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  • Keeping it Lively in Austin

    Last Saturday I flew to Austin, TX to visit my daughter and her family in their new hometown. Before we went to their house, I got the mini-tour. When I commented on all the people we saw who were running, walking or bicycling, Jennie said, “This town isn’t about buying stuff; it’s about doing [...]
  • Collecting Information

    If you plan to package information, publish a customer newsletter or establish yourself as an expert by writing and/or speaking, you'll find yourself collecting information all the time. After a while, however, it's easy to depend on your regular sources and forget about the other options you [...]
  • IdeaStarter #4 What Scares You?

      Hardly a day passes when I don’t hear from someone who is bored to tears with their job and longing to step out on their own, but claim that fear is keeping them stuck. Alas, they’re not telling the truth, either to me or themselves. Fear, after all, is that really useful emotion that warns [...]
  • A Few Thoughts on Health Insurance

    Without a doubt, the most frequently asked question I hear is, “What about health insurance?” While I understand why it comes up so often, it shouldn’t be the first concern when starting a business. We all know that the health insurance industry has gotten out of control and even large [...]
  • IdeaStarter #5 Bump into a Good Idea

    One day, a friend called to say she was upset to learn that she needed an expensive car repair. I suggested that we go mall walking that evening. “Let’s see if we can walk ourselves into an answer,” I said. For the first twenty minutes, we walked and she talked. By that time, her stress was [...]
  • From Seed to Blossom

    When you read a luscious book, you probably don’t think about the numerous rewrites made by the author. Likewise, we seldom get to peek behind the scenes at the long and winding road that brought us our favorite technology tools or movies. Many of those stories would be tedious, of course, but [...]
  • A Well-kept Secret

    Have you visited Inspiration Station yet? My plan for that part of the site is to explore different places from an entrepreneurial point of view. The current locale is one of my favorite places—Venice, Italy. I've been thinking about Venice since I wrote the pieces there, so I was particularly [...]
  • Eight Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started a Business

    It is when we all play safe that we create a world of utmost insecurity. ~ Dag Hammerskjold When I started my first business, I didn't know another self-employed person. There also was no Internet and not many books that were written for someone wanting to create a one-person operation. It [...]
  • Leave It Better Than You Found It

    All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough. ~ Anna Quindlen The most passionate environmentalist I’ve ever known was Chris Utterback. To her, all offenses were equally serious whether it was defiling a public space with graffiti or chopping [...]
  • Booklover’s London

    One of my earliest childhood memories is of my mother reading to me, “They’re changing guards at Buckingham Palace, Christopher Robin went down with Alice.” My passion for London started long ago and it has never subsided. Like many Anglophiles, I became smitten with all things British from [...]
  • IdeaStarter #17 Have a Nicer Flight

    Many things improve with age; airline travel is not one of them.  Even before increased airport security slowed things down, the flying experience was loaded with stress-inducing delays and rude behavior. Frequent flyers just grit their teeth and bear it as best they can, but a bit of [...]
  • In business to annoy?

    They’re baaaaaack! Those annoying Internet flashing banner ads that disappeared for a while have returned with a vengeance. They make my eyes cross and my head ache. They do not make me think, “Oh, that looks interesting. I’d better check it out and see what I’m missing.” Same goes for local tv [...]
  • Idea Starter #1 Get Moving

    Move around. Whenever I see Rodin’s statue of The Thinker, I’m certain that whatever he’s thinking about is not causing a creative rush. Sitting and thinking while hoping ideas will land in your lap is both grueling and ineffective. While our minds need to rest, daydreaming seldom spawns a new [...]
  • Stop the Madness

      Entrepreneur is a perfectly lovely word that can be roughly translated from two French words meaning to undertake. So what’s fueling all these made-up variations? Here are some of the ones that I’ve seen: Infopreneur Mompreneur Seniorpreneur Kidpreneur Telepreneur Micropreneur [...]
  • Investing Creative Capital

    In the absence of capital, creativity flourishes. Robert Stephens, Founder The Geek Squad Lately, we haven’t seen much of Juan Valdez, the fictional iconic Colombian coffee grower featured in television ads, but that’s about to change. The National Federation of Coffee Growers of Columbia are [...]
  • It’s About Time

    My local tv news just featured a booming business called Vegas Errands. The owner is a young woman who responded to an ad on Craigslist, and ended up starting her own service business. As the story reported, business is booming. That didn’t surprise me. Asked whether they would rather [...]
  • Zen and the Art of Growing a Business

    One New Year’s Day during my daughter’s college years, she called to  tell me about her celebration the night before. “The party I thought was going to be fun wasn’t,” Jennie said, “and the one I thought was  going to be boring was terrific.” “What a great metaphor,” I replied.  “Oh, Mom,” [...]
  • Do Talk to Strangers

    Since my Do Talk To Strangers Policy is a vital component of traveling, I began to consider how I actually go about it. I realized that some of it is purely intuitive. For instance,  when a stranger plunks down next to me on an airplane, I take a breath, take a look and see if I’m moved to [...]
  • IdeaStarter#2 Master the $100 Hour

    Build a personal portfolio of ideas. A man I know has the unfortunate habit of running out of money. When this happens, he goes into panic, followed by depression, followed by applying for a job he hopes he won’t get. During his latest cash flow crisis, I tried to explain to him, as gently as [...]
  • On the Eve of the Most Important Election of My Life…and Yours

    My friend Steve Strauss has a thoughtful and eloquent article that I urge you to read called The True Small Business Candidate. I urge you to read it whether you've already voted or not.
  • IdeaStarter #11 More Options, Please

    Another barrier to building an inspired business is what I call Either/Or Thinking. Too often, that’s simply a manifestation of scarcity thoughts. Consider conventional career guidance that encourages us to believe we must have a Single Lifetime Career. In this scenario your 17-year-old self [...]
  • Ideas from Everywhere: Roundup Week 3

    This past week, the Ideafest focused on the importance of inspiration. Not  surprisingly, all sorts of inspiring things kept popping up including this e-mail from Julie Fewster who lives in Northwich, Cheshire UK: I took a look at Inspiration Station  earlier this month, when after a joyful [...]
  • Keys to Unlocking Your Passion

    Finding our passion is really learning to hear the voice of our heart. This voice is never timid, lukewarm, or insipid. It doesn't use the word "should." When we connect with an idea, object, or person that generates passion, the voice of our heart exclaims, "That's for [...]
  • A Vote for Your Success

      At the end of the late night rally in Orlando last week, Barack Obama talked about stories and told the crowd, “Everyone here has a story. I want your stories to be heard.”   Marketing genius Seth Godin blogged today about lessons for marketers from the campaign. I’d been noticing how [...]
  • IdeaStarter #15 Refuse to Have Boring Problems

    During the bleakest time of my life, my neighbor John stopped by to see how I was doing. Relieved that someone cared about me (I told you this was bleak), I rattled off a lengthy list of my latest woes. When I finished, John put his arm around my shoulder, smiled at me and said, “Barbara, [...]
  • Getting the Most Out of a Seminar or Class

    As I was busily rearranging the hotel ballroom where my seminar was to be held, a man arrived, marched to the front seat, sat down, folded his arms over his chest and said in a demanding voice, "This better be good!" I was quite certain that he was about to be disappointed. During the [...]
  • Growing a Gardening Business

    "I know what I like to do," the little thinker smugly says, "but I couldn't possibly make money doing it." Many of us carry around a belief (often hidden) that earning money is only appropriate when we're not having too much fun doing so. What nonsense. If you look around, you'll see that [...]
  • Kindness Appreciated

    About six weeks ago, I wrote about my trip to the Dale Chihuly exhibit in San Francisco. Nevertheless, I was surprised to open my mailbox this morning and discover a large package from Chihuly Studios. Since I knew I hadn't ordered anything from there, I thought it might be a belated birthday [...]
  • Overlooked Excellence

    There are only two reasons I bother to set my alarm clock: an early flight or CBS Sunday Morning. Since my local tv station carries this unfailingly informative program at revolving times (it can start anywhere from 6 AM to 7:30 AM) setting my alarm is a calculated guess.  I am kind of a [...]
  • So What Do You Do?

    It's fundraising week at Nevada Public Radio and since I'm an enthusiastic supporter, listener and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me fan, I received a call asking for additional support. The charming volunteer explained all the additional treats I'd receive and I found myself happily giving her my [...]