Maureen McCann - Savvy Portfolio Careerist
Maureen McCann has a pragmatic and fearless approach to her unique career. Currently living in Victoria, BC, Canada, she has a career consulting boutique business called Promotion Career Solutions, owns and operates a vacation rental property with her husband and is a landlord for a property she owns in Ottawa. Her wise management of money, and her understanding of real estate has helped Maureen design a work life that she enjoys. “Learn what works for you and play to your strengths,” she says as we converse over the phone about her portfolio career.
In her 20’s, Maureen started to read financial books about money management and property. “I read on my 20 minute commute to work. What I was reading made me realize that managing money better could make a huge difference in people’s lives. I considered becoming a financial advisor but changed my mind. I didn’t want to be someone who sold mutual funds." Maureen developed a motto “run the numbers” and it has helped her create her work life. “I genuinely love what I do and I want other people to love what they do. When people run the numbers, they find out what they really need to live on. Then, they can make career decisions based on their true financial situation."
At this point in our conversations, we veer off slightly and discuss wise money management and Maureen shares a tip. Drive a beat up car. "“With the income from our cottage, we could’ve bought new stuff like a new car, but we didn’t. We made sacrifices and drove an old 1998 Chevy Celebrity and we put our rental income back down on the mortgage to pay it off faster.” Now, her vacation rental property has almost become a passive income. "I have created systems that help me manage the emails and bookings, and the people who rent from us clean it themselves and do a really good job.”
Wise money management skills are essential skills for everyone and portfolio careerists managing multiple income streams need to learn how to manage their money wisely but it is not a skill that everyone innately develops. Maureen believes we have to be taught and she has spent hours combing over books trying to understand how to manage her money well. "When people don’t understand money," she says, "They often live in fear. You have to run the numbers in order to address the fear of not having enough because running your numbers helps you to see what is and isn’t enough." We discuss how fear often paralyses people and prevents them from changing careers. "It’s a cop out to say I can’t change careers because of financial security. People have this underlying fear of how much they think they need so they don’t change anything. They stagnate and don't make any changes out of a fear of not having enough.”
Money, fear and careers. Maureen has made a career consulting business out of understanding some of our deepest fears around money and our jobs. She has also made some tough career choices herself. Three years after she and her husband bought their cottage in 2001, she got laid off from her job and it was a lesson in change and transition. “I started to volunteer in the career development field and shortly after, got offered my first paid job as a career professional.” Simultaneously, she got pregnant which was also a lesson in having tough conversations with a new boss. “It was a very hard conversation to have with a new employer and now that I understand that piece about our careers, I can help my clients with their tough conversations. Somehow, I felt like I had dishonoured my employer's trust because they had just hired me. But, from my experience, your boss will totally understand."
In 2005, she had her first child and went back to work six months later. Then, in 2007, she decided to go in a different direction with her career as a career professional. "I officially walked away to start my second business. I always knew I wanted to work for myself. I thought I would be able to help more people if I could go out and do it on my own." As well, because Maureen’s husband works for the military, she knew he would eventually get posted somewhere else so entrepreneurship hit all of the criteria she needed for her career. “I created a business plan and I showed a guy that worked at the entrepreneurship centre. He said my business plan was all good, gave me the thumbs up and it was like, 'Away you go’.”
She broke the news to her husband with a power point presentation when he was on a home leave from Afghanistan. “I sat him down and I was at slide number two which was to run a business and stay home to take care of our daughter.” He stopped me and told me to go ahead and do it.” Maureen adds, “We have to have these conversations with our spouses. A lot of couples don’t have these conversations and they stay in their jobs and aren’t happy.” It is often hard for people to break out of the work they are doing even when they are unhappy. Maureen adds, ”I firmly believe we are raised to think that we have to have a steady income but I think we are doing a disservice to ourselves. People approach their careers out of fear, fear of not having, and they sign up for misery, and in some cases, it's becomes like jail time. I’ve decided I’m going to make my own jail time and privately fund my pension.”
For Maureen, a portfolio career that allows her to income stream from different directions helps her create a work life she loves. "If someone asks me to do something and its fun, I'll do it. But if it isn’t fun, I won’t do it. When I first started my business, I said yes to everything but now I have built my life so that it wraps around my family life. When we lived in Europe, I worked enough but I was also able to travel. I can adjust my work life to match what I want. If I invest, I want a good outcome."
I ask her what advice she would give to someone thinking about a portfolio career. " They need to ask themselves what do they really need to make?” Maureen continues. “Then, work for yourself. You are handing out the keys of your destiny to an employer and you don’t have to do it. But, if you choose to work for someone else, either way, you don't have to hand them the keys. Your employer is not responsible for your happiness. If you are unhappy, do something about it. The next step is scary. However, we have to first work for ourselves by being wise with our money."