Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

Not Just One Thing

Michael Craig gets it.

The reason for my interest has not been due to some gloriously fabricated business facade, but because they have been so downright authentic in sharing themselves and their humanity.

Michael hit on something I’ve long thought about but never written about here. It’s hard to put into words, but it goes something like this.

In the past, people were “known” for one particular thing. Tom Waits is a musician. Ronald Reagan is a president. People decided to be just one thing, and struck out and did it.

I’ve often wrestled with this, because I’ve never been able to pick just one thing to be. I’m an artist and an entrepreneur. I’m a storyteller and performer in the spotlight, but also an editor and publisher who promotes others. I love words and pixels. I just can’t pick.

For many years I thought this inability to choose was a deficiency. Some sort of personal failure. But now I believe that it’s just part of being alive. At least, it is for me. I have a lot of masters. My challenge is to hold them in balance.

And when you think about it, nobody is really just one thing. Tom Waits may be a musician, but he’s also an actor and a father and a husband and a son. Ronald Reagan was an actor before he was president, remember?

The truth is, nobody’s ever really just one thing. We only see them that way because of the media’s filter, and the deficiencies of our own perception.

Now think about this: What if Ronald Reagan had a blog? What if there was a permanent Google cache of his musings about Hollywood and politics? Maybe then we’d be more comfortable thinking of him as two things. Or three. Or more.

The truth is, I am the CEO of a startup and an artist. I’m a professional designer and consultant, and also a person who struggles sometimes. I can’t limit myself to just one. That makes my life more difficult – a client could read this as easily as a friend – but I’ve found the benefits far outweigh the sacrifices.

Truth is, it’s the only way I know how to be. But my hope is that this new degree of public intimacy can widen the bounds of how we think of each other. Maybe if we saw each other as more fully realized human beings, business would be more human.

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Hi, I’m Derek. I used to make websites. Now I grow flowers and know things. I’m mostly harmless. More.