The importance of an elevator speech

In the movie “Walk the Line” a young and struggling Johnny Cash (portrayed by Joaquin Pheonix) auditions for a record producer in Memphis. During his performance of a familiar gospel song, the record producer interrupts the band and asks, “ Do you have something else?” Offended and confused, Cash asks, “Why?”to which the producer responds, “I don’t believe you.”

The producer then asks, “If you were hit by a truck and had time to sing one song people would remember you by…one song that would let God know how you felt about your time on earth…would it be that song you just played or something else, something real. Because that’s the song that truly saves people. It has nothing to do with believing in God…it has to deal with believing in yourself.”

Cash then plays a song he wrote in the air force titled, “Folsom Prison Blues” and the rest is history. An interested individual asked Cash about his life’s passion and because of his preparation his life changed forever. In fact, because he was ready the world changed forever. An elevator speech is important because life offers all of us brief moments where interested parties will ask us to share what we believe is important. If we are prepared than we have the opportunity to change the world.

If someone asks me what I do my response is to tell them that on tuesday mornings I take out the garbage. I correct them and share about who I am! I use high school football as a platform to teach young men how to LEAD which stands for Love, Effort, Attitude, and Discipline. Some people smile, nod and say “that’s nice” but it’s has been amazing to me how many beautiful souls have asked me, “what do you need?” or “how can I help?” It has been said that it take a village to raise a child and I believe that to be true in reference to a high school football team as well. I might ask a parent to help prepare and serve a meal, a teacher to help tutor a student or a community member to donate funds in order to purchase needed equipment. By being prepared and knowing how to respond to these questions together we have impacted the lives of our community in a positive way.


Coach Nelson serves as a high school football coach who is pursuing his doctorate in Sport and Performance Psychology. He has worked for division 1 athletic departments, professional sport franchises, a Fortune 100 Company and has won numerous awards for his LEADership abilities.

His mission is to positively influence the world through Love, Effort, Attitude and Discipline (#LEAD). To learn more about the LEAD philosophy follow him on Twitter Levi Nelson or reach out via email at rln10@zips.uakron.edu He’d love to learn about or help you in your journey!