What do you do for a living?

It’s not that I’m ashamed of being a venture capitalist, but I do find that when people I don’t know ask me what I do, rather than say “I’m a venture capitalist” I typically say “I work for a finance company”. Writing this, I suppose that probably makes me sound like I sell mortgages or something, but for some reason I prefer it to the more direct answer.

We were talking about this at a Foundry partner offsite earlier this week and it turns out that I’m not the only one of the group that tends to do this. We decided that it probably doesn’t stem from a deep seeded psychological problem (although perhaps we’re in denial about that) but rather is a result of geography. On the coasts who you are is much more tightly associated with what you are – vocationally speaking – but here in Colorado (as Chris eloquently put it this week) when someone asks you “what do you do,” you’re much more likely to talk about mountain biking or skiing than you are to answer what you do as a vocation. It’s not that people here don’t work hard (or that people on the coasts don’t do things outside of work), it’s more a question of how you want t the outside world to see you (and in what order).

I wonder if that’s true for other types of jobs and in different geographies. What do you think?