Didn’t you find it comforting when the evening news included a headline about the White House organic vegetable garden? If that was one of the major happenings on Friday, it was a fine contrast to the other stories of the day that weren’t nearly so positive. If you’re a gardening enthusiast, check out Growing a Gardening Business for thoughts on turning your passion into a profit center.

Earlier this week I mentioned that I was reading Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit. It’s an eloquent reminder that daily practice is essential for mastering anything. Tharp has dozens of exercises that are also exquisite. I urge you to add this treasure to your library.

An interviewer recently asked me what one piece of advice I’d give someone thinking about making a living without a job. “Stay curious and keep your creative spirit well-exercised is not only the key to success, but also the key to growth,” I replied. I think the interviewer was expecting me to suggest taking an accounting course, but how-to skills are useless if our creative muscles have grown flabby. 

Left-brained thinkers find that a little scary, I know, but Steven Kalas, my favorite local newspaper columnist, has some terrific insights on creativity in his column last Sunday. “Creativity is not something that is done. It is more experienced, recognized and then released.” I urge you to read his entire article.

“After art comes business,” declared Andy Warhol, “and the art of doing business is the best art of all.” Warhol wasn’t the first entrepreneurial artist, however. Not by several centuries. Newsweek’s The Merchants of Venice Art introduces us to three Renaissance painters who knew a thing or two about promotion. 

Like thousands of other people, I’ve become a fan of Peter Shankman’s Help a Reporter mailings. Yesterday was the first anniversary of HARO and Peter shared his amazement with what’s happened. He wrote:

Here we are, one year later. We’ve posted close to 25,000 queries, to almost 70,000 sources, from over 10,000 journalists around the world. HARO has been mentioned in over 500 blog posts or articles in newspapers, and magazines. We’ve been featured on Good Morning America. And most importantly by far, we’ve connected thousands and thousands of sources to journalists that otherwise would not have gotten the media attention they deserve, while making thousands of journalists’ lives easier.

It’s been a pretty insane year… A year ago, I was running a PR firm with clients all over the world, as I’d been doing for ten years. I’d just sold AirTroductions, and was working hard, but not too hard. I enjoyed the work, and HARO was a thought that popped up one day when I was trying to figure out how to help a reporter who called me on deadline. That’s how these things happen, you know. I never, ever imagined it would be this big. Ever. Ever.

A year later… 75% of my time is spent traveling, for speaking engagements, teaching companies about social media, and attending conferences.

If you’re not on his mailing list, I urge you to join AND be willing to spend a few minutes scanning his three daily mailings. Even if you aren’t interested in getting publicity for yourself, it’s a terrific way to keep an eye on trends. For example, there’s been a surge of requests for tips on being thrifty. If you are interested in sharing your story, this is the easiest way I know to connect with writers you’d never have encountered on your own. Moments after I posted Time Away With a Purpose on Inspiration Station, I saw a request on HARO from a woman who is writing a book about sabbaticals. I promptly e-mailed her and it looks as if my story may find its way into her book. 

We’ve had some fun posts at Where in the World Do You Work, but would love to have more. Here are some unusual workplaces that might inspire you.

In his April travel news, Rick Steves says, “I’ve never met anyone who traveled smartly and regretted their investment in experiences that would enrich their lives for the rest of their days.” I totally agree.

That’s also true about participating in events like Follow Through Camp which will impact your business for years to come. Imagine two distraction-free days to create a fresh plan for bringing your dreams to life. 

Alice Barry and I are envisioning little carpools of participants driving to Dodge City, KS and predict that friends who share this experience will have a lively Ideafest on their drive back home. If you want to join us, it’s time to round up your friends and let us know you’re coming. You can save $100 if you take advantage of the Early Bird Discount.

 Every so often I am asked some variation of the question, “Do you ever worry about money?”  The truthful answer to that is, “Not anymore,” but getting free of the Money Dragon had little to do with earning more money and everything to do with challenging  my belief system about money. Without realizing it, I had adopted many attitudes about money—and what I deserved to have—from people who dwelt in perpetual scarcity where there was never enough to go around. Changing those beliefs brought welcome relief from the Money Dragon that stood between me and prosperity. 

As I learned, no one has to stay locked in financial despair.  Allowing the Money Dragon to rule your world is a surefire invitation to sleepless nights and perpetual poverty. Banishing that monster starts by answering some important questions.

 ° Do you live in a world of scarcity or surplus?  Many people create scarcity  by focusing on everything they don’t have. Author Sondra Ray points out that if you have any money anywhere—even a few coins—you actually have a surplus. How many people give themselves credit for that?

Thinking abundantly comes from a healthy self-image, knowing you have options, and an understanding of the role that attitude plays in creating wealth. Most of us arrive at that state through conscious work, eliminating thoughts and words of poverty.  Books such as Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Creating Money can help us get rid of our own blocks and limiting thoughts.

° What has goal setting  got to do with it? Although more people are coming to understand the importance of the goal setting process, many fail to make the connection between setting goals and generating cash flow. “I’d like to travel,” they sigh, without giving any thought to making it happen.

Successful goal setters focus on what  they want to create; then they figure out how  to make that happen. People who fail to achieve their goals often get sidetracked by thinking they must know exactly how before starting out. That attitude is guaranteed to keep them stuck. 

A great way to build your goal setting muscle is to invent a small project—one that really excites you—and create the funding for it in a totally new way. Then work up to a slightly larger project.  Not only will you realize more of your dreams, you’ll build a larger Option Bank  for yourself as well. 

° Is it an expense or is it an investment?  An entrepreneur  needs to understand the difference between expense and investment.  A successful friend of mine once totaled up all the money  he and his wife had invested in stocks, real estate and personal growth. Their discovery? The money spent on self-improvement brought returns higher than any other investment. 

As Sondra Ray points out, “When you say, ‘I can’t afford that self-improvement seminar,’ it’s like saying, ‘I’m not a good investment.” The trick here is to know when spending is actually an investment in your future and when it’s just frivolous. Which leads us to the next question.

° Is it ego or is it essential? People who leave corporate life often take with them a spendthrift attitude.  Doing things to create a successful image may seem like a good idea, but you need to consider whether it’s the seductive siren song of your ego urging you to buy that luxury car or spend thousands for a fabulous brochure or whether it’s essential to running your business. Yes, it’s wonderful to have great toys and a successful image. It’s even better if you’ve earned them.

If it’s essential, it’s an investment; if it’s ego, it’s just debt.

° Is it anybody’s business? Several months ago, I was introduced to a man who was  working  frenetically to launch a business based on an innovative product he had designed. At our first meeting—and in every conversation after—he told me, “I’m absolutely broke.” In fact, he seemed to be wearing his impoverished state as a badge of honor.

Your finances are really not appropriate public knowledge. Besides your spouse and your accountant, nobody needs to know the contents of your bank account. This is also true, incidentally, when you’ve hit the jackpot.

° What have you given lately? Money is energy and needs to flow out as well as in. Make your own acts of generosity count by giving money to causes that you truly care about. Selfless giving benefits the giver by adding to feelings of abundance. A state of abundance is not the natural habitat of Money Dragons.


Hot Investment Tip: Join Alice Barry and me for Follow Through Camp, May 15 & 16, Dodge City, KS and banish the Money Dragon and other obstacles once and for all.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, has this advice:

Remember back when sending SMS text messages on your cell phone was a new thing, and it seemed kind of strange to use your cell phone to do that? And today, you probably wonder how you ever lived without text messaging.

Well, Twitter is the same way. It’s going to seem a little weird at first, but I promise you if you can talk your friends into joining it and you all use it for 2 weeks, it will change your life. You will wonder how you ever lived without it.

The problem with Twitter is that it’s a bit confusing to set up, and it takes a while to convince people to even try it out. And when they try it out, if they don’t have friends that are already using it, then it’s really hard to understand the value of it.

I know that I’ve been spending about half an hour every time I try to convince my friends to sign up for Twitter. At first, they think it sounds interesting but aren’t really motivated to sign up. Sometimes it’s been a multi-week long process. But finally they relent and sign up, probably just so they can shut me up. I walk them through the signup process, step by step, and then slowly but surely, they become addicted and their lives are never the same again.

So to save me from having to give the same spiel over and over again, I decided to create this page for anyone new to Twitter.

Read Tony’s get-started advice now.

Knowing that information exists that can answer almost any question is an enormous confidence builder— but that fact is frequently overlooked. While the helpless loser goes around whining, “But I don’t know how to do that,” the successful among us are busy seeking information that will show them how.  Then they get busy putting what they’ve uncovered to work for them. 

This fascination with information is also necessary for entrepreneurial success. “In times of change,” wrote Eric Hoffer, “learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

Whatever your business is about, one of the best ways to ensure success is to make a commitment to becoming an Informed Source. Here are some ways to do just that.

* Make learning a priority and schedule time for it.  While  just running a business can be a profound learning experience, we need other points of view, other bits of information in order to grow to our fullest potential. Make time for acquiring that knowledge by regular reading, attending seminars, meeting with other self-bossers who are farther down the road. 

* Learn from the best.  Jim Rohn is vocal in urging his audiences to seek learning from the best sources they can find. He says, “There are three ways one can go about learning from others: 1. Through published literature such as books and audio or video tapes. 2. By listening to the wisdom and folly of others. 3. Through observations of winners and losers. So become a good observer. “ 

The barriers that keep many people from learning from the best sources is that they either can’t discern good from not so good or they start comparing themselves to those who are more accomplished and miss the lessons they could learn. It’s far more effective to decide to find the best teachers you can and devour their experiences.

* Learn to edit.  Editing is the process of sifting through large amounts of material and taking out the bad, the so-so, the mediocre, the unimportant, and leaving in the best.  Learning to edit is also learning to discriminate, to prioritize, to evaluate. As an Informed Source, your audience depends on you to deliver only that information which is pertinent.  Incidentally, being a good editor doesn’t  just apply to information: it’s also a necessary skill for living your best life…or posting on Twitter.

* Be generous in sharing. Robert Allen earned his first fortune investing in real estate. He built a second empire sharing his successful system through seminars and books. Even if you have no interest in packaging information yourself, there are many ways to share what you know. For instance, one of the most popular guests on Minnesota Public Radio was Geek Squad founder Robert Stephens who frequently shared information on getting the most from your computer. That visibility (plus some fabulously creative marketing)  made him stand out from the crowd.

* Put it to work.  “Knowledge is power is only half a truth,” said Andrew Carnegie, “for knowledge is only potential power. It may become a power only when it is organized and expressed in terms of definite action.”  Yes, it’s fun to know things just for the sake of knowing them, but the truly brilliant users of information are always looking for ways to adapt what they’ve learned to their own situations. Doing your homework gives you confidence, but only if you use what you’ve learned. 

 In her delightful book Educating Alice, author Alice Steinbach writes that as a child her family remembers her pestering them with questions. She explains it this way: “Given my insatiable curiosity and intense admiration for Nancy Drew, my future plans hinged on entering the detective profession. I saw myself as Nancy Drew aging into Miss Marple. It was the perfect life for me, I thought then, one that would require me to constantly ask questions, find out the answers, and along the way learn a lot of new things.” Steinbach didn’t become a detective, but she did have a successful career as a journalist where her question-asking skills got a regular workout.

Soliciting information isn’t the only reason to ask questions. Here are some others that are particularly useful to entrepreneurs.

* Clarifying questions. Good communicators use this technique all the time to make sure that they understand what was said. “Did I understand you correctly when you said you wanted to give me a free massage?” is just such a question.

* Getting ideas. Asking questions of yourself can bring answers from your subconscious mind.  I frequently ask myself, “How can I make things better?” Sometimes the answer is mundane (dust  the bookshelves), but often it serves as an invitation for some grander project.

* Seeking advice. These are the kinds of questions I get asked the most. “How do I market my services on a shoestring? What do you think of this idea? Do you know anyone who can help me break into the specialty food marketing business?” While entrepreneurs must be willing to ask for advice from informed sources, they must also be willing to listen and not argue with the advice they’re given.

* Helping customers make a decision. Successful sales people are skillful at asking questions that bring prospects to a commitment. “So would you like a six-month or twelve-month supply?” is a decision-making query.

The esteemed business guru Peter Drucker said, “My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.”  So where are you needing support? Who can you ask? What can you ask of yourself? Sometimes we fail to receive support because nobody knows we need it.

Asking better questions also means avoiding  dead end ones. As the authors of The One Minute Millionaire point out, “The wrong question will generate the wrong result or a less than outstanding outcome. The size of your question determines the size of your answer.”

Think of the world as a big, rich resource center that has everything you need to make your dreams come true. Tapping into it may be as easy as asking the right questions.

Of all the Christmas gifts that Jack has received, there’s one that he remembers most fondly. When he was still dreaming about being a writer, his sister gave him a copy of Writer’s Market.   It was the first time anyone had encouraged his writing aspirations—and it made a big difference. Jack’s gone on to author several books and dozens of articles.

Know someone standing on the edge of a dream? How might you show your support for that? If your friend or family member is a budding entrepreneur, a subscription to Winning Ways newsletter or a gift certificate for a teleclass might be a fit. Or select one of the books that you’ll find in the Joyfully Jobless library.

Here are some other ways to fan your own entrepreneurial spirit.

Steven Kalas is one of my favorite columnists in the Las Vegas Review Journal, as I’ve mentioned before. His recent piece called We Think a Little Too Much About Ourselves on Facebook is definitely worth a read.

Another resident of my hometown is voice artist and broadcaster Dave Courvoisier. His blog post called A Word About…Words is an eloquent reminder of why we should have paid better attention in English class.

Give yourself a break and listen to John Williams, Judith Morgan and Mike Yates, founders of the Creative Entrepreneurs Club, discuss developing an entrepreneurial mindset. It’s loaded with observations about what it takes to be successfully self-employed.


As you know, fear is a powerful emotion. When it’s doing its job, it helps us avoid danger and harm. (Don’t get in the elevator with that scary man.) On the other hand, fear can take over and keep us from ever discovering our purpose, passion and possibility. 

Fear doesn’t have to run our lives–no matter what the state of the world. As the wise Persian poet Hafiz pointed out: “Fear is the cheapest room in the house. You deserve better accomodations.”

Life and business coach Betty Mahalik, owner of Dynamic Solutions,  tackled this subject brilliantly in her Monday Morning Coaching e-mail with a piece called  I’ve Had it With Fear

 I urge you to read it at once if you’re looking for better accomodations. 


 Been wondering if you should take time to attend Compelling Storytelling 

or some other Special Event? Here are a few signs that the time is right.


√ You’ve reached all of your goals.

√ You’ve reached none of your goals.

√ You are in need of some fresh ideas.

√ You’d like to get a new perspective from a genuine dreambuilder.

√ Your kids think you’re a nerd and you suspect they’re right.

√ You can’t remember the last time you felt really excited about something.

√ You have more ideas than you know what to do with.

√ You ‘re scared to death of your real dreams.

√ You’re ready for a new adventure.

√ You remember that a change of scenery always refreshes you.

√ You know you’d be inspired by spending time with other dreambuilding entrepreneurs.

√ You aren’t making the kind of progress that you’d like.

√ Nobody ever asks you what’s new.

√ You need time to figure out your next step.

√ You want to be bolder.

√ Resistance is stronger than inspiration.

√ You’re ready to have more fun with your business.

√ You think boring and ordinary are the scariest words in the English language.

√ You want to expand your entrepreneurial network.

√ You believe your dreams are a good investment.

√ Your creative spirit needs a jumpstart.

√ You’re tired of trying to fit someone else’s idea of who you should be.

√ You think Compelling Storytelling sounds like fun.



My brother Jim lives in California and is an avid surfer. He’s also 62 years old. One day we were talking on the phone and he said,  “I was driving to the beach yesterday morning and it was still dark. I was thinking, ‘Why am I doing this?’”

“You’re doing it so you can have a lively old age,” I suggested. 

He laughed and said, “You know I surf  better now than I did thirty years ago.” I pointed out that he’d also been disciplined about keeping at it. “I still love it,” he said, then added, “You’ve got to ride more waves. It all goes in the bank.”

So what do you want to be better at doing thirty (or ten) years from now? Whatever your answer is, the time to start working on it is right now. In his wonderful little book, Mastery, George Leonard says, “We tend to assume that mastery requires a special ticket available only to those born with exceptional abilities. But mastery isn’t reserved for the supertalented or even those who are fortunate enough to have gotten an early start. It’s available to  anyone who is willing to get on the path and stay on it—regardless of age, sex or previous experience.”

We live in a time of instant results and instant gratification—not a culture that’s conducive to taking on a project and sticking with it for years. This quick results attitude aborts many wonderful ideas. Kids seem to understand the power of practice better than their elders. After all, they’re learning everything from the ground up, but oo many adults are not as willing to invest the time and effort. What a shame. Practice has other rewards besides ultimate mastery.

Recently I wrote about John Higgins, the reluctant Compelling Storytelling attendee, and I mentioned that he’d begun a daily writing practice. Here’s what he wrote to me after I pointed that out.

Thank you for writing that I had started a “writing practice.”  I had not thought of writing as I do my work with visually  impaired people as “a practice”  and now I do which gives makes it a bigger priority and much more real in my mind. 

A practice. A writing practice. A daily commitment to the discipline of writing. 

I have always loved how “practice” means too that we never stop learning and never have all the answers but we continue to practice our skills. 

I take it one step further and remind myself to practice the process and not perfection.  This keeps me from freezing up and resisting out of fear of failure because I learned that if I could not do something perfectly I would not do it at all.  Took me years to become aware I was a perfectionist that way. 

So, I practice. And, I have a writing practice. 

Damn, I like the sound of that!

 My first teacher told me, “You only have to practice on the days that you eat.” ~ Hilary Hahn


One of the nice bonuses of living in Las Vegas is reading Steven Kalas’ Human Matters column in the Sunday paper. Today’s piece is called Those Pursuing a Calling Serve as Inspiration to Others. Take a look for yourself.