Precious Moments

At the end of a long day, you’re heading back to your hotel room. Alone in the elevator, you push the button for floor 26 and want nothing more than room service and maybe a shower before working a few more hours. Before the elevator door closes, a hand slices past the sensor and the doors reopen.

Richard Branson gets on and clicks floor 27.

What do you say?

(Replace Branson with Steve Jobs, Marissa Mayer, Russell Simmons or the person you would most like to meet, either professionally or personally.)

This used to be called having your elevator pitch ready. The truth is, most people don’t want to be pitched, although Sir Richard may be the exception.

Still, it’s important to be able to make the most of this precious moment.

How do you introduce yourself? What do you say after that? Is it a statement or a question? Do you praise them? Talk about yourself? Ask them an interesting question? Tell a joke?

The doors just closed. What do you say?

Add your thoughts in the comments. I’m really interested in what you all think on this one. Don’t forget to include who you would want to meet.

photo credit: Chris Heuer

6 thoughts on “Precious Moments”

  1. Clay,
    I think I would honestly stammer at first, but hopefully just show a genuine interest in the person. Ask a few deeper questions. What is their biggest challenge? What is their legacy project? I would introduce myself, but not with the typical "what do you do?" line. I would share my personal impact statement (a post on that soon).

    Who? Seth Godin, Tim Sanders, or Bono

    1. Thanks, Tim. I doubt you would stammer – you're a smooth character. If you want to meet Seth, let me know next time you're in New York. I would also like to meet Bono. The closest I've come is the third row of a U2 concert.

      I'm excited to read your personal impact statement post. Makes me think I should do the same.

  2. This happened to me.

    My company was working with Wired Magazine on an event during the summer of 08, and the event was at Conde Nast headquarters. Behind the scenes, I was in a room right next to the test kitchens for Gourmet Magazine (RIP). Out walks Ruth Reichl. (One of the people I had always wanted to meet … blogged about it here

    Because I was in her workplace and she had no idea who I am, I just wanted to say hello and take as little time as possible. I went up to her, introduced myself and shook her hand and just thanked her for all her work at Gourmet.

    That's it. It was before my food site launched or any of that. No pitching. Just one person admiring another.

    And you know what's weird? Late last year, I had a bad dream that Ruth was killed in a car crash. I woke up so sad, but relieved it was just a dream. After I got to work, the announcement broke that Conde was killing Gourmet. Strange.

    Really thankful for the opportunity. Guess I have to start plotting for what I'm going to say when I meet Jay-Z, Lil' Kim and Giada Di Laurentiis.

    1. Great story, Em. I wasn't happy when Gourmet folded either. My aunt & uncle would always renew my subscription for Christmas, so this year they got me "Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink". I haven't dug into it much yet but I bet you'd like it.

      Crazy about your dream and the timing. Glad that Ruth is OK, even if Gourmet is not.

      I would love to meet Jay-Z and Giada as well. Separately.

  3. I've really enjoyed reading your blog so far this year Clay! This is a great question. The problem with meeting a big star is it's completely unlike meeting normal people – you don't meet someone for the first time and give them your life story in 60 seconds. Normally you meet through a few touch points and develop the relationship each time. Try and think what everyone else is going to say – say something different, something memorable and then follow up afteerwards for something perhaps more meaningful.

    Tim Ferris wrote about his approach:

  4. I once shared an elevator with Tom Savini on Haloween. He tried to give my friend some costume tips and she completely blew him off. That's really the closest I've ever come to meeting anyone famous. Frankly, I've never been that impressed with famous people. It's great that they are talented and have achieved success, but I really doubt that talking to them personally would actually cause me to be more successful.

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