Leaving a full time C-Suite kind of role can leave some executives wondering what the right next steps are. Assuming that you don’t want to quickly go back to a full time role in a single company, a “Portfolio Career” can be a highly rewarding and just as lucrative adventure. But how do you make this a reality?

Here is a proven plan to be on your way to a much better balanced lifestyle without giving up the financial stability you’re used to:

  1. In the airlines business, it is impossible to get the average prices up until the airplane is full. This is a good analogy for your first year or so: don’t be picky!


First, decide how much of your time you want filled with career opportunities. If that answer is “80 hours a week”, then this isn’t the right option for you and you should find a new full time role.


Assuming that your desires are something less than this, first work on filling the time. This can include non-profit boards, teaching at a local college, writing a book, or to make money serving on any private board that will have you. Spread your net wide and say yes to anything that is not illegal, immoral, or against your personal viewpoints.


  1. Ensure your LinkedIn profile in accurate and complete, and be sure you have setting turned on so that recruiters can see you. This is very important, as people will not reach out to you if you have this setting turned off.


  1. Join one of the many “Expert Network” companies like GLG, Coleman, or Alphasites. These companies link investors, portfolio managers, companies doping due diligence, and more with experts in the fields they want more information. Think broadly about the skills you can offer, not just “marketing” but brand building, financial measurements, xxx industries, leadership, etc.


Then, set a price per hour that will attract businesses to want your services, say $200 to $300 per hour. If you don’t get calls, lower your price. If you get too many opportunists, raise your price. Join as many networks as you can.


The calls you be set up with through these networks will be very helpful to you, and you may even create some contacts that will result in later opportunity.


  1. Once you are working as much as you’d like, then move to “improve the mix” mode. This means continuing to prospect for new business, and when something nicely algned with your interest, and maybe paying more, come s up, you can take this and maybe drop one or two of the other things you’ve been doing. Don’t drop the Expert Networks though. This are a continuously valuable source for you.


  1. There are many more private companies in the US than public companies. Private companies owned by private equity firms are often looking for individuals with experience that can help their investment increase in value to add as independent board members.


These roles can be lucrative, interesting, and are often more “hands on” than public company boards. They can be highly rewarding. Focus heavily on these opportunities.


  1. Public Company boards are the most prestigious and sometimes pay the best, but these roles are few and far between. This is because there are fewer companies, and board turnover is very low. Take every interview that you can for these roles, but be realistic about how long these decisions take to make and how likely it is that you will be the chosen candidate.


  1. Never stop looking, even when you think you’re doing everything you want. That’s because you don’t always know what you don’t know. There may be another opportunity that is especially enticing and if you’re not looking, you won’t find it.


I was the CEO of a major company for 11 years before I chose to leave for a better-balanced life. Today, my work-related time is split among several private boards, one public board, a Professorship at a local college, Expert Network calls, and yet I’d say that 20% of my time is still prospecting. Yet, compared to when I was a CEO, I make as much cash per year, have granted equity in multiple companies versus just one, and yet work only about three hours per day. You can do this too, especially if your career had demonstrated success that will translate to other companies and other businesses.