Elevator Pitches at the End of the World…

Elevator Pitches” are 45-ish second spiels spat out by people looking for investment/green lights from the powerful. The idea is that you find yourself in a literal or metaphorical elevator with a CEO/gazillionaire like Bill Gates or George Soros. You have the length of an elevator journey to say
a) what their problem is
b) what your solution is
c) what your track record is (i.e. why they should listen to you.)

For example –

[lift doors close]
“Mr Blofied, I am the solution to a problem you don’t even know that you have.
“British Intelligence (yes, I know it’s an oxymoron) have sent one of their top assassins to scupper your plans to corner the world’s supply of chinchilla.
“I can turn him, and have him actually kill the Chinchilla Growers Association President, and frame Nick Clegg for it.
I’ve already reprogrammed several British agents. My latest success was the George Monbiot caper, at the behest of the Nuclear lobby. I know what I am doing.
“What? No, I’m more of a dog person mysel… wha? Nooooooooooooooo….”

By the end of the elevator trip you don’t expect to have a “yes”. Your metric of success is that the particular Master of the Universe you’ve pitched to says “call my PA and have her schedule a 15 minute slot in the next 2 weeks.”

So, I thought I’d adapt this concept to the fate of the earth. Me being modest and all that. First a disclaimer – because I am a white westerner who doesn’t really know bugger all about the political and psychosocial dynamics of the rest of the world, I am going to, um, pretend that China and India and the Middle East and Latin America don’t really exist.(footnote 1)

The Master of the Universe is therefore the “average western citizen”, armed as they are with considerable reserves of political freedom and cultural (and financial) capital. Remember what Noam Chomsky says – the opinions of those living on the Eastern Seaboard between Boston and Philadelphia really do matter, and this is why they are the most heavily propagandised folks in the world (see Glenn Greenwald on Wikileaks).

Here are the elevator pitches of the right-wingers and technocrats (lotta overlap, so conflated), religious fundamentalists, state socialists and NGOs.
My attempt at an elevator pitch comes last.

Right wing/free marketeers, technocrats

there are no problems, not the way the fruitloops warmists are telling ya. Polar bear numbers are up, and anyhow our boffins and their ingenuity have the answers to these problems (the ones that don’t exist).
The real problem is the liberal global elite that wants a new carbon tax, against sound free-market principles.
So the solution is that you join us in denying the science, and the enlightenment too if needs be – collateral damage.
You can trust us. We’ve done this before. Remember Chile? Remember the Spanish Inquisition? And human ingenuity resolved all the problems on Easter Island. I mean, what’s a few one-way helicopter trips and a little cannabilism between friends?

Religious fundamentalists (who are a small-ish and noisy group and do NOT, despite what they claim, represent all people of faith!)

Hello Sir
The problems all stem from that the sad fact that people don’t respect the [insert name of ancient cobbled together scripture here] anymore.
And, as any fule no, without a vengeful bearded Sky God ™ , there can be no morality.
The answer is to force people to have faith, to get women back in the kitchen where they belong and to pass laws to control women’s bodies. Then we will be officially Good People, and God will look kindly upon us. And bad things, like Global Warming, never happen to Good People…
Basically, if we can’t convince God to intervene, then we haven’t a prayer…

Statists (Trots)

Fraternal greetings, comrade
Global Warming is a major problem, a symptom of the fact that Evil Capitalists have been running riot. Fortunately the Heroic Working Class has in no way been affected, is NOT complicit, and after the Revolution will be able to go on having cheap holiday’s in other people’s misery.
Revolution is the solution – the overthrow of the Evil Capitalists and their Lackeys in the State. This will be achieved by all the people, led of course by [insert name of particular People’s Sect of Judea here], which will dissolve itself at an appropriate time after the Revolution. Once legislated against, the carbon dioxide problem will be solved, and the scientific and technological wing of the proletariat will resolve any lingering contradictions.
You can trust us – we’ve done this before very successfully in the Soviet Union. Paper, comrade? Solidarity price?

Non-Governmental Organisations

Hi there,
The problem is that our Lords and Masters don’t have good enough information about the consequences of their decisions. They mean well, but don’t know about the whales/orangutans/starving millions.
We can educate them to do the right thing by writing them postcards. YOU can write a postcard. And if you fill in this direct debit, we can get more postcards printed!
We’ve done this before, and we got a law passed that slows the increase in the rate of destruction of rainforests, market conditions permitting. So, um, what are your creit card details…

Me (modestly, as the embodiment of “social movements”)

Listen up.
you think this elevator is going up to an ever brighter future. I’m here to tell you we are actually plummetting to our deaths. We have about 40 seconds left. No, jumping up at the last second won’t help. The physics of that? I don’t have time to explain.
Look, we’ve overshot the capacity of the planet to cope with our waste – especially the waste from burning oil, coal and gas. We’re burning up.
We maybe can fix this. Me and you, us. Governments and corporations can only play a supporting role. Anyhow, they will only act if you and I force them to.
We can solve this by building networks of people who are DOING stuff, creating resilience and spreading low carbon solutions.
I’m the guy who helped you get votes for women, end slavery, freedom of speech and assembly. We can win again, if we’re smarter than we ever were.
The one thing that ISN’T going to work is trusting the clowns who got us into this mess.
(looks at wristwatch) Damn. Now, on my mark, three, two, one, JUMP!

Tough sell? Yeah, but at least I treat them as adults.

Footnote 1 – Or rather, I’m not going to pretend that my analogy is extendable or my “expertise” (sic) is particularly relevant.

Good advice re elevator pitches here

and from venturehacks,

and here.


About dwighttowers

Below the surface...
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3 Responses to Elevator Pitches at the End of the World…

  1. Jay D says:

    I wonder where you stand relative to your social movements pitch; is that you? As a fairly new reader, i’m trying to get a sense of your stance.

    I went to that elevator pitch link; pretty interesting…easy to see a simple substitution–that writer is advising start-uppers how to pitch to investors, and it’s SO similar in the superficial ways to what deep change agents need to do too.

    Elevator pitches are a good challenge, all right; have written some, need to do another one. But if the average adult attention span is really only eight seconds these days, we be screwed, eh?

  2. dwighttowers says:

    Hi Jay D,
    yeah, that’s me, complete with the opening “Jumping up at the last second won’t work” and the command at the end to, um, jump at the last minute. My take on this is that social movements are the only thing that could provide the long term change of direction we need (see comments under the post “Metrics for social movements between me and the wonderful Leavergirl). BUT a) social movements are easily co-opted/distracted/out-waited and b) we don’t have the time that we need. IF we had sustained the mid-60s thing without getting burntout/distracted/co-opted, and if in the early 70s we had gotten hold of the central problem of increasing carbon emissions (the science was understood), then we might have had time. Glad you liked the elevator pitch concept. I’d say the average adult attention span may only be that short, but probably for being lectured at. If you find out what people know, what they think, engage with them on their terms etc, they are usually capable of better than that. But it takes time… As you say, we be screwed…

  3. Pingback: What would success look like? #2 «

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