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  • Renee Collins Cobb

Close Encounters of the Multipotentiality Kind - How One Particular Tedx Talk Totally "Hit Home" for Me in Regards to Mission and Purpose in Life, Love and Legacy.

Camisha Boyd Powell, M.Ed. and Renee Collins Cobb, M.Ed. on "Unapologetically Woman"

When you were young, do you recall being asked "what do you want to be when you grow up?" Did you have a hard time picking just one thing or did your mind change a lot when you were asked this question?

It is time to consider the fact that you might be a "multipotentialite"? Many of my friends who are musicians, artists, photographers, poets, songwriters, etc are also actually "multipotentialites".

A multipotentialite is someone with many interests and creative pursuits. Although multipotentialite is a modern term, the idea of someone with many passions is not new. Any student of history often hears mention of polymaths or Renaissance people. Multipotentialites have, indeed, existed as long as human societies." -Wikipedia

Let me introduce you to the "ones" - the stories of some individuals who I feel are the great multipotentialites of this world and how their work, friendship or even a brief introduction have had a positive influence on my own personal and professional development.


There were early signs....Life has its most beautiful ways of bringing focus, balance and such amazing perspective at JUST the right time. These two photos are 40 years apart- standing on the same circle of wood floor—-both in the Grand Ole Opry—-but in two different buildings. One photo of me as a tourist at age 21 - one photo of me accepting an award at age 61.

TS Eliot once said- We must never cease from exploration and at the end of all of our exploring- we will ARRIVE at the place where we began and KNOW it for the FIRST time. Here’s to exploration and may it continue throughout all of our lives!


Consider how this happens....When your 12- year old self that is standing beside a 2-time World Series Championship Golden Glove Winner Cincinnati Reds Big Red Machine’s Doug Flynn -at Riverfront Coliseum….meets your 57 and 59 year old self standing beside the same legend at Special Collections Research Center, University of Kentucky and at Austin City Saloon Lexington, KY many years later. (Photo Credit and matching terry cloth shirt and short set fashion design goes to Mom - Susie Collins!)


And consider this...and I realize I am at risk for reducing whatever amount of “cool factor”  I may have to that of an an all time personal and professional low by disclosing this Chapter- but I cant NOT think about my early days as a music student and learning to play piano when reflecting on examples of See it to Be It. Those lessons started when I was 9 years old but as I approached my teens- I saw this man on “The Midnight Special” and he was playing piano and sitting on a BAR STOOL!

Well I immediately threw my BENCH aside and put a tall kitchen chair in place to practice and I felt empowered.  He also sang a medley of TV  jingles I loved - including “I Am Stuck on a Band Aid”  Have a Bucket of Chicken-  Have a Barrel of Fun” (good bye ho hums) “I’m a Pepper- You’re a Pepper” soda  and “Like a Good Neighbor- State Farm is There” AND there was the “Theme Song to American Bandstand”  as well. I thought all of that to be the coolest things I had ever experienced musically- and I was motivated to practice my piano everyday until one day I could get to meet him!

That vision and potential honestly possessed by musical thoughts for many years- and while I never did get to meet him- I did get this close to him at Freedom Hall, my mom scored this nice standup Barry for me from a record store that was changing its displays AND my the level of competency from that practice got me acceptance into UK School of Music Keyboard  Institute in high school and later a scholarship to attend school there. I also won a spot into the Kentucky State 4H Talent Show with my rendition of Could it Be Magic - Half Chopin and Half Manilow - Not bad for a geeky nerdy  girl who made it her goal to practice enough to get to meet her idol someday. I missed the target  but achieved so much as a result of having that target  Sometimes goals are not meant to be accomplished but to teach you many other things along the way. This is just one of the many goals I did not accomplish that led to accomplishment in other areas all throughout my life.

What goal did you miss that taught you something valuable at this point in your life? What talents, goals, passions and vision have you combined in life that beautifully made you into something of multipotentiality?


I have shared this story with just a few people in my life but I think as the context evolves, changes and becomes more meaningful now as each year has passed since 1973 when I was eleven years old- it now becomes relevant to others. You never know when your words will have an impact on those you encounter and how powerful words are even in my case 47 years after I first received them. When Lexington’s Lydia Hodson (who would later become Lydia Copeland and on WKYT as a broadcaster) 16 year old self wrote back to my 11 year old self who was so excited about her winning America’s Jr Miss that I wrote to her asking her how I could be like her when I grew up and proclaiming her as the “world’s greatest Jr Miss ever” - I received much more than a typical form letter stating generic information about how to get involved with the scholarship program, etc....But I received a handwritten letter in an envelope with an Eisenhower 8 cent stamp and on thin fragile stationary paper written in gold ink. And that letter is on my desk at home and in clear sight for when I need to revisit the wise advise in this letter. Today was one of those days and as I read it today- I also made effort to record the words in my computer as the ink is fading and the paper is fragile- but below is the text for those who are interested.

I realize now - many years after Lydia sadly passed away at age 38- how much this letter had to do with the way I choose to live my life, how I refined and practiced my talent in music (to the point of receiving a full scholarship to attend college) and how I went about treating people during the course of my life.

This advice- while serving me well at age 11- continues to serve me well at age 57 and my true regret in life is not having met this amazing women face-to-face but my true joy in life is that I have this treasure and this story to tell for the rest of my own life. Recently while searching through some old Lexington magazines at the Peddler’s Mall- a cover of one with Lydia’s beautiful face came right into my line of vision for no reason at all. My friends- the days are long at times but the years are so...incredibly...short. Make a difference in someone’s life in some way. You may truly never know how important your words to someone were or are...but that’s OK too.

While some may call this "leading (or living) a double life", I feel the term multipotentialite is more reflective of the amazing collection and merging of several disciplines, life experiences, skills, backgrounds and knowledge into one indivisible whole, the ultimate in that "sum is MUCH greater than the whole of its parts" definition of synergy we often hear espoused in the corporate world.

Often mistaken for being the "jack of all trades, master of none", as hiring managers and recruiters, we must be open to the fact that our own unconscious biases may surface when reading a robust resume or seeing a lot of different work experiences that do not necessarily appear to be in the same field or one discipline - that hiring a multipotentialite may also be one of the best decisions you will ever or can ever make for your organization.


Tale of Two Autographs: As my 2014 Trip Down Memory Lane continued, the autograph on the top was graciously provided to me today from the great Jack Givens. The one on the bottom I collected when I was 13 or 14 at Greenup County High School when the UK Basketball Team was doing a barnstorming tour. While it is amazing I have this autograph--it is probably more amazing that I knew just where to find it to take it to him today


A multipotentialite is someone with many interests and creative pursuits. Although multipotentialite is a modern term, the idea of someone with many passions is not new. Any student of history often hears mention of polymaths or Renaissance people. Multipotentialites have, indeed, existed as long as human societies." -Wikipedia


In the article "Finding Your Why" in Bold Journey Magazine, I speak to the importance of writing a personal and professional mission statement as a path to igniting the spirit and essence of growth within us to accomplish many goals across various disciplines.

Emilie Wapnick has probably said it best- "Although multipotentialite is a modern term, the idea of someone with many passions is not new. Any student of history often hears mention of polymaths or Renaissance people. Multipotentialites have, indeed, existed as long as human societies."

A wonderful Ted talk that I keep in my favorites and by my side at all times is below and speaks of this dynamic of being a "multipotentialite"

While the strengths of multipotentialites are not always appreciated in post-industrial capitalist societies, there have been times throughout history when being well-versed in multiple disciplines was considered the ideal. And, of course, multipotentiality is highly valued in certain spaces, contexts and cultures today.

When multipotentialites are supported and encouraged to embrace their diverse skills and experiences, they’re able to tap into their super powers: idea synthesis, rapid learning, adaptability, big picture thinking, relating to and translating between different types of people, “languages,” and modes of thought.

The ability to draw from and integrate a range of diverse ideas makes multipotentialites particularly well-suited to solving complex, multifactorial problems. And, their unconventional backgrounds help them develop unique voices and contribute fresh perspectives wherever they go." - Emilie Wapnick

Renee Collins Cobb, M.Ed. and Warren Cobb are Executive Producers of Overtones LIVE and Co-Owners of Listen Locally, LLC, as well as Executive Directors and Founders of Room 17 Productions, a non-profit 501c3 organization. We are also partners in Dreamland Entertainment Group and The Scribe TV Network.

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