Multiple Income Streams - Crystal Willms

Crystal Willms is in mid-transition with her portfolio career. She has recently changed her website name and logo. Her new brand is The Crystal Factor rebranded from Headway Coaching. “I’m in mid-transition with my portfolio career,” she offers. “Headway Coaching has been around since 2008, but because I have expanded so much it no longer matches all of what I do. I changed the name, logo and website to”

Crystal’s brand tag line is “Facilitating Positive Change” and coaching is at the root of what she does. Since she started coaching brain injured clients, she has added public speaking, career transition consulting, outplacement, and writing. She became a virtual franchisee with Juice Plus, a Reiki Master Practitioner and has recently returned to modeling. Whew...that's a long list of things to do. I call her the portfolio careerist extraordinary because she makes her juggling act look easy, and she approaches her work life with an adventurous, open spirit.

For 8 years, Crystal worked as an employment specialist exclusively for brain injured clientele supporting them in their return to work. She transitioned to a new team and now works on retainer working up to 32 hours a week. Her role is to coach clients for personal or professional goals. Her hours vary from part-time to full-time weekly. She also privately coaches non-injured and injured clients who come to her through word of mouth, networking, speaking engagements and referrals.

Coaching and Juice Plus support health and nutrition and are the root of her portfolio career. Although the two services attract different clientele, they are the financial foundation that brings her stability. Crystal believes you need one or two streams of income that have consistency. However, she clarifies, “We (portfolio careerists) understand that stability is not necessarily consistent so we become adaptable.”

Adaptability is the name of the game with portfolio careerists. They derive their stability from their ability to adapt to change. Although Crystal has a foundation for her portfolio career, she has learned to change things up and move forward quickly. She describes herself as being less attached to outcomes. “If something doesn’t work, I believe I can create something new that will work.” She envisions her portfolio career to be like the ocean. “It ebbs and flows so change feels more natural. I am able to adapt, move on and find something else.” 

“Adaptability is the name of the game with portfolio careerists. They derive their stability from their ability to adapt to change.”

I asked Crystal what she believes is the recipe for success in a portfolio career. She sees having a higher degree of multi-tasking ability as a helpful skill set. She also thinks being accustomed to receiving less direction and being comfortable making decisions would be important skills. She has noticed that portfolio careerists spend time planning where to spend their energy. Crystal adds, “There are sometimes multiple decisions to make in an instant. We have to quickly decide which direction we are going to choose and we evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each direction. In some cases, these decisions are going to be made based on current financial need, or other factors driving our portfolio career.”

Portfolio careerists make rough value based decisions on a regular basis. Crystal and I discussed the reality of paying our bills and she pointed out that she often makes decisions based on helping vs. making money. As Crystal says, “Depending on what we are doing, well paid work and work that pays less don’t play together and there is no crossover.” This creates an interesting juggling act for portfolio careerists. She adds, “In some cases, work may pay well, but we may not love it as much. Then, there is work that pays less, but we love it more.”

Just like any job, there will be projects and tasks that we prefer. With portfolio careerists who have entrepreneurial ventures or do more contract work, they design their work life, accepting and turning down work based on various factors. In some cases, they choose work based on personal values, interest or passion. Other times, they choose projects or jobs because they have to pay the bills. Work isn’t always glamorous or a perfect fit, but portfolio careerist value the variety they create in their work lives and the freedom that comes from choosing the work they do.

In some cases, work adds value in other ways. Crystal’s modelling jobs are a great example. She finds modelling to be beneficial on a personal level because, she says, "It fills my cup. I love it and I'm learning about myself." The networking opportunities are also amazing since she is interacting with people she wouldn’t normally meet, and is extremely fulfilled from those experiences. She also feels modelling improves her coaching practice because it makes her a happier person and being a happier person isn't a bad thing!

Crystal believes you need one or two stable income streams.

She also believes her modelling builds character, challenging and pushing her outside of her comfort zone. In turn, she feels she can better understand, lead and support her clients who are forced to face significant transition and challenging change. She also adds, “When we are forced to face our fears, then we also become better entrepreneurs and better leaders.”

Crystal approaches her portfolio career like an adventure, and we had fun unpacking the concept, discussing the challenges and benefits and what this style of work means to us. We had so much fun, in fact, that I have enough material for a Part II. My next featured Portfolio Careerist post will be a continuation of Crystal’s story.