I come from a strong liberal arts background and a family that pushed the importance of being generally competent in lots of areas. To my parents, the focus on specialization — especially in young kids — was viewed as a sad shift in society.
To that end I majored in communications, with concentrations in art and intellectual history. My master’s degree is a Master of Liberal Arts (yes, that really exists).
My career has followed a similarly general path. I’ve been a Special Projects Manager (aka “trusted generalist”) in two different organizations. Project management is a major theme in my work, whether in the philanthropic community or on the nonprofit side.
But when I launched my own consulting gig I did so as a Marketing Consultant. I had been Marketing Director at my previous job and it felt more real than a plain old Consultant.
However, a number of new clients made me rethink the Marketing Consultant title I was using. The #MarketerMonday shouts outs on Twitter sometimes felt like my only connection to marketing, despite my constant and unwavering dedication to helping clients tell their stories well. I will always be passionate about improving messaging and communications, whether in video or social media, board reports or funder briefings.
But that passion, and the skills needed to communicate well, don’t come from only a marketing background. Or branding expertise. Or even being a maven or guru in social media.
You need a good generalist to cover all those things — someone who understands the nuances and oddities of the philanthropic community as well as the endlessly changing rules of social engagement, along with the pitfalls of nonprofit-speak.
With that in mind I am delighted to reclaim my generalist sensibilities under the very general title, Consultant.