Consider a “Portfolio Career” Approach

man working a portfolio career

In today’s rapidly changing work environment, accelerated by covid 19 and the rapid deployment of artificial intelligence,  it would be advisable to consider building a “portfolio career”  even if you are fully employed at the present time, the typical corporate job has an average life span of two to three years.  If you can manage it is always smart to “Be prepared” as they say in the boy scouts by having at least one additional “back up” source of income one night a week such as teaching, playing an instrument in an orchestra, tutoring, writing or repping a line of product you have an interest in.

Ultimately it will be advisable to create an income stream for the long run; after age 50 it becomes harder to find a traditional job and they often don’t last. 

I tell my clients that if they take care of themselves (proper diet and exercise) they can expect to work at least another 30 years.  My simple definition of the “Portfolio career” using one’s core skills, values, and experience over multiple streams of income.  The research shows that people prefer to stay “engaged” in work as long as they are healthy.  It turns out that life work and health often go together.   One simple step to get into this portfolio approach is to take your area of expertise and experience and begin as a consultant, such as a fractional CFO, CMO, CTO.  This becomes your “platform” workaround which you build other sources of work and income such as:

  • .  Teaching a course one night a week
  • .  Purchasing a small franchise (run by a spouse or trusted friend)
  • .  Paid work as a corporate board member.
  • .  Write articles, a blog, or perhaps even a book
  • .  Rep a line of product for which you have an interest or some passion
  • .  Build or repair items such as computers, furniture, or automobiles
  • .  Work as an artist, painter, or sculptor.

The possibilities can be extensive and over the years I have collected several pages of “add on” work that my clients and friends have been engaged in.  I have been sharing this with my clients for years, particularly as we have seen the growth of the “gig economy” with around 20% of the workforce working in independent employment and not involved in a traditional full-time job.

Often the first “ah-ha” to getting into work outside of one’s traditional day job is teaching a course one or two nights a week.  This is the beginning of the realization that there are ways of creating work outside of traditional employment; teaching is often the first step to building a portfolio career and getting off the track of the typical “in and out” cycle of most corporate employment.

It may not be for everyone, but ultimately here are some of the benefits  of a portfolio career and fractional work in general:

  • .  More control over one’s time and the ability to take time off
  • .  Work at something for which you have an interest or even passion for
  • .  All your “eggs are not in one basket”
  • .  Ability to integrate life & work with more time for friends and family
  • .  Do more of the work you love
  • .  Ultimately a more stable and enjoyable work-life
  • .  Eliminates the “in and out” syndrome of most corporate jobs

As mentioned earlier the rapid deployment of artificial intelligence with its job eating algorithms means less and less work for professional “white collar” work.  Perhaps 70% of the work now done by attorneys and CPA’s today, will be performed by machines in the not too distant future.  The other 30% will be largely the creative part of their work

The executives most challenged today are the ones who have had a long and stable career, but in their 50’s and beyond now out on the street without much of a network and with little idea of the next step.

Again I tell my clients, work and health go together and if you take care of yourself with proper diet and exercise, you will have the opportunity to work full or part-time for another 30 years or more.  Work and health usually go together and it is important to “stay in the game” particularly for your brain health.  The basic principle of brain health seems to be that it improves, creates more cells when stimulated, and declines without stimulation.

So prepare for an active career that involves work well beyond the traditional so-called “retirement years” after 65; this by getting off the corporate ladder and beginning to build your portfolio.  The latest books on work health and fitness are often writing about the possibility of living a healthy life through 100 years of age; maybe not for many now, but there are people doing exactly that right here in the age of “New approaches to life and work” as in the long run, we move toward the so-called jobless society.

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