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Walker Webcast: Christina Wallace on Embracing Multiple Roles for Across-the-Board Success

Christina Wallace wears many hats. Her “day jobs” include Harvard Business School lecturer, author and serial entrepreneur. Her other areas of interest and involvement are theater producer, angel investor, wife, mother and others. As such, Wallace describes herself as a “human Venn diagram.”

Wallace explained all of this – and more – as the guest during the Aug. 9, 2023 edition of the “Walker Webcast.” During the hour-long event, she and Walker & Dunlop Chairman and CEO Willy Walker focused on her recently published book, “The Portfolio Life: How to Future-Proof Your Career, Avoid Burnout, and Build a Life Bigger than Your Business Card.” The discussion focused on the book’s three tenets:

  • You are more than any one role or opportunity
  • Diversification will help you navigate change and mitigate uncertainty
  • When (not if) your needs change, you can and should rebalance

Wallace was upfront in saying she wasn’t a fan of terms like “work-life balance.” “You’ve got work on one side, and you’ve got life on the other,” she explained. “You’re trying to get them to balance.” Balance isn’t necessarily the goal because “work is a subset of life. It’s not in opposition to life.”

The better term is what’s in her book: The portfolio life. “If you think about your financial portfolio, you visualize it like a pie chart,” Wallace said. The same thing holds for an individual’s “human” portfolio. “Your work is a piece of that pie chart. So are your relationships, your community, your hobbies and the other things you allocate your time and talents to. That all adds up to 100%.”

Furthermore, rather than being involved only in just one network, Wallace supports the concept of an “orthogonal network.”

“By this, I mean a perpendicular and non-redundant network,” she said, referencing her networks in theater, mathematics and business. “As an individual, you bring value to all worlds by being the node that connects them.” Building multiple, non-redundant networks allow individuals to move ideas and people from one area to another. This helps solve problems and supports innovation.

Wallace’s example to support this involved a friend who worked in a computer software company and needed salespeople. “She realized one day that she could tap into actors as a great source for salespeople,” Wallace said, “Actors are great salespeople. So she had this untapped source of talent that wanted to hustle in her ecosystem, where she was struggling to find experienced salespeople.”

Such networks and thinking also allow people to stay active and alert, especially in today’s disruptive society. “Disruption is the new normal,” Wallace pointed out. “It’s coming faster than ever before. Anyone who is all-in on one thing, their heads down, and laser-focused, they’re missing everything that is happening all around them.”

Wallace and Walker also discussed that successful manufacturers operate 85% of the time, with 15% allotted downtime. That percentage is also essential in a successful life, Wallace said.

“Life is complicated and messy. There are mistakes, and there are screw-ups,” she said. “You will have downtime. The only question is whether you’ve left space for it.” In other words, if you make space for downtime for “do-overs, serendipity or amazing opportunities you hadn’t planned for” or whether burn-out forces it. “It’s going to happen, one way or another,” Wallace added. “Part of this is retraining how we think about the capacity of our lives.”


Inside The Story

Christina WallaceWalker & Dunlop's Willy Walker

About Amy Wolff Sorter

I love content. I love writing it, visualizing it, and manipulating it to fit into different formats. I have years of experience in working with content, both as creator and editor. The content I create and edit provides assistance with many goals, ranging from lead generation, to developing street cred through well-timed thought-leadership pieces. Content skills include, but aren't limited to, articles and blogs, e-mails, promotional collateral, infographics, e-books and white papers, website copy and more.

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