What do you do?
Ah, that killer question. I have no idea why it’s so important to modern society, but it seems to be a standard conversational gambit, especially when meeting someone for the first time.
All too often, we respond as we have been conditioned to do – simply by explaining what we do either most of the time or for the biggest percentage of our income. These things do not always tell the story of who we are.
I was recently chatting to my brilliant friend & fellow multipod Maddy, of The Wright Fit, and she said she’d encountered a similar issue while at a business networking meeting. Like me, she does many things, and they evolve and change, and sometimes she puts things aside in favour other things.
This is normal multipotentialite behaviour!
This is Maddy. She is an excellent example of a multipod!
But the world we live in favours specialists, so this is a common issue – how DO you tell people what you do, when you do lots of things?
Here are a few suggestions which might help with that dilemma:
What’s your common thread?
Often, even if your interests, passions and businesses are incredibly wide-ranging (and they often are!), if you dig deep enough, you’ll find a common thread running through them all, right through the middle of some and just catching the edges of others!
It took me some time to find mine, but now I know, it seems obvious – photography and being yourself in the world, with a healthy dose of imagination and wonder are the things that tie together everything I do.
What do you want to be known for?
Another good entry point is to work out what you want people to remember you for, particularly if it’s their first encounter with you.
I don’t necessarily mean pick one thing and tell them that’s what you do, but whatever you lead with is likely to be the thing they remember, because most people do only talk about one thing. It doesn’t have to be your business or your job, it could be your absolute love of kayaking in the winter, or your scrapbooking project, or anything at all you’d like them to connect you with.
Lead with the weird
Me. On a beach in November in the UK. It was cold! Shot by the incredible Sarah Wayte Photography.
Another strategy is to lead with the weirdest or most unusual thing you do, which is working nicely for me at the moment.
“I’m a professional mermaid” is definitely a conversation starter, if only because I always have to repeat it at least once, and then I can segue nicely into my background as a photographer and designer, drop in my love of stationery & beautiful things, and it all kind of slots easily into place.
What slightly (or very!) odd things do you do that you could start with when people ask?
What’s the boring way of saying it?
“Weekly dance classes” doesn’t really cover the gloriousness of burlesque, but it’s technically accurate.
This is one of my favourites. If you can’t work out how to tell people what you do, break it down and find out how you’d describe it on an insurance document.
You are aiming for the most boring possible way of describing what you do.
So organising mermaid hen parties = event manager.
Professional mermaid = entertainer.
Boutique stationery subscription company = office supplies.
Photography with soul for you & your beloved business = photography. Or corporate / commercial photography if you want to get really boring-specific.
Burlesque fabulousness = weekly dance classes.
I can pretty much guarantee that when you find the boring version, you will immediately start thinking of ways to introduce yourself that are as far away as possible from those words, which means you’re on the right track!
It’s ok to change things up – regularly!
Among all of this, it is really important to remember that it’s ok to change what you do, it’s ok to be doing lots of things and it’s ok to stop doing things.
You don’t owe anyone an explanation, but neither should you be apologetic or embarrassed about these things.
If you are currently unsure what your next direction is in business, and you are experimenting with a few things, it is entirely ok to stand up at your next networking meeting and say “At the moment I’m doing (or trialling) X, Y and Z, and working out where they fit in my portfolio career”.
You will definitely get some raised eyebrows, but I bet you also get some people telling you afterwards that you’ve opened their eyes to the possibilities of multipod living.
You’re a pioneer!
Like the first coat of paint over plaster, you are transforming people without even realising it…
When people asked me what I did, I used to mutter what I did quickly and change the subject, before I realised that being a multipod was a Thing, and a Thing that changed lives at that.
Discovering multipotentiality was huge for me – for the first time in my whole life I didn’t feel silly, scatty or like someone with major commitment issues (as I had been made to feel before whenever I took up a new job, interest, hobby or business).
So as established or fledgling multipods, once we have discovered it for ourselves, we owe it to the undiscovered multipods out there to be loud and proud in our adventures, and not to hide the different and wonderful things that we do.
Because by being your wonderful, multipod self – you never know whose life you might be changing, by giving them permission to step outside of the specialist and embrace their multipoddery.
Multipod Issues is a new and irregular series about life & business as a multipotentialite, sparked by some conversations and recurring themes that have come up recently. If you have a multipod issue you’d like me to write about, drop me a note – firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂
Need a photographer for your business(es) who understands the scanner / Renaissance human / multipotentialite thing?! I’m your girl!