On my way out of the bank this morning, I picked up several deposit slips. As I walked back to my car, I suddenly remembered that a friend once jokingly pointed out that a sign of prosperity is using up your deposit slips before using up your check blanks.

Quaint, huh? In this day of online banking and virtual commerce, we don’t need to ever have direct contact with currency. Advertisers and credit card companies have done a brilliant job of making money an abstract concept.

Unfortunately, too many of us have failed to realize what a disservice we’re doing to ourselves by keeping away from direct contact. Consider, however, that advisors who help people get out of debt are quick to recommend destroying credit cards and only spending cash.

During the days when I began to deal with my own poverty consciousness, I read some advice from Sondra Ray that dramatically demonstrated the power of personal contact.Ray suggested that a way to remove negative thoughts about money was to procure a $100 bill and carry it with you. The other part of this exercise is that you’re only allowed to spend it if you can immediately replace it.

Doing so seemed both bold and scary to me at the time, but I also understood the rationale behind it. As Ray points out, when you are about to spend your last small bill and go to remove it from your wallet, you’ll see the $100 next to it and your thought is more apt to be, “I have plenty,” rather than, “I don’t have any money.”

I’ve never been without a $100 bill since. I’ve also never had the stress and despair that haunted me in earlier times in relationship to money.

Although I frequently tell audiences that self-employment is where we come to make peace with money, I also know that this is a foreign concept for those of us who inherited all sorts of unhealthy beliefs about the stuff.

It seems to me that we’re about as clueless about money as the Victorians were about sex. I also suggest that having a healthy attitude about money is a do-it-yourself project.

A fine starting point for that comes from Charles Handy in his book The Hungry Spirit.

He writes, “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 enough sleep or done enough preparation.

“More than enough is then unnecessary and can even be counterproductive. Those who do not know what is enough, cannot move on. they do not explore new worlds, they do not learn.

“They are trapped in a rut of their own success, always wanting more of the same, always dissatisfied, never knowing the feeling of abundance.”

Handy goes on to talk about how vital it is for self-employed people, which he and his wife both are, to determine what enough means. He points out that this does not mean scrimping and just getting by.

It also doesn’t mean accepting anyone else’s definition of enough. (Millionaire status? Six-figure income? Says who?)

It starts with a clear vision of what you want your life to be like, what matters most to you. It’s understanding what Alan Cohen meant when he said, “Money should be the servant of your visions, not the master.”

What does Money Ease really mean to you?  Once you sincerely figure that out, the Money Dragons will vanish.

It may not be easy, but it’s so worth it.

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 that as our prosperity symbol.

Feeling prosperous is a highly individual thing and each of us has a different notion of what constitutes prosperity.

For many people, alas, prosperity means having more than whatever they currently have.

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.

* You use up your deposit slips faster than you use 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 understand the difference between an expense and an investment. You are not afraid to invest in yourself.

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

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

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

* You have a personal definiton of  “enough.” As Charles Handy points out, most people have never taken the time or given thought to what that means for them.

* 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 would you add to this list?


When I first learned about goal-setting, I thought it was mostly a tool for determining financial aspirations. I promptly wrote down my personal goals, huge numbers beyond anything I’d ever achieved before.

Not much happened to move me ahead financially and eventually I gave up in despair.

Was I destined to be a loser in the Money Game?

Happily, I wasn’t, but it took some inner work before I began to see out changes. Here’s how I moved the numbers on paper into my bank account.

° Understand the four uses of money. It may seem obvious, but many people remain oblivious to the fact that when it comes managing money, there are four very different activities involved.

We can earn it, spend it, save it, invest it.

Most of us excel in one or two of these areas, but neglect the entire spectrum. Money ease comes when we’re wise about all four arenas and give thoughtful attention to each.

Incidentally, this is easier to do when we are self-employed and not hampered by a salary.

° Define enough. I was first introduced to this idea by Charles Handy in his wonderful book, The Hungry Spirit. It was a revelation to me.

Here’s a bit of what he says about that. “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 seen as counterproductive.”

He goes on to suggest that if we haven’t defined what enough means when it comes to finances, we’ll never be satisfied, never knowing the feeling of abundance.

This is, of course, something each of us needs to define for ourselves.

° Know your own numbers. How many people aspire to millionaire status assuming that this magical milestone will solve all their problems, meet all their needs?

Then there’s the current popularity of programs offering to teach you how to achieve a six-figure income.


Thinking that there’s some magical number—determined by someone else—that will fit us is ridiculous (and, perhaps, harmful).

° Read this first. A brilliant piece from the New York Times puts Money Happiness into perspective. I urge you to check it out for yourself.

One secret to happiness may be “underindulgence.”

° Now set some goals for yourself. Break your big picture goals into monthly, weekly, daily targets. Challenge yourself to create abundance.

Share. Enjoy. Stretch.

As Alan Cohen reminds us, “Money should be the servant of your visions, not their master.”

We have Charles Handy to thank for popularizing the idea of the portfolio career.

It was a concept Handy first adopted in his own life. He explains, “I created what I call ‘a portfolio life’, setting aside 100 days a year for making money, 100 days for writing, 50 days for what I consider good works, and 100 days for spending time with my wife.

“I mark these days out in my diary. When people phone and ask me to do something, I can then say, ‘I’m terribly sorry, that’s my day  with my wife’.

“It is a freeing way of life. A 100 days a year for me is enough for making money, there is no point in making more; and I find I do as much work in 100 days as I used to in a year.”

Of course, you know that I’m a big advocate of this approach. The single lifetime career is over. Thank goodness.

Your portfolio is as unique as your fingerprint. No two are ever exactly alike. Here are some things to keep in mind.

° Give new ideas a fighting chance.  Few of us know what our best ideas will ultimately be. A smart entrepreneur starts quickly, abandons slowly.

I like Phil Laut’s suggestion that you make a commitment to stick with each new project until it has earned at least $100. (There’s that magic number again.) Then evaluate whether or not to continue.

° Assemble different sizes. In my Making a Living Without a Job seminars I talk about the Mall Model.  Anyone who’s visited a large shopping mall knows that the popular building format has been one that includes a large anchor store on each corner with smaller shops of varying sizes in between.

Your portfolio can mirror that notion with several major income sources and a variety of smaller ones. Not only does this approach expand your skills, it also is a proven way to eliminate boredom.

Bonus idea: create your own Mall Model Vision Map and hang it in your world headquarters. Keep filling up the spaces between your anchor clients with as many smaller incomes sources as you can handle.

° Keep challenging your imagination. Alice Barry introduced me to a fun website that had my mind racing as I thought of new possibilities.  In fact, I’ve come to think of it as a gym for your entrepreneurial spirit.

If you haven’t participated, I urge you to check out, http://www.fiverr.com a site that bills itself as  the place for people to share things they’re willing to do for $5. Pay Fiverr a visit and challenge yourself to create a $5 offer. Warning: this is also the perfect place to do a bit of impulse shopping.

° Trap ideas as they arrive. “I’ll never forget that idea is the Devil’s whisper,” warned Richard Bach. I suspect you’ve heard the whisper, as have I.

One of the easiest ways to avoid losing a good idea is to have a physical place to store them as they come. It could be a box that holds articles and lists of interesting possibilities or a computer file.

Building an inventory of options not only makes financial sense, it also gives you a place to search on the mornings you get up and aren’t sure how you want to spend your day.

° Play the Ubiquity Game. While some folks are busy ranting about social media as a big waste of time, others are quietly tweeting and friending their way to bigger and better businesses.

I’ll say it again: we all like to do business with people we know and like. If people don’t know you, they can’t like you.

Show up. Participate. Connect. Get busy building relationships with kindred spirits near and far.

Challenge yourself to find new and different ways to get the word out about who you are and what you have to offer.

° Pay attention to yearly cycles. Some of your profit centers will operate all year long, but others will have a season when they’re most robust. Figuring out those cycles makes planning your time more effective.

For example, I discovered that adult ed classes did really well in southern cities in July and August, but slowed to a crawl in places like Minnesota where summertime was devoted to outdoor activities. Once I saw the pattern, I scheduled my seminars to take advantage of those cycles.

° Take inventory regularly.  Review your offerings and eliminate those you’ve out-grown or become bored with to create space for new ideas.

After all, running a portfolio business is about creating something that reflects who you are now—not who you were then. And remember this bit of advice from Charles Handy:  “If somebody asks what you do, and you can reply in one sentence, you’re a failure. You should need half an hour.”

Marlena De Blasi was settling nicely into her new home and  business in St. Louis. Besides being a food writer and wine consultant, Marlena was the chef in her own restaurant.

That all changed on a trip to Venice where she attracted the attention of a banker named Fernando who was certain she was the woman of his dreams. Although he spoke almost no English, he made his intentions known and within months Marlena had uprooted herself to join him.

She recounts this improbable love story in her delightful book, A Thousand Days in Venice. The subtitle could be Love is Bigger Than Culture Shock.

Once they have survived Italian bureaucracy and a reluctant priest who isn’t sure he wants to marry them, the couple begins their new life together.

One day Fernando announces that he’s tired of working at the bank where he’s been employed for 26 years and wants to work with Marlena. Apparently, our resourceful and adventurous heroine didn’t just awaken love, but also Fernando’s sleeping entrepreneurial spirit.

The account of their new venture is recorded in her second book, A Thousand Days in Tuscany.

In many ways, Marlena De Blasi is a classic entrepreneur with a willingness to try new things and create new income sources. In fact, one of her mantras is “always a beginner.”

As a result, her businesses are kept fresh and vital by the introduction of new profit centers.

Multiple profit centers, as I’ve been saying for years, are the key to growing a business. Every time you add a new product or service, you’re creating another profit center.

Although the idea of multiple profit centers is highly appealing to those who think that business is just about making money, the concept is equally interesting to Renaissance souls who have numerous ideas and interests.

As James Dickey pointed out, “There are so many selves in everybody and to explore and exploit just one is wrong, dead wrong, for the creative process.”

Whatever the motivation, mastering Multiple Profit Center creation is essential to running an inspired business.

If you run your business on the assumption that it is a vehicle for innovation and fresh thinking, profit centers  seem to bubble up naturally from your creativity. When these different profit centers involve a variety of activities, synergy is generated.

For instance, running a restaurant, being the chef and writing about food all come out of a passion for gastronomy, but each has its own requirements and activities.

As you build your collection of profit centers, you’ll find that some are going to be bigger than others, some the mainstays of your business, and some will be periodic. Since entrepreneurs adore new ideas, this keeps their imagination in high gear.

Charles Handy is another advocate of developing multiple profit centers. “Think of it this way,” he advises. “You will have a portfolio of work like an architect has or your stock portfolio. No prudent investor puts all his savings into one stock and no sensible business goes after only one customer.”

Multiple profit centers are the antidote to putting all your eggs in one basket.

No matter whether you call them passions, projects or profit centers, they’re not just the building blocks of your business: they’re the life blood.

Creating a business that engages you physically, intellectually and spiritually is a richly satisfying—and highly individual—undertaking.

And when one idea has served its time, there’s a new one ready to take its place.


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.