Episode #2 of Undeclared for Life: What Would Da Vinci Call Us?

Image by Mike Licht, available under CC BY 2.0.

Episode #2 of Undeclared for Life: What Would Da Vinci Call Us?

Written by Emilie

Topics: Podcast, Scanners


Hi guys, here’s episode 2 of the podcast. We decided that from now on we will be releasing a new episode every Thursday. That’s right, UFL will now be a weekly show.

Make sure to Subscribe on iTunes or RSS, so that you don’t miss out on any future episodes.

In Today’s Episode…

How does the ideal personality type in Renaissance times compare to the ideal today? How do “generalists” hold up in the job market these days? Also, what’s in a name? How do multipotentialites feel about labels? Are they helpful or harmful? Do they constrain us or bring us together?

Stuff Mentioned in the Episode

Action Items


  1. Layla says:

    Great podcast! Love the intro & Einstein’s quote! :)

    Just stumbled across your website today &am loving it! (from Wicked Whimsy, which I just stumbled on today too, haha)

    Been at Barbara Sher forums for a while, love your energy and your spin on things tho!
    While many ‘jobs’/businesses look for ‘specialists’, there are some jobs where people with many talents are ‘required’ (and I almost got one, but didn’t know Xcel enough! :))
    It’s just a matter of finding and/or creating them!

    Loved the idea of ‘what will people think about me next year?’! hehe (Though it can be scary when real, sometimes!) And YAY it was fun!

    • Emilie says:

      Hey thanks Layla! I’m glad you found us too. :)

      Barbara is such an inspiration (and total sweetheart). She was the first one to coin the term Scanner and help us make sense of our personality type. I’m hoping to do my part and keep developing those ideas.

      Finding a job where multipotentiality is an asset (or prerequisite) is cool. As is inventing your own job, like Abe mentioned in his comment below. We get into that a lot in ep 3 actually– the intersection between multipotentiality and lifestyle design.

      Anyway, thanks for the feedback! So nice to meet ya. :)

  2. Julie says:

    I’ve always called myself a chameleon because someone once asked me what color I see myself as and I couldn’t pinpoint it, so I said I guess I’m a chameleon because I can’t choose one color; I’m different colors at different times. Interestingly, I was the only one in the group that couldn’t choose a color. Everyone else knew what color they saw themselves as. They leader looked at me like I was strange. I felt normal. I thought they were strange:)

  3. Angela says:

    I totally know what you’re talking about with the job discussion. I hear all over the place that I’m supposed to specialize in ONE thing, but really as a scanner Web Developer I do all sorts of languages & open source platforms. HTML4&5, CSS(&3), Javascript, jQuery, PHP, WordPress, Drupal, XCart, OpenCart, Movable Type, and it goes on. Plus now I’m learning and doing web design as well. It seems recruiters are looking for candidates that do a few things for like 5+ years. PHP developer who has 5 years experience with back end environments, User experience designer with 4 years experience, Drupal developer with 6 years experience, bla bla bla. They think I’m nuts when I tell them “I’ve done back end programming with PHP for about 3 years, then I did Drupal for 2, now I do front end development & design with jQuery, next I’m thinking about doing more e-commerce…”. I think it’s so strange employers and recruiters don’t want someone who can do more than one thing well.

    • Lora Frost says:

      Wow! What a list of accomplishments… Good for you, I know when I go to the coding side of things I have to learn and learn and learn and learn to catch up on all the things that have changed since last time I built a website!

      The reason employers seek specialists instead of generalists, I mean amazing accomplished people, is then they are hiring and training a soon to be entrepreneur, who will most likely end up leaving anyhow… ;)

      • Emilie says:

        Good point Lora. I really do believe that us ‘generalists’ are super well suited to be entrepreneurs. Wouldn’t want to hire someone who’s just going to go and be independent, now would we! ;)

    • Emilie says:

      Whoa, that’s a lot of coding languages ya got under your belt there Angela! Very cool.

      I’m far more of a designer than a coder but I tend to pick up new languages when I need them. It also gets easier and easier to pick them up as you go. You sort of build off of the things you already know. I also like taking on challenges and attempting to develop web projects I’ve never done before. Great way to learn. Building Puttylike (i.e. hacking a free wordpress theme to death) was how I learned to customize WordPress. And now I’m using those skills for my clients’ blogs! Pretty nifty..

      Thanks for the great feedback. :)

  4. Abe says:

    @Layla Thanks for checking us out, we’re glad you’re here! I co-sign the idea of creating your own job. Many creatives (myself included) have been blind to the fact that we have to work for someone else instead of figuring out the intersection between our passions and what people will gladly pay for. Lots to come on the podcast about that.

    @Julie What a great story. It’s so funny what truths come out when we’re put on the spot. They’re totally the strange ones…

    @Angela Impressive list! Gonna check out your work, might have some future business to send your way. I feel dumb that the first programming language that came to mind in the podcast was Flash Actionscript. Durr. But you get it. I think the job boards, resumé, and HR recruiting process is largely a copycat text game and severely limiting to people with your linchpin skillset. We can easily become casualties of specialization if we’re not careful.

  5. I really enjoyed listening to your podcast and of course I’m flattered as hell to be mentioned in it. I see where you’re coming from when you express concern that some folks may have a greater aptitude for multipotentiality than others, and that one my not easily learn to be a multipotentialite.

    It’s tempting to throw in the world “naturally” in discussing this: Oh, he’s naturally a polymath, or whatever. But naturally is a very dangerous word, because when you look at a person’s life, you really can’t separate their personality into distinct pieces labeled “nature” and “nurture”.

    In other words, what I’m saying is that I believe everyone is a multipotentialite at birth.

    That doesn’t mean we can all get back to that state, but I would never want to discourage someone from exploring their own multipotentiality if we all have it at least to some degree.

    Everything that has happened to us and our own decisions makes us what we are in this moment, but also in this moment we can make new decisions and chart a new course and create a new “future past”.

    And I absolutely agree with you that some people will have an easier time of it than others: nobody starts at the same place with this, and there is no ending once you begin. :)

    • Emilie says:

      Hey Michael,

      I’m flattered that you commented here and wrote a kick ass article about how awesome RP2s are. So there, we’re even. :)

      I agree, the nature vs nurture debate is problematic and often unproductive. We don’t want it to come off as a judgment thing either, like multi-Ps are better than everyone else. Specialists are super valuable in their own way too.

      I like the idea that everyone is a multipotentialite at birth though. Kids definitely have the tendency to explore more and are way more open to trying new things. It would be cool if we could all get back to that state of openness and curiosity.

    • Abe says:

      Thank you so much Michael! We’re honored to get your perspective on this one.

      Emilie and I discussed the nature vs nurture debate, and the whole Tabula rasa approach to human potential and I agree with you that everyone is a multipotentialite at birth. It’s the nurture part that gets screwy for the majority of us.

      I think the root of so many problems stems from people NOT exploring their full potential due to limiting beliefs laid down by the powers that be, ignorance to what’s possible, a slavery environment, etc. Only by breaking down these long chains do we make any progress, and the internet is mixing things up like never before, especially with the less fortunate. An idea in the right mind can set a community on fire.

      I like your guys’ thoughts on getting back to that open state. I’ve seen quite a few articles about the benefits of “childlike” thinking, play, and beginner mind as it relates to creativity, business, and problem solving. The popular educational system and the factory model of grown-up work that it feeds into is much to blame for the wasted potential of youth, but like you mentioned, we all have a choice to make a change.

      It’s a process for sure! I’m glad there’s people like you (and all the awesome Puttylike tribe) around to help some of us young’uns!


  6. James says:

    I’ve finally gotten into seth godin, and he was talking about this in an article calle “clinging to your job title”. In this case, he was inspired to think about this after a mini panic attack over the “occupation” box on a customs form. When you wear fifteen hats on a given day, what are you?

    He decided to go with ‘multipational’. Different twist, but anything on this topic definitely makes me think of the puttylike community now.

    On that note, you and abe are really getting the hang of the ‘podcast host’ hat: ). Probably the audio editing hat too come to think of it.

  7. I like Renaissance boy/girl. Why? The idea of learning, flourishing, and potential-reaching is built right into the term.

    Specialization, going deep, deep into a subject is cool, especially career-wise, but I think you can be a Renaissance person and also be a specialist.

    While many companies still cling to the old model of one-person-one-job, I think the highly-specialized division of labor is on its way out. Companies would do well to hire more Renaissance people who happen to have specializations.

    As for labels, they’re very powerful. Because the money was good and the hours flexible, I delivered pizza for years. If I wasn’t careful, I would think of myself as *just* a pizza delivery guy and all the negative connotations that go along with it. The end result: I had way too many lazy, unproductive, and generally blah days.

    Overall, another great podcast, keep up the good work!

    • Emilie says:

      Hey Seth,

      I agree, You can definitely be both a renaissance person and a specialist. That’s why I don’t like the specialist/generalist dichotomy. It’s false.

      Barbara Sher talks about how there are different categories of scanners. Some have a bunch of interests going at once and others dive really deeply into one thing for a while, years even, and then shift to something new and dive deeply into that. In that context, the multipotentialite looks way more like a specialist than a generalist. And it’s still totally valid multipod behaviour.

      Thanks for the comment, pizza boy. :P

  8. Two other random thoughts I had, sparked by this discussion:

    1: The best companies don’t fill positions, they hire the right people. As Jim Collins says in his book Good to Great, you want to get the right people “on the bus” first, and only then do you worry about where you’re going to seat them.

    2: One job “titles” I can think of that translates well for multipotentialites is Consultant, because that can cover quite a bit of territory (and sounds marginally better than Mercenary).

    • I meant “title” not titles. Editing fail, LOL. :)

      • Emilie says:


        I agree big time with both those points, Michael. A creative thinker is far more valuable than a person with specific skills, or even a good idea.

        And I just started doing some consulting work myself, and wow– it’s incredible. I’m having such a blast! Definitely something I’ll be recommending to my multipotentialite pals.

  9. Tom says:

    This show is definitely my favourite new podcast – you and Abe are doing a great job and I’m looking forward to the coming episodes.

    As a somebody who has made a few low-budget student films, I have always been careful to vary my roles and positions in the crew; I’ve worked as a cinematographer, producer and writer and writing is where I really found my forte. If I’d labeled myself as ‘Camera Operator’ from day one, then maybe I would have just stagnated and stuck to shooting films, but the fact that I was not attached to the label of ‘Camera Operator’ meant I was free to try out other disciplines. In fact, I wouldn’t even consider myself a ‘Film-maker’ because that comes with a whole host of connotations, simply, film-making is one aspect of what I do in life.

    I guess I’m a little bit of a generalist, I dabble in things that interest me, and usually I’ll either get bored or become extremely interested and attempt to achieve some kind of mastery in the area.

    P.S. I never noticed the gradient bar on the left of the page – nice touch there!

    • Emilie says:

      Haha Tom, wait till you get to episode 4. We do a little case study in which Abe is the test subject and he talks about his dream of working on film sets. It seems like there’s a disproportionate number of scanner ‘film makers’ (or some other related title) out there and I think it’s precisely for the reasons you mentioned. There’s so many different aspects to it.

      Abe and I were joking about how we should start a production company made up of only multipotentialites. But yeah, blogging, entrepreneurship, consulting, and film making all seem to be common activities for us. Loveit!

  10. Angie says:

    I’ve been lurking but I’m finally getting around to listening to the podcasts and you guys cover some great points. I’m happy to be a scanner, except I’ve always referred to that as a modern “renaissance girl”, as you guys called it here. I have so much to say about this, I think I’ll just write a blog post and link it to puttylike, instead of writing you a giant comment! Just wanted to say that I love what you are doing here.

  11. Emilie says:

    Ah yey! I love hearing from the lurkers.

    Thanks for the encouragement Angie! I’m looking forward to reading your post. Also, I’m loving your site. And I agree, chin dimples are adorable. :)

Leave a Comment