Emilie Wapnick didn't so much FIND her thing as much as she has SHIFTED her things. A label-abhorrer, she is a woman of many interests and abilities (sounds familiar?) who was managed to stitch them together into one place. Beautifully.

Emilie works with multipotentialites to build lives and businesses around all their interests. She’s the author of Renaissance Business and the resident multipotentialite at Puttylike.com.

In my mind, she is a celebration of YES: You MAY be an expert in many things! You are more than allowed! You DO NOT NEED to pick only ONE THING!

If you just breathed a sigh of relief, if you've been struggling to land the plane of your vocation, you may well be a multipotentialite, Love.

The fabulous news is this: you are in excellent company. See what this super smart and savvy woman has to say. It's allllll good.

Interview with Emilie Wapnick for Thing Finding Thursday


Do you hear that expansive YES? Me too. There is plenty of room under your over-arching theme. Plenty. YES.

Tweetworthy Emilie-isms (for your sharing pleasure)

  • When I was younger, I believed the myth that we need to have ONE thing. (TWEET IT)
  • Now I see it’s kind of awesome that I get to experience so many different things. (TWEET IT)
  • In finding your thing(s) look for overarching themes. (TWEET IT)
  • To find a theme in your life, ask yourself: When did I feel really alive? (TWEET IT)
  • Reframe how we view finishing. If you lose interest in s.t., maybe it’s ok to move on. (TWEET IT)
  • Putty Tribe is about connecting multipotentialites with each other. (TWEET IT)
  • “What do you want to be when you grow up” is a limiting social construct. (TWEET IT)
  • In finding your thing, don’t look towards roles, look more towards the motivational aspect. (TWEET IT)

Transcript of edited interview (for your reading pleasure)

Tanya: Yeah, well I mentioned to you when we were chatting that I don’t feel like I can have this conversation about thing finding without speaking with you because you know a whole lot about things.

Emilie: I have always kind of shifted things. When I was in high school I thought my thing was music and I was really serious about the band that I was playing in, writing music, and trying to get a record deal and all these things. And then I sort of lost interest in music and I got really into filmmaking and film production. I went to film school and I made these short films on 16mm and sent them out to festivals and did that whole thing. Then I kind of lost interest in that and randomly became interested in law and so I went to law school, got a degree at McGill, but didn’t really want to become a lawyer. I learned what I needed to learn and I found it interesting, but then it was time to move on.

And then I started a business and now I’m a coach and a writer and I do various things. I play the violin and I go to Bollywood dance class, so I have a lot of things and I’ve always had a lot of things. And when I was younger I kind of believed in this myth that we need to have one thing; that we’re all here because we have one true calling in life. And I would get really depressed every time I would lose interest in what I thought was my thing. I thought that was like my identity; my role here. And I’d lose interest and then I’d feel totally lost, and then I’d find something else and I’d be like, “Okay, well maybe that’s my thing. Maybe I just haven’t found it yet.”

But then eventually every time I would go through this pattern of losing interest and becoming interested in something else I would start to shy away from that new thing because I’d be like, “Well, what happens if a year or two or three down the line I lost interest in this again? What’s with me? What’s wrong with me?” And then I realized that I’m a multi potentialite and that this is how I’m wired and that it’s okay. In fact, it’s kind of awesome that I get to experience so many different things. It makes my life far more interesting and I do pick up skills as I go through my different pursuits and they contribute to each other and it makes me more creative. I can pull information from past things and bring them into new projects. And so one I stopped trying to fit myself into a label like that, everything got a whole lot easier. I could just kind of relax and just be myself and just kind of enjoy my life.

Tanya: It’s so interesting. When you said, “And I discovered that I was a multi potentialite.” I actually sort of heard the angels singing. Because it just feels like that wat the moment of great release.

Emilie: So what happened to me is that when I wanted to start a business I couldn’t choose a niche. There was just no way; there were too many things that I was interested in. And what I found is that the only thing that I felt like an expert in was at doing many things. That ended up being my niche, but that’s not a very specific topic and I started realizing that a lot of these bloggers and entrepreneurs have businesses that are not focused on one topic, but rather an overarching theme.

Emilie: I write about a bunch of different topics, but they’re all connected by multi potentiality. So that’s the idea that if you look at your life, you can kind of instead of looking at the specific interests, take a look at what drove you to them so your own personal motivations and your own personal philosophy, because there will often be something or some things that go through many of your pursuits. Like, I can identify a few. There’s problem solving – I know that I’m really drawn to various different interests of mine because there’s a problem that I want to solve, and then once I’ve solved it I’m kind of cool there and I can go on to something else.

It’s easier to find them if you stop thinking about the topic itself and you start thinking about your motivation and what drew you to certain things.

Tanya: I love the expansiveness too, and I think about that. I sort of have the visual of an umbrella and it’s like, “So there’s this,” and it provides a bit of structure, but there’s so much room under there. There’s so much room to just stretch and grow and a little bit of that and a little bit of that. I love that visual.

Tanya: What are some great questions to help people find their overarching theme?

Emilie: Well, one thing that I like to think about or I like to ask my students to think about is looking back on their life at the times when they felt really alive, so what activities were they doing? Were they working in big groups, on their own, maybe we can identify some principles there. I don’t want to say the word theme again, but maybe there are some themes that run through the various different times in your life when you felt really alive. I mean, were you working with a lot of people in a big group? Were you kind of in a bubble in your own world? What about those circumstances; what did you love? So that’s one exercise.

There’s one you can do where you take a look around your room as though you’re not yourself, so you look around. If this were someone else’s room, what would it say about this person?

Tanya: Interesting. What shows up when people do that?

Emilie: A lot of really telling things. Actually, usually it’s pretty right on. Like, my friend Abe did it, we did it together, and he was like, “Yeah, this guy would be into style and DVDs and entertainment and a lot of tech, nerdy stuff.”

I was like, “Yeah, that sounds like Abe.”

Tanya: This is a really tender spot here, I think for a lot of the viewers too and certainly I’ve had this experience. Where you try something, you’re in real earnest about it, you’re really excited about it, and you get going and then it starts to deflate and it starts to stop making sense and it starts to become dissonant and it can feel a bit like a pattern. It can feel a bit like a very unpleasant cycle and I’ve had clients that show up and start like, “I really want to do this and I’m so terrified that this pattern is going to repeat itself.”

Emilie: I think it’s about reframing how you view finishing. We’ve really been taught that you need to see one thing through to completion, but why? If you’ve lost interest, then maybe it’s okay to move on. Maybe you got what you came for. Maybe you didn’t start learning the piano to become a world renowned pianist, concert pianist, or maybe you needed to explore it for a couple months and that’s okay and you got what you came for. You got that creative activity out of your system and you enjoyed yourself. Isn’t it about just kind of being okay with saying goodbye to things and enjoying them while you’re doing them?

Tanya: Yeah. You are such a big, huge yes, you know? I’m really appreciating that. So what else do you have on the go? You have Huddle going on and you have your Putty Tribe; can you tell us a bit more about what’s going on over there?

Emilie: Yeah, so we’re gearing up to launch the Putty Tribe, which is going to be a membership site for serious multi potentialites who really want to integrate all of their interests into their lives and want the support and accountability and the network and just want to be among other multi potentialites. I kept hearing from people, they would e-mail me and they would be like, “Oh my God, you’re just like me. I didn’t know there was anyone else out there like me.”

But it’s like, “Yes, but there’s me and hundreds of other people because I’ve received this exact e-mail so many times. There are tons of people like you.” And I find people really feel isolated and alone and feel like they’re the only ones out there with this, I’m not going to say issue because it’s really a gift, but they feel like the people in their lives don’t understand them. So the Putty Tribe is about connecting multi potentialites with each other.

Tanya: So what would you really want people who are watching this to take away from our chat today?

Emilie: There are two things. One is that yeah, you don’t need one thing. In fact, chances are I would not be surprised if most of your community were multi potentialites.

Emilie: Chances are, you have more than one thing and there’s so much pressure in society. It’s almost like a romantic notion that we all have one true destiny and it’s turned into this romantic idea, but really it’s a very limiting thing that we’ve had shoved down our throats ever since we were little kids and people asked, “What do you want to be when you grown up?” That’s always one thing. So it’s really a matter of just killing that concept. It’s socially constructed, it’s very limiting, and so you don’t need to have one thing. So that would be the first step.

And number two, when you’re looking for your things, not to think about the roles, like, “I’m a writer, that’s my thing.” Or, “I’m a doctor, that’s my thing.” And more about your motivations and those themes that we’ve been talking about and what drives you and what patterns you can see emerging in your different, specific topics. So less about the thing itself and more about the motivation aspect.


Go find Emilie and her inspiring, multipotentialite self at her site and on Twitter.

_______________ Psst...Know what else can help you sort out what patterns have been in your life? Assembling a group of peeps who have known you in different capacities and have different perspectives on you. Now if ONLY there was a program that could help facilitate that? Oh wait! There IS and it's called Board of Your Life. Huh.