Love In An Elevator; The History of the Elevator Pitch & How to Make It Your Own

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Ah yes… the infamous elevator pitch. Whether you find yourself in an actual elevator pitching to a potential employer or asking yourself what to say on your umé jobs video resume, your elevator pitch is the short speech that tells someone who you are and what you want. Yet so many of us have a hard time putting it all together or even getting started. Below is an easy outline of questions to ask yourself and to answer in your pitch. But first, a little history lesson…

A few people and moments have been credited to coining this famous phrase and some are just way more fun than others. According to Tom Tunguz, “The term elevator pitch originates from the very first demonstration of an elevator with a safety brake.” Basically, elevators were super dangerous and often fell down the shafts, plummeting down with whatever goods or folks were in it. So, Elisha Otis invented a locking system that would stop this from happening, but no one was buying it. So, he organized a demo to show off his latest and greatest, including putting himself inside the elevator and having his assistant cut the lines. Picture the first infomercial by a crazy stunt man and the most Die Hard approach of all the theories.

In the 60’s & 70’s it was said that screenwriters would wait outside the elevators for movie executives to enter, then would only have the time span of an elevator ride to pitch their ideas. How very Hollywood! Guess this pitch: “I want to put two people who don’t know each other in the middle of a third world country, take away their clothes and shoes, leave them with no water or food, and give them the chance to contract actual diseases that were found on the Oregon Trail that they will then carry with them for the rest of their real lives. Very little overheard as we’ll have them record most of it themselves and even more cost effective is there will be no prize money or winnings. Just the pure satisfaction of surviving!” Brilliant – Sold – Let’s Make a Deal!

In 1981 in the book “The Art of Getting Your Own Sweet Way,” Phillip Crosby credits himself for coining the phrase. “When teaching Quality Management, I always teach my students to learn an “elevator speech.” This is an all-encompassing, action-producing set of ideas that you pronounce while on the elevator with the big boss for just 1 minute.”

In the 90’s and more widely known and published by the all reliable Wikipedia, Llene Rosenweig & Michael Coruso are the true elevator pitchers. This dates back to Coruso’s time at Vanity Fair where he would pitch his next story idea in the elevator to his editor. This happened so often that girlfriend, Rosenweig would ask how his ‘elevator pitch’ went that day. Let’s picture this as the Rom-Com of the theories and imagine it’s raining through most of this story and they each own 1 glove from the pair they both fought to buy. How very serendipitous.


No matter who came up with the phrase, we all know that this is the best way to sell yourself to potential employers especially with attention spans at an all-time low. With umé jobs video resume section, you can accomplish this to a much broader audience and (for all of you claustrophobics out there) no elevator needed. So, what should you ask yourself when formulating your elevator pitch? Just remember: Who, What, When, Where & Why.

– Who are you?
– What are your strengths and what are your skills?
– When have you solved a conflict & how did you solve it?
– Where is your end goal?
– Why do you benefit the company?

Answering these questions in this order will help structure your elevator pitch and your umé jobs video resume. Make sure to keep it short, interesting and remember practice makes perfect. Download umé jobs now and start recording!