The path less taken.


From the outside people probably assume the path you take in business is a straight path, but the reality is that it's wrought with crossroads. Sometimes it's really challenging to take the path you want, clouded by pressures from the outside (hello, society, stability, and financial security!). Over time I've learned to own the fact that I do things differently, and I'm not on a typical path.

Challenge #1: You don't have a proper job title.

There is no job title that encapsulates what I do. I've tried. I've resorted to using using three titles at the moment (designer + creative coach + consultant), but that still misses the educator, writer, communications side of what I do. Let's face it "I'm a slasher," but I don't know if that's intimidating or badass, or a term that resonates with people outside my bubble. The word "designer" often would lead to questions like "Can you make me a website?" in my early days. That was the project I was least likely to take on. Now I do far less design, but for me it embodies creative problem solving, but is "creative problem solver" a real job title? It could be! The internet thankfully lets me change my title whenever I want. I do my best to adapt it for different pitches and events depending on the audience. At the end of the day I help people think creatively about work and life.

The reality: You don't need a title to do great work. You also don't have to be everything to everyone at once.

Challenge #2: Explaining what you do and no one understands.

This sums up my professional life. It dates back to my first Masters in Publications Design where on the first day of an introductory class my professor made a joke that most of our relatives will never understand what we do. I was studying graphic design back then, so I have to laugh at how that feels understandable to most, compared to moving onto UX and coaching.

The reality: Most people don't have to understand what you do as long as you're getting the right clients (and hopefully enjoy your work too). Consider giving examples rather than job titles.

Challenge#3: Society values name dropping.

After grad school (the second time, in Global Communications) I started my own business to stay in France. That was an impressive feat in and of itself, and perhaps got me more respect from my professors than any work I'd ever do. At the time I was often titled a "blogger" so that very much didn't resonate with my professors, despite the fact that my blog and online presence were what were driving my work at the time. It wasn't until I could drop the fact that I'd worked with Louis Vuitton or Moët Hennessy that I'd see faces perk up. Name dropping got me taken more seriously, as if I'd finally arrived, but hadn't before. As a business owner it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need more of the big names to draw attention, but you don't. I'll admit, I'll use them as my hook to get people in, but from there I own the narrative.

The reality: You know what you do and what you bring to your work. You don't need outside validation.

Business is full of challenges. The way you get through it is owning who you are and what you bring to the work you do. It's easy to let the wrong ideas creep in, especially when you're in a less traditional career. Not everyone is going to get it, but that's OK. You may even find that people are jealous that you've figured out how to hack the system to create a meaningful career you love.

There are distracts and advice all around us. Take what feels right, leave the rest. Keep doing you and stay true to yourself.

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