Career Sovereignty

A 21st Century Framework for Modern Careers (...and what my new business will be about)

We are launching the Career Sovereignty Lab (CSL)! 🎉

CSL is an 8 week-long online training including 4 modules of audio lessons, live calls, homework, a course library and peer groups. It is not 1×1 coaching but we will answer your personal questions asynchronously. CSL is based on the concept of Career Sovereignty, using our TEMPO framework. First cohort starts November 23rd, 2023.

You can read all about Career Sovereignty and TEMPO below 👇🏼

Careers are becoming more granular. Having a career meant 35 years at the same company, rising among the ranks and corporate benefits. My generation (no, I am definitely one of those old millennials) has seen multiple “jobs”, sprinkled in with a dash of entrepreneurship for many in my cohort. Gen Z turned their career ambitions even more granular (ie. many projects that all contribute to one larger career and goal), with the influencer job profile becoming somewhat of a role model for what it means to be successful.

Not only are we changing jobs more often in the 21st century. We are also adding multiple projects and side hustles to our plate, with the hopes that they all synergistically melt into what we envision to be the integration of the infamous work-life-balance.

That poses a question for identity. What do you answer, you modern portfolio-career-professional, when you’re casually being asked, “So, what is it that you do?” What’s your bold, concise pitch? I certainly struggle with this, because I want to embrace a multitude of identities: I am a coach, a writer, a musician, a husband and father, an entrepreneur and so many other elements of my identity come to mind.

Recently, a coaching client reported that she longed to source a steady sense of self worth from within. Make no mistake, she is by any standards a highly successful venture capitalist in her own right. Still, she struggled to pinpoint exactly what was uniquely hers between all the projects, awards and accolades.

You see, success does not immediately lead to fulfillment, self-worth, or happiness. It is 2023 and we need a new way to think about our career journeys and our professional identities. We cannot tie them to our jobs anymore because, after all, what’s left of that antiquated, monolithic “one job” narrative?

A few months ago, my friend Laura Lewandowski and I discussed this observation while we were trying to figure out what to do with the training program we had planned. We thought it would focus on freelancers and solopreneurs… we kept getting mixed feedback at best. I felt it in my bones that there was more to this trend, a bigger narrative that we were still missing. Laura told me later that she sensed a similar misalignment. We were on to something… but what?

The next generation of professionals cannot outsource their career strategy and their sense of self worth to the HR department of their company. And with a lack of institutionalized support, an entire generation of professionals in the workplace is facing existential anxiety, asking “who the hell am I? I was told by my parents and professors it would be my work but that is changing every other month now!”

They need to win back control over the design and management of their work lives and work selves. Laura and I call this “Career Sovereignty”: gaining freedom and autonomy of their professional trajectory.

Laura, by the way, is an award-winning former journalist, business influencer, speaker and media entrepreneur. She has amassed over 100.000 followers across different channels and writes a weekly newsletter called Smart Chiefs. She knows a thing or two about unconventional career paths and finding success and joy amidst a dozen parallel professional activities.

When we reflected on the need for this concept more deeply, we identified five Systems of Career Sovereignty that help to break down your current status quo and point out where you can begin your journey to Career Sovereignty.

The Systems of Career Sovereignty are reflected in the TEMPO framework.

  • Theme System: The topics that define your professional identity and reputation. Your themes are ”what you are about.”

  • Endeavor System: The manifold endeavors you pursue to ultimately produce. This is your output or “what you do.”

  • Monetization System: The different ways you generate income from your professional endeavors, or “how you earn money”. In TEMPO, we make a point about separating out endeavors (what you do) from monetization (how you earn) to avoid the easy “chose your business model” narrative.

  • Personal Wellbeing System: How you are making all of this fit into your life while staying healthy, sane and energized. This is “how you ensure you’re feeling well.”

  • Overhaul: The core skills to navigate all of the transitions big and small as your career flows. This is “how you manage change.”

In combination, the TEMPO framework enables you to reclaim sovereignty over your professional life (and how it intersects with your personal life).

Note from the engine room: Yes, make no mistake, we spent at least half of the time trying to find a good acronym. TATE? I like the museum but ze Germans might not relate. THAMES? No one can spell that. TACT? Love the musical reference, but different meanings between German and English.

The magic of Career Sovereignty isn't in the isolated mastery of any one level but in the holistic constellation of all four: Themes, Endeavors, Models, and Well-being. When these levels align, they create a rejuvenating wealth of opportunities — sparking flow, invigorating inspiration, and ensuring not just stability but potential wealth. Flow, a concept pioneered by the oft-cited but never-pronounced Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, speaks to a state of complete immersion and energized focus in one's work, where time seems to melt away. It's the nexus where your Themes resonate deeply with your Activities, where Monetization feels organic and rewarding, and where Wellbeing isn't an afterthought but an integral part of the cycle. You can get there by working through the TEMPO framework and Career Sovereignty will result from it.

The Career Sovereignty Lab launches its first cohort November 22nd. If you are intrigued and would like to rethink your career using the TEMPO framework, with an ambitious peer group guided by Laura and myself, please join us!

In this essay, I want to focus on Endeavors and Monetization and share a few thoughts as I am exploring this framework myself. These are in no means finished, so I appreciate your questions as they emerge! For Theme Systems, I recommend you check out Laura’s (German) newsletter called “Smart Chiefs”.

For a more in-depth exploration on Personal Wellbeing and Overhaul (Managing personal change), you can also check out my essays:

Themes: What You’re About.

In the vast mosaic of professional landscapes, it's the distinct combination of your key themes that sets you apart. Themes are the individual threads you use to weave your personal storyline. This woven quilt forms your Theme System, a harmonious narrative that is unmistakably yours. Crafting this tailored tapestry is crucial; it's not just about standing out, but about connecting what is uniquely you with your target audience. It's about telling a story only you can tell, ensuring every thread of your narrative aligns with the aspirations, needs, and dreams of those you seek to impact.

Your Theme System includes all the subjects that define your professional identity and reputation. For me, that is venture, entrepreneurship, coaching & psychology, music, parenthood, a systems perspective on teams and their dynamics, and ultimately the embracing of the chaotic and messy experience that is being a human on planet Earth.

What’s the relevance of identity versus reputation? Last year, I dove deep into the psychodiagnostic and made an interesting insight about personality tests: There is a difference between the concept of “identity” (what you think about yourself) and the concept of “reputation” (what others think about you). Let’s call it the inside versus outside perspective. Within TEMPO, we want to define your professional identity as the alignment between your identity and reputation. This is why we use storytelling as a way to weave your themes together. Communicating the themes that form your identity (inside) will create your reputation (outside).

If you want to learn more about the System of Themes (and read German), please head over to Laura’s Newsletter “Smart Chiefs”!

Endeavors: What You Do.

When people ask “what do you do?”, we rarely actually answer with all the things that we do in an average week. But in order to map our professional identity and understand how and why it will be successful, the best strategy is to actually explore what it is that you - well - DO.

The term Endeavor System describes all the things you do that make up your professional identity. I like the concept of an Endeavor System not only because I am such a sucker for systems thinking. The concept takes pressure off rolling everything about myself into a single identity (“I am a coach”) and instead surfaces the underlying complexity. My reputational identity may be, “I am a coach.” But my endeavors reveal more: “I am a coaching entrepreneur who likes to write and build and is also a deeply musical person with a love for my family and mountaineering.”

An Endeavor System well-mapped and well-executed means: All endeavors combined create sustainable value. And value is primarily defined through your own holistic perception: is this system energetically, monetarily, spiritually rejuvenating? Could you continue oscillating between these endeavors for a good ten years without burning out from boredom, exhaustion or hypertension? Only if you can answer with a resounding yes will you be able to source enough grit and curiosity from within to stick to your practice. Sticking to your practice means you will become outstanding at what you do.

This is what I mean when I refer to an Endeavor System that “works”. A metaphor I found myself using more often is the endeavor flywheel. It depicts a system that is mutually reinforcing and resilient through its momentum. In our Career Sovereignty Lab, we are going to talk a lot about designing a flywheel so that it works for you.

Endeavors do not describe how you make money. We made the conscious choice to separate the monetization question from what you are doing all day long, even though it does not seem intuitive given the incessant talk about business models. When I outlined the concept of an Endeavor System to Chat GPT for clarification, it asked: “what are the most valuable endeavors in terms of business models?” It’s a misleading question. One of the biggest misconceptions of the term “business model” is that it is mainly about earning money. It is critical to separate endeavors from monetization. Otherwise you're quickly being swept up in what “makes business sense” (your shortest path to burnout) but doesn’t fill your soul (which, in turn, will rarely pay your rent). A well functioning flywheel that focuses on money will spin off its axis.

Imagine an author deeply immersed in the art of writing. In the haste to turn this craft into a revenue source, they might unintentionally bind themselves to an income model that's not inherently rewarding.

However, by publishing exceptional books, this very author could unveil that opportunities like public speaking or mentoring might be more direct and potentially yield a richer financial return. In this context, it becomes beneficial to distinguish the heart of their work—the writing—from their income-driven pursuits. Such a strategy not only safeguards their authentic passion for the written word but also sets the stage to diversify their earnings without sacrificing what they genuinely treasure.

If you find Ikigai and Business Model You a bit overwhelming with their many dimensions, TEMPO breaks it down step by step: first map your endeavors, then think about monetization.

Everyone talks about strengths and passions, how do these align with my Endeavor System?

Within endeavors, there is an important difference between the things you do and the things that need to get done, your passions and your strengths. I view this as an overlapping model of circles.

Let's straighten up the terminology: your Endeavor System describes four categories of endeavors.

  1. what needs to be done so the system works

  2. what you personally need to do

  3. what you are good at doing = your strengths

  4. what you like doing = your passions

Some of the endeavors you engage in are not going to be your strengths, at least not in the first place. I would not be the coach I am today without the reflective catharsis of my writing practice, and I would not be the writer I am today without the intellectual stimulation and startup pragmatism from my coaching practice. But five years ago, if you told me I’d be a writer, I would have laughed. The same would likely hold for my school teachers… writing certainly was not my strength. It was, however, one of the most important levers to propel my coaching career. I invested in it, week after week, for almost three years now. I hired a top-notch writing coach and worked with many editors. And you know what? I think I might have gotten better over time!

Similarly, not all of your endeavors need to be your passion, either! Some endeavors are simply necessary so your Endeavor System works. Communicating through e-mail and WhatsApp is not something I love doing but it is inherently part of my Endeavor System. If you have already defined your key themes as a way of getting into TEMPO, you may find that your passions and themes might overlap. It is only natural for those two categories to align.

How do you identify endeavors?

As you are beginning to map your Endeavor System, you want to record any endeavor that contributes to your life’s work. Think not about your job, but draw inspiration from the French term “œuvre” or the German “Lebenswerk”. Among the things you write down, there might be endeavors that feel distinctly personal but that is fine: later on, we can reclassify those into the wellbeing system. Your personal career flywheel will be built from endeavors and wellbeing, and some of the activities on the flywheel will carry both labels.

When I started to think about “identifying” my endeavors, I realized that it was impossible to just see through one lens. So here are four ways to identify the endeavors that currently make up your work life.

  1. looking inward: journaling exercise
    Block all distractions for the next 30 minutes. Sit down with a piece of paper, your notes app or dictate into your phone: if you think about all the things you do in a two week period, what comes to mind? Write for 10 minutes straight, without stopping, without editing, duplicates and typos are welcome. Then, look over your list. Do you see clusters emerging? If you’d double-click on those, what other endeavors might unfold in the dropdown? What are the surprising items on the list? Write another 10 minutes as if you were on a procrastinator’s scavenger hunt.

  2. looking outward: ask your friends :)
    Start asking people who know you well, then those who perceive you at the fringes (maybe just on social media): from your perspective, what is it that I do all day long? What are the endeavors that define me? What endeavors do you feel I am particularly strong at? What are the ones that are my weak point? Where am I wasting my time? What are the ones I like, and the one’s I despise? What am I doing because I am just trying to fit into some image but it really does not come naturally?

  3. looking backwards: calendar
    Open your calendar and start color-coding your meetings and work blockers. Use as many colors as you need, I observed that I differentiate between “free writing” (for which I have a day per week ear-marked) and “functional writing” (like social media content, coaching memos and the like), so those go into different categories.

    This will help identify what you are naturally doing without having “someone” look over your shoulder.

  4. looking forward: time tracking
    If you are into productivity tools, you can try to track your time for a couple of weeks. I did this intermittently in the last couple of years using Timeular - it was the most convenient solution I could find. Consciously tracking your time to discover what endeavors you naturally gravitate towards is a bit like Schrodinger's Cat though: your actions will shift as a function of your time tracking exercise. Use caution!

The Career Sovereignty Lab launches its first cohort November 22nd. If you are intrigued and would like to rethink your career using the TEMPO framework, with an ambitious peer group guided by Laura and myself, please join us!

Aligning endeavors, strengths and passions

How can you best align your endeavors to your strengths? Well, there is delegation and outsourcing for endeavors, as every management and productivity book would advise. But I want you to ask a different question: how do you configure your Endeavor System in a way to engage your strengths in the best way possible?

Now that you’ve defined your endeavors, let’s come back to your strengths and passions. Look at the list you created from going through the above exercise and ask yourself two questions:

  1. What energizes you? (this is a passion indicator)

  2. What will others mention as your strength? (well, yes, that’s likely a strength unless you have strange friends)

Now, for those endeavors you now focused on, how can you make them more central to your Endeavor System? What will that mean for the other endeavors?

Monetization: How You Earn.

Let’s figure out how you’ll make money: a monetization system is the total of revenue or income logistics you employ in your business. You might sell your time as a freelance agile coach, run a podcast with advertising placements and rent out an apartment that you bought two years ago.

I came up with a simple matrix with which you can decode your own revenue streams, following two straightforward questions:

  1. Is your income transactional (sales required for every transaction) or recurring (multiple, predictable transactions per customer/sale)?

  2. Is your income active (delivery involves your time) or passive (products, media, memberships)?

Along these lines, you can systematize all your income streams and identify whether you want to make changes. I call this the Money Matrix:

It is easy to say “oh, how I wish to sit on a passive income stream that is recurring”. For many solopreneurs and creators (like me), those make absolutely no sense in the first couple of years of our practice. I certainly needed to build my voice over a long time (through my writing practice) and understand my creative process in order to start building products like Journey or the Career Sovereignty framework. Building these kinds of products requires a time and money investment I would not have been able to stomach at the beginning of my coaching career, and it’s OK. I still thoroughly enjoy working with coaching clients and I want to continue doing so for the long term.

As I have reflected on different combinations of Endeavor Systems and Monetization Systems, I started to see clusters emerging. Some of my partners and friends had lots of endeavors which they monetized. All of them brought in little individually but combined they produced a respectable amount of income with diversified risk exposure. My own model, along with many of my coach friends, is more concentrated: nowadays, I work exclusively on high-value problems with entrepreneurs and charge a relatively high monthly price for it. The concept of the business model is totally justified, after all! I call the diversified approach a “top-of-funnel” strategy because it monetizes endeavors that you’d typically find at the top of a company’s marketing funnel. My concentrated model, on the flipside, is more of a “bottom-of-funnel” strategy in which I have non-income-generating endeavors up top that lead to a selective, high-priced product.

Finding the optimal balance between diversified and concentrated income streams largely hinges on one's personal inclination and capacity. For those willing and able to invest significant time in a single pursuit, leaning towards a concentrated revenue source can be rewarding. This perspective resonates with the observation that the top 1-5% in any domain often reap exponentially greater benefits than their counterparts. However, for those more risk-averse, embracing a diversified approach is advisable. Drawing from marketing parlance, this dichotomy can be likened to Top-of-Funnel Monetization, which casts a broader net to capture a range of smaller opportunities, and Bottom-of-Funnel Monetization, which focuses intently on specific, high-return prospects. While the former provides a safeguard against market volatility, the latter capitalizes on the lucrative potential of specialized expertise.

The Career Sovereignty Lab launches its first cohort November 22nd. If you are intrigued and would like to rethink your career using the TEMPO framework, with an ambitious peer group guided by Laura and myself, please join us!

Personal Wellbeing: How You Thrive.

The professional realm isn't solely about output—it's intrinsically tied to one's personal wellbeing. Integrating time and energy management fortifies this system. More than just maximizing hours, it's about harnessing and harmonizing one's energy to enter the coveted state of Flow. Contemporary productivity techniques blend with holistic wellbeing practices to amplify output and enhance the quality of every endeavor. They work because they incorporate all three levels of wellbeing:

  • the physical level (as a parent, I cannot emphasize sleep quality and regular exercise enough),

  • the emotional and psychological level (which is of course tied to our hormones but we can become aware of and manage to a certain degree) and

  • the spiritual level (which tends to explain whatever the preceding levels cannot)

Understanding this correlation between wellbeing and career progression is pivotal. I have written about the topic a bit if you want to learn more:

Ultimately, your Personal Wellbeing comes down to making hard choices when prioritizing and accepting that none of the productivity hacks ultimately work. I am observing more and more that “making wellbeing a priority” boils down to a few keystone practices for me that transform how I feel in my body, which in turn builds my physical, mental and emotional resilience. I might explore this - as well as the wellbeing flywheel and what identity questions have to do with wellbeing - in more depth at a later point. Also, we are devoting an entire module to this in our upcoming Career Sovereignty Lab.

The Career Sovereignty Lab launches its first cohort November 22nd. If you are intrigued and would like to rethink your career using the TEMPO framework, with an ambitious peer group guided by Laura and myself, please join us!

Overhaul: How You Master Change.

The careers you and I have are constantly changing. I am not sure about you, but I find the amount of change overwhelming at times: New challenges, projects, and ways of doing things keep popping up. I started to feel comfortable with my writing, and now there are all these AI tools… I am slowly realizing that it may not just be about reacting to these changes; it's about getting better at handling them.

That's where the idea of the Change Muscle comes in. Think of the Change Muscle like any other muscle. The more you work it out, the stronger it gets. By understanding and working through the different stages of change, you can move smoothly through your career, always ready for the next step. I created this simple 4-Phase Transition Model to help you. It starts with 'Build-up', where you get things ready. Next is 'Letting go' where you let go of old ways. Then, there's a 'Doodle' phase, a time to think and get creative. Finally, 'Re-emergence' is about jumping back in, fresh and focused. If you are curious about managing life transitions well, I have written about it in depth in my earlier essay, “Unlock the Secrets of Personal Change: Master Transitions vs. Transformations & Thrive in Both”. You will also find a more detailed version of the four-step blueprint for professional and personal transitions there.


Being alive in the 2020s often feels like being swept away in the rapids of a murky river. Not only is the water twisting and turning you in every direction, you never know what piece of debris might hit you in the next moment. We know the “one job” narrative is long gone but we still cannot get comfortable with the murky waters of the portfolio career. We’re longing for simplicity, endurance and rest in a world that’s just so fucking messy and turbulent.

The “one job” narrative held a promise: attach your identity to me and you will be able to navigate your life. Today, we need to source this sense of orientation from within. TEMPO will help us not only gain career sovereignty but ease our existential anxiety around identity. It helps us establish a singular baseline that remains independent from the changes of our underlying professional lives. It’s like a balloon that launches from the murky river, floating in the air just a few meters above the surface of the floods. Our sense of self-worth is tied to knowing what endeavors we stand for, how those are relevant in our world and that we are capable of performing these endeavors. In simpler terms, knowing our strengths and that these strengths matter, and that we matter—beyond that one job.

Asserting your Career Sovereignty is not just an advantage—it's a necessity. As the boundaries of work shift and blur, seizing control of your career through this dynamic framework becomes the compass by which you can navigate, thrive, and excel. I urge every reader: Embrace this call to action. Chart your unique path, harness your potential, and redefine success on your own terms. The future of your career is not just in the hands of the market—it's in yours. Claim it.

The Career Sovereignty Lab launches its first cohort November 22nd. If you are intrigued and would like to rethink your career using the TEMPO framework, with an ambitious peer group guided by Laura and myself, please join us!