Vail Daily column: Can you describe what you do in five words?
Ryan Summerlin July 31, 2014
Those who know me know that it’s hard for me to say or write anything in five words. I couldn’t even get the title of this column down to five words.
That’s OK, because the kind folks at the Vail Daily are kind enough to give me 700 or so words each week.
That minor point aside, being concise and direct is a good exercise. Brevity is often powerful in business and can prevent interactions (or phone calls, or emails, or meetings) from getting off topic and becoming giant time sucks.
Why five words? No reason other than the fact I had two unrelated conversations at a recent Bravo! Vail concert (kudos to Bravo! Vail for another great summer) related to describing what you do in five words or less. These discussions prompted me to think about the power of brevity.
See what I mean about brevity? That last paragraph was 50 words. But I digress.
Describing what you do in five words is a good exercise in brevity and an important lesson in making your words count. What if you have five words on an elevator? Or five words at a business event or an after-hours business mixer? How do get your message across in a memorable manner?
Let’s have at it (that was four words — so I’m getting there). What is it that I do, in five words or less?
If I were cynical, I’d say: “Go to meetings.” After all, I do attend a number of meetings throughout the week. Internal meetings. Committee meetings. Board meetings. Conference calls, which are really phone meetings. Meetings create work that I don’t have much time to complete because I’m running to my next meeting. Plus, I’d really like to think that what I do can be better summarized than “go to meetings.”
If I were sarcastic, I’d say: “Stop, collaborate and listen.” Eighties rapper Vanilla Ice was ahead of his time when it comes to business advice. This has a nice ring to it and it might make people think I’m young, assuming they catch the reference to the classic one-hit wonder “Ice Ice Baby.” While this might be memorable, and meaningful in a business context, I hope I can do better than stealing from Vanilla Ice.
If I were an idealist, I’d say: “Understand and help people.” This gets closer to accurately describing what I do on a daily basis by attending meetings and following up my meetings by stopping, listening and collaborating with others. But as with anything truly idealist in nature, it falls a bit short in reality.
If I were completely Type A, I’d say: “What’s the point of this?” and probably just ignore the question due to my impatience while I think about the various upcoming deadlines and meetings that I obviously need to attend.
Conversely, if I were completely Type B, I’d say: “Let me reflect on that,” and in my state of relaxation, I’d likely forget that you had asked me a question at all. You’d have to remind me to schedule my meetings and show up on time.
In reality, if I were to describe what I do on a daily basis in five words, I’d say: “Enhance economic vitality via collaboration.” That’s a concise, accurate summary of what the Vail Valley Partnership strives to do in the community.
How exactly does the Vail Valley Partnership do this?
We support local businesses. We unite key stakeholders. We lead collaborative efforts throughout the community. With a membership of 800-plus organizations that spans the Vail Valley and beyond, the Vail Valley Partnership is dedicated to ensuring local business success and fostering regional economic vitality by offering local business tools and resources, promoting the Vail Valley to destination guests and initiating economic development efforts.
Examples include programs such as the Lodging Quality Assurance Program, which strives to maintain high standards across all lodging categories, our group sales effort to drive group and meeting business during non-ski months, our partnership with the EGE Air Alliance to increase flight service to the Eagle County Regional Airport and our extensive chamber events and programs designed to help businesses do business better. Not to mention our economic development effort targeted at assisting local businesses grow and to create a message to the world that the Vail Valley is not only a great vacation destination, but a great community to grow your business.
It’s all a fancy way of saying what could have been said in the following five words: “Enhance economic vitality via collaboration.”
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.