Episode 18 What’s Your Next Iteration ?

February 10, 2023

One of my friends was telling me that he had been invited to participate in a group where it’s by invitation only. You’re invited to small dinner parties, you make dinner together and sit around a table. One of the rules when you go into it is that no one knows your last name and no one knows what you do. I just love that because one of my pet peeves is the question what do you do?  Now I realize this is and has been for forever a go-to question when you meet someone. It’s a conversation starter, but it’s old. It’s outdated. It’s uninteresting and so limiting. What do you do? It used to always make me cringe, either because I didn’t have a job with an article before it – I’m a lawyer, I’m a doctor, I’m a journalist – or I was in the process of reinvention and didn’t really know the answer or I was doing something that I wasn’t proud of and I didn’t really want to answer that question.

My life was so much more than what I was doing for work. Anyway, I recently published a bonus episode called Lion Hearted when ordinary people do extraordinarily kind things and the person who was being interviewed, my friend Talia Shafir, when I asked her to set the stage and give some context for the conversation, chuckled, and said “well, in this iteration I am…”. I love that language “in this iteration”. I mean, hopefully by the time we’re 50 we’ve done many different things and we can answer that question in many different ways. Or better said, we are more interesting than our job title or our profession.

This is a true story, after I closed my business Scout Talent, at first I was telling people that I was on sabbatical. That always sounds good. Then I would tell people that I was doing philanthropic work and tell stories about all the things I was doing. I was a Board Member of Artolution.org.  I went to South Africa with my brother on a literacy trip to do training at a Montessori school. I went to a women’s prison in the South here in the United States. But truth of the matter was I was petrified of not having an answer to the question what do you do.” I realize that may sound crazy, but it’s true.

I was raised to be a worker bee.  I have been earning a paycheck since I was eight years old, and that’s the truth. Work is a high value in my family and not having an answer to what do you do still today can make my stomach tighten.  Anyway, after I moved beyond the philanthropic work, extricating myself and little by little from those commitments, I remember I was talking to a friend of mine, Jenna. She’s a coach, and I confessed to her that I didn’t know what to say. As I’ve mentioned before, I was in the process of rewiring my operating system and unlearning so much. I told to Jenna I didn’t know what to say and she suggested I respond with “right now, I’m really excited about…..”.   I liked that, but it didn’t really work for me. Still today it makes me a little bit nervous when people say, what do you do? I just find that so old and outdated. It brings to mind one of my besties who is a pediatric neurologist, but she’s also a teacher, a writer (she’s authored a couple of books). She’s a naturopath. She’s a plant expert. She has an online business. She’s an astrologer….I mean  how uninteresting is it to say to someone what do you do?  I think we need to come up with a different way to start a conversation and to show interest and curiosity about someone.

I’m not sure I know the answer. I do like the question, so what are you up to these days? Or what has your attention these days?, but that can sound very informal when you don’t know someone.

I’m working also with a lot of young people who feel like they have to have an answer and I just wish someone had explained to me when I was young that a profession is not a once and done. That’s for the lucky few. The musicians, the scientists, the artists who have a calling. They are the lucky ones. They are the minority in the world.  During the course of a lifetime, most people have many iterations We have many different jobs or businesses. We are ever changing. You need the next best thing.  The next thing that lights you. That gets you excited, that makes you curious.

So that why I love what my friend said on the interview…”in this iteration I am..”  We need to come up with a better way to ask the question, what do you do? We need to teach our children from a very early age that there is no one thing. That’s such old think. Sorry if this sounds like a rant. It is a bit, and I’ll just end with this. In this iteration, I’m a podcast creator and producer and an aspiring writer. Ooh, I like that.

So what are you going to be in your next iteration? How are you going to answer the question “Who are you after work hours?” Oh, that’s a good one. Who are you after work hours. That’s all for. Until next time, from my heart to yours.

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dear Listeners,

Friends say I live my life out loud. That’s because I’m a curious, adventurous person and, as an appreciator, I simply love to share what lights me up. Consider this is your invitation into my fun, multi-faceted world.

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