Welcome to Portfolio Career. Even though I believe ardently in the “multi” nature of my career, I want to focus each edition of this newsletter on a singular area — whether it’s a profile of a successful multi-careerist, a way to optimize your calendar, or an update from my journey as a hyphenated worker. When I meet someone new, I’ve learned not to tell them everything that I do because it will confuse them, or they’ll question my integrity, doubt my work ethic, or get jealous (trust me, I’ve experienced all of these reactions). But with social media, it’s hard to keep information in silos. Yet in writing this newsletter, I still want to keep things narrow…for now.
I like to write with military precision, so I format this newsletter according military guidelines. It starts with a “Bottom Line Up Front” (BLUF) with key bullet points. Scroll down for the narrative to learn more about each point.
Bottom Line: Banker and musician Matthew Mayer has reflected on his hyphenated professional journey, launching an online course Job and Jam. He manages his careers with dexterity, and we can all draw inspiration from his career trajectory. I find echoes of my story in his, and you may, too. Here’s what you’ll learn from Maestro Mayer:
- Overview: The full rundown of Mayer’s career. I also share how we met and why we had an instant affinity.
- Personal Philosophy: Life is a treasure hunt where the treasures are within. Follow your curiosities and discover your treasures.
- The Journey: Mayer’s dual career began in earnest as a child, when he first started playing piano. As an adult, he has kept this flame alive (and even enhanced it) while working a day job.
- Key Advice: Take Action. Get started today on your second career, no matter how small the first step.
- Cross Develop Your Skills: Your day job can help prepare you for your “side” careers. In Mayer’s case, he is a human resources executive who enjoys recruiting. He honed his skill as someone who asks questions and started a podcast.
- Overcoming Obstacles: Having many careers can be a drain on your time and relationships. Learn how Mayer has overcome adversity.
- A Day In The Life: Mayer shares his daily calendar so you can see the nitty-gritty of how multi-careerists plan, operate, and execute.
- The Stigma: There’s a stigma that people with dual careers don’t take each career seriously. But the opposite is true.
I met Matt a few years ago through arts circles, and we had an instant affinity. We are both musicians with day jobs. Like me, he’s a banker by day and musician by … well, whenever he sits down at the piano. Not only is he a practicing multi-careerist, he has spent time reflecting on his very omni-nature. He writes and podcasts about it. He has developed a course on the topic. Ladies and gentlemen, Matt is a multi-career evangelical, and he’s ready and willing to share with you the good word about taking every fork in the road!
Matt and I share a similar philosophy that having many careers is fascinating and exhilarating. It’s a lifestyle that we know many people already espouse, and we think with some encouragement – more may realize they can live a life that is more on their terms.
The full rundown of Matt’s careers:
- Senior Human Resources Adviser at a Regional Midwest Bank
- Professional Independent Composer and Performer at MatthewMayer.com
- Owner and Operator of SoloPiano.com
- Producer and host of the Going Solo Podcast at GoingSolo.Club
- Creator and Instructor of the Job and Jam Program at JobandJam.com
Matt’s philosophy is that life is a treasure hunt. The treasure is inside all of us. “I feel like I have more skills than my day job requires, and I don’t want to waste those skills or curiosities. I want to discover them.” That’s a very endearing and life-affirming way of looking at life. We are not our day jobs. We all have more curiosities to explore and gifts to provide the world.
For Mayer, he quickly discovered that he wanted to create something in the world that had never existed. “I quickly became more empowered to tinker around and discover new things, which lead to new ‘careers.’ One thing snowballed into another,” he said.
Mayer’s multi-career arguably began as a child when he started to play piano. He liked to compose music, to create things out of thin air that hadn’t existed. He has retained this sense of wonder and marvel for new areas and avenues. He demonstrates this curiosity when meeting new people, forging deeper relationships, teaching others, and traveling. In a nutshell, Mayer is a curious person. “Where does your treasure map take you? Just follow your map,” he affirms.
Mayer started his career at NBC’s Access Hollywood in Los Angeles. At the same time, he was composing music, self-publishing albums, performing gigs, and building SoloPiano.com (which now features 400 solo piano artists from around the world). Wanting to make more money (to invest in his passion of music), he moved to Omaha and began working at a bank, where he has been for some fifteen years. So his journey was born out of his curiosity and financial necessity.
Key Advice: Take Action
Mayer’s advice for aspiring multi-careerists is to take action. “Don’t worry about any preconceived notions on how things should be done,” he said. “Most people want to do something but they hesitate, they fear not being successful or the perception from their coworkers at their current job.” Aspiring multi-careerists often feel like they can’t devote enough time to their side jobs.
Cross Develop Your Skills
Your day job can prepare you for your additional careers. As a HR professional, Mayer always enjoyed recruiting and interviewing candidates. He honed his skills — and one day in 2015 he started the “Going Solo Podcast.” Conventional wisdom was to begin a podcast with three to five episodes right out of the gate. But he took action and started with one — for the entire year! The subsequent year he made three episodes. “The experts would say that’s a failure. But for me it was a huge success,” says Mayer. (If I can write 4 or 5 LinkedIn newsletter installments this year, I’ll consider it a personal victory, too).
Because he launched a podcast, Mayer acquired and developed additional skills. He learned how to use a condenser microphone, edit in Garage Band, operate the ZOOM H4N Pro Handy recorder, and optimize voice levels. Above all, he’s learned what it means to produce a good story and he’s gained from the wisdom of his guests. “Never in my dreams did I think I’d spend two hours on the phone with my childhood hero [pianist] George Winston,” he observes.
Portfolio Careers come with challenges. Mayer has experienced a range of them:
- Financial Setback: “I didn’t have enough money to create my first solo piano album in 1999. I overcame it by cashing out all of my savings bonds from when I was a kid, and scraped up literally everything I had saved. In turn, anything I made from the first project was reinvested in the second and so on.”
- Personal Setbacks: “Having multiple careers can take a hit on your social life. I spend most of my time either at my day job, at home working on my other projects, or traveling to record, perform, or tour.”
- Professional Setbacks: “I’ve had to say no to some music “tours” not having enough ‘PTO’ time in my bucket from my day job. At the same time, there have probably been some managers who don’t want to invest in me at a higher level, knowing that I have something outside of the 9-5.”
When he started working at the bank, Mayer lived in a studio apartment in Omaha with thousands of dollars in school debt. He needed to save money, so he worked a full day in the office, then he would hustle to Von Maur Department store where he played piano for three straight hours in the evening. When he told the other “full time” pianists that he had a day job, they laughed at him. “They were rude and demeaning. They didn’t think that I belonged to the ‘piano group,'” reflected Mayer. Indeed, you can find resistance to your dual careers from professionals in both your chosen vocations.
Silence can also be another type of resistance.
Mayer found that resistance can be self-inflicted. When you move forward, you enter a place of silence. You don’t get immediate feedback from your other ventures. “When you pave your road, you must trust the path that you’re on — and not rely on the validating feedback from others,” said Mayer. “I’ve also solved this by starting to be more selective of who I share this journey with on a personal level, and want to surround myself with similar like-minded people,” said Mayer. In other words, multi-careerists get each other. We don’t ask “how much are you sleeping?” or “Why are you doing all these things?” We don’t see our peers as freakshows of prolificness.
In other words, multi-careerists get each other. We don’t ask “how much are you sleeping?” or “Why are you doing all these things?”We don’t see our peers as freakshows of prolificness.
A Day In the Life
A Day in the Life
- 6 am – Get up
- 6:30 am – Leave the house
- 7:00 to 11:30 am – Day job at bank
- 11:30 to 12:30 pm – Workout over lunch (Matt is a beast!)
- 12:45 to 4:45 pm – Day job (i.e. send emails and flex skills on Microsoft Word, PowerPoint)
- Leave work and pick up pizza for dinner
- 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm – eat and play (cards) with kids.
- 8 pm to 11 pm – Multi-career tasks: schedule social media posts, correspond with gig bookers, practice piano, produce podcasts
The weekends: spend more time with the family and work on music career.
On Overcoming the Stigma of a Second Career
“There used to be a stigma that if you did something outside of your 9-5 job, then you must not be really ‘dedicated’ to your day job. I think the opposite is true, the MORE I do in my passions outside my 9-5, I feel makes me better at my day job,” said Mayer. “In addition, when a leader at my 9-5 comes up to me and talks about my passions or how they can help me personally, you can imagine how much more dedication I not only feel for that leader, but also the dedication you feel for a company that embraces that.”
You hear that, employers? When you show some love to a multi-careerist, many want to work even harder for you. I bet Mayer would play the company holiday party without thinking twice!
Questions & Referrals
- How is Matt’s journey similar to yours?
- What questions do you have for him? (Ask in the comments below)
- If you know a multi-careerist (or are one) who who wants to be featured, let me know via LinkedIn messenger.
Matt provided many more relevant insights. I am going to save a few of his gems for another day. I want to dole them out slowly like jolly ranchers. And so that when I have to write a future newsletter, I can reach back into this bowl of jolly ranchers.