[EDRM Editor’s Note: The opinions and positions are those of Aaron Patton.]
Explaining what I do is hard.
How do I summarize a job that’s more than one thing, a little less than everything, and that only exists in a specialized area where technology and legal practice overlap? There are some annual holiday blog posts that poke fun at how hard it is to explain jobs to family and friends, but humor only highlights the problem.
And if you find your own explanations, examples, and analogies aren’t working very well, you are not alone.
The Curse of Knowledge
To make everything worse, most of us have the curse of knowledge. So even if we could just say what we do, it would be so full of internal and industry jargon that it might not mean anything to anyone.
I understand what I do because I grew into my job over 15 years. Many of you are in the same boat. So how can we explain successfully in a single sentence what took years to understand? There’s no way — or is there?
The Problem is the Question — Not the Response
Adam proposes a 5-question approach to craft your “Life Purpose” statement, and in the process of working through his model, I discovered my answers had the added benefit of helping me explain what I really do in my life.
So let’s look at the 5 questions and my initial answers:
- Who are you? – My name is Aaron.
- What do you do, in the broadest sense? – I provide eDiscovery consulting services to law firms and corporations.
- For whom you do it? – I do it mostly for lawyers.
- What do those people want and need? – They need guidance and help spotting issues.
- How do those people change as a result? – They become better advocates for their clients.
WHOA! Question #5 is the real inquiry – it’s the whole game. It’s one of those rare moments when you look at a result and realize that the seemingly mundane things you do add up to something great!
When I heard question 5, I paused the video, closed my eyes to think it through, and then I changed my answer to question #2.
I don’t just “provide eDiscovery consulting services to law firms and corporations.” I help lawyers be better advocates for their clients!
What do you do?
- I’m a trainer at the gym. NO… You’re helping people accomplish their goals!
- I do construction. NO… You’re building a family’s future home!
- I answered some emails and phone calls. NO… You kept a salesperson’s promise and won a loyal customer!
So, after thinking through question #5, what’s your new answer to “What do you do?”