Hello, my name is Ruth

This is the spot where I get to tell you who I am. At least, this is the spot that is meant to be where I tell you who I am. To be honest: I haven’t got a clue who I am. When I find myself in situations where I need to introduce myself and state what I do, I know beforehand that the 20 seconds that you usually get, just won’t do. When I was just a little bit younger, say, last year, I panicked during those moments. Somehow media made me believe that I needed to present myself as a brand. I needed to show people all that I am capable of during those 20 seconds. That first impression, you always hear people talk about. Well, let me tell you this: I suck at first impressions. It is impossible to get to know someone in 20 seconds. It is impossible to understand what someone is about in 20 seconds and since I always want to know more about people, those 20 seconds never right cut it for me when I am getting introduced to others.

Of course most people just state some facts, like their name and age, mostly the place where they live and who they live with and in general something about what they like and why they are there, at that specific event. For me this typically would look something like this:

“I am Ruth, I am 29 years old. I live in Moordrecht and I have a white cat named Dinofelis Big Muff-in. I work at a railroad construction company and I love sports, music and writing. I am here today, because I feel together we can truly make a difference when it comes to sustainability in the field of public transport.” (I timed it, exactly 20 seconds!)

In reality, I want to say something like this:

“I am Ruth. I love my parents, no, for real, they are awesome people and I would love all of you to meet them to see for yourself. The same goes for my brother and his wife. I have a cat. I love her. I love her stubbornness and character and of course at times she annoys me so much that I can hardly understand why I loved her in the first place but in general she gives me affection and she is the one that makes me go into self-reflection since I guess we actually do look like each other. Now, I could tell all of you all the things that I do, and that I like to do, but in general it is too much to tell all of that in the short time that I am given. Just like all of you, I have a backpack full of experiences and knowledge, and I will put that to use whenever it is applicable. You might find that at points I am misses know it all, and that might annoy you, but frankly, I am not always right. I expect you to let me know when I get something wrong, so in the future, I know even more and can be even more annoying. That said. I have several jobs and I like all of them. Since we are here to talk about public transport and sustainability I will just briefly state that I also love to write and work-out and I can’t live without music. Since those factors are so important to me, I put a lot of energy in those next to my job at a railroad construction company. That last one is the main reason I joined you today, but during the breaks, I would love to just forget about that social excepted networking and talk about your work-out plan and favorite authors and music.” ( I timed it, talked a bit faster and still got at 1:34 minutes).

Now, what a great first impression was that, wasn’t it? You must really feel like you know me now. To be honest, during these sessions, it is more common that during the introductions of others you are either thinking about what you are going to say, or about how relieved you are that you managed to introduce yourself in quite a fresh and powerful manner, than that you were actually paying attention to what the others are saying. In fact, I bet that during this read, most of you have been thinking about how you would introduce yourself, about the cool things you do and the things you would love to share, and if you actually know what to say at those moments or if you have to change your standard speech a bit since it is kind of boring… Of course, you remember some of my ranting here, but half of your attention goes straight to self reflection, doesn’t it?

Since no one is really listening those 20 seconds, or those 94 seconds, I figured that it is needless to worry about the fact that I can never introduce myself in a manner that truly reflects who I am and shows of everything that I am proud of being and being capable of. I also figured that selling myself as a brand is totally not who I am and I do not want to compare myself to a product that needs a shiny gloss and pretentious promises to be interesting or worth paying attention to, let alone spend time and money on.

I can’t simply skip the introductions and I do not want to go for the stating the facts either, so in general these days I will use something like this:

“I am Ruth. Ever since I was a little girl I have worked on making the world a better place, no matter in what position I was. I am still an idealist and I still think if we work together we can change for the better. If you want to know more about my ideas or who I am and what I do, let’s discuss that another time, we’re here to talk about sustainability in public transport today.” (21 seconds)

You still haven’t got a clue who I am after this little introduction, but what I usually do get across, is the aim that I strive for. Instead of focusing on who I am and what I do, I try to focus on what I want to achieve during the event, right from the start. Since I started doing that, I noticed that people actually listen to what I am saying when I introduce myself, probably because I break with the standard. More important, other people start stating their goals as well, and in order to get somewhere, it is important to all look in the same direction, to all feel that you want to go to the same destination.

For me, this also works at parties. You know, those parties where you get to meet new people and everyone starts asking what you do for a living? I rather go for the “Hi, I am Ruth. Which band is playing? It sounds so awesome! What is your name?” Mostly the responses are something along the line of “I am Sarah and this is Devil Doll playing. I love her as well, but in general I like to listen to jazz more than to this bluesy rock ‘n roll sound.” Now, not only I know that girl I am talking to is Sarah, I also have a good start for a conversation and from there, I can really get to know someone.

So. If you still want to know who I am at the end of this little rant, reread it, believe me, I have put enough of me in here. Of course, you are also welcome to just ask me random questions. I will answer them. If you feel you want to know more about me, we could also meet up and talk about your ideas on the world and everything that is going on there. I am always curious in finding out what drives you and what makes you come to life, what brings the sparkle to your eyes and a smile to your speech?

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2 Comments to “Hello, my name is Ruth”

  1. 25 minutes. Totally acceptable. Though, there is more to it than just a slow elevator pitch, I hope I got it across that I just used myself to explain something more important, and that is, that it is actually not about me too much ;).

  2. It took me 25 minutes to read this post. I know you too well to know this is just scratching the serface in becoming to know you. Still it is the best slow elevator pitch I have heard. I loved it and am blessed to know you!

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