Difficulty Explaining my Career to Friends and Family

I’ve found it interesting, misleading, motivating, embarrassing, and sometimes frustrating trying to explain what I do (or the perceptions around it). My focus area(s) are simply too nacent for the hump of the crowd to get it. I realize that I’m doing something that’s new (but yet so old), let me share with you the challenges:

My wife Shirley went to dinner with an old female classmate last week –they dined in high fashion at a swanky SF restaurant for nearly 4 hours. Of course her friend asked what her husband did for a living, ultimatly something about ‘blogs’ came out. Shirley’s friend asked “What’s a blog?” so I don’t think the conversation could go to strategic at that point –heh.

I also remember about this time last year, I had several of my closest buddies at a bar with me (it was actually a pre-bachelor party) and I told them about blogging. Some were interested (maybe becuase I had them pinned to the back of the booth) and some got it. It’s intersting, nearly a year later, several of them have been blogging, and one of them called me last week to get some advice on starting a business blog. (at a major software company in silicon valley)

One of my cousins in college was speaking with Kevin (close friend and Cousin) they were having an interesting conversation around the future of her career –as she has an interest in web, design, and of course spends a lot of time on MySpace. I was amused when I heard him explaining to her that my career is much like building MySpace for large companies. In many ways that’s true. Her eyes lit up when I told her about what I did.

Another family member of mine was really perplexed to hear that I was working on blogs, that’s silly “Isn’t that what kids do?” heh. There was no issue of awareness, however it wasn’t clear.

High Level Conversations with Grandma
There are some good things however, some of my business friends and family totally get it. I saw my Grandma last week, I’m not sure how well she can use the computer but she apparently is reading my blog with the aid of my mom and auntie. “Web Strategist” made sense to her, and she even was able to converse at a high level with me –she’s an impressive Woman to say the least –but of course she’s going to love whatever I do.

Help me explain it
So What do I do? Am I a Web Strategist? Count Blogula? Snoop Bloggy Blog? A Web Prophet? Social Media Expert? I often want to pull folks that don’t know too much about blogging into a 15 minute discussion (rarely do I have the time, a laptop, or do they have the interest) to explain it. I want to show them how customers and citizens are taking charge, why this is the first time the common man has ever been able to publish his voice, and how companies that don’t wake up may suffer damage, and companies that harness this can really benefit.

I do want to share my passion, and I know it’s important to people and companies so. Help me boil it down to a one breath phrase for the uninitiated, how would you describe what I do?

  • Many of my friends and family read this blog, and even my colleagues, (including a few executives and directors) it would be interesting to hear.

    If you wanted to be anonymous that\’s fine too.

  • Just put it all together..you are a social web media strategist with a blog. Thats a tough one. I have to explain what a blog is all the time. I find it hard to comprehend that something with such a huge following is still a mystery to lots of people.

  • I blame the word “blog” as being part of the issue. We should have just kept the term “weblog” or “journal”

  • I think your tagline on this site sums it up well. Of course, that may lead to a question about which tools. A: Which ever one works best for them.

  • I can relate! A good intro to blogging can be to refer to this quote from Google CEO:

    “I believe that this notion of self-publishing, which is what Blogger and blogging are really about, is the next big wave of human communication. The last big wave was Web activity. Before that one it was e-mail. Instant messaging was in extension of e-mail, real-time e-mail.”

    Or maybe that you’re using web technologies to improve business.

  • You create an opportunity for people to have more conversations on the web.

  • Im using WordPress! I used to use Blogger, I really like it so far.

  • Helping companies create 1-to-1 conversations with their customers in a 1-to-many environment.

  • I can certainly relate to this. At times I find it a little embarrassing how much “blogging” has become a knee-jerk reaction to anything that comes up in my mind that I deem even mildly thought-provoking.

    My family regards it as my “little online journal” (how cute) which they’ve long forgotten about reading, but it did get me my job, so they now regard it with confused awe — they didn’t think it would, and now that it has, they respect the whole concept. From a distance, of course.

  • Just last week, Jeremiah, I was mentioning to a fellow new-media enthusiast that I stumbled when trying to explain “what I’m doing” to my own wife! So, I need to do better, and it also can be good practice for the pitches I hope to be making to businesses as a new-media consultant.

    As to the misconceptions point … I heard an interesting related audio comment today from Kathryn Lagden on the “Six Pixels of Separation – Twist Image Podcast” (http://www.twistimage.com/blog/archives/000659.html). Kathryn noted the perception that social media is a space for “kids” … and yet, a survey showed that close to 50% of YouTube users are 35+!

    Social media is very much NOT just a place for the kids, and we need to help businesses understand that.

  • Your grandma may not be alone, J.

    Here’s an interesting AMA piece on how senior citizens are the fastest growing segment to embrace blogging: http://marketingpower.blogs.com/american_marketing_associ/2005/11/your_grandma_mi.html


  • Great article, that could be a blog post all on it’s own!

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  • GinaEriksson

    Att den super snygga Prins Carl Philip gjort slut med Emma Pernald har man ju hört rykten om… men här har Catarina Hurtig BEVISET http://www.finest.se/userBlog/?uid=10457&beid=1039525 på att han är SINGEL!!! Ohh yeah!