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How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don't Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up
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How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don't Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  1,837 ratings  ·  263 reviews
What do you want to be when you grow up? It's a familiar question we're all asked as kids. While seemingly harmless, the question has unintended consequences. It can make you feel like you need to choose one job, one passion, one thing to be about. Guess what? You don't.

Having a lot of different interests, projects and curiosities doesn't make you a "jack-of-all-trades, ma
ebook, 240 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by HarperOne
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Start your review of How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don't Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up
I had a bit of an existential crisis this week, so when I saw this book in the library it seemed to call out my name. Truth to be told, I am 30 years old and I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. I have a pretty useful degree, a stable job where I am valued (at least I hope so), and an array of hobbies I enjoy, but something is missing - the spark that really motivates me. The routine is a heavy burden. I pick up side projects on a whim and lose interest in them just as fast. One day ...more
Katie Whitt
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I think I might have ugly cried while reading this book because it was so nice to feel like I wasn't a weirdo for not having a career path at 30. I found this book to be genuinely helpful, as well as easy to use and engaging. I might want to actually hug Emilie Wapnick and I am not a physical contact person. My copy, which thank goodness I had the foresight to buy, is bristling like a hedgehog with all the sticky notes I stuck onto passages that resonated with me. I will definitely be referring ...more
Bianca Bancroft
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Advanced Reader Copy -  I'm a grown up. There I've said it! You happy, world? I'm a grown up, but I really don't want to be one & really don't know how to be one. I feel like just yesterday I was roaming the halls of my elementary school with my safety patrol sash and harry potter wand tucked in my back pocket. You know what, maybe I did do that yesterday... No no no. Yesterday I did my taxes because I'm a grown up. *insert barf sound* I love this book because it teaches you that adulthood can b ...more
Jessica Gillies
I'm not entirely sure how to rate this book; I really enjoyed the first 1/4 or so; however in all honesty I can't even remember much of the rest. The idea behind it is great: not all of us are suited to one particular career path, and the book goes on to explain various ways in which those whom the author dubs "multipotentialites" can find fulfilment in their work and ways in which they can combine their interests, even if they don't seem to hold much correlation. This is however much of a DIY t ...more
José Antonio Lopez
Emilie Wapnick rose to fame after her TED talk "Why some of us don't have one true calling" that has almost 4M views. Emilie has devoted to help people who are "multipotentialites" or someone with many interests and creative pursuits. This book is an extension of her talk giving anecdotal support to what multipotentialites are, and what they do to be more effective in spite of their multiple interests and lack of consistency.

The book is a good intro for multipotentialites, a feel good, "Welcome
This one isn't necessarily life-changing for me, since this is sort of how I've decided to craft my career, but I can see a book like this being huge for a younger person who is tired of being asked "what do you want to do?" or "what do you want to major in?" I used to choke up at that question and sometimes answer in a really smartass way. I'd say I want to be nothing or, for a long time, I said I'd like to hold the stop sign in construction zones. As snarky as it sounds, the point of both thos ...more
Elisabeth Bridges
Jun 13, 2017 rated it liked it
It started out so promising... but honestly, the most enlightening part of the book was simply the word "Multipotentialite." The rest of it was... stuff I've basically already worked out for myself, without knowing it was a "thing."

Still, I'm grateful to know I'm not the only person in the world who can't fit themselves into a singular passion career.
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: myleik-recos
I enjoyed this book for the most part. The writer's tone throughout was not necessarily my favorite (it often felt like she was adding a lot of jokes to the text to be funny/relatable but it felt a bit put on). However, the overall idea of not forcing yourself into one specific role or position or business appealed to me enough that I powered through. Wapnick cites a lot of other authors throughout the text, making me wonder if their books would be worth checking out further or if this book woul ...more
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As a few other people have mentioned in their reviews, I enjoyed the first quarter of this book, and after that it became extremely dull. I will admit I skimmed most of the end because I was simply done reading. The beginning was funny and interesting, and I enjoyed and related to a lot of it. However, the middle section just dragged, didn't offer much that was helpful, and just really wasn't what I was looking for in a book. My problem is more that I have no real career direction at all right n ...more
delancey  | reading_brb
Another book read in perfect conjunction with my current life stage. If you have a wide variety of interests and are struggling to build a life that incorporates them all - this is the book for you. Because believe it or not, there is a thread that connects all your passions together. And a variety of ways you can go about building your so called “unconventional” life.

I would only recommend you read the physical book. There are some writing exercises you don’t want to miss. And that’s hard to do
Claire Brear
Aug 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Really helpful language for thinking and talking differently about specialisation vs generalisation. I especially enjoyed the practical advice about how to introduce yourself as a multi-potentialite in response to the dreaded 'So, what do you do?' question, and tips on how to talk about your work/projects. I also think this would be great reading and subject matter for discussion in schools. A very encouraging read all round!
Zuzka Jakubkova
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Awesome guide with meaningful exercises. Career book for anyone who has difficulties sticking with one career. Structured and concise. Would recommend.
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Thank goodness for this book which provides the "simple" but often-overlooked answer to "What do you want to be when you grow up" -- MORE THAN ONE THING! And, you can do those more than one things at the same time! What a relief. This book was perfect for middle-aged me who is struggling with the idea that I wasn't completely satisfied in my job, yet no other job called to me. I saw a career counselor who showed me appealing options, but I knew those weren't the right fit either. I toyed with th ...more
Melanie  Young
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I discovered Emilie when I watched her TED talk a couple of years ago. I think this was my first introduction to the fact that there are people like me who are not wired to specialize in one subject, and to the *why*. It is not that we are "flighty" or any of those other adjectives. We are multipotentialites, or 'scanners'. We are interested in many different subjects, often all at the same time. This knowledge, and the ideas and discussions on Emilie's website, have been a source ...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I agreed to review this book purely on the title: I was unfamiliar with Wapnick and her TEDx talk on calling but have long struggled with what I "want to be when I grow up" (even now, in my mid-30s). While I love learning, I don't love it enough to want to attempt a Master's degree or expensive classes, and I've struggled with understanding if I'm happy or not in my vocation(s).

Still, I was apprehensive about this book when I started, fearing it'd be a long form essay on #YOLO (you only live onc
Alyson Allman
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
While I don't have a strict opinion on this book in regards to how it applies to me, I think it would be a great gift for someone who may be a little lost after college (or before) or even farther into their lives....the trick will just be giving it to them without hurting their feelings.

So many of my generation go to college and get a degree without realizing they don't know what they want to really do with their lives, or they think they do but get into the real world and realize it's not for
Kristin Gentile
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
This book was eh. It didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know.
Chris Wolak
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-copy
A couple years ago I stumbled across Emilie Wapnick's TED talk -- "Why some of us don't have one true calling" -- and I felt like I'd found a soul mate. In that presentation, Wapnick talks about how she had a life-long pattern of getting very deep into a subject and then eventually losing interest. Repeatedly. She thought there was something wrong with her.

I've gone through the same struggle in my life and felt as if there was something wrong with me. I bounced from the Marines to hospital work
Nov 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite my three-star rating, I highly recommend this book for anyone who has a multitude of various interests in life. This book was referenced in a manuscript I read for work, and the title made me curious so I got it from the library. It's a quick read, but a fun one, and very helpful if you're the sort of person who doesn't "know what they want to be when they grow up." Since that applies to me, and I'm sixty years old, don't despair, fellow seekers!

The author uses the term "multipotentialit
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'd say I'm a Slash sun, Phoenix rising (ha), and my moon is Group Hug / Einstein cusp! If you are a "multipotentialite", these are the four rough models you might follow in to integrate all your talents and passions into your life.

It was a good book. Perhaps in practical terms it would have been more useful to me a few years ago, but was still a very encouraging read, especially at a point in my life when I'm pivoting careers.

Although Emilie Wapnick does briefly mention the millennial conditio
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Read this after a friend pointed out the eclectic mess of interests I seemingly pursue amounts to what Emilie Wapnick refers to as a 'Multipotentialite'. After my initial pause, working out whether to be insulted or pleased, I'd looked into Wapnick's TED talk and eventually ended up buying the book.

It makes for an interesting read for those who definitely have lots of interests, but aren't quite sure what to do with them in relation to career. The models put forward are practical, including the
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audiobook version of this book, read by Allyson Ryan.

I absolutely loved this book. For most of my life, I have been plagued by never being sure what I wanted to be "when I grow up" - even as I hit the big 3-0 last year! I thought I was failing somehow because I've never settled on what my "thing" is. I've had a few different jobs and none of them has ever felt like "the one".

Then I came across this book.

I'd never heard of the term "multipotentialite" before and honestly, it gav
Repetitive, very simple.
The book to read first if you are new to the idea of being a multipod. It's so simple even kids can read it and will understand the principles, which is not bad since multipotentiality doesn't magically appear when one becomes an adult and even teens should start to learn how to juggle schoolwork and hobbies.

I'm not completely satisfied, maybe it could be longer. Or maybe I prefer the style of Range where even the life stories of the persons mentioned are discussed into m
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I serendipitous stumbled across this book at my local library showcased in the "New" section. Mainly because I like browsing random topics among the shelves to see what catches my eye.

Interestingly, how I came across this book is described perfectly in the book. I have a passionate curiosity of many interests. The author alleviated any concerns of mine in not being focused because she defines me (and others like herself) as 'multipotentialites'. It is someone with many interests and pursuits.

Joséphine (Word Revel)
Initial thoughts: Before listening to this audiobook, I hadn't heard of the term "mu;tipotentialist". In fact, I had no idea what to expect in terms of content. I borrowed How to Be Everything because the title intrigued me. So glad I did because I related so much to this.

It gave me some ideas to hash out my goals, although at this point I didn't find it groundbreaking anymore. I had already spent a lot of time earlier this year, trying to figure out how I'm going to combine several of my intere
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was the guide to my career path I've been looking for my entire life. I finally got a better understanding for my tendency to get bored with certain interest areas and searching for a job that spans my varied interests, skills and knowledge. I am excited to consider pursuing a career or careers - or more accurately, lifestyle - that better meets my multipotentialite needs thanks to the information provided in this book, as well as the exercises to further explore what I'm wanting from ...more
Feb 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I wish I'd had a book like this ten years ago. I enjoyed working through the mental exercises and brainstorming suggestions and loved the format of the book. I'm pretty comfortable in my collection of random pursuits and varied interests but found the idea of creatively combining these to be a fun activity. Perhaps that'll be the thing that drives me in yet another new direction in life. Highly recommend for those "Renaissance, jack-of-all-trades" people who want to embrace their love of learnin ...more
Tine Putzeys
I read a lot of "self-help" books (I prefer the term personal development) and it's rare to find one that actually brings me new and useful information. This one did. I read it after seeing Ms. Wapnick's Ted talk — that one was also eye-opening — and they are very complementary.

The Ted talk is by definition very short and only introduces the concept of multipotentialites. If that one left you with a feeling of "ok, so that's me, what do I do now?" this is a great book. Though it's relatively sh
David Sellers
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm not always a fan of business-y or self-help books, but I LOVE this one. "Multipotentialite" - someone who struggles against the idea of doing just one thing forever, periodically catching fire with new passions - describes me SO well and having a resource to help validate and guide my choices is something I didn't know I needed. This book is amazing.
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Still need to do some of the exercises, but I found this enormously validating and helpful.
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Emilie Wapnick is a writer, artist, career coach and community leader. She is the Founder and Creative Director at, where she helps multipotentialites (people with many passions, skills, and creative pursuits) integrate all of their interests to create dynamic, fulfilling and fruitful careers and lives.

Emilie has been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, The Financial Times, The Huffing

News & Interviews

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“Multipotentialites tend to struggle with three main areas: work, productivity, and self-esteem.” 1 likes
“a mind-set that embraces instability, that tolerates—and even enjoys—recalibrating careers, business models and assumptions.” 0 likes
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