Although I have shared this before, I am doing so again in the optimistic hope that someone reads it and actually gives it a try.


 What if I told you that there’s a technique that if faithfully applied would absolutely guarantee your success in starting and building your business? Well, such a technique exists although it sometimes seems like a well-kept secret.

I’ve shared it in my seminars and in my writing, but getting people to actually try it for themselves has been another matter.

Whenever I receive a call or e-mail from someone telling me that they’re stuck, I can be certain that they haven’t given this idea a fair shake.

On the other hand, those I’ve managed to convince to use it every day report that things really start happening— and quickly.

Any successful goal setter will tell you that reaching goals big or small is dependent on breaking the big picture into tiny doable steps. That’s the essence of my favorite idea, the $100 Hour.

It works with such infallible certainty that once you make it a regular part of your plans, it’s like a rocket propelling you to your goals. You can begin implementing the $100 Hour even if you have other commitments that clamor for your attention.

Begin by making a pact with yourself that you will set aside time daily, if possible, or at scheduled intervals, for the purpose of finding an idea that will bring you $100.

You needn’t complete the plan in the hour, but if time permits use your surplus to get your idea rolling. Do research, make calls, write letters or e-mails— anything that moves you closer.

If you’re focusing your energies on a single profit center, then come up with an idea for expanding it in a way that will earn another $100. If your business plan is more eclectic, then this time can be spent designing a variety of projects.

A word of warning is in order here. While this idea works wonders, your ego may tell you that $100 is too insignificant to bother with.

Ignore it.

After all, great fortunes and grand achievements have been accomplished by steadfast devotion to creating tiny successes—which ultimately add up to enormous successes.

The discipline that comes with using this technique is perhaps its greatest bonus.

However, once you start seeing results, don’t stop using it. With continued practice, you’ll find it gets easier and easier to come up with a $100 idea. At that point, you can raise the monetary stakes, if you like.

At any rate, you’ll discover that the quality of your ideas gets better and better with practice.

We’re on birth alert around here right now. No, I am not expecting another grandchild. The arriving baby belongs to my doula daughter’s client.

I had never heard of birthing doulas until a few years ago when a student in one of my Sacramento seminars told me that she was one.

According to Wikipedia, this is an ancient profession that originated in Greece. A doula is a nonmedical person who assists before, during and after childbirth. The continuous support during labor is associated with improved maternal and fetal health.

How Jennie became a doula still intrigues me.

One morning about seven years ago, she fetched me from the Burbank Airport. She could hardly wait to tell me her news.

For some time, Jennie had wanted to have a second child, but was not getting much enthusiasm from her partner.

Then the revelation came.

“I woke up this morning,” she told me, “and thought maybe I don’t need to have another baby. Maybe what I really want is to have babies in my life. My next thought was that I could become a midwife.”

Although it was early in the day, she had already called her local college, found out the requirements for becoming a midwife and was planning to enroll.

She spend the next year taking math and science classes which had not been part of her previous undergraduate program. After doing her catch-up work, she was scheduled for two years of nursing training followed by midwifery school.

It was a big commitment. Along the way, Jennie did have a second child and decided that doula training was a better fit for her. She also added Reiki training and hypnobirthing to her toolbox.

Although I’ve never seen her in action, I can imagine that her calm and confident demeanor is a huge asset to her clients. I have heard  that she’s glowing when she returns home from a birth.

Ray Bradbury advised, “In the moment of knowing a love, intensify it.”  New ideas are as fragile as babies. They also require incessant nurturing if they are going to grow into something magnificent.

That’s precisely what Jennie did.

It also happens to be the way we get our marching orders for the Joyfully Jobless life.

I recently moved and came across the materials from a seminar that you hosted with Valerie Young in western Massachusetts. I found the Work at What You Love workbook and now I am living the life I wrote about then. I’m actually doing even more creative stuff than I could have dreamed of back then.

I remember that I loved the seminar but really was at a place where I thought the ideas would work for anyone but not me. I had very low self-esteem in the area of work because I kept choosing jobs that were a poor match.

This was how I thought my life was going to be: just grin and bear it and accept that I would never live my life from a more authentic place. So I kept working these draining jobs, going to therapy, completely stressed about money all the time.

And yet, there was a part of me that would not give up.

My husband saw an ad for an innkeeper. At the time, I was working at a hotel as a front office manager on Cape Cod and was so miserable. I called and the owner said he was really not looking for an employee, but a business partner.

We were not ready to lease the inn, so we offered to run the inn as independent contractors and had a legal agreement drawn up. Now, basically, we work for ourselves and get a decent percentage of what we bring in.

We run the inn how we want to and we are truly having the time of our lives. We both get to use our skills and because they are so different they compliment each other well.

My husband says that he feels alive in a way that he has not in a long time. We just discovered new space behind the inn that we will be turning into retreat/meeting/yoga    space.

It is so funny because now I am never sure how much money will be coming in week to week and it is the thing I worry about least.

I am having way too much fun working hard and now believe that the Universe will provide me with everything that I need because it already has.

Cheryl Bagangan, Onset, MA

Here’s another postcard from the field that caught my fancy.


I think so often in this world people think that being good at business is about being clever, but the thing about business is that it involves people—and people are interested in what’s in your heart.

I have worked at many different things, but one that gave me incredible insight was being a children’s entertainer. Children will automatically want to join in with whatever activity you want them to engage in as long as you look like you’re having a magical time.

If you are following your bliss, they will join in with more enthusiasm than you could have cultivated in an hour worth of telling them how fun things were going to be.

They don’t want to be told what to do. They want to have an adventure.

I think most adults are the same. That is why the most important thing about being an entrepreneur is having a magical life—casting a wonderful spell that enchants the people you come into contact with.

When you do everything with the intention of loving your clients as people, they can feel it and they will in turn love you back. That will love your business too.

This is not a thought out process, but a way of being.

There is so much happiness to be had in giving, receiving and, most importantly, in wonderment. When you are filled with wonder, both of these things are more likely and easy.

I loved the part when you talked about people who seem young are filled with a sense of curiosity. It is definitely true in the people I have met and some appear timeless.

Some people think that wealth is all about how much money you earn, but living in abundance means filling your life up with beauty, appreciation and joy.

Katherine Flynn, London, UK

This month I’m sharing postcards from the field. Hearing these stories is one of my favorite parts of my business. This one may sound familiar.


I have been in a terrible slump for seven months since I was unceremoniously shown the door at my corporate workplace. At the same time, I knew this was my chance to escape a career that sucked the life out of me anyway.

However, with no positive feedback for my entrepreneurial ideas, I kept going back to the same old well which had long since dried up. After all, my long resume showed years of accomplishment in my field.

After months of interviewing for jobs I didn’t want and countless hours scouring the Internet, I was still unemployed and more confused than every. So I’ve been on a quest to discover a new way of living, a better way, that makes me feel alive again.

But I had no guidance, only naysayers.

Ever hopeful that enough research would unearth the path to my new life, last Friday night I threw on some jeans and a sweatshirt and headed to the bookstore. I went straight for the business section and gathered as many books as I could carry over to the threadbare couch, thinking how well that tired, beat-up thing matched my outfit and spirit.

Carefully, I searched through each book for some glimmer of inspiration but they all seemed written for someone else until I picked up Making a Living Without a Job. It struck a chord immediately and I couldn’t wait to get it home and devour it.

I wrote down the ideas that seemed to be pouring out of my head faster than I could capture them.

Here’s the thing: I had these ideas before, but whenever I  looked back at them, they seemed foolish and impossible. I was listening to all the naysayers in my life, a tape I play over and over whenever I try to do something that is not mainstream.

I simply need to throw that tape away, but I guess I hung onto it as the voice of reason that kept me from investigating my wild ideas and crazy dreams. It really is not my own fear, however, that has held me back. It is the fear of others.

I can’t throw away the people who care about me, but I will not share my dreams anymore. The advice I receive paralyzes me from seeking what I really want and pushes me to search for a job that meets with their approval.

Their ideas and mine are so completely at opposite ends of the spectrum, I have been doomed to a merry-go-round of indecision.

Barbara, your voice is now the one in my head. I look at you and what you have created and I am profoundly inspired. I am encouraged to take the leap and do what I was put on this earth to do.

I am an artist and I was withering in the corporate world. I was drowning in a sea of confusion and you have told me that my ideas aren’t crazy, that it can be done. For that I am deeply grateful.

I will let you know how my new life unfolds now that the straight jacket has been removed from my creative spirit.

Kate Taylor, Minneapolis, MN

Recently, I was browsing in some back issues of Winning Ways newsletter and found myself rereading letters I’d published over the years. I decided to share some of my favorites this month.


I found your book, Making a Living Without a Job, about three years ago. I read it, thought it was inspiring, and put it on my “keep” bookshelf. After a few weeks, I read it again.

Since that time, I have read that darn book at least six times.

When I bought it, I was in a high-pressure, unrewarding job as a foreman for a masonry construction company. Today I am Joyfully Jobless!

I’ve been on my own for almost two years and could not be happier. Not that life is easy: it’s just more rewarding. My relationships with everyone in my life have improved as a result of following my passions.

What do I do? Well, I have several profit centers. I build ponds and waterfalls as one profit center. Another is upgrading concrete patios and garages with coatings. I also trim very tall palm trees. I enjoy climbing way up there!

In addition, I install landscapes, still do masonry projects and sell things on eBay. I am constantly thinking up new ideas to try out.

I could go on and on. You and your book helped me find the courage to step out and change my life—and that of my family too.

Incidentally, I believe in supporting things and people that have a positive impact which is why I decided to send the $36 for the subscription. It’s the least I can do to thank you for what you have done for me.

Sean Williams, Mesa, AZ

Recently, I was browsing in some back issues of Winning Ways newsletter and found myself rereading letters I’d published over the years. I decided to share some of my favorites this month.


In January 2000, I left my career as a senior systems analyst to homeschool my son. He has medical needs and is flourishing in our relaxed home environment.

During this process, I started exploring being a self-bosser. I did six months of technical writing on a part-time basis from my home. It sounds ideal and I got paid well, yet I found that my heart wasn’t in it.

However, that got me on the track of writing. I started writing nonfiction articles for a local newspaper. Then I picked up assignments for another newspaper. I focus on people in my community that have a passion for their businesses or hobbys.

Every time I interview one of these interesting people, I’m inspired all over again.

Today, I really had a thrill. I had done an article over a year ago about a woman who has opened a boutique every year for three weeks in November. This is her nineteenth year in operation.

She holds her store in an antique barn on her property and it’s filled with creations from over fifty area artisans, from wood furniture to quilts, holiday decorations and much more.

In trying to work smarter, not harder, I wrote another article about her boutique for a regional magazine, Wisconsin Trails. They bought it and her gallery made their “Top 10 Picks for Holiday Shopping.”

I brought the article out to her today and her excitement makes what I do even more worthwhile. As soon as her store opened today, she showed the article to everyone there, remarking, “We’re famous!”

I often get thank you cards from the people I interview. I have come to realize that what I do is a service. These small business owners get the recognition they deserve and free publicity.

I get paid for my writing, but I get so much more. I get the special honor of telling their story.

Donna Karis, River Falls, WI

Once in awhile, an ad will pop up on television featuring small business and, of course, those ads always get my undivided attention. I especially have liked the one running recently from the US Postal Service featuring homebased businesses.

It begins with the mailman saying something like, “I have one employer. Actually, I have forty-six.” It goes on to show him picking up packages at the front doors of’ different houses. Nice.

There’s another one from LegalZoom that also gets my attention, but not quite for the same reason. This ad features a woman who has started a candy business using her mother’s special toffee recipe.

After we’ve heard all the reasons why LegalZoom can help a small business owner, she says, “I never thought I could make a living doing what I love.”

I’m pretty sure she’s being sincere—and that makes me sad. Why in the world should making a living in a creative, joyful way be rare?

Years ago, I heard the wonderful Ray Bradbury speak at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. He said something I’d never heard before, but have never forgotten.

“In the moment of knowing a love,” advised Bradbury, “intensify it.”

Can you imagine what would happen if all of us took that advice seriously? That when we uncovered a new love we would nurture, not ignore, it?  Or when we met a kindred spirit we’d make spending time with them a top priority?

Sometimes those loves—whether recent or longtime—became the basis of a business. Sometimes those loves are an enduring pastime. Either way, it’s up to us whether we intensify or weaken our affection.

Seems to me that one of the most effective ways of intensifying our loves is by sharing them. If you spend any time at all on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll notice that some people are using those venues to pass along discoveries that have enriched their lives.

What I know for sure is that when we follow the path recommended by Ray Bradbury, the rewards are enormous.

As Leslie Rector said, “I’ve learned that what you love magnifies your talent. You just have to have faith to invest in it.”

* Go to the library. Whenever I’m in a slump, a trip to the library never fails to get me unstuck. Every shelf is loaded with possibility. Browse in sections you don’t normally visit.

* Interview self-bossers. Choose the joyfully jobless, not just the self-employed. Let their passion rub off on you.

* Pay attention. Listen to the compliments that come your way. They may hold the key to a profit center. Listen to what people say is missing in the world for more clues.

* Play every day. Even if you aren’t yet running a business fulltime, do something—no matter how small—to move yourself ahead each and every day.

* Break your goals into 90-Day Projects. 

* Give your projects a theme. A theme helps you focus your mind and sparks creative thoughts.

* Pick an entrepreneurial hero or heroine and become an expert on their life. 

* Carry a notebook. You never know when a great idea will strike or when you’ll see something worth remembering. Richard Branson carries one all the time. So should you.

* Read a novel. Not just any old story, however. Read novels that feature entrepreneurs as main characters. Mysteries, especially, feature them. You’ll learn alot.

* Have regular tune-ups. One seminar does not finish the learning process. As Zig Ziglar loved to remind us you wouldn’t just bathe once and think you’d done it, would you? Keep going back to the well.

* Immerse, don’t dabble.  Follow your hunches and give them your nurturing attention. Take inventory on a regular basis to determine where you’re getting the biggest ROI on the time you invest.

* Acquire good tools. Use the best tools you can afford to do the best work you are capable of.

* Create an inspiring working environment. Your office or studio should be a place that rises up to meet you.

* Subscribe to Winning Ways. Read what successful entrepreneurs read. Build a library. Gather good information and ideas every single day.

* Memorize these five steps: HOW TO BUILD YOUR OWN LUCK 1. Get a hobby Find the thing that fascinates you most. You’ll recognize it instantly. It’s the thing you feel you have to do every day or the day is wasted. 2. Obsess Get to know it so well nothing about it is unpredictable, including its ability to surprise you. This part of the process will take approximately one lifetime. 3. Charge for it If you’re so crazy about it and so good at it, go pro! 4. Flourish If you’ve followed steps one, two and three, this is the easy part. 5. Succeed Do it so wildly that everyone tells you how lucky you are.

Without a doubt, my favorite people to spend time with are those who are tuned in to opportunity. My friend Chris was such a person.

Not only was she constantly seeing new opportunities for her own business, she saw great ideas everywhere just waiting for a champion.

When I’d visit her rural Connecticut home, we’d spend time studying the wonderful small businesses that surrounded her. We soon had our favorite entrepreneurs that we’d call on including an innkeeper, an antiquarian bookseller, a gardening book and ornamentation shop and an antique dealer.

Chris wasn’t shy about passing along ideas she had for these entrepreneurs and delighted in seeing how many of her suggestions were implemented.

Developing opportunity awareness, it seems to me, is the best way to build entrepreneurial muscle.  It’s also important to realize that as you become more conscious of opportunity, you’ll see it all over the place—whether it has anything to do with your business or not.

Let’s just consider the two forms of opportunity that directly impact your business.

Summoned opportunities come after we have set a goal or made a decision to do something. For instance, you decide to set up a practice as a personal trainer and get busy finding clients.

As you look for ways to grow your business, you essentially are inviting opportunity to take up residence with you. Everyone who hires you becomes a new opportunity to expand your business, as does every new avenue you pursue to market yourself.

By taking action you’ve drawn opportunity to you.

Serendipitous opportunities appear to be unplanned.

Let’s say you have a client for your personal training business who happens to be a filmmaker and thinks you’d be perfect for a series of exercise videos he wants to produce.

That’s a possibility you’d never considered, but once it’s proposed to you, it is an exciting idea and you start working on the production, planning the marketing and thinking of new ways to share your expertise.

Either sort of opportunity requires that you have opened your heart and mind to the possibility of favorable events occurring in your life and business.

The reason why so many people remain blind to opportunity is that frequently they come disguised as problems to be solved.

“Most successful new businesspeople do not start out in life thinking this is what they want to do,” writes Paul Hawken. “Spurred by something missing in the world, the entrepreneur begins to think about and envision a product or service, or a change in an existing product or service.”

Hawken knows from personal experience that responding to something missing can be the path to success. As a young man, Hawken discovered he could correct his health problems by controlling his diet.

He figured that others were ready to embrace natural foods as a healthy alternative and opened one of America’s first health food stores to provide products not found elsewhere.

Several years later, Hawken repeated this winning formula when he decided to market the gardening tools he had come to love while living in Scotland.

Is there a product or service you want but can’t easily find? Do you ever think, “I wonder why no one has ever…”?

If so, you may be staring at a wonderful opportunity. Chances are if you have identified a need that is not being met, there are plenty of others who share your feelings.

Of course, if you’re a real opportunity spotter, you’ll see far more possibilities than you could ever tackle yourself. As long as you’re acting on the most exciting opportunities, it’s okay to have a surplus. This is partly, after all, an on-going exercise in keeping your creative spirit engaged.

Psychologist William James thought acting on opportunities was critical to personal growth.

“No matter how full a reservoir of maxims one may possess,” James wrote, “and no matter how good one’s sentiments may be, if one has not taken advantage of every concrete opportunity to act, one’s character may remain entirely unaffected for the better.”