“I prefer not to answer that question because I am more than what I do, but I’d like to ask you a question, ‘What’s awesome about your life?'”~Lissa Rankin sunrise over snapper This morning I accepted an invitation to a local business networking event next Wednesday night. As recently as a day ago that acceptance would have been followed about the obligatory networking opening question so Suzie What Do You Do?

When I was a teacher I answered teacher, same when I was a trainer of child-care workers and then when I was an artist that was easy. The only problem with that was I got boxed : the teaching box, the artist box and I was always more than just what I did for “work” Now I have had a breakthrough and I have a way to answer the question with confidence.

The breakthrough came from reading Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. This was like the sun bursting through the clouds. How wonderful it would be to no longer have to see the eyes glaze over as you try to explain your complex persona and all the wonderful things you offer.

Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to”, the chapter in the book that inspired the title where Brené says” What do you do is the most common question we get asked when we meet someone.”  What do you say? Read what Brené says and see if this resonates for you, it did for me and gave me peace of mind.

” I used to wince every time someone asked me that question. I felt like my choices were to reduce myself to an easily digestible sound bite or to confuse the hell out of people. Now my answer to ‘What do you do?”is “How much time do you have?” Most of us have complicated answers to this question. For example I am a mom, a researcher, a writer, partner, storyteller, sister, friend, daughter and teacher. All of these things make up who I am and I never know how to answer the question. And to be honest with you  I am tired of choosing to make it easier on the person who asked.”

How many slashes do you have?

Brené then goes on to talk about the slash (/) career: A book written by Marci Alboher One Person/Multiple Careers: The Original Guide to the Slash Career  and I noticed today that Mari Smith who, when I met her online and then in person in 2008, was a facebook expert  and then became the Pied Piper’ of the online world   Today I saw on Instagram today that Mari has embraced the slash approach to tell the world who she is and what she does. marismith

Then I decided to check out a successful creative: Leonie Dawson the creator of the Amazing Biz and Life Academy which BTW is an awesome community.

leonie dawson

What I noticed with both Mari  and Leonie was that what they do and who they are included. Their personality comes through. They are following the model as suggested by Brené and that Lissa Rankin says: I am more than what I do!

So now for mine: I’ll start by what I could include : Your Self-Love and Heart Whisper Coach | Artist | Author | Motivational Speaker|Blogger | Healer| NDE survivor x 2 | Partner | Be Positive Evangelist| Inspirational and Intuitive | Angel Card Intuitive | LOA Facilitator  & Trainer| Vision Board Coach| Teacher | Passionate  cook | Quilter | Textile Artist | Loyal Friend | Mentor | Change Warrior | Social Media Junkie | Master of Social Ecology | Beach is my happy place |  and I probably have a few more I could add.

All of these things go to make up who I am, what I do and what I have to offer.

And here is the first take on new business card.SUZIE-CHEEL

What’s Your Take On What You Do And Who You Be?

all my love

 Are You Listening To The Whispers of Your Heart? Let Me Show You How – check out the Love You Coaching special

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37 Responses

  1. Dear Suzie,

    Great post and very much needed right now! Whenever someone used to ask what I do, I used to say ‘I’ am just being’ or say whatever flowed out of my consciousness into the present. Recently I have started playing with it and using different responses, and I did find out that it is quite constricting to say one thing over and over especially if one is not aligned with that. Saying what comes from the heart is more authentic and true.

    Whenever I felt myself saying what other people say, and just a title for experimentation it did not feel true to me, and so now I go back to say what flows out of my heart, while being true to me.

    What counts is that one is happy within themselves with that awareness of what they are and know that they are not just that title or name, it is a larger part into so much more of who they are and a scratch into what is possible beyond what one does.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog x

    1. Hi Ana,
      Yes to Saying what comes from the heart is more authentic and true. then people resonate with you and the conversation flows.
      I have found that my new words are getting a good response this week “I help people cut through the mindchatter, listen to the whispers of their heart where wisdom is found”and then easy to say how if people ask.
      I hate being boxed in which is why i don’t respond well to formulas ♡

  2. Hi Suzie,

    Love this post – I always find it difficult to ‘box’ myself into one particular thing when I’m explaining what I do, or who I am. I love the question that Brene Brown asks,”How long have you got”? .. Brilliant

  3. Hi Suzie
    I made a rare networking appearance this week and it did strike me how boring that question is… no-one ever asks ‘who do you be?’… which for me is somewhat more interesting to explore!

    And I hear you on the slash list… mine is an ever-expanding magical mystery tour of what is fascinating for me at the time!
    Great post! And I wonder what other questions we could ask instead of ‘what do you do?’

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Ah I thought you were a networker 🙂 I love the slash list , I have finally seen how I can be all of me. Des asks a great question-what do you love about where you live? That always gets an interesting conversation going. Maybe we can devise a new list to challenge.

  4. Great post — and I love all the comments!
    I don’t like all the labels either … And as you and many people here – I have a gazillion slashes!

    I might ask your question on the card a bit different – instead of “ready” I would just ask the question – “Are you listening to the whispers of your heart?” People are so afraid of being “sold” to .. when the word “ready” comes up – they don’t want to answer it – so they really don’t allow it to penetrate in their brain. If you just say “are you” — now they are asking themselves that question. 😉

    For me right now my answer to what do you do – “I guide people to discover, step into and embrace the life they were made for” – and yes it gets that glazed look!! LOL

    Big Hugs,

    1. Thanks Ellie,
      I take you point on the question- I will vary the words. Yes I got a few glazed looks and a couple who got it.
      I like your answer especially the guide rather than help- I might borow that
      Big hugs to you too
      Ps I just noticed I was using the words you suggested at the end of my post 🙂 so the heart knew

  5. I agree with this whole notion! On the sidebar of my blog I have written: I am a: Happy Wife, Mama of 4, Sister, Daughter, Friend, People Fan, Positive Thinker, Author, Speaker, Teacher, Sun Lover, Reader, Runner, Organizer, Homemaker, Food Enthusiast, Light-Hearted-Joyful-Stress-Free-Healthy-Athletic Kind of Gal! I agree that “What we do” encompasses far more than how we make a living. This reminds me, when people would ask my Grandma, “How do you do?” She would reply, “I do as I damn well please!” 🙂

    1. I love that Deanna, you have inspired me to expand my about page rather than contract it as i felt I should-
      I love you Grandma’s response- that would raise some eyebrows- it made me laugh ♡

  6. Very thought provoking, Suzie. It makes me think it’s time for a revamp, as my header and business cards are ten years old and don’t say what I do at all! I didn’t want them cluttered.
    blue skies
    Miriam Granthier MA
    Personal Development Consultant
    (that was radical at the time as I didn’t want to be boxed as a psychotherapist).
    Then my registrations in small font followed by web address etc.

    The whole idea of integrating me into my business would not have fitted the psychotherapist role. However as I move more into the self-empowerment area and market ME as my product rather than a particular brand of therapy it’s making more sense to show myself (this is frowned on most especially in psychoanalytic and psychodynamic circles). So I suppose it’s time to let go of the box, the nice safe box I was in until a couple of years ago and to work out what feels good and right for me as a therapist now. I will be offering body and spirit work integrated into my psychological work from now on and I’d like a bit more of my passion to show!
    This has taken me very deep, Suzie, I don’t think the F&F community have heard the last of this!
    Thank you!

    1. Wow Miriam,
      I totally understand where you are coming from and look forward to your new look, I am ready to change my biz card already. I have just been commenting on your thought provoking post on fear and saw your sign off line- I am looking forward to the new one that will come as you embrace your slash being. Let me know If I can help ♡

  7. I guess I’m going to have to get Brene Brown’s book. It keeps popping up in my field of vision. And I love the synchronisities of the blog themes that are posted today. So many have the same underlying theme about being yourself, acceptance of all that you are and letting go of what we are told to conform to be. I love that answer. I am far more than what I do.

    Julieanne Case
    Always from the heart!

    1. Yes Julieanne,
      Get Brene’s book and I am going to read her Daring Greatly too. BTW I didn’t agree with all her findings, but it did challenge me and make me understand some of my withdrawal and fears. And yes we are far more than what we do, it what makes us unique and special ♡

  8. Great post! “What do you do?” can also be a question people ask out of habit whenever they first meet someone to open a conversation. Do you think this could be possibly so?

    1. Yes Lorii I do think that people just ask out of habit and because as someone suggested they are lazy, That brought the thought are they then really listening. this topic might get expanded, thanks for the comment

  9. What a great take Suzie…and it’s so much more interesting to discover who someone is and what’s fabulous in their life. Love your quote on this. We are all totally uniquely magnificent and it’s a celebration of being as opposed to the doing that we can all get caught up in.

    Appreciate your lovely reminder.

    1. Thanks Elle, was reading Brene that inspired me and got me thinking about how I to was not enamoureed with the question.
      I love that: A celebration of being
      hugs xxoo

  10. Dear Suzie,

    I love “Be Positive Evangelist” made me laugh and feel great! I love how you expand the “what do you do” into who I am and what I offer as well as these are important to clearly convey to people. I like it when you have to answer this lots of times to really help you refine it better and better

    Jennifer xxx

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      That’s great I was playing with some positive titles and Des said well you are an evangelist for being positive.
      Yes we are more that what we do and the label rarely allows for that . I also found this exercise has given me great clarity about what i really am offering to the world ♡

  11. I love this post! This is something I’ve always struggled with too. I hate labels, and have always fought against the crowd that says you have to be just one thing so that people know what to expect from you. Why should we put ourselves in boxes defined by others just to make it convenient for them?

    1. Hi Helena,
      Yes i think I was born never to be labelled 🙂 I am looking forward to the next time someone asks me that question , although i may now have an answer that will still bring glazed eyes : I help you listen to the whispers of your heart ♡

  12. Great exploration, Suzie! At the moment, I’m a writer, mindfulness advocate, and champion of living with ease. Plus, permaculture explorer, daily meditator, and terribly neurotic about our cats. Now, what else….

    1. Hi Sandra,
      I love yours especially the champion of living with ease and yes I wonder what else. I have found the exploration great as it gave me a reference of being okay to be all of those things and during the week I got clarity on what my biz is 🙂

  13. Beautifully said, Suzie. I’m a little tired of that question. I agree with you that we tend to want to box each other into nice little understandable career cubicles but I think there’s another element at play: laziness. It’s so much easier to mouth the familiar “what do you do” than come up with an original, truly curious, question. I’ll think of you as I create my “slash” response. Love your “change warrior” by the way. 🙂

    1. Hi Susan,
      Thanks for your wise words and yes I think it is a lazy thing. One Des uses is what do you like about where you live? that gets an interesting conversation going. The change warrior http;//changewarrior.com was a telesummit I did just before the universe sent me the message that took me out of action and the plan down the track is to turn the video interviews into a book and expand the series. when i interviewed Noah a couple of weeks ago it came up as a project that needs to go back on the drawing board ♡ here is the intro video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhythFeLFxE

      1. Hi Suzie – Those 11 interviews look really interesting! I’ll stay tuned so I know when you’re moving forward with that. And I love Des’ question. That’s one I can adopt. Thanks!

  14. Hi Suzie,

    Really interesting point! I have a friend who lives in France most of the time, and he says people are much less interested in asking this question over there. He says it’s something us Americans are particularly obsessed with, and he gets annoyed by that when he comes to the States!

    That being said, I’ve found that one of the best ways to promote your services (if you have a service to promote) is to answer that question by explaining how you can best help people rather than how you identify yourself. So rather than saying you’re a Coach of some kind, for example, you could say “I help people make money following their passion” or “I help people lose weight” or whatever feels like your truest calling.

    But I totally get that sometimes you want to be seen as all of you and not have it be about that. I guess different answers for different situations!


    1. Hi Christina,
      It’s the same here in Australia, so my new business card is going to say Like you have suggested either Love you, love your live or ask a question Are you listening to the whispers of your heart. . I wonder if that is the same in other europeans countries? ♡

      1. Brilliant–I love the idea of putting that question on your card. That is so in alignment with your brand! Hmm… I don’t know if other countries in Europe are similar, but I would imagine so! It’s unfortunate that America is so obsessed with this, but it *is* a good opportunity for us business owners 🙂


  15. I met Mari last year. She has an awesome accent like you Suzie:) About “What do you do?” I love the idea of incorporating who you are. Personally, I think you modify it depending on who you are talking with but on my site I tell people that I help others create their life of aspiration. It always evolves the conversation because it’s so personal and outward focused.

  16. I struggle with this as well Suzie. I’ve come to a place where I have two personas: one as a writer and one as a consultant (the writer me is a bit more fun). So agree with your advice to let your personality shine through; this is what I came up with for my “what do you do” answer for Twitter: “Crazy Southern Irish gal. Accomplished King salmon slayer & estate sale junkie. Sometimes writes books; often found hanging out in the middle-aged cheap seats.”

    1. Hi Kim,
      I love your twitter what do you do- it is awesome and tells me so much more about you than either of you other personas. When we let our personality shine through I also think we encourage questions
      I am still working on making mine fun as you have done ♥

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