There’s no “Jack of all Trades” section in the phone book

Spotlight pitch problems: wanting to have it all

For the past week, order Beg to Differ has been collecting and commenting on the great  Spotlight Pitches you’ve submitted  – so thanks, cure and please keep them coming!  And so far, even though the pitches ranged from Big Oil to bicycles for Africa, from electricity to social work, we’ve started to see a few common problems. So we’ll deal with a few of them over a couple of posts. Today: the temptation to be all things to all people.


Pick a section, any section

One of the awkward parts of finding yourself in a spotlight moment is not deciding what to say: it’s deciding what to leave out.

But listen up Jack: nobody’s goes looking for “all trades”, and nobody ever pays for flexibility – not even your employer. People give money to other people to solve a problem.

We all want to be seen as flexible, capable, multi-talented, able to do many wonderful things. And yes, being flexible is important. I’ve built a career on being able to apply my expertise in many different ways, in many different industries. But nobody ever paid me to be flexible. That was a bonus.

Respect what they expect

You have to understand that the human brain is organized like a phone book. As we learn about products and companies, we group them into categories, which we use to frame our expectations when we go looking for something new. So when someone asks you “what you do”, you’ll be doing them a big favour by by associating yourself with a recognized category in their head, then getting to the special qualities that make you unique.

It feels limiting. And it doesn’t feel fair. But it works.

So if you’re a social worker, start by saying so. If your company sells software, tell me that before you launch into your “solution bundles” routine.

We need more pitches!

We’ll be collecting  and offering free advice on your Spotlight Pitches all this week, so please leave your pitches comments below or  check this post for ideas on refining your pitch.

3 thoughts on “There’s no “Jack of all Trades” section in the phone book”

  1. Dennis, thanks for offering these opportunities!

    Here’s my pitch: I develop and execute communications strategies for businesses and non profit organizations.

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