Oli Barrett says “don’t ask ‘ what do you do?’. Do ask ‘what are you up to at the moment?’

by Barrie Hopson on November 16, 2015 · 0 comments

in Creativity,portfolio careers,Starting a portfolio career,Storytelling

One of the people that Katie and I interviewed for our book was Oli Barrett, who, even in 2009, was already described as the founder of speednetworking in the UK. If you have ever speed dated ( I have not!) you will know what I mean. I suddenly came across a piece of advice he regulary gives to people whether they have portfolio careers or not. That is the title of this posting. It is still a great piece of advice and I always try to remember to do that. And it is worth repeating.

It can of course then lead to you being asked the same question so off you go with what you are up to!

I then thought I would update myself on Oli’s career since we last met at our booklaunch. He now has an MBE and is  a co-founder of Cospa which helps companies and causes to create and grow ventures which make money and make a difference. A good example of this has been helping young people to fix their own youth clubs, with Wickes, the DIY chain. He started Tenner (now run by Young Enterprise), the scheme which has challenged over 100,000 school pupils to see what they can achieve in one month, starting with £10. He has hosted and spoken at events around the world. He has led trade missions to the US, India and Brazil helping British companies (in health, clean-tech and web) to explore business opportunities. Oli’s entrepreneurial career started as a student and has included an events business in nine cities, an international language practice website (sold in 2008) and a sock subscription website which continues to ship internationally. He is an advisor to the Centre for Entrepreneurs and co-founded the national, business-funded campaign StartUp Britain.

Breathless? That is one of the joys of having a portfolio career and the reason, like Oli, that I would never give mine up.

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