What do you DO?

Ah, my favorite question.

Nev wrote a great post about it the other day.  Saying “I’m a lawyer” or “I’m a teacher” is a whole lot easier than saying “I run a web development company with three other twenty-somethings and we own a lot of websites with the majority of our revenue coming from our e-commerce websites which we run from a warehouse in Guilderland, NY”.

IF I ever actually said that, I’d get a really perplexed look followed by about fifty questions.  In general, when I’m out in a social situation I really don’t want to have a long discussion about our business with someone that I’ve never met before.  I’d rather discuss the myriad of other things that interest me as opposed to the business that tends to consume my brain the majority of the day.

But I’ve come to the acceptance that in our society I will always be asked the question within fifteen minutes of meeting someone new.  I’m not necessarily saying that that’s a bad thing, just that the answer is so complex that I don’t always feel like getting into it while I have a beer in my hand after a long day of work.  Plus, the course of questions usually results in the entire story of my entrepreneurial quest, from college to work to quitting to Pure Adapt.  It takes me twenty minutes and since the average person doesn’t really understand web business I usually just get blank stares and smiling nods the entire time.

For the most part people are pretty interested because it’s not what they hear everyday.  Then again, I think part of the questioning is to feel me out to see if I’m full of shit, because a 26 year old couldn’t possibly have a successful business.  For the most part, I really could care less if these people believe I’m full of shit or the second coming of Bill Gates, so I’d rather just avoid the conversation all together.

Over time I’ve come up with two answers:  either “I’m a web developer” if I don’t want to talk to you or if I don’t think you know much about the web, or “I run an e-commerce company” if I think we can carry on a decent conversation about business and I’m in the mood to do so.   The former usually results in a change of topic, to which I secretly do a Tiger Woods fist pump in my head.  The latter usually results in something along the lines of “what do you sell?” or “tell me more”  which tends to result in an interesting conversation because I can sum everything up in a sentence and then get some good back-and-forth going.

Or I could just start avoiding the whole situation by saying “I’m unemployed” like Nev does 🙂

8 comments on What do you DO?

  1. nethy says:

    How about ‘I sell wax.’

  2. Adam McFarland says:

    I’m going to try that one out and see what kind of response I get 🙂

  3. Peter Davis says:

    I did the web developer response for a while, then I started getting calls from people who wanted me to develop a site for them. NOT what I wanted. After a number of iterations, I ended up with the “unemployed” thing as well. In this economy it doesn’t stand out too much, but then you have to deal with the people who want to help you get a job. No winning on this one!

  4. Paolo Bas says:

    Adam! It’s been a while man. I’m glad I found your blog. how’s business? we should catch up.

  5. Adam McFarland says:

    Paolo! Great to hear from you man. I was just looking through the pics from our Cedar Point trip the other day. I dropped you an email, we definitely have to get together sometime.

  6. Adam Holland says:

    Don’t say “unemployed”… say “unemployable” hehe..

  7. Nev says:

    I hear Peter Davis on the web developer thing.

    When I was trying out that response I got the same thing all the time….”So can you make a website for me? I’ll pay you $200.”

    Hhahah, I can just imagine Adam saying, “I sell wax and other slippery products” as the other person immediately starts planning how to get out of the conversation :0)

  8. nethy says:

    I hope Nev is right. I would feel guilty if people still offered Adam $200 after hearing about the slippery things.

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