What do you do?

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When someone asks “What do you do?” Do you think they actually want to know what you do? Or do you think they are starting a conversation with you with the hope of discovering something amazing? Both are possible depending on the caliber of person asking the question – but there are two types of answer that you can give. Both are true and one of them is much more awesome than the other…


Here’s an example of a guy I spoke to last night:  

Me: “Hey Nick, what do you do?” Nick: “I cut film for ads and sport on channel 6.” Me: “oh cool. How long have you been doing that?” Nick: “3 years… blah blah blah”  

Now this was a true story and this is actually what he does during his working day. Pretty boring sounding really, and considering he is likely to be mixing with other people in similar industries, then the boring factor goes through the roof and “how about the weather then” is likely to be the next question out of the other person’s mouth.  

After sitting with Nick for an hour and getting into the real chat with him, it turns out that he shot an insane short documentary a month ago about a gangster in Thailand, and that the video had gone viral with over 150,000 views in 24 hours.

Now this was good conversation and I was on the edge of my seat gasping in shock at the insane stuff he told me about it. It really was a crazy situation and I was fascinated!  

Now why did I have to wait an hour for Nick to entertain me with this riveting chat? Did Nick consider it ‘well mannered’ to play down what he does and say he “cuts film for ads and sport”?  

Who was he serving when he played it down? Was it good for him to do that? Was it good for me that he did that? Was it good for his documentaries and the team around them that he did that?  

I’m sure you can see that no one wins when you introduce yourself as a ‘plumber’ (dead air follows) or accountant or ‘a guy who cuts film for ads and sport’. No one wins and a whole pile of valuable time is wasted on pointless chat about work. Been there before? How do you introduce yourself? And why have you developed the habit of doing it that way? The tall poppy syndrome is well known for having a strong influence in Australia, especially when it comes to talking business. I hear it all the time from foreign people, especially from vibrant cities like Amsterdam, Berlin and New York. In New York, if you are great at something, it is considered polite to offer that greatness to the people you are mixing with. If they know what amazing skills you have to offer, then when the time comes that they need someone like you, they know who to call. I need someone like Nick in my business right now and we have since discussed working together on an exciting project. Not only that, but I also know a handful of people in my network who are looking for someone to do crazy shit like what Nick loves to do. If we hadn’t have been left alone for the hour last night and that conversation didn’t get its chance to mature into the stimulating and informative one it became, then the opportunity would have never surfaced and his personal ‘untapped gold’ would have remained buried under the boring chat about work and the weather… In the business world, the elevator pitch is commonly accepted to be one of the most essential components of a business plan. The most successful people spend hours devising it and/or thousands of dollars paying a consultant to design it for them. It is the equivalent of your websites home page, your TV ad or the words you use during the 15 seconds of fame you might win in the media one day. So… my point is this:  

"It’s not ‘what you do’ that counts. It’s what you love, where are you going, what are your passions and what you stand for that people really want to know."

If you want to enrich your life by surrounding yourself with the most interesting people you can possibly attract, then analyze who you are and change the way you pitch yourself; at a bar, at a party, when you are introduced to someone, at a business event and when you meet that special someone for the first time. Doing this will elevate you faster than you can imagine and it will give you more status, pride and authenticity in what you discuss – all the time. You will constantly create situations where you can apply your skills and passions that are perfect for you, and subsequently your whole life will be enriched with purpose, passion and profit. This works. I have seen it happen hundreds of times. So be brave. Pick some big and sexy words and start today! Rock on! Stacy

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