So what do you say when people ask: “So what do you do?”
Do you find it awkward to answer?
I had a particularly painful experience years ago when I told a handsome writer that I was in a band. He rolled his eyes at me and said: “Oh yes, you and everyone else in this city.” I felt crushed.
During the years that I have been self-employed coach, I’ve noticed how this question can be so triggering. It makes us question our worthiness and our identity. It can make us wonder: “Do I match up? Am I worthy to say that I’m a writer, actor, poet when I haven’t put anything significant out in ages?”
We all have our own ways of answering and some of those answers can serve us and some don’t.
It can make us feel the need to overexplain or undermine ourselves: “I’m a writer… well sort of… I’m writing a novel – but I make money in recruitment. I’m doing it for the money until I get my big break – ha!”
In my experience of coaching many creatives, I feel that it is so often the fear of sounding like an imposter or being a show-off that stops people from really celebrating what they do or where they want to go.
Sometimes I find that people bury their biggest successes, because they don’t really value what it is they have achieved in life. We can be an hour into a coaching session and they’ll reveal that they’ve worked on a famous, award-winning project, or they’ve been featured in the press for a fantastic project. ‘But that was years ago,” they’d tell me – dismissing that this success had any meaning today.
I believe that answering this question is an opportunity for us all to step into the biggest and boldest version of ourselves and to share what we do through the lens of our successes. It’s a chance for us to share what drives our inspiration:
“I’m writing a novel and the story was inspired by a road trip I took in India in my twenties.”
It can also be an opportunity to claim what we really want to achieve in our lives.
“I’ve just started a new project teaching Indian dance. It’s so beautiful. My vision is to make my this as popular as Latin dance.”
We don’t need to lie or fabricate an answer to impress someone. I believe we need to become more confident in sharing what’s really true about what we are doing through the lens of what is fascinating.
Describing what you do should simply encourage conversation and intrigue. Who cares if you’re making money from it or not yet – it’s framing the story around your deeper identity – your creativity.
In my experience, once people connect with what they truly desire to do and be in life and feel the excitement of what that could entail if they really went for it, they suddenly become more animated and passionate and speak with deep expression.
Here is my answer at the moment:
On Thursday May 23rd I’m running a networking event for creatives in London with my friend and collaborator Bev Glick, who has years of experience of writing stories about musicians in various publications, including the NME.
We are both passionate about helping people to become braver and more confident in describing what they do and to help them realise what is compelling about them.
It’s a chance to meet and mix with like-minded creative people and have fun experimenting with how to pitch yourself in one minute – to really own it when asked what it is you do.
Tickets cost £20 and are available here: https://ttl-one-minute-pitch.eventbrite.co.uk
You may have your pitch down to a pithy statement but I still guarantee that you’ll get some richness if you come along.
We run our events three times a year only – and it’s a chance to meet other, fantastic creatives who are on the journey to raising their game.
I’d love to see you there.
Here’s the ticket link again: https://ttl-one-minute-pitch.eventbrite.co.uk