"What do you do for a living?" used to be a straightforward question. Most people, after all, did a specific job for one company.
Today, however, "What do you do?" can require a complicated answer. In an increasingly lean and mean corporate world, a growing number of people have multiple jobs or do a variety of different things as part of their positions.
There are also people with full-time jobs whose real passions and interests lie in what they do after work. That could be a second job, moonlighting, a hobby, or a business opportunity that they want to turn into a new and exciting entrepreneurial pursuit.
I ran into the "What do you do?" question last week at a day-long event hosted by Dell Canada, which invited a number of bloggers to Toronto to provide the company with feedback about its products and how it does business.
One of the participants was Casie Stewart, who I knew about but had never met. So I asked her the "What do you do?" question.
The simple question generated a multi-faceted response.
In addition to being a "lifestyle blogger," Ms. Stewart is a social media consultant, public speaker, technology enthusiast, event planner and host, and fashion writer.
Rather than just doing one job, Ms. Stewart is one of many people who juggle multiple professional balls to create a career that is diversified and varied.
The emergence of multi-jobs may reflect the reality of a work force where job security is pretty much non-existent. A growing number of people are more than content to be the masters of their domain rather than work within an uncertain and volatile corporate environment.
At the same time, these people also reflect what I see as an entrepreneurial renaissance. Not content to work for "the man," they have embraced the idea of trying to create their own jobs and professional paths.
The reality, however, is that breaking out on your own, even if you are doing a variety of different things, can be challenging. There is no job security and being a multi-tooled player can have its drawbacks because it may mean not being seen as having strong skills in a particular area.
The upside is people who do different things can involve themselves in lots of opportunities. One day, you're an editor, the next you're hosting an event. It means that if one type of business sags, there are other areas that can pick up the slack.
At the end of the day, it makes the "What do you do?" question challenging, but also makes for a whole lot more interesting conversations.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, a communications and marketing strategic consultancy that works with startups and fast-growing companies to create compelling and effective messaging to drive their sales and marketing activities. Mark has worked with four startups – Blanketware, b5Media, PlanetEye and Sysomos. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshmarketing and meshwest conferences.
Join The Globe's Small Business LinkedIn group to network with other entrepreneurs and to discuss topical issues: http://linkd.in/jWWdzT