So a long time ago (ok, it was my first job out of graduate business school) I worked for a nonprofit organization (NPO) that, let's just say, was slightly controversial. I didn't really enjoy working there and had very few positive experiences, for a lot of different reasons. This is not about that. It's about how elevator pitches can happen, but not like how you think.
Once at a dinner party I met a person whose job was basically to research dirt on my nonprofit & similar organizations. This man did disclose his position kindly and I understood it -- hey, we were in Washington DC at the time so I get it! We were on different "teams" but that didn't mean we couldn't be friendly. So this man did say that he very much respected the CEO/President of my NPO because that person was paid much less than his peers in the sector, also leaders of similar NPOs. That stuck with me.
Not too long later I actually found myself with the President of the organization.... in the elevator. And no one else. Washington DC doesn't really have skyscrapers but still from the ground floor to the 7th or 8th floor where I worked was long enough for me to squint and kind of recognize this guy in the elevator with me as the President. I really did NOT know what to say! All I could think of was, "I know a guy whose job it is to hate us but he likes you because you're underpaid." I am so glad I didn't say that!!
I guess I smiled. CEO/President did play the benenvolent leader, asking me what I was working on, and I told him, perhaps exaggerating a bit. That filled up the awkward silence and I was able to exit onto my floor on a high note! Then as I walked to my office and told the story a few aquaintance-level co-workers I realized: I had completely missed my chance to actually do the "elevator pitch".... because I really didn't see myself staying at the organization, succeeding or moving up in either rank or responsibility. It was clearly a bad fit for me if all I could think of to say to the CEO/President guy was about him being underpaid!!
So, despite training all throughout graduate MBA school for the "elevator pitch" moment... mine turned into an "elevator ah-ha moment" that made me realize I needed to find a new elevator, going to a different level and a different destination than where I was at. As we start our "Marketing Portfolios" I remembered this story and wanted to get it out there and re-frame it not as a opportunity missed, but as an opportunity (to find a better fitting position) recognized.