Inspiration, Creativity and Change by Chris Westfall

Chris Westfall

Recently our friend Chris released his new book, The NEW Elevator Pitch. Leadership is about influence. Chris shows us how to use his wisdom in inspiring creativity and getting things done as a result.

An excerpt from “The NEW Elevator Pitch”


In a leadership survey called, “Capitalizing on Complexity”, (take a look right here) IBM surveyed 1,541 global CEOs. They asked this elite group what qualities they look for in employees, in order to better cope with the new economy. According to these CEOs, the most important leadership quality isn’t technical competence, loyalty, or financial skills. The most important leadership quality is creativity.

Creativity in the IBM context doesn’t mean “arts and crafts”; it doesn’t mean that the best leaders are in marketing or advertising (although they could be), or that sculptors should quit their day job and enter the corporate arena. The survey explains that we have to understand creativity as the process of creation: the ability to make something new, to create something that hasn’t happened before.

Inspiration is the centerpiece of creativity (the process of creation).

The ability to persuade is important – but, to persuade what, exactly? What is it that you would like to create – with, through or for your listener? Even if your audience is paid to listen to you, your message has to be compelling. Otherwise, all you’ll get is compliance. In the face of change, you have to use your creativity to inspire the team, not just manage it.


Use this exercise to spur your creativity, and see if you can get it done in two minutes or less. As the national elevator pitch champion, I’m amazed at the difference two minutes can make, when you really focus. Ready for the challenge?

What inspires you? Why?

Hopefully, your answer doesn’t belong on a poster or greeting card. What is the change that you want to create? What is the change that is imminent – and what possibilities do you see, that others don’t or can’t?

Make a list of triggers that could inspire your listener. You may be surprised to find that you come up with a potential “hook” that will captivate and engage, right at the beginning of your speech. Change can be scary, or exhilarating – inspiration is the antidote for the first reaction, and the catalyst for the second. What’s your choice?

Possible Triggers – Examples:
• Helping grow the business in bold and unexpected ways
• Serving the common good (your most important social causes)
• Investing in quality people and products
• Reaching more students and expanding learning opportunities
• Electing a candidate with a real recipe for fiscal responsibility

What will inspire your audience to take action, and overcome the natural impulse to do nothing? See how many triggers you can come up with in 2 minutes.

Inspiration is a shapeless concept; after all, it’s different for everybody. You can’t know what inspires me. But you can know what you want to create. The world you want to create is the source of your inspiration; share that with your audience, in no uncertain terms.

Inspiration creates action. Focusing on results will take your conversation from information to inspiration, and help your listener to understand what is needed. Create a clear and compelling call to action for your audience as shown in these examples.

Examples of Inspirational Closes:

“Getting the two candidates together with a room full of young decision makers will benefit the city, and the Recreation Center. We have the resources and the venue; our next steps are securing the funding from our top five donors. Do you see any obstacles to moving forward with this plan?”

“Creating digital campaigns at Best Buy allowed my team to grow the business by almost $576 million over six years. Based on what we’ve discussed, there’s a similar opportunity here at Lowe’s. The documents in front of you will outline the initial costs in building the team. As you look it over, I’d like you to consider the investment in terms of the potential revenues over the next several quarters. We can make this change happen…”

Being clear about what you need is the key to creating positive change through others. Speaking with clarity means helping others to find inspiration through clear guidance, direction and expectations. Your pitch has a purpose: inspiration is the way to communicate your intentions. It’s a vital step in the process of leading through change.

Connect with Chris

The NEW Elevator Pitch

You can learn more about why Chris was named National Elevator Pitch Champion here. Connect with Chris on Twitter.


Graphic by Shawn Murphy

Chris Westfall is the national elevator pitch champion and author of The NEW Elevator Pitch. His strategies have created multi-million dollar revenue streams for a wide variety of Fortune 1000 companies, non-profits and entrepreneurs. With a coaching practice that spans four continents, he’s appeared on CNN, ABC NEWS and various other media outlets. Find out more at

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