What don’t you do?

“What do you do?”

Let me take you inside my head for a bit. I promise I’ll let you out again.

“What do you do?”

I’ve just met this person. Maybe they’re a friend of my girlfriends. Usually they’re the partner of my girlfriend’s friend and I’m being introduced in a “hey, you are both men why not have a mens’ conversation” kind of way.

“What do you do?”

There should be a simple answer to this. A quick reply. Nobody wants to hear me stumble uncomfortably on for a few minutes. It’s like at school, they want me to say “fireman” or “doctor” or something similar and easy to understand.

Who dis?
(Photo by Andre Mouton on Unsplash)

“What do you do?”

My brother used to lie. He used to tell people I was a graphic designer. And I was. But it was a long time ago. He seems a bit ashamed that I work in Marketing. Other people are negative about it too. They think I steal their data or sell stuff to people who don’t need it and can’t afford it. But that’s not me. I’m a good marketer. I do the right things. I would never engage in anything unethical just because someone paid me. Right?

“What do you do?”

Honestly, I don’t really want to tell them. This is for 2 main reasons. 1) it’s complicated as I work in Marketing but it’s also useful for context to explain what the company does and they probably won’t understand it, and 2) I don’t think it’s necessarily the thing that’s going to tell you the most about me as a person.

“What do you do?”

Well. You and your question are not going away. Let’s break it down, shall we?

So, I work in Marketing. I have done for over a decade. I kinda fell into it. I find a lot of people do. I worked at this tiny company as a graphic designer and I noticed more and more that they needed someone to do things that were less ‘design’ and more ‘promotional’. And then I did what any self-respecting person would do – I asked my boss to send me on a course.

The course led to a conclusion that this was something I was good at. Particularly Digital Marketing, as I was good with tech, could design stuff, and had a decent grasp of how the commercial side worked. The course got me a proper marketing job at a slightly bigger company, and then an even more proper marketing job at a really much larger company. Pretty soon I was racking up the proper jobs and the varyingly sized companies.

(I have a fairly short attention span, which explains my CV and all the hopping about)

As I’ve grown older, and more experienced, and feel like I’ve been there and done that, I’ve tried to start sharing what I’ve learned in various ways. Writing is one part of that.

But there are other things I’ve done in that time that have definitely helped to define me more as a person. It all starts with an idea.

As I get more experienced, and get promoted, the more I get asked to present in meetings. I am not good at presenting. I am a bit shy. I worry a lot about being ridiculed. These things are very obvious when I have to stand in front of a whole bunch of people and try and present.

In comes my idea. I’m a solutions person. It drives my girlfriend crazy. She doesn’t always want solutions. She just wants me to listen. But I can’t help it! I want to help! And in this case I have my solution. I need to face the fear. I need to act. Literally.

Luckily one company I worked for had a drama group. I signed up, I performed a bit. I dabbled in writing. Through that drama group I joined another drama group. Through that drama group I met Brian.

Brian, it turns out, has a similar sense of humour to me. And we are able to tolerate each other for reasonable amounts of time. We still are, largely.

Me and Brian decide to start writing and performing in a podcast together. We did it for 5 years in the end. It led to a whole bunch of random places:

  • I’ve been on the radio in Minneapolis (I’m not entirely sure where Minneapolis is)
  • I’ve performed an episode on stage at a musical festival.
  • Myself and Bri got called “the future of radio” (that might be selective paraphrasing)

All this extra curricular fun worked. I got confidence, and I started writing a blog. I got invited on a marketing podcast. I present all the time. I LOVE PRESENTING (or showing off with purpose, as I prefer to think of it). People have to tell me to stop and give the audience back.

My interests have grown too. Not just Marketing, but all sorts of things connected to Marketing. I realised what I really find fascinating, is connecting the logical, structured world of technology to the messy, irrational world of people.

People are ridiculous, and incredible. They are the only reason Marketing exists, and they knock it all the time – this mess is where I am making my stand.

WIth that in mind, let’s leave my head and return to the conversation in progress…

“What do you do?”

“Good question. My job in Marketing pays the bills, but I’m really interested in understanding different perspectives, playing with irrationality, and finding ways of motivating people to make good choices. I write about it on my blog and social media – why don’t you take a card and check it out.”

“Er, thanks.”

“And what do you do?”

“I’m a fireman.”

“Oh. Well, that must be interesting.”

(Note: I wrote this post as part of the Write of Passage course I’m currently partaking in, which encourages research, writing and feedback)


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