So, what do you do?
What a loaded question that can be! I remember dreading those social events where I knew I’d be asked. I worried I didn’t have an adequate answer, e.g. wasn’t doing anything important or interesting enough, or if I told the truth I’d open the door for more uncomfortable questions. I have worn many and varied hats over the years, the above photo represents only the past 10 and doesn’t include everything I did in those years.
These days I am not so concerned about my “checkered” resume. Everything I’ve done has prepared me for the current times in which so many of us are inventing our work. I have many friends my age far less prepared to recreate themselves, and feel fortunate that I am so multi-faceted. Enough about me though I am curious about you. Let me share with you a few things that grabbed my attention on this topic.
The always refreshing Colleen Wainwright aka the Communicatrix caught my attention recently with these words:
It has been happening for some time now—probably since I shuttered my design business, definitely since I quit acting—but the polite and puzzled apologies that “I don’t know exactly what it is that you do” have escalated to a point where I can no longer shrug, laugh or otherwise play them off.“I write and I talk” is true, but coy. It’s good for keeping myself clear on my priorities, but is far from useful to anyone else.
“I do marketing consulting for solopreneurs and very small businesses” is true, but leaves out a lot. Like me, for instance. I mean, please—do I look like a marketing consultant? (For that matter, do I write like a marketing consultant?) By which I really mean, “Do I do anything that looks like a descriptor you’d find in a drop-down list titled ‘Employment,’ wedged between ‘Manufacturing’ and ‘Media’?” I do not. At least, I hope not.
Colleen goes on to describe her “inadequacies” and some of the many “feeble” ways she has described her self and work. Her words and I don’t necessarily agree but the point is what she really does is not a one line answer and certainly not one or two words. What we do is sometimes many layered and changeable. I just changed my “title” and it too is vague, but that does not mean what I aspire to isn’t meaningful, isn’t BIG. To be able to describe what you do in a nutshell (the dreaded elevator pitch) is an asset, but perhaps not being able to is, as well?
Colleen ends her post with admitting she is not going to let it bother her. She’ll clarify and update a few bits but for the most part she’ll let the work speak for itself. She ends with her brief mission statement for which she makes no apologies.
”To be a joyful conduit of truth, beauty and love.”
Ah, that sounds very good to me. Thanks, Colleen!
I stumbled on another post with the same title as mine by Dawn Foster . She makes the valid point that often when we work at home as entrepreneurs or freelancers we are perceived as not really working. She gives three examples of ways she’s had this conversation and this one hits home for me.
Scenario 1: The goof off
Me: I work for Company X managing their online community.
Them: Never heard of Company X. Where is the office?
Me: In California.
Them: Are you moving to California?
Me: No, I work out of my home office over the phone and email mostly.
Them: Cool, I wish I had a job where I could goof off all day.
I have been through that one, and when I still cared, I cared a lot. Now I just shrug it off when I get off-handed comments about my lack of “real job.” Some people will never get it. Those people will not read my blog or work with me either and that’s OK.
Lastly I want to mention business cards. Here I am ready to order new ones, AGAIN. I wondered, should I bother. Perhaps I should just get my name and web address so I can still use them if I change my focus, AGAIN. I decided I will get the cards that have my new title Gwyn Michael Environmental Art & Design. That is me right now. If it’s not in a year so be it.
Business cards are cheap. I found this encouraging article that assures me biz cards are not dead. Cindy Atoji Keene says:
“Of course, any business card needs to be backed by a beefy presence in cyberspace,” said marketing consultant Kellyann Dinoff. “In a world where ‘Googling’ is a legitimate verb, if your website doesn’t sing, you might as well not exist – even with a fabulous business card.”
Oh great, now my website needs to sing!
What’s your story about what you do?
Can you sum it up simply or are you, as I’ve called myself, a Professional Dilettante? There is room for both in these times of change and everything in between.