It’s been hard for me to understand the popularity of TIm Ferris’ The 4-Hour Workweek. Take a closer look and you’ll see he’s advocating creating a money machine so you don’t have to work much at all and can spend your money on fun. Despite it’s self-employment slant, it’s just a new variation of “Everybody’s Workin’ for the Weekend.” 


This philosophy puts “fun” on one side of the room and “money” on the other. (Most people have been too polite to point out that Ferris spends way more than four hours per week promoting his book and himself.)


To be truly Joyfully Jobless, fun and money need to be partners in the enterprise. “Fun is fundamental,” Sir Richard Branson reminds us. That’s the antithesis of all those business mottos which sound more like Fun is Forbidden.


How can you earn money by having fun? There are numerous ways, but the essential thing is to begin by creating a business that’s so much fun for you that you can’t wait to get at it every day. 


Then you can heighten the fun—and build your entrepreneurial thinking—by creating small projects where you get paid to do things you normally pay to do. You won’t get rich with any of these ideas, but your life will be noticeably richer in fun.


Do You Love…


° Classical music? Usher at your symphony hall and get paid to listen. The same goes for theater and other entertainment venues. Sometimes these are volunteer positions and sometimes they pay a token amount.  


When I do seminars in Las Vegas, I build in a performance by Cirque du Soleil as part of the event. Of course, I wouldn’t think of sending my seminar participants all by themselves.


° Giving your opinion? Sign up with local agencies that put together focus groups to evaluate new products. Some of the groups are prosaic, but others can be lots of fun. I once participated in a focus group for an airline and we were  pleasantly surprised at the end of the session to learn we could be paid $70—or receive a roundtrip ticket to Europe on the carrier.


° Having a day at the spa? Schools of massage need bodies to practice on and sometimes they they even pay to use them. Then there’s the woman who evaluates spa services for a hotel chain. She conducts her research by posing as a client, trying out as many services as she can squeeze into a visit. That’s an idea that could be turned into an independent business.


° Doing research? Ah, those closet detectives among us are the folks who love digging deeply into a subject. One fun possibility here is to create an independent research project and get it funded. Millions of dollars in grant money goes unclaimed every year. And, yes, there are grants for non-academics. 


° Travel? Of course, I have dozens of suggestions for getting paid to travel in my How to Support Your Wanderlust classes. One of those ways is to organize a tour. I met two delightful women from Australia in a London restaurant who told me about a tour they’d taken to the US to visit quilting museums and workshops. If you have a passion you love sharing with other people, this could be a wonderful way to get paid to spend time with kindred spirits.


Create your own Money for Fun exercise to wake up your imagination to new possibilities. The options are endless, but not automatic. As the late comedian Danny Kaye pointed out, “Life is a great big canvas and you should throw all the paint on it you can.”



Got something you’ve discovered to add to the list? Let us know by adding a comment.

Not long ago, I got an e-mail from a woman who had been in my Making a Living Without a Job seminar. She was nervous about exploring self-employment, she said, because she’d heard that 90% of all small businesses fail. “Are you suggesting,” she asked, “that we attempt something that has  only a 10% chance of success?”


Fair question, I thought, but based on faulty information.


I’ve heard these crazy statistics for years. In fact, not long ago, I was watching the Twitter conference and there was Tony Robbins, one of America’s most famous speakers, warning the audience that 80% of all businesses fail.


Good grief. Where’s he getting his information? If failure was so imminent, every office park and retail area would be jammed with U-Haul trucks. Furthermore, these statistics are blatantly inaccurate because they only measure a tiny portion of the business community. Highly capitalized businesses have a higher failure rate than bootstrapped operations, but 80% is still a gross exaggeration. In addition, businesses that are sold or merged are counted as a failure since they no longer exist in their original form. 


If we’re going to look at statistics, I suggest  paying  attention to the study of 3,000 small businesses which was conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express. This study focused on what it takes to survive the startup years. Here’s what they found:


° Personal characteristics shared by the winners were having self-confidence, knowing their product and devoting full time to the business.


° Three-fourths of those who started a business were motivated more by having control over their time rather than money.


° Eighty percent of those who worked between 60-69 hours/week remained in business after three years. However, those who worked beyond  69 hours or fewer than 40 were among the failures.


° Companies who emphasized better service had a higher survival rate than those who relied on price cutting as a strategy.


° Small business owners who hold down a regular job are less likely to succeed than those who give full time attention to the business.


° A positive attitude toward small business in general and their own business in particular was a critical factor. Believing in their success increased the odds for it.


° There’s no turning back for the winners. Despite long hours and hard work, a whopping ninety percent of those who were still in business after three years said they would do it again.


NPR reported that traffic is a mess in Buenos Aires thanks to on-going protests that are clogging the streets. The cause of this civil unrest is a declining economy and various types of businesses are organizing to speak out, including nightclub owners who are unhappy about the law forcing them to shut their doors at 5:30 AM. While the protests are causing a lot of commotion, they’re also inflicting a great deal of harm as shoppers are unable to get to stores due to the flood of people in the streets. Consequently, many businesses that were doing just fine are now struggling because of the protests.


What’s happening in Buenos Aires goes on everyday on a much smaller scale. Quite simply, actions are out of alignment with goals. 


Here’s a case in point. I’m not sure how I began following Peter (not his real name) on Twitter, but I thought I’d like to hear what he had to say about his specialty, building confidence. As time went on, I noticed that Peter had little to say about confidence and a great deal to report on his drinking escapades. This guy sounds like he’s in trouble, I thought, so I sent him an e-mail expressing my concern. I gently pointed out that nobody was going to listen to what he had to say about building confidence if all he wrote about was how much alcohol he consumed. 


Peter didn’t reply and he didn’t show up on Twitter for several weeks. When he reappeared, he had a link to a new blog post. I clicked on the link and was genuinely moved by his piece confessing to his readers that he’d received an e-mail from someone (that would be me) pointing out a problem he knew he had, but had failed to confront. It appears that Peter’s behavior is back in alignment with his goals.


When people are disappointed by the financial results in their lives, there’s often a disconnect between what they want and what they are doing. In The Little Money Book, Stuart Wilde talks about closing the gap between where you are and where you want to be. He says:


Certain industries are located in certain places in the world. If you’re a long way from where the action is, you may want to consider closing the gap. For example, if you want to make it big in movies, you’ve got to more or less be in New York or Los Angeles. Closing the physical distance is a matter of showing up in the marketplace, becoming a face that people know, demonstrating your expertise, and getting into the loop where the movers and shakers are.


People who could bestow great opportunities on you aren’t scouring the distant hills for talent. They’re in the flow.



Last week my granddaughter called to show me her first lost tooth. After I had admired the cavity in her mouth, we had a little discussion about the afghan I’m crocheting for her. “You should make one for my mother,” Zoe said. “She likes pretty things, too.” That’s not the first time I’ve heard Zoe wanting to share good things with the people in her life. In fact, generosity seems to come easily to her.


Our chat continued and I asked how she had done at her garage sale the previous weekend. “I made $39,” she said and proceeded to tell me how she’d spent it. Moments later, I learned that she had actually earned about twice that amount, but was using the rest of her proceeds for Christmas gifts. She’d also considered donating a portion to Heifer, a favorite organization of Zoe’s mother and grandmother. 


Acts of generosity seem to inspire other such actions. A few years ago, my friend Maura announced, “I’m declaring this the Year of the Goat.” I thought she was talking about the Chinese year, but she explained that her goal was to send a goat every month through Heifer International. I loved the idea and thought I might follow suit. 


A few weeks later, I received World Ark, the publication of Heifer, and read a letter to the editor that was as inspiring as anything I’ve ever seen. It made me see that I was thinking too small. See what you think.


Dear Heifer,


As you know, my name is Tessa Shiaer and I am from Augusta, Georgia. However, you may not know that I am 13 years old and I have just had my Bat Mitzvah. As a B’nai Mitzvah, it is my duty to perform a mitzvah, or good deed, to show my coming of age.


I decided that my mitzvah project would be to donate a portion of my Bat Mitzvah money to Heifer. Then, after my Bat Mitzvah, I decided that I really wanted to give all of my Bat Mitzvah money to you, Heifer.


Now, I present to you the following: two water buffalo, two llamas, two goats, two sheep, two pigs, one trio of rabbits, three flocks of chicks, three flocks of ducks, three flocks of geese, two sets of honeybees, two sets of tree and of course last, but definitely not least, two heifers.


In all that is $3,000 that I got for my Bat Mitzvah and am now giving to you in a more wonderful form than checks or paper money. I am giving it to you in the form of life.


What’s your mitzvah?

My friend Chris and I loved an old cartoon in which Ziggy declared, “My idea of prosperity is a checking account with commas.” We promptly adopted this as our prosperity symbol.

Feeling prosperous is a highly individual thing and each of us has a different notion about what constitutes prosperity. For many people, alas, prosperity means having more than whatever they currently have.

And, of course, we’ve been told constantly that it’s a number—a million dollar number.

I think it’s much healthier to find small reminders that we are creating abundance in our own lives. Here are a few of my personal favorites for doing just that.

° You use up your deposit slips faster than you use up your check blanks. (This may not count if you bank online.)

° You don’t have any bills because you pay them as soon as they arrive and don’t let them accumulate.

° You’re always looking for ways to maximize and utilize what you’ve already got rather than noticing what you don’t have and whining about it.

° You notice and acknowledge your surplus. As Sondra Ray points out, if you have even a few coins in your purse, you have a surplus, yet almost nobody gives themself credit for that.

° You say “thank you” a lot. Gratitude is not only a sign of prosperity—it’s a way to attract even  more.

° You refine your taste by noticing the things you find beautiful and by uncluttering your life to get rid of things that are taking up space but don’t bring you joy. You’re not afraid to create a vacuum.

° You can appreciate the prosperity of others without being envious.

What’s your sign?


I’ve been finding huge amounts of wonderful things thanks to my Twitter friends. Just in the past couple of days, I’ve been saving all sorts of articles, quotes, links.

Here’s one that popped up in my Twitter stream this morning that I’m crazy about: The Story of a Reluctant Entrepreneur.


In Making a Living Without a Job I tell the story about the day I received a cold call from a stockbroker saying he wanted to discuss my investments. When I told him that my business was my major investment, he sounded shocked. “Isn’t that risky?” he asked.


“Not as risky as giving my money to a stranger over the telephone,” I replied.


“Investment” is not the only financial term that may take on a different meaning in the land of the Joyfully Jobless. Making peace with money requires that we look at all four uses for money and adopt a personal philosophy about each of those aspects. (We also define “security” in a different way than our jobholder acquaintances do, too, but that’s another blog post altogether.)  


Quite simply, there are four things we can do with money: Earn it, Save it, Spend it, Invest it. While we may have some conventional uses for it, there’s also some thinking that sets us apart. Let’s look at some of these differences:


Earn It—I still recall the day I received an e-mail from my friend Peter that began, “I just turned down $10,000—and it feels great.” 


When you assume an attitude of abundance, you begin to notice that there are an infinite number of ways to earn money. This is in stark contrast to those who clutch at a single income source thinking it’s the only one they can have. Having determined that the possibilities are endless, we vow never to work just for money, but to diligently create work that pays us in numerous ways, in multiple currencies. Doing onerous work just for the money is considered to be borderline immorality. 


Save It—The Joyfully Jobless are clear about the difference between saving and hoarding. Some entrepreneurs enjoy creating a profit center that goes right in the bank. Others put aside a percentage. Once you develop confidence in your ability to generate cash flow, you may alter your notions about how big that nest egg really needs to be.


Spend It—People who are practicing right livelihood are far less apt to buy unnecessary things in an attempt to feel good about themselves. As Alexandra Stoddard says, “Life is too short to spend it being the caretaker of the wrong things.” While not every Joyfully Jobless person practices voluntary simplicity, many would rather spend their money for experiences instead of stuff. They also have clarity about the difference between being thrifty and being cheap. The Joyfully Jobless aren’t cheap.


Invest It—One of the biggest lessons for new entrepreneurs is learning the difference between an expense and an investment. Really smart entrepreneurs consider themselves to be a great investment and spend both time and money learning, growing and expanding their horizons. And, of course, trusting that their investments will prove that they’ve chosen wisely.


Most importantly, the Joyfully Jobless know that money isn’t a substitute for self-esteem and it’s not to be used to control others. It may take time to arrive at this happy state of financial ease, but it’s so totally worth it.


On a visit to my daughter in California a few years ago, I saw a story on the local news about the hottest yoga classes in Los Angeles. It wasn’t because they were teaching a new form of yoga that was bringing in droves of practitioners; it was the environment they created. Besides having a serenely lovely studio, a live string quartet played throughout the classes. Blissful.


It was a dramatic contrast to the beat up old van we’d see parked around Encino bearing a big sign saying, “Yoga. First class free.” Jennie and I had decided that van did not look like a vehicle belonging to someone who had found inner peace. 


Same service, very different messages.


When it comes to talking about money, there are also vividly contrasting messages. Ever heard anyone say:


How much did that set you back?


I don’t know. Looks pretty spendy to me.


Wonder what scam they ran to get their money? 


Do you think money grows on trees?


In his book Relax Into Wealth, Alan Cohen succinctly captures the difference between those who view money as the enemy and those who see it as a trusted friend. He writes, “Money is not the answer to our prosperity problems. Wisdom is the answer. The only thing more valuable than money is knowing what to do with it. If someone does not know how to use money wisely, no amount of money will help them. If someone has a good money consciousness, they can take a tiny seed and grow it into a lush garden. If they have a poor money consciousness, they can take a huge gift and squander it in short order. Money is not the root of all evil; ignorance is.”


If you’re carrying around unhelpful attitudes about money, if you’ve inherited your elders’ own ambivalence about it, you’ll be broadcasting it as loudly as the owner of that beat up van. It’s nearly impossible to create a joyfully jobless life without creating a healthy relationship with money. The good news is that examining and changing poverty attitudes is not that difficult, although it does require vigilance. 


Promise yourself that you’ll never be a person who thinks of spending money as “setting you back” or that wealth is only possible for the dishonest. Most of all, consider what Jerry Gilles says in Moneylove: “Working at something just for the money is an act of poverty consciousness at its worst. It’s saying to yourself, ‘I haven’t the talent or imagination to earn money doing something I really enjoy.’”


There are numerous books that can be helpful in transforming our relationship with money. Alan Cohen’s Relax Into Wealth that I mentioned earlier is a great introduction, as as Earn What You Deserve by Jerrold Mundis. Unfortunately, Jerry Gilles’ Moneylove is long out of print, but if you can track down a copy, it’s worth it.

There was a popular bumper sticker I used to see that read, “I Owe, I Owe, So Off to Work I Go.” Amusing pun or self-fulfilling prophecy?


I thought of that dreadful affirmation when I was shopping for new blank checks and saw that you could buy checks printed with this tribute to poverty: “Money talks. Mine says good-bye.”


Since money is a source of so much upheaval, each of us needs to thoughtfully examine our own attitudes and beliefs in order to create the healthiest approach we can must. Going along with unchallenged ideas about money or old scripts from our parents won’t do the trick. For most of us, building a Wealth-as-State-of-Mind attitude is a lifelong challenge.


Coco Chanel, who said a lot of smart things, once observed, “There are people who have money and people who are rich.” It’s not hard to figure out which is which. The people whom I think of as rich are those who have a practical prosperity consciousness.


Consider, then, this story from Charles Handy, the British business guru.


“How much money do you earn?” I used to ask my friends in my competitive days. It seemed the best way of comparing progress in life. I was brought up short by one who replied, “Enough.”


”What do you mean—enough?” I asked.


“What I say—enough. I work out what I need and that’s what I make sure I earn. How much sugar do you buy in a year?” he turned and asked me. ‘I have no idea,’ I said. He replied, “But I bet that there’s always sugar in your house when you need it. Money is like sugar, no point in hoarding it, it usually goes bad, or you have to make unnecessary cakes to use it up.”


In most of life we can recognize “enough.” We know when we have had enough to eat, when the heating or air conditioning is enough, when we have had enough sleep or done enough preparation. 


More than enough is then unnecessary, and can even be counterproductive. Those who do not know what enough is cannot move on. They do not explore new worlds, they do not learn, they grow only in one dimension. They are trapped in the rut of their own success, always wanting more of the same, always dissatisfied, never knowing the feeling of abundance.


Growth can mean better rather than bigger. Bigness, in both business and life, can lead to lack of focus, too much complexity. We have to know when big is big enough. 


Give serious thought to what “Enough” means to you. And don’t miss this short video from the wise Seth Godin talking  about money.

There are plenty of Wealth Gurus around insisting that we should all aspire to millionaire status. Maybe that’s your goal. Maybe it’s theirs. What I know for sure is that prosperity consciousness involves getting rid of limiting notions about our own worth and that’s best accomplished incrementally.  Small daily actions add up, after all.


Here’s a Get Rich Slowly exercise that I’ve seen help many people launch and build their enterprises. 


$100 isn’t a huge amount of money—and that’s the point. It’s not so large that it scares us and not so small that it’s insignificant. Approached properly, it can be a useful tool for building abundance.


Here are some suggestions for putting those Ben Franklins (or whatever the equivalent is in your currency) to work.


° Use it as a test for your ideas. One of my favorite $100 ideas comes from Phil Laut in his book Money is My Friend. He suggests that every time you start a new profit center, you make a commitment to stick with it until you’ve earned your first $100 from it. When you reach that milestone, evaluate whether or not you wish to continue. 


Sometimes it takes a big investment of time to generate the first $100, but once there  you can see how to repeat it more rapidly. Other times, you’ll find that you enjoyed earning the money less than you thought you would. 


The brilliance of this idea is that you are making decisions from a wiser position of experience—not frustration or fear.


° Always carry $100 bill in your wallet. It’s a powerful tool for eliminating thoughts of lack and limitation. When you go to spend your last small bill, instead of thinking, “I don’t have any money,” you’ll find yourself thinking, “Oh, I have another $100.” Only spend the bill if you have an emergency or know that you can replace it immediately.


For all its convenience, many of our modern ways of dealing with money involve not actually having much contact with it. Credit cards, online banking and the like make money a distant set of numbers. Cash in our pocket has a different effect on us.


° Be consistent in practicing the $100 Hour. Whether business is booming or slow as a snail, one of the best things you can do on a daily basis is to focus for an hour (if possible) on creating your next $100. Once you’ve mastered consistently creating new sources of cash flow, you’ll probably want to raise the hourly amount. (If you need some idea starters check out the Getting Ideas chapter of Making a Living Without a Job.)


° Spread entrepreneurial spirit $100 at a time. Become a micro-lender at or give the gift of livestock through Heifer International. You might even send an anonymous $100 gift to a friend who’s launching a business. Look for ways to seed worthwhile enterprises and support them.


Want to see $100 Hour idea-generating in action? There’s a terrific example on Barbara Sher’s bulletin board. Thanks, Tituba, for the Twitter alert on this.

Shortly before it was time for me to come home from Austin on Sunday, my daughter Jennie and her 5-year-old daughter Zoe began going through Zoe’s things picking out items for next weekend’s garage sale. There were outgrown clothes, last year’s Halloween costume plus toys and books that weren’t being passed down to Zoe’s baby brother. By the time they finished, they had a formidable pile.


Zoe was inspired by hearing that her mother had once organized a garage sale when she was a kid who wanted to finance a trip to Disneyland. Zoe, too, has a specific project in mind and also plans to give part of her earnings to a cause she deems worthy.


What Zoe’s learning is something successful entrepreneurs have discovered for themselves and do all the time. The process goes something like this: 1) decide what you want to do or have, 2) determine what it will cost, 3) create a project to fund it. It’s a simple idea that’s quite foreign to the more conventional way salaried employees operate.  Shrinking your dreams to fit your budget may seem logical, but it’s a recipe for dullness. 


For most of us, becoming joyfully jobless requires that we examine our relationship to money and make a concerted effort to develop healthy attitudes and behaviors. Unlearning the scarcity thoughts of our elders, being willing to accept money for having fun with our work and a myriad of other unhelpful thoughts can keep us from moving ahead with our businesses and creating a life of abundance. Every dreambuilder gets ample opportunites to discard old approaches to money.


On my flight home from Austin, I saw another big example of what I’m talking about. I’m rereading Bill Strickland’s astonishing story, Make the Impossible Possible, and came across the story of how he financed his flying lessons in order to fulfill his dreams of becoming a flight engineer. He’d already gotten his private pilot’s license, but earning his commercial license was going to cost $50,000, an enormous sum for someone running an inner city arts’ program. 


Strickland writes that one night after leaving the flight school, he noticed a Beech Sundowner in a hangar with an “Airplane for Sale” sign on it. He writes, “As I looked it over an outrageous possibility occurred to me. When I got home, I called about the Sundowner. The asking price was $50,000. It struck me that my flight school might need another plane for training, so I called and asked the owner if he’d be interested in leasing a plane from me. The next day, I took his willingness to the bank—literally, I told the loan officer I wanted to buy an airplane, then lease it back to the flight school for a monthly fee that would cover my loan payments…Then I used the plane, when it wasn’t being rented out, to accumulate the flight time I needed. The flight school maintained the plane, and the money from the lease paid back my loan. My only expense was the cost of fuel.”


This month we’re exploring a new theme: Making Peace With Money. It’s a challenge that comes to all of us, but not everyone meets it with grace and poise. I’ll be sharing thoughts about this emotionally charged subject all month long. Hope you’ll visit often.