“How To Be Everything,” by Emilie Wapnick | Quintillion Ink-Strokes

This book would be needed in order to advance beyond just becoming an expert in multiple fields, rather being seen and rewarded as such.

Plot

This book is basically a guide to truly setting the priorities of those who have multiple interests (or interdisciplinary interests) in terms of finding employment and fulfillment.

Emilie Wapnick

She discusses how she went down the path to becoming a lawyer, though was still grappling with her interests in the arts, such as music and film-making. She also discussed having doubts in both getting into the arts and law as separate careers, which led her to create this concept of multipotentiality.

Themes

Wapnick talks about the connection between the person and the multiple interests, specifically when it comes to applying them in the workplace. This is what is different from Scott Young’s Ultralearning since he discussed how to approach and develop proficiency in multiple interests.

She divides the ways in which multipotentialites manage their pursuits into four paths.

  1. Group Hug: this is where the multipotentialite pursues all of the interests simultaneously, specifically in a field or career that is interdisciplinary in nature.
  2. Slash: this involves dividing those pursuits into part-time projects and jobs.
  3. Einstein: this involves pursuing a full-time job that is satisfying enough to be able to continue working in it while also sustaining the other interests as hobbies.
  4. Pheonix: this path is about the incremental progression from one profession to another which takes months or years.

Wapnick provides a lot of case studies explaining how each of these cases managed to take the paths that she described when they were dissatisfied with their own careers they were convinced was the right one.

A struggle that would be prevalent in the multipotentialite’s life would be both the internal and external criticism. As for the internal, there is the fear of being an imposter and a fraud that will slow down the multipotentialite. As for external, there are people, such as family members or friends, who may not know what a multipotentialite is or why he switches interests.

There are ways in which there are goals that would need to be prioritized in terms of time and space. Wapnick asks the reader which times in the day they can continue their pursuits or whether they are even worth continuing either at the moment or later on.

Historical Context

This book is pretty recent, since it was published in 2017. Of course, this was before COVID-19 overtook the world and completely changed the workplace. I would be interested to see how much change would be needed for a second edition of this book. Regardless, this book is still helpful, since it details the instability of the job market.

At the Appendix at the end, Wapnick provides a list of famous people who would be considered multipotentialites, such as Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, and the Eames couple.

Writing Style

Wapnick writes in a very casual, conversational way so as to make her book sound understandable. However, I did need to slow down in the reading to truly understanding what exactly are the interconnecting themes of the book.

A notable neologism which she used throughout the book that would become the staple of the one with multiple interests is multipotentialite. Although she coined multipotentiality, it was her friend who actually used multipotentialite. When actually looking at the word, I can see that Wapnick considered including potential into this word instead of just using polymath, because she discusses the potential of these interests in the real world.

Wapnick also challenges the reader to really question whether he is destined to take any career path. A major question word that she uses would be the Why of a career or interest choice, in other words what is the underlying motivation for having them in the first place.

Real World Application

Wapnick notes that a lot of people are multipotentialites who may not be aware of that fact. It would make sense considering how she adds that the standard curriculum in schools are not directed towards any interdisciplinary approach, rather a specialization approach. So, in order to be able to truly establish a relationship with knowledge that involves true appreciation, it would involve going beyond the curriculum and into such places as the library.

Suggest This To…

  • Anyone who is already set on their career path, such as whether they picked their careers in “The Career Guide For Creative And Non-Creative People” or if they feel set in their current jobs. They might not have a profound rationale behind their work and would need to answer some deep, internal questions before they continue their routines.
  • Preferably, anyone who has read Ultralearning before this book, since that book would provide the foundation of becoming an expert, while this book is about seeing the end result of their ultralearning.

 

Wapnick, Emilie. “How To Be Everything: A Guide For Those Who (Still) Don’t Know What They Want To Be When They Grow Up.” 1st Edition. Harper One. 2017.

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