August 15, 2008

What do you do? Pulver gives me an idea

It's on my mind as I get ready to head into a bunch of conferences. How do I tell people what I do.

Fortunately, I'm not the first who doesn't know what to say when asked What do YOU do?

So Jeff writes:

"When you attend a networking event and are meeting people for the first time, my observation is that the people who are “professionals” who are working in their chosen profession have it easier than others introducing themselves since most people have a general understanding what an: Accountant, Actor, Artist, Director, Doctor, Lawyer, Writer, ... does.

But if your chosen profession is slightly off the beaten path, what do YOU say? How do YOU describe yourself? How do you answer the question, “What Do YOU do?” How much information do you give of yourself to a total stranger when asked? "

Tough question to answer for a person on a buyout-funded sabbatical because as Jeff says “It is not about what I did but what do I do.”

Many woman who have elected to stay home have faced that question over the years. A woman who has never had a job tells me she tells folks she is a painter. She is because she paints.

A sister-in-law echos Pulver without ever reading him, saying it is tough to decide which role to share. It depends on the moment, where she is, and the mood. Perhaps she is a writer. Or a teacher. Or a mother.

Pulver, too, falls back on roles defined in a professional world even as he understands what else he might say:

"Rarely do I tell people that I’m a dreamer. That I love to look into the future and explore the unknown. That I believe in karma. And in having a heart."

"... my desire to challenge the status quo ..."

I wish more people would tell me things like that when we meet.

Doesn't it matter that I want women to trust technology and believe you don't criticize if you're not willing to help fix the problem?

Wouldn't you rather know I collect old linens to recycle into collaged hangings that rarely get finished? Or transfer dreams from ideas into reality?

Does it help to know I'm not working now? That I'm - gulp - retired even though I'm busier then ever before.

Or shall I just watch your eyes smile when I tell you I'm not working right now.