How do you describe what I do?
What do you do?
It’s such a simple question, and if you’ve hung out with me for more than a few minutes, you’ll know I’m a bit obsessed with how you answer it.
Why? Because it’s how people start creating a narrative about who you are and the potential for future collaboration with you.
You’ll also know that I’ll tell you the answer “I’m X title at X company.” It is boring and makes it harder for people to opt into a future with you.
Are you new here and want to learn more about this idea? You can find a short video of me speaking at the TOIGO Groundbreakers Conference, where the brilliant Fatima gets one of my famous transformations. The cheer from the audience around 8:20 was for Fatima, and she earned every moment of that applause.
Do I still think how you introduce yourself could do with a makeover? Yes.
I could still talk about this forever. I will also never stop doing makeovers because seeing people like Fatima hear how awesome they are is one of the best parts of my job.
But I have a small problem. Because when I ask people what they think I do, the most common answer is, “You’re a personal branding coach.”
My heart sinks a little when I hear that. Why? Because it’s not what I want to be wanted for.
Surprised? It’s ok; lots of people are when they learn this isn’t what I want to be wanted for. But today’s lesson is not about me. It’s about not making the same mistake I made.
Stay with me…
Do you remember the last article I wrote about “every decision made about you is made in a room you’re not in”? In the Amplifier Room, I talked about making sure people were saying what you want them to say — finding out how other people were telling the story of why you’re uniquely awesome.
I asked my Amplifier Room what they would say. I think you should too. I’m going to make it easy for you with this little script…
“Hey, insert your friend’s name here
I read an article the other day that suggested asking my network what people want me for and how someone would describe to others what I do. It got me thinking, what would you say? When you think about me, what are you opting into? I’m curious.”
Pro Tip #1: If they say, “You’re good at getting sh*t done.” Let me point you to the archive of Ideas for the Future You and why that might not be the most excellent answer.
Pro Tip #2: I’ve found people are generally surprised by this question and often turn it around and ask what you’d say about them. Before you ask, make sure you have a great answer for them. Not sure what to say? Ask yourself, why do you choose to collaborate with them? Then go a step further and ask them if that’s what they want to be wanted for.
From personal experience, I know what I’m asking you to do can be a tad nerve-wracking, but if you want to do work that matters, then you, like me, need to know the answer.
It’s also worth shifting the perspective for a second.
You are an Amplifier for someone else — manager or colleague — you are choosing to opt into someone else. You have a story in your head about who they are and what they do. Have you checked to find out if how you would describe them is how they’d like to be described?
What are you opting into when it comes to them? Collaboration happens when people are clear and confident about the Future they’re building together.
As always, I’d love to hear if you choose to go out and ask people this question. Oh, and if the idea terrifies you and you want our help, drop me a line; we’ve got a program where we ask this question for you and much more.
Oh, and if you’re wondering what I’d want you to tell people what I do?
I remind people they’re not awesome by accident. Then teach them how to explain what that awesome is to other people. Resulting in other people choosing them for what makes them uniquely awesome. #everyonewins
Ideas from the Opt-In World.
If you’re just reading this article, you’re only getting a pinch of what I have to say. See what I had to say since the last post.
- I told someone the other day that I thought using a resume was akin to Apple giving people the user guide to sell the iPhone. Right? I found this excellent example of why UI is so important in storytelling.
- Want to get better at telling the story of you? These lessons apply to you as much as they do to a business. Think about how you’d take Nathan’s advice and apply it to yourself.
- Amplifying awesome! Big shout out to Jared Waterman, just named the new CFO at Nozomi Networks. Jared and I have collaborated twice in our career, and I’d opt to work with him again in a hot second. Super excited for his new team.
- If this isn’t a reason to learn a delightful skill, I don’t know what is. This SUPER candid on-the-street career interview brings balloon animals into the conversation. I’m inspired; you might be too.
Until next time!
Here’s Opting Into the Future You!