This is one of those posts that I write to myself in my head, almost monthly. Today. I thought I'd write and publish my current state for real. The different facets have way more depth than the various items that may or may not get airtime in the 160 character twitter bio.
Borne out of lockdown, I spent more time in the kitchen and with my mum. As a household, we typically cook fresh mostly though like busy modern day working families, convenience shows up from time to time. Bottom line, is that I am learning some real Indian staples as well as treats. A friend of mine, Chris Walkey, Founder of Glass of Bubbly invited me to pair some of my food with sparkling wine and this has evolved into a regular segment (restrictions permitting).
Incidentally, Chris and I met via the property industry about a decade ago. So to say something else I'm currently involved in is to do with property networking. Over the past few months, I've been heavily involved in the operations of Property Connect - a membership based network that has been around for nearly 2 decades. Covid has presented some challenges no doubt, but has also given us opportunities to pivot and prepare for growth as we come out the other side.
I'm still heavily involved in another membership organisation Toastmasters International and currently serve on the board of the UK South, as Club Growth Director. This afford me the opportunity to sharpen the saw of my corporate career and bring transferable skills to the role in functions such as business development, customer engagement and marketing. I also get the opportunity constantly to deliver speeches and webinars online (previously in-person) and get feedback on ways I can improve.
And of course, there's Portfolio People itself. I'm relaunching some of the events we used to hold in person - and taking them digital. The first will be in November - as an introduction to portfolio careers. If you'd like to find out a little more about portfolio careers, get in touch. You can pre-register for the first event here
Rupa Datta is Founder of Portfolio People and can be found in one of the above guises, depending on the day of the week!
When I finished my education a couple of years ago, I realised that my uni transcript is just not enough to secure my dream career as a Geographic Information Science professional. Every single job conversation I had followed with a question around the practical experience- or lack thereof! – I had in the field. Quickly, it became apparent for me that what I needed was a meaningful way to expand my professional portfolio.
Hunt for opportunities - they can be anywhere
Being a long standing member of Toastmasters International, an organisation that teaches leadership and communication skills, in May 2018 I attended a conference of the organisation in Bracknell. As an officer of my Toastmasters, I was required to sit in a as-dull-as-it-can-be-for-a-millennial council meeting listening to all the stuff that I wasn’t interested in. Then, all of the sudden, I’ve heard words “geographical” and “maps”. My attention sparked and as I raised my head... I saw a map. Can you imagine what a map nerd such as myself felt? My first thought was actually “These are rubbish! I can do them better!”, but then as I listened carefully to that presentation, I realised that the author did an amazing job of putting clubs on that map and drawing the boundaries needed. The art and science of cartography weren’t there, but the output served the purpose. That day I approached the leaders of my organisation and I volunteered that I can help them map whatever they needed to be mapped better.
You learn most by doing
I started my journey by understanding the purpose of mapping, which was alignment of clubs within the right geographical boundaries. But there was so much more to it- hard data about the clubs, but also intangible information like relationships and historical performance. I realised that before I can turn my geeky brain on, I had to listen and learn what was known to the leaders who have completed the process before. As I caught the grasp of the process, I started making suggestions and considering scenarios and in no time, I realised that I was actually consulting (!) a proposal with those affected (clients!) to achieve the best outcome. In May 2019 I presented the proposal on that very same as-dull-as-it-can-be meeting and it was actually accepted!
Do it again – do it better – learn more
A month later I was asked if I would stay on the committee and provide my data and maps expertise. Knowing how much I enjoyed the process and how much it helped me grow, I said yes! But the round 2 was more challenging for me. We’ve decided that the time has come to split some of our areas and divisions. And every change brings the challenges that usually result in annoyed and frustrated members. Again, I ran numbers, I considered scenarios and I drew my maps. Then, I consulted, I reported to the chair. Then, we had to persuade the members while at the same time explaining the intricacies of process and complexity of the data. And in May 2020 we’ve passed our proposal on the as-dull-as meeting. While it might seem as a repetition of the process, doing it again helped me hone my skills as geospatial data scientist and negotiator. The principles of our process were the same, but as every scenario is different, I was required to stretch myself even more and in turn, I learned more!
I’m a young professional in a geospatial data field and I still feel there’s so much for me to learn. But I am grateful for the experience I had. It allowed me to learn the skills I wouldn’t use otherwise like consulting, persuading, disagreeing, managing conflict and conveying a message using data to a non-technical crowd. All in a safe environment that was at the same time a-real-world problem with its messy data and emotional baggage of people who were stakeholders that I needed to win over.
I don’t think that is the end of my journey as Toastmasters map geek. However, I feel that this portfolio experience gave me an amazing opportunity to grow out of being a fresh graduate into a geospatial professional with a feel of a real world project.
Find out more about Toastmasters Check out Monika's map of Toastmasters clubs in the South of the UK below
Monika Swiderska is a self-confessed data and map geek, applying this to her portfolio and developing her career!
When you stand still for just a moment in this busy world and especially now, with all the noise and fear surrounding the pandemic, isn’t it great to reflect a little? I’ve heard many friends say how this time is making them look at what life is all about and reflect on what is important and what makes them tick. I’m doing the same, thinking about what we like doing and maybe where we could change things. In amongst that, we may even be thinking about volunteering in some way. It is a wonderful thing to be able to gift some time as a volunteer – to be involved with something that is helpful and may be very different from the normal day to day.
Volunteering for me has taken on many forms over the years, and I have honestly enjoyed it all. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t done this every year, and I certainly don’t want to come across as sanctimonious, I’m not! But there is so much to be gained all round, and it can fit snugly with your work/life balance. Giving some time to help out others, learning new skills, sharing your own skills with others, staying connected with old friends, meeting new people, these are just some of the many worthwhile activities on offer. Volunteering is also an enriching addition to your portfolio career.
My journey has included volunteering with HANDS (Help a Neighbour in Distress Scheme) which offers help to the elderly or isolated. This can be small acts, maybe doing a little gardening or shopping for people, but essentially being a friendly face and sometimes the only person they see or indeed speak to that day (times that x 100 in present circumstances!)
My love of Art and Art History has steered me towards volunteering at Strawberry Hill House as a room steward and more recently being a member of the Committee of the Friends of Turner’s House. Turner’s House, or Sandycombe Lodge as it is now known, was the home of the great artist J.M.W Turner which is nestled in Marble Hill, South West London. Turner himself, designed it and it is often referred to as his biggest work of art. It was a retreat for him away from the hustle bustle of London and his work. He lived there on his own with his devoted “Old dad”. To find out more about Turner’s House or how to become a “Friend” or get involved (click here.)
Let's not lose it!
The reality is, that many charities rely heavily on the steady support of volunteers and donors to keep going, without this they will flounder. It’s not easy to keep going when, for example, in the heritage sector, who rely on a steady footfall of visitors to aid funds, that stream of income has stopped overnight. Things will now look very different going forward, especially in the light of vastly restricted management of visitors. However, I don’t want to be the voice of gloom and doom, because with change there is new alignment and creativity. At Turner’s House, for instance, the quarterly lectures, offered to the friends have moved online, and we had a our first very successful Zoom lecture in May with more planned for later in the year.
Mind Health Body
I think it’s safe to say that things are topsy-turvy in the world and we all need to take good care of our mental health, trying to fathom our way through and cope with the added stresses and strains. Reaching out to volunteer in some way helps both the giver and the receiver in this respect. If you can, keep supporting your charity, and if you fancy dipping your toe in to a bit of volunteering, just go for it! It will most probably reward you in bucket loads, I know it has done for me.
Image credit: Gerd Altman from Pixabay
Fiona Grundy is a UK based Virtual Assistant, who loves 'net-walking' and clearly values volunteering as part of her portfolio
For most of us, our work defines our name, fame and reputation in society. Designations and associations hold a major part in others recognizing us. That’s where we earn our respect in today’s society – bitter truth.
We all want to create some identity for ourselves. For some, it’s a quick project or work done that will get us in the limelight or be known in our respective industry or field of work and for others it’s a long term game where they build something and want to be known for leaving a legacy behind. At times it becomes like a goal that we plan and work towards achieving it. It may change as we progress through our lives, careers and the networks we establish and the exposure we get.
When I founded Eeztail, a Digital Marketing Agency in 2015, I was working towards making it the best industry in the state of Goa, India where we operate from and I wanted to be center of it; may it be servicing the best of clients, having creative campaigns, get nominated for awards, building the best team there is etc. I wanted to be known as the best marketeer or an Ad Man.
Being a business owner also exposes you to a different network altogether where you meet others like you from different walks of life and business. Some become friends; you’re in their inner circles or you hangout more often where you exchange ideas, business plans, expansion and living life at a whole different level. At times your client becomes your biggest inspiration too.
So, this had me reflecting over last couple of months before COVID-19 situation that I no longer want to be known as the best in my industry. I wanted to separate my name and attachment from my Agency. Don’t get me wrong here; I still want my Agency to be one of the best in the industry. It’s just that I want a different recognition and identity for myself moving from a Founder and Managing Partner’s mentality of my Agency to a “Businessman” mentality since my long term goal has changed to building more number of businesses other than only growing the existing one and I’m glad that I’ve realized it at any early age. I’ve already started working on the second venture as I’m waiting for the economy to be back on track. It’s a work a progress and I still need to get a lot of things streamlined in my first venture to get it on autopilot mode given the challenges the pandemic has brought upon us. This changes the entire outlook of how I’ll be perceived or known.
For each one it’s different. It’s more important to know what you want in life. You'll either be the best in your trade and be known for it or you build multiple ventures. Both are equally challenging and require dedicated focus and a lot of sacrifices.
In almost all the scenarios we need a team or people we trust and are loyal to us in order to reach to our goals and loyalty is a two way street. Together you can achieve much more and go further but both sides need each other. While we work on building our identity and reputation, one should also watch our own character.
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – John Wooden
So whom you would rather like to meet? Simon Fernandes – Founder and Managing Partner of Eeztail or Simon Fernandes _______________________ ☺
Simon Fernandes is Founder and Managing Partner of Eeztail - and clearly at least one other venture!
If you were to google “Why Volunteer” “Benefits of Volunteering” you would be presented with numerous reasons from “social” to “personal” to “volunteering and happiness.”
According to Wikipedia “Volunteering is generally considered as altruistic activity where an individual or group freely gives time “to benefit another person, group or organisation” without being forced or being paid to do so. Volunteering is also renowned for skill development and is often intended to promote goodness or to improve human quality of life."
I believe volunteering can also be an element of a “portfolio career” or a “side hustle” to a regular full-time role or a number of part time roles! In the realms of having and enjoying a portfolio career for many that often means diversifying risk around having a number of part time positions to match shifting priorities and risk tolerance by generating multiple income streams aligned to work life integration.
There is no such thing as a perfect job and that is okay and whilst you may well be reading this and thinking “I chose a job I love and I don’t ever feel like I have worked a day in my life” for many it is unlikely that we will spend our entire careers in one role or industry, let alone one company! Volunteering can provide opportunities for growth, creativity, mentorship, a new social and or professional network and a sense of joy from knowing that by giving time, skills, expertise to benefit another person, group or organisation for the volunteer there is a sense of fulfilment that they may not feel within their “day job”. Every volunteer will have their own reasons for wanting to help others!
During my 15+ years of volunteering I have held collection tins, learnt the art of event management to organise fund-raisers, written various strategy papers on fund-raising, recruiting and leading volunteers across various initiatives. I have chaired volunteering committees been a global ambassador of an international charity to holding various UK and International Charity board or advisory positions. Within my “Day Job” whilst I have remained in one industry my roles have been across sales, marketing, operations and technology. I have utilised my “charity career experience” to lead companywide charity initiatives which has also enabled me to build my professional profile and network within the organisation I work for.
Whilst volunteering has given me a wide variety of skills that I would not have learnt in my “day job” I gain a huge amount of joy from helping others, it is humbling and inspiring to learn from others and their life stories. There is also a huge sense of achievement gained from selling all the tickets for a fund-raiser to organising auction prizes, seeing the bids and then being able to spend the funds raised to make a difference to the lives of others.
I could share so many stories that have touched my heart, I am also very blessed to have made life long friends through volunteering, back to the day job my colleagues aware of the joy I gain from volunteering organised an event whereby we entertained, played and provided food for a group of street kids – whilst these children lived on the streets with their families and had nothing but the clothes they stood up in they had the biggest smiles and a warmth of spirit that was incredible given their circumstance and just beyond humbling. Their smiles were contagious that day and so I would encourage anyone to get volunteering. Whilst you can share your skills and experience to make a difference, I would imagine volunteering will also make a positive difference to you too in more ways than you can imagine!
Rachelle Gaskell works full time with a side hustle of volunteering for fun!
A man schedules a meeting, the meeting schedules a meeting, the meeting schedules the man.
Did you know there’s a virus going around? I don’t mean the one that’s so bad it makes me look back on Brexit news with nostalgia.
I’m taking about Meetingytis, a dangerous condition that if left untreated can turn you into a full blown Meetingaholic.
This may not sound like a big deal. Most of us work in environments where meetings are an accepted form of life. What else are managers going to do all day? But while your boss does it because he loves the sound of his own voice, Meetingaholics do it out of a pathological fear of having a meeting-less agenda.
‘It took over my life’ confesses Sean Down, an addict who wants to remain anonymous (but I forgot). ‘I ended up neglecting my family, friends and my personal hygiene. At work I’d go to any meeting that would take me. I even participated in the ‘Accountant’s Lunch Catch Up’, which was not only useless (I work in IT) but drop dead dull.’
Sean admits gate-crashing meetings to feed his addiction. ‘Sales meeting were the easiest to infiltrate. They were all drunk or hungover’.
He recalls his shameful past, ‘I reached rock bottom when I caught myself going to ‘HUMAN RESOURCES: WE’RE HERE TO HELP’ (voluntary attendance). It was just me. That’s when I decided to ask for help’.
Help is not easy to come by. Traditional programs based on AA’s ‘My name is Sean and I am a Meetingaholic’ do not work as they involve yet another meeting, feeding the addiction even further.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the Meetingytis strain has mutated and we face an even more devastating virus: ZOOM-MONELLA. Born out of the need to stay connected during lockdown, people suffering from ZOOM-MONELLA feel compelled to attend meetings ‘virtually’ 24 hours a day!
The latest casualty (an engineer from Surrey), was forcefully removed from his shed which had more screens, graphs and satellites than NASA’s control room. His loving wife tearfully admits, ‘Intervention was a necessary evil. He had turned into a ZOOM-BIE’.
Think this has nothing to do with you? Think again. How many times have you ZOOMED into a meeting and thought, ‘When is this going to end?’. Or worse, had the temptation to MUTE everything, pretend to listen while secretly watching DAS BOOT series 2? Or was that just me?
‘ANTI-MEETING’ lobbies around the world are calling for new laws to tackle the problem. Not by punishing the addicts, but by penalizing the ‘MEETING DEALERS’. Charming and persuasive, these criminals lure innocent victims into attendance with promises of coffee, Krispy Cremes and ‘It’s only 5 minutes.’ Without realizing it, the victim is subjected to ‘The Gateway Meeting’ (meeting to program future meetings) and addiction is inevitable.
Spokesperson for ‘Just Say NO to Meetings’, Rupa Datta comments, ‘There are different approaches to dealing with meeting addiction around the world. Some countries place a greater emphasis on law enforcement - while others do not’.
In the UK steps are being taken to create legislation to classify them into three groups – A, B and C.
Class A are the most harmful and include PowerPoint Presentations, (PPP is now an identified form of torture).
Class B includes meetings where someone with an ego the size of the UK debt hogs up all the stage time.
Class C includes people saying ‘I’ll be brief’.
Rupa continues, ‘Progress is slow due to lawmakers’ endless meetings. In the meantime, we should all be doing our part to stop this terrible disease’.
In order to do that, ‘Just Say NO to Meetings’ has published the following guideline that will help stop addiction before it even starts:
Sonia Aste is a comedian and a writer who avoids meetings like the plague. Find her on Twitter @SoniaAste