So what do you do?

Published on 
3 min, 404 words

Categories: life

It is a classic way people start a conversation. Some people meet, they exchange a few pleasantries and then they ask "and, so what do you do?" And each person then takes turns, hopefully if someone doesn't just keep talking, explaining what their job is.

I am definitely guilty of this. If someone asks me what I do I usually explain that I have been programming computers for about thirty years and I have now moved on to managing a team of developers. This is closely followed by what the company does (implementing our own Blockchain solution) and then either an explanation of what that is or it leads into a discussion around cryptocurrencies as that is how people have heard of it. Disclaimer: I don't have anything to do with cryptocurrencies and have never owned any - I focus on use cases for the underlying technology.

Recently I came across a TED talk by Clay Herbert where he recounts his own experience with this question and then how it has changed how he answers the question.

He identifies a number of myths about introductions and how we should really do them.

It is about youIt should be about who you help
It is 100% completeIt should be interesting
t is 100% accurateIt should be interesting

He also has a pattern as a starting point:

I (or we) help (what verb describes what you do) people (insert who you help) achieve a result (insert your result here)

and a few "rules": don't use buzzwords, keep it short and go for intrigue.

Two alternatives are:

I am (or we are) like X for Y (two unusual things paired together)

I (or we) turn X into Y (two unusual things paired together)

All these introductions will encourage the other person to ask "what do you mean?" and then you can respond with "Let me tell you a story ..." and with this you tell the story of the transformation of the people you help.

So my new attempt at an answer is "We help reduce the amount of illegal logging of timber worldwide". It's a first attempt but I think I like where it is heading and it is definitely more interesting than my previous answer.


The best way to answer "So What Do You Do?"