The Case of Missing Identity

“What do you do?” This question must be asked thousands if not millions of times every day. Networking events, dinner parties, random connections and even on-line. This article is not gong to help you craft what you say – there are plenty of trainings on effective one-minute elevator pitches for that…but this article is more interested in how you FEEL when you say it.

Do you feel proud, fired up, passionate, authentic and energized?

Or do you feel tentative, underwhelmed or even slightly ashamed when you tell people what you do?

I have a hunch that you know the difference will it make – you know when you talk to someone who is completely aligned and on purpose …their eyes are alive and they are infectious! You want some of what they have!!

How would someone describe you when you tell them what you do?

If you are in the latter group and feel a little underwhelmed by what you are doing, you need to consider if it is really matching who you are. Does what you do and how you say it really line up with your identity?

Consider your identity

How well does what you do match who you think you are, or who you have been. How aligned are the two?

From my experience, sometimes even when we chose to leave the corporate world, it can take a while to really let the past go. If you are not fully aligned with your role right now consider if you are grieving what you left behind.

Maybe you feel more affinity with your old job title – did that give you the buzz, make you feel proud – even though the position may have come at considerable personal cost. It could be that even though the politics, the commute or the glass ceiling made the job unsuitable for you but did it feel like it was the work that fired you up, made you feel passionate and gave you a sense of worth?

Who we are and what we do are closely linked, especially if we have been working for a long time. We can’t but help feel identified by what we do. We can become our title and our role. Like it or not we become defined by this.

Moving into running your own business is exhilarating and exciting as our passions are set free and fed into a revenue-making venture. But even then, our minds can hark back to those corporate days and we can miss the mmmms and aaahs that came when we said our title and company and some of the perks of corporate life.

If this sounds like you, accept it. With acceptance comes the chance to let it go and move on. With acceptance you can gain a deeper understanding of who you are right now and who you were and then blend this into an authentic, aligned you.

Consider what are the elements of your past that can help your business be truly successful. How can this be used to give your business more momentum and passion?

Add your personality to your business and step into your true identity! And with shining eyes and heart-felt passion deliver the answer to “what do you do?” with conviction and pride.



Wendy Kerr is an expert in Corporate Crossovers – those women who have left corporate careers to start their own businesses. Her company, Business Momentum offers coaching, mentoring and resources to enable these women to thrive in their businesses and their lives. For more information, and your free guide on “Stepping Up to 100,000 – The Truth Behind a 6-Figure Business”, visit

Wendy Kerr

Director for The Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Auckland University.The Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is the hub for the development and promotion of innovation, commercialisation and entrepreneurial activities within the University.We create experiential programmes, workshops and events to unleash the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, to transform the mindsets of our students and staff to support the growth of New Zealand as a prosperous and creative nation.

Be the change that you want to see. Step into your leadership.


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