I am a recovering journalist. There I said it. I had been in the TV newsbusiness for around 12 years and had taken redundancy once, given birth to my second child and three months later came back to work for another company on a freelance basis around 2/3 days a week. At the same time, I set up my company Talent Network knowing that the 2/3 days a wk gig wasn’t going to last long. I was right. It lasted about 9 months. I needed to pay the bills but even more I needed to work – to find something I was good at and enjoyed. So what to do?My quick skills audit revealed:
- presenting skills
- interviewing skills
- hair & make up skills
8 years earlier, I had been introduced to a mentor who had encouraged me to build on my strengths. We met infrequently but he started to help me to see where I could get better. He also suggested I talk to some people and find out what their challenge was and to help them. I had been hosting a few conferences on the side and he introduced me to a couple of companies and I did a few hours of presentation coaching. I really enjoyed it. When my 2/3 day a week job finally folded I had a choice. Look for more of the same or create a portfolio career. This is where you work for two or more employers. You can be employed, freelance or contract. Having two small children, I knew a full time “normal” job was not what I wanted. I wanted to be able to go and see them in the Christmas play, sports day and the music festival. But I also wanted to be challenged and to grow personally.
There really was no choice. I had some redundancy money and decided to start my business by, in the words of management guru Tom Peters – SAV “screwing around vigorously” i.e. networking and just going and talking to people who may need/want my help. To cut a long story short, it took about 18 months to two years to feel really comfortable with the fact that I didn’t always know where my work was coming from. That’s when I met Barrie Hopson. On the first day we met he told me I had a portfolio career and we should write a book about it. He had written 38 books and said I could do it. We did. It was published last Nov. So now I am an author as well.
Now its not a choice between life and work but a work/life blend. What is life and what is work? For me, there isn’t a whole lot of difference. The benefits of a portfolio approach for me are:
Flexibility – make time for my children
Fulfilment – I get to do what I am good at and enjoy
Finance – get paid!
Freedom – my own boss
It’s not easy. It takes energy and commitment. But it’s the closest I’ve come to “havin it all”. Follow our project at http://www.portfoliocareers.net