Worlds Collide

Jeremy: Recently, an ex-co-worker of mine reached out to catch-up. “Checked your LinkedIn profile, and didn’t see any updates,” she said. “What have you been up to?”

Huh? LinkedIn?

I haven’t thought about LinkedIn since I left the professional world nearly three years ago. LinkedIn was for another life. And the idea of someone looking at my LinkedIn profile to understand my stay-at-home life just…felt…so…awkward. And it took me weeks to understand why.

When you’re in the working world, there is a language you speak with other people who work. There are currencies unique to being a professional. There are unique milestones. And yes, unique report cards to demonstrate one’s’ progress (example: LinkedIn). When the ex-worker above asked me that question, she was in essence speaking in a language that was no longer native to my world.

But her question got me thinking. As a stay-at-home-dad, I still have milestones and accomplishments. Are those not worthy of LinkedIn? Or did I never post them because I valued them less than my professional achievements?

Scott: I’ve had a similar experience of losing a common “language” of work, which has been intensified by the geographic and cultural differences between Silicon Valley and London.

In Silicon Valley, it’s quite common for the first topic of conversation to be work, what’s new at your company, and the insane juggling act of being a full-time employee and parent. There’s a shared experience you can connect with almost anyone on.

In the UK, there is a different progression of topics whenever you chat with someone:

  1. The weather — it’s the British warm-up to any meaningful conversation. Bypass this at your own peril.
  2. Sport — especially among dads, this is a way to evaluate your political and social leanings without really talking about it.
  3. Where you’re from — which is a way to gauge how long you’ll likely stay in London and determine if people want to invest in getting to know you.

Each of these topics uses a different language, and the combination of these topics leads to a very different conversation. Without the common tech, rat-race language, the illusion of intimacy I had with many of our Bay Area friends disappears. I don’t know that the conversations are more or less meaningful, but the different language definitely leads you down a different path.

Jeremy: I wonder what would happen if we merged these worlds? The social platform of the professional world with the currencies of the Stay-At-Home-Dad world? What would the life of a Stay-At-Home-Dad look like in the common language we use in business?

Just for fun, I gave it a shot. It was a super strange experience. It was the same feeling I got when I ran into a fraternity buddy that I hadn’t spoken with since college at one of my last work functions. Worlds colliding.

Scott: And here’s mine.