What do you do?

# Have you encountered difficulties describing what you do to other people?

There is hardly a day that goes by when someone asks me what I do. I’m still struggling to explain.

It depends. If I know the people or their background, I’m usually explaining what I do in language they understand. If I don’t know them, I don’t even try to explain what I do, opting instead to say “I work with technologists”.

If I use my formal title (Innovation partnerships), people often squint and ask me what that means. There are so many roles I play every day: confidante and listener, advisor, finance guy, coach, mentor, problem explainer, problem finder, analyst, translator, communicator, speech-writer, PPT creator, bearer of bad tidings (aka decliner), to name just a few. Its hard to explain it so I don’t even bother, instead choosing to joke about it and say “whatever needs to be done”. It’s an unsatisfactory answer, both for the inquirer and for me.

I’ve chosen to think of myself as a chameleon at work, adapting to whatever situation I find myself in. Sometimes it’s with senior executives, other times with folks involved with projects. I’m often talking to the people who actually do the work. In each case, I find it natural to simply say I’m here to listen and understand. I ask questions, replay my understanding, and iterate until I’m able to describe it to someone else in the simplest language I can.