The Truth is I am Iron Man Spock
I know, I know. You’re confused and surprised or maybe surprised and confused. You didn’t know I was Iron Man, I mean Spock. Neither did I till a few weeks ago. It was shortly after Leonard Nimoy (aka Mr. Spock) passed away. There were numerous articles about Nimoy’s life as well as quite a few about his iconic role as Spock. I had just read Ken Gosnell’s Why CEO’s Need a Spock on LinkedIn before I got ready to head out to a job-networking group. Bits of the article rattled around in my brain as I battled rush hour traffic. No doubt they were buffeted wildly by the four-letter words whipping around in there as well as the fist-pounding-on-steering-wheel urges I was attempting to suppress.
Anyhow, I finally made it to the meeting, my first one, and I was unsure what to expect. I entered the building and found a sign in table complete with the prerequisite nametag for networking events. Then I walked down the hall with a few other slightly bewildered looking people and we entered the meeting room where we were warmly welcomed by the facilitator. He encouraged us to fortify ourselves with donuts and coffee because, as he claimed, “looking for work is hard, stressful work.” I found a seat at one of the tables and rapidly aimed for achieving a combination sugar/caffeine rush as he introduced himself. After his introduction he proceeded to talk about the group for us newcomers (apparently that was most of the group). He then moved on and started giving us an encouraging pep talk, what we in the Imperial Army always called a Rah, Rah speech.
I noticed that he kept making eye contact with me. As a Toastmaster, I was happy to see his easy use of eye contact. I was even more pleased to witness his excellent speaking skills so I smiled with approval. After he had finished his Rah Rah speech, he explained that he was going to help us work on our elevator pitches and proceeded to give us an example by having his assistant demonstrate. The assistant stood up, said his name, and then said that he was the Joe DiMaggio of ice cream tasting. He said he was fast, thorough, and doesn’t puke (a side effect I had not anticipated). He told us he was looking for a start-up or small ice cream company to help them grow and expand their flavor line-up.
The facilitator explained to us that he had used the DiMaggio analogy so that people would instantly understand that he hits it out of the park, that he is dependable employee who can make it happen and this type of analogy can catch people’s attention and make you easier to remember. Then he said the speaker had listed three items that described him or what he could do for the company since three’s are a powerful rhetorical devise. I nodded my head sagely as it was a strategy routinely used in Toastmasters. Finally, he explained that he had wrapped up his pitch with a short, concise statement as to what he was looking for. The gentleman wants to work at a smaller organization because he thrives flexibility and the opportunity to easily expand beyond his role. Uh huh. I nodded. That all made sense to me.
That’s when he announced he wanted us to take a crack at making pitches so we could practice and it would also serve as a way to get to know each other. And that split second before it happened I realized what all the eye contact had meant. He had already picked out his mark!
The facilitator turned to me, looked at my nametag, and said, “Mo, how about you? Can we hear your elevator pitch?”
Eeeeekkkkk went my inner mind as I quickly tried to swallow the giant chunk of donut I had just stuffed into my mouth. The glazed goodness, which moments before had dissolved into a sugary liquid in my mouth, tasted now as if it were made of Saharan sand and inconveniently stuck in my mouth and throat. Panicked, I searched desperately in my not-yet-caffeinated thinking apparatus and blurted out…”The truth is I am Spock, Spock of academia. I wrangle people, programs, and problems and I am looking for a Kirk.”
There were some chuckles as the facilitator asked everyone to give me a round of applause for being the first one to – and I quote – “boldly go where no one had gone before” and my creativity. For my part, I was just glad that I had neither choked (literally) nor sprayed anyone with donut crumbs as I spoke.
On the way back, I realized that until that moment I hadn’t truly recognized that I was looking for a Kirk, but the mixture of coffee (I normally avoid it because this tends to happen), reading that article, and being put on the spot crystallized the idea within me. Another thing I realized is that I am not a total Spock. I’d say I have a fair amount of McCoy in me, especially since I once actually told my supervisor, “Dammit Jim, I’m an advisor, not a miracle worker!” on at least one occasion. I know some of my Toastmasters friends who would probably claim that I can get my Kirk on (aka get a bit dramatic), especially when doing a tall tale. And there may be a touch of Scotty as well. Still, like Spock, I do thrive under a good captain, enjoy the role of second-in-command, and can be fiercely loyal to my captain and crew. So if you’re a Kirk and need a Spock to help you boldly go where your university has never gone before, drop me a line!
Note: Some elements of this post may have been enhanced by the use of blarney for storytelling purposes. Also, there may have been gratuitous use of the phrase Iron Man because I am a Tony Stark fan.