When Katie and I first wrote about portfolio careers most people had never heard of the expression including people who had one! Now it is ubiquitous and is a major topic when it comes to the changing nature of work and employment. The Middlesex University research that we quoted showed that the 60+ generation and the millenials were the age groups most attracted by the concept. Since then we have seen a huge increase in this career pattern and what the Taylor report highlights is that this is just one aspect of a major shift in what people want out of work and careers. Zero hours contracts which, by the way, in spite of Trade Union criticism, is more desired than adopted by desperation. Gig jobs again give flexibility which many young people in particular seem to want. This is not to take away from some of the apalling employer behaviour from which many people need protecting.

Almost every day now my google alerts bring me more and more discussions on the future of work and the extraodinary diversity that young people especially are bringing to the fore. “25 jobs before 25″ for example. At a recent conference on this topic professional researchers and commentators emphasised that according to data from the RSA, only one fifth of the 1.1 m workers who could be described as belonging to the gig economy were drivers and delivery riders (the most familiar example of this way of working). Around 60% were professionals: consultants, lawyers, executive coaches, designers and IT specialists. And many of these people are happy with the flexible, freelance life. And they are doing well.

Research carried out by  Julian Birkinshaw and Herminia Ibarra found that 59% of independent consultants saw their freelance status as a deliberate choice, 92% were moderately or very satisfied with their working life, and 50% were making more money than when they had worked for a large firm. Which by the way is exactly what portfolio workers reported to us 8 years ago. You can read more at  http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/gig-economy-gunning-white-collar-workers/future-business/article/1439060#U891hWbbc3I6FEfE.99
The Economist had a leading article recently simply called Retirement is out, new portfolio careers are in”.  So this change in work preferences is not just for the youngsters!

Already, the self-employed make up nearly one in six UK workers, up 25% in a decade, and it’s common for teams working in large organisations to comprise both permanent employees and contractors.  Most portfolio workers are in fact self employed even if they have 2 or 3 more traditional jobs.

My message today is that all of  you portfolio workers years ago were simply the harbinger of things to come. Congratulations for being at the forefront of creating a portfolio lifestyle.


I regularly get asked about my portfolio career and it does change quite a bit depending on when you ask! Some friends suggested that I describe my current collection rather than just writing in theory about it – so hear goes! This does sound just a bit egotistical but my good friend Professor John Hayes who coauthored my first 3 books convinced me over breakfast this morning that I should do this.

The past 2 years have been spent writing and designing an online learning programme to help people design a retirement that they love. Sponsored by Aviva and free to use it was launched in November. www.livehappier.co.uk

Still contributing to that but also involved in a number of  activities related to ageing, later life transitions and helping organisations to maximise their use of older workers. I am a consultant on an excellent project funded by the Gulbenkian Foundation called the Transitions in Later Life project. About a dozen organisations around the UK and Ireland are experimenting with a variety of ways of helping people to plan their retirements and to deal with later life transitions. Really exciting programmes being developed that will be the inspiration for many more initiatives.


15995061_10154039725775899_8292266935439215277_oAs a counter to getting obsessed with ageing in contrast I am an investor and mentor to a brand new business with the simple aim of eliminating childhood obesity!  Rachel Dennett, a remarkable mother of 5 has provided the stories and ideas to create a brilliant website to promote this which has just gone live. www.five-a-dale.com

Not sure just where this will be going but I love the unpredictability of projects. And we are getting some staggering publicity and offers in the first month of the site going live.

I chair the Quality in Career Standards Consortium (QiSC) which validates Englands careers education quality awards. This takes me back to where I first started with careers education in schools and then on to Lifeskills teaching and then career development for adults in organisations.  My early love of this also meant that I was delighted to be invited to be a non-executive director of Aspire-Igen, the North East’s largest provider of employability, training and guidance services.

Previously I have written that for many of us portfolio careerists is the opportunity it gives us for doing unpaid work. I have always enjoyed mentoring people who had original ideas for new projects and continue to do this. I chaired my local community association in Adel, Leeds for 8 years and for the past 3 years have loved being a trustee of Disability Sport Yorkshire www.disabilitysportyorkshire.org. Busy right now ‘selling’ tables for our inspiring Annual Awards Dinner in March. We get companies to sponsor an award and for that they get a table and publicity. So if you are in Yorkshire we would love to have you join us as an individual for just £30 for dinner! You will meet 400 people and some inspirational disabled athletes and volunteers.

And of course I continue to write and teach about Portfolio Careers. I still get surprised by the attraction of this concept and last month received a copy of our Portfolio Careers book in Farsi. So the idea has now spread to Iran! Interesting to see over the past few years how the term is now widely used in the US too.

And next ? Because for me there will always be a next. I am currently mentoring another inspired young lady who is attempting to use gamification to help to deliver greater wellbeing in the workplace. How much do we need that!

One of the joys of a portfolio career is that you keep learning new things. A year ago I had never heard of gamification and the Five- A- Dale project has taught so much about social media and digital marketing,

Having written 39 books I am constantly being asked what my next one might be. Since writing an online learning programme for learndirect 10 years ago I have become addicted to the value of online learning so cannot imagine wanting to write another book – but we portfolio careerists never say never.

I am also regularly asked when I am going to retire. My usual response is ‘to what?’ In spite of having a carer role with my stroke survivor wife I have a wonderful portfolio life and my portfolio career has and continues to contribute to that. At some point I guess people will stop asking me to do things but even then it is always possible to create new projects. And of course there is always running and cricket! I plan to do my first marathon next year to celebrate my 75th birthday having run my first half marathon to celebrate my 70th. I have just taken up pilates and later this year am going to learn Latin American dancing but especially the Argentian Tango. Ed Balls had better watch out! A portfolio life allows you to do all of this.

And that fokes is my current portfolio career in my current porfolio life. I hope you enjoy yours just as much. Let me know.






How to Work for Passion, Pleasure & Profit

6 February 2017

This is a new book written by my friend Steve Preston and just published on Amazon. I was delighted to be asked to write the foreward for it. It is always good to get a new perspective on a topic one has lived with and loved for many years. With this book Steve has brought […]

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Voluntary work and portfolio careers

5 January 2017

Most people that I know with a portfolio career have unpaid work as part of that portfolio. I certainly do. I have offered free mentoring to people for many years. I have chaired my local community association for 8 years and for the past 3 years I have been a trustee for Disability Sport Yorkshire. […]

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Creating your work life blend as a freelancer

22 December 2016

Katie and I continually wax on about the pluses of having a portfolio career which also means that for many of us we are also freelancers. I found this article in Management Today fascinating as it is written from the point of view of employers of freelancers. The author, Peter Johnston, gives many tips on […]

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“A portfolio career allows me to share childcare.”

15 December 2016

That was a quote from someone at a recent conference where I was talking about portfolio careers. Sounds obvious does’nt it? But a recent CIPD survey shows that  only one-fifth (21 per cent) of the 1,050 senior HR professionals surveyed for the report said they had received requests from male employees to take up SPL. […]

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The future of work – again!

23 November 2016

I loved this picture even though it only represents men! When I started to write about careers in the 1970’s  we were already saying that the average worker was likely to have at least 4 jobs before retirement. That was well before this century when we now have portfolio careers, huge increase in self employment, […]

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Having more than one passion links to greater happiness…

15 November 2016

…. was a finding from an article in the Journal of Happiness Studies recently. Admittedly the research was on students only but the findings were significant enough to get the authors speculating about numbers of passions and happiness and well being. The results clearly showed that those with 2 or more passions scored significantly more […]

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Working from Home

9 November 2016

Many portfolio workers though not all work from home and indeed see that as one of the benifits. So I was delighted to be approached by www.creditdonkey.com/work-from-home-sites.html to use some of my ideas on a page they were working on to promote portfolio careers. It gives a wide range of jobs that people are choosing […]

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GP’s encouraged to pursue portfolio careers

9 October 2016

General practice should cast off the stuffy reputation of traditional models of working and embrace ‘exciting’ new systems to attract trainees into the workforce, Health Education England (HEE) has said. Selling new ways of working and flexible careers will be emphasised as part of plans to get more trainees into the profession and build a […]

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