How 5 years of Puttylike has changed my life
Photo courtesy of William Anthony.

How 5 years of Puttylike has changed my life

Written by Emilie

Topics: Birthday, Updates

Puttylike is now five years old, and I’m a little stunned. The time flew by, yet so much has changed.

I was 26 when I launched this site, and I’m 31 now. The late twenties tend to be significant for most people, and they certainly have been for me. They also happen to coincide with Puttylike’s life thus far. This makes my inquiry into the last five years of Puttylike a little tricky and hard to pull apart.

I sat down to try to draw a timeline, or give each year a theme. Honestly, I’m not sure I can make things that neat for you. But, as much as we find comfort in structure and clear directives, I’m realizing more and more how profound and helpful the nuances and complexities can be. Here is a rough overview of the last five years, personal and life transitions included.

Year One (Sept 2010-2011)

Year one was about explosive excitement, inspiration, new directions, and community. I moved from Denmark to Portland. I felt like I was pursuing this big, important, and different lifestyle. I was making friends who believed in my work, and I in theirs. We cheered each other on. I made bucket lists, did gratitude jogs, read The Alchemist, and thought a lot about how I could make a difference in the world.

I also hustled like a madwoman, working many many hours a day, in a state of near-mania. I launched Renaissance Business at the end of that first year, and remain very proud of that work.


Hanging with Abe at the first WDS.

Portland blew my mind. Never before had I felt so at home in a city. Year one gave me a sense of belonging, both in the blogosphere and in real life, that I had never before experienced.

Year Two (Sept 2011-2012)

Year two was about stabilization. Things were starting to work in my business. Puttylike was more-or-less fully supporting me. I loved Portland, but had been somewhat unstable, living in big houses with 3+ roommates.


got a dog, moved into my own place, launched the Puttytribe, booked a room to hold my first seminar, and at the very end of this second year, I started dating Valerie.

Year Three (Sept 2012-2013)

In year three, I was pretty much cruising. Puttylike was going great, and I experimented by launching a video course and bundle sale. I traveled to L.A. to write and record an album with my friend Rena, a longtime dream of mine.


I also made a big decision: to leave Portland and move with Valerie to Chicago in the Fall. She had been accepted to a graduate program there.

Year Four (Sept 2013-2014)

The first half of Year Four was hard. Chicago was not the city for me. We moved a few times, finally settling on an apartment and neighborhood we liked. We eventually learned how to co-habitate, and give each other the space we needed. But it was a stressful time.

The winter was cold, but I escaped the dreariness by taking a chemistry class (why not?), and flying to places like California and Colorado to speak about multipotentiality.

Being in Chicago made me crave nature, human connection, and the physical world. While traveling that summer, we decided that I would move back to Portland while Valerie finished up grad school in Chicago. Making this decision was a great weight off both our shoulders.

Year Five (Sept 2014-2015)

Being back in Portland was incredible. I felt renewed. I also had this idea for a quest I wanted to pursue — traveling around the Northwest in a trailer — and I got right to it. I bought a Boler for my adventure. I lived in my little house for months, in a friend’s backyard and finally hit the road with Grendel, staying at campgrounds.


It was a ton of fun, but there were also major annoyances. Various parts of the trailer broke, there were leaks, hitching/unhitching was a pain in the butt. I started thinking the slightly-more-luxurious-than-camping lifestyle and cuteness of my abode were not worth the hassle.

Meanwhile, Valerie sustained a back injury, and was having an increasingly hard time in Chicago. I made the call to fly back to Chicago for a few months to help out. Best decision. It gave me an opportunity to be generous and give more of myself than I ever had.

In April, I fulfilled a longtime dream of giving a TED talk, and it has meant more engagement and wonderful discussions/multipotentialites here at Puttylike. The TED talk was a milestone for me. I worked my ass off, and am supremely proud of it.

Valerie graduated in May and we moved back to Portland. We’ve been settling into our life here, and things feel more stable, happy, and right than ever before. We just got engaged last week (SURPRISE!!!)


How have I changed as a multipotentialite?

I’ve become more confident as a multipod these last five years. I’ve experimented and stretched myself in important ways. But it’s my lifestyle that has changed most dramatically. I’ve gotten closer and closer to the life I want: one filled with great people, independence, creativity, and variety.

The specifics of my “ideal life” have shifted, but I’ve become more comfortable with the shifting itself. Complexity, nuance, and adaptability. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Your Turn

How have you changed in the last five years (or since learning of your multipotentiality)? Post in the comments and/or tweet about it using the hashtag #multipotentialite.

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.


  1. Anneri says:

    Congratulations on the engagement!!
    My last 5 years? Felt like a ball on a ping-pong table mostly :-) Finally settling into embracing the multipotentialite me and working with it, not against it!

  2. Barry P says:

    Congratulations on your engagement and five years of Puttylike.

  3. LisaM says:

    Congratulations, Emilie, on your engagement! Many blessings to you and Valerie. :)

  4. Sonja Sophie Sonnenschein says:

    Dear Emilie,
    Congratulations to all and everything! You are doing such a great job and by reading your posts I feel more and more stable about all my facetts. I love the idea that in the end of the day everything we experience is an expression of love.
    All the best

  5. Hannah says:

    Waaah! Huge congrats on both counts! Super happy for you and Valerie and totally admiring of what you’ve created here and how much you’re impacting people’s lives with your work.
    I wonder what the next 5 years will bring…? :o

  6. Keith Kehrer says:

    Congrats Emilie,
    Actually,i am more scattered and confused than ever. I think it mostly due to my relationship with my wife. I did move my studio out of the bedroom and into a room vacated by my stepdaughter. It as a good move for my musical self but now it is seen as the enemy of spending time with my wife. Though she supported it initially she is now just angry. it seems that I am spending a bit more time there trying to build my music business to supplement my day income and eventually replace it. Money is a stresser so this is a good thing, but balancing another full time job with a relationship is a big challenge.


    • Emilie says:

      Aw, I’m sorry, Keith. Balancing a relationship + work/passions is definitely a challenge. Hopefully you can find an arrangement that works for you both. Keep communicating!

    • Charles says:

      Hey Keith, thanks for introducing me to puttylike as well as setting me on the blogging path. How interesting that I would stumble across you here.

      Emilie, congratulations on your success with this site, the TED talk, and the other adventures in your life. Even when you find something that works for you, you have to be able to slog through and stick with it. You’ve managed to integrate your interests into this site, but you’ve still be able to stay with the site to make it grow.

  7. Sheryl Miller says:

    Congratulations, Emilie and Valerie!

    I joined Puttypeep early this year, so glad to know that what I thought was mismatch with the American business culture was really a wonderful match with the multipotentialite community. I was working on my new MP business, when life threw me a massive curve ball. But I haven’t given up, just postponed the new venture. My teenage daughter is MP, too, and it’s important to me to set the MP example for her.

    Thanks for all you’ve done, your hard work and your inspiration!

  8. Carol says:

    Congrats on the five year anniversary, and for pushing your boundaries, you inspire
    myself to cross the lines.
    And congratulations on the engagement, I wish you both joy and happiness

  9. Alain says:

    Congratulations Emilie! That’s great news!

    I met you at WDS 2015 where I was the first attendee at your meetup and asked you if you were attending too – not knowing you actually were the organizer! I did a lot of catch-up and have read most of your blog since then. I also bought “Renaissance Business” and I’m building my own RB now.

    Just to tell you how you inspired me! Thanks a lot for that and happy anniversary!

  10. ahmed ossama says:

    dear emillie I m congratulate your achievment also your september annual celebration

    but there is a point

    regarding to your experiment , I observed that you transfer and travel to many countries , thats awesome

    but I think you are an American national or citizen , so you have a passport let you travel all over the world easily

    unfortunately regarding our dilemma topic about scanner personalities and huge wide bucket list m each one of us capable travel many places despite of the strong desire for doing that but sadly there is a developed countries who suffer some political and economical problems this country invertible applying for a visa to each country you visit , in most case it is difficult to be taken , I m personally suffering from that , I had lost lot of opportunities regarding this difficulty in movement in compare with someone live in USA-UK-EUROPE and Canada

    so sometime environment and personal circumstances also your resident country circumstances stumble you from achieving your goals or dreams in compare with other people born without thinking about this problem

    not all the world scanners have the same equal opportunities to achieve and enjoy their interests

    please your comment and share is too precious for me , it was a dilemma

    • Emilie says:

      Hi Ahmed,

      This is something I think about a lot. I try to be careful about the language I use on the blog and not say things like “anybody can do this,” because I recognize that I am privileged, and it simply isn’t true that anybody can do this. However, as my fiancé just reminded me, the goal isn’t NOT to get in trouble. The goal is to be able to help more people and find a way of being more inclusive.

      The problem is that I just don’t feel qualified to speak to the challenges of living as a multipotentialite in a developing or politically unstable country. I would love to have some guest writers speak to this on Puttylike, and it’s something I’m going to make a point of seeking out. Thanks for your comment.

  11. Congratulations on 5 years! I recently learned about your blog at the latest Pam Slim gathering and have been pretty much hooked. I love your blogging and writing style.

    I just quit my cushy corporate job and am about to pursue blogging fulltime as well as several other part time businesses and jobs that are much better aligned with who I am, rather than how I have been making a living in the past.

    Thanks for all the inspiration. Keep up the great work!!!


  12. Congratulations on your engagement!!!! And of course on 5 years of Puttylike. You’ve helped so many people :)

  13. Linda says:

    I cant even relate to the person I was 5 years ago, that is a lifetime ago!!

    Congratulations, a supreme effort and great news.

  14. Abe says:

    I am so proud of you sis. There aren’t enough words to put here Emilie. <3

  15. Teresa says:

    Congratulations. A lot has changed for me over the past 5 years as well. I married the love of my life and started pursuing my life’s dream. I have learned that I don’t have to pick one interest over another and that I can pursue all of my interests. It has been very freeing for me.

  16. Michele says:

    CONGRATS to you and Valerie, Emilie! CONGRATS on 5 years of Puttylike! CONGRATS on Valerie’s graduation, too!

    I know Chicago wasn’t the place for you (it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I held such high hopes that you’d eventually love it). I’m happy that you two are now back in Portland where you’re much happier. It was great to read all of your good news.

  17. Brenda Scott says:

    CONGRATULATIONS to you and Valerie!!! Woohoo!!!

  18. Willi Morris says:

    Oh, where do I start haha. 5 years ago, I was underemployed, still living at home with my family and contemplating becoming a nun or a missionary.

    Now I’m married but still living with family in a new state and still a bit underpaid. But I’ve also been doing the freelancing thing since 2012 and love it.

    Thank you for sharing all of this awesome news and PuttyTribe’s history!!

  19. Rosalee says:

    Loved this post! Very uplifting to share in your journey, and congratulations!

  20. Day says:

    Emilie~ I am over the moon happy for you and Valerie! Best wishes to you both.

    In the last five years, I’ve moved four times. Ugh. I’m getting ready to move again…double UGH! But, I’m moving to the Corvallis, Oregon area and am very excited about that.

    My learning has taken a seriously phenomenal turn toward finding things that make me happy. Thanks to Puttylike and Renaissance Business, I’m gaining momentum in my search for meaningful work. I’ve chosen a domain name that speaks to me and am busy writing content and making art. Thanks, Emilie. You are an inspiration.

    • Emilie says:

      Thanks Day! I’ve moved sooo many times, too. I hear you. Over it. :) I’ve never been to Corvallis, but I love almost everywhere I’ve been in Oregon.

      Congrats on your business idea. Send me your URL once it’s ready, I would love to take a look.

  21. Jessi says:

    Congratulations to you on your engagement and on the amazing journey that is Puttylike. Reading this I realised I’ve been an avid reader since almost the very beginning! I thought your Ted talk was fantastic and really pulled together everything that you have explored and learned about multipotentialites. Looking forward to the next five years of Puttylike!

  22. Seth S. says:

    Congrats on 5 years, Emilie, and to both of you on getting engaged! I found your blog early this year and it’s been really inspiring to know about multipotentiality and to see how you’ve created a business around this. I have a two-year-old child now, which has changed a lot about my life and given me less time for business projects, but also increased my motivation to create a business. Alas, not much time for things like participating in the Puttytribe or reading/exploring all kinds of new topics.

    Emilie, I’m curious to know how the Puttyretreat went (I’d submitted a scholarship application). Any plans to blog about that? Is something up on the blog that I could check out? Or do you know if any of the participants have posted on their own sites about it?

    Finally, thanks for this blog post — really helpful to hear how Puttylike evolved!


  23. Emilie says:

    Thanks Seth!

    The PuttyRetreat is actually this coming weekend. Super excited. I will definitely be blogging about it next week.

  24. Stephanie says:

    Awesome! Congrats and I wish you both the best!

  25. Alison D says:

    Congratulations!! I’m so happy for you :)

  26. Helen says:

    Your TED TALK – What an inspiration!
    I’ve just ‘found’ you via a FB post from a dear friend whilst propped up in bed early Saturday morning, sipping my latte! ??
    Your take on MP is so refreshing … I’m on the wrong side of 60, and have felt like I didn’t fit in all my life as I too have lots of interests, can turn my hand to almost anything and have a very broad work history, the most satisfying of which have been in creative endeavours.
    Being on the end of an earlier generation where many of my peers studied teaching or nursing (very few pursuing higher and more specialised studies), I didn’t continue studying, as I had no idea what I wanted to do … and had not achieved sufficient scores to do so. I realised many many years ago that my wiring simply didn’t ‘fit’ with my peers: I didn’t learn the way they did and had no idea of how to ‘study’ effectively.
    I worked in numerous office jobs – and for fun, used too go for job interviews in my lunch hours! It gave me a reasonably superficial but good look at a variety of endeavours ….
    I ended up working in Ad agencies, and then into film production, ending up as a Producer. In retrospect, it was all a little indulgent – and I loved it. I loved the disorganised order of the process, the people, the challenges and the wins. I’ve worked in film post production, audio and music production, stills photography, marketing and promotions companies …. even a tour operator in the specialised area of craft ….
    And I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up ….. But I do know the importance of gaining at least one formal qualification. As with age ‘against’ me, a piece of official paper from an educational institution would come in handy right now as jobs are harder to find …. and I would like one!
    I don’t look old, I don’t think old …. and having turned my life around two years ago going onto a Keto/LCHF way of eating, I have more energy now than I had twenty years ago …. and am carrying nearly 60 pounds less around with me!
    So in five years? No idea ….. yet!
    Keep doing what you do so well ….. and happy five years!

  27. Katie says:

    Hey Emilie, I just watched your TED talk and really loved it, I would identify with multipotentialite too, and I really like the word – very positive! :) Congratulations on your last 5 years of Puttylike, it sounds like you’ve had some great adventures – and here’s to many more! Katie.

  28. Emma Caterinicchio says:

    Hi Emilie! I’ve just watched your TED talk and am so inspired and relieved to hear your story! Over the past 5 years I’ve started college studying to be. Physical Therapist, changed my major to German and Chemistry, studied abroad in Germany for year and started to study history, came back and…changed my major to music education. And am still on my journey! Thank you for this beautiful website which helps me feel oh so Okay about the future and the endless possibilities. So humbled to read about your past 5 years and I look forward to visiting this website much more :)

  29. Hi Emilie, (I’m looking at your responses to comments: you DO work hard!)
    I’m 63 and knew I was different all my life. It never really gets easier, even when you know what the score is: culture YOOGE; we (multipotentialites), subset, small, very misunderstood and, not always, but generally, under-valued. Not that I have that much time to care because I’m always busy with something, and yes, I’m here to tell you that you absolutely got it right: new problems are a thrill, no matter how ridiculous or occasionally, unsolvable. (Excepting the ones PTSD links itself to, that’s rather a bitch.) I’m a long-time creativity and leadership development ‘specialist’ (3 decades – WOOHOOO!) I can say the s-word (no prejudice here, you also have that right, a multipotentialite and specialist teaming is a match made in heaven) because it’s not that so few people do the creative part, but we all do it so very differently. And, erm, never the same way twice. I LOVED your TED talk, which I saw today, and am already recommending it. Some will get it; enough will get it and experience both inspiration and relief. My poor mom, I always felt badly that she could never tell her pals what her cherished firstborn (she later in life forgot she threw me out at 17 for being so irregular – and why should I remind her especially since she could not have done me a greater favor?) did for a living, because, articulate about so much, I could never put words to my own non-singular life purpose before it had changed. Again.
    It’s hard to complete even a sentence when your life focus can change in less than 5 minutes. Forget about the elevator speech! But, it (the life purpose) also changes back again, sort of, partly because – you got it right again! – the fast learning is also cumulative. That’s why people in the know tell you “it gets better after 40.” It does, certainly for multipotentialites, and gets better after that too because of the lovely cumulative effect. Now, please solve the physical problems of aging. Among my many careers, I’m a mythologist (relatively late-life PhD), and am working, between bird-sightings, on a book about the mythic mysteries of incarnation….
    CONGRATULATIONS on your engagement!! And thank you for giving me delightful and blessedly clear language to pass along to all kinds of people who will be very glad and/or very enlightened to hear it.

  30. CdnMaple says:

    Wow – I’m not a scatter brain! Multipotentialite! Yeppers, that’s me. I watched your TED talk – awesome talk. Thank you. One observation I’ve made over the years, is that bosses don’t have a great appreciation for multipotenialites, until they need someone who can bounce from assignment to assignment on a heartbeat. Then, they ‘use’ the persons potential, rather than harnessing it.

    Thanks for your talk Emilie. You set straight some of my frustrations. It’s not me – it’s the world’s perception of me. Ha.

  31. Anna says:

    Hi Emilie,
    I am a huge TED fan and I just watched your talk. I almost cried while watching it, and I decided I ABSOLUTELY had to find out more. First of all, congratulations for everything you’ve accomplished, first of all in your personal life, in this past five years.
    I just discovered I might be a multipotentialite, so I guess I can only think back about my past 5 years and, to make it short so not to annoy everybody, I:
    1) moved to a new city (from Naples to Pavia – I’m from Italy) to start study medicine to pursue my dream of studying the brain;
    2) started having a major life crisis because i felt too different from my competitive and monothematic classmates + broke up with my first serious boyfriend + became a freelance translator to earn some side money;
    3) moved to a campus and started drinking all the time and focusing on social life and… animals (a LOT of hamsters and then got a cat);
    4) fell in love + started resuscitating my university career by giving some exams and remembered why i love everything science-related + had major panick attacks before going to the hospital for rounds and then promptly realized it wasn’t as bad as i thought + discovered the learning potentialities on the web, and divoured lessons and courses on KhanAcademy, CrashCourse, CodeAcademy and so on;
    5) finally got my new relationship to a good point after a few all-time-lows on both parts + started enjoying the hospital, even though my anxiety attacks and inferiority complexes toward my classmates still come back at times + founded a startup (about news and information in the digital era, of course :P) with my boyfriend despite we both feared it could be a bad idea for the relationship, and are actually managing pretty well, indeed it got us even closer + got accepted for a semester abroad in Belgium starting in January and picked up Dutch on DuoLingo + finally found the motivation to finish Med school as soon as possible in the fact that, once understood that this is not the environment for me (even though i somehow already knew it before the start), the best thing to do is to get it behind me as soon as I can, because my MULTIPOTENTIALITY will still get me the research job i want, because i have so many researches i could be interested (some of which many in the medical research environment don’t even know about – for example example evolutionary medicine, shamanic and chinese medicine, psychedelic substances and their role in human evolution, holistic medicine vs homeopatic medicine, big data analysis in human health), and I don’t need to worry about “being in the system” and “having the right push from the right prof” and having an impeccable academic resumee.

    I realized I made a huge comment just to say how fitting the description is, but this is how liberatory your TED talk was! All I came here to say was Thank you for opening my eyes, I really think this will help me start the sixth year in the best possible way!
    Best wishes,

  32. Pete Hammond says:

    Wow. I am so glad to have stumbled upon this website. I have spent my entire life thinking many of the things I have read on here. In fact, my brother in law told me yesterday that I need to focus on one thing and I wanted to kick him in the face. I am grateful to have found your site not because I felt alone or weird, (okay, maybe just a bit weird and alone sometimes) but because it was cool to see someone like me. I have worn many hats and continue to do so. I feel horrible when I think about doing “one thing” for the rest of my life and will always be a “multi-life purpose” kind of person. Thanks for giving shape to this way of life. It is refreshing and cool. Also, if you need an officiant or celebrant for your marriage and a cool place to do it, let me know! I take care of a retreat center in Gatineau Quebec and have been an officiant (amongst many other ) for years!
    All green Lights,

    • Sue says:

      Just watched your talk on TED. It was like a lightbulb going on! I’m 49 and I realise I totally fit into this category (yes I may have been a bit slow here). I’m excited by this revelation.

      Thank you. Also important to remember is not to do the same to our children – let them learn in many directions to better enable them for the future. Appreciate it.

  33. Joe says:

    The last five have been arduous. And so were the last 40. But tonight was different. I was listening to TeD and met Emilie. Her diagnosis was spots on. Multipotenialite are me. There is nothing wrong with us. Well, at least not that, or those. Thank you Emilie for creating this website, for working so hard for so long, getting invited to TED, and mostly, for your heart felt presentation, orchestration, observation of what we are, and are not. I am falling off to sleep tonight for the first time in my life feeling comfortable in my own personality. Many many thanks.

  34. Steve says:

    Sorry to post this here Emilie, but not sure of the best place.

    Above, in year three the URL for your bandcamp site contains a typo should be

    I enjoyed this little snip of histroy and expecta nd understand that this comment will be deleted once you correct the typo.



  35. Morgan Siem says:

    Sending all my congratulations your way on your engagement :) I hope to see you again one day and meet Valerie. You two are always welcome in my home in NC. I’ve got a LOT of multipotentialites here who’d love to meet you.

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