Managing Your Career Portfolio

When I was growing up, if you asked a guy — and, yes it was almost always a guy — what job he held, HE KNEW! My dad for example was a carpenter for most of his life, except for a brief sting as a nickel miner.

Then things began to change as we Baby Boomers entered the work force, free love blossomed, and technology exploded. During the late 70’s, through the 80’s, and on to today we sought more than a job — we demanded a career! And, a meaningful one at that.

Once upon a time I had a real job. You know one where someone paid me a salary, gave me benefits, and told me what I was supposed to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Ah, don’t I miss that. NOT! Anyway even in those halcyon days my employer was trying to figure out what to do with people like me. People who didn’t fit the corporate mold, the pre-set career plans. I had a tech school education, in a field (chemistry) that had nothing to do with what is WAS doing (computers), and I yearned to be an HR Trainer. “What do we do with this guy”, was the lament.

Well, eventually they gave me a lot of money and told me to go away — and, left me to figure it out for myself. And, that’s what I’ve been doing for myself, figuring out: a) what I want to be, b) what I want to do, c) with whom, d) where, e) when, and f) under what conditions. I don’t fit in round hole, a square hole, or a triangular one — maybe, star shaped.

My problem is that I’m interested in a lot of things, different things, and I get bored easily. So, I need to be doing lots of things at once and different things. So, what’s my job? My career? What’s my career? Well, I work for a small consulting company. There I’m a strategci change consultant, management trainer, executive coach, the director of marketing, copywriter, and IT support person/specialist — oh yeah, and I make lunch, take out trash, run errands, and so on. In my own practice I’m a coach (Careers, life/business planning, practice building, marketing), a trainer, a speaker, a business writer (infoguru), a marketer, a salesman, a writer of fiction, a poet, a Blogger, and on and on.

Up until today I didn’t know what to call this collection of weird bits, this mish mash of interests and passions. Now, thanks to fellow Infoguru Chris King — see one of her web sites at — I have a wonderful phrase for it: Portfolio Career. I like that term cause it makes me think of things like stock portfolios and my writing portfolio. In fact my Merriam-Webster dictionary defines portfolio as, “1: a portable case for papers or drawings 2: the office and functions of a minister of state, 3 : the securities held by an investor.

Yeah, like that helps! But, think for a moment. Who gets to decide what goes in that case, that portfolio? Or, choose which securities to hold? I do! You do!

Ain’t that great! That means I am the master of this collective of stuff related to my life and career. It’s my goldarn portfolio. Nobody else’s. I decide what goes in When it goes in. And, when I turf it.

I decide what fits for me!!

That means also that I’m responsible and accountable for what’s in there. And, it’s me, not anyone else, who has to steward it!

So, how do I steward or manage a portfolio career?

Damn good question.

One thought today… more this week.

While diversity may have value in securities, I believe it’s more important that there be some connection, some continuity between the elements of your career. For example, for me the common element in my seemingly eclectic work choices and interests is the fact they cluster around my gift for words. They are all related to communication: mentor, coach, trainer, speaker, writer, poet. That theme allows me to focus. And, to focus on something big enough, with enough variety built-in that I don’t get bored. It also allows me to leverage my seemingly disparate parts. For example, my writing here ties to my writing in my ezine, also called TURNING POINTS (read past issues at )

Over the rest of the week I’m going to explore this idea further.

Tune in! And, please feel free to CHIME IN!!!