So, What Do You Do?
This is by far my most dreaded moment in social situations, and it comes up again and again. "Have you gained weight?" or "When did all of your hair fall out" are much easier to handle than "so, what do you do?" After almost ten years as CEO of Sagient Research, I still don't have an easy and quick way to answer this question. I thoroughly envy the people who can give a one-word answer, I'm a: lawyer, doctor, dentist, bus driver, axe-murderer. All of those even have pre-programmed responses and conversation points.
The best I've come up with is, "I run a financial data and research firm. We collect vast amounts of information, package it and sell it to Wall Street institutions and Fortune 500 companies." Now, imagine trying to force that out after a couple of glasses of wine in a loud room to a person who really wasn't expecting to get hit by that load of bricks. It is an absolute conversation stopper. Maybe if we lived in New York or even San Francisco or Chicago where there is a big financial community, people would know what the heck I was babbling on about. But in San Diego you can forget about it. I might as well be speaking Swahili.
Kerith has a great one word explanation for what I do - "Brian is in Data." Nobody understands this, but it is obtuse enough that everyone is afraid to question it. I, however, can't bring myself to say, "I do Data" or "I'm in Data". I'm simply too much of a Star Trek: The Next Generation fan to besmirch the good name of the best android ever to have graced the small screen.
I've often fantasized about simply making up professions for myself to get through the awkwardness. I'm a plumber. I'm a carpenter. I'm a male hair model. But now that we've started Bruliam Wines, maybe (just maybe) I can get away with "I'm a Winemaker".