The welcome desk for the networking event is in the lobby on the ground floor. I am a bit early today and therefore probably one of the first arrivals. I come straight from Heathrow airport and am staying in another hotel tonight; so I leave my trolley with the somewhat grumpy old man at the bell desk.
The event seems to be a success as I guess there are around eighty to a hundred badges on the table. I receive my pink –why pink for a business event?- coloured badge with my name printed in black and a hostess of Caucasian origin is kindly showing me the way to the three elevators. The event itself is on the 19th floor.
I get into the brand new elevator together with two Japanese tourists and seven other pink-badge-holders. No-one says a word. Over the last decennia, elevators seem to have turned into a silence-zone; don’t talk, don’t touch, don’t interact. Two are reading mails on their iPhone, another is sipping from her Costa coffee and the younger girl is rummaging in her handbag. All others are just looking up and admiring the monotonous ceiling of the elevator. It gives me the feeling of standing in a men’s toilet and just hope no-one is going to unzip his trousers. Luckily there are three women in this lift. One of them doesn’t appreciate the art of the fully black painted ceiling; neither do I. Accidentally she makes eye contact with me and I suddenly have that irresistible desire to test out my elevator pitch. I reply to her eye-contact by holding out my hand and saying: “Good morning, my name is Herwig Dierckx. I am one of the 1 million in the world.” I pause for a few seconds and observe her raising her perfectly arched and awesome eye-brows. “I am a management consultant”, I continue. “I enhance company’s bottom-line profitability and create organic growth opportunities through the development of leadership capabilities. Our holistic approach on these leadership competencies has ensured a paradigm shift in many boardrooms and has delivered sustainable share-holder value. Most of our clients have seen a double-digit growth in EPS through the acquisition of our uncontested value-adding methodology.”
I pause again. In fact, I am just waiting to get her complementary ‘wow’-reply while the Japanese couple leaves the lift on the 14th floor.
“Nice to meet you”, is her response. “Then I am also part of the 1 million-club; I am also a management consultant. My name is Alexis Bolt, I am from Birmingham. I train leaders like you to move away from meaningless marketing-speak to plain English; so that people understand you. That’s important for business success.”
“19th floor”, comes with a soft and sexy voice out of the loudspeaker. We are there.
The doors open slowly and silently; state-of-the-art modern technology. Oh do I miss the glamour and mystery of those nostalgic old shaky wooden carriages; like the Schindler’s lift in the Windsor hotel in Cairo. When leaving the elevator, Alexis gives me her business card and walks to the left towards the large meeting room. I walk to the right, to the men’s bathrooms and reflect on reviewing my elevator speech. Just so that people understand me….