[00:00:06.4] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Science of Success with your host, Matt Bodnar.
[0:00:12.6] MB: Welcome to The Science of Success. I’m your host, Matt Bodnar. I’m an entrepreneur and investor in Nashville, Tennessee and I’m obsessed with the mindset of success and the psychology of performance. I’ve read hundreds of books, conducted countless hours of research and study and I am going to take you on a journey into the human mind and what makes peak performers tick with the focus on always having our discussion rooted in psychological research and scientific fact, not opinion.
In this episode we discuss what to do if you don't know what you want to be when you grow. We look at the concept that you only have one true calling. We learn how to become a better big picture thinker. We look at the superpowers you can develop by becoming a multipotentialite. We talk about how to master rapid learning and cultivate beginner’s mind. The fallacy behind the phrase the jack of all trades and much more with Emilie Wapnick.
The Science of Success continues to grow with, now, more than a million downloads, listeners in over a hundred countries, hitting number one New and Noteworthy and more. I get listener comments and emails all the time ask me, “Matt, how do you organize and remember all these incredible information?”
A lot of her listeners are curious about how I keep track of all the incredible knowledge I get from reading hundreds of books, interviewing amazing experts, listening to awesome podcasts, and more. Because of that, we’ve created an epic resource just for you, a detailed guide called How to Organize and Remember Everything, and you can get it completely for free by texting the word “smarter” to the number 44222. Again, it's a guide we created called How to Organize and Remember Everything. All you have to do to get it is to visit successpodcast.com and join our email list or text the word “smarter” to the number 44222. Again, that’s “smarter” to the number 44222.
In a previous episode we discussed emotional agility and how you can cultivate it. Discovered that beneath your emotions are the signposts of the things that you value most, learn how to make space for motions and abrasive a willingness to experience difficult emotions. We talked about why it's vital to understand the distinction that emotions are meaningful but not always correct. We talked about how you can piggyback your habits to create very powerful strategies to live more aligned with your values and much more with Dr. Susan David. If you want to uncover the incredible truths hidden behind your emotions, listen to that episode.
Lastly, if you want to get all the awesome information, links, transcripts, everything we’re going to talk about this episode and much more be sure to check out or show notes. Just go to successpodcast.com and hit the show notes button at the top.
[0:02:58.6] MB: Today, we have another fascinating doesn't show, Emilie Wapnick. Emily is a speaker, career coach, found her of the popular blog, Puttylike and author of the book How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don’t Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up. Her Ted Talk has been viewed more than 3.7 million times, translated into over 36 languages. Her work has been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, Life Hacker and many more places.
Emily, welcome to the Science of Success.
[0:03:28.0] EW: Thanks so much for having me. I’m man excited to be here.
[0:03:30.7] MB: We’re very excited to have you on here today. For listeners who may not be familiar with you and some of the work you do, tell us your story and how you got started on this journey.
[0:03:41.2] EW: Sure. Growing up, I had a lot of different interests. I played guitar and sang in a band. I was into various artistic mediums. I like English, kind of build websites, stumped around a lot. Actually, I went to law school, I’ve got 2 law degrees. I'm not listing all these things up to brag. It’s more to say that I was very confused and that I was very curious and had a lot of different interests.
Looking back, I see how this enriched my life and how I picked up all kinds of amazing skills all over the place, but at the time it really caused me a lot of anxiety and I didn't really understand what was going on or why I couldn't stick with one thing. I worried a lot about my career and what I was going to end up doing and being and how I would ever stick with one job forever.
In my mid-20s I had this moment where I kind of made the choice to stop fighting this impulse, to stop fighting my desire to do and be and learn about many different things and to instead say, “Okay. This is how I’m wired. I’m going to try and figure out how to make it work, practically speaking.”
I started blogging and I started sharing my ideas and learning from other people who are doing many different things. How they were making it work, financially speaking, and sharing what I was learning and I had this idea like maybe I can create a community of people who don't want to just do one thing and we can figure this out together. That was in 2010. I've been at that for a while now. It has turned into a few different things. Yeah, that’s kind of my story in a nutshell.
[0:05:27.2] MB: Tell me about that community that you created. I’m assuming that’s Puttylike.
[0:05:33.0] EW: It is.
[0:05:33.0] MB: What exactly does it mean to be Puttylike?
[0:05:36.6] EW: Yeah. To be Puttylike means to be malleable, flexible, adaptable. I kind of like used the metaphor of putty, which changes shape. It’s malleable. The other word that I use a lot is multipotentialite, which is kind of my word for someone like this. I coined the term. There are other terms that people use to kind of connote the same idea, like polymath, or generalist, or Renaissance person, but I use multipotentialite or multipod for short sometimes.
Yeah, it just means that you’re curious about a number of unrelated subjects and you don't necessarily feel like you have one true calling in life. Maybe there's a lot of different things that you want to do or try or experience. Yeah, unlike, say, a polymath, who is someone who’s very accomplished in multiple disciplines. Being a multipotentialite is really about being curious and just wanting to explore.
[0:06:37.9] MB: That word is definitely a mouth-one. When I was reading up on you and doing some of the research before the shows, I was like multipotenta — I have a little bit of mouth dyslexia. That threw me for a loop.
[0:06:49.4] EW: You can split it up into three parts, and that helps a little bit to go like multi-potential-lite.
[0:06:55.5] MB: Got it. No. I like the term. I think once you contextualize it and say, it's kind of the same thing as a Renaissance person or a polymath. It's someone with a lot of diverse interests that likes to tinker around and explore all kinds of unique and different things, essential.
[0:07:14.2] EW: Yeah. Exactly. It actually comes from the word multi-potentiality, which is a term in psychology used to refer to people who display aptitudes across multiple disciplines. It’s kind of a play on that.
[0:07:25.0] MB: Awesome. Tell me about — One of the age-old questions that people always get asked when they’re growing and even the age — As you’ve shown in your Ted Talk, age of 3, 5, etc., what are some of the dangers of asking somebody, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
[0:07:42.8] EW: Yeah. It's funny when you get asked this question as a little kid. It’s seen as like this fun, innocent little game, like the kid will be like, “Oh, I want to be a dinosaur when I grow up,” and everyone will be like, “Oh, that’s so cute.”
As we get older, this question gets asked of you again and again and it gets to be like a more serious question and people expect like a real practical answer. One of the problems with this question is that you can't really answer it with five or six different things. Especially as you get older, people will kind of be like, “Okay. But, no. You have to choose.” You start to learn that you need to kind of narrow things down and pick one of your interest and kind of deny all of your other passions and let them go.
That actually isn’t true. If you look around at the world and you look at successful people, really prominent cultural figures, people in your community, you’ll see that a lot of people do multiple things and are actually really good at multiple things. We grow with this idea that you need to specialize. You need to really just narrow-in on the one thing, like your destiny. It's almost a romantic notion.
[0:08:55.6] MB: I definitely self-identify with this sort of multipotentialite idea, because even in my bio I’ve described myself as an investor and an accident podcaster. Those two things in and of themselves are very kind of disparate and not necessarily connected. There's deep things that sort of connect them once you understand how and why, but I definitely struggle with even answering the fundamental question which I’m sure you talk about as well, it’s the idea of what do you for a living. That caters to this sort of specialist understanding of the world. When in reality, I do a lot of different things and that they’re very diverse and some ways connected and some ways totally disconnected.
[0:09:37.1] EW: Yeah, for sure. I think that we’re really encouraged in our culture to kind of identify with what we do for money. Whatever that thing is that is what you are, that is who you are, and that can be really inaccurate and also really hard to explain if you derive income from a number of different sources.
[0:10:00.4] MB: Tell me more about this idea that the social narrative that often gets reinforced, that we have this destiny, this one true calling. How do people get misled by that and what can we do to combat against that?
[0:10:15.7] EW: It’s everywhere. It’s in our school systems. We’re asked to do a major. We hear things about not being a quitter and jack of all trades, master of none, and it's just like really in our vocabulary. The funny thing is it actually is a very — It very much comes from a specific time in history, so it really stems from at least the modern version of it. It stems from the Industrial Revolution, because back then we all had to be a cog in the system and that is how industry flourished. Through globalization, that model was brought to our school systems. We think of it as this kind of innate thing, but really it's social, it's historical and it's everywhere. It’s quite ubiquitous.
In terms of combating that, I think just kind of realizing that it isn't like some sort of natural state. It's culturally based. There other times throughout history when the opposite was the ideal. Like during the Renaissance period, for example, you wanted to develop your mind in all areas. Those were the people that everyone looked up to.
Also, I think, realizing that if you have many different passions and curiosities, there's something wrong with you, Actually, there a lot of other people that are like this who are making it work. I think that goes a long way to help kind of combat this.
[0:11:43.5] MB: I want to attack this from a different angle a little bit, and I’m curious what your thoughts are, because anybody who listen to this is either thinking this or has heard this if they are a multipotentialite. The idea that deep focus is necessary to be successful and that people who have very different and sort of maybe disconnected interests just lack focus and they’re sort of drifting around without clarity in their lives. Tell me about how do you respond to someone who says you have to be focus specialist in order to succeed.
[0:12:17.3] EW: I think there's a little bit of a confusion or a misconception there, which I think multipotentialites are actually very good at focusing. When we’re into something, we go quite deep and we kind of dive in and we learn really fast because we’re just so passionate about it. I think that this is where people confuse kind of multipotentialites with ADHD. It maybe looks the outside world like we’re unfocused, but really we are quite focused. We just have a lot of different interests.
Also, you might find a multipotentialite who goes really deep, like spends their entire career going into one field. If that field is very multifaceted. Maybe it's the field like urban planning, or sustainable development where there are so many different areas that you need to understand just to work in that field. We don't look at that person and say, “Multipotentialite.” We say, “Oh, specialists.” Actually, they're using a lot of different skills in their work.
What I find when I look around at the world, and I’ve spent a lot of time talking with successful multipotentialites, that they tend to be quite focused and they tend to even be experts. I think we assume that you can either be really good at one thing or you're just totally terrible at everything. Actually, there's a huge middle ground there. It is entirely possible to be very good at several things.
[0:13:48.2] MB: What a great distinction. You’re right. The language we use around this almost precludes the understanding of it from that perspective, which is this jack of all trades, master of none. In reality, people are so unique and different that it’s entirely possible to be a deep expert in several different things at the same time. I feel like we often fall prey to the presumption that just because you have varied things you're interested, it's not possible for you to be well-versed in several of them.
[0:14:21.4] EW: Yeah. For sure. I think people look at it in this theoretical mathematical way, like if you spend 10,000 hours on this, but you only spends 2,500 — Whatever, hours on something else, like you’re going to be more skilled at this. Actually, it doesn't really work that. People are combining their skillsets and their interests and we’re creating new things at the intersections and we’re integrating our ideas and connecting them. It's not this linear thing. Technical skill isn't all that matters. Sometimes it's about creativity and innovation and what you do differently as supposed to just being the world-class or technically speaking.
[0:15:07.3] MB: I think that really segues into what you’ve talked and written these super powers that multipotentialites have. Before we dip into that, another thing that that just kind of brought to mind for me is the idea and the interrelationship between the 80-20 principle in the concept of diminishing returns, which is if you can kind of step into an area, a domain of knowledge that interest you and you can get that 20% of knowledge that carries 80% of the freight for understanding and connecting and working with those ideas, there is massive diminishing returns to spending the other — Mastering the other 80% of that information that you're only going to get an additional sort of 20% of leverage out of.
[0:15:50.1] EW: Yeah. That’s a really good point. That makes me think of Tim Ferriss, and he talks a lot about how you can become world-class, if that is your goal in a much quicker time frame than people think. He is someone who goes very deep, but he also has a lot of different skills and he’s done a ton of different things.
[0:16:12.0] MB: Let’s dig in to those super powers now. Tell me about what are some of the positives or the upsides, as you call them, super powers, that multipotentialites have and that they can leverage to succeed.
[0:16:25.5] EW: Yeah. I go through five in the book, and I'm sure that there are others, but the five that I go through are idea synthesis. Taking two ideas or subjects that don't normally go together and creating something new at the intersection. We tend to be really good at kind of connecting those dots because we have all these different backgrounds.
One of the examples that your listeners might be familiar with, in Steve Jobs' commencement speech at Stanford he talks about how he dropped out of college and then he sat in on calligraphy class. Just one random calligraphy class, but that class became the inspiration for the beautiful typeface of the Apple Computer years later. There's an example of kind of mushing two things together that don't normally go together and creating something new and unique.
The second one is rapid learning, and that just means we are so used to being beginners and jumping into new things that it becomes kind of second nature to us and we’re used to stepping out of our comfort zones and kind of diving in and getting past those early sticking points because we’ve done it some many times. We also tend to be really passionate about things we become interested in. Like I mentioned earlier, we really dive in and learn all that we can in a short timeframe.
The third one is adaptability. We can kind of take on different roles and perform different kind of tasks depending on what's required, depending on the market even. If you’ve got a variety of different skills and things kind of dry up in one area, you can lean on those other skills. We’re quite adaptable. We’re kind of good at kind of taking new challenges, taking on new challenges and using our old skills and build on them to pick up new skills. That’s a huge asset in an economy that is changing so quickly.
The fourth one go into I believe is big picture thinking. We tend to be kind of the ones seeing the big picture. We have these big ideas. There is a huge overlap between multipotentialites and entrepreneurs and I think this is why we sort of have this idea of how things could be because we see how everything is linked up and we can spot kind of these bigger systematic problems. Multipotentialites tend to be passionate visionaries a lot of the time.
Then — What was my last one? Yeah, relating and translating. We’re really fascinated by people, all kinds of different people. We love learning about different things and we’re really good at relating to people in different fields both because we’re interested and because we might have a background in all those different things. You can usually find something to talk about with someone if you're really curious. We’re also very good at translating between people.
If you're working with a big interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary team and you’ve got designers over here talking one language and kind of the tech people, programmers over here talking another language. If you understand both worlds, because you may be experienced both or you have skills in both areas, you can kind of help each team understand what the other one is saying and you can bring that bigger vision to life.
[0:19:52.0] MB: I’d love to dig into to some of these and talk a little bit more. Tell me about — One of the ones that fascinates me is big picture thinking. For somebody who’d listening, how can we cultivate the ability to be better big picture thinkers and why is that such an important skillset?
[0:20:10.5] EW: Yeah. I think it’s about the ability to kind of zoom out and see problems more holistically and to kind of — Pattern recognition is a big one, I think, for a lot of these superpowers. I think just like paying attention. Again, I feel like I've been asked how do you come up with an idea for a business, but paying attention to the problems and to what's going on and how it's affecting different people and how you can help and kind of learning to zoom out to see the broader context of what's going on. I’m not sure if that’s very helpful, but I’m trying to think if there are specific skills. I think it’s just a matter of practice and just learning to notice things and to spot those connections and those patterns.
[0:20:57.6] MB: Specifically, in the bucket of idea synthesis, the famous kind of story about Steve Jobs and calligraphy. There are so many unconnected or interconnected things that if we experiment in different fields of study or different areas of knowledge, we can often draw these connections and bring things together that may not have been initially linked or create these whole new opportunities.
Another story that — We had some previous guests, Art Markman and Bob Duke who came in and talked about the decoration of the Dyson vacuum cleaner. The founder went to a lumber mill and saw how they were sucking up all the sawdust and said, “Hey, that's really interesting technology. I wonder what other applications of that may be.” Eventually, decided to turn into a vacuum cleaner and because a very successful company.
There’s all of these really interesting ways that Steve Jobs says, “You can’t always know looking forward, how the various pieces of knowledge the you pickup are going to connect.” Looking backwards, it's makes a lot of sense.
[0:22:02.5] EW: Yeah. I think that’s comforting to think about because a lot of the times, when we lose interest in a field, we might be like, “Oh, well. That was a waste of time and maybe money,” but you never know how that knowledge is going to come back around and where you might apply it.
[0:22:17.7] MB: In a world where change is one of the only constants, people and businesses must be adaptable. This episode of The Science of Success is sponsored by our partners at That Moment, a new podcast about the pivot that changes everything. Sometimes we recognize the need to seize the moment and change course. Other times, we have no choice but to pivot.
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[0:23:24.6] MB: Talk to me more about this, the idea of rapid learning and adaptability and how can somebody who’s listening that maybe isn't a multipotentialite or even those who are, how can they master this skill of rapid learning and cultivate it more effectively?
[0:23:41.4] EW: Again, I think that it's practice. I think that it’s really about getting comfortable with that early learning curve where you just feel really awkward and incompetent and realizing that that is the first stage to being like kind of good and being better and then eventually mastering it. Just doing that again and again and again and it's pretty uncomfortable, I think a lot of people don't want to do it. If you're interested in something and you've got this curiosity, it can help you kind of — Can push you to do that.
I really think it's just practice. There are kinds of techniques out there to learn faster, but I think that having the passion. For me, anyway, that is what has fueled my learning and if I'm not passionate about something, I have a much harder time learning it.
[0:24:32.3] MB: In many ways, it’s almost like the idea of cultivating beginner’s mind again and again when you're rapidly transitioning between different areas of knowledge, you're having to cultivate the skillsets and the abilities to start from scratch and say, “Okay. What are the big pieces I need to master first so that I can kind of, again, going back to almost that 80-20 thing again? How can I master the big chunks of knowledge that are the easiest to pick up that are going to give me most of the heavy lifting to really start to understand how the pieces fit together in this particular world?”
[0:25:07.1] EW: I think you’ll also find that as you acquire more skills and dive into more things, it gets easier, because you start to see, “Oh, this thing here is kind of like that other thing that I did.” You’re not really starting from zero.
[0:25:20.8] MB: Tell me about — For somebody who’s listening that is some more of a — What’s the opposite or sort of a specialist? Is that what you could call somebody?
[0:25:29.9] EW: That’s the easiest way to frame it. It’s a little bit challenging though, because multipotentialites can sometimes look like specialists, the outside, and really they’ve got like a project, like a business, or like I said, they’re working in an interdisciplinary field. They’re using a lot of different skills, but to the outside they looks like they're specializing. Yeah, I guess it's someone who really just has one focus and isn't interested in many other things and isn't particularly curious and just really likes going deep in one area and is pretty content with that.
[0:26:08.0] MB: I guess what I'm trying to draw out is, is for people who are listening that aren’t multipotentilites, what lessons can they draw from multipotentialites that might help them in whatever field they're really going deep on?
[0:26:23.0] EW: I think that exploring other things outside of your main works can be really beneficial. It can give you new ideas. It can kind of make your work stand out and make it a little bit more unique. It can also provide a nice break, which is good for energy levels. I do think that specialists and multipotentialites make really good teams, because you’ve got someone who's kind of scanning the horizon and bringing in different ideas and then you’ve got another person who's implementing and going really deep. I think they both have value.
[0:26:57.2] MB: I think there's two breakpoints there. One of them is this idea that just dabbling in something else, another field of knowledge, can help you bring back some really interesting lessons that you can cross-apply to your primary domain of expertise. The second one which is something we haven't really necessarily touched on but has underpinned most of the conversations is the idea that being either sort of a specialist or a multipotentialite, no one is better than the other. In fact, it’s really that they both very mutually complementary and when you can put these things together, figuring out do you lean more towards multipotentiality or do you lean more towards specialization and find people who complement your skillset so you can really create a situation where one plus one doesn't necessarily equal two when you're combining forces like that.
[0:27:47.6] EW: Right. Yeah.
[0:27:49.1] MB: One of the other topics that you’ve talked about and written about is how can a multipotentialite I be financially successful in today’s world and what are some of the strategies that they can use, because our economic structures in many ways are geared more towards rewarding specialization? What are some of the specific strategies that multipotentialites can use to really succeed financially in today's world?
[0:28:17.0] EW: Yeah. This was the main question I wanted to answer when I started researching and working on my new book, and what I did was I interviewed about 50 multipotentialites who self-describe as being both happy and financially comfortable and then I sent out a couple of surveys and I got a few thousand replies to those. I had a lot of data to work with. I wanted to know how multipotentialites make a living. What I found is that there's no Holy Grail career. I guess it’s not that surprising, but there’s no one job that works for every multipotentialite, and I was meeting people in all different fields, doing all kinds of different work.
What I was able to do is I realized that there are kind of these four work models, these four commonly used work models that multipotentialites use. Before I go into the four, I want to just point out that it is entirely possible to be a hybrid, and I never like to tell people to just choose one thing, especially not my audience. You can mix and match these. You can customize this stuff. I did find that there are kind of these four approaches. The first one is what I call the group hug approach, and this is where you combine your interests in one multifaceted job or business. Maybe you work at a company that maybe it's a smaller company where you get to kind of step out of your job description a little bit and propose different project and ideas and wear many different hats, Maybe you're working in an interdisciplinary field where you're integrating your various interests and skills just to kind of work in that area. Maybe you’re running a business, because running a business means wearing a lot of different hats especially at the beginning. There's so much that goes into it. There's product development, customer service, legal, finance, all these stuff. That's one approach.
The second commonly used work model is the /approach, and this is where instead of combining your interest, you’ve got a few separate distinct revenue streams that you kind of flip between over the course of a week or a month. This is someone who is a program/teachers/stand-up comedian. They’ve got these very discreet jobs or businesses, these part-time things that they do. The people that I've spoken to who use this work model, they tell me that part-time is kind of the dream. They love each of their different jobs for different reasons, but wouldn't want to do anyone of them full-time. This is a way to stick with a few different things and to still get that variety, because that’s the piece that’s really missing in a lot of conventional career advice, the need for variety which is huge for multipotentialites.
The third commonly used work model is the Einstein approach, and I called it that because Albert Einstein worked at the patent office for several years who is basically employed by the government. He had this very stable day job that took care of his financial needs, and then he explored his theories on the side.
This is what author Barbara Sher refers to as a good enough job, is where you have a job or even one narrow lucrative business that will do it, where it pays the bills and then it also leaves you with enough free time and energy to pursue your many passions on the side. This is someone — I interviewed a guy for the book named Charlie Harper who is an IT director by day, just straight up 9 to 5, and then he leaves the office and he goes to musical theater practice or acapella practice and on the weekend he builds furniture and he just recently built a boat.
The beauty about this approach is that you don't have to worry about monetizing all of your little interest and everything that you become interested in because we’re very curious. That can really take the pressure off. It doesn't work for everybody, but for some people the Einstein approach is a really good fit.
Then we’ve got the fourth commonly used work model, the Phoenix approach. This is because if you think of a Phoenix, kind of lives this glorious life and at the end they are up in flames and are reborn from the ashes. This is someone who dives into a field, builds a career, and kind of when they feel like they have gotten their feel, they kind of, “Yeah. I’ve got this. I’m ready for a new adventure.” They transition and begin a new career in a totally new field and kind of moves through their passion in a sequential way, so one after the next after the next often with several years between each switch as opposed to maybe a couple of hours as with someone using the /approach.
[0:33:17.5] MB: It’s so interesting and I find it fascinating that you’ve interviewed all of these different people to pull up this knowledge, because I still — It's so socially conditioned that focus is good and distraction or having lots of little things going on is bad, that I keep sort of circling back to this question or fear of doubt of like, “But what about the fact that if I just focused on something I could be more successful?”
[0:33:46.2] EW: Right. You could be, but if you're multipotentialite, at some point you might become bored and you might feel like you're not actually being challenged very much and you’re just doing the same thing again and again and again.
[0:33:56.4] MB: I think Tony Robins said that success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.
[0:34:02.0] EW: There you go.
[0:34:03.9] MB: Another good example that even in just the naming of that approach, the Einstein approach. If you look at somebody like Einstein, tremendously successful individual and live on in the history books for millennia probably. He was somebody who his income was divorced from what he actually did.
[0:34:25.4] EW: Yeah, for sure. That’s the thing. We have this idea that what we do for money is more valuable than the other things that we do in our lives and profitability does not necessarily equal value. There are a lot of other rewards to engaging with our interests. Personal development and acquiring other skills and just enjoyments and connecting with other people, there’s a lot of things that we can get out of something even if it isn't paying the bills. It's okay to kind of separate the money from the meaning and the variety as long as you have all those elements in your life.
[0:35:10.1] MB: I think that echoes in many ways some of the same lessons that Tim Ferriss talks about in The 4-Hour Workweek, which is the idea of get a business and get it where it can support you so that you can go do whatever you want to do.
[0:35:21.8] EW: Yeah. I would say that that book really defines the Einstein approach with a self-employment slant to it, so kind of that good enough business where you’ve got. It’s paying the bills, you’re working as little as possible for it to support you and you really define your financial goals. Then you have all of these free time to go explore and to do all these amazing things.
[0:35:47.7] MB: One of the other topics the you’ve written about, it's not directly related to what we’ve been going in, but I think it's very relevant to a lot of this, which is the idea of celebrating our failures. Can you tell me a little bit about the concept and what that means to you?
[0:36:01.9] EW: Yeah. Actually, a few years back we did this thing called failure celebration week on Puttylike, and the idea was to just kind of take the stigma out of failure, because we all have to try things and “fail sometimes” to learn. Often, what looks like failure is really just feedback, that's what people say and is just the sign, “Okay. Maybe I need to shift my approach and try something else,” and it's really a necessary step on the way to learning.
For failure celebration week we all kind of shared — People wrote different blog posts about their spectacular failures and often they were what led them to where they are now. They were just an integral part of their ultimate success. It was cool too. We had people using the #failweek and they were like, “Oh, I was doing the dishes and I got water all over my dress shirt, #failweek.” We’d be like, “Yey! Way to go,” and just to kind of take that stigma out of it and to be like, “Everyone fails all the time and it's okay and it's necessary.”
[0:37:12.2] MB: It’s a great point. One of the things that we’ve talked previously on the shows is this idea that, as Charlie Monger said, who, again, is somebody that I’m a huge a fan of. We talk about him all the time here. He said that you only need to get rich once. If you think about that, what it means is you can fail a ton of time, but if you just succeed one time, that’s all that matters. If you just hit it. If you just hit a home run once in the financial sense, that’s it. Then you’ve made it.
We're so evolutionarily programmed in our biology and our minds are structured in a way that we want to avoid and minimize failure because of all the social repercussions and everything else. When it today’s society, today’s world, in almost every instance, it just doesn't really matter. In fact, fear of failure over a longer time horizon is actually much much worse for you than trying and failing at a bunch of different projects.
[0:38:14.6] EW: Yeah, absolutely. You can't hit that one win if you're not going to fail a bunch first. I do think it's quite true that if you look at a lot of really successful people, they have a string of failures before they kind of figure out what works.
[0:38:34.7] MB: What advice would you have for somebody who's listening that still doesn't know “what they want to be when they grow up”?
[0:38:42.2] EW: Well, I would say get a piece of paper out and start writing down all of your interests and passions and skills and getting it all out on paper. When I do this exercise with people in workshops and whatever, I always tell them like, “If you’re becoming interested in something and even if you’re not that good at it yet, write it down. Get your interests on there too. If you're not sure whether to include something, included it. Just get everything out on paper.”
From there you can starts taking a look at what kind of work model would be a good fit for you and what that might look like. If you're thinking that the group hug approach, it sounds really nice to kind of combine your interest. What goes well together? Could you bring knowledge from one area of interest to an audience related to another interest of yours?
There’s a guy who has a really neat business called Marketing for Hippies, and he’s got background both in marketing world and in the kind of green holistic nonprofit world. He takes marketing principles and translates it into a language that his audience can relate to, because typically marketing principles do not appeal to the hippie audience.
There something like that for you. Can you bridge a gap between two things that don't normally go together? Is there a field that exists out there that is kind of an amalgamation of several of your interests? When it comes to the other work models for the /approach, you might think like which one of these skills can I monetize and what would that look like if I paired three of these together, and maybe picking three different ones just to kind of change it up so you’re not doing the same thing all the time just to get that variety.
For the Einstein approach, you may think like, “What is the “practical interest” on this page? If I were to show this to a regular career counselor, what they say? What would they tell me to do?” That's often a good way to start thinking about some good enough jobs or you can do kind of the Tim Ferriss approach and be like, “Which one of these skills is the most lucrative? Which could I turn into a really profitable business even if it's super narrow?”
With the Phoenix approach, my favorite exercise for that is to pretend you've got 10 lives and to just make a list of what you would be in each of those lives, and that's a really cool way to start thinking about if I want to have one career for 6 to 10, I can you do that and then switch to something else, and here’s what that might look like.
[0:41:23.5] MB: That's a great questions. I love questions that pull you out of your own ego and kind of the things you used to distract yourself and talk yourself out of doing things and really give you clarity about where you want to go, and that's a great example of, “Okay. If I didn't have all the social and emotional baggage that’s telling me that I need to do X, what would I do with 10 different lives?” That's a great way to kind of break through some of that and really get clarity about the opportunities the you want to pursue.
[0:41:54.4] EW: Yeah. I think that the main issue here is that variety is not considered — I mean it’s not just a priority in a lot of conditional career models. If you know you're multipotentialite or you think you might be one, then variety is really important to you. You need to kind of figure out how you’re going to get that variety, and that's what I really like about these work models is I found that this was what people were using to get the variety they need in their lives and in their careers. I think just keeping that in mind that you don't need to choose one thing. You can have variety and also have the financial stability at the same time.
[0:42:38.5] MB: What one piece of actionable advice or kind of homework you would give to a listener who wants to concretely implement some of the things we’ve talked about today?
[0:42:50.2] EW: I think that the exercises that I just went through is a really good one. I think it's really important to get everything out of your head and on to the page. Just something visual that you can see, you move things around because it can be a little smooshie if it's just ideas in your head. I think, yeah, just kind of thinking about your different backgrounds and where things have led you and maybe some of the different skills that you've acquired and have implemented, laterally, in other fields and just taking stock of all of the things that you know and all of the things that you've learned and all of the things you're curious about and how that diversity has really enhanced your life and maybe getting a little bit clear on that and journaling a little bit on that can help.
[0:43:38.2] MB: For listeners who want to follow you and learn more, where can people find you and your blog and your book online?
[0:43:46.3] EW: Yeah, they can learn more about the book at howtobeeverything.com and if they want to swing by the community, check out the blog. That can be found at puttylike.com.
[0:43:59.5] MB: Awesome. Emilie, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing all your wisdom. As a multipotentialite myself, this has been really interesting and a lot of these has resonated with me personally. Thank you for sharing all of your knowledge with me.
[0:44:15.5] EW: Great. Thanks so much for having me, Matt.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
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