Over the last 8 months, I have moved from having an anchor in the financial world to creating a portfolio life. It has been challenging, rewarding and frustrating; but at the end of it has given me newfound freedom and purpose.
Some of the biggest challenges have been simple ones, like managing time, while others have been harder to define and address. "Where would I add the most value?", "How do I want to spend my time?"
Creating a structure and a rhythm to one's days, before they turn into weeks, and balancing thinking/unstructured time with meetings, networking and daily family life has taken more time than I expected. Despite being in the throes of recession, I am heartened by how many opportunities there are. Here is some of what I have learned these past few months boiled down into "Top Tips".
1. Plan it. These things don't just happen overnight, so determine your longer-term plan now, ideally while someone else is still paying you. How do you want to allocate your time? What are your priorities? Family, community, charities, the arts, new technology, saving the world?
2. Get fit. Figure out how to make exercise part of your daily routine now. You will feel better, look better and be more successful.
3. Determine your passions Building a portfolio career around your interests, hobbies and passions is achievable.
4. Figure out how much money you need. There are more opportunities out there than you realise once you leave the daily grind of going to the same place every day. The challenge is creating a balance of those which pay and those which are "giving back" and rewarding in other ways.
5. Use your network. Networks are grossly misunderstood. When utilised effectively, they provide both personal support and professional leverage.
6. Tell your story. Write a biography (or two) and a CV. These should be companion pieces, one is the narrative, the other the series of events, accomplishments and facts.
7. Do your homework. What boards or committees would you add value to? What sectors, companies and industries do you have experience in or passion for?
8. Fill in your gaps. Are you qualified to be a non-executive director or to chair a charitable committee? Do you understand the legal and regulatory framework, liability, etc. If not figure out what courses, accreditations or seminars you can enrol on or have access to.
9. Map out an ideal portfolio. Do you aspire to FTSE 100 NED positions? Would you rather help start-ups and take early stage equity? How many not-for-profit or pro bono positions can you manage, emotionally and financially?
10. Have fun. Make sure that the boards you join and the interests you follow will give you both immediate gratification and portfolio longevity.
The author is a former senior investment banker who is happily undergoing the process of reinvention.