What We're Into: Portfolio Connections

Creating a portfolio means assembling a mix of pieces or projects, strategically pursuing variety. When you approach a job or career with a portfolio mindset, you can unlock opportunities and mitigate risks — both within the workplace and in the grander story of your life.

TED Talk: Ricardo Semler, "How to run a company with (almost) no rules"

Brazilian CEO Ricardo Semler shares his experience with championing bold changes within a company and giving more power to the wisdom of workers. He believes that trusting people and allowing them flexibility to pursue their passions — including time off and a say in their own salaries and managers — will make for employees who are happier and have greater meaning in their lives.

Article: Clayton M. Christiansen, "How Will You Measure Your Life?", Harvard Business Review, July 2010

This article, which author Clayton Christiansen expanded into a book, explores the idea of creating a strategy for life. Having a personal purpose and goals allows you to live a life with meaning and integrity, instead of getting bogged down in short-term concerns.

Article: Bansi Nagji & Geoff Tuff, "Managing Your Innovation Portfolio," Harvard Business Review, May 2012

Rather than constantly trying to innovate with no overarching strategy, businesses should pursue and manage a portfolio of different innovations, all working together to achieve the highest return. Authors Bansi Nagji and Geoff Tuff describe three levels of innovation:

  • Core innovations: making incremental changes to existing products and incremental advances into new markets
  • Transformational innovations: making new offers or even whole new businesses to serve new markets and customer needs
  • Adjacent innovations: leveraging something the company does well into a new space

Book: Charles Handy, The Elephant and the Flea

Author Charles Handy describes and advocates for the "portfolio life," balancing different categories of work: paid, gift, home, and study/learning. Decades ago, he was already predicting that more and more people would take on many different contracts and types of work, piecing together a self-directed career and life. 

This transition of the economy is deeper than it might seem, Handy explains. Working at a corporation, you can simply follow the company's goals and definition of success. Once you can control your own time, that freedom demands that you define what success means for yourself. You can't do that without surfacing your true values and beliefs about life and purpose.