Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Elevator Pitch

Regardless of their claims, most advertising professionals assume that the consumer is dumb enough to believe anything they say, especially if they say it in a memorable way. For most part, unfortunately, this holds true. Advertising and promotion work, at least for the initial trials. I have hostile memories of the times I had abused words for mass manipulation. I never thought that one day I would be asked to write a 'script' for selling myself and that would be the one time the copywriter in me would fail. Maybe it's because I never thought of myself as a consumable product or service. Maybe I should now.

The most frequent advice I have received in the last 3 weeks, if I want to succeed and land a long-term job, is to network. That seems fair until the depth of this advice hits you. For the convenience of mass production, the West has come up with a formula to network. There are well defined ways to establish contact; a script for each kind and level of contact; definitions of appropriate gestures; and percentages of success or failure for each methodology. And if you are ever lucky enough to establish contact in a seemingly effortless way in an elevator, you must have a script ready and memorized for such chance meetings as well. It is called the elevator pitch: a 30-second commercial for selling yourself in the most fake-sincere way possible.

For most of my adult life, I have fought for my right to be unique. As a woman, I have resisted the social norms that lumped me into broad categories. In continuation of my rebellion, I decided to migrate to a modern Western society where I could just be, without retribution. That is why I did not consider and prepare for this irony of capitalism. You would think that in a highly competitive market, your uniqueness would at least be accepted, if not valued. But in reality, the greater the competition, the more the need to conform. The only difference is that conformance here is a choice and in the lack of it, you don't get killed or jailed. You just don't 'succeed'. Your life is not threatened; only your spirit is. Spontaneity in this cutthroat world is a major lifestyle choice, one that I may not be brave or acclimatized enough to make just yet.

Like everything else, you are a commodity and that is a fact I need to accept if I want to be able to buy nice things (so much irony). If scripting an elevator pitch is the first step to selling myself, so be it:
Option 1: Hi. Are you looking for an experienced professional who is smarter than you know and is willing to do anything for salary and benefits? It's your lucky day, because not only am I smart, fast, hardworking and presentable, I am also a visible minority who is visibly desperate.'

Option 2: Hi. I am Soofia. I busted my ass for 10 years in the corporate world to fill a void in my life with blind ambition. After realizing how meaningless all that was, I busted my ass for another 5 years in the non-profit world to feel better about myself. Now I am willing to bust my ass for another 20 years because I chose to migrate and start all over. I am truly the best person to bust my ass for the position advertised. 

That's all I've got so far.