An Alternative Approach to the “Portfolio Career” Mindset
By Chris King

A year ago, I wrote the article, I Say “No” to Focusing … A Contrarian’s View, which you will find here and which described my “Portfolio Career” and what it means to me. Right now I have committed to writing a book to be included in a toolbox about “Portfolio Careers.”

In the process of starting I have been sending out a list of questions to others who have, or have had, a “Portfolio Career” and are willing to take part in my research. Because I am finding the answers to my questions so fascinating, I am going to share the questions in this article with my own answers and the mindset I have experienced as the answers have poured in.

Warning: If you are completely satisfied with your present career and life, are already a millionaire, or love stability and predictability, this article is not for you.

What is a “Portfolio Career?” (note: this is the way I described it last year in the beginning of the other article)
This is a combination of careers that also span a variety of niche markets and focuses. I use different skills and talents for each. There are times when I focus only on one. But, more often, I work on several of my areas of expertise within the same time period. Yes, life can get hectic and sometimes overwhelming. However, I can promise you that I wake up every morning excited about the day – and I can’t imagine what being bored even feels like. If you are like me and love the flexibility and variety afforded by multi-tasking (or think you would), then read on about the pros, the cons, and some of the ins and outs of having a “Portfolio Career.”

Now, on to this year’s questions, answers and change of mindset.

Question #1. What are (or have been) the careers in your Portfolio?
Presently, I teach twelve fitness classes every week; design. develop and maintain websites; do training and coaching of presentation, computer and storytelling skills; write for four websites and three e-newsletters; produce a monthly, printed newsletter; do professional storytelling; and am actively involved as a volunteer in several organizations.

Others' careers and combination career areas range from administration, social services, health care, teaching, storytelling, radio, TV, writing, photography, consulting, videography, publishing, engineering, military service, research, religion, and practically any possible career of choice.

Question #2. How and Why did you get started with your Portfolio Career?
For me, always loving variety, flexibility and change, I would take on careers that became available, dropping ones that didn’t make me happy or excited. I stopped worrying about saying, “No” when an offer didn’t appeal. Today I heard a man say that to become a millionaire you must take on projects you don’t like. If that is true, I may never become a millionaire.

Many others have “just fallen into it” – not intentionally planning on having multiple careers. They haven’t known what they wanted to do “when they grew up” so tried many options. Some careers sprang out of moving to new areas of the country or even other countries, some from volunteering and finding that a new career love materialized, and others discovering that a present career wasn’t what was originally expected.

Question #3. What are the pros of having a Portfolio Career?
The pros for me are flexibility, creativity, change, autonomy (being in control), excitement, achievement, development of expertise and many skills, personal freedom & personal growth, pleasure doing what one likes, risk taking, variety, fast pace, emotional health, meaning, and continual learning.

Others mentioned, “a larger world view,” “being a professional in all you do,” “you’re never bored,” “freedom to do what I love,” “lots of great experiences,” “being able to do anything I put my mind to,” “personal fulfillment,” “setting my own schedule,” and “I get the chance to explore my own natural curiosity.”

Question #4. What do you like best about it?
I love every day of my life.

Others responded, “I love being in charge of my own destiny,” “the variety it gives me,” “respect from people who feel you are gifted,” “the changeableness,” “knowing many different kinds of people,” “it challenges me,” “diversity,” “multiple challenges,” “huge exposure,” and “do what I enjoy.”

Question #5. What are the cons of having a Portfolio Career?
I don’t experience any cons, but I did find the answers to this question especially interesting.

In Question #4 one respondent liked the “respect” whereas several of my respondents felt that the cons included, “People believe I am not a specialist, but just a Jack of All Trades,” “Some employers feel it shows instability and/or disloyalty,” and “Difficult to become an expert or to be considered an expert.” Many mentioned the challenge of juggling time, becoming overwhelmed with the many different demands, and being able to answer the question, “And what do you do?” in a brief and succinct manner.

Question #6. What do you like the least about it?
Answers to this question included some similar to those given to Question #5 and, “Trying to prove myself,” “Choosing where to focus,” “Not enough hours to do all I love to do,” “Making choices and balancing,” “Other people don’t understand or have a hard time figuring out what I do,” and the “Lack of security for projecting income.”

Question #7. What tips would you give someone who is considering having or does have a Portfolio Career?
One terrific businessman offered many tips on how to organize, plan and write everything down. He also shared that a Portfolio Career is “not something for the faint hearted.” Others included, “Keep the importance of all of your activities in relation,” “Make sure you LOVE what you are going to do,” “Keep a balance between your life and work,” “Don’t limit yourself, do what fits your gifts,” and “Make a special effort to stay healthy – eat right and exercise regularly.”

Question #8. Any other comments?
All were positive and excited about their “Portfolio Careers.”

How about you? If you fit with this group and would be willing to help with my research, answer the above questions and send them to me here. Or, just e-mail me for a copy of the questions.

Or, do you wonder if a "Portfolio Career" would work for you? Take the The 'Portfolio Career' Self Test - or Am I Someone Who Would Love to Have One? by clicking here.

I would even be interested in hearing from you if you have had a “Portfolio Career” that didn’t work out and why.

Hot News:

A brand new FREE eclectic e-newsletter, Career Success Planning, is on the way. I will be contacting former sbscribers to Portfolio Potpourri and all who have taken the Portfolio Career Self Test to subscribe to the new FREE e-newsletter. Use the form below to sign up!

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Phone: (440) 918-1313




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