Like many Americans exhausted by the recent elections, I often wondered as I listened to the rhetoric if we were doing it all wrong. What, I mused, might happen if a genuine creative thinker took over the leadership reins?

Then I recalled a story I’d read sometime ago about just such a leader.

Antanas Mockus had just resigned from the top job of Colombian National University. A mathematician and philosopher, Mockus looked around for another big challenge and found it: to be in charge of, as he describes it, “a 6.5 million person classroom.”

Mockus, who had no political experience, ran for mayor of Bogotá. With an educator’s inventiveness, Mockus turned Bogotá into a social experiment just as the city was choked with violence, lawless traffic, corruption, and gangs of street children who mugged and stole. It was a city perceived by some to be on the verge of chaos.

People were desperate for a change, for a moral leader of some sort. The eccentric Mockus, who communicates through symbols, humor, and metaphors, filled the role.

When many hated the disordered and disorderly city of Bogotá, he wore a Superman costume and acted as a superhero called Supercitizen. People laughed at Mockus’ antics, but the laughter began to break the ice and get people involved in fixing things.

The fact that he was seen as an unusual leader gave the new mayor the opportunity to try extraordinary things, such as hiring 420 mimes to control traffic in Bogotá’s chaotic and dangerous streets (a personal favorite of mine).

He launched a Night for Women and asked the city’s men to stay home in the evening and care for the children; 700,000 women went out on the first of three nights that Mockus dedicated to them.

Under Mockus’s leadership, Bogotá saw improvements such as: water usage dropped 40%, 7000 community security groups were formed and the homicide rate fell 70%, traffic fatalities dropped by over 50%, drinking water was provided to all homes (up from 79% in 1993), and sewerage was provided to 95% of homes (up from 71%). When he asked residents to pay a voluntary extra 10% in taxes, 63,000 people did so.

Another Mockus inspiration was to ask people to call his office if they found a kind and honest taxi driver; 150 people called and the mayor organized a meeting with all those good taxi drivers, who advised him about how to improve the behavior of mean taxi drivers. The good taxi drivers were named Knights of the Zebra, a club supported by the mayor’s office.

“Knowledge,’” said Mockus, “empowers people. If people know the rules, and are sensitized by art, humor, and creativity, they are much more likely to accept change.”

After two terms (not consecutive) as mayor of Bogotá, Mockus made an unsuccessful run for the presidency of Columbia. In 2010, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but when he shared the news, said he anticipated at least a dozen more years of active service.

He is currently the President of Corpovisionarios, an organization that consults to cities about addressing their problems through the same policy methodology that was so successful during his terms as Mayor of Bogotá.

Alan Cohen might have been thinking about Mockus when he said, “Outlandish ideas move the world ahead far more powerfully than logical steps. An outrageous imagination is ultimately the most practical contribution.”









For the past several evenings, I’ve been curling up with Richard Branson’s latest book, Like a Virgin. This collection of blog posts and interviews is subtitled Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School.

As you might guess, it’s full of stories, philosophies and insights that are often surprising and provocative.

I’ve been fascinated by this renegade entrepreneur for years who’s always done things with a unique flair. For instance, what other enterprise made up of 400 companies has no gigantic world headquarters?

In many ways, Virign’s success has come about by thinking big, but acting small. This morning, I posted a quote from Branson on Facebook and it got a bunch of Likes from my friends.

He said, “I have spent my career staying away from offices and have only ever worked from three places: houseboat, home and hammock.” I find that endearing.

Happily for us, Branson has always been willing to share his experiences and insights. He’s not alone, of course.

There are all sorts of wise entrepreneurial elders who generously share what they’ve learned. Doesn’t it makes sense to become a voluntary student of those who’ve made the journey ahead of us?

Another favorite of mine is Mel Ziegler who says, “I would not think of starting a business unless I was its first customer.”

Ziegler knows a thing or two about being the first customer. He started out as a journalist, but grew increasingly frustrated by his inability to have creative control over his life.

He and his wife Patricia  started their first business because Mel loved to wear bush jackets and khakis, but he couldn’t easily find any. “The closest you could get to something authentic was in the surplus world, particularly British Army Surplus in those days,” says Ziegler. “It was magnificent. We saw the surplus and were kind of excited by it. We just played with it.”

That business was the original Banana Republic, which began life as a mail order company. They didn’t just sell clothes at Banana Republic; they sold clothes in which you were certain to have an adventure.

Patricia drew the catalog and Mel wrote it. “We just created it more as a theatrical experience than a retail experience,” say Ziegler.”Neither of us had retail experience. Neither of us had business experience.”

I still have a couple of those wonderful Banana Republic catalogs which were unique and fun to read.

After they sold that business, a chance encounter on an airplane got the Zieglers involved with starting Republic of Tea. “The only way I know how to create a company is for myself,” he says. “ I don’t really know how to do it any other way. I mean, I created Banana Republic and Republic of Tea for myself. I’m doing this for myself.”

That may sound simple, but it’s quite revolutionary.

The old paradigm (still much in vogue) has entrepreneurs studying demographics and putting together focus groups, hoping to infiltrate the consumer mind.

The artistic entrepreneur does it differently.

The creative entrepreneur knows that it’s possible to start a revolution by taking an old idea and changing the way it’s been done. That’s precisely how Virgin has built itself into a global operation.

Whether you aspire to build a huge business or are thrilled to remain a small operator, when it comes right down to it, being an entrepreneur is nothing more than spending your days sharing what you love with other people.

“The thing I remember best about successful people I’ve met all through the years,” said Mr. Rogers, “is their obvious delight in what they’re doing and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they’re doing and they love it in front of others.”

On the morning of my birthday last month, I awoke to an emailbox full of greetings. One in particular caught my eye. It came from my globetrotting friend Marianne Cantwell who was in Bali recovering from a freak injury to her back.

The title line simply said A Birthday Surprise. I don’t remember what went through my mind as I opened her message, but what I found was truly a surprise.

Somehow, Marianne had gathered a wide array of people from around the world to send birthday greetings to me. If you haven’t seen the video, I urge you to check it out before you read the rest of this story.

Click on here for birthday video.  Type in the password adventure (lower case).

As the day went on and phone calls joined the e-mail and postal mail greetings, I interrogated every one about their participation in the video surprise.

My sister Nancy had a great story about getting permission to have her picture taken from the rooftop of a restaurant in Athens. My friend Georgia in Sweden told me how she’d coached our mutual friend John in Minneapolis to get his picture included.

The stories went on and on. It was obvious that this project delighted the participants almost as much as it delighted me.

But there was one mystery. Who was that cute little surfer wishing me a happy birthday from Costa Rica? I couldn’t think of a soul I knew who lived there.

When I talked to Marianne, she was evasive. “I had to cheat a bit on that one,” was all she’d admit.

Then last Saturday, I had the pleasure of spending several hours with Marianne who had landed in California for a short stay. As we sat listening to the surf on the beach in Ventura, I asked her again to reveal his identity.

She hedged for a moment, then said, “He’s an entrepreneur.”

I laughed out loud. “How do you happen to know him?”

Her answer surprised and pleased me. “I found him on Fiverr,” she said. “I realized we didn’t have anyone on the video representing South America so I went looking for someone there.

“He and his father do this together and will record a message and send it for five dollars.”

Clever Marianne. Clever surfer dude and dad.

Don’t you love entrepreneurial creativity in action? I predict they all have a bright future.

Make sure if your story ever gets into someone’s book that it’s used as an example and not as a warning. ~ Jim Rohn

It was still hours until daylight when the airport shuttle picked me up at my hotel. The driver apologized for being late and assured me that he wouldn’t speed since he’d been a policeman for eighteen years and had enough of fast cars.

We drove to an apartment complex that looked like a charming village to fetch the next passenger. He was chatty, too, and introduced himself as Rueben. I commented that his neighborhood looked nice.

“Oh,” he scoffed, “it’s like living in prison.” He gave us a long list of his complaints including the fact that the management had no tolerance for bounced checks.

He told us he’d always lived in houses in California and this was his first apartment experience. “What brought you to Dallas?” I innocently asked.

“A mistake,” he snapped back. I decided he was a professional malcontent and ceased listening.

At the next stop, a younger man bounced into the van and plunked down beside me. “Hi,” he said, extending his hand. “I’m Grant.”

When I asked him what brought him to Dallas he told us he was starting a new Internet business and had come for a meeting and training. Grant lived in Maui where he’d relocated from Washington.

“What brought you to Maui?” I asked. (Okay, it hadn’t worked with Rueben, but I really wanted to know.)

Grant said he’d gone there on vacation, fell in love with the place, had gone home and liquidated his business in Washington and then set up a new one in Hawaii.

Rueben then told us that he’d lived in Hawaii for a time himself, “Before they ruined it,” he pointed out.

By this time, I was far more interested in hearing what the cheerful Grant had to say. “So you’re an entrepreneur,” I said.

“Yup,” he replied. “I’ve had employees since I was 23. But I really want to get this new business running and I’ll be a one-person enterprise. No employees is my goal.”

“Ah, a man after my own heart,” I said. “I have a one-person business too.”

At this point, Rueben joined the conversation again telling us how lazy people are and how hard it is to get decent employees. Rueben wasn’t about to be left out of this conversation since he, too, owned his own business.

I couldn’t imagine being locked up with him for an entire day, but was polite enough not to point out that the problem might not be with the people he hired—who all seemed to quit rather quickly.

On the flight home, I pondered the Ruebens of this world. Do they not notice, I wondered, that their critical behavior is influencing the outcomes they receive?

I’m certain that Rueben is convinced that the way he sees things is the way things are. On the other hand, Grant is open, excited and receptive, exploring as he goes.

Care to predict whose life will be filled with success?


I get excited about small businesses that are run with

passion so that’s what I recommend in my guidebooks.

Rick Steves

Thanks to Rick Steves, there’s a collection of micro-mosaics that I got  to see when I was in  London. Thanks to him, I’ve stayed in some delightful little hotels in Europe. I’ve also instigated plenty of conversations with fellow travelers who happened to be carrying a Rick Steves guidebook.

I’ve been a Rick Steves fan since long before he was so well known so when he landed in my part of the world as part of his public television promotion, I was eager to spend an evening listening to him talk.

During the question period, I raised my hand and said, “You spend 100 days a year in Europe, you manage a staff of 60, and you have a wife and two kids. How do you get all that writing done?”

He looked thoughtful and said, “Well, you’ll notice that none of my guidebooks mention night life.” He went on to explain that even when he’s on the road, he spends four hours a night writing.  In addition to the guidebooks that get updated annually, he also writes the scripts for his popular television series.

This is all impressive, but I’ve been studying his Europe Through The Back Door business and think there are also some great lessons to be learned from this entrepreneurial expert.

In the competitive field of travel writing, how has he managed to build his enterprise?  There are some obvious and some not-so-obvious things that Rick Steves does right.

* Was willing to start small. You can learn the entire evolution of his business on his terrific Web site ( Here’s how it started:

“Throughout the late 1970s I traveled lots and taught my European Travel Cheap class at the University of Washington’s Experimental College in Seattle. Realizing a teacher needs a textbook, I put the lectures on paper, compiled my favorite discoveries, and in 1980 wrote the first edition of Europe Through the Back Door.

“Through my travel classes, I sold all those first editions of Europe Through the Back Door. In 1981, I got a bit more professional with the second edition, taking out the personal poems and the lists of most dangerous airlines. The third edition, even though typeset now, still looked so simple and amateurish that reviewers and talk show hosts repeatedly mistook it for a pre-publication edition.

“Throughout the 1970s I was a piano teacher. By about 1982, my recital hall was becoming a travel lecture classroom, and I needed to choose Europe or music. I chose teaching travel over piano, let my students go, and began building Europe Through the Back Door. “

* Passionate. It’s hard to develop any level of mastery—or success—if we’re lukewarm. Not only does passion keep us growing, it’s also highly contagious, which is a terrific marketing tool.

It’s apparent that Rick Steves loves what he does. He says there was a moment when he knew that Europe was going to be his playground.  “When I’m in Europe,” he wrote, “I’m breathing pure oxygen.”

That passion keeps him coming up with new recommendations and discoveries.

* Makes it look easy. My daughter said she was watching him one day and thought the reason he’s so successful is that he seems so ordinary and unsophisticated. “I  think people watch him and think if he can do it , they can too.”

Like all good experts, he has the ability to give people confidence. His easy going style makes him a great teacher and his sense of humor adds to the fun.

* Understands multiple profit centers. Today ETBD is a business with plenty of diversity. In addition to the twenty-plus books that Rick has written, the company also has a booming tour business, as well as a mail order company that sells travel gear along with books, videos and DVDs. And, of course, there’s that television gig.

* Has a clearly articulated philosophy. Every issue of the free ETBD newsletter contains that philosophy which is carried out in all aspects of his business. There’s a particular kind of traveler that is his customer and they don’t waste time trying to attract folks who lack an independent spirit. His customers are folks who appreciate a Less is More approach.

* Creates a loyal customer base. One popular features of the Web site and newsletter is a section called Road Scholars which shares travel tips from fellow ETBD fans. They also have events for alumni of their tours to meet and swap travel tales. There’s a sense of personal involvement with the company.

If you’re in the business of packaging information of any kind, Rick Steves is a fellow entrepreneur that is worth learning about and worth learning from.


Want to see Rick at work? Here’s a short video of him updating his guidebooks.


Have you ever had the experience of working hard to make a change only to discover that once you had done so, other things seemed to change all by themselves?

I thought of this mysterious phenomenon last week when I got the following message from fellow traveler Alice Barry.

In January I felt a real slump in my energy and felt like I was constantly battling my digestion and feeling awful all the time…really in pain. It was affecting my ability to take on work, focus and feel creative.

I joined a holistic health class to get some support and ended up kicking gluten out of my diet completely. Things changed instantly.

One of the biggest changes, besides clear thinking and great digestion with no pain, is that I am now actually losing weight naturally. I’m down 2 inches on my waist and my pants are falling off!

The other benefit is that after mucking through 2010 with not a single new idea for myself, I feel like the flood gates have opened.

I’ve started to talk out loud about my desire to learn voice over — something I’ve always dreamed of but allowed my theater professor’s discouragement to steer me away from so many years ago.

Last week, in a class I’m taking, I started brainstorming ways I could start applying my voice to the small business and entrepreneurial clients I have right now. Here’s where it gets good.

Three days later a contact of mine called me out of the blue and asked if I would be someone who could do the voice over work for a promotional video she had recently shot to promote her speaking engagements! Naturally, I accepted. Then I asked a friend of mine who does voice over here to record me and coach me on it and he agreed without hesitation.

All this plus I have a full schedule of clients…about half business coaching and half naming and branding.

After spending 2009 giving every dime I made to my lawyer to break away from my former business partner, I can say that I have now far surpassed that pay out and am actually in the flow once again—but beyond where I’ve ever been before.

Barbara, every day I’m so honored to pass along to my clients all the insights I’ve learned from you about creating a business that’s right for them. It’s stunning how the smallest tweaks to their thinking push them forward in big ways.

And I’m so aware right now of the foundation you helped me build for how I want to work, the fun I want to have and how beneficial that has been to me. Especially when I see and hear from so many others who are struggling against what’s good for them and what they think they’re supposed to do to build a business.

One thing I think that is so key here is that A.) I have a good foundation of entrepreneurial thinking from absorbing myself in it for years — a foundation that is for working and for living, and B.) therefore making that one change was much easier and felt worth trying even if it wasn’t the answer.

Instead of wallowing in feeling bad or not making progress and isolating myself from people, I started asking questions and telling people how I felt. That landed me in front of the right resource at the right time.

I know have a whole new understanding of how the food we eat affects our energy and the energy we have affects our businesses both in what we can bring in and what we can put out. Changing my energy and my health has directly contributed to my new successes.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of getting to know Alice Barry yourself, pay a visit to her Website  Entertaining the Idea. And if you’re in the area, join Alice and me on May 12 & 13 in Minneapolis for two days of Energize Your Entrepreneurial Spirit.


“When setting out on a journey,” the poet Rumi warned, “do not seek advice from someone who’s never left home.”

Seems obvious to me, but I’m amazed at the number of people who let themselves be talked out of their dream of business ownership by folks who’ve never run a business.

Doesn’t it make more sense to see what successful self-bossers have to say? Today we’re going to do just that.

The world is a massively more hospitable place for entrepreneurs than it was twenty years ago. ~ Richard Branson

But for those who think that an eternal escape from work would be paradise, don’t forget that we all need a playground and your own company is one of the best playgrounds of all. ~ Derek Sivers

The self-owned and -operated business is the freest life in the world. ~ Paul Hawken

I dare say, all successful entrepreneurs have loved to tell the story of their business. Because that’s what entrepreneurs do: they tell stories that come to life in the form of their businesses. ~ Michael E. Gerber

More good has been launched by more people from kitchen tables than any other platform in the land. ~ Jim Hightower

I think the best investment you can make is to start a business that is so much fun you don’t care if you go broke. With this approach, you can be certain of success. ~ Phil Laut

Feeling taxed? I am GRATEFUL to be making money doing what I love. For years, writing was a hobby, a hope, a haunting. Now it’s a legitimate business, one I file on Schedule C. If you’re lucky enough to be “taxed” on your dream or free enterprise, celebrate today. It’s a milestone and a privilege. ~ Tama J. Kieves

Self-managers of our own assets. That’s what more and more of us are becoming. ~ Charles Handy

Bootstrappers built this country and they continue to make it great. Virtually every business—from IBM to the local dry cleaner—was bootstrapped, usually by people with far less smarts, less money, fewer connections and less vision than you have right now. ~ Seth Godin

Entrepreneurs want to create a livelihood from an idea that has obsessed them. What gets their juices going is seeing how far an idea can go. ~ Anita Roddick


Want more wise advice from fellow travelers? I’ve collected some of my favorite quotes in a little book called Seminar in a Sentence. Readers tell me they carry it with them so they can find inspiration on a moment’s notice. Order yours now.


Banana Republic co-founder Mel Ziegler gave the best advice I’ve ever heard about how to create a business. He said, “I would not think of starting a business unless I was its first customer. All it takes to launch a business in which you are the first customer is to find a second customer and sell him the product.”

Although Banana Republic eventually was sold to The Gap, the early days were a study in building one step at a time.

Ziegler was a writer who, with his artist wife Patricia, began importing casual clothing which they originally sold at flea markets. As their inventory and customer base grew, they moved into a store front in Mill Valley, CA which they decorated to create the image of a jungle trading post.

Before their demise as  a mail order company, Mel  and Patricia Ziegler’s Banana Republic catalog produced some of the snappiest ad copy around.

Banana Republic didn’t just sell clothes: they sold adventure. The most prosaic items took on a new dimension when the Zieglers described them.

Since you can no longer acquire their catalog, here’s a glimpse of the magic.

Cover of the 1985 Holiday Catalog

Gifts for myriad and sundry dreamers, adventurers, lunatics, mavens, explorers, wordsmiths, pundits, rebels, divas, visionaries, adversaries, newshawks, unnamed sources, mysterious strangers, dilettantes, debutantes, seers, dears, moms, dads, or for that matter any character on your list who has better things to think about than clothes but, nonetheless, would like something as unique and authentic as he or she is.

Freelance Briefcase

Though chronically out of work, freelancers nonetheless wish to appear employable, and there’s nothing like a briefcase for conveying the message. Still, a hardshelled encumbrance would seriously undermine one’s spontaneity.

Like freelancers themselves,our Freelance Briefcase works when it has to and plays when it doesn’t. It’s multiple compartments can conceal files, pencils, tape recorder; but when the assignment’s done, they issue forth granola bars, paperback mysteries, even a pair of actual briefs (for the extemporaneous overnighter).

An office-on-a-strap for those who believe that imagination opens more doors than a manicured resume.

Women’s Outback Pants

Dashing, loose-fitting pants in which Matlida could waltz, wrestle a wallaby or brew black billy tea beside a billabong. Whatever the occasions, she’d find six compartments for necessary sundries—enough to make any marsupial faint from pocket-envy.

The Ziegler’s went on to co-found The Republic of Tea with a young entrepreneur named Bill Rosenzweig. They wrote a marvelous book about that business adventure called The Republic of Tea: How an Idea Becomes a Business.

If you can track down a copy of that book, you’ll find one of the smartest stories written about the adventure of starting a business.



It was spring break last week for my granddaughter Zoe so she decided to spend some time with me. It was a busy visit.

Several months ago, she had agreed to barter one of her handmade books for a custom made headband from my sister Margaret. The project had been neglected for too long so she was determined to finish her end of the deal.

Zoe had begun writing her story, Finnegan and Chico Get Lost, a fictional tale about Margaret’s rescued dogs, but forgot her original manuscript at home. I suggested she start over and, as so often happens, her second attempt produced a better story.

The transaction took place at our Winter Family Sunday Dinner. The book was adorable and the headband gorgeous. Both parties walked away happy.

It was also a fine reminder of using alternative currencies.

Bartering gets high marks with creative entrepreneurs since it allows you to trade services and products without money being exchanged.

The tricky part of this is figuring out what’s an even exchange. That’s where barter clubs come in allowing you to accumulate credits. (Do an Internet  search to track down a club that suits your needs.)

A man who attended a seminar of mine in Atlanta told me that he had lived for three and a half years totally on bartering. Many people, especially new business owners, find that bartering allows them to get all sorts of things they can use without having to spend cash.

From time to time, I’ve done a bit of bartering myself. One of my favorite experiences was helping a talented photographer launch his business in exchange for a photo shoot.

Recently I heard from Karen Clare, a Facebook friend whose primary business is called A Doll a Day. She was delighted by a transaction she’d just made. Here’s what happened:

I have a friend who needed some help with his eBay sales. He’d been bugging me to give him a call.

I seized the opportunity to explain that what we really needed to do was to spend an hour together where in I would show him the tips and tricks of creating great listings. But since my expertise was valuable, I wasn’t going to do it for free.

I remembered that he was a former hair stylist (who is now on disability) and I needed a cut. So I traded out an hour and a half of my time for a great hair cut.

I am finally starting to think in new and creative ways about monetizing all of my skills, even those I used to share “freely” (no pun intended), with friends. In this instance a trade was an ideal way to go.

Have you used barter in your business? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment and share your experience.


Yesterday afternoon I spent a fair amount of time replying to an e-mail from a man who wrote to tell me that he was tired of his corporate job and wanted to become self-employed. So far, so good.

Then he went on to give me all the reasons why this was impossible. He had a large family to support, he was too exhausted when he got home from work to get something going, etc. etc. There wasn’t anything very original about his list.

I wrote back and said, “Just from what you told me, I think you may be getting ahead of yourself. Of course, it seems overwhelming to make a life transition when you’re already booked and committed.

“Do you have a clear idea about what sort of business you’d like to start? Can you find even 30 minutes a day to start laying the groundwork? Have you got written goals? Can you get family support for making a lifestyle change? Seems to me, your next step is to plan your transition…not decide it can’t be done.”

What I wanted to tell him, but didn’t, was that he called to mind Richard Bach’s observation: “Argue for your limitations and, sure enough, they’re yours.”

I had barely hit the send button on my message when my phone rang. The call was from Paul, a man I’d met several years ago when he attended my seminars in San Francisco.

At the time, Paul was working at a government job, not so happily married, and longing to travel. I remember how somber and sad he seemed.

When I heard from him next, he had quit his job, left his bad marriage and was focusing on making his living from travel.

It was fun to watch as Paul began building his business teaching various travel seminars he’d created. At first, he focused on teaching in his home state of California. The next year he went national and was zipping around the country sharing information on living abroad and getting the most out of traveling like a local.

When Paul’s parents became ill, he suspended his travel activities to care for them. In the past year, both his mother and father had died and Paul is planning his next chapter.

He told me about his immediate plans to study French in Montreal and spend time on a Semester at Sea.  As he was sharing his excitement about his new adventures, I kept thinking about my e-mail correspondent who felt so trapped.

Cynics would point out that Paul does not have the same obligations as the other fellow so, obviously, he can gallivant around. Cynics would be missing the point.

In our long catch-up chat, Paul told me that he really didn’t have any long-term plans. He was focusing on his upcoming travels. “I’m not worried. Having the experience of starting my business gave me so much confidence,” he said, “that I know I can do it again.”

It’s an observation I’ve heard over and over again from my self-employed friends. Why then, I wonder, is Paul’s discovery such a well-kept secret? And why do so many people treat self-employment like a spectator sport?

Maybe the answer to those perplexing questions can be found in these words from an anonymous source: A willing heart will find a thousand ways. An unwilling heart will find a thousand excuses.

Or perhaps Paul has discovered what Chris Rock pointed out in an interview last week on CBS Sunday Morning. “Being rich is not about having a lot of money,” Rock said. “Being rich is about having a lot of options.”