seminar. Watch Ryan’s story.

Hired by Fellow CWAer – Basil in Toronto, Canada


Baz made like-minded friends in his brand-new city and got a video editing job working with another CWA alumnus! He also filmed and edited some of the more professional-looking CWA stories while attending his first World Domination Summit, thanks to getting a free ticket from another CWAer. Watch Baz’s story.

Booking More Shows – Carolyn in Nashville, Tennessee


Carolyn, an up-and-coming country singer/songwriter, used the tools to better connect with fans, improve her communication with booking agents to immediately start getting more shows, and got to open for Smash Mouth in California! Watch Carolyn’s story.

Launching Dream Business – Matias in Salta, Argentina


Matias was feeling really lonely… then had the craziest 10 months of his life. He quit his job and started a business, and as he put it, “We’ve already finished our first course with real clients that paid money for doing work we love! …Everything connected to the CWA course.” And he was invited to talk at a TEDx event – something that seemed impossible before. See Matias’ story.

Helping & Befriending Influencers – Troy in Toronto, Canada


Troy learned the power of adding unique value and leveraged it to build real relationships with dream connections, which got him a $1,000 training program for free and put him on the homepage of a leading business and lifestyle brand. He now also does some incredible video work for the LYL and CWA community. Oh, and he hired fellow CWAer Baz, who you heard from above! Hear Troy’s story.

Introvert Turned Party Host – Steve in San Antonio, Texas


Steve learned how to leverage his strengths as an introvert, built his writing and editing business and launched and hosted his own LYL Local group in San Antonio. And two weeks ago he and three other CWAers and local hosts put on the first ever LYL Local regional event in Texas. Watch Steve’s story.

Working with Mentor – Azmat in New York, New York


Azmat got 150 new subscribers to his site in a day, started connecting in person and used the 3-Second Rule to befriend and start working with an admired entrepreneur. His mastermind is now filled with real friends. Hear Azmat’s story.

Idea to 1st Dollar – Mike in Boston, Massachusetts


Mike began CWA with no idea where to start with his vision. “I’ve grown my community, connected with people I couldn’t imagine and I reached my goal of making my first dollar online — 10 months ahead of schedule! Probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” Watch Mike’s story.

Entrepreneur’s Camp & Turning Talents into New Business  – Sasha in Berkeley, California

SashaSasha went from lost student to getting the knowledge and support needed to become a Kindle publisher. She started making money from her talents by launching a successful web design business, secured mentorship with a software entrepreneur and got accepted to a top tier entrepreneurship camp across the world. She also interviewed a National Geographic Explorer, went on more dates than ever before and attended the first LYL local meet up in Manila. See Sasha’s story.

Introvert to Host & New Career – Charlie in the United Kingdom


Charlie started out shy and introverted and, after realizing the value she could add to conversations, actually started seeking out new social settings. Now she initiates conversations she never would have, launched a new career path in psychology and created her own LYL Local group in the U.K. Hear Charlie’s story.

Published Work & Gig with Influencer – Stephanie in Dundee, Scotland


Stephanie was isolated in a small Scottish town and has now started her own community, had her poetry published and secured a gig with an established author. Watch Stephanie’s story.

Connection is the seed. It’s the foundation for potential.

That’s what you all have proven to me over the past three years. None of this would exist without the people in my corner – including all of you.

Change your surroundings. Change what’s possible.

The most beautiful realization I’ve had about our community came at World Domination Summit in Portland this year when I saw hundreds of you LYL and CWAers embracing each other as real friends. You were trading ideas, celebrating and high fiving as if you’d known each other for years. At this point, the cool thing is some of you actually have. A number of you even shared apartments for the weekend.

This is the dream I had a few years ago. And seeing it come to life has been the most surreal thing in the world.

You don’t have to take a course to transform your surroundings, but if you’d like some specific guidance, I have a feeling our Connect With Anyone course and community could help. You’re always welcome to try it out risk-free and each comes with a copy of Live Off Your Passion ‘Lite’, as well as a few other fun tools. But please only consider joining if you really plan to use the course and participate in the community.

If you decide it makes sense, I look forward to seeing you on the inside. Our alumni (and many of the people listed on this page) have offered to answer any questions you might have for them this week. Just let us know using the green help button on the left of this page. But be sure to do so before Friday at midnight, assuming it doesn’t fill up before then (as of now we have about 28 coaching spots left).

We’d love to welcome you with open arms and help make the impossible your new normal.

Either way, it’s such an honor to have you a part the LYL movement.

Happy birthday to us,


P.S. Congrats to our two scholarship winners Rose and Evelyn! Rose is focusing on helping mothers have happier, less painful births (and is a Bali LYL Local host) and Evelyn is helping foster kids have a healthier and more supportive upbringing. I couldn’t think of two more worthy CWA applications. You two will fit in just fine!

Learn More and Join CWA here.

Or Meet Our CWA Members & Watch Their Stories here.


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