What did you do this summer?

That’s going to be the most frequently-asked question in higher education next week. It’s worth pondering what your response is going to be, because “I worked a lot” is boring, even if it’s true.

Clay Hebert points out how often we get asked, “So, what do you do for a living?” We might get that question 80,000 times over the course of our lives, and we rarely have a good answer for it.

For instance, I say, “I’m a strength and conditioning coach.” Or, “I coach in the athletic department.” Sort of informative, but vague and mostly boring. Clay suggests we start using six-word introductions that follow this formula:

“I (help/teach/coach/motivate/etc.) (group) (change you’re trying to make).”

For instance, “I teach student-athletes how to take care of themselves, for life.”

It’s not any more informative than “strength and conditioning coach,” but it’s a lot more interesting, and it makes people want to know more. That’s key: make people want to know more.

Back to summer.

My bad example: “I worked at the fitness center desk all summer checking people in.” Boring, end of conversation.

My much better examples:

“I wrote 75 blog posts.”

“I started practicing yoga. I’m exploring ways to incorporate it into my work with athletes.”

“I bought a bike. I’m trying to see how infrequently I can use my car.”

“I started writing an e-book.”

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