What famous character or action hero do you want to be?
To help with crafting a good About page, do this fun thought experiment: Vote in the Week 3 poll—and feel free to comment about the characters (fictional or real) you’d like to emulate.
Keep in mind what you want (and need) to promote about yourself in a public venue. For instance, I may have wanted to be Patti Smith or another female rocker when I was a teenager, but that’s not who I am in my professional life. There, I lean toward real-life characters such as Joan Didion or Anna Wintour—or Miranda Hobbes in Sex in the City—or Michael Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery.
By the way: In a 2019 profile of Vice President Kamala Harris in the New York Times, a colleague referred to her as “fierce…the 1999 version of Olivia Pope” in Scandal. Do you think this was a problem for Harris in her failed campaign to be a presidential candidate?
Okay, I enjoyed choosing a character—but how do I turn that into a story about myself?
This is where choosing the right details comes in. There are many ways to craft a personal description for an About page, but start by thinking of it as an action-packed, 200-word “story of my life.” You don’t need to use the following formula, but if you’re feeling stuck, give it a try.
Be an Action Hero
Your Story in Three Paragraphs
(1) I love to...
…do what? Leap tall buildings? Solve gnarly software problems? Cook fabulous 20-minute meals? Make a crying baby smile?
Use active verbs, such as leap, solve, cook, make.
(2) Here’s why I love to do what I do…
Tell a funny story from your childhood, include a quote from a friend, describe a mistake you made that pushed you in a new direction.
One vivid example conveys more than a list of accomplishments.
(3) Here’s what I’ll do for you…
How—exactly—will you help users/readers of this website? Will you organize their lives (or at least their financial systems)? Write killer copy that helps a brand go viral?
Action heroes don’t talk in abstracts—they show what they can do.
Image: Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock) and William Shatner (Captain Kirk), Star Trek, 1968; public domain (from a press release).