Do you find it hard to answer what you do with a single sentence? An entrepreneurial streak is at the heart of many “portfolio careers” fueling passions and generating a multi-layered identity.
The other day, I heard my teenage daughter Lola describing my career to one of her friends. She said, “my mom’s an entrepreneur,” and went on to list the kinds of work I do for clients, - producing videos, creating websites, writing digital content and helping companies brand and market their organizations.
Lola’s description of my work didn’t sound particularly entrepreneurial. It sounded more like someone juggling a variety of projects and clients in order to support our lifestyle, stock up on iPhones and iTunes, and generate enough money to send her to college in two years. My home office sometimes feels like that Brownian box we learned about in high school, with particles and projects poised to collide mid-air and me in the middle juggling wildly, praying I don’t get clobbered.
Like many women our age, I’ve reinvented my career several times. During dark periods I’ve thought of myself as a Jack-of-All Trades, master of none. Recently, I read a Forbes article describing “portfolio careers,” which sounds a lot better. The concept, also referred to as “slash careers,” was originally coined by Marci Alboher of Encore.org. Marci’s book, One Person, Multiple Careers: The Original Guide to the Slash “/” Career is a great “read” for women who can’t always answer “What do you do?” or “What are you working on?” with a single word or phrase. It offers straightforward and actionable blueprints for integrating multiple talents and interests and validates the choice of pursuing many outlets for your creativity.
During the past 30 years, leading up to co-founding WHAT NOW WHAT NEXT, I’ve experienced much success in the media sector creating, producing and marketing three original television series, generating award winning web communities with companies like CBS and Nickelodeon and raising millions of dollars of start-up money as CEO of a pioneering internet company funded by AOL and Ameritech. I’ve also created a wide array of traditional and digital media for myself and for my clients, many of who have become close friends.
Between projects, I’ve led corporate workshops on creativity, innovation and invention. Sometimes I’ve had no idea where my next client was coming from and doubted my sanity, wishing I’d chosen a safer path. But overall, building a life filled with slashes has afforded me the opportunity to express my passions in ways that wouldn’t have been possible with a single career.
Bottom line, my daughter Lola’s right. I am definitely an entrepreneur, someone who fits the Merriam Webster definition of “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” I resonate with that definition wholeheartedly.
Join the Conversation
Do you have a portfolio career, juggling a variety of jobs and projects at the same time? Do you also consider yourself an entrepreneur?