What is your Superpower?
©Marcin Górzyński Photography, used with permission. See more at marcingorzynski.com
Once I decided to quit my corporate career, I had a tough time defining what I did. For the first months, I have relaxed put on flip flops, shorts and colorful shirts. I stopped short of putting my Hawaiian shirt to a meeting with a VP of a major bank. I generally overdid it. Many friends and acquaintances asked me what I would do next, etc. I told them I would think about it. Then they proceeded to pour out advice on what they believed or sometimes knew I should do. I listened and politely nodded on all information, how to get back into a game, win back my position, etc. After some time, about a year or so, I stopped having those meetings.
Ever since I left the corporate world to pursue the multitude of interest and opportunities I have hated one question asked at every party, dinner or conference: “So, tell me what do you do?”. It is not easy to explain what I do in just one simple sentence. I jokingly answered: “I am retired,” which was only half truth. I finally decided to call myself an Entrepreneurial Executive. However, this raised even more questions on what does an entrepreneurial executive DO? How am I supposed to answer this damn question that makes me miserable? Why do I have to define myself by my position, vocation or place in the society? It is such an oversimplified way of determining whom you are talking to. Many of us have such a depth of personality, interests, and experience that what we currently do is just a fraction of who we really are. The people I met while investing in startups did incredible stuff I never thought would be possible.
It was then that I realized why “What do you do?” is not the relevant question for me anymore. The answer came to me last year at a YPO organized Singularity University conference in London. I have been to Singularity University two years before, so some of the stuff was not as new and impressive as it was the first time. However, Brock Pierce had a lecture on crypto and blockchain, which he started with a different question: “So, What is your Superpower?” It blew me off my feet. I had just learned a perfect question that would help me define myself for myself. I just did not know how to answer it while sitting in this amphitheater in London. The rest of the conference was a blur. My mind was spinning at light speed.
I took me almost two months to find the answer to the superpower question. I had hints from the beginning, but my reply was lengthy and convoluted – until I saw two perfect adjectives. I translated this in my head to all languages I use, to be able to internalize it better. I liked the sound and energy of the answer I created. Recently I had lunch with Bartek Pucek, and we talked about many aspects of digital life. I was struck – when after asking Bartek this question – he was silent for minutes, pondering on the answer. He did not answer the question right there and then and we are scheduled for a follow-up lunch in September. I am very excited and curious to learn what he believes his superpower is. This minutes of silence prompted me to write this piece and ask you this question.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and some cords were struck, and they resonate with intensity. If yes, please leave a comment and share this post. Moreover, remember to ask yourself – “What is your superpower?” Mine is: Asking inquisitive and challenging questions.