A Magazine Capturing the Story of Health- For People, Environment, Economy & Habitat

Portfolio Work is an Antidote to Today’s Global Economy

Sustainable Employment is not Merely a Matter of Jobs!

Lavinia Weissman

Boulder, Co


 October 10,  2011, 60 minutes’ Lesley Stahl interviewed Obama’s job tsar,  Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General.  portion of Immelt’s solution to repair the economy is for the US to create 300,000 jobs per month. From the point of view of corporations and traditional jobs, this idea may be a remedy. I have great respect for Immelt and some of his thought leadership.

But thought leaders can have good ideas from their perspective that do not address an issue of scale that is in fact global (not just US based problem).  From my perspective job creation and how Immelt views the present and future remains unchanged from the traditional model and linear time line of the US education system which has a history of decline.

But what about the millions of people who have alternative methods of education, credentials and experience  and obtained degrees more than a decade ago? How do these people recover employment if derailed from full employment. Meghan McArdle for the Atlantic Monthly defined the full scope of  Why Unemployment Matters and all that it implies.

This notion of jobs and employment has been traditionally described as the full employment model grew out of  Post WWII economic development that promised to every member of the workforce  a life long job assure you and your family their retirement. By the late 50’s health care was added to that promise.

This antiquated system has been “broken”  for decades. The corporate approach to managing the bottom line and investment value. This has  resulted in cycles of downsizing that began in the late 70’s and accelerated in impact and frequency to this day. .

Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor during the Clinton Administration outlined in a resignation speech to Congress and the Senate that this full employment model and the perpetual view of fixing problems is not the solution that would assure US Citizens sustainability of their health, income and retirement.

With 1 our to 2 American’s chronically ill or facing a life threatening illness,  health now relies on much more than health care  provides.

Reich is now Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and has updated his view, which in my opinion is more far reaching than  Obama’s appointment of a corporate job tsar and the 2012 American Jobs Act.

Economic problems cannot be he problem  solved from the perspective of  corporate employment or consumer spending, alone. Lavinia Weissman has added a new perspective to this view based on her research summarized at

The Future of Work is Now Here!

The October 2011 Wall Street protest has led to a launch of a  new movement,  described by  Journalist John Perkins on, asking  for change in government and regulation once again brings to the  forefront a pattern of protecting shareholder value through layoffs, downsizing and outsourcing that began in the mid- 1980s.

This method of managing profit and productivity has led to low employee morale, growing job dissatisfaction and a rising increase in work-related medical issues from stress and occupational hazards that cost Americans $300 billion in health care expenditures per year.

In contrast, the European Union (a 25-country alliance) now measures an economy  with a GDP of $16.2 trillion that is home to
140 Fortune 500 as compared to 50 in the U.S. The EU is half the landmass of the U.S. Culturally, its citizen “work to live” as a way to have a life that includes for most six weeks paid vacation.

The UK, France and Germany are global leaders in health care quality and cost efficiency of the 7 countries that include. Analysis of the US is also included in this ongoing research project performed by the Commonwealth Fund.

The greatest difference between the EU and the USA is how people work. In Europe, there is a far better quality of work life and far less income inequality.

Quality performance is managed by companies that pay well and provide the environments in which  workers can network and learn by breaking apart hierarchies and tightly controlled systems of delegation. In the U.S.,fewer than 15 percent of companies work this way.

This approach to work encourages productivity and profits by replacing the idea of “job security” with the concept of any worker gaining stable employment by performing a series of challenging assignments and doing them well.

This assumes that the worker gives a high degree of service and intelligence by “working smart” rather than “working harder or more.”

As a result of working this way, workers can build a quality portfolio of work that keeps them continuously employed.  On the job, you can identify and distinguish a portfolio worker by watching the way s/he:

• Exercises a distinct expertise that grows in depth;
• Solves problems through various forms of networking;
• Links work into a process of continuous learning
that is not employer dependent;
• Builds career stability through reputation and
actual service rather than through employer dependency.

Portfolio workers learn and join in work with others through consciously defined work practices that go well beyond the behaviors of “who do you know?” and grow from “who have you worked with and what have you learned with them?”

So while most workers cannot change an entire company or local community alone with respect to work, an individual can shift personal thinking and actions to influence change on the job that brings more job satisfaction by:

• Taking the time to reexamine your personal values;
• Initiating a personal learning strategy;
• Identifying who you want to learn with and gaining
their cooperation;
• Taking the initiative to apply what you learn on
the job; and
• Personally documenting and measuring the value
you contribute to others on specific projects which you

By shaping your career as a portfolio of learning and accomplishment, you can guide yourself to your next job or shape your own business with clients in service of high performance work for growing job satisfaction and income.

While participation in this program alone is not a short-term fix or remedy, learning the fundamentals can bring progress to anyone working today.

Participation in this program can help you assess if this  community of people is the right association for you, you will learn something valuable that you can apply to what you do no matter your employment status.


This article is an updated version of an article written by TSOMU publisher, Lavinia Weissman, November 2004 WOMEN’S BUSINESS BOSTON.



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