3 Things I Didn’t Have Time to Say in My TED Talk
Photo courtesy of Mohamed Adel.

3 Things I Didn’t Have Time to Say in My TED Talk

Written by Emilie

Topics: TED

First of all, a warm hello to all of the new multipotentialites who have joined us here at Puttylike in the last few days. My heart has been in a state of perpetual explosion, as hundreds of emails, tweets, and messages have rolled in. Thank you for sharing your stories with me. What an honour.

When I was selected to speak at TEDxBend last winter, I was thrilled. Then I was told that my talk had to be under 12 minutes. Gulp.

Typically a TED talk is 19 minutes or less, so I was a little thrown. The outline I had included in my application would need to be cut down dramatically.

The time constraint drove me a little mad as I was writing and refining my talk, but it ultimately led to a more impactful talk (and I did go over time, but, luckily, there were no shepherd hooks backstage to reel me in…)

The point of a TED talk is to share an “idea worth spreading.” It isn’t the place to go into great detail or offer a lot of How To’s. The speaking committee kept prodding me to narrow in on my idea worth spreading and cut anything that didn’t contribute to it directly. I finally landed on the catch phrase “embrace your inner wiring,” but really my idea worth spreading had more to do with the idea of the multipotentialite itself; that’s what I wanted people to walk away with.

Since everyone’s talking about the TED talk right now, I thought it would be a good time to write a post about the things I didn’t have time to say in my twelve minutes.

1. Embracing your multipotentiality is just the first step

People usually feel a profound sense of relief when they realize that there is nothing wrong with them, that they aren’t flaky or indecisive, they’re a multipod. It’s powerful to learn that there are many other multipotentialites out there, that it’s a good thing, and that it’s possible to be successful (an innovator, even)!

But once you realize that you’re a multipotentialite, and that you’re okay, there are often a slew of questions that follow. These questions tend to fall into three main categories: work, productivity, and confidence.

How will you get the variety you need into your life and career? How will you make time in your life for your many passions? How will you deal with self-doubt, the fear of not being taken seriously, or the people in your life who don’t understand?

I see career, productivity, and confidence, as the three largest multipotentialite challenges. These are areas we each need to address and find workable solutions to.

2. In order to flourish, multipotentialites need three ingredients in their lives: variety, meaning, and money

While researching the book I’m writing now, I interviewed a lot of multipotentialites who self-described as being both happy and financially comfortable. They all had something in common: they had lives and careers that provided them with variety, meaning (a sense of contribution), and money. Each of these ingredients had to be present in the amounts that were right for them.

Money and meaning aren’t requirements that are unique to multipotentialites. Specialists need them too. But variety? That one’s pretty multipod-specific, and we’re lacking resources. There aren’t many career counsellors or guides that can help you design a career that contains variety. Usually they help you narrow your choices, not broaden them.

3. There is no one ideal career for a multipotentialite, but there are four work models that are commonly used to get variety into ones life

While conducting my interviews, I realized very quickly that there are some surprisingly predictable ways in which multipotentialites make money. They tend to fall into one or more of the following categories:

Work Model #1. The Group Hug Approach: one multifaceted job or business. This might mean working at a startup or organization that is forward-thinking and wants you to be involved with several facets of the business. It could also mean running a Renaissance Business.

Work Model #2. The Slash Approach: several distinct jobs, businesses, or revenue streams. The slash approach works best for people who like switching between radically different subjects on a frequent basis.

Work Model #3. The Einstein Approach: one day job or business that you enjoy and that provides you with stability as well as time and creative energy to explore your interests on the side (Barbara Sher refers to this as the Good Enough job). Albert Einstein worked at the patent office. This was a notoriously slow-paced job, but it paid his bills, provided him with benefits and left him with plenty of free time to work on his theories.

Work Model #4. The Sequential Approach: diving into one field for several years and eventually switching gears to begin a new career in a different field. This approach works best for multipotentialites who prefer focusing on one thing at a time and diving in deep before moving on to the next. It doesn’t work as well for plate-spinners who like having many different projects on the go at once.

Note: it’s okay to pick and choose elements of each of these models, blend them, or take some time with one before moving on to the next. Many of us are hybrids. They’re just delineated this way to give you a place to start, but I wouldn’t DARE tell you to choose just one. ;) Anyway, it’s not necessary.

As you can see, there was no way I was going to fit all of that plus everything I DID say into the twelve minutes. But here on the blog we can, and do, unpack these issues. I will also be diving much deeper into this stuff in the forthcoming book, Multipotentialite, which I’m approaching agents about right now. Woo! Onward.

em_bioEmilie Wapnick is the Founder and Creative Director at Puttylike, where she helps multipotentialites integrate ALL of their interests into their lives. Unable to settle on one path herself, Emilie studied music, art, film production and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University. She is an occasional rock star, a paleo-friendly eater and a wannabe scientist carpenter. Learn more about Emilie here.

102 Comments

  1. Mel says:

    Hi Emilie,
    Today accidentally I ran into your TED talk which I really liked. I knew already I’m a ‘multi-something’ but I never had an adequate word for it, now I do! :-) And indeed I feel a profound sense of relief as well, knowing that there is nothing wrong with me(phew). The problem which I face is that it is not easy to get/switch jobs without relevant experinece, unless you really start from the bottom, which is not always desired.
    Thanks a lot!
    Mel

    • Dania says:

      I feel the same way. How can we move to other interests without the relevant experience required by employers? This is something that I often ponder upon. Hopefully Emilie can give us some insight on this.

      • Sabrina says:

        In my experience, we Scanners do learn pretty fast. So when I am changing my career path (which I do a lot), I always get promoted within the first 3 months and within a year, I’m usually where I wanted to be in e first place.
        You just need to be yourself and have some confidence in your knowledge. And as Emilie said – everything you have learnt before, you will somehow be able to use or implement in your new job. We normally have a pattern anyway. I, for example, am interested in human beings and how we function. Therefore I worked in Tourism, Marketing, Sales, Events, Sports & Fitness, Social Media, HR etc… In every job I did, I was able to bring my knowledge of the jobs I had before, in. I now see it as a great advantage. :)

        • Egon says:

          Great comment Sabrina
          Right now Im in a transition facet where my mind is almost completely prepared to work the way i think i will be able to be productive in my interests, art, downhill skateboarding, app making, before med school.
          And i think they are all connected because they give me the a vision of life i like, understanding people respond to the their surroundings, to mental maps, to perceptions of the visual world.
          Somehow its working out but i have to keep motivated, it makes sense? i believe i can make it and have succes, hope i can, give my all.
          But still it makes me thing so it was actually okay, it gives me a great relieve.

  2. Victor says:

    Hi Emilie!

    So refreshing to have found you, your message and your community, thanks to your TEDx talk (which btw, you nailed, kudos!)

    I love the multipotentialite concept, having always referred to myself as a “renassainse man” (at least in my mind, too weird for saying out loud!) is somehow liberating to have found a label that resonates with me (funny thing, a label liberating! ha!).

    Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for spreading such an important message. I’m diving into your content (just bought your book as well) :)

    Talk to you soon!

  3. Kate says:

    Holey moley Emilie Wapnick !!! You have opened a can of worms ! The best can of worms ever! I’ve spent 32 years trying to find my “passion”. I have been caught up in self development workshops, books, e books, guides to try and figure out what my true calling is, and have finally figure it out.. I have MANY true callings! and Im allowed to do all of them! You book, Renaissance Business is the most practical, no nonsense guide I have ever read. The exercises in the book were great at drawing out thoughts/emotions and get me in touch with the things I love and the things I am passionate about, and then marching you into action to get on with creating your own business. Im now a proud multipotentialite, thanks to you and your wonderful community.

  4. Mar says:

    Hi Emilie,
    I just found your Ted Talk today and it made my day! I am always joking with my family that I feel like Tinker Bell deciding what her talent is and -at age 51!- I was starting to worry I still did not know what do I want to be when I grow up!
    It feels good to know there are others like me and to see the goodness of being like this.
    I am in!
    Thank you,
    Mar.

  5. Alex says:

    I’m a senior in high school, and this video came up at the most convenient time. I’m VP for a club and, that day, my friend couldn’t come up with anything to describe me as to the rest of the club. I was “just Alex.” I tried not to let it get to me, but it really did: All my friends had a specialization, whether it was art or being really intelligent or obsessed with music theory. I was just mediocre at everything they were amazing at.
    I watched the video and I completely broke. I don’t cry a lot, but this really got under my skin. All my life, the one character I looked up to in media and books and movies were the obsessive mad scientists, the computer geek secondary characters, and wanted nothing more than to be one of them. I’d try to read these academic books, but I’d get bored and my interest would dwindle. I used to paint until I realized I was the worst of my friends, so I stopped. I thought I was the writer of my friend group until my friend pumped out an entire, readable book. It was toxic. It wasn’t that I disliked the video– it was that, suddenly, not everybody could be a specialist, and I wasn’t one of them.
    I guess changing perspective can be painful sometimes.

    • @Alex:
      Thanks so much for being vulnerable and sharing your story, perspective.

      (You also might appreciate Brené’s work: Brené Brown – Researcher + Storyteller:
      “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”
      )
      …. She’s given multiple talks. Start with the one on “vulnerability,” and then go to the one on “shame.” They are both fantastic, empowering talks — the opposite of what one might expect, actively inspiring. (At least, I found them thus.)

      https://duckduckgo.com/?q=brene+brown+vulnerability&t=ffsb&ia=videos
      ——–
      ——–
      One another thing:
      excellent book: “Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham,
      and the Science of Success”
      (also published as: “Bounce: The myth of talent and the power of practice”

      One important takeaway for me, here, is something called the “iceberg illusion”:

      We look at someone do some amazing, incredible thing — like a seven-year-old playing a killer game of chess (or writing a novel) —
      and our first thought is, “Wow, they’re really talented!”

      What don’t see are the countless, countless hours of thought, effort, practice, and learning they’ve put in — nor the coaches they’ve had, or solid feedback they’ve gotten from mentors.

      Fact:
      World-class, elite ice-skaters fall on their butts /twice as often/ during their /practice/, compared to average performers during their practice-sessions.

      (Emilie, forgive me for copying & pasting the editorial review — I think it’s extremely relevant to anyone who struggles with the notion that they’ll ever be “a success”!)
      —-
      “Syed, sportswriter and columnist for the London Times, takes a hard look at performance psychology, heavily influenced by his own ego-damaging but fruitful epiphany.

      At the age of 24, Syed became the #1 British table tennis player
      — an achievement he //initially// attributed to his ‘superior speed and agility.’

      But in retrospect, he realizes that a combination of advantages (i.e. a mentor, good facilities nearby, and lots of time to hone his skills)… [are actually what] set him up well….

      He admits his argument owes a debt to Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers,” but he aims to move one step beyond it —
      — drawing on cognitive neuroscience research to explain how the body and mind are transformed by specialized practice.

      He takes on the myth of the child prodigy…
      …. emphasizing that Mozart, the Williams sisters, Tiger Woods, and Susan Polgar (the first female chess grandmaster)
      all had live-in coaches in the form of supportive parents who put them through a ton of early practice.
      [And equally as important, that it isn’t necessary to have this from childhood — that anyone can learn & develop true expertise, starting from any age.]

      Cogent discussions of the neuroscience of competition — including the placebo effect of irrational optimism
      — as well as of self-doubt, and superstitions…. all lend credence to a compelling narrative [on what truly contributes to people’s long-term success].

      https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7845157-bounce

      =====
      in closing…
      … I warmly invite you to watch Brene Brown’s talk on Vulnerability (again, she is a bad-ass, awesome, inspiring person, who brings the rest of us *up* to her level). (It’s a brief talk, and a powerful complement to Emilie’s TED talk.)
      …. and then, after you’ve watched that, go check out the book “Bounce” from the library (make sure you have the right author).

  6. Sam says:

    Emilie,

    Just ran across your TED talk, and followed you here from there. All those years, and I thought I was just flaky and irresponsible. I wondered just a few months ago about what would have happened if I’d just allowed myself to follow dream after dream (starting with one that would support me), instead of putting so many off in case the “right” one came along.

    Anyway, thanks so much for your talk and for the encouragement. I’ll be rootin’ for you! :)

  7. I just watched your TED Talk.

    Amen.

    I’ve got three different blogs on WordPress. Some under pseudonyms because they are too embarrassingly outside my “field.” I keep desperately trying to change careers even though I’m good at the one I have.

    This is incredible. Other people have same problem. Other people are talking about it. You’ve written about it. There might be hope for fulfillment before the 401k kicks in after all!

    I will be reading your book. Soon.

    Thanks so much. Truly. This is a revelation.

    Doug (or Craig, if you pay attention to that guy)

  8. Harrison says:

    Greetings Emilie,

    I stumbled upon your TED Talk earlier today, and I couldn’t have resonated with it more than I did. After browsing through Puttylike in general, it’s safe to say that I’m a proud supporter of the multipotentialite concept.

    I always knew deep within my heart that I was a multipod to a degree, having difficulty in choosing just one career path from an early age. I’m now 20 years old, and I’m still on the fence so to speak with what occupation I want to pursue, but I ultimately feel a lot more confident and optimistic about what the future holds for me.

    Warm regards,

    Harrison

  9. Daniel says:

    Hi Emilie,

    Like so many others out here I just stumbled upon your TED talk, and I was absolutely amazed to find that there are so many others like me. And that it’s okay to be this way. Completely changed my outlook on life.

    It also finally gave me a good way to respond to the question: “Well why the hell did you do a PhD if you want to become an EMT?”

    Needless to say, you have a new subscriber. Can’t wait until the book comes out.

    Thank you!

  10. Emilie,

    I have passionately immersed myself in many careers/lifetimes and interests over the past 45 years. Each one bringing joy and a thirst for learning as much as possible about that field and boundless energy to devour/absorb the knowledge. Each new passion utilized some part of the previous careers. No knowledge has been wasted.

    I have heard over and over again, “How can you possibly have done all the things you say you have?” I tell the person, “I make conscious choices and follow my passions and interests, I don’t let the world happen to me.” Oh and “Gawd Forbid” I should be bored…I never am!!!!

    I have learned to keep my “life experiences” more to myself, feeling an alien in the world of “normal” people. I continue to embrace and recreate my self and am more comfortable with my self than ever.

    Until I watched your talk, I didn’t know I wasn’t alone….Thank you!!! You gave my heart a very big hug and burst of hope.

    Keep finding “Us”.

    With sincere thanks.

    Schon

  11. Claudia says:

    Hello Emilie,
    I love this.
    Where you mention that career guidelines want me to pick one, has meant I do a lot of research. Yes the topic of: what is my purpose, lives in my mind until I did serious contemplation on that.
    My purpose is to be Me. I didn’t understand why this worked for me, until I saw your talk. Because I am, therefor I create in line with my interests.
    Hope many more get to discover you and your passion for this topic.
    Thanks xxxx
    Multipotentialite from Johannesburg, South Africa

  12. Renee says:

    thank you a million times thank you for bringing this to the surface, it will validate the lives of countless who have been lost in this sauce of what society has constructed…

    i never fit into any box or category and have felt the frustration of having to wait for those around me to “catch up”

    so relieved to know i am not alone in this experience so perfectly explained

    continued success and endless blessings for your contribution – this site is priceless

    i would love the opportunity to work with you to further this message

    so grateful

  13. vince says:

    Good post. Glad you took the time to share that information .

  14. Lex says:

    Hi Emilie and Everyone Like Me (wow that sounds sooo good!)
    I’ve no idea what I wanna be and I can never decide what to put in the box that asks for my occupation – which one to choose?! Luckily I have fallen into a ploy where I have a “background business”, one that ticks over with or without me, so that I can go play at other things and come back when done with them. Like Victor (above) says, it’s strange and great to have a label that fits so well. As I’ve been on this beautiful blue planet a while, I think it’s funny that I have gone from being ‘unreliable’ (ie not staying in any job/business very long) to being ‘amazingly multi-skilled’ – and it is not me that has changed! I guess all of you have similar stories and I can’t wait to join the huddles and get to know you Cheers :)

  15. Risham says:

    What a lovely talk on Ted.. you were bespeaking my mind .. I feel less alone now and less depressed.. your last sentence makes my life worth living ‘ Multipoltentilates ! world needs you ‘ :)

  16. Linda Ursin says:

    I’ve gone for a slash and group hug approach in my business after ending up on disability. My business has three main branches, and I freely jump in between.

  17. Christen says:

    Loved you TED talk, Emilie! It was fantastic and you did such a great job. Good luck with the book, I can’t wait to buy it and share it with everyone.

  18. Alexa says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! After all these years I finally feel vindicated on how I have chosen careers, jobs and other interests! Looking forward to learning more and reading your book when you get it published!

  19. Bonnie Odiorne says:

    After all these years it’s nice to know what I am. I had the revelation several years ago that you don’t have to be in one job, but could do several things, which was a great relief, but I got sucked into the full time job again that took way too much time. Now I am retired, which comes to the core of my dilemma: money. I need something that pays so I can do the things I want. I’m not into manifesting or versions of the prosperity guru thing that does not resonate with my spiritual side. I’m eager to find out more.

  20. Cindy Taylor says:

    I, too, want to thank you for your talk, Emilie. At 54, I’ve come to realize who I am, yet I didn’t realize there was a community for us types, so I am so grateful for your efforts to define and then create that. My career has always been in media and marketing, but I’ve jumped across several genres – newspapers, B2B magazines, consumer magazines, websites, events and now I consult with several digital financial publishers, so that works well for me. I have the stability and confidence to be an expert in a single field – media – that spans across several categories, topics and genres – which I of course enjoy learning about – and provides me the constant stimulation I need.

  21. Nick says:

    Hi Emilie,

    Congratulations once again on a great Ted Talk and on unpacking these issues. I see myself in work model 3 and 4. In the past this was the case anyways. After launching a Renaissance Business with help from your guide I see myself moving in a different direction. Ultimately ill probably end up in a hybrid category.

    Thanks for the great post. And good luck with your book!

    Keep well
    Nick

  22. Elke says:

    Your TED talk was wonderful! Thank you.

    As an artist and freelancer I was surviving on the Slash Approach, but 5 months ago finally settled into a day job = Einstein Approach, and that just changed everything. For the first time there was no worrying about money being a constant. Feeling freed up around that and much calmer, I have had the mind (and the stamina) to “sit and think and do” while I am (slowly, but surely…a multipod certainly needs patience and faith!) moving towards my ideal: the Group Hug!

    In so many ways I am practicing the Group Hug principle already: In my search for the “one” thing, the one job, the one passion and purpose I kept failing (duh) until I re-framed and changed the questions. “What is my deepest essence?” “What values do I have that apply to all areas in my life?” “What is it that I want to say with my art, instead of which medium do I use?” “Which qualities (personality and skills) do I bring to the day job, or the slash job, and how do they resemble the qualities that I apply to my creativity, and my social interactions?”

    I think you call that the “overarching principle, Emilie. I’ve called it the underlying thread, deepest driving force, personal subtext…anything that sums up the feeling that I have a defined trajectory (and solid core!) within all the things I have, and still am integrating into my life.

  23. Rich Godwin says:

    To state that your TEDx talk shone a bright light on what’s been a dark room in my psyche is an understatement.
    As a serial entrepreneur since I was 17 I’ve always asked myself just what it it that I’m good at. I started in restaurants and hotels, opening my first one at the grand age of 24, went on to design and logistics supplies, international commodity trading, then when I moved to the US I started the biggest CD import company in the country. Now I run the world’s first zero gravity biotech company and work with NASA. Talk about all over the place! But it’s that cross pollenization between disciplines that really helps me. To bring ideas and culture from one completely different industry to another.
    Thank you for helping me get out of this closet of the mind.
    Oh yes, I also sang and played lead guitar in a band and I just KNOW that I have an awesome screenplay in me.

  24. Sabine says:

    Thanks for this Emily!
    I’ve known for a while I was a multipotentialite but I’m struggling to find a model that works for me- I’m currently in a ‘good enough job’ model but I’m being pressurize to change jobs by my entourage who can see I’m not passionate about it, not taking into account all that I do on the side!
    This has created a lot of pressure on me- plus I felt guilty daily about not being 100% at the day job, thinking I’m wasting my time and should move into the Slash approach (but I’m not ready yet for this), so thanks for reminding me that Einstein himself did so, and that it’s OK! Maybe it’s not so bad for the time being (but there are so many things I want to do and so little time! ;)

  25. Marc says:

    One of the challenges we all face in the “new world” is the rush to get to success/satisfaction. Unless we take a deep breath about being a multipotentialite and realize the journey of variety is more important than the end result, we miss the depth and riches of being one. In fact, everything flips when we do dig into the multi-complexity of our wiring and the end gets even better when we quit paying so much attention to results. Keep up the amazing work!

  26. Melissa says:

    Sending gratitude for your work! Your TED talk was liberating for me and the the “Three Things you Didn’t Have Time to Say” are gems. Thank you so much. I look forward to following you and supporting your work any way I can! Brava!

  27. Mark says:

    “Lacking money to explore “, is like an expedition without financiers or personal wealth.
    “Labled Disabled” by society for not getting or holding a job, perpetuates the myth that we are to “do one thing well” in order to survive.
    Knowing the truth is not what sets you free, it is acting in the faith that the “Creator” makes no mistakes, and trusting this “doubt and limitation”, is training for things “not yet seen”, let alone imagined.
    I have a long way to go (according to my and societal standards), but at least I am getting there.
    The hardest part is the labling to access minimal resources according to “entitlement programs” of substandard living which denies the reality of prosperity is always within reach.

  28. cynthia hughen says:

    This is so true! And helpful.As a person who has gone with Model #4, not deliberately so much as by accident or necessity, I can see it can be a mighty tough route! I am starting to start over – again- and although I’m excited, it’s a bit daunting the older one gets.

  29. Cathy says:

    Can you stand another fan raving about your TED talk? Well, then, here it goes. I loved it. I use all the descriptive terms you mention to describe myself (flakey, unfocused, scatter brained, etc) so it is great to know it’s not just me. Well, it is me, and a bunch of others.

    “Embrace your inner wiring”–profound and liberating. Thank you x 1000.

    Cathy

  30. Amna says:

    Hey Emilie!
    My sister stumbled upon your TED talk and immediately sent me a link, because you described exactly who I am and what I’ve been feeling. Just the realization that there isn’t anything WRONG with me is elating. I can’t wait to explore all my completely unrelated interests without the guilt that I shouldn’t be ‘jumping’ and just stick to one thing- like my siblings.
    Thank you so much, you’ve given me motivation (even through the cut-down 12 minute speech but these tips on the blog help a whole lot too) and the drive to do what I want without being pressurized to grab and hold onto a ‘niche’.
    They had me cornered, you know, I’m surprised I survived this long- you came just in time!

  31. Suzanne says:

    Came across your TED talk and can’t tell you how inspiring it was – I just thought, ‘YES! I have found my people…’ :) Exactly as you describe, I have a broad range of interests and skills, but have always felt that somehow I have failed (not stuck at one thing). And yet, when I have gone into new fields, I have looked at the way things were done and seen ways to enrich, or increase productivity, within the organisation by drawing on my broad range of skills and interests, and then fought hard to implement them. This has been successful, but only when I have found someone (higher up the food chain), a champion, to help me, then the whole process is enormously rewarding (usually for most people – I am into ‘win-win’.) One of the down-sides, as you have rightly identified, is money, as I am always starting at the bottom. (I don’t mind this so much as money has never been a huge driver for me, but a little more security would be great…) I really hope that employers and leaders of organisations will recognise the advantages that multipotentialites bring to organisations and reward them accordingly. Until that day, I am busy moving onto my next project…

  32. Melissa says:

    Hi Emilie,

    A friend had told me about your TED talk and I just watched it the other day. It was inspiring and I’m so thankful I came across it when I did. I’ve just switched my “career” path but wonder in the back of my mind how long I’ll stick with this. Anyway, I have a blog and wrote a short post about you and your talk and just wanted to share that with you! Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

    -Melissa

  33. Dannielle says:

    This is so relieving, I’m a High School student and was feeling major anxiety because as usual I was getting pressured to choose one field of interest and stick with it for THE REST OF MY LIFE!! And I can’t do that at all, it just isn’t in me. All my friends have picked what they want to be since they were in the second grade and I just couldn’t do it, so thank you Emilie your a life saver

  34. Lawrence says:

    You mean that there’s nothing wrong with me!!

    I’ve just found your TED talk and it was enlightening. At 51, I have always thought that I had a massive problem – I flitted from one passion to another, but got bored after I had conquered it. I was always envious of those people who knew what their passion was and stuck with it for years. Now, I feel slightly sorry for them – they haven’t experienced all the different things I have.

    In my jobs, I have always been the “solution” guy, the one who could look at a problem and come up with the best solution. I could never understand why other people could never see the solutions I could – they appeared so obvious to me.

    Now I see that it is because of my multipotentialitism (my computer is trying to autocorrect this word, but it simply needs to be added to the Oxford English Dictionary – SOON).

    Thank you Emilie for opening my eyes – now I can embrace it and stop looking for the single FIX that is supposed to make my life complete – it already is.

  35. Roman says:

    Hi Emilie! Thank you for your ideas!
    I’ve read the previous comments and realised my text will be the same. After I had seen your TED talk, I recognised myself ). I always felt the same way but I have never found such words to describe my behavior. Moreover, I also thought it is wrong. Now I can say that I used to think it’s wrong ). You have evoked some thoughts that I will have to ponder on. They might become life-changing. ) /Sorry for my English, I’m from Russia/

  36. Laura says:

    Thank you so much for your talk. I still have difficulty with the ‘what do you want to be?’ question. There is so much pressure to choose, and (this may sound a little arrogant), but when you are good at a few different things, it makes that choice difficult.

    I studied languages at university (a multi-disciplinary degree), I then worked in advertising doing a project management style role (plate spinning), and then went to law school and became a lawyer.

    Whenever I have changed tack I have always come across people who have told me what a ‘waste’ it is, and even though I don’t regret any of the moves I’ve made, there is always a niggling feeling that I ought to stick to one thing, or that the next thing better finally be a passion I will stick with.

    I think you are completely right that this perceived wisdom is rubbish, and that in any case, economies and societies need people who can bridge speciality silos.

    I’m not sure how I will do this – but thank you for inspiring me to think more deeply about it and not to deny the jack-of-all-trades multipotentialite in me!

  37. Candice J says:

    My boss called me into his office a few days ago while i was preparing his material for the next day, and said to me “So Candice, what do you want to be when you grow up?” And we had a very candid and honest conversation of my dreams, the frustrations of being gifted and interested in so many areas, of the world telling me I need to “pick one”.. He smiled at me, told me to sit down, and he had me watch your TED video.. and I was blown away.. It was me down to the tee.. and when I was finished watching, he told me, “I just wanted you to know that you are not alone, that there are other people wired just like you.” I’ve been reinvigorated ever since.. Thank you for that talk and I’m happy and proud to say “I am a MultiPotentialite!” :)

  38. Spectrum says:

    A big thank you, you nailed it on TED and I discovered that I am NOT alone! What about working on a nice question and answer test such that one can determine to what extent he/she is infected with multipotentiality. Can we coin it Emilie’s multipotentialite index – EMI, yes we can!

    A short about me; two masters degrees (sciences) in different realms, got bored twice and aborted finalising two different PhD’s. Now I am on the 3rd attempt and it is now boring as hell as I formulated the solution in the first 6 months and I am now feeding it slowly to the supervisor…I live in a world of specialist-betters-pay and I have to abide.

  39. PhehSze(PS) says:

    I’ve finally found my ‘tribe’ after the TED Talk! THANK YOU! I’ve always found it conflicting to have maths as my favourite subject in school and yet to be known as ‘the artist’ in the school! My interests ranges from philosophy, arts, science, business to dancing. I’ve now found a sweet spot. I’m transitioning from a ‘legal drug dealer’ aka pharmacist to my own start-up called FoodSocial, a social network connecting food lovers through fun, social and interactive food events’ now. I’ve found start-up environment is the best fit for me as it has all the elements you’ve mentioned: variety, meaning and money.

    I’m so glad to know that I’m not alone and there’s so many of us out there! Cheers to all the multipotentialites!

  40. JackTrades says:

    Could not agree more with you Emilie. What a great boss!

  41. Maria D says:

    Thank you!
    For years I had to defend myself when explaining my past work/studies, as they varied on the top level so much. I am (was) an actor, a licensed electrician, a graphic technician, an anthropologist and now am a practicing Urban Planner.

    People have always wondered at the range and variety of my experiences and asked me “how do they apply to each other?” Funnily, to me, it seemed to make perfect sense at the time, even though I did not have a clear rationale explanation. But now you have given it to me. I have never fit traditional categories, until now. And I truly see how “Idea Synthesis, Rapid Learning and Adaptability” are my true strengths, that I can recite and display proudly. I love variety in my work and the opportunity to also learn as much as possible.

    I do struggle with being validated for the depth and breadth of knowledge that I have, and are often undermined for lacking ‘experience’ as if my previous work did not exist. I am not sure how to overcome this problem, and as I grow older (nearing 50) I have less time and patience to wait for others to understand what I bring to my new role(s).

    If you have any gems or pearls of wisdom, please share. I can finally see where I belong, and am now very impatient about letting others know and appreciate it too! (especially where my career is concerned)

  42. Viet Nguyen Thac says:

    Hi Emilie,
    I came across your TED talk yesterday and it is truly inspiring. It made me realize that I am not alone in this world.
    Multipotentiality seems ignored in this day and age, as a result of globalisation. And in Asia (or Vietnam where I was born and grown up), people have no idea of multipotentialites. I always receive the comment “you’d better stick to one single thing”.
    But my journey is different from all. I love to learn a diversity of languages (to the point I am proud to call myself polyglot), and I am curious about many fields. At some point of my life, I want to become a teacher; at another, I am keen on being a model. And thanks to your talks and articles, now I am more self-confident to learn everything I want to learn in life.
    Thank you so much and keep inspiring many people like me.

  43. David Morris says:

    A friend shared your TED talk to help explain why he is a multi-pod, and it resonated so strongly with me that I was moved to write here.

    While it has taken me 30 years of my working life to realise this, as I enter my sixth decade with so much left to give, I can now re-visualise and revitalise my future as one of many strands rather than one main focus and other interests sidelined or sacrificed.

    Thank you for expressing the idea so succinctly and powerfully.

  44. Hayley P says:

    TED Talk – BRILLIANT. And to everyone else who has posted… OMG, I am not alone!! I feel like Marty off ‘Madagascar’ who realises he’s not the only zebra but he is unique! Like sentiments already shared, I can’t tell you just how liberating having this ‘label’ is to me. I was asked only three days ago ‘What about Hayley? What do you want to do and how can we make that happen for you?’ The offer of assistance to grow in ‘a’ career is awesome but like I said to this potential business mentor ‘the problem is, what I can do – I seem to be a Jack of All Trades but Master of None. There is so much I can do, learn to do quickly and love to do, that I don’t know what to do’. I have always worried that people will find out that I’m not a finisher and its been a great source of anxiety for me, particularly when my husband says he will refuse to fund my next new idea because he’s sick of me starting something and not finishing it. Now I actually understand myself and the possibilities I can see going forward are so much more exciting! Thank you so much. PS: my CURRENTT job titles are: Teacher, barista, face painter, property investor/manager, consultant for Change Management (IT related), Project Committee member for family welfare and wellness projects (military). And that’s just the part of the iceberg you can see. :-)

  45. Anna says:

    At my work, multipotentialites are called generalists. Our training and development program describes a ‘promotable’ worker like a T-shape. The top bar of your “T” means how broad your interests are (the generalist), the vertical part of your “T” shows how much of an expert you are in an area (the specialist). If you are not specializing, your chances of promotion become smaller and smaller, because the company wants tall “T’s”, and that is just reality.
    Another observation, creativity is not valued as much as responsibility. As Emily has pointed out, the bridge here, putting creativity to work and demonstrating its value, could be innovation. But how many people actually have a job title like chief innovation officer. No company would pay you a nice salary just to let you run around adding value and making new connections. It’s too risky.
    Are you familiar with the field “user experience design, or UX”? That field evolved from nothing, and now there are actual jobs for it, good jobs. With Clear objectives, processes and deliverables. I propose that this community here could help define ‘innovation jobs’ for the future.

  46. Margarita says:

    Thank you again Emily! Your Ted Talk was not just entertaining but you nailed it. I used to work at a place where they gave us personality profiles and I fell into the Competitor: Olympian which is more or less what you describe. You just explain it better and in a manner more accepting of ourselves. Gracias! Arigato! Obrigada!

  47. Sha says:

    WOW!
    This was the right video at the right time! I’ve just finished my E-Mail to a psychologist, because I think I need help to find my true profession, asking for help and describing my thoughts that run my day! And now this! I could relate directly! The question now is.. how can I afford studying all the time and who would hire me, when I am such a generalist. But for now THANK YOU SO MUCH, I thought I was the only one and unable to make decisions etc! I will def buy your book.

    Greetings from Germany! :*

  48. Christian says:

    Hi Emilie,

    although I’m sure you’ve heard and read it more-‘n-enough times:
    Thanks for talking about multipotentialism! You opened my eyes!!

    I, too, felt “profound relief” when I stumbled over your TED talk – I do not have ADS but nevertheless could only with difficulty fake interest in anything on a long-term basis. So I naturally asked myself what was wrong with me (and other people did, too!).

    Your motto “embrace your wiring” is really really helpful!

    Thankful greetings from Lüneburg, Germany,
    Christian (42)

  49. Bart says:

    Thanks for sharing your insights Emilie. I have tried telling people that I’m a master of all trades and jack of none… though they think I’m trying to be funny (although I do write comedy theatre).

  50. jahna says:

    Emilie:
    it is NOT a stretch to say you may have saved a life with your TEDx talk. Certainly you’ve helped save the ‘family manse;’ last week I sold another batch of my late mom’s gold to simply PAY THE UTILITY bills after six months of paralysis after abruptly leaving my job in the spring.

    I haven’t been unemployed for six WEEKS -let alone six months- since 1979. I couldn’t figure out what the HELL was wrong with me… why couldn’t I even LOOK for a job? This wasn’t like me AT ALL. I’m a worker!

    Then–like any other day–I checked my TED iPhone app to see if there were any new talks to inspire/inform/excite me. Well… others have already outlined what happened next.

    Like a lot of the folks who’ve posted, I’m an early-50s gal who has had a really varied and interesting BUNCH of careers. However, the negatives in my last job–which I stuck with for neigh-on 6 years-so outweighed the good parts that I really couldn’t face the prospect of another bad situation. IT’S JUST CRAZY-MAKING, man!

    I was told by my LASER-LIKE focused parents that Jack of All Trades/Master of None was a BAD thing. Dilettante was a curse-word to my Mom. My parents and sibs ALL found and identified their passion- their SINGULAR PURPOSES -early. My Dad had ID’d his calling by FOUR YEARS OLD-and at 79 he is still in his Art Studio, painting away. In fact being in his studio makes the chemo he’s undergoing for stomach cancer bearable. (!)

    Today-Monday Oct 12-i’m preparing for an job interview. NOT a big honkin career thing- just a seasonal job at Target. Something to pay the bills, have a little fun, meet some nice peeps, and get me going again. And I got the strength for that from your TED talk, Emilie. That, and the little factoid you presented about Einstein’s gig at the Patent Office, which was enough to get him through…

    I’ll let y’all know how the interview goes tomorrow. AND watch for my name; I’m gonna be loud and proud in this community of MY peeps. It’s SUCH a relief to find you!

    jahna michaelsen
    dilettante extraordinaire

  51. Judith says:

    Just love you ! You are such a breath of fresh air ! Thank you !

  52. tamir says:

    with all my heart, emily, thank you. i started to suspect that i am multi p lately, after over the last year i realized i preffer 4 jobs that i choose over one that i just agree with. i gave a lecture yesterday about this amazing tecnique that heals emotional pain that i developed over the last two years and today i woke up thinking, what am i doing? why do i go into all of those diffferent things? for what? and then i opened ted and saw your talk! such an eye opener – i’m NOT crazy!! whoo-hoo-hoo!!!!! moreover, i’m not alone in this.
    not knowing what i wanted to do when i grew up was killing me. from coaching i knew i had to focus, but it was so elusive… so – new thought – MULTIFUCOS, as opposed to just focus, is dynamically focusing on few targets, instead of trying to focus on one with no conviction. does this make sense?

  53. PC says:

    Hello Emilie and fellow multipods,

    I thank the many gods for the moment I came across your TED talk.
    30 years as a closeted multipod. Phew! that was a long sigh..

    I have a degree in Electronics Engineering, Masters in Indian Literature, I am learning German,love perl programming,been editor of a small magazine, worked as an unpaid usher in a theatre, I play the bamboo flute, paint watercolors, read everything that interests me and occasionally write. Of course being the multipod I am, by profession I am in Sales and Business Development ;-).

    After 27 years of trying the day job/Einstein method I was desperate to find my one true calling. I forced myself to stop unrelated interests thinking I am never going to be successful and never going to have an impact if I keep being a Jack of all.
    I changed my profession to being a Sales manager and is now providing money and a chance to travel, but I feeling suffocated as I am in search for meaning and variety.

    Also I am a breed of multipod who is also very stubborn and cannot walk away from a challenge. I want to be successful at everything I try, no matter how hard it is or how pointless it finally turns out to be. Giving up is not an option.

    The impact after 2.5 years has been devastating, leaving me bitter and worst of all having a feeling of losing my true identity.

    Recovery has been slow, but when I look at my strengths, “I am a solutions guy, a thinker, give me a new idea guy, lets do something different guy.”. It has been worth it.

    So on my 30th birthday, I have started a new project called PC 3.0 (thats me btw).
    In short it is plan which says, “Screw what everybody else says, Do things I enjoy but responsibly.”. It took me 10years to add the ‘responsibly’ part.

    I am looking forward to see if puttylike can help me in my project and help me embrace my identity and help have some impact on this world.
    I am more than willing to help anyone if I can.

  54. Nancy says:

    THANK YOU EMILIE!! I want to cry! I’ve always been labeled as the “unstable one” in the family. My “paying” careers last about 5 years. a very busy switchboard operator receptionist, flight attendant, a massage therapist, a real estate investor (rehabbing and flipping houses), a MLM rep in at least 5 different MLM’s, and shorter terms as a waitress, food sample lady at grocery stores, cabinet designer and wedding planner.
    The years I didn’t have to “work” (for money) as a stay-at-home wife, I volunteered: homeschooled my 3 kids for 18yrs (mentored 5 others) and on the board that started the first homeschool movement in the US, Sunday School Teacher, Girl/Boy Scout Leader, Backstage Theatre hand, Gardener, Chef, Charity Hostess. When I told my sister (a specialist) that I was naming my business HomeWise Associates, she quieried, “Who are your ‘Associates’?” I replied, “Me, myself, and I”! Multies can proudly state “Been There, Done That, Got the T-Shirt”.

  55. Mariana Falcato Simões says:

    Hi Emilie,
    yesterday I fell in love with your TED Talk, and today just found this text.
    So many years searching for “my” thing… at some point I just stop worrying that I was never going to find it ;)
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!! This is it!!
    I’m going to devour everything at puttylike.com now, and maybe will write you again soon ;)(or not heheheh)

  56. jane says:

    Am 40 wish I saw this talk earlier then wouldn’t have felt like a loser the past twenty years always wondering why I can’t commit to something and comparing self to colleagues across several different fields. I narrowed the field in my thirties. Went back to college recently to do research and am trying something new.. hybrid type research creative and more straight dissertation research. After your talk easier on self. As MP get older we feel like failures

  57. Hi Emilie,
    Loved your TED Talk!

    I’m turning 57 at the end of the month and there probably isn’t enough space here to fill you in on how many times I’ve reinvented myself. On the norm, whatever path I’ve traveled has had something to do with caring about people.

    Examples, home cleaning business, child care, yoga instructor, author (two books of quotes I published after posting a quote a day on Facebook two years in a row – Wisdom in Words and Wisdom in Words Volume 2. “How I Became a Goat-sitter In Ireland” is a collection of travel stories).

    I have written, produced, directed and starred in my own one-man show “The 8 Wonders of the Larry” and I run my own, small nonprofit from top to bottom raising money and bringing yoga to underserved populations including domestic violence shelters. I have a BA in English, a Master’s in Human Services and a certificate in drug & alcohol counseling studies.

    Oh, and a friend of mine and I are working on a t-shirt business.

    OYE! it certainly keeps life interesting and for the most part people appreciate my living outside the box and adventure for keeping life on the move.

    You have certainly nailed it and given a name and face to those of us who choose the mulitpotentialite path!

    Thank you!
    Larry

  58. Lee says:

    I love how the universe works sometimes. Like when you suddenly feel that you have to drop what you are doing and instantly open up Ted, and then see a talk that is so timely you can feel your entire core shift.

    So much of my life has revolved around me trying to find my one true passion. Of making a choice and sticking with it. Of finding out what’s wrong with me and why I can’t seem to stop quitting things and starting over, and dealing with feelings like shame and guilt over it.

    I am in a place in my life where I feel like I have caught up with the future. I have studied so many different things, and done so many things, and now I can’t go to school anymore and I have to start paying my student loans, and my family and friends are expecting me to start working on my career, getting a “real” job and start building something. But here I am, 30 years old, unemployed and completely lost. The last few months have been incredibly rough, and I have felt like the biggest failure.

    But after listening to your talk, I have started feeling like a person again. Like I’m not completely a waste of space. That this constant search for the one true passion is actually completely ridiculous and totally counterproductive. I look forward to start learning more about this multi-thing, and hopefully start patching myself up again.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  59. Ian says:

    I’m in the same boat as everyone! The TedTalk was like a awakening for me. I’ve pursued studies & jobs in acting, violin performance, music theory, social justice/non-profit, teaching, computer science, and many more. As a senior graduating from college in the upcoming May, I hope to land a job that will provide me the variety & also the mobility to pursue other careers afterwards.

  60. Denise says:

    Dear Emily,

    Thank you so much for your TED talk! I just ran into it after a night struggling with my life and your words struck me directly into the heart, I literally started to cry… there are others like me, and they are successful! The diving into something, getting bored and adaptibility especially struck a cord. I will follow this blog with great interest!

    Thank you so much for speaking up for multipotentialites!

  61. Steve says:

    Thank you,

    Finally, someone who gets me. I am one of the many here that thought of themselves a freak of nature and always questioning my ability to “fully succeed” in an endeavor before moving on.

    Your new loyal follower,
    (Until I move on to something new)

    Steve

  62. Patricia says:

    Emilie,
    Watching you video gave me a since of normalcy in a world where I have been called weird (However weird was a goal of mine at 14). I study psychology, sociology, or financial management, or anything that strikes my fancy. I’m a Soldier, i’m an IT person, and a photographer. The Army has given me the variety in life that I needed to stay sane. Now that this career is coming to a close, your speech made me breathe easier about not choosing a path right after. Thanks!

  63. Sally says:

    I’m not sure I agree with the “money” aspect of this. I have given up a highly successful, well paid career to become a much lower paid multipod, perhaps I will make money at it one or all or an intersection some day but that is not my focus. Yes, we need money to survive but do we need LOTS of it? This is something our avaricious, capitalist, post industrialised society tells us, along with the need to specialise. If we can throw off one assumption, then why not the other? While we equate success with money then I am not sure how any of this is going to change things for the better…

    • Emilie says:

      Hey Sally,

      I believe that money is but ONE ingredient in a good life. It’s not the whole picture, but I do think it’s important. That said, the AMOUNT required varies from person to person. I think it’s a personal decision, and I agree with you that the average American grossly overspends and could live happily with a lot less.

  64. Kate says:

    Emilie, thank you so much!
    I found your Ted Talk and it was such a relief! I realized my inner wiring was not like in most of people I know. I started new careers several times, getting promoted in an instant — true, previous experience helps a lot. But I probably had a wrong aim. Every time I did this was to finally find out what I am best at and stick to it. And there is no such area) I am pretty sure my passion to management, psychology, design, dancing, teaching and love to math and statistics is wonderful. I see now how I can combine and use some of them in my professional life and others—just for pleasure. There were times when I truly believed it was some kind of a curse. Gradually I learned to see and use advantages of my personality. Still, it was so important for me to hear you speaking about it, to find out that there are more people who go through the same processes I do. Cheers to all multipotentialites! ))

  65. Thais Gloor says:

    Thanks for the TED talk. Just saw it today. I’m 53, a multipotentialite myself and, although still “potentializing” I’m not really in the “build a career” mode at this point. I’m more excited for my son, who is 17 and starting to look at colleges. He is a runner, a basketball player, a math-in-your-head kid, video game nerd, a trombone player in the marching band and has an amazing ability to understand people on the inside. He has been asked many times what he wants to be and has answered “gym teacher” (his dad), chef (who doesn’t like food?), and most recently “applied mathematician.” I’m sharing your talk with him to help him understand the great gift he has and not to listen to the limiters out there!

  66. susana ochoa-sobieszek says:

    Thank you! Thank you! I ran across your Ted talk and my attention was caught by the title of the talk. It was like I was hearing my thoughts coming out of your mouth! I seriously kept thinking that I was making my life difficult because I got bored. For years, my schooling and my work life would take random turns. I would gravitate toward so many different things that I felt I would never get a handle on it. I’m so many things and I want to learn and try so much more. Your talk really hit home. I’m glad I found this because now I feel I can really embrace it and not feel so ashamed when I try something new. I cannot wait to read your book! Good luck!

  67. Dear Emilie. First of all, thank you so much for bringing this upfront and speak for all of us who like to do many different things. I identify myself so much with what you say in your talk and here that I can barely hold my emotion. I´m currently a full time scientist at Institute of Ecology of CONACYT (the Mexican NSF). While I enjoy so much my job and what I do, just as you say, just after some time I need new challenges, to learn new things. I would say I am more on the sequential and Einstein approach to mutipotentiality, with some sparks from the other approaches you mention.
    Thank you so much again, and you are more than welcome to Mexico any time you would like to visit.
    Wish you all success and I look forward to your book.
    Hugs,
    Diego

  68. Anneri says:

    Hi Emilie!
    I just watched the TEDtalk, although its been on my to-to list for weeks! Thanks for being so brave and doing the talk through all the nerves you must have felt!! You really are inspiring to millions of people regardless of age. Stay true to who you are :-)

  69. Kathy says:

    I enjoyed your talk very much. Oh my…I’m near sixty and finally found a term to describe who I am. Thank you very much! I blog, and my blog is a definitely a blog written by a “multipotentialite.” My b-day is in October…what a great present your TEDtalk was for me.

  70. kel says:

    couldn’t have come across your ted talk at a better time. have literally been going through a “life crises” and literally just said to my sister, “my whole life I have gone from one interest to another, and I am going to step away from shame and embrace it- Im guess Im just a free spirit”…. and then my mom sent me THIS. Thank you for articulating what I have experienced my whole love!!

  71. Laurie says:

    Wow!! Synchronicity rocks! I had a few minutes before heading out for an appointment and cruised your Ted Talk. Yeah! I knew I wasn’t crazy but it’s always reassuring to know that you’re sane AND not alone! I turned 50 recently and contrary to the end of the world it looks very much like the beginning! I had a 25 year run in a very flexible and challenging career in the software industry. When pigeon holing became the norm I bailed and started my own business… While it was a little scary the alternative was way more horrible so all is well. I created a new business that is so variable and changing that it suits my insane need for new challenges and constant learning while I’m also helping people and making a difference (onupward,com). Meanwhile I’m dabbling in photography, writing, art and loads of volunteer work. It’s amazing how much time is in a day. Yeah! Thanks for your inspired, frank and fierce perspective on multipotentialites and our space in the culture!

    I second Joe’s comment on Dr. Brown… her vulnerability & shame conversations are awesome…

  72. Harald Carlsson says:

    Your TEDx talk just popped up in my YT feed and you truly hit the nail on the head. Thanks for doing this.

    I’ve known for years that I want in life is to make something truly useful with all the potential I can feel buzzing about in my brain. But I’ve also know that being a specialist just isn’t for me. To a certain extent I get bored, but perhaps as important is the feeling that I’m losing out on a lot of cool knowledge by spending so much time on a very narrow subject.

    What’s been most toxic for me though is the feeling that digging deep into something just isn’t worth the time since I’m certain I wont end up a specialist and by not doing so I wont get a job where I can make good use of that knowledge.

    Perhaps the right path for me is to spend less time thinking about the future and focusing more on what I find interesting here and now. To let my interests roam free but also setting up goals that are fairly easy to reach to try to deal with the toxic feeling of pointlessness and to avoid too many distractions along the way.

  73. Caius says:

    Hi Emilie. Your TED talk sat there on my YouTube suggestions list for a couple of days. Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling, sounded like something I might want to watch but deferred it day after day. I watched it last night and bang! It spoke to me immediately.

    At times, it’s been challenging trying to fit my many interests into context for others. I thought I was unique (and not in a good way) having never met anyone else who has such varied interests but your talk made me realize that there are indeed many others and that is very exciting for me.

    I can’t wait to explore further and for that I thank you.

  74. Sarah says:

    Thank you, Emilie.

    I stumbled upon your TED talk the other day and was finally able to sit and watch it today. I think it will take me a little while to really start living this truth, but the validation you’ve provided is a huge step in the right direction. The stress of constantly feeling like I’m not “going” anywhere (in a linear sense, anyway), or that I’m “behind” in life has been eating away at me, and I’m grateful to you for giving me a way to reframe everything.

  75. Emily says:

    Your ted talk and this post really resonate with me, thank you so much for sharing! I have never had the vocabulary to explain this aspect myself until now. I naturally follow the sequential approach in my life as I get pretty obsessed and passionate about a certain subject, then get bored and move on. So nice to know it’s not just me and that this can be a positive thing.

  76. Mudit Mittal says:

    Thanks for a great talk. As I was writing this comment I didn’t knew which of my websites to put in. I already have three blogs on cooking, electronics and writing. Every time my interest in a field ends, I really feel sad, as it may have been the one! Even in corporate world, I have started looking myself as System integrator.

  77. Thanks for putting a label on my wife and me. A lot of things became clear. We met in Mensa (suppose you also might have an IQ with escape velocity) and where wondering what was wrong with us, since even most of our fellow Mensanians weren’t up to our broad spectrum of interests, instead most were specialists in some initially exciting fields that at times went by were increasingly narrow and boring.

    Thanks again
    Manfred
    Designer, writer, pilot, traveler, luthier, musician, filmmaker, animator, bicycle repairman, electronic circuits home brewer, welder, carpenter, joiner, inventor, illustrator, photographer …

  78. Michael says:

    Hi, Emilie!
    I just saw your Ted Talk and was floored! I’m always being told I have too many interests… And even thought of myself as a sort of Jack of all Trades. It’s the next part of this description (master of none) that’s had me second-guessing my life for a long time. Now, I feel at least partially vindicated (the remaining vindication will only come when I’ve proven the nay-sayers wrong) and have a strangely cohesive sense of myself for the first time. Ever.

    Thank you!

  79. Kimberly says:

    I found your TED talk and felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I always called myself multi-passionate, but still struggled to choose just one career path. In your talk you described how the question “What do you want to do when you grow up?” carries so much pressure. I’ve been asked this my whole life (I’m 26) because I always start and stop things. I never understood why it mattered to anyone else, or why others needed to pressure me to choose. I felt ashamed and believed that I was seen as unreliable to my peers and family. However, now that I know I am not alone, I will embrace this openly. I will do what feels right. Thank you :)

  80. Bonyo says:

    I can’t wait to read your book!

  81. Mohsin says:

    This was great. Thanks so much!

  82. Esther says:

    Thank your for sharing your experiences and insights! I totally feel the same way for such a long time… the anxiety… and the doubt of my ability to decide on one path. Thank you for sharing the work models and the community! I no longer feel too lonely.

  83. Maria says:

    I ran across this TED Talk almost by accident. And it changed my life.

    I never understood myself until I heard your TED talk, Emilie. I love many fields and my concentrations: library science, editing, public policy, law, economics. And for a long time I have felt “out of place.”

    To make things more interesting, I am also an introvert. So you can imagine the pressure I have faced trying to “fitting in.”

    Thank you!

  84. Hi Emilie,

    I just found you today. Loved your TED talk. I live in Toronto.

    I am definitely a multipotentialite, but I prefer to call myself a Scanner. That’s the first word I learnt to describe myself.

    I currently don’t have any income or job, and I certainly do not have a career. Right now I am just a SAHM – Stay at home mom – and am currently trying to work out how to become a WAHM – work at home mom.

    Most of my passions involve writing, reading and research. The one theme that covers all this, is Administration which I actually love doing. Except for accounting. I HATE maths and numbers (which is ironic because my son LOVES maths!!)

    I have managed to complete a Business Administrative Diploma. The internet has been my passion for the last 15 years – because I can read and write and learn so many things!!!

    Now I need to work how to use it to make money in a way that I will enjoy doing.

    Thanks for reading and listening.

    Cesca Thomas

  85. Ale says:

    Oh my God!!! that is how you left me after your Ted Talk, thank you, thank you, thank you so much Emile for your words.
    It felt great to know I am not weird for loving different and various things!
    I felt completely identified with every word you said, now I know I am a multipotentialite.
    I think you have done something amazing, is like you have given us something to understand us. I know I can adapt, I love learning and I am good at it, and I have this thing for including things together to build new ones call it processes or hand crafts, I love doing hand crafts.
    I can do several and different things well like for example on my first job. I was in HR as Learning and Development Leader for Latin America but I was also part of the Demand Planning team, then in a job interview the interviewer didnt trust me and said how could you do both things so different at the same time? but her surprise was not in a good way and that kind of things hurt and do shape society wrongly like establishing limits for everything that is different instead of saying: wow! that is amazing.
    I believe that things happen for a reason, I found your Ted Talk thanks to a friend who shared it on Facebook, the title got my attention because that is the point where I am right now that I am searching for a new job while I continue writing and learning and enjoying the path!
    All the best to you Emile!
    Greetings from Mexico City
    Ale ATGL

  86. Olivia says:

    This has got to be one of my favourite TED talks ever. And I’ve certainly heard a lot.

    I guess I knew all along that I was a multipotentialite, even if I didn’t have a name for it. Until the age of 7 I was obsessed with physics and astronomy, medicine and adventure books. Then it became music and languages and maths. I’ve played every sport and every instrument you can imagine. Languages have remained a long term passion; I speak three fairly fluently and have conversational skills in four more, but I’ve dabbled in more than twenty different languages over the years. I decided to teach myself the basics of web design, photography, video editing, digital marketing for something a bit different. Blog after blog has been started and discarded because apparently you’re supposed to ‘stick to your niche’.

    I said all my life that I would never have a career as such: at 6 I wanted to be an illustrator, at 8 I told everyone I was going to be a part-time teacher, part-time nurse and write novels/poetry in my spare time. Throughout school I considered so many different occupations, from lawyer to translator and interpreter to journalist and even professional musician for a while (until I realised I’d have to actually focus on one or two instruments to ever be good enough!)…

    Now that I’m older, I’ve worked jobs in marketing, accountancy, education, leisure and tourism, catering and hospitality, administration: I’m currently getting paid to make theatre, which is pretty awesome. And I’ve spent three years at university studying history and literature. Oh, and I did get to play as a ‘professional’ musician for a couple of years in the end too.

    For a while I used to get stressed when people asked me what I wanted to do. Should I pick a respectable-sounding career choice and claim it as my calling? Maybe I should try answering honestly and just deal with their bemusement when I said I wanted to do EVERYTHING? Sometimes I’d say, well I’m thinking of maybe this or that but I’m not really sure whether I actually want to do it… That was a lie. I couldn’t have been more certain of the fact that I wanted to do every single one of those things. My confidence started to grow, however, when I first got into amateur theatre at the age of 19: in less than a year I was involved in over fifteen productions (and a TEDx event!) and I went from only having had experience as a pit musician to taking on roles as producer, marketing manager, lighting designer, stage manager, production manager, box office manager and more. Producing became my passion, mainly because as the person overseeing everything (and I have a very hands on approach), *obviously* I needed to learn every little detail of each role. Plus I got to make the most of all the skills I’d acquired in accountancy, marketing and administration without having to do the same thing day after day. It’ll take me a while to get bored I reckon – I’ve yet to crack set design, sound operation and directing, and my lighting abilities leave much to be desired, so there’s plenty to keep me occupied. One day I might even try my hand at writing a script and fulfil that childhood dream of becoming a published author, who knows? What I love most is that it’s an industry where moving on from one project to the next and trying something completely different with a whole new set of interesting people is actually considered a good thing.

    That’s not to say I’ll be sticking with producing forever because, let’s be honest, there’ll come a point where there’s simply not enough left to learn. But I’ve other plans in mind for when that time does come. For a start, I want to do a postgraduate degree (two, in fact, in completely different subject areas). I’m also going to qualify as a chartered accountant, train to be an electrician, learn to code, take a plastering course, take up ballet classes and travel the world. Of course, I’ll be busy working on my business too, something I set up a few months ago after taking a leap and embracing my multipotentiality instead of being held back by the guilty part of me that thought I should be trying harder to fight it. But now I’ve finally found a way to unite all of my many interests, in the form of a project-based social enterprise that seeks to inspire young people to step out of their comfort zone and try new things, discovering more about themselves in the process. Quite a lot to cram in then really, but I suppose I’ve got plenty of time – I’m only 21.

    Whatever you want to call it, our ability to find value in so many different areas is most definitely an incredible blessing!

  87. Rachelle says:

    Never in my life have I heard someone approach the topic in that way. I’ve always been dabbling in different areas, unable to focus long term, but still enjoying each one. Ever since I can remember, there’s been the expectation for an end goal, or focused career. I can’t do that, I’m interested in so many things, but passionate about nothing. I wasn’t expecting the video to be quite so eye opening, or for it to give me a sense of peace, rather than the usual anxiety.

    I just want to extend my thanks for your talk, keep doing what you’re doing !

    Rachelle

  88. Julia says:

    It is one of the most exciting and inspiring TED talks for me! Thank you!
    I really believe in the idea of synthesis of all areas of human activities and knowledge in the future. Especially because they all were related in the prehistoric time. It’s hard to imagine what kind of new connections will occur and how it will change everything. But obviously only multipotentialites can make it possible.

  89. Karina says:

    I love you Emilie! I love you! I love you! you have described me from head to toe. You have reassured my gut feeling to embrace this multipotential and to not feel guilty of “digging deep.” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! now and forever…THANK YOU!

  90. Aditya Desai says:

    Hi Emilie
    Thank you for the Ted talk
    U have given a voice to all the multipotentialites around the world. We have to bring back the Renaissance period where people with multiple skills are valued in the society.
    Wish you great success for your works.
    Regards
    ADITYA

  91. Destiny says:

    Wow I’m reading all these comments saying thank you. I wow I can barely find the words to say thank you as well without sounding sappy. At school I get made fun of and bullied for never being able to focus on just one thing I have to try out everything and do everything. My mom often complains about it and my dad always tells me to choose one thing. I don’t want to . I want to be an oncologist a professional pianist a writer an adventurer. I want to work in the cybersecurity field, be a medic, work in the FBI be a firefighter.

  92. christyne says:

    hello emellie. I’m currently doing a research paper on this multipotentialite thing because i really like this topic and how everyone together here, including me is not alone, the way we are all brought together, making starting business and new interests exciting and all.

    But I have one problem which is where i am never really good at figuring out my intents. So as you can guess, I would actually be stuck in figuring out my research intent for doing this topic. I would really like your opinion on this. When you reasearched on multipotentialites, what WAS / IS your intent/s ??
    i was thinking that an opinion from the founder would be helpful..

    regards to you! :))

  93. Hi Emilie

    Wow. Never in my whole life did I feel like I identified with anyone. I’d dive face first into whatever little thing grabbed my interest, and after a while I’d have to stop, because the boredom would overwhelm me, and it would cause me unbearable anxiety. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been asking myself the same question, “What are you going to be?” and “Who am I?” because I’ve never known. I’ve never felt like I could buckle down and do anything, and I watched all of my friends and people from my school properly assimilate into their lives like it was nothing, the easiest thing in the world. But to me, choosing that path, that one thing that would define me the rest of my life was terrifying. I’m extremely passionate about general science, computer science, archaeology, anthropology, astronomy, and biology. I want to be so many things, but it has always felt like I’ll never get to be any of them. After High School, the social anxiety became so severe I dropped out of a tech school where I was learning to create CGI for movies and video games. At the time it was like a dream come true to be at that school, but because of this commitment issue I’ve always had, I ended up switching to Digital Art, then eventually dropping out completely. It’s been 10 years since then and I am unemployed and on disability. I think you, speaking out, was the first time anything and everything made sense all at once. I finally knew who I was, and what I could do from now on. Thank you so much for finally making me feel like I belonged in this world.

  94. Ethan says:

    Hi,

    you just put a sun in my professional life, you changed loneliness in hope! I watch your video Ted and I cry for 12 minutes, listening each word you said! Thank you Now it’s time to read all about this wonderfull Multipotentality community!

    Thank you so much for the light you brought light in my darkness!

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