I always cringe a bit when people ask me: What do you do? Typically, it's a filler question. It's one of those you're required to ask when you meet someone new. If what they do is interesting, you'll ask follow up questions. I hate answering it.
It's not that what I do isn't interesting (if it wasn't, I wouldn't being doing it) it just doesn't fit into a simple box like "I'm a lawyer" or "I'm in insurance".
No, for me the answer is usually:
I'm involved in several things, mostly technology startups. I'm the Des Moines contributer to Silicon Prairie News, an online industry publication sharing news on high tech, high growth technology companies, creative endeavors and startups in general. I also co-lead my own startup, VolunteerLocal. We provide online software to manage and recruit volunteers at events of all sizes, such as the HyVee Triathlon and Des Moines Arts Festival. I'm also on the team at Palisade Systems, a networking startup with technology to make sure that information like health records, Social Security numbers, and Credit Card numbers that aren't supposed to leave your company don't do so (either accidentally or maliciously).
As you can see, it's not a quick answer. I don't even get into things like "I write for several blogs around the Internet" or that "I co-founded a Digg-inspired website call Zanatic where you can share and rate sports stories" or even that "I co-host a weekly a podcast called PrairieCast."
Sometimes, I just drop the "I'm an entrepreneur" line, which by definition is true but at the same time it's lacking. If I'm lucky, I can get away with just the first sentence "I'm involved in several things, mostly technology startups" which is more descriptive but either way the next question leads to the earlier paragraph.
I don't mean to complain, it's just something I've noticed a lot recently. I think that I just happen to have chosen a style of work (workstyle?) that isn't very common, yet, so the social norm doesn't fit. However, I'm not the only one. There are several us with a similar workstyle in my social circles and I imagine (and hope) that there will only be more in the future.