What Do You Do?

“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it” –  Buddha

Have you ever had to meet somebody new? During the opening parts of the conversation have you then been asked “what do you do?” It happened to me last night and it continues to be asked every time I meet somebody new and for a long time I didn’t know what to say.

I always felt weird every time I was asked this question because I did not hold my position with the prestige of say a Doctor. I would wonder to myself why would they want to know what I do? Do they actually care what I do? Am I going to confused after I tell them and lead into more questions? Are they going to criticize my chosen profession?

I would always condense my answer into something generic like “sales” and then make a quick witted comment like “it pays the bills”. Most people you meet dislike their job in some degree and have something to complain about, so it was just easier to avoid the topic. What would happen next is we would go down a path of music taste, movies, books or any other topic to hopefully find some common ground.

Last night I tried something different.

I was invited to a University party where I knew 4 people but I was in the mood to meet new people and see where the night went. The party was full of science students so I was always going to be a little older. The “what do you do” question was inevitable.

Within the first 15 minutes to talking to someone new I was asked so “what do you do?”

“Well”, i say “I work as a sales trainer”

This initial statement has caused confusion in the past. Sometimes people only hear what they want to hear and the moment they hear “trainer” they assume I’m a personal trainer. If I was a personal trainer, I wouldn’t be a very good one.

“No actually, I work with a lot of sales companies like _____, _____, and _____. I put together training plans, in field coaching and help sales representatives with a presentation structure so they have better conversations”.

The stranger might then proceed to ask me if I like my job?

“I love it!” is my standard responce.

When was the last time you heard someone say that they loved their job?  It’s a shock to the system to most people because they run out of their employers door the moment the clock strikes home time. That is why some people will use their sick days on a Monday or Friday (long weekend anyone?) and will only want to contribute the bare minimum when they are actually at work. How many of you reading are thankful that your work is flexible with your lifestyle choices or their investment into your development or willingness to do things outside of your job description? I think we are all thankful in one way or another yet chose to complain about the little things.

So as this stranger stared at me wondering “they guy has a really cool job” the interest level in the conversation grew (be careful not to cross the boundaries of bragging).

Next time you are about to attend an event where you are going to meet new people, start thinking about how you are going to introduce what you do. Nobody likes talking to negative people so think of positive things to say about your job. I can ensure that you will get a better result and you will feel better about your work place.

How do YOU introduce yourself and what you do?



  1. I’ve always told people around me (most just finishing or finished school) do something you have passion for, don’t chase money youll always be unhappy.

    I tell people I love my job, getting all oily and greasy, buying new tools every few weeks. It’s a grand job. I wouldn’t turn back or leave.

  2. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I love my job, but I definitely tell people that it’s a fun working environment. It’s hard to convince people that working for Telstra isn’t terrible :-p

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