Scroll down for a review of Renaissance Business, and an interview with the author, Emilie Wapnick. Or read on for a bit of background context…
Are you someone with an abundance of different interests and passions?
I know I am. Over the years I have taken more than a passing interest in a bunch of different subjects and activities, including:
- Art – Drawing and painting
- Music – Playing guitar and singing
- Martial arts – Karate, Wing Chun and Tai Chi
- Learning Mandarin Chinese and Chinese calligraphy
- Travel – I spent 3 years in China (see above)
- Teaching English as a foreign language
- Web design
- Personal development
- A load of random passing interests such as juggling, magic, and snooker!
Some of these have remained pretty constant, others have come and gone, but at some point in my life, I have toyed with the idea of making a career out of quite a few of them, but have always struggled to pick one and focus on that, at the expense of all the others.
Art has been a mainstay in my life, as something I’ve always been interested in, but the idea of just being An Artist and nothing else has always put me off.
If this all sounds very familiar to you, rest assured you’re not alone. There are tons of people out there who are multipotentialites, just like you and me, struggling to choose which of their many interests they should focus on as a career.
Well I have good news for you…
You Don’t Have to Choose!
Emilie Wapnick from Puttylike has written a book called Renaissance Business, in which she takes this dilemma of having too many interests, and turns it into an opportunity to create a unique kind of business which can encompass as many of your interests as you like.
Emilie says that the key to combining your interests without ending up with an incongruent mess of randomness, is to find a common thread that can draw all of your ideas together into a coherent theme.
I caught up with Emilie recently to get a bit more of an insight into how we can use our multipotentiality to build a successful creative career.
Why is society is conditioned to think that it’s better to specialise in one area. Surely that’s like putting all your eggs in one basket?
Emilie: This idea that we all have “one true calling” is definitely a 20th century myth. If you look back in history, there were periods when the ideal wasn’t to specialize, but to become well-versed in many different disciplines. The Renaissance era is the most prominent example (and look what incredible work and innovation came out of that)!
I think the pressure to specialize and fit into one role really stems from the industrial revolution. Suddenly people were expected to learn one trade. It was what the industry needed. The deal was: each of you learn one skill really well, and you can use that one skill to make your income and provide for your family. No need to do everything anymore, just master this one thing and you’ll be set. Employers looked for skills, not people. That’s why having one label was so important.
Now-a-days, this role-based structure is no longer such a necessity. In fact, being really good at one thing only makes you interchangeable with other people who have that same skill. Unfortunately, the idea that we all must be one thing has really been romanticized by society. It’s been morphed into this positive thing (“discovering your DESTINY!”) People don’t understand how limiting that idea truly is.
I’ve never seen a child who is only interested in a single thing. Do you think specialists have had their multipotentiality driven out of them as they got older?
Emilie: Absolutely. We all begin as curious little learners, wanting to do and try everything. In fact, we’re encouraged to do just this– make art, play sports, enter the science fair, join the model united nations, etc. For some reason kids are really encouraged to spread their wings and be little multipotentialites. I think the problem is that this period is seen as an ends to a means. We’re encouraged to explore, but only so that we can test out a bunch of activities and ultimately find our “thing.” When someone keeps exploring multiple areas into their teen and adult years, people start to get really uncomfortable and begin to pressure them into choosing one path. It’s really a shame.
Are creative people more likely to be multipotentialites?
Emilie: I actually believe that everyone has the ability to be creative. It’s just that some people start thinking of themselves as “not creative” and so they stop practicing and then that part of their brain gets rusty. Perhaps the reason they started seeing themselves as someone who isn’t creative is because of this pressure to specialize. Maybe they’ve declared their “true destiny” to be in a field that isn’t typically associated with creativity.
I do think that multipotentialites tend to be creatives though. Simply because the process of creativity is all about connecting ideas. That’s where novel ideas come from, blending together two things that don’t normally go together. Multipotentialites have a clear advantage here because they’ve had so many diverse experiences that they can draw from.
A Renaissance Business is not just about blogging, right? Can an artist run a Renaissance Business and still create art?
Emilie: Absolutely. I use the term “blog” to describe the platform only. You can choose to publish content in whatever format you like: audio, video, visual art, photography, mixed media. All of these art forms can make for wonderful Renaissance Businesses.
A Renaissance Business is just a platform that allows you to integrate many different topics into one business. Instead of forcing you to choose a “niche” and pigeonhole yourself, an RB allows you to use your multipotentiality to fuel your work. It’s the perfect format for people who never want to settle on one path, but still want to feel like each project is contributing to something larger, something cohesive.
My Experience With Renaissance Business
I came across Renaissance Business when I was in the early stages of planning Right Brain Rockstar.
At that point, the blog didn’t have a name, and I didn’t really know what it was going to be about, or how I was going to launch it. There were a lot of things I wanted to write about, I just needed to find the right way to present it.
I had seen Renaissance Business on Puttylike, and I liked the sound of it, but having just left my job, I was on a very tight budget and not sure I could afford to part with the cash.
But I eventually decided to take a chance on it, and within 24 hours of buying the book, I had my name, tagline, and theme sorted, and I had even started working on the design.
The book takes you step by step through the whole process of combining your interests, coming up with an overarching theme, choosing your name and tagline, creating a design to communicate your theme, building and launching your website, growing your community, and even how you can sell products and services through your site.
If you feel overwhelmed by your multipotentiality, and you’re having a hard time figuring out what you really want to do with your life, I would strongly recommend taking a look at Renaissance Business.
Get Your Copy
If you like the idea of creating your own unique business, click here to read more about it and purchase your copy.
If you have any questions about Renaissance business, you can leave a comment below, or get in touch with Emilie on Twitter at @emiliewapnick
Disclosure: The links to Renaissance Business in this article are ‘affiliate links’. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission (at no extra cost to you). I only ever recommend products or services that I am confident will provide value for my readers. Renaissance Business was a valuable resource in helping me set up this website, so I’m happy to recommend it.