How I answer people when they ask, "What do you do?"
It's a common question to ask. I ask other people this question all the time. When I am first meeting someone, it's frequently one of the first questions I ask them.
In business school we were taught to build a response to this question in a way that describes who we are, what we do, and why the person we are speaking to should care - it's called the elevator pitch. On LinkedIn it's called your Headline. Regardless of what it is called, it is a simple and fast way for you to describe who you are by describing what you do.
It's the same thing with the question. When I ask someone what they do, I am gathering important information about the person. I am also opening a gate to better understand that person and who they are. You see, there is a dramatic difference between what you do and who you are.
Who you are is not what you do, though what you do defines who you are. Think about it this way. You decide what you do and what you do reflects the person you are inside.
So if you want to be known as a good person, do good things. If you want to be an organized person, organize yourself. If you want to be a (fill in the blank) just do the things that that type of person does.
When I coach students on setting themselves up for future career success while in college, I ask them to think of three people that they admire most. I then ask them to evaluate what those people do that warrants their admiration. I then invite them to start doing the things those people do.
While it isn't always simple, it serves a powerful lesson. Olympic athletes aren't the best at their sport just because, they are the best because they put in countless hours on a regular basis to become the best. So if you want to be the very best manager at your company, you need to start doing the same things that the best managers at your company do.
So while people can ask me all the time what I do, I know that they really want to know who I am. So I tell them the things I do that reflect who I want to become, much more than just who I am currently. Because at the end of it all, I want to be a better person tomorrow than I was today. I want to be a better father, husband, student, employee, teacher, coach, and mentor.
So what do I do? I provide guidance that helps others cut through the noise, leading to clear insights.
How do you answer people when they ask, "What do you do?"