I recently overheard a conversation that went like this:

Lady: What do you do for work?
Man with uneasy expression: It usually goes over people’s heads, but basically I blah, blah, blah.

Yeah, you got me. He didn’t say “blah, blah, blah.” But, he might as well have because that’s what he was implying the lady would hear. Now, keep in mind this man just met this lady — he literally knew nothing about her. So, why did he assume anything would go over her head? Also, he works in sales. Sure, he sells products that go into a data center, but she didn’t ask what he sold, she ask what he did.

So, what’s the problem with this conversation? Well, everything.

We spend so much time talking about how we can raise awareness of the industry, how we can educate people, how we can inspire the next generation of talent. And, that’s time well spent if we take those conversations out of our meetings and apply them in the real world. But, I rarely see that happening.

In the real world, when I run into people from the industry, and they have an opportunity to talk about it with someone from the outside, I see them become the man with the uneasy expression, the man that makes it seem like he’s way smarter than the person he’s talking to, the man that makes this industry an unwelcoming place, the man that makes it seem like his job is too technically advanced for a casual conversation.

That’s not OK. It turns our discussions and ideas into a waste of time because how can we ask people to become educated if we treat them as if they are incapable of being educated?

The answer is, we can’t.

The idea behind it reminds me of a “Seinfeld” bit that goes like this:

"Can you give me an explanation as to why the pharmacist has to be two-and-a-half feet up above everybody else? What the hell is he doing, he can't be down there on the floor with you and me? Brain surgeons, airline pilots, nuclear physicists, we're all on the same level. Oh no, he's gotta be two-and-a-half feet up."

He goes on with his rant and ends with this:

“'Yeah, I'd like to get this prescription filled.'
 'Alright, you wait DOWN THERE, only I'm allowed up here.'"

We’re not pharmacists, so let’s stop acting like we’re above everyone else. Let’s stop pretending like our jobs are so much more complicated than other people’s job. Let’s stop making people feel like they don’t have a place in the industry. Instead, let’s start talking about what we do, and when people don’t understand it, let’s start explaining it instead of making them feel dumb.