Plans for chameleons

Roger Trapp reviews two books on staying flexible in your career

In This buccaneering business age, entrepreneurs are everywhere. Thanks to the management gurus' attempts to encourage some of this freewheeling thinking in big businesses, there are even a few "intrapreneurs" to be found. Now comes the "multipreneur".

Taking this route is, according to author Tom Gorman, "the hottest career strategy for success in the 1990s and beyond". In his book Multipreneuring (just published by Simon & Schuster in the United States at $11), he sets out how the concept provides the techniques for managing a more flexible "chameleon" career that ensures prosperity and fulfilment outside the ups and downs of the economy.

The book is, of course, rooted in all the current talk about the end of the job for life and the arrival of portfolio careers. And convincing as this sounds, it has left all those except for the fortunate few - people like Charles Handy who have already lined up a number of lucrative strings to their bows - worried about where they go from here.

Where Mr Gorman helps is in setting out some guidelines that individuals can follow in their search for prosperity away from the safety net of the traditional company. These are grouped under such headings as "develop multiple sources of income and pursue multiple careers", "manage risk aggressively", "act like a producer", "market hard, sell soft", and "handle your own benefits".

The word "multipreneuring", he explains, has been coined from the Latin word for "many" (multi) and the English word "entrepreneur", which stems from the French word for "to undertake". Accordingly, it literally means "more than one undertaking", though the play on entrepreneur is deliberate in that success today largely depends on being something of an entrepreneur.

But, he adds: "Multipreneuring entails more than just acting entrepreneurially."

It actually means having multiple skills, so that individuals "can develop multiple sources of income and multiple careers, either simultaneously or serially".

Perhaps most importantly, Mr Gorman, who has based the book on his own experiences as well as those of others, suggests that becoming a multipreneur involves realising that, "your economic value depends upon your ability to make or save money for others and your ability to add value to processes. Your economic value will not depend upon your position, seniority or connections."

Mr Gorman appears to be a little fanciful in suggesting that this approach to life will enable the participant instantly to have a more honest relationship with the people for whom he or she is working; the freedom to tell somebody where to go must come with time and experience in this field as much as in the conventional environment. But by setting out some clear paths through what many will see as a confusing landscape full of dead-ends and traps he is potentially doing a great service to those seeking to grapple with the modern world of work.

Which is probably more than can be said for Iain Maitland's rather lightweight effort Your Mid-Career Shift (published last week by Thorson at pounds 6.99). Subtitled How to Change Your Job at 35+, it does reasonably well in addressing the particular question of dealing with employers who seem increasingly obsessed with youth.

But the idea that perfecting your technique of telephoning for application forms (see page 99), or having stock answers to queries about your ability to deal with being given orders by someone younger, will enhance your employability rather misses the point.

No matter how bleak it appears, the future is likely to look a lot more like the picture painted by Mr Gorman than the sepia-tinted print produced by Mr Maitland.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas