September 30, 2012
Photo: Google Images
Most entrepreneurs have little trouble describing themselves. They have their elevator pitch down and are confident in their mission (until they pivot). But things are more complicated if, like me, you wear many hats as you attempt to navigate the brave new workplace – and build a media brand at the same time. This is a reality for many of us in the new working world where you don't have one day job, but rather juggle multiple roles to make a living. For me, yes, I'm a public radio reporter, still the role I most identify with, but these days that's just one of many things I do. I still work as a radio reporter and write for print but I also teach at Columbia Journalism School, have recently launched my own podcast (with all that entails, from making it to monetizing it), and I'm developing another arm where I use my writing and audio skills to teach those in a corporate setting how to be better at their jobs (all this is necessary a) to earn something approaching a living and b) the diversity helps to protect me when one of these areas isn't bringing in the bacon). So what do I say when people ask me that commonest of questions, 'What do you do?' This post was inspired by this cri do coeur by Manoush Zomorodi asking how those of us in these situations are meant to brand ourselves. (Not that long ago this conundrum would have been referred to simply as ‘describing yourself’ but these days we’re all brands, and this one can't afford a marketing agency.) You do yourself a disservice, we both think, if you put one thing first but then reel off a string of what can sound like lesser roles. You don't want those things to seem like wimpy add-ons. I usually go with 'journalist' and then expand on that, but it depends who I'm speaking to. It makes sense to describe yourself differently for different audiences. Or does it? Like Manoush, I'd love to hear from anyone else who's come up with an elevator pitch that somehow encompasses their many roles and helps them shine. How did you do it?