Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Elevator Speech

In my quest to master social media - and build my author platform - I'm told that I must blog to my key words and keep my posts to about 500 words. But I have trouble with boundaries, and formulas, and being told what to do.

You Can't Make Me

The minute I get started talking about one thing, some idea butterfly zips by, leading me way off the path - and by path, I mean - the step-by-step journey from here to making that boatload of money I talked about in my last post.

I like the parts of the world that are off the path, too. Often, I like them better than the path - and I really don't want to give them up. Cuz I suspect that maybe, down under all the posturing and mask-making and branding, my authentic path is... you know, off the path.

But I digress

As usual. Which, come to think of it, could be one of my key words: I digress.

This polymorphous* quality makes for a fascinating and unpredictable journey. It also makes it near impossible to brand myself. And by brand myself I mean, to come up with one concise "elevator speech" to deliver if I should ever be asked (in an elevator?), "So, what do you do anyway?" or, asked, at a party, "Tell me about yourself?"

You know, a little speech I could deliver when my brother in law asks (again): How's the book coming along?

... instead of biting him

It should start with: "Thanks for asking," and end with, "You?" Which seems simple enough but every Thursday night at the top of our radio show when my co-host says, "I'm Janet and I'm an Angel Therapist and an Integrated Energy Therapist. And this is my co-host, Amy," I go...

hummana hummana hummana.

Which is, I think, another key word.

It happens when I meet someone important, when Im writing a resume; when I'm handed a 12 page diner menu; when Im asked to select a college major, winter coat or ice cream flavor.

Because I know who I am - a person who kinda likes everything - and every time I try a brand on for size, this little voice whispers: You are SO much more than that.

I am so much more than that

My friend Jill and I tossed the question around at the writing cafe the other day. She didn't like the title I've been using: Story Alchemist "It's too hard-edged. Too mental," she said. "You are softer, graceful, very maternal and welcoming." (Which my own Spiritual Advisor also told me, though she put it this way: You are like one of those African earth mother goddesses - a great big lap."

Which did wonders for that body image issue I had.

Jill suggested Soul Whisperer, which when I looked it up, really fit what I do as a counselor... but it leaves out what I do as a writer and community organizer.

A Twitter friend, @RayBeckerman once suggested: YOU are your brand.

And that worked for me.

It's very flexible - stretching like a Force Flex bag to accomodate all that I am - counselor, earth mother, wife, raw foodie, daughter, high priestess, friend, employee, big shot editor, soccer mom, entrepreneur, dancer, blogger, teacher, author, book reviewer, yogini, (not much of a) housekeeper, friend to the angels and, according to my husband, a heckuva good kisser.

And though I keep thinking I need some fancy name like: Lion Tamer or Cosmic Belly Dancer or Queen of Plants, the simple brand Amy Oscar, kinda works.

So, if you happen to encounter me in an elevator this week, be sure to ask, "Who are you? What do you do? Tell me about yourself."
And when you do, if I remember to, I will say, "Thanks for asking. I'm Amy Oscar." I will tell you about my work and my dreams. And then I will ask, "You?"

* pol·y·mor·phous [pol-ee-mawr-fuhs] adjective: having, assuming, or passing through many or various forms, stages, or the like.


Allen Gibson said...

Love it! Love the part about not liking boundaries and rules-- and about not having an answer that feels good for the questions people ask.

Love the "brand Amy" idea. Love it most of all because in a world where we are all our own brand, we'll have to look harder, listen better,and pay attention more. A "brand" will quit being a sterotype in a world where everyone is their own brand and every brand is different. We'll actually have to look at one another, listen to one another, value the blessing that meeting someone really is.

Thanks for your thoughts and words that provoke me to think about how my own life unfolds.

squarepegperson said...

"I have trouble with boundaries, and formulas, and being told what to do." Me too! This made me smile and nod my head repeatedly!

And I also like "the parts of the world that are off the path" ..sometimes better than the path - wow! I feel normalized reading that you deal with the same things.

Your "great big lap" and subsequent body image comment made me laugh out loud and mostly -- I love how you express being bigger than your elevator speech -- even if you still want to use one (because you probably won't be able to bring someone out of the elevator and along into your life to see all of what you do/who you are) - just hearing you (oops, reading you) say that you know you are bigger than that -- well, I love it - great post and thank you for sharing your polymorphous soul!!

Amy Oscar said...

Thanks, Allen. Love your comment - I think that the more each of us works to differentiate ourself in the name of branding - the more we will come up against the truth of who we genuinely are, branded or not.

It's a noble wrestling match - an eternal question: Who am I, deep down, under all these masks and mirrors?

Dian Reid said...

hell. yes. i love that YOU are your brand. it's so true. those two words "amy oscar" describe you in a nutshell, and then lead us to want to know more because THAT's who you are...we always want to know more (at least i do, in the context of writing).

i coach my clients on finding their own authenticity and finding what truly fits them and no one else...looks like you're it, my one else can be described as "amy oscar"...but oh what a compliment if someone were to say to me, "you're kind of amy oscarish..."

Amy Oscar said...

SquarePegPerson - I'm hoping that the only people Im able to lead out of the elevator are the ones who belong in my tribe.

By resonating ever closer to the truth of who I am, I'm thinking I'll naturally attract the right people. The others will find their way to the teachers and friends who are right for them.

But seriously, I love the way the branding process is forcing me to look at what I really think, how I want to conduct myself in the world - of business and beyond.

Molly Gordon, self-employment coach said...

It's a sad state of affairs when branding means compressing everything you are into an artificial package. The brand "Amy Oscar" is at least as valid as "Oscar Meyer Weiners," if you'll forgive my free association.

Brands are not synopses. They are symbols that point to something that cannot be captured in a clever tag line.

Rock on, Amy!

Gina said...

Yes. And I could leave it at that. But... I do shiatsu, which would seem to be straightforward enough but it doesn't begin to describe what I really do, nor after five years, have I gotten over stuttering when asked about it.

This is why I have a website banner with a tagline I can change whenever the wind shifts.

I am SO sending this post to a friend or two...

(oh look, even your comment section asks: "choose an identity"! Haha.. who shall I be today?)

Julie Stuart said...

This is lovely. That post says more about your brand than any catchy umbrella title or description every could. Love the way you expressed your brand here.

Leslie Avon Miller said...

"But I have trouble with boundaries, and formulas, and being told what to do."
Me too. What if the key words change? And how big do we need to get anyway?

Trish said...

So true. On the few occasions I've interviewed for a job I've been rendered speechless by the first question, "tell me about yourself." You'd think I'd have come up with an answer by now but I'm always stumped. In fact I think anyone who is able to answer is probably a big disappointment to their own spirit. Either that or they have explained to their spirit that sometimes you just have to say part of what you are to suit the occasion and that no one is actually listening anyway. "Spirit, you know me better than I know me and that's great. I'll listen to you all that I am able. Just don't get too hung up on the expedient wording we need to use in 3D."

julie said...

The thing is...this post is you, it's your brand. i could tell from a million miles away that this is amy oscar's soul shining through and through. i have no heck of an idea how you would brand this beauty that you are. i've struggled with this, too, so much that I sort of gave up on the whole thing. now I'm working wiht mark at heart of biz to get my words down again. sigh. i love this amy oscar brand.

Shelly Kramer said...

After knowing you for lo, these many months, Amy, I can confidently say that I believe your elevator speech to be: "Hi, I'm Amy Oscar. I can help make your life better." Because, my friend, that's exactly what you do. Whether you're writing beautiful words for others to read, conducting workshops, counseling, speaking ... you name it, you know the myriad of things that you do. But, with them all, what you really do is enrich the lives of others. That's infinitely easier to understand than "story alchemist," "dream weaver" or anything else that you might experiment with.

And Ray Beckerman (a very sage man, I might add) is correct. You are the brand of you. And we all are. And what we do today shouldn't define us. What we are today, and who we are - today - is what we should use to define us. Because, if we're lucky, all of that might very well change tomorrow.

So just being the brand of you, and representing it succinctly and clearly as it is today, is always the best strategy.

Love to you,


Amy Oscar said...

Aww, now.... see? This is why I came to Shelly Kramer. She sees beyond the nonsense, to the core of what I cannot see myself. Then, she helps us to develop that essential something into a form - or platform - out of which we can bring our gift to the world.

Sally G. said...

So, I step into an elevator - and you're there. And you're in a colourful array of some sort because you're not writing in the cafe.

Your smile is warm and friendly, and you appear to also be tuned into something I can't hear, but I wish I could. For the first time, I'm sharing an elevator with a 'stranger' and feeling comfortable. I don't feel a need to speak at all. Just being there with you in that moment feels like I must have done something really good for someone earlier that day.

The elevator stops, the doors open - and I step out, wishing you a good day. And I leave better off than I was when I went in.

You see, it doesn't really matter to me 'what you do'. You somehow shifted my energy and the perspective on my day just by being there. Your Presence spoke to me -- and I left knowing everything I needed to know.

Amy Oscar said...

And, Sally, in that way that the universe has of working it all out, my energy - and my life - is improved because YOU stepped onto that elevator, too.

This is the gift of presence - and since we "met" I've been uplifted by you many times.

In fact, to all of you who commented - and those who read the blog and don't comment - I am so grateful.

Sally G. said...

Since 'meeting' you, I have not once ceased to marvel at our parallels. I'm so where you are w/ regards to branding right now.

Here's what I've concluded: What exists and how it's presently done is not going to work for me. I simply can't 'fit' my gifts into existing methods and feel I'm serving as I desire.

This would be mind-blowing if I had a plan for what 'will work'. So, for now, I'm going through some of the process steps that will build a stable foundation that will support the creation with Integrity and Security.

And then ... we'll see. Let's keep mirroring each other's value as we do - because I know it helps me speak my inner voice when I know there's another one harmonizing right along with me.

I feel like a Pioneer - forging into the unknown, driven by the conviction that walking this path is necessary right now for others who may one day follow ~ and they'll make it even better for having found it at all.

Gloria Ives said...

I like what you have to say and look forward to connecting with you.