By Mark Popenhagen,
CMO, Turning the Corner, LLC

It began as a normal day. I had no special plans, meetings, or obligations. I was simply running errands and enjoying life. Then it happened, as unexpected as a spring rain or in my case, a flash flood. I walked into a restaurant and saw the HR Director of a company I’ve been trying to meet for months. I had sent several emails, resumes, connected on LinkedIn and even tried getting a personal introduction. Now I was less than four feet away and after a quick personal positive affirmation, a super hero stance, and quick breath check, I boldly moved towards her.

Oh, the Horror!

“Mrs. Jones?” I asked, not her real name. “Yes,” she answered a bit confused as she tried to place my face. “My name is Mark Popenhagen, and I’ve been trying to meet you for a long time. I was wondering…” What happened next is a blur. I vaguely remember a babbling dissertation on my life, some incident about lighting a tree on fire, skateboarding, and a dog named Mickey. I watched in horror as her face changed from polite patience, to bewilderment and finally to absolute terror. I bid her farewell, and skulked home knowing that in a matter of a thirty seconds I had excluded myself from the possibility of even stepping foot into her company. It was heartbreaking, but also very revealing.

Why it ISN’T an Elevator Speech

We’ve all heard the buzz around having a strong 30 second elevator speech for our business or job search. In fact, I’ve helped many companies and sales reps prepare such introductions. However, even if we are literally on an elevator, our goal should never be to spew out 30 seconds of highly targeted catch phrases and slogans, and then drop the mic and leave. Neither is it the time for listing past accomplishments, titles or begging for a job. Not only are these things boring, but they are real conversation killers.

The Goal is to Keep the Conversation Going

Wherever you are at, you must be prepared to quickly convey who you arewhat you’re good at, and what you’re looking for in less than a minute. It could make all the difference between a great introduction or a missed opportunity. Your goal in this short period is to make enough of an impression that the conversation continues or you set up a time when you can meet them later. Think of it more like a quick commercial or movie trailer that gets the person interested in who you are and makes them want to learn more.

When is the Best Time to Use My Commercial?

You need to be ready at any time. How many times have you heard, “So, what do you do for a living?” This is your opportunity to show them who you are and how you can make an impact. Generally you want to be prepared when going to networking events, job fairs, parties, or any place that you are meeting people for the first time.

Cool, Smart, and Focused

We find the most effective 30 second commercials are those that are Cool, Smart, and Focused.

  • Cool: Make the statement memorable with a passion statement (I love, I impact, I help…)
  • Smart: Share why you’re unique and interesting according to your strengths. (I started doing this, I am doing this, I love this because)
  • Focused: Tell me how I can help you. (NEVER say “I need a job. Do you have a job? Can you get me a job? Are you hiring for a job?)

What I Should Have Said

“Hello Ms. Jones. My name is Mark Popenhagen, and I’ve been intrigued with your company for years. I’ve always been passionate about helping companies exceed their goals and enable people to grow into who they were truly meant to be. I have an extensive background in traditional and digital marketing, and in executive management. I’m always searching for companies that value growth and people, and I’m currently exploring new opportunities. Your “Company” is one of the best I’ve seen. Would you be available to meet next week so I can learn more about “Company” or do you know of any other businesses that are looking for someone to take them to the next level?”

Make it Personal

Honestly, my commercial changes a little bit every time I meet someone. Hopefully, I know a little about them so I can appeal to what they need as well. I also encourage you to ask them questions. Please don’t say, “What do you do?”. Try, “What aspect of your job excites you?”, “What are you passionate about?”, “What do you love about your job?”. Getting to know them as well will help build the relationship.

One Final Note

As the CMO for Turning the Corner I’m often at events or places where I need to be prepared to say what we do, and what makes us different. This can make anyone a bit anxious. Just remember to be yourself. You’re simply meeting new people and building friendships that could last a lifetime.

Take a deep breath, smile, and tell them who you are… “Hi, I’m Mark Popenhagen from Turning the Corner, and we help everyone LOVE their job.”

To learn more about Turning the Corner or to schedule a Free Phone Consultation visit Now get out there and meet some people!

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