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It's Not What You Do...It's Who You Are

Lots of people; so jolly; outbursts of laughter; loud HaHaHa! every few seconds; backslapping; more and more people arriving; hugs; HaHaHa! ice-cubes tinkling; noise-level rising; stranger pops up two inches from my face; never saw the guy before; big grin.

"Hey I'm—name lost in the mob roar—great to meet you; and what do you do, eh?" His eyes already darting around the crowd and I smile and answer: "As little as possible" and I raise my empty glass and toast the guy and head for the bar.

He never heard me anyway and was already off to ask someone else "What do you do?"

I mean, who was the first person who asked the first "What do you do?" as a question that he or she obviously thought was really important; definitive; the perfect résumé; penetrating.

Question: What do you do?

Answer: Everything you needed to know; full picture; total life story.

Sorry, but no cigar.

I'd bet there are psychotherapist's offices filled with people like me. What I "did" over the years struck only a glancing blow at the "who" I was. I mean, for someone whose favorite character in all the world was Mickey Mouse and who, when he was maybe twelve years old, created a comic strip with a character named Flyman—Spiderman was already in action—

"doing" ads and TV spots would not qualify as a description of "who" I am. I was clearly—in retrospect—not born with the soul of a seller of things. Cocktail party conversations about advertising would not really work for me.

In fact, to me, interviewing someone applying for a job in my creative department, a résumé was of very little significance. I never asked to see a portfolio of ads or TV commercials that had been produced.

I gave little weight to what they'd done.

I wanted to know who they were.

I'd ask them to bring anything they'd created; written; drawn; recorded; whatever; that they really liked. Personal. From their imagination. No rules. No test. No preparation. Plans. None of that.

How'd it work out in real life?

For me? Beautifully. My creative department was riddled with creative, imaginative, authentic revolutionaries.

A good percentage in therapy.

My kind of people.

What they "did" was miles from who they "were."

We thrived.

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