This is the fourth in a series of 6 blog posts by Simon Strong about his portfolio career.
Reading how people have created their own portfolio career can be useful to inspire you to create one yourself.
In case you missed them, here are parts 1, 2 & 3
Here is part 1:
Here is part 2:
Post on LLClub
Here is part 3:
The rest of this blog is in Simon’s own words.
To what extent did your portfolio career happen by chance/luck and to what extent was it planned?
Utterly by chance. But in retrospect, it seems totally planned. I was chatting to my mum and dad the other day, and they commented that they always knew I wouldn’t take an obvious route through life. They’ve never been able to predict what I would say or think on any subject on any given day! I’m contrary by nature and have an eclectic approach to my interests.
But I wonder what it must have been like to be the first lawyer. There must have been one. How would he have described himself at ancient networking events?! And even if you have a job title that people recognise, why should it define you? I remember meeting a marketing director (have you already got a picture of her – the archetype of a marketing director…?) who started her career as a wing walker in the Cadbury’s Chocolate Crunchie Flying Circus… Now then – what do you think of her as a marketing director? Or my first boss who was hard as nails – but who’d started her career as an underwear model for Lady magazine (you know that old trick of imagining people who make you nervous are in their underwear – that just made me more nervous with her!).
I’ve found that people really like to have you ‘in a box’. If I ever work with a client, they tend to think that whatever I did for them is the only thing I can do. They are surprised when I tell them all the other things I get up to. This sometimes leads to a perception that I must therefore do these things part time and therefore not as well as someone who does only the one thing. I think the diversity of my perspective makes me a more rounded thinker who brings more to each project and therefore makes me better…!
I remember I bumped into a couple of guys who were a couple of years below me at school. They were shocked that I worked at Saatchi & Saatchi at the time. ‘But you’re a meathead’ they said. Because I played rugby (I was a prop at school and played under 18 county level, before moving to the back row – and captained the English Advertising Agencies) they had me pegged as ‘an unthinking lump’. They couldn’t conceive of me as someone who had a rich intellectual life.
I think my own path has given me an appreciation of the diversity and possibility in the lives of others. I’m constantly fascinated by the incredible potential hidden within people– the kitchen porter who is learning German so he can study architecture in Berlin – the research chemist who teaches Zumba – the cashier in a Coop corner shop who brews honey mead – the learned academic who rocks a comedy set… And to see how these interests shape life. The kitchen porter is studying fine arts in parallel to his German and temp work so that he has the qualifications and skills to make the most of his studies in Germany, the chemist is now a full time fitness instructor after the pharma company closed down her research lab, the cashier now works at the best pub in the area (which also sells his honey mead), and the academic has a public speaking life opening up and is increasingly in demand for media appearances.
So I think that our lives follow the shape of our interests. And I guess it’s no accident that I have a portfolio career!
Part 5 of Simon’s 6 part guest blog series coming soon.
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