On Monday evening’s Daily Show, the Moment of Zen at the end was a clip of Phiilip Seymour Hoffman speaking at the Golden Globes. When you’re just starting out, he said, you must take every opportunity to act. Even auditions for parts you know you won’t get are important to mastering your craft.

It’s a message that frequently gets lost on mature adults. Sometimes our egos prevent us from embracing the beginner stage of a new project. Sometimes we forget how important it is to keep practicing even after we’ve already invested a great deal of time doing just that.

When I […] Continue Reading…

On Saturday morning I was running some errands and despite the early hour was surprised by all the traffic I encountered. A friend came up from Los Angeles midday and reported that it had been a slow drive on the freeway. Later in the afternoon, a Facebook friend posted that he’d been to Costco and discovered a pre-Superbowl madhouse.

All three of us are self-employed, so being slowed down by crowds is something we do our best to avoid.

When I first moved into my condo in Valencia, I was surprised to discover that many of my neighbors were on their […] Continue Reading…

Some experiences simply do not translate. You have to go to know.  ~ Kobi Yamada
Although there are an unlimited number of ways to make the transition from employee to entrepreneur or from current business to a new profit center, people stuck in either-or thinking overlook one of the best options.

What I’m talking about is a variation of what Barbara Sher calls “a temporary permanent commitment.” Instead of disposing of all current enterprises, you find a creative way to test your passion.

You’re in a much better position, after all, to assess an idea once you have actively engaged in its pursuit. […] Continue Reading…

Albert Einstein once pointed out that everything should be made as simple as possible—but no simpler. This certainly can be applied to any business that wants to keep its equilibrium.

For most entrepreneurs, that requires constant vigilance since a business can become complicated and cumbersome in the blink of an eye. Here are some guidelines to keep that from happening.

° Make simplicity a goal. It’s not enough to say you want to simplify your business. Identify specific measurable results that will indicate that you have made your systems, marketing, accounting, etc. as simple as possible.

° Work on one profit center […] Continue Reading…

When I tuned into my public radio station this morning, I broke into a smile when I discovered they were playing one of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. I’m not alone in loving that music. Classical music stations report that listener surveys always list the Concertos as a top favorite.

Did you know that this glorious series began life as a huge disappointment?

They were written as an audition for a commission Bach hoped to get with the city of Brandenburg. Bach lost the competition, but no one seems to remember who the winner was nor what music was voted superior.

Bach, of course, […] Continue Reading…

You don’t have to be a math whiz to put numbers to work for you. Assigning a number to a project can help you focus and, also, give you a finish line.

Open-ended goals have a way of never reaching completion, but attach a numerical addition and getting started is much easier. Here are a few ideas to borrow.

° Pick a number under ten and use it as a goal setting guide. For me, it’s the number five. You might prefer three or six. Then instead of thinking, “I need to get more clients,” set a short term goal […] Continue Reading…

Although my sister Nancy moved to Greece in the early seventies, it wasn’t until twenty years later that I made my first visit. Not only were the ruins of Athens, Delphi and Corinth new to me, the trip was filled with many other firsts.

I ate food I’d never encountered before, made my way around a country with a different alphabet than ours, and haggled with shopkeepers. All of these new experiences made the trip unforgettable—and taught me things I’d never have learned otherwise.

Of course, we don’t need to travel to distant lands to find new adventures.

From time to time, […] Continue Reading…

Psychologist Eda LeShan said that middle-age occurs when you realize that  you won’t live long enough to read all the books you want to read. According to LeShan’s definition, some of us were born middle-aged.

Finding the time to read isn’t just a problem of our busy, modern world. Back in the 14th Century, Italian poet Francesco Petrarca faced the same dilemma and solved his conflict this way: “Whether I am being shaved, or having my hair cut, whether I am riding on horseback or taking my meals, I either read myself or get someone to read to me.”

Doubling up on […] Continue Reading…

Several years ago, two friends and I decided to take a trip to Las Vegas in July. (Insider tip: there are big bargains during the hot summer months.) Since both of them had been working on big writing projects, their cash flow wasn’t great.

Within a week, however, they had both secured the necessary funds. How did they do it?

No, neither of them held up a 7-11. Being self-employed, they had Option Banks, a collection of ways to generate cash flow when needed.

In the olden days when I worked for a fixed salary, I operated very differently than I do […] Continue Reading…

My 5-year-old grandson Zachy started Kung Fu lessons this fall. It has not been an easy experience.

So when I got a call from his mother last week, I was delighted to hear her say, “Zachy earned his yellow belt today. Can you come over and watch Noah while I take Zachy out for ice cream?” I was on it.

Celebrating small victories is more important than our busy selves sometimes realize. It’s reinforcement of the most basic sort that we’re on the right track.

It’s also fun to celebrate, of course.

We build a track record or a body of work by […] Continue Reading…