Simon Strong’s portfolio career 6 of 6

Illustration of a juggler

This is the fifth 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, 4 & 5

Here is part 1:

Here is part 2:

Here is part 3:

Here is Part 4:

Here is part 5

The rest of this blog is in Simon’s own words.

How do you approach marketing your portfolio career?
I’d really like to take advice on that one! I’ve come to realise that marketing and branding consultants suck at marketing themselves.

The café is much easier because I have a product and a place.

What if any, is the personal brand used for your portfolio career?
Human Zoo works nicely across different facets of my work. But I’ve found that it’s personal reputation that seems to be what unlocks the opportunities for me. Human Zoo is more for me than for clients. I suppose it fulfils the convention of being a company name. Maybe when some of the innovation projects take off it’ll serve a more important role.

What advice would you give to someone considering a portfolio career?
Good Lord! I’m not sure anyone should take advice from me! I’m happy to help people to create products, services, insights, culture, possible futures and even businesses. But I wouldn’t dare suggest anyone listen to advice I’d have to offer. Except that I suspect that whatever it is that you are thinking – it’s probably at least partially right.

I’m also a big fan of the minimum viable product idea – what is the least you can do to get your idea working. We’ve all done it – spent a fortune on a website, business cards, and marketing collateral in order to be ‘professional’. It’s a lot of wasted money for nothing. It could all have been done for free (a simple off-the-peg website, simple text only business cards etc.). For the most part all that stuff is just an expensive distraction (in terms of finance, energy and time) from doing the actual work.

When I opened the café I had an espresso machine. I could make coffee and tea. The espresso machine ran on bottled water, and I washed up in a bucket. The entire set up was temporary. It cost as little as I could get away with. But people loved it – rustic charm I called it! And they adored watching and being a part of this little business – watching it, and me, grow. My biggest insight from this is that my customers aren’t paying for the coffee I’ve just served – they are paying for me to be there tomorrow – they are investing in tomorrow’s cup of coffee!

Anything else you want to add?
It seems to me that the most secure occupation is the one you create for yourself. It’s unlikely you’ll find yourself such a terrible employee that you’ll fire yourself – I hope you’d be forgiving enough to give yourself another chance…!

This was the last in a 6 part guest blog series by Simon Strong.

View Simon Strong’s LinkedIn profile:

View the Human Zoo web site:

What could your portfolio career be made up of? Find out what your transferable skills are by downloading our free report:

About Energise - The Talent Liberation Company

Talent liberator - career change, executive coaching and employee engagement. PS Love writing too and write many articles. Background in marketing and brand strategy and communication and unusual analytical and lateral brain - great for new career directions and ideas!
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