Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What's My Line?

Restaurant Hostess. Teaching Assistant. Ice Cream Truck Girl. Geologist.
Soils Lab Manager. Attorney. Contracts Coordinator. Store Owner. Consultant.

Over the years, I’ve held a number of titles, some more humble than others. Some were dictated by a corporate HR department, and some were intuitively obvious. Until I worked for myself, however, I never gave much thought to what my title was.

Sure, I was more proud of some than others, but still, I never had the opportunity to choose my title. Business cards, if there were any, were prepared and proofed without my consultation. I never worked for a company with the freshness of a Google, where creativity in chosen titles is encouraged, even allowing one “Intergalactic Federation King Almighty and Commander of the Universe.”

But now I work for me, and I like to think I’m pretty fresh. There are still a few positions I hold that carry the dictated title of “Independent Associate,” and those do come with prescribed business cards. The positions that I have made up myself, however, do not. I’ve been feeling lately that I want one business card that sums up the various aspects of my Cheryl-Pie-Hands world—from the spiritual to the practical, the global to local. Is it possible to come up with a single title that accomplishes that?

This task feels both impossible and compelling. Why does it matter to me so much? It feels more professional to have a recognizable title, I suppose, and, for some reason, that still matters to me. Perhaps it is my years of accumulating credits and degrees that causes me to crave an identity that can be capsulized in a few words.
As it is, when people ask, “What do you do?” I answer with one of a half-dozen of possible, wordy and rambling responses. I can give an elevator speech—several of them, in fact—in my sleep. But can I condense it down further?

It occurs to me that this may well be a common issue for us entrepreneurs, especially as we diversify into different areas. More and more of us are leaving jobs, giving up the comforts of a corporate gig, either because our jobs have disappeared or because we’re seeking more autonomy, more flexibility, or a more purposeful devotion of our time and talents. Looking around my Work@Homers networking group, I see a lot of people who are engaged in this sort of professional redefinition.

So decided to facilitate a workshop called “What’s My Line?” and invite other entrepreneurs to join me in this head-scratching exercise.   I don't profess to have any answers, but I have some really great questions to get a conversation going.  I'm curious to see where this leads and if I will really come up with an encapsulated version of me.  I'll let you know if I do. 

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