I looked around for a thread and found nothing on it, so here we go with a fun little “game” of sorts.
Here is the situation. You are in an elevator with some high ranking businessmen, going from the ground floor to the 30th, and you are wearing your FIRST t-shirt. Taking a moment to realize you are stuck in an elevator for a period of time with these total strangers, you decide to strike up a conversation, which quickly turns to the topic of “Why is your shirt like that?” (All I can imagine at this point is a Wildstang kid in their Tye-die shirts in an elevator with some men in full suits)
Seizing the opportunity to explain FIRST to a total stranger (hey, who knows, maybe they would be interested in sponsoring a FIRST team or FIRST itself), you have a little over a minute to explain FIRST to these businessmen and get them excited about it.
FIRST is a wonderful program, but how do you sum up all the years of experience you may have had into an elevator ride, and without a visual?
I know there are Elevator pitches, where you have a product and about a minute to sell it to a judge, take this as the same kind of thing, and lets see what we can do!
Preface: depending on the day,
I am either the gentleman in the suit or the guy in the jeans.
Also I’ve had this happen a few times.
If they ask:
“I mentor students building robots as an educational tool to introduce them to engineering and science. This is not so much ‘Robot Wars’. It’s a cooperative challenge both on the field and off. It’s a lot of fun and it helps insure that in the future we have more talent to help us all succeed.”
If they don’t ask and I don’t know them:
“Hello. Wow…am I under dressed for this occasion. Sorry I gotta go mentor some students and my formal clothes are not suitable for building robots.” If they don’t care then oh well.
If they don’t ask and I know them (there are thousands of people in my company):
“Hey, how are you? (Hopefully you get a response here.) I am off duty to go build some robots with my students.”
I find that if people don’t want to talk, they won’t.
If people are interested they’ll engage you if you let them.
For me I am also a big fella at 6’3" with a goatee.
So if I stand there postured like a security guard people will assume I am not all that friendly if they do not know me.
I suspect for other people that first unspoken impression would be different.
In reality that first <5 seconds can radically alter the entire situation.
I have a background in security and it’s just human nature.
Its actually amusing how often situations like these come up. Sometimes its by happenstance and other times its by design.
How many times have you been in the Check-Out line at a store with your Robotics shirt on and just ‘happened’ to mention that you were a mentor or student of a team that builds 120 pound robots? It can cause great conversation.
My most recent example: We had just bought a new artificial Christmas tree from Hobby Lobby. The guy brings the tree from the stock room and walks us out with it towards our car. He mentions in passing that this is the most interesting second job that he’s ever had. I ask him what his first job is. Its working for a metal fabrication shop. Before we reach the car I have the owner’s business card and cell phone number and have learned about the tools they have available.
If I was in the elevator - I’d probably start off with this question: “Excuse me, but could I ask what company you work for?” After that, I’d stick to the simple wow pictures. 120lb robots built by students in six weeks time. What do they do? They shoot frisbees and climb pyramids, or shoot basketballs into regulation sized goals, or launch miniature robots up a vertical pole. I’d probably follow them out of the elevator too.
Speaking of which - does anyone work for an organization that would like to sponsor a robotics team?
This is actually part of the reason I thought of this. It is a great way to see how others would sell what FIRST is, and give others a chance to learn from experience.
I’m not selling to an elevator, but I will be having a parents meeting with a team that I am mentoring, and I would love to see how others look at FIRST and what things I could say that could make them understand just how awesome FIRST is.