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If you have been following the different things that we have been talking about over the previous weeks and months, you will understand that I’m passionate about people having a working life that makes the most of everything they were created to be and enables that working life to support the wider lifestyle that they want now and in the future. 

Corporate Life isn’t Working

For many people, you get to a stage in your corporate careers where you recognise that things aren’t really working anymore.  You realise that the number of hours you are working is unacceptable.  You have got a full-time job which requires you to work more than full time.  Often, you must be available on your way into work, on the way home from work, after your children have gone to bed, at weekends – it has become all consuming.  The rewards may be great but for whatever reason you no longer want to accept the compromises.  Maybe you have got elderly parents to look after.  Perhaps, following your divorce, you have got younger children in your life again.  Maybe you have different priorities in your life and you want to have the freedom to give back to society, to do more charity work, pursue a side hustle or develop other interests.  It may also be that you are frustrated by your current role.  You realise that there’s no obvious next step on the career ladder.  You are not going to step up the next level of seniority.  If you go for a job at another company, it will be a company that is less well recognised in the marketplace. In effect, it will be a step down.  You have realised that you have a passion for your professional skills but, as a leader and manager, you are spending less and less of your time exercising your professional skills and more and more of time playing corporate politics.  You notice people five, ten, fifteen years older than you who have lost their top role and gone into a slow, downward spiral of decay in their corporate careers. 

What is the Alternative? 

Elsewhere, I talk about the perils of pursuing a future by building a start-up or as an interim, independent consultant, coach/mentor and Non-Executive Director.

In my opinion, the option with the best risk/reward profile, and most enjoyable and sustainable over the long-term is to become a Portfolio Executive.

You will have a portfolio of four to six part-time roles with smaller organisations where you are taking responsibility for a key function reflecting your professional skillset.

With new clients, you may spend a day a week over the first three months to make a powerful initial impact.  However, you want to move quickly to a lower level of commitment that should stabilise at one to three days per month depending on specific demands of the client’s business cycle.

Your ambition is to be fee-earning about twelve days per month with five clients who have an average lifetime of five years.  If you are billing £1,000 per day then you can easily average an income of £140,000 per year with costs limited to £25,000 per year.  However, many of my clients are commanding £1,500-£2,000 per day and achieving a profit of £200,000 plus without significant additional costs.

They have the time to continue to develop new opportunities and if they lose a client, it only costs them a maximum of 20% of their income.

You could find a broker who you will depend on to introduce you to clients.  Typically, a broker will take 30%-50% of the fee and rely on volume for profits so will discount your rate to win business.  You will also need to spend time building your relationship with the broker and their sales team as well as pitching to clients they introduce you to.  However, you will no longer control your own destiny but rely upon your intermediary.

Over the last twenty years, I have developed a powerful model of how to transition to a Portfolio Executive workstyle.  Working with more than fifty professionals across more than ten different specialisms, we have tested the approach again and again.  We have found there are eight keys to the transition:

  • Define the niche you serve: establishes focus
  • Rebuild the story of your working life: makes you a compelling partner
  • Distil your offer as a diagnostic: delivers a valuable first purchase
  • Define your value proposition: builds clarity of the CEO problem
  • Build trust with client buyers: cultivates warm leads
  • From need to engagement: turns the talk into work
  • Becoming a trusted advisor: shows your value every month
  • Scale from single client to portfolio: builds a sustainable workstyle

For each of the people I have worked with the transition challenge has been different but these eight keys will be ‘Making Your Future Work’ and release you into a sustainable, rewarding workstyle that brings you freedom and joy and releases you from the slavery, toil and fear of corporate culture.

If you want to know more than contact me at


Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.