Doing (Many) Things


I saw more than a few friends share this TED Talk video titled Why some of us don’t have one true calling, and I read the transcripts and (like my friends, many of whom are makers) felt this described me.

I think the question people ask as an adult isn’t “What do you want to be when you grow up?” but instead it’s “So, what do you do?” and I know you’re supposed to answer by describing your job, but many people don’t define themselves by their job. For a while I answered “Whatever it takes!” but while amusing (to me) it’s not a great answer. And then there’s those of us who have two (or three) jobs, or things we do, or organizations we’re involved with, and sometimes they are interrelated, and sometimes they are not.

There’s some people who think my main thing is photography, others think it’s 3D printing, and still others think it’s web development. While I’ve done all those things (and still do, to some degree) none of them encompass all I do.

I know people who are Graphic Designers, and also play music, or shoot photos, but that’s still (to me) a primary thing with some secondary (related) things…

All of this brings me back to a piece Les Orchard wrote back in 2006 titled Serial Enthusiast. The Serial Enthusiast will jump from interest to interest, starting new projects, excited about trying something new, and learning a new skill. They may get really into something, go really deep, do a thing, and then move on.

We often use the term “Skill Collector” at Milwaukee Makerspace, because people tend to join with one thing in mind, like 3D printing, or wood working, or whatever, and then they get into electronics, or sewing, or building weird machines, or whatever.

In related news, I’ve been asked to write a bio for one of my jobs, so I crowdsourced it, and ask my Facebook friends to write it. This is what I got:

Pete Prodoehl is an expert punk who will probably automate the grading of his student’s assignments. His addiction to hammers will probably not affect his performance, although he may place pizza bagels on robots in the name of “art” or something. While pioneering toaster-oven-based HDPE recycling, he has also been known to keep the “makey bits” with Hardware and PHK. Shock. Fro-Gurt. Granola Bars. Probably the “Best colleague ever” who also shows promise at rolling sushi. Besides making a Big Button, he also helped invent (parts) of the Internet. (He also crowdsourced this bio.)

It’s not 100% accurate, but it is amusing.

So… What do you do?