Going international in Europe

If you have a portfolio executive offer that has some success in the UK and you’re now thinking to develop a European presence, then it can be a great way to extend what you’re doing.  But recognise some of the barriers to going beyond your existing client base in the UK and consider what tactics you want to use and the trade-offs you are prepared to accept.

Going International: as a Core Strategy

As you build your portfolio executive client base you may, from day one, want to be international.  There are a number of people that I’ve worked with where, because of their existing relationships, when they step into a portfolio executive work style it makes sense for them to start with an international perspective.   

Scaling your Portfolio Executive Business: 1-2-1 and 1-2-Many

As your portfolio matures, there are opportunities to add additional elements to your offer and use that to increase your effective fee rate. So, if your primary offer as a portfolio executive is part-time responsibility for a function in a smaller organisation then that’s great, but now consider these other two offers that you can add to the picture.

Scaling your Portfolio Executive Business: Providing more value to your clients

It’s really interesting to see how as your portfolio matures, there are opportunities to add additional elements to your offer and use that to increase your effective fee rate. So, if your primary offer as a portfolio executive is part-time responsibility for a function in a smaller organisation then that’s great, but now consider these other offers that you can add to the picture.

Scaling your Portfolio Executive Business: Building an ecosystem

Let’s imagine you’ve got the stage where you’ve got two or three clients. You’ve got a basic Portfolio Executive workstyle, but you want to scale this.  Of course, it would be nice to have another couple of clients to move to four or five, maybe even six.   It would be attractive to perhaps be a little bit busier with some of your existing clients.  But my advice to people at this stage, when they’re trying to scale their Portfolio Executive business is to focus on pitching at a higher fee rate for your next client.

Enjoying your work after 70: How do you deliver the optimum value whilst having the most pleasure?

I remember a very, very experienced professional who’d had some big corporate jobs and as he got older and more elderly, I would meet with him regularly.  He told me that now, as he moved into his mid-seventies, all he believe he should do was watch and pray.  To acknowledge this, he had a lapel badge with a heron.  This is a bird that stands very still watching and then goes in and makes a brief intervention to catch a fish.

Scaling your Portfolio Executive business: Increasing your fees

Let’s imagine you’ve got the stage where you’ve got two or three clients. You’ve got a basic Portfolio Executive workstyle, but you want to scale this.  Of course, it would be nice to have another couple of clients to move to four or five, maybe even six.   It would be attractive to perhaps be a little bit busier with some of your existing clients.  But my advice to people at this stage, when they’re trying to scale their Portfolio Executive business is to focus on pitching at a higher fee rate for your next client.

Making Your Future Work – Consider a Portfolio Executive workstyle

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. 

Enjoying your work after seventy: How much responsibility do you want?

I remember a very, very experienced professional who’d had some big corporate jobs and as he got older and more elderly, I would meet with him regularly.  He told me that now, as he moved into his mid-seventies, all he believe he should do was watch and pray.  To acknowledge this, he had a lapel badge with a heron.  This is a bird that stands very still watching and then goes in and makes a brief intervention to catch a fish.

The Power of a Manifesto

As I work with Portfolio Executives, there are two things that become increasingly important. One is to help them to have a distinctive point of view about the world in which they inhabit and the second thing is for them to develop a stronger sense of personal purpose about what they’re trying to do through their work. One of the very powerful ways to start to articulate this and bring it into focus, is to develop a document that I call a manifesto.

Know the Season – 1 of 2

As city dwellers, too often we lose track of the seasons.  For many of us we step out of one climate-controlled environment into another, home to car/bus/underground to office to gym or home to shopping centre, restaurant or cinema.  There are no seasonal foods any more with everything available anywhere anytime.  We are insulated from the rich experience of spring, summer, autumn, winter.

Lifestyle Business versus a Death-style Business.

I was struck by the pejorative attitude with which so many commentators in the entrepreneurial world refer to a lifestyle business. Somehow the suggestion is you’re not a real entrepreneur if you’re running a lifestyle business. Somehow you haven’t got what it takes. You haven’t got the ambition. You will not be successful if you have a lifestyle business.

Making Your Future Work – Plan your exit from full-time employment.

There are many situations in our lives where we start to realise that full-time employment is just not working for us.  It may be that we are coming into a season where we want to look after our families, we want to have children, we want to spend time with our children. 

Making your Future Work: Maximizing your learning and development

As you get more senior in your career, increasingly what people are going to value is less of what you do.   Now what matters is what you have learned, what you known, the different range of experiences you have got and the skills you’ve developed.  Skills, knowledge and experience are the future for you as you become more senior.   

There are number of ways in which you can maximize your learning and development.   

Making your Future Work: Plan your Promotion from Day One 

When you join a new employer, they haven’t hired you just for what you can do today, they have also hired you with a view of the potential you have to contribute to the business in the future.  To create the very best in environment in order to thrive, you need to start to plan your promotion from Day One.

Making your future work : Make the most of your first 90 days

When you get a new position, either because you’re joining your employer for the first time, or you’ve got a significant change of role, the first 90 days will set the scene for how you’re perceived within the organization.  Your first 90 days will often afford you opportunities to do things that will become more difficult as time passes.

Is Your Corporate Relationship on Life Support?

One of the things that I have constantly been surprised about is how, even if I go through all the logical reasons why you need to plan for your 2nd Half Career, people like you are very slow to act.  It may be clear why you’re not going to be able to sustain your corporate career for the rest of your working life and why a Portfolio Executive workstyle makes absolute logical sense for you.

When is it time to start thinking about your 2nd Half Career?

I am constantly surprised how people’s 2nd Half Career milestone creeps up on them without them being aware.  Then, as the forces come into play that limit their future career progression, they are surprised that they’ve run out of options and they’re looking at a future of work that is entirely unsatisfactory.

Is my Portfolio Executive Workstyle Making my Future Work?

Your Portfolio Executive Workstyle needs to be sustainable, rewarding and enjoyable.  It’s not enough, in my view, for it to just keep you busier and busier.  You don’t want to be moving from being enslaved by a Corporate Workstyle, to becoming enslaved with your own Portfolio Executive Workstyle.

Using a four-day week to Start a Portfolio Executive workstyle

More and more employers are recognising the benefits of flexible working.  In fact, some employers are actively moving towards a four-day work week.  Whatever the implications of a four-day work week or flexible working, it can be extremely valuable to negotiate to reduce the number of days a week you work for your current employer.

How can I Multitask as a Portfolio Executive?

For many of us, we have had a working life where we have one job where we’re accountable to one set of people and we are doing one thing.  When you become a Portfolio Executive, this no longer applies.  You will have multiple clients who expect the best of you. 

Rejecting Client Feedback – The Arrogance Trap?

As a Portfolio Executive you will have a level of confidence in your professional skill, wisdom and insight that you bring into the role as a trusted advisor to your clients.  You may often believe that your client is less expert than you in the field that you’ve chosen. 

10 Reasons that Becoming an Entrepreneur Won’t Make my Future Work

There is huge publicity for successful entrepreneurs.  There are lots of people who have aspirations to be an entrepreneur.  Too often, however, people have equated starting a business, as being an entrepreneur.  An entrepreneur is a very particular kind of individual. 

10 reasons why being a Contractor won’t Make my Future Work

Earlier in my career I was an IT contractor, working as a software developer, introduced by agencies.  Projects typically ran from three to six and sometimes as long as nine months.  I understand the opportunity that being a contractor can be for people.  It can appear to be more rewarding than permanent salaried employment. 

10 reasons why being an Independent Consultant will not Make my Future Work

Many people as a first step to leaving permanent full time salaried employment think, ‘I can just carry on doing what I’ve been doing, but as an independent freelancer working for my existing employer, then go and find some other organisations that I can be an independent freelancer for’.  This can be a great way to start, if you have a plan to move on from that.

10 reasons that being an interim won’t make my future work

I talk to many people who have enjoyed the interim workstyle.  They like the excitement of working in a new situation every three to nine months.  The challenge of sorting things out and learning new things suits them.  It can be a great kicker to your mid-career.  But very often, I am talking to them because they realise that it won’t make their future work.

Why full time professional employment won’t Make your Future Work

I have spent all my working life around professionals who have sought to build a career through their professional skills. But very early on in my working life I realised that, for me, being in full-time professional employment, wasn’t going to Make my Future Work.

How can I make the most of my holidays as a Portfolio Executive?

I meet many, many people who are freelancers or interims or who have moved into the Portfolio Executive workstyle and see themselves as almost self-employed. The mindset of people who are in that time for money business is, every day that I’m not looking for more work or not earning fees, is a cost. It’s a lost opportunity to make money.

Cash versus Investment for a Portfolio Executive

As I work with people who’ve got through the initial part of getting their Portfolio Executive workstyle started, I often find there is a tension between taking cash out of the business versus investing in their future. I was talking to one of the Portfolio Executives I work with last week, and he explained that he’s now earning more money than he’s ever earned in his life before then, nearly £120,000 in the last 12 months and yet he feels that he’s constantly short of money.

12 Key Attitudes for Success: Attitude to Challenge

In my experience there are very different ways in which people carry an attitude to challenge. I see there are some people who want to go out and pick a fight with the world, and there are others who, when confronted run away and hide. Between these extremes some will step forward in response to those who move towards them, while others will step back.

Essential 6: Know your true talents

One of my friends was recruiting a recent graduate in IT. This interviewee started to tell him about his time at university organising the annual ski trip. He enthused about arranging it, negotiating deals with the bars, dealing with illness, accidents and unfortunate behaviours, and getting everyone home in one piece. The story was nothing, and yet it was totally relevant to his job.

What’s the difference between an Interim and a Portfolio Executive?

A significant proportion of the people who come to me to develop a Portfolio Executive workstyle have been working as interims. And at first sight. they’re not very different. You’re coming into a business and helping them build a function or rebuild a function or cover for a function that for some reason needs external help.  

Essential 5: Your Personal Brand

If you want to be known for everything, you’ll be known for nothing. Most of us have multiple talents and skills. However, others want to know us as the person who can solve specifically this, or address that. “She’s the fix-it person for turn arounds”. “He’s the guy you call on when you want to launch a product”. Whatever you choose to be, your story, background, and personality, all contribute to this persona or brand.

12 Key Attitudes for Success: Attitude to Gratitude

Success can often be a lonely journey to achieve and there are many bumps along the way but there is a really powerful psychological tool that I have found makes a huge difference to how we see our world. And as we shift our attitude to our world with an attitude for gratitude then somehow the pathway to success seems smoother.

Mental Health – Psychotic or Self-managing?

It’s hard to miss the increasing call for us to talk about our mental health.  The guilty secret of mental illness that has haunted individuals and families is giving way to increasing openness and recognition that mental health is an issue for us all.  If this was 25 years ago, I’d be very reluctant to share my experience of a very severe manic episode that I had in my late teens.

Making your Future Work: Is your future doing what you love and loving what you do?

As I write this (Oct 21), the headlines trumpet that job vacancies are at an all-time high. Workers are expected to have more choice and opportunity than ever before.  But for many of us, as we consider our future, we are confronted by two, seemingly unresolvable tensions: our working future with our employer and our career path has lost its promise and yet our financial commitments stretch into a future beyond our hopes of early retirement.

What’s the difference between an Independent Consultant and a Portfolio Executive?

I am talking to more and more people who are attracted to the idea of the Portfolio Executive workstyle and are keen to develop a different approach to their Second Half Career. But often they feel quite confused about being an Independent Consultant versus being a Portfolio Executive.

12 Key Attitudes for Success: Attitude to Opportunity

We all want more success don’t we! When I look back through my life almost all my success has come from my attitude to opportunity. It was Napoleon who said, “Don’t give me great generals, give me lucky generals” and I think the attitude of a lucky general is to see opportunities and then seize them.

Enabling people to buy through powerful conversations

Many years ago, I trained as a coach and as an executive coach you are taught to ask powerful questions and to engage in conversations which leave people at choice. I firmly believe that the most effective conversations with potential clients are conversations where you enable them to buy, particularly if you are offering them a professional service.

Making your Future Work: Is four days a week enough to love what you do?

In a world in which working from home has meant that too many of us are ‘always on’, the idea of a 4-day week can seem like an extravagant fantasy.  But there is increasing evidence that limiting work hours increases productivity of individual workers and increases the economic productivity of whole nations. 

Freedom & Joy – is This as Good as it Gets?

Working in a big professional services firm, I was waking up the train driver at 5:15am to get into the office by 7am and lucky to be home by 8pm.  I was often at an airport on Sunday afternoon so I could be in a foreign city the night before a time zone shifted start at 8am.  Even on holiday, I needed to reply to e-mails and deal with voicemails for an hour a day.  

Video and the Portfolio Executive

Social Media organisations have been promoting video as their preferred engagement medium for quite a long time now.  Making videos is more accessible for the average person than ever before.  But I think you want to consider very carefully how you want to use video to build your profile as a Portfolio Executive.

Is referral and networking enough to build my Portfolio Executive workstyle?

Many of the Portfolio Executives I work with have had no experience of going out and doing anything more in terms of self-promotion than applying for jobs with a CV through an agent. The idea of doing some kind of outbound marketing and some kind of focussed selling can be very very challenging

Writer’s blocks: a couple of hacks to break through to writing regular content for LinkedIn and your own website.

Most of us are not natural authors, natural writers and yes, we can probably write a highly structured report or yes, we can put together some PowerPoint slides for an in-house presentation, but the thought of writing 800 – 1200 words on some kind of topic that is going to build my presence on LinkedIn can feel insurmountable.

Making your Future Work: Work and University – Do I need to do both? 

Students were hoping to be home at Christmas. Many would have been disappointed by positive Covid tests. Then they were hoping to return for the Spring term and some will have been hindered by the most recent lockdown. Summer vacation, 2021, seems a way to go and an overseas holiday seems more dream than hope.

Can I really be a Portfolio Executive? Part 1

There are quite well-established patterns of work for part-time Finance Directors and HR Directors and increasingly for people in Marketing and in Sales. I am also seeing more and more people being part-time CIOs and part-time CTOs. But what about some of those other professional roles that don’t feel quite so mainstream or that are not quite so well defined.

Starting a Conversation with a Potential Client

As you start to engage with potential clients beyond your immediate network, you need to find a way of pitching your value to people who don’t already know you.  You may be recommended, introduced or just connected on LinkedIn.  How do you start that first conversation with someone who you don’t really know?  

Who do you want to be known as on LinkedIn?

When I start working with people who want to build a Portfolio Executive workstyle, one of the key tools for them to develop their presence, build their reputation and find new clients is LinkedIn.  But, before we can do any of those things, we need to spend some focussed time thinking through who they want to be known as on LinkedIn

Making your Future Work: Sacked! finding a future you can love

I knew the axe was going to fall; I knew when it was going to fall and now my job was over.  I thought I was mentally prepared.  I had some dreams for the future.  There was a bit of a financial buffer but now I need to get out there and find my next role.

Upgrading your Portfolio

When I am working with people who are building up their Portfolio Executive workstyle, very often they start working for smaller businesses than works best for them.  They are also offering lower rates than they eventually can demand from the market.  I encourage them to just get started. 

Goldilocks and the Portfolio Executive

The first challenge for a Portfolio Executive is to work out what the ‘Director of’ or ‘Head of’ function you are going to adopt.

The second challenge is to work out what is the right size of business for you.  Like Goldilocks you don’t want something that is too hot or too cold, you want something that is in the middle.

I’ve tried being an Independent Consultant and now I want to be a Portfolio Executive

Many of the people who come to me who want to become a Portfolio Executive, were in a full-time salaried position, but have stepped out to become an Independent Consultant. They may have been able to work with a previous employer to do some consulting work.

Key Persons of Influence and the Portfolio Executive workstyle

One person standing apart from the crowd

I’ve been very impressed by the thinking of Daniel Priestley and his book “Key Person of Influence”.  He tells a compelling story about how you build profile in your market place so that you become a key person of influence in order to attract people to your offer, to make your offer a premium offer and to build your business around being a key person of influence. 

Do I have to run a business to be a Portfolio Executive?

Stacking wooden bricks

At its simplest a Portfolio Executive is spending their time being a part-time head of or part-time director for a portfolio of businesses. In essence what they are doing is acting as part-time employees for each of those businesses.

Taking the career long view

It is very easy for us to stay focussed on the next promotion, the next job, the next assignment and to see our career as moving up an escalator one step at a time. But when we are asked to plan our finances, we recognise that there are times of investment and there are times of harvest.

Preparing your Network for your Portfolio Executive Workstyle

The world wide web as decorative lights around a tablet PC

Finding your role as a Portfolio Executive is a different kind of journey than finding your next job and often if we have been in corporate life for a long time, our network can be very limited in scope. Our network tends to be within the organisations in which we work and sometimes with our suppliers and with our clients.

Eight Essentials for Freedom and Joy at Work

Person leaping for joy against a sunset

As I work with people who are developing their Second Half Careers, a pattern is beginning to emerge.  It seems that there are eight essentials that will enable people to really set out a future which is going to work for them into the second half of their working lives.

Understanding Referrers and Connectors

Jigsaw metaphor with sunburst

Word of mouth marketing is recognised as the most powerful marketing tool we have in our armoury and as we build our portfolio of clients then word of mouth will be crucial to bring in new clients.  This is simulated on social media, but true word of mouth marketing is one person talking to another.

I am too busy to find clients

A busy City Street crossing

Having worked to help people build their portfolio executive proposition and to go out and win their first client.  I increasingly hear them telling me that they are too busy to find anymore clients.  At one level this is a great success story.  They have more work than they can cope with.  Fantastic!

Who should I pay to help me be a Non-Executive Director (NED)?

Hands piecing together a jigsaw puzzle as part of a team - teamwork

I am continually active on LinkedIn and I am incredibly open to signing up to various email newsletters.  As soon as I had ‘Director’ in my job title, I was approached by several different organisations that promised me that they could make me a successful Non-Executive Director.  Maybe you are too?

Why Consulting is Not Fit for Purpose

Hands stacking bricks methodically

I have worked for a global professional services practice where I was a partner and where I was consulting for large and medium sized businesses. After being in that firm for five years I became very disenchanted with what big consulting did for its clients.

From success to significance

A man in a baseball cap contemplating clouds in a valley below him

You are a professional who has worked perhaps ten, fifteen, twenty years in your chosen profession and you have achieved a level of success. You have a senior role, a reasonable salary and you are looking forward and thinking about what you want to do with your 2nd Half Career.

Selling your 2nd Half Career to your Current Employer

Close up of a handshake

Probably the context in which you have the strongest relationships and the strongest potential to develop your 2nd Half Career is actually with your current employer.  At first sight, you may question how favourably your employer will look at your proposal to become independent. 

Finding the right size business for your Portfolio Executive Workstyle

Two people contemplating a paper in a room

I am working with former Finance, HR, Marketing and Sales Directors as well as CIOs / CTOs and a variety of other experienced professionals to build a Portfolio Executive workstyle.  I have come to believe that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ answer to how big a company you should target for your services. 

A little work will make your pension go so much further.

A notebook close up

You may be aware that for many people the kind of annuity rates they can get when they cash in their pension have become very disappointing. I did a quick review of the kind of annuity that you could get for a million pound pension pot, aged 65 as a man and £50,000 a year, five percent, is high. 

What must you do before you quit for your 2nd Half Career?

An executive woman who has a lot of potential decisions to make designated by multi-directional arrows coming from a laptop

You have decided that you want to have a radical change of direction.  You want to move on from your current employer.  You want to step out into a new workstyle.  You want to build a new career for the second half of your working life.

The power of becoming a Trusted Advisor

Two women looking at a laptop and smiling

A critical part of your role as a Portfolio Executive is to build a relationship where you become the trusted advisor of the CEO.  Sometimes your role won’t bring you direct access to the CEO, but you should still become a trusted advisor to whoever is your sponsor.

Ageism – Victim or Victor? You have a clear choice.

A queen being positioned on a chess board

When I was in my early twenties people would introduce me as a computer ‘whizz kid’ and that was really exciting! It was in the early days of the whole micro-computer revolution and being considered a ‘whizz kid’ was the equivalent of the fashionable ‘geek’ of today’s current generation.

Building your runway for Portfolio Executive lift off

You have made the decision that you don’t want to stay in your current position in corporate life, despite the salary and the benefits. You also recognise that the transition to the more fulfilling Portfolio Executive workstyle isn’t going to be straightforward.

IR35 changes: should I stop being an interim, contractor or independent consultant?

Anybody who is working as an interim, contractor or even an independent consultant, should have heard of IR35.  IR35 is an HMRC regulation that seeks to ensure that taxes relating to employment can’t be avoided by the use of an intermediate company.

Turning disappointment into positivity as a Portfolio Executive

A man looking wistfully out of a window with blinds casting shadows on his face

One of the toughest things to deal with when you are setting out as a Portfolio Executive is disappointment. You may have felt less sensitive to it when you were in your previous corporate life because you could always tell yourself that the ‘no’ wasn’t really about you – it was because of the organisation.

Building the right networks as a Portfolio Executive

Executives shaking hands

As a senior executive, you’ll have developed very good networking skills within your corporate environment. You were good at connecting with other senior leaders across your corporate structure, you’ll also have built networks with suppliers and customers.

So, you want to be an entrepreneur? Here’s a different route.

Two women meeting over a tablet computer and smiling

There is a real hankering for many to start their own business – and there’s no shortage of empowering television, especially for younger people it seems. The Apprentice is now on season 15 and Lord Sugar’s search shows no sign of slowing down.

Becoming an interim…. it doesn’t come without risks

Happy executives at a meeting

So, you’ve reached the point in your career where becoming an interim looks attractive. You’ve taken stock of your knowledge and experience and it feels like a route that’s worth exploring – and it may well be. But, as with any form of career change, there are pros and cons.

Contracting … why it’s the career fix that fails

A woman with a laptop and notepad getting ideas looking out of a window

When you are working in a permanent salaried position, contracting can seem like quite an attractive option. You see contractors join your organisation, they seem to have less responsibility, they do their hours and go home (without taking work with them!).

What does ‘permanent full-time salaried’ employment really mean?

Executives at a meeting

The recent announcement by Deutsche Bank of 12,000 job cuts reminds us all that there is no such thing as permanent employment any more. And yet for so many of us, our parents’ aspiration for us (and perhaps ours for our children) is a permanent full-time salaried job as a qualified professional in a leading organisation.

Worried about your executive career? There’s a perfect storm ahead!

The steering wheel of a boat

You might recall the film ‘The Perfect Storm’ with George Clooney.  It should have been blue skies and plain sailing for the highly experienced skipper and his crew – except for a combination of events and conditions that no one saw coming.

How to demonstrate your value as a Portfolio Executive

A garden rockery with branches and roots

If you’ve read our previous blogs, you’ll know about the benefits of this workstyle and career path and how you can build a portfolio of rewarding part-time executive positions. But to make this new world a reality, you have to be able to demonstrate the value you’ll bring to the clients who are going to be paying you.