220: Multipotentialite: How to Be Everything with Emilie Wapnick



Renaissance Person.

Whichever term you favor, the meaning behind it is what’s important.


According to our guest (and coiner of the term), Emilie Wapnick, a multipotentialite is a person that doesn’t have “one true calling the way that specialists do.”

Emilie describes multipods as people with many paths that pursue all of them, either sequentially or simultaneously (or both).

A person with Multipotentiality “thrives on learning, exploring, and mastering new skills.” As innovators and problem solvers, the multi-passionate have the need to discover anything and everything to satisfy their curiosity.

While having the drive to learn new things and master new skills is a fantastic quality and strength to have while job searching, a lot of multi-passionate people struggle with finding a career that “fits” them because they have such a wide range of interests. This makes it hard to narrow down a specific career, since there are so many choices out there that they can thrive in and leaves them often asking “what do I want to be when I grow up.”

Is the struggle starting to make sense?


The secret in thriving as a multi-passionate, career-minded person, as we will outline below, is finding that sweet spot in the amount of variety a multipod needs in their career. As a Jack/Jill-of-All-Trades, you’ll have to pinpoint the intersection between your interests that will not only make you happy, but earn you money.

Emilie, a multipod herself, has studied and surveyed individuals that identify themselves as multi-passionate people and has outlined strategies that allow you to succeed in creating a career and a life that encompasses your many passions as a multipotentialite. If you want to hear more of Emilie’s story check out episode 103.

Let’s take a closer look at how a mulipotentialite can structure their work and position themselves to build a career by combining their interests.



The Group Hug approach to your career is defined by having a multifaceted job or business that allows you to wear many hats and shift between several domains.

This approach allows you to take your passions and do some research to find jobs that encompass your most-valued interests. You’ll want to look at starting a career in interdisciplinary fields like teaching, urban planning, or architecture.

If you’re struggling to find an interdisciplinary field that you’d enjoy on your own, another way to go about finding an industry you could succeed in is by doing a different kind of research, and finding where the multipods hang out and ask for their career advice.

Another great way to Group Hug your interests into one full-time career is to look for work at an open-minded organization, small businesses are usually a great place to start. If you get the chance to pitch a new job task outside your job description make sure to frame it in a way that the organization can see how it will benefit.

And if you aren’t able to combine your interests in your day job, you could always start a side hustle to work on your other passion projects!


Thisapproach is a great work model for those multipotentiality if you have a lot of niche interests that don’t directly compliment one another.

To these folks with interests that distinctly differ, “part-time” jobs are the dream. That is, jobs that are intentionally part-time so it allows you to work in completely separate passions, as opposed to a handful of part-time jobs that you have just to pay the bills.

The Slash work model is a favorite among people that highly value freedom and flexibility in their career, consequently, the Slash approach does require a fair amount of self-direction, independence, and organizational skills.

Side-hustlers also fall in as the Slash careerist.


The Einstein approach is defined as having a full-time job or business that fully supports you financially, is mentally-simulating rather than mentally-exhausting, one that you thoroughly enjoy, and still leaves you with the time and energy to pursue your other passions on the side.

This is also referred to as having a “good enough job.” Your current job is good enough to pay your bills, while allowing you to explore other work on the side.

The Einstein model is enjoyable, fun, yet provides you with a challenge outside of your day job.

Side note:  Are you wondering how people that use the Einstein approach find the extra time and energy to work on passion projects after working a full-day job?

As multipotentialites have such a variety of interests, many of them that effectively use the Einstein approach to fulfill their needs to work in their passions often times work on completely separate, yet enjoyable interests that utilize different parts of their brain, because it allows them to have the energy to work outside of their day jobs.


Working in a single industry for several months or years, then shifting gears to start a new career in a new field is what the Phoenix approach to careers is all about.

If you’re angling towards the Phoenix approach and you’re ready to make your switch, an easy way to transition to another full-fledged career is to start to build something on the side because it will allow you to continue to grow it so you will a smooth transition when you’re ready to move onto the next career.

Speaking of transitioning careers, below are a few suggestions to make that move as easy as possible.

Don’t buy into the idea that

[multipotentialites] are the ‘Jack-

Of-All-Trades, Master-of-None.’ It’s

totally possible to nail this stuff and

thrive as a multipod.

-Emilie Wapnick
  1.  Reach out to your network connections and find people in the field you’re trying to get into
  2.  Expand your network and go to more events
  3.  Volunteer in a job or industry you’re interested in to gain experience
  4.  “Free work” – Reach out to an organization, pitch the work you think needs to be done and outline how you        would like to do that for free, as you continue to excell in the work you’re doing, pitch the idea of getting          paid for the job
  5.  Job shadow
  6.  Get training

On top of that, remember to take note and emphasize your transferable skills in every job you pursue. Your career experience, no matter the industry, is valuable. The important part is being able to frame those transferable skills and strengths to benefit any organization that you plan on contacting.


If you’re still running into roadblocks after following Emilie’s work approaches for multipotentialites or feel like you’re still missing a piece of your career puzzle, get in touch with our world-class career coaches and they will help guide you through your obstacles and provide you with the support you need to combine your passions into a career work plan!

Head on over to https://www.happentoyourcareer.com/coaching to find the career help you need.

Catch Emilie’s live presentation from this podcast below!

Remember, now that you’ve decided to do something about your current situation, you’ve already made progress. And, just because you’ve made a decision to move forward with one thing, doesn’t mean that you’re committed to it forever.

There is always a way to pivot.

Once you take action and do something different from what you’ve been doing, you’re already moving in the right direction.

Don’t rush your career change process. By doing that, you defeat the purpose of the time you’ve put into doing all of the soul-searching and goal-setting to find your next career move.

If you hit a road block and don’t know what to do next, don’t be too hard on yourself.

Big life change isn’t always a leisurely stroll in the park.

If you find that you need an extra push of support, we’ve got the resources for you. Check out the Career Change Bootcamp program as it was created to guide you to build a strong foundation in finding the right path to your next career.

Read more about it here or visit our Career Coaching resource for a more personalized one-on-one career adviser.


Emilie Wapnick 00:03
It wasn't until my mid 20s, when I sort of made the conscious decision to just flip it and make it a good thing and be like, "This is how I am, I'm going to find a way to make it work. I'm going to see if there are other people out there like this who are making a living, who are successful."

Introduction 00:23
This is the Happen To Your Career podcast, with Scott Anthony Barlow. We help you stop doing work that doesn't fit you, figure out what does and make it happen. We help you define the work that's unapologetically you, and then go get it. If you're ready to make a change, keep listening. Here's Scott. Here's Scott. Here's Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 00:46
This is Scott Anthony Barlow, and you are listening to Happen To Your Career, the show that helps you figure out what work fits you by exploring other stories, we get to bring on experts like Emilie Wapnick, which who we have on today, who help people that don't just have one true calling, or people that have really amazing stories, like, Kirby Verceles, who found her ideal job by learning her strengths. These are people that are just like you, except for they've gone from where they are to what they really want to be doing.

Emilie Wapnick 01:16
I'm a multipotentialite who has this one thing, but I'm like an expert at not being an expert at this point.

Scott Anthony Barlow 01:24
My conversation with Emilie today, we get to talk about what happens when you have lots of different interests, when you're passionate about a number of different things. Or maybe you have a lot of hobbies, and you're trying to figure out how to put them all together, either with your career, or should they be your career, or something completely different that you haven't thought of. Those are the questions that we answer today. And in fact, when people who are good at a number of different things, and they have lots of talents, when they're trying to pick their career, if you will, then they bump up against the question of, hey, how do I earn income for a lot of these different things, too? And that's exactly the question we're looking to answer today. Emilie and I go deep into, how can that look? In fact, what are some different models and examples of ways that that can happen in your life. So I think that you're going to enjoy this. Emily has been on the show before, she's a fantastic guest. And she has a high degree of expertise in what you might call multipotentialite or multi potential reality. There's a number of other names for it, too. But we'll get into all that and a lot more.

Jerrad Shivers 02:42
Decided that maybe, you know, 80, 90 hour weeks and a young family doesn't necessarily go together.

Scott Anthony Barlow 02:49
Jerrad was burned out with long hours and high stress.

Jerrad Shivers 02:53
When we started to do the questionnaire and write everything down, we started our pros and cons with where we wanted to live and who wanted to be around and all that stuff.

Scott Anthony Barlow 03:01
Listen to Jerrad's story later on in the episode to learn how he used coaching to help him figure out what fits him and actually make the change to work he loves.

Jerrad Shivers 03:10
I ended up with my dream job.

Scott Anthony Barlow 03:14
It might help to throw out some context for how we got to hear, I guess, which as I told you, I don't know five minutes ago, I got sent your TEDx sock no less than 10 times from my customers, from people that follow our blog and our business. And it was coming at me left and right over about a period of three weeks or so. So congratulations.

Emilie Wapnick 03:43
Thank you. And I apologize before this call, but I'll apologize again. Sorry for spamming you.

Scott Anthony Barlow 03:50
The public apology.

Emilie Wapnick 03:53
But that's pretty cool.

Scott Anthony Barlow 03:54
That really is pretty cool. So I went back, and this was really interesting for me, because I really love people's stories. That's something that I'm fascinated by. And I love people's careers, not just the career like, I don't know, job occupation or title, which clearly we're not going to spend a lot of time talking about, like, specializing or anything along those lines here, except to the extent to define, but I'm fascinated by a career in the aspect of it, its people's journeys. And you've had a pretty interesting one. So I'm curious though, what your reaction is to this, I want to play you something before we get going because, and we'll see if you remember this. This is from an interview a while ago, before you really even started doing any speaking long before the TED talk...

Emilie Wapnick 04:44
Oh, no.

Scott Anthony Barlow 04:45
I know, huh? Take a listen.

Natalie Sisson 04:49
Lots of different product launches, or are you really wanting to focus on more recurring revenue types of products and services?

Emilie Wapnick 04:56
Well, I love the recurring revenue model that I'm definitely a big fan of that. But I think for now, we're gonna look at how you tried in, and maybe it brings more people in a couple months, I actually have a speaking role that I want to use.

Natalie Sisson 05:11
So I want to hear it. If you want share it.

Emilie Wapnick 05:13
Get into public speaking, maybe talk to, at some schools and some organizations, it's just something that's been on my backburner list for a while, I've got quite a bit of a fear of public speaking, like most people, and I'd like to just get over that. So the second half of 2012 is going to be devoted to this public speaking goal. And I also want to write a new Manifesto, because my ideas have evolved quite a bit since the first one. And I think that that would go nicely with the speaking because they're both kind of on the same topic, which is the multipotentialite making it work.

Natalie Sisson 05:45
I agree. And just touching on that, actually, I mean, one, I look forward to seeing your speaking progress, and I'm sure you'll probably start out kind of small, and before you know it, you'll explode onto the scene.

Scott Anthony Barlow 05:54
Okay, and I think that we've reached critical mess. Just recently...

Emilie Wapnick 06:00
Got your craft, you know, it was so awesome.

Scott Anthony Barlow 06:03
Well, so that was a little bit of context here. So that was Natalie Sisson, and the audio quality wasn't the greatest. So I apologize for that. But I really wanted to play it anyways, just to give people before and after, since that's what we do on this show, really dig into people's journeys and stories and everything like that. So I'm curious, just what are your thoughts listening to that, like blast from the past? Before we get into any of my curiosities beyond that.

Emilie Wapnick 06:28
That was super cool. I was afraid you were gonna play something stupid that I'd said, like four years ago. But, no, it's true. I hated public speaking, I hated speaking in class. And, you know, anytime I had to give a presentation, it was like, my life ended. But I just hit this point where I felt like I had a message to share, and also how I wanted to get over this fear. And, yeah, and then I started doing it and eventually got to the TEDx stage. And yeah.

Scott Anthony Barlow 07:04
So, first of all, you've got one particular topic that your TEDx talk is on. And again, I really want to dig into that. But I'm curious, you're obviously somebody who's got lots of different interest, right. And that's what the TEDx talk is on, and even the name that you've come up with, and you've come up with this name years ago, at this point, right? I'm gonna tell people a little bit about that. And then I've loved to go backwards and find out a little bit more about how this all came to be.

Emilie Wapnick 07:38
Yeah, so the word that you're referring to is multipotentialite. And multipotentialite is someone with many interests and creative pursuits. There's sort of a spectrum. And on one side, you've got the sequential multipotentialite at someone who kind of moves through their interests one at a time. And then on the other end of the spectrum, you've got the person with 20 different things on their plate. And you can exist anywhere along the spectrum. So there's no wrong way to be a multipotentialite. All that it means is that your life isn't just focused around a single thing, really.

Scott Anthony Barlow 08:13
Now, where on earth for yourself? Did you really start to discover this? That's what I'm really curious about, like, where is this coming to be?

Emilie Wapnick 08:23
Yeah. So it was something that used to bug me a lot that actually caused me a lot of stress in my life. For many, many years, I noticed that I kept becoming interested in something and like really diving in and making my whole identity about that thing, I'd be like, "Oh, I know what I'm going to do with my life, I'm going to be a musician or a web designer, or a lawyer" or whatever it was. And eventually, I would start to feel like either a sense of boredom or just that I wasn't being challenged as much, or I would just become interested in something else, and want to go explore that. And I viewed this as a bad thing for most of my life and worried what was wrong. I didn't know what was wrong with me, like, "Why can I stick with anything? Am I afraid of commitment? Like, what is going on? Do I not have like, you know, that one true calling we're all supposed to have?" So I was thinking about a lot of these sorts of questions. And it wasn't until my mid 20s, when I started, I sort of made the conscious decision to just flip it and make it a good thing and be like, this is how I am, I'm going to find a way to make it work. I'm going to see if there are other people out there like this who are making a living, who are successful. And that's where the idea for party like came about. And as I started blogging, I started meeting more people and started writing more and more about these ideas. And now I'm positively thrilled to be a multipotentialite and I see a lot of the benefits that I couldn't see before.

Scott Anthony Barlow 09:59
Well, this whole idea of multipotentialite, you said that, you really started flipping the switch in your 20s. What happened to caused you to flip the switch? Like you're back in your 20s, and, you know, you weren't looking at it, it doesn't sound like as a set of strengths before, what really happened to cause you to flip that switch?

Emilie Wapnick 10:22
Yeah, so I was actually, in my final semester of law school, and I pretty much knew that I didn't want to become a lawyer, just wasn't the life that I wanted for me. And so I was trying to figure out what I was going to do after I graduated. And I'd become interested in entrepreneurship and the idea of starting my own business. And I took a course on, you know, starting an online business. And of course, the second module was like, how to choose a niche, like, let's look through your interests and pick one and create a business around it. This is very difficult for me.

Scott Anthony Barlow 11:03
You see that?

Emilie Wapnick 11:03
Yeah. So, you know, I was making all these lists, and they all sounded like fun, but I didn't just want to pick one topic. And I was just racking my brain about this. And that's actually when I came up with the idea. I was like, you know, I've never really just done one thing. I've done a lot of freelancing and had, you know, kind of random jobs here and there. And I've always made it work. And I wonder if not choosing a niche could could be my thing. I wonder if I, you know, so I was actually thinking about coming up with a business that forced me to, like, really look at this pattern and see it for what it was and just make the decision to try and flip it. And, yeah, that's, and then, you know, a few months after launching the site, I put out this Manifesto, and a friend of mine another blogger was reviewing it, and he referred to us as multipotentialite and that's where the word came from. And it just stuck.

Scott Anthony Barlow 12:01
Interesting. Who was the other blogger? Just curious.

Emilie Wapnick 12:04
His name is Trevor Clark. I don't think he's blogging anymore. He's a multipotentialite. So last I heard he had like an artisan mushroom farm, like legit mushrooms, not like... but no, they were like selling them to fancy restaurants and stuff in Michigan. But I think he might not even be doing that anymore. I'm not sure what he's up to now, but always something interesting.

Scott Anthony Barlow 12:28
Yeah. Very cool. So some of that stuff was a little bit difficult to find, as I was looking through, so that's really interesting to hear it straight from you. Very cool. Now, so what happened from there? You got the idea for the business at some point and said, "Look, I'm gonna make this my thing." And how did you go about doing that?

Emilie Wapnick 12:53
I just started blogging, really, I got the site up, you know, hacked together. I hacked an old WordPress theme with some web design skills. I had acquired years earlier and started blogging. And people started reaching out to me and I started making connections with other bloggers and just kind of grew from there.

Scott Anthony Barlow 13:16
So was it really, I know you said, you're going through the course and everything like that, was it really intended to be like, your sole income, or if you want to call it that, from the beginning? Or was it, and I know, I'm asking the multipotentialite but what was the original intention?

Emilie Wapnick 13:35
Yeah, I mean, I think I was just thinking, like, I don't want to be a lawyer. So let's try this thing. And I did do some web design, just to sort of hold me over for about a year while the business was, you know, becoming profitable. But yeah, it's ironic. And I see the irony that, like, I'm a multipotentialite who has this one thing, but I'm like an expert at not being an expert at this point.

Scott Anthony Barlow 14:07
So I was wanting to ask you about that because it's sort of, I mean, it sort of is your thing, right? But it's not your only thing.

Emilie Wapnick 14:16
It's not my only thing. It's my thing right now. And I've always felt like I'm a bit more on the sequential side of the spectrum. So I really do tend to move to get very, very involved with something for several years, and then move on to something else, but I always have other projects and interests on the go. So and then the other thing is that, it is sort of my "specialty" but it's deceptively interdisciplinary. Because I get to write about work and career and business. I get to write about productivity. I get to read about confidence and like dealing with family members who don't understand or don't approve. There's so much that I can focus on and I can switch formats. I can write, I can speak, I can do video courses, I can run workshops. So I've found that even though it's like one thing, there's a lot of different things going on within it. And that's one of the tricks that I teach people, if you're, you know, considering your career, looking for something that's very interdisciplinary, or that just lets you wear a lot of different hats, that can be very fulfilling for multipotentialite.

Scott Anthony Barlow 15:26
Well. And I think that's what really what tied me over to, quite frankly, not tied me over that's probably the wrong way to say it, but that's what it kind of fills me up. Because I'm very much the same way. And I feel like I fall more towards that side of the spectrum as well. But, you know, in my business, I get to do all sorts of different things. It's not just one thing every day in one particular expertise. So I'm really curious about, I know you get into a little bit on your TED Talk. But I really wanted to ask you some questions about you've got these... you talk about these three different strengths. And I'm curious if you've identified more since then, and, two, wanted to have you talk about them a little bit. So you've got, you know, the first one that you end up talking about, is this whole idea of, idea synthesis, which part of what we were talking a little bit about.

Emilie Wapnick 16:21
It is, yeah, it's taking two or more fields and kind of smooshing them together and creating something new at the intersection.

Scott Anthony Barlow 16:32
Where do you see yourself doing that? Where did you first start seeing yourself doing that?

Emilie Wapnick 16:37
Oh, wow. I feel like I do that a lot. It's actually one of those things that seems to appeal to me about the different projects that I get involved in, like, they tend to be kind of interdisciplinary. I mean, gosh, when I was a kid, I used to do all kinds of weird multimedia things, like, I make little videos and put together plays and to try and figure out at the earliest time, I guess.

Scott Anthony Barlow 17:07
I love to be able to tell you that I've got one of these on to play for you, too.

Emilie Wapnick 17:13
Let's see, there was okay, one, very interesting venture as a child's... friend, and I set up a fortune telling origami stand in the park once, where we like, made these origami candy boxes and told fortunes, and didn't last very long. But there's a project that brings together a few different

Scott Anthony Barlow 17:34
Yeah, I would say so.

Emilie Wapnick 17:37
But no, I mean, I noticed in my work now, you know, like I mentioned before, my web design skills, like just years of freelancing came in handy when I was starting the site. And my law background came in handy when I was registering my trademark. And occasionally when I'm, you know, dealing with a contract or something, and my music backgrounds comes in handy. Well, I did a podcast very briefly, like in 2010. That's not not available anymore. But yeah, it came in handy then. And, you know, anytime I'm making videos, my film background kind of comes in and like lighting techniques. So there are definitely many skills that I apply laterally, that kind of come into the business and make it what it is.

Scott Anthony Barlow 18:26
So what about rapid learning? Because that's really, I mean, that's something that for a long, long time, I've always felt that has been a strength for me, long before I heard the word, you know, multipotentialite. But, tell me a little bit about that. And how you think about that, and why that's such a strength and where that actually comes from?

Emilie Wapnick 18:51
Well, I think there are a couple of things. So multipotentialite's tend to be really passionate, we tend to like get kind of obsessed with our new fascinations. And that drives us to just consume and just learn as much as we can about it. And also, there's the fact that like, the more you become... the more you're a beginner and you go through those awkward stages of like not being very good at something and then getting to be competent, the more confidence you have, and the quicker you are to acquire skills next time. So it's kind of like a muscle, like, the more you practice diving into something new and being like really bad at it and getting good, the faster that process becomes. It's kind of like, some people refer to it as meta learning. So just, you know, the ability to acquire skills more rapidly. And that stuff comes in handy if you're working for clients. And there's something else that they want done. If you can be like, oh, I can do that and just, you know, kind of dive in and learn it and do that for them and happy clients. They don't need to go anywhere else and, you know. And in various other ways, it's, yeah, I don't know, multipotentialite just love to learn. It's a very common thing.

Scott Anthony Barlow 20:10
So that's I mean, I get, I don't know, I probably get, like, between 30 and 40 emails a day with different types of questions. And usually one of the things that pops up, because a lot of things we talked about our strengths, you know, on our show and whatever else, but people are always people that I can tag as multipotentialite fairly quickly, they start out, "Well, I love to learn. And that's one of my strengths." And I see that again, and again, there's five or six other things that I see again, and again, and again, I didn't have the term until well, I don't know three weeks ago, when I started being bombarded multipotentialite, but it was interesting for me to watch your TEDx talk, and then say, "Hey, this is exactly what I'm getting, these are all the same characteristics, and all these same strengths, too." And and start to apply it and think about it through this lens that you're talking about. And then the other one is that you mentioned as well as adaptability. So can you explain that a little bit for us, and then want to ask you a little bit about that, too.

Emilie Wapnick 21:13
Sure. So adaptability is just the ability to morph into whatever you need to be in a given situation. So that is especially important in this day and age when, you know, the economic landscape is a lot less certain than it used to be. And things are just changing so quickly. So the ability to take on new roles to... it's kind of related to the learning new skills thing, but it's like you already have the skills and you just like, which version of me do I need to become to solve this problem or for this client or customer? Or, you know, whatever. So yeah, being adaptable is a huge advantage.

Maybe like three years, which just focused on trying to create this online business, kept failing, kept changing approaches, kept pivoting, never truly committing to one thing. And little did I asked like, "hey, do you even want an online business?"

Scott Anthony Barlow 22:13
Remember Matt from earlier? He made some changes on his own, but failed to ask the really important questions.

Yeah, to be totally honest, it was horrible, right? It's like waking up every day and wondering like, Okay, what am I going to do today? And what are my goals? It's basically waking up and kind of feeling lost and analyzing over and over again, and coming to the same answers.

Scott Anthony Barlow 22:36
Making a bunch of pivots wasn't all bad for him, though.

The light in that as I gained different skills, especially people skills throughout the whole time.

Scott Anthony Barlow 22:44
We coached Matt to help them realize what his strengths were and how to take actions based on those.

Those tests that you had me go through were fantastic in terms of like, okay, yeah, here are my strengths. Yeah, that makes sense that really true. And then that kind of just gives you again, that confidence boost to take action. to do something.

Scott Anthony Barlow 23:01
Congratulations, Matt, in building a business in a life that you love. If you also want to figure out what work fits you and find that fulfilling career that gets you up in the morning, lights you up, gives you purpose, well find out how coaching can help you step by step, go over to happentoyourcareer.com and click on coaching to apply, or you can text, MYCOACH to 44222. Pause right now, and we'll send over the application.

The more that you can double down on your health or wellness, the better. That will go back to effectiveness and efficiency of how you run your business.

Scott Anthony Barlow 23:40
Where do you see that for yourself then? Like how do you think about that for yourself? And maybe there's something projects or clients, customers, whatever that you've got going on right now, where adaptability really ends up helping you in that way.

Emilie Wapnick 23:54
Well, I do a little bit of coaching. And usually it's people who want to come up with a business idea that is a little bit more multifaceted, and lets them bring in their various interests. And we talked about overarching themes and stuff. But I've got a student now who just saw my TED Talk and just wanted to work with me and say, "I'm particularly interested in building an online business or anything" or you know, starting Renaissance business or anything like that. And so we just started doing a lot of like deep work and figuring out what drives them and helping them come up with a title that they can, you know, they can say when someone asks them what they do, and just working on some of the other things that I don't usually get to go into in coaching but I feel like my interest in psychology and self help if you will, and all kinds of stuff really came in.

Scott Anthony Barlow 24:51
They just showed up on your door after seeing your TED Talk. How can I pay you money so that I can work with you and clearly the TED Talk is working.

Emilie Wapnick 25:00
Yeah, it's been amazing. I mean, I've heard, I've gotten so many wonderful emails, and it's just been a little overwhelming, but incredible.

Scott Anthony Barlow 25:10
Yeah. And that's fantastic. And I think it's well deserved. By the way, if you've listened to the show at all, you know, by now that you can go to happentoyourcaree.com, and then we'll have all the links, we'll put the TED Talk up in the show notes so that you can actually see what we keep alluding to over and over and over again. And you can see what got sent to me 472, it's just gonna go out by the end of the episode, it's be like 1,010.

Emilie Wapnick 25:36
Your listeners should email you right now, and say "Hey, have you seen this TED Talk?"

Scott Anthony Barlow 25:43
That's probably what's gonna happen. Probably gonna get a bunch of emails saying, "Can you see the TED Talk?" So I, okay, so you work with clients on a regular basis, and you go through and you're helping them with some of this deeper level stuff, or in some of the not as deeper level stuff, like, what do you even call yourself? How have you been referred to? Actually, before I asked this question, I'm curious, what do you, when people ask what you do, what is it that you say, Emilie?

Emilie Wapnick 26:20
I'm trying to have different things. Usually I'll say, I run an online community. And then they'll ask me, "What kind of online community?" And then I'll be like, "It's a site for multipotentialite." There are people with many interests in creative pursuits. And then either they'll be like, "Oh, okay." Or they'll be like, "Huh, that's interesting. Tell me more." And then we'll have a conversation.

Scott Anthony Barlow 26:42
That, yeah, you get that dividing line right there.

Emilie Wapnick 26:45
Yeah. It depends why they're asking if they're like, just being polite, or if they're actually interested.

Scott Anthony Barlow 26:50
Yeah, exactly. That is interesting. So you don't list out like all the 52 things that you're interested in?

Emilie Wapnick 27:01
I don't. Sometimes if I meet someone in a particular context, I might lead with something I might say, I'm a writer or something. But, or if I'm talking to a crossing guard, I usually say, I'm a web designer, because that makes more sense to them. But, like someone at the border or whatever.

Scott Anthony Barlow 27:21
Well, what then, since you do work with clients and everything like that, like what do you recommend to people in the situation where they're clearly identifying with being a multipotentialite? And they're really trying to figure out, you know, how do I decide what to do first, because regardless of which end of the spectrum, you swing to, at least this is how I'm thinking about it. And regardless of which end of the spectrum, you swing to, whether you're 20 projects all at one time, or whether you're more sequential, you've got to still choose to do one, at least start one thing at a time, you can't start 1500 things all at the exact time, you could try, but it doesn't get you anywhere necessarily. How do you help people think about that differently? Because this is the question I know that our listeners are going to ask and this is a question I get regularly.

Emilie Wapnick 28:15
Yeah. So usually, we do some brainstorming, and I have them write out a long list of things that they're interested in. Sometimes we'll do you know, the list of things that they've done before, things they've enjoyed, things that they're becoming curious about. But in this context, I would say you know, put all of your different ideas down on paper. And then try and decide on like two to four things that are really pulling at your heart right now that you just like really want to dive into and start there. And more things will come up, and you can add those to your backburner list. And if you're really dying to jump into something new, you know, get some work done on one of your priority projects first, and then set a timer for like 40 minutes and just go down the rabbit hole and have fun and like, because I think people sometimes feel like, if I start any one thing, then I'm giving up on everything else, you're not going to be able to, you know, and that can be really paralyzing. So it can be helpful to like give yourself some freedom to actually just go ahead and explore whatever you want, but set a timer. So you know, it's not going to just take over your whole day. And then get back to the few things that you've decided to focus on. And then you can kind of find that right number for you in terms of like which projects, how many you want, like, on your stovetop, right? I like the stovetop analogy because you've got like four things on the go. One is boiling high, and the other one is just simmering you kind of like tend to one and then tend to another but you can handle four or so without going crazy. So yeah, I usually have people start there like two to four, and see what feels right and go from there.

Scott Anthony Barlow 29:59
Two to four things that you're diving into. And what about timeframes? Because that's one of the things that I get questions on all the time. And I'm just curious on your outlook on that. So let's say that they end up diving into, I don't know, two different things, you know, how long do they spend there? And what does that depend on? And how do you think about that?

Emilie Wapnick 30:22
Yeah, it depends on the person, and on the project. Some projects are the kind of projects where you can work a little bit on it every day. Other projects are more of intensive, like, once a year, a friend and I try and get together in a city and write and record an album in a month. We've done it a couple times now. And that is a project we're like, just having one month and really going hard works for us and for the project and makes it possible. We, you know, logistically, it would be really difficult because we live in different cities to just kind of have a band and practice regularly and do all that. But we don't want to like give up playing music. So we do this intensive thing. And it's a lot of fun to just kind of write an album. But there are other interests, that it's really a matter of like practicing everyday, like if you're learning a language maybe. And yeah, so people organize their time differently. Some people will do like the high school subjects schedule like, I forget how everybody should call it, something like that the high school schedule method where you like, break up your day, and you're like, from this hour to this hour, I'm going to work on this project, from this hour to this hour, I'll work on this project and kind of break up your day that way. Other people will dedicate one day to a particular thing, then the next day will be a difference project they're working on. Some people will go by the week, it really depends on how you like to work and what your projects are like.

Scott Anthony Barlow 31:59
That's really interesting. Just coming off, do you know Mike Vardy?

Emilie Wapnick 32:04

Scott Anthony Barlow 32:04
So Mike obviously really recommends the theme days, right. So that's part of his thing. But that layering in here is that's fresh on my mind a little bit, but I think that could work very much too, or sometimes even breaks into like, half the day. And then that's a little bit what I hear you talking about, to some degree, and I think that that can be very, very effective. But what I also hear you saying is you've got to pay attention to you, and the way that makes sense for how you work, how you're wired, etc, etc. Is that kind of right? Am I interpreting that correctly?

Emilie Wapnick 32:39
Yeah, definitely. And also, you know, paying attention to what times of day you're most creative and kind of trying as much as you can to fit your more intensive creative projects into those periods where you've got a lot of focus and you know, and then the like, maybe some email checking when you're feeling less clear, and just kind of being aware of like your energy levels throughout the day and yeah.

Scott Anthony Barlow 33:11
So your one month, once a year recording project, is that tip of the hat or is that...?

Emilie Wapnick 33:16
It is. Yeah. We've got... we really do for another album, we've got one that's almost done with the mastering and should be out pretty soon, it takes forever the mixing master. It's mostly our fault. It's not our engineers or producers fault but, and then we'll probably do another one in the spring.

Scott Anthony Barlow 33:38
Very cool. Comes out... are you selling this too, or like how can we get a hold of this, Emilie? I kind of want to hear it.

Emilie Wapnick 33:49
Yeah, you can just go to tipofthehat.bandcamp.com. And I think we've got a 4 bucks for the first EP or pay what you want. And probably the, you know, future records will just be pay what you want, because I like that model. And it's not we made a lot of money off of the first one anyway. So it's more just for us and just stick any get our music out there.

Scott Anthony Barlow 34:14
So closing up, I know we're starting to run out a little bit of time here. But I'm really wanted to want just ask you about what is the biggest or most common questions you get from multipotentialites or even the most common challenges that you get. And then I would ask as kind of a follow up, where do you urge people to start with some of those challenges?

Emilie Wapnick 34:40
Yeah, that's a great question. Usually, it's about making a living as a multipotentialite. That is probably the biggest challenge that people have. And there just aren't that many good resources out there like there aren't that many career guides written for multipotentialite to, you know, help them get or design a career that includes a lot of variety, that's just not really, and you know, career counselors, there are some cool ones out there. But largely, it's like, let's look at your skills and interests and narrow it down, not broaden it out, give you a few different options. But, so yeah, the like, how to make a living question is a big one. And multipotentialite, you know, they want to be able to pay the bills, they also want to be able to dip into their many skills, and it kind of express the breadth of who they are. And they want to do something that feels meaningful as well. So yeah, those you know, finding, putting together a career that includes those three elements is a big one.

Scott Anthony Barlow 35:51
You picked a heck of a set of questions, right? Now you got to try and answer like, how do you make a living? Man, no pressure.

Emilie Wapnick 36:00
Well, I'm writing a book about that right now. Basically, you need a life and career that provides you with variety, and there are several different ways to get this. I don't know if you have the time for me to go into this.

Scott Anthony Barlow 36:15
And let's please, let's dive into it. I can make more time, if you can make a little more time.

Emilie Wapnick 36:20
Yeah, sure. So right now I'm writing a book on this exact topic. And I've interviewed dozens of people who kind of self described as being both happy and financially comfortable and multipotentialites. And I asked them this question, and it turns out that none of them make money in the same way. And there's no, unfortunately, there's no one career that is just like perfect for multipotentialites. But there are some commonalities, and I believed four commonly used work models. So I can go through those quickly, if you like.

Scott Anthony Barlow 36:57
Yeah, let's do it.

Emilie Wapnick 36:58
Okay, so the first commonly used work model is what I call the, 'group hug approach'. And this is like what we were talking about before, it's if you can imagine all of your interests coming together in one big group hug. So this is like the job where you get to wear many different hats. Maybe you're working at a smaller company or a startup, and you just get more input, more, you know, creative input. Or it's a business that is multifaceted, where you get to shift between different formats and write about a lot of different topics. That's the group hug approach. The second approach, the second commonly used work model is what I call the 'slash approach'. And this is where you've got several distinct and separate revenue streams. So maybe you have two narrow businesses that are very different, you're not combining anything, they've got different audiences, maybe you've got a couple part time jobs. And you love them both for different reasons. But you wouldn't want to do one full time you kind of like being able to just switch to a different part of your brain. Maybe you sell your art, or you do some sort of performance, and you just kind of have these separate revenue streams. And altogether, you get a sense of variety. And this works really well for people who love shifting between radically different parts of their brains on a regular basis. And then there's the what I call the, 'Einstein approach.' And that's because Albert Einstein worked at the patent office, he actually was employed by the government. And this was a notoriously slow paced job. So it provided him with stability and security. But it didn't take up too much of his free time or creative energy. So he had all that free time to work on his theories. So this is, you know, a stable day job that you enjoy, that does not completely drain you and leaves you with free time to explore your other passions on the side. And this works very well for some people, some people are really happy with it. I think the risk here is if you have a job that is not quite the good enough job, and it really like sucks you, you can't really go home and want to like work on your projects, you're just exhausted.

Scott Anthony Barlow 39:17
There's a fine line there.

Emilie Wapnick 39:18
Yeah, that's not ideal. And then the fourth commonly used work model is the 'sequential approach'. And this is where you dive into a field for six months, or several years. And you just kind of build a career in that field. And then you shift to an entirely new field and you dive into that for a long time. And all these work models can be mixed and matched and a lot of us are hybrids, but I found it helpful for people to just kind of delineate them and to show you your options. But I never want to tell people like here are the four work models now choose one because that goes counter to my message

Scott Anthony Barlow 39:57
That seems like counter to everything you...

Emilie Wapnick 40:00
So these are some ideas and you know, pick and choose what works for you, mix them together, whatever.

Scott Anthony Barlow 40:06
Well, I think it really could be too, and I think in reality like as you're going through different seasons of your life, two different things may make sense at different times like I think about. So we've got three little kids, right, and what... before we had three little kids what made sense for me totally does not make sense as in the same way for me now. That's really interesting. Group hug, Einstein. I like the names. I love the names.

Emilie Wapnick 40:30
Thanks. I'm, you know, one of my like, little weird passions is inventing words, clearly, which is another thing that I've integrated into my business. So, yeah, I like making up names and you know, smooshing words together and stuff.

Scott Anthony Barlow 40:50
Have you met Jonathan Harrison?

Emilie Wapnick 40:52
I don't think so.

Scott Anthony Barlow 40:53
I might have to introduce you to him. He has also made up a few words in his day. Awesome guy, but he helped us get started way back when and finally got to meet the guy in person not that long ago. But he runs a gamer's website on leadership, for two things that you normally don't smash together.

Emilie Wapnick 41:17
Interesting. Yeah, I like that.

Scott Anthony Barlow 41:18
Yeah, I know. It's cool. But yeah, you'll have to... you'd like him quite a bit.

Emilie Wapnick 41:24
That's cool. I'm gonna check that out.

Scott Anthony Barlow 41:26
Yeah. It's called classically trained.

Emilie Wapnick 41:29

Scott Anthony Barlow 41:30
Shout out to Jonathan Harrison.

Emilie Wapnick 41:33
That's one of the things when I'm working with people to come up with a business idea. Often we're like, "Okay, what if we took knowledge from one of your interests? And we brought that knowledge to an audience related to a different interest of yours? Like, is there anything there that could be useful?" So it sounds like that's kind of what he's done.

Scott Anthony Barlow 41:52
Oh, yeah. He's done a really fantastic job with it. Yeah, you'll definitely have to check it out. We'll put links to that in the show notes too. Well, I would say that I'm really... I want to read the book now.

Emilie Wapnick 42:03
I better write today.

Scott Anthony Barlow 42:04
You better write today. That is amazing. Is there anything else that you're working on besides the book right now that you want to share with us? And then also, you know, as people that have listened to this and are just really excited, because they just found out their multipotentialite, where can they connect up with you?

Emilie Wapnick 42:25
Sure. So let's see, what's going on. The book, so I started running retreats. Well, we've done one, we did the first putty retreat was here in Portland at the end of September. And we just announced the second one, which is going to be in the UK in June. So I'm very excited about those. It's really fun. We get you know, 10, 15, multipotentialites in a house together for a weekend and we brainstorm and we co work and it's a lot of fun. So that's coming up. We're gonna be doing some speaking, just kind of, yeah, getting stuff, you know, figure it out for the next year. But there's some definitely some big speaking things coming up. Yeah, that's... and then the book is going to be a lot of work, but I'm excited about it. And people can find me and my work at puttylike.com.

Scott Anthony Barlow 43:21
Well, hey, and go over there and check it out. I've been on the site, it's very cool, especially if you even remotely identify with the multipotentialite definition that we've been talking about here. Go check it out. And thank you so much for making the time. I really appreciate it. This has been awesome.

Emilie Wapnick 43:38
Yeah, thanks so much for having me. It's been fun.

Scott Anthony Barlow 43:41
Hey, hope you really enjoyed this. And I would say that if you want to actually see the full interview and the slides that go along with it, well, we recorded this as a video. So all you have to do is go over to happentoyourcareer.com/220. And that'll take you right to the page where we've got the video embedded right on there, you can watch that. You can also, if you've already bought her book, send us a copy of the receipt and we'll actually send you a bonus PDF that accompanies the entire thing. So plenty of bonuses, head on over to happentoyourcareer.com/220. I think you're going to love the interview. It's even better when you watch it on video. All right, we'll see you over there. Next week on Happen To Your Career, we get to dive deep into a topic that many people don't talk about. What if you don't paint? Or what if you aren't necessarily an artist, but you have a desire to create, and you are a creative person or maybe even a creative thinker? How do you get a job and what types of jobs, what types of roles are available for creative thinkers just like you? Especially ones that pay more than, you know, pennies. And how do you make those happen? So that's what we're gonna dive into next week. I think that you're going to absolutely love it. Join us right here next week on Happen To Your Career for so much more when we talk about careers for creative thinkers. We'll see you then. Until then, I'm out. Adios.

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