Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

001: What Is the Portfolio Life? [Podcast]

You are not just what you do. You were made for more than just one thing. Your life is a portfolio of activities, all of which make you who you are.

The Portfolio Life

In this short, kick-off episode of my new podcast, my friend Jared Easley and I discuss why I’m starting a podcast — and why maybe you should, too.

We also talk about the idea behind the title, The Portfolio Life, and what it means for artists, entrepreneurs, and those who want to make a difference with their work.

I think you’ll like it.

Click to listen


What is the Portfolio Life?

I didn’t come up with this idea of a portfolio life on my own.

In fact, my friend Keith Jennings introduced me to the concept, who first heard it from Ian Cron. Turns out, neither of them came up with it, either. Like all good artists, they stole the idea from someone else.

As far as I can tell, Charles Handy coined the term in 1989 in his book, The Age of Unreason, which is a fascinating read on the future of organizations and chillingly prophetic.

So what is the portfolio life? In a nutshell, it’s probably closer to the life you’re living than what you tell people you “do.”

A portfolio life isn’t just about what you do — it’s about who you are.

My portfolio, for instance, consists of writing, speaking, blogging, consulting, traveling, and working with nonprofits. Not to mention time with my family and friends, as well as hobbies and pastimes I enjoy.

All of those things make me who I am, and without one, I’m not satisfied.

According to Handy, in the future (which I believe we’re living now), we will all be “portfolio people,” thinking of vocation not as a single career but rather as our whole body of work.

This podcast is aimed at those who want to live that kind of life.

Writers and artists have long had to figure such things out, but as the world of work changes, more people will be forced to think of their work less in terms of a job and more in terms of a portfolio.

And as Handy writes, that’s a good thing.

With the Portfolio Life, I want to help you do three things:

  1. Find the work you were born to do.
  2. Identify what makes up your portfolio.
  3. Get started creating it.

Episode takeaways

  • What you know is more important than what you can do.
  • You were made to do more than one thing, and it’s your job to discover that creative work.
  • Look at your whole body of work and create a lifestyle that allows you do all the things you find fulfilling.

Resources mentioned

What does your portfolio consist of? Also, what would you like to hear me cover in this podcast? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I am the author of four books, including The Art of Work. I also run an online business teaching writers how to get the attention their work deserves. Every week, I send out an email newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

Your Work Deserves to Be Noticed — Here’s How

All art needs an audience. So does your writing. To download a free eBook and learn exactly what I did to grow my blog from zero to 100,000 readers in 18 months, enter your email below.

  • http://www.sheepdressedlikewolves.com/ Andy Mort

    Yes! It makes me very very happy that you’ve jumped into podcasting, Jeff. And this is a fabulous concept to base it on. I had a real aha moment a couple of years ago when someone said that what I was doing could be described as a ‘porfolio life’. It freed me from the narrative I had built up around the messy and seemingly chaotic approach I have to work – and the apparent stalling I was doing before choosing my one path/career etc. I get the impression that I’ve been waiting for this podcast ever since!

    Thanks man!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I can totally relate, Andy. Thanks for listening — for having me on your podcast.

  • http://www.aterriblehusband.com/about/ ATerribleHusband

    Congratulations, Jeff! Enjoyed the first episode and subscribed. I’ll be following shortly behind you in Podcast Villa… first with a podcast I’ve been recording with my 4 year old son and then with my Confessions of a Terrible Husband one!

    So fun to record. And looking forward to hearing all that TPL has to share!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Excellent. I look forward to listening!

  • http://donnielaw.com/ Donnie Law

    I first heard you on a pat flynn podcast a year or more ago. you’re a natural fit for a podcast.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Donnie. That means a lot.

  • http://storiesmadepowerful.com/ Arlen Miller

    Best I can tell, Mr. Jeff, ‘The Portfolio Life” podcast concept goes hand-in-hand with your ‘calling’ book that’s in the works. Message and life congruentis. :) Thanks so much, Jeff. I appreciate your podcast. Thanks to Jeff and Jared for the launch! “Expect to be surprised.” I like it.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Indeed it does, Arlen. Thank you for paying attention.

  • http://www.BuckBranding.com/ Clark Buckner

    Congrats, Jeff! I’m excited for you. I just reviewed in iTunes – looking forward to more episodes! https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-portfolio-life-jeff-goins/id844091351

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Clark!

  • Heather C Button

    Love this. The title itself really resonates with me and I can’t wait to listen to the next episodes.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Awesome, Heather. More to come soon!

  • http://noaefame.com/ Nkechi Waboso

    Jeff, you are awesome. I want to be part of your work. You
    have inspired a whole community and I am ready to share so much with you. The
    portfolio is a good way to understand that we all have more than one thing in
    our lives. Thank you

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      You’re welcome, Nkechi!

  • http://www.robstill.com Rob Still

    Very cool in so many ways. Loved the first podcast. Looking forward to where you go with this.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Rob. As you recall, you were trying to get me to do this over a year ago.

      • http://www.robstill.com Rob Still

        You have a good memory, amigo. Portfolio Life will be an excellent next step in building your media empire. :)

  • kentsanders

    Awesome, Jeff! So glad you started a podcast and looking forward to more episodes.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Kent!

  • James Kinson

    Jeff, I love this. I listen to podcasts. I don’t have as much time to read blogs, so I’m glad I will get to soak up more of your knowledge on a much more consistent basis.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Excellent, James! That’s one of the reasons we created it!

  • Joy

    Hello Jeff, I look forward to the Portfolio Life. I have wanted to do podcasts myself for my supporters (I am a missionary in China) as a Thank You, sharing with them some of what they are supporting. However, last July and August I had two strokes that left me with Parkinsons Stage 3 and a severe speech stutter. I am still interested in doing the podcasts (I chose to stay on the mission field rather than return to Nashville. I am at home among the people I serve in China.) Do you think the stutter would create a problem and supporters would loose patience trying to listen, or do you think they would want it?

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I think you would just need to be honest and up front about it, acknowledge the elephant in the room. It works well for Jason Gray: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrqiHov0MdY

    • http://www.robstill.com Rob Still

      Hey Joy one thing you could do is get someone to edit the recording for you. That way you just share your stories as best you can, and get an editor to clean it up so it’s an easier experience for your listeners.

  • Erika @ VACreatively.com

    So glad you’re doing a podcast, Jeff. Great job with the first one!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Erika!

  • Kent F

    Love the feel, music and words Jeff. Are you guys together on mic, or was this via Skype? Sounds really crisp Thanks!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Kent. We did it via Skype.

  • http://readtoleadpodcast.com/ Jeff Brown

    Excited for this very much Jeff. This topic has come up a number of times on recent episodes of my show – I think I even credited you for the term “portfolio life.” It’s certainly the life I’ve been living this past year.

    I used to subscribe to the idea that it was all about finding your one true passion. But who wants just one? ;-)

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Heh. I like the idea of not being a jack of all trades but a master of some.

  • http://www.jonstallings.com/ Jon Stallings

    Looking forward to your new Podcast. Great foundational topic.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Jon!

  • http://robyn-campbell.blogspot.com/ Robyn Campbell

    Excellent job, Jeff. I hope to try this one day. I’ll be excited to for the next one you do, for sure. This first one was terrific and based on an intriguing concept. Portfolio life indeed. :-)

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Robyn! Glad you enjoyed it.

  • Jared Easley

    Great job Jeff!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Ditto, Jared. ;)

      • http://www.aterriblehusband.com/about/ ATerribleHusband

        Tritto Jared and Jeff! (Is that a word?)

        • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

          Heh. It is now!

  • http://www.simplyablogoflife.com/ Sabra Penley

    So excited about this podcast, Jeff! I just spent two hours making two new notebooks in OneNote for my relationships and responsibilities, to organize every part of my life. And then I opened this email about your podcast. Haven’t had time to listen yet, but looking forward to it and future podcasts!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Hah! Cool. Thanks, Sabra.

  • http://www.onethingalone.com/ Asheritah Ciuciu

    Jeff, I’m so excited for this podcast. I think the concept of a “portfolio life” is a breath of fresh air, allowing me and others to embrace all the different talents, passions, and possibilities that may seem unrelated but all make my heart beat just a little faster. I’ve been mulling over the same idea for the last few weeks and taken the plunge into starting videos for my blog and offering editing consulting services for bloggers–both things I never entertained before as possibilities.

    All this to say: you’re spot on and your message is one we need to hear. Thanks for starting the podcast and inviting us into the conversation!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Asheritah!

  • Marcy Mason McKay

    I’d never heard the term PORTFOLIO LIFE, but love it. As humans, we truly are multifaceted. I’d like to hear from both you and your guests regarding concrete steps they used to battle BIG creative monsters…starting their own business, writing a novel, etc. I look forward to hearing more.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I look forward to sharing, Marcy. :)

  • http://www.jackiebledsoe.com/ Jackie Bledsoe, Jr.

    I am really looking forward to this podcast, Jeff! My portfolio consists of…

    …leading and loving my family, writing, blogging, speaking, teaching, coaching, homeschooling, and soon (video) webcasting and podcasting. :)

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I love that portfolio, Jackie. Keep creating and living!

      • http://www.jackiebledsoe.com/ Jackie Bledsoe, Jr.

        Thanks, Jeff!

  • Claes Jonasson

    Just got done listening to the first episode and emailed 2 friends about it because I want them to listen to it as well. This sounds like it will be really timely and I look forward to applying the nuggets.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Wow. Thanks!

  • http://www.jackiebledsoe.com/ Jackie Bledsoe, Jr.

    Is The Portfolio Life available via Stitcher Radio for us Android users? Or will it be at some point?

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Great question. We’re working on this, Jackie.

      • http://www.qualitylivingmadesimple.com/ Joshua Rivers

        I just asked the same question. I should have read through first. :)

  • Scott Smail

    Love the idea & concept for the podcast. I will definitely be tuning in!! You are making a difference…keep it up.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Scott!

  • Julia Tomiak

    All my life I’ve been interested in doing several things, but nothing seemed to fit into one vocation, and I thought something was wrong with me. This concept of The Portfolio Life validates my desire to embrace all the things that make me me: teacher, writer, blogger, manager (of my family), artist, athlete, volunteer. Thank you so much for starting this podcast- I can’t wait to hear all of the great things you will share.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      It’s a pretty fascinating concept. I can’t wait to share more.

  • Madeline Osigian

    Will all the podcasts be free?
    I am very excited about this concept. My portfolio (as a 14 year old homeschooler) is blogging, writing books, and decorating, besides spending time with friends and family.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Yup! All free. :)

  • Brenda Huddleston

    Loved the Podcast and the Portfolio Life. It is so true and instead of feeling like we are falling short in one area of our lives, we can embrace the whole of who we are. Thank you!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      You’re welcome, Brenda. Thanks for listening!

  • Kathy Storrie


    “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” Genesis 1:26
    We are already programed and equipped to build a Portfolio Life:) It’s just a matter of being guided by the right people He puts in our path…that being you.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Well put, Kathy. :)

  • http://www.jodymaberry.com/ Jody Maberry

    I have been hoping for a podcast from you for a while. Glad to see you chose Portfolio Life as the theme. I look forward to see what you have in store and how you will surprise us.

    Jared Easley is a great fit for host.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      That means a lot, Jody. I appreciate it.

  • http://brucercross.com/ Bruce R. Cross

    Glad you are jumping in this river! Favor and blessing on it for you. The wheel of life has many spokes….good move!

  • Leticia

    Great stuff. I really enjoyed it. :)

  • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

    Jeff – enjoyed the music intro’s and outro’s and the podcast – looking forward to how you approach it. I like the concept of a portfolio, or something that has many parts woven into one.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks. It’s gonna be fun!

  • http://www.empoweringthe80percent.com/ Ellory Wells

    Hey Jeff! Welcome to the club!

    Not a bad idea to have the legendary Jared Easley kick off episode 1 either!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Yeah, he’s pretty awesome. Thanks for listening, Ellory. :)

  • http://alexdesigns.com/ alex harris – alexdesigns

    Really enjoyed the first show! As an artist, entrepnuer and podcaster myself I can really relate to the concept of the portfolio life. Looking forward more episodes… Just left that as a review in iTunes.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Alex!

  • Stephen Chase

    You might have a Portfolio Life if..
    Job interviewer says “Your resume lacks focus”. Happened to me.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Hah! Amen. You just gave me an idea… ;)

  • Tami Romani

    Oh my goodness!! I haven’t even listened to this yet, but I KNOW it’s for me… You are describing me to a T. Now I have a name for this life I live… Portfolio Life. Now, to figure out how to make some money at some of the many things I do…

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Awesome. Plenty more to share on that.

  • http://www.qualitylivingmadesimple.com/ Joshua Rivers

    This sounds great! Can’t wait to listen! Do you have any plans of adding it to Stitcher, or are you just sticking with iTunes?

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Yep. It’s on the list, Joshua. Thanks!

  • Cecelia

    This is an inspired message Jeff. I’ve never thought of this concept, but I surely do know there are many aspects to my life, and I’m never satisfied if even one of them is missing. I now have a clearer focus of what makes me, just me! Thank you.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Excellent. Love to hear that, Cecelia.

  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

    Awesome first episode! Good job, Jeff and Jared!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thank you, Lily!

  • http://www.WishListMember.com Stu McLaren

    Congrats on getting this off the ground Jeff! Excited for you.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, man!

  • http://www.48Days.net Dan Miller

    Jeff – looks like you’ve touched a nerve for a lot of people. Congrats on a great kick-off.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Dan. I agree. It’s really cool to see all the responses!

  • Karna

    Just listened to the introductory podcast. I have been dealing with this idea for years. As a teacher, I am not just a teacher, but a counselor, a coordinator, and a mediator – just to name a few. As a parent, I was a chauffeur, a laundress, a cook, a tutor, and a cheerleader – just to name a few. As a soon to be retired teacher with more time to do what I love – write -, I am putting myself out there as an eclectic woman with interest in a wide variety of topics. I am just beginning to find my voice on my blog http://karnatecla.wordpress.com/ and in two months, I plan to be getting all my “ducks in a row.”

  • bradblackman

    I just listened to your kickoff episode. I’m glad you pulled the trigger on this! I think it’ll be fun. Looking forward to what is in store. And you’re right, many of us are artist-entrepreneurs with a passion for fill-in-the-blank. I think that’s the only way we CAN be. To do otherwise would be pretty boring, don’t you think?

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Brad. I think you’re right: at least some people are wired for this life, not because they want to, but because they can’t live any other way.

      • bradblackman

        I have a book called “Why are you creative?” and it asks that question of many famously creative people, mostly filmmakers and famous authors. More often than not, the response is, “I don’t have a choice.” Interestingly, the second most common response is, “I didn’t know I was creative. I just do what I do.”

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  • https://audacitytowrite.blogspot.com Tiffany Chacon

    Love this. “Not JUST a writer…a communicator” – this is definitely what I am striving for. I think one challenging aspect of this “portfolio life” is balance. I think a lot of people have to have jobs that they do not consider a part of their “portfolio life” until their passion begins to pay off. This can be difficult to juggle your “real” job with your “passion” job.

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  • http://www.mainegraphics.com Doug Moore

    Good thoughts, Jeff. Sometimes I get frustrated for not concentrating on “The One Thing” rather than embracing my portfolio and really living!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      That’s what it’s all about.

  • maxwell ivey

    hi jeff; congrats on starting th podcast and i want to wish you the best of luck with it. i didn’t know that th portfolio life is what we call it, but i am a equipment broker, blogger, video podcaster, and a source of inspiration to many. I want to travel, speak, and be an ambassador for th amusement industry and for blind people everywhere. looking forward to learning more about this. thanks, max

  • Crisie Hutchings

    So glad you started the podcast. I will be a faithful listener. Your work is truly helping me in my life. I appreciate it so much!

  • mvaillancourt

    Congratulations on the new podcast Jeff!

  • http://www.karagottwarner.com Kara Gott Warner

    Jeff, I’m loving your new podcast! I’ve listened to them all…in just one day. I’m hungry for more. Please keep them coming!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Coming later this week!

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Jeff – I am finally ready to zip through all your podcasts! WOOHOO

    I have been meaning to do this for a while, but I am very creative with excuses ;)

    Would you say that a ‘Portfolio Life’ begins with a ‘Personal Mission Statement’ (a term I have seen thrown about lately)?


  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Fabulous kick-off, Jeff!

    I know I should say, “I am a writer”, but I still hesitate to own my calling because of my meager achievements! LOL

    Anyway, I think this is (one part of) my portfolio: I am a writer who wants to utilize the power of my words to empower, heal and transform lives for the better!

    Thank you

    Moving on to No. 2