Larry Bodine is a legal marketing guru, and is not one to shy away from straight talk. This is a quality I greatly admire in others, as I see wiggly, meaningless rhetoric as a waste of my time. I really hate it when my time is wasted. If you’ve got something to say, then just say it. And if you don’t, then why are you writing anything in the first place?
But the downside of being unafraid to state one’s views is that, every once in a while, a position comes to light that is, well, truly disturbing, perhaps even bordering on sick. Such is Larry’s view in this post, entitled The Best Elevator Pitch Ever.
I was conducting business development training at Chicago-area law firm when the focus turned to “30-second commercials” or “elevator pitches.” Each lawyer in the session was assigned to write their own, following guidelines I outlined.
The silver-haired senior-most litigator at the firm came up with the BEST elevator pitch ever. The senior partner said, “when I step onto elevator at the top floor, I size up the other person to see if he is a business man. I know they don’t like lawyers.”
“When they ask me, ‘what do you do for a living?’ I answer I’m a Nazi medical researcher.”
The businessman will react with shock. “Then I say, ‘I was kidding. I just said that because I’m a lawyer.”
This always gets a laugh from the businessman.
“Then I say I help businessmen in court.”
The best? No. Not the best. Not even acceptable. If someone were to say this to me in an elevator, my initial reaction would be to loudly exclaim a select epithet and tell the other person that they should get far away from me immediately.
I enjoy lawyer jokes, though many of my overly-serious brethren find them offensive. I don’t find anything funny about the Nazis, and Nazi medical researchers are particularly unfunny. I understand the comparison between lawyer and Nazi, thus making the hated lawyer less evil by comparison. The use of Nazis is still unacceptable, offensive and as close to a good reason to strike someone as one will find in an elevator.
That Larry has gone so far out on a limb to proclaim this is the best, not merely good, but the best, elevator pitch he’s ever heard is shocking. Even if one has a particularly warped sense of humor, or high tolerance for disgusting references, this one should have given Larry pause. A really long pause. For some reason, Larry decided to lay it on the line and post his love for this pitch.
I don’t pitch in elevators. In fact, I have made it lifelong habit not to speak in elevators, since you never know who’s in there with you. But if I ever was inclined to speak in an elevator, and if that speech was intended as a “pitch”, it would not involve Nazis.
There are about a million alternate ways for this elevator pitcher to have made his point without invoking the Nazis. My advice would be to find a different way. As for Larry, I am very sorry that this is the sort of thing that you find to be the “best”. In case I haven’t been clear, I do not. I find it deeply disturbing on every level.
Update 1: The comments at Larry Bodine’s blog have been less than supportive of this particular post. One might think that Larry would reconsider. One would be wrong. In fact, Larry posted this follow-up:
11/16/08: Thanks for all the comments on this post. No one could ever say that your acting as the Police of Political Correctness. Besides, you can’t have enough things that are PC anyway. Nobody would waste their turning a quick joke into a highly-charged epithet.
People email me privately that the commentors have no sense of humor, or are pursuing an agenda. Golly, would someone do that? I like to believe that kind of things doesn’t go on.
So keep those comments coming. Presumably you’ll manage to fit them in between protest marches against “The Producers” outside Mel Brook’s house and the orchestrated boycott of reruns of Hogan’s Heroes.
I’m fairly certain that if I found myself in this hole, I would stop digging. More to the point, I wouldn’t ridicule people who didn’t agree with Larry’s sense of humor in this instance. But then, Larry’s the marketing guru.
Update 2: It would appear that Larry has decided to stop digging, and the “best elevator pitch ever” post is now gone. Forever?
H/T Geeklawyer via twitter
Update 3: Larry has removed the original post and apologized for it.
I sincerely apologize for the crude and offensive “Elevator Pitch” post I put online last week. In the clear light of morning, it is clear that it was anti-Semitic and repellent. I want to thank all the people who commented and called me about it; I listened and took what you said to heart.
I have deleted the post. It was a mistake to repeat a crude joke that I heard in rural Illinois, and I should have known better. It was a worse mistake to say it was the “best” of its kind, when actually it was hideous.
I appreciate Larry’s recognition of the error, and am happy that this issue has now been put to rest. I hope those few commenters, here and elsewhere, who failed to comprehend why this reflected exceptionally bad judgment will now recognize their error as well.