My friend Maureen Thomson sent me a terrific blog post called Stop Crying That There Are No Jobs. Create One. The title is a little misleading, however.

The real gist of the piece by Paula Pant is that there’s a difference between employee and entrepreneurial mindsets. She illustrated that disparity beautifully.

When we start a business, most of us bring along some invisible baggage—a well-conditioned employee mindset. Until we start thinking and acting like an entrepreneur, success will keep a safe distance.

In the interest of speeding up the process of operating from an entrepreneurial perspective, here are some of my favorite jumpstarts for your entrepreneurial spirit. (You’ll notice that none of these are passive activities.)

° Go to the library. Whenever I’m in a slump, a trip to the library never fails to get me unstuck. Every shelf is loaded with possibility.

° Stop what you’re doing and track down the Fall 2011 issue of Yes! magazine. The theme is New Livlihoods and the stories are fabulously inspiring.

° Interview self-bossers. Choose the Joyfully Jobless, not just the self-employed. Let their passion rub off on you.

° Pay attention. Listen to the compliments that come your way. They may hold the key to a profit center. Listen to what people say is missing in the world for more clues.

° Play every day. Even if you aren’t yet running a business full-time, do something—no matter how small—to move yourself ahead each and every day.

° Break your goals into 90-Day Projects. Not only does this help you become clearer about where you are now and what needs to be done next, you’ll eliminate the overwhelm that often accompanies a big goal or a longterm project.

° Give your projects a theme. I’m a nag about this one because it makes such a huge difference. A theme helps you focus your mind and sparks creative thoughts.

° Pick an entrepreneurial hero or heroine and become an expert on their life.

° Carry a notebook. You never know when a great idea will strike or when you’ll see something worth remembering. Richard Branson carries one at all times. So should you

° Read a novel. Not just any old story, however. Read novels that feature entrepreneurs as main characters. Mysteries, especially, feature them. You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn.

° Have regular tune-ups. One seminar does not finish the learning process. Go back to the well as often as possible.

° Immerse, don’t dabble. Even if you have multiple passions and diverse business activities, know your priorities and pursue them with wild abandon.

° Acquire good tools. Use the best tools you can afford to do the best work you are capable of.

° Create an inspiring working environment. Your office or studio should be a place that welcomes you.

° Subscribe to Winning Ways. Read what successful entrepreneurs read. It’s an on-going reminder that you mean business and are always on the lookout for ideas and resources that can move you ahead.

° Put the odds in your favor. Memorize these five steps on How To Build Your Own Luck

1. Get a hobby. Find the thing that fascinates you most. You’ll recognize it instantly. It’s the thing you feel you have to do every day or the day is wasted.

2. Obsess. Get to know it so well nothing about it is unpredictable, including its ability to surprise you. This part of the process wile take approximately one lifetime.

3. Charge for it. If you’re so crazy about it and so good at it, go pro!

4. Flourish. If you’ve followed steps one, two and three, this is the easy part.

5. Succeed. Do it so wildly that everyone tells you how lucky you are.

 

This week I’ve been getting ready for my upcoming trip to Sacramento where I’ll be teaching three classes at the Learning Exchange. As the enrollments kept climbing, I kept getting more excited.

Sometimes I hop on a plane and get to share ideas and information with people in farflung places. Sometimes I spend an hour on the phone sharing via a teleclass. Sometimes I’m on the other side of the desk taking a seminar or teleclass. Sometimes I am designing a new special event.

There’s only one thing that I’m doing all the time—gathering things for Winning Ways newsletter.

When I started my very first business, The Successful Woman, I knew I wanted to create personal growth seminars, but also realized that a seminar was just a starting point for learning something new, something important.

In my own journey, there’d been a lot of backsliding and I wanted my participants to avoid some of the long setbacks I’d endured while trying to figure things out on my own.

To this day, I have no idea how I came up with the notion of publishing a newsletter, but once I hit upon it, I realized that it was the  perfect vehicle for reinforcing new mindsets and adding resources as I came upon them.

Even though my early seminars morphed from personal growth into entrepreneurial subjects, a newsletter is still a perfect tool for keeping the learning going. Unlike books which are read and returned to the shelf, a newsletter keeps coming.

It’s kind of like getting a chapter at a time with an interval in between installments for testing and trying out things for yourself before moving on to the next thing.

Since I’m the kind of person who can’t keep good things to myself, sending out the best of what I’ve uncovered six times a year is efficient and strangely fun for me to produce.

Nevertheless, I remain astonished that Winning Ways is still a source of such creative satisfaction that I’m now celebrating its twenty-fifth year.

Equally startling to me is how pertinent the information remains over time. When I go digging in my archives I’m always surprised to discover an article or resource I’d completely forgotten, but can put to use again in 2011.

While I’m not so naive as to think all of my subscribers store every issue themselves, I do know that if Winning Ways was done electronically instead of as old-fashioned hard copy, it wouldn’t enjoy such a long shelf life.

One of the most frequent comments I’ve gotten from my readers is that Winning Ways always arrives just when it’s needed most. I used to think that was magically auspicious, but then I realized it wasn’t nearly so mysterious.

What day isn’t a good day to be encouraged on your Joyfully Jobless Journey? What day isn’t a good day to find a reminder in your mailbox that you mean business? What day don’t you need to feel connected to others on a similar path?

The only mystery, it seems to me, is how something so ordinary looking could pack such a punch.

If you’d like to add Winning Ways to your power tools, I’m extending my special offer for new subscribers until October 15th. Order now and I’ll include a copy of Seminar in a Sentence, my collection of quotes on creativity, success and entrepreneurship.

I’d love to have you along. Here’s what some of my readers have to say about the newsletter.

I am reading your newest issue right now.  I absolutely must renew every year as I LOVE reading them.  I save every issue in a file after I have read it. Great stuff! ~ Micheal, Ohio

I get a lot of publications, but Winning Ways is the only one I read cover to cover as soon as it arrives.–Jack, Georgia

Your last Winning Ways was topnotch! The Smart Investing article is a gentle reminder for me to put my money where it matters. For years that felt selfish. Now it feels smart! ~ Maureen, Colorado

Thanks for filling my mailbox with such inspiration. ~ Jen, New York

Thank you for your wise and inspiring words. Please keep sharing your passion for living life to the fullest. ~ Paul, Canada

I subscribe to many newletters which pertain to self employment, self publishing, mail order, marketing and so forth and have been doing so since the early 1970’s.  I rarely renew past five years because of the drop off in quality and rehashed material.

I have renewed Winning Ways for a number of years now because your newsletter, much like your book Making a Living Without a Job, is excellent material which I constantly refer to.  Both are excellent “idea generators” for me and have helped me immensely over the years. You are to be commended for your excellent, thought provoking writing.~ Tom, CT

 

 

 

We humans are born question askers. Listen to any toddler and you’ll hear a stream of questions about any subject that catches their attention. “Why?” is the most frequently used word in their vocabularies.

During the days when I taught high school English, I used to say that my idea of hell was being in a roomful of teenagers all screaming, “Do we have to?” It was a question that often erupted after I gave a challenging assignment.

Questions are such a common part of everyday communication that most people don’t give much thought to them.  I’d like to suggest that you to pay more attention.

I started to do so when I noticed that a popular television talk show host seemed to turn the most fascinating guests into complete bores. As I watched more closely, I discovered that his questions often led to dead ends, giving his guests no place to go or no story to tell.

People who have charisma, who draw others to themselves, usually have a reputation for being good listeners. Part of their secret, it seems to me, is that they ask great questions to begin with and then give their full attention to the answer, prodding and encouraging when necessary.

They make people feel valued because they listen to the answers.

Asking good questions isn’t just a way to win friends and influence people, however. It’s an overlooked key to success.

Not all questions are illuminating. Many, in fact, stop us dead in our tracks. “How are you going to do that?” or “Why haven’t I gotten farther?” are the kinds of questions that lead us down the path of doubt, not dreams.

Learning to ask better questions of ourselves can get us headed in the right direction and keep us moving forward.

Mark Victor Hansen and Robert Allen, the authors of The One Minute Millionaire, point out that when we ask the wrong questions we condemn ourselves to living below our potential. They write, “If you ask yourself, ‘How do I earn or create a million dollars?’ your mind goes to work to discover the answer. Your mind is compelled to work ceaselessly until a satisfactory answer is found.

“Note that most individuals ask themselves questions like these: ‘How do I get a job, salary or work?’ or ‘Can I earn $50,000 doing this?’ The wrong question will generate the wrong result or a less than outstanding outcome.

“Questions predetermine the answer. The size of your question determines the size of your answer. Few people ever ask million-dollar earning, inventing, innovating, generating and creating questions.”

If you keep a journal or idea notebook, start making a list of provocative questions you’d like answered in your own life. Ask them in the most compelling way you can think of.

For example, “How can I deliver the most fabulous service possible?” is a lot more intriguing than, “How can I give better service?”

Consider questions about spirituality, relationships, personal growth and improving the overall quality of life, as well as questions about creating the most brilliant business possible.

Keep adding to the list and leave room after each question for the answers to come. Be willing, also,  to be patient in receiving your answers.

As writer Zora Neale Hurston reminds us, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” The important thing is to ask the best questions to begin with—the ones that are worthy of your dreams.

As anyone who’s started a business knows, doing so invites an avalanche of unsolicited advice. Obviously, we need advice from those who have experience and information that can help us, but we also need to ignore the detractors.

How can you sort the wheat from the chaff?

Rule #1: Consider the Source

The most important thing about receiving advice is to know your source and trust them. It’s surprisingly easy to be influenced by bad or even false advice.

Sometimes it happens because the advice-giver sounds authoritative and so we look no further. At other times, maybe out of laziness, we accept negative or discouraging words as an excuse for not giving something a try.

And sometimes we just don’t know if the advice is accurate. (This is a particularly new and thorny problem caused by the Internet where advice is posted but not edited or verified.)

The Persian poet Rumi advised,  “When setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from someone who has never left home.”

When setting out to build a business, do not seek advice from those who haven’t done so successfully.

Rule #2 : Get a Second Opinion

While too many opinions or too much advice can serve to confuse, if you’re exploring unknown territory,  serious research is in order before setting out.

Get advice from people who know what they’re talking about—and then get a back-up opinion or two.

Rule #3: Make the Most of It

When you ask advice of another person, your initial role is to be a quiet listener or to ask clarifying questions. (“Yes, but” does not belong in the conversation.) Whether or not you act upon the advice is a matter for a later time.

When you’re trying to make a decision or need information so you can proceed with a decision you’ve already made, seeking outside input is just part of the information-gathering process. Sifting comes after you’ve got all the information collected.

The world is full of teachers, experts and amateur advisors—all with varying qualifications. Finding the right ones to help you learn what you need to know so you can move forward in your own life is not to be taken lightly.

The experience of others can save us time, add deeper insights, prevent us from making costly mistakes. Pay attention to those who can help, not hinder, your success.

As C.S. Lewis so eloquently said, “Good things as well as bad are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm, you must stand by the fire; if you want to get wet, you must get into the water. If you want joy, peace, eternal life, you must get close to them. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you. If not, you will remain dry.”

 

Although I seldom purchase lottery tickets, today I was thinking of the marketing slogan used by state lotteries from time to time. You’ve probably heard it, too: You can’t win if you don’t play.

That’s true about much more than just the lottery, of course. In fact, the odds are more in your favor in other pursuits that don’t involve games of chance.

This weekend I’m heading to Colorado Free University to do a series of three seminars. As I was putting my trip together, I got thinking about some of the people I’ve met over the years at CFU.

There’s Renae Hansen who came to Making a Living Without a Job shortly before she returned to Michigan where she currently lives. Renae recently passed her real estate exam and celebrated by selling her first house.

Real estate is not a new passion for her, however, since she’d been investing in property herself for several years. Her experience as a buyer is going to serve her well as a seller, I suspect.

On many trips to Denver, I have a chance to catch up with Pat Blocker, another former student. Pat is a longtime dog lover left her less-than-thrilling job and now operates Peaceful Paws Dog Training. She regularly e-mails me to report on the continuing growth of her business.

In addition, she share tips with dog owners through classes and advice columns. When I mentioned on Facebook my return visit to Denver, Pat chimed in with these kind words:” Don’t miss this! Barbara is awesome! She’s taught me so much over the years.”

Then there’s Maureen Thomson whom I first met when she attended my seminars several years ago. At the time, she was working as a technical writer and building a portfolio of rental properties.

Then a new opportunity came knocking at her door—literally. As she was working on a remodel on her latest acquisition, people kept showing up inquiring about wedding services. It seems the house Maureen was fixing up had once been a wedding chapel.

At first, that amused her, but after several such encounters, it occurred to her that there were many people in search of alternative wedding services. That led Maureen to open Lyssabeth’s Wedding Officiants, a business that has grown by leaps year after year and now has branches in California and Oregon.

Things got even more exciting when she discovered that she could run her business remotely thanks to the pool of wedding officiants she had gathered to perform ceremonies.

As it happens, Maureen also has more than a bit of wanderlust. Earlier this year, she and her husband Jeremy decided to start another business offering their services as a caretaker couple.

Not only are they joyfully jobless, Maureen and Jeremy are now also happily homeless. After several projects in the US, they currently are caretaking a property in Australia.

Maureen blogs about their adventures at Vaco Vitae.

These three enterprising women are, of course, a tiny sampling of the folks I’ve met during my visits to Colorado Free University. As I get ready to return, I am wondering who will show up this time and start writing the next true story about entrepreneurial adventure.

And I wonder about all the folks who don’t bother to take advantage of programs like these to acquire ideas and information that can open new doors.

In his book Creating Wealth, Robert G. Allen discusses what it takes to be one of life’s winners. His answer might surprise you.

He says, “The will to prepare to win is more important than the will to win. Preparing usually means doing those kinds of things that failures don’t like to do. It means studying and learning. It means reading books, going to seminars. It means not being afraid to corner experts and ask foolish questions.”

If you’re in the Denver area (or Sacramento or Las Vegas in October), I would love to have you join me and discover what thousands of joyfully jobless folks are already putting to work.

It may be more important now than ever before.

As Eric Hoffer reminds us, “In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

That could be more powerful than a winning lottery ticket, but you still gotta play to win.

 

Every few months, I get the alumni magazine from my college. I usually glance through the class notes to see if there’s anyone I remember who has gotten mentioned.

Most of the entries are a bit, well, dull, saying things like, “Now retired after 30 years teaching in the same school” or “Just retired from 40 years at the bank.”

Apparently, my fellow college students were big on staying put in one place.

This time, however, an entry caught my eye. It read, “Retired after thirty-five years as a social worker and probation officer. He now spends his time as a big-game hunter and traveler in Africa and is a full-time freelance outdoors writer.”

I never knew the man so described, but I wanted to. I wanted to know how he kept his adventurous soul alive for such a long time while toiling away in Cook County Illinois.

Leaving a familiar situation is a challenge that comes to all of us—sometimes several times throughout our life.

A few years ago, I received e-mail from a woman who had spent her life as a teacher. She had stuck with it long after the satisfaction had gone. Now she was ready, she said, to do something completely different.

However, she wasn’t at all certain what the new path should be. That happens, of course, when we become entrenched in a situation or relationship for so long that we forget that we have options.

I made several suggestions about how she could begin exploring.

I heard from her again after about ten days and she was making remarkable headway. She’d even listed all of her teaching books on eBay—burning her bridges she said.

Imagine my amazement when I opened another e-mail which was obviously written in a moment of great panic. “I only have another week to sign my teaching contract,” it read. “Should I sign it?”

I was flabbergasted and promptly replied that I didn’t have the answer to her question. I suggested, however, that it might be a temporary lapse on her part and then I said, “So how are you going to tell your grandchildren that you once had an opportunity to create a truly adventurous life and you chickened out?”

The moment I typed that question, I realized at a very deep level, how our acts of self-doubt don’t just impact our own lives, but have a profound ripple effect. Take the low road and you’ll have a procession behind you. What kind of legacy is that?

We might tell ourselves that staying in a stultifying relationship isn’t really so bad or having a job that robs us of any creative enthusiasm is fine for now, but every day that we hang on we are losing precious time that could be spent building something bold and beautiful.

On the other hand, our acts of courage beget courage in others as well. I’m guessing that my former college classmate will inspire all sorts of people to create their own version of a safari.

While letting go can seem terrifying, think of the times you’ve done so and found yourself in a better place. It’s no use tricking yourself into thinking that you’ll make things better while staying in the bad situation, however. Doesn’t work that way.

As long as you hang on, you can’t move on.

 

When I moved to Minneapolis in late summer of 1986, I rented a third floor apartment that had a nice little balcony. The following spring, I decided to see if I could grow a plant or two out there.

Before I knew it, my plant or two had evolved into a gorgeous little garden complete with an old wooden ladder-turned-plant-stand and a bentwood trellis from Smith & Hawken. There were vines, pots of daisies and begonias.

At the time, none of my neighbors were balcony gardeners. When I left a dozen years later, balcony gardens were in bloom throughout the complex.

Gardening is contagious apparently and, oh, how I’ve missed it.

After my sabbatical in 1999, I returned to Minneapolis and moved into a wonderful apartment that, sadly, was without any outdoor space. I made do with houseplants.

When I relocated to Las Vegas, I didn’t even attempt outdoor gardening although I heard rumors that it was possible.

I wasn’t always enthusiastic about growing things. I’d half heartedly planted a vegetable garden one year and vowed it would be my last. Weeds took over as I avoided spending time in what I came to think of as a mosquito habitat.

Eventually, I caught the gardening bug from my friend Chris Utterback and she caught the entrepreneurial bug from me. It was a fine trade.

When we met, Chris was new to self-employment. Her passion for gardening had led her there.

An enthusiastic herb gardener, Chris had her first foray into business thanks to a bumper crop of tarragon. She harvested the herb, arranged bundles of it in a wicker basket and called on chefs at all the French restaurants in Denver.

Not only did she sell out, her new customers begged for more. Chris was hooked.

The more she learned about growing things and growing a business, the richer her world became. She went on to publish Herban Lifestyles newsletter for several years. That led her to connect with many other passionate gardening entrepreneurs.

As I’ve been tending my new balcony garden, my first in a dozen years, I keep thinking about how many things that happen in the plant world are mirrored in the business world.

In Paul Hawken’s marvelous book, Growing a Business, he points this out repeatedly. He says, “Ideally, every business student should study biology, the science of life and therefore change. At the heart of the business enterprise is the implementation of true and lasting change, creating the real out of the potential.”

This month I’m going to be sharing lessons from the garden. My little startup blooms are wise and patient teachers and I can’t wait to pass along the things they’re showing me every day that can also help us grow luscious businesses.

What are you growing this summer? Learned anything from your plants?

 

 

“The will to prepare to win is more important than the will to win,” says Robert G. Allen. “Preparing usually means doing those kinds of things that failures don’t like to do. It means studying and learning. It means reading books, going to seminars. It means not being afraid to corner experts and ask foolish questions.”

When I first discovered the world of self-help books, I knew I was preparing to win. For the first time in my life, I was encountering advice and ideas that I knew could make a significant difference.

I was determined to be a model student. However, I quickly discovered that personal growth and new directions are accompanied by a fair amount of backsliding—no matter how committed the student.

When I opened my first business offering personal growth seminars for women, I realized that more than a single workshop was needed. I wasn’t planning to create an on-going series, however.

How could I keep the learning going?

Although I had never considered writing, I got the idea to publish a newsletter. My reasoning was that a newsletter would have some advantages over a book: it would arrive at regular intervals, could contain current resources, and it could combine information with inspiration.

I had absolutely no idea how to produce such a thing, but a long conversation with Brian at my local print shop convinced me that it was possible to turn myself into a small time publisher.

So I began writing The Successful Woman newsletter (which later became Winning Ways). I notified my friends, who kindly sent in orders. I offered it to my seminar participants. I began to get all sorts of publicity.

What I hadn’t anticipated was how much I would enjoy creating those mailings.

Picking a theme, doing research, interviewing people doing interesting things, offering ideas for creative self-employment kept me digging deeper to find useful things to share. The most valuable discoveries are then condensed into a resource that can be read quickly and used for future reference.

Behind the information, the intention was always to encourage and support. It still makes me smile when a subscriber writes to say, “Winning Ways arrived just when I needed it most.”

What many of us fail to realize is that what we need most (in any sort of new undertaking) is reinforcement. Often that involves repetition and revisiting concepts that we’ve heard before.

That’s exactly what a newsletter does best.

As Winning Ways begins its twenty-fifth year of publication, I am as convinced as ever that an old-fashioned, print newsletter is a valuable addition to our Joyfully Jobless toolkit.

Happily, I have many readers who feel the same way. Here’s a tiny sampling from a few of them:

I am reading your newest issue right now. I absolutely must renew every year as I LOVE reading them.  I save every issue in a file after I have read it and have gone back and re-read them. Great stuff! ~ Micheal, Ohio

I get a lot of publications, but Winning Ways is the only one I read cover to cover as soon as it arrives. ~ Jack, Georgia

Your last Winning Ways was topnotch! The Smart Investing article is a gentle reminder for me to put my money where it matters. For years that felt selfish. Now it feels smart!  ~ Maureen, Colorado

Thanks for filling my mailbox with such inspiration. ~ Jen, New York

Thank you for your wise and inspiring words. Please keep sharing your passion for living life to the fullest. ~ Paul, Canada

I subscribe to many newletters which pertain to self employment, self publishing, mail order, marketing and so forth and have been doing so since the early 1970’s.  I rarely renew past five years because of the drop off in quality and rehashed material.

I have renewed Winning Ways for a number of years now because your newsletter, much like your book Making a Living Without a Job, is excellent material which I constantly refer to. ~ Tom, NJ

If you’d like to join these satisfied subscribers, I’d love to have you along. Just click on this link and follow instructions.

And if your order is received before the 4th of July, I’ll give you a 20 % discount at checkout. You’ll pay only $29 for a year of 6 issues plus I’ll send you the current issue as a bonus. (Sign up as a new subscriber at $36, but you’ll only be charged for the discounted rate.)

After all, it might show up in your mailbox just when you need it most.

 

 

 

There are numerous ways to become an entrepreneur. If you’re Italian, you might be born to it. Just as homes stay in the same family for generations, Italian businessowners commonly pass their enterprises down to their children.

If your family made wine, there’s a good chance that you’ll make wine. Even some Venetian gondoliers are following the career path of their fathers and grandfathers.

As much as I love the Italians, I’m grateful that finding a career by inheritance isn’t such a common practice here. If it were, I’d be an electrician.

Paradoxically, there’s a Tuscan proverb that says, “Whoever does another’s trade makes soup in a basket.” Perhaps that doesn’t apply to family endeavors.

Although there are people who happily take over the family business, having one foisted upon you can be a disaster.

I met a man in one of my seminars who told us he’d spent his life grudgingly running a family business that he loathed. His sadness was visible, but even though he was no longer young, he was working diligently to make a new start and bring to life an idea of his own.

Even though families may not hand down a business, family pressure still plays a huge (and often unsavory) role in career choice. I frequently have people tell me, “My parents always told me I should work for someone else because it’s more secure.”

I want to counter with, “Would you wear your parents’ clothes?” Their thinking may not fit you either.

Every day I encounter people who are making soup in a basket, who are bored, inept or downright hostile because they are doing work that comes from a place other than their heart and soul.

Finding our personal right livelihood is too important to our well-being to overlook. We may choose to follow in our family’s tradition but only if we’ve come to know ourselves well enough to know that this is a perfect fit.

Clothiers talk about bespoke garments, meaning made-to-order clothes that are fitted to the wearer. I think it’s time to talk about bespoke businesses, one of a kind undertakings that are perfectly suited to the owner’s values, talents and dreams.

It takes a lot more time and energy to create such a business, of course, than to just pull one off the rack. Like a master tailor, we can only produce a bespoke business by knowing our personal measurements, making numerous adjustments, and investing pride in our work.

In a world that often seemed determined to do everything fast, creating a bespoke business requires a willingness and discipline to slow down, take things a step at a time, and pay loving attention to details.

The rewards for such willingness are huge, although they may not be quick.

 

 

 

My definition of job security is having a strong, healthy entrepreneurial spirit. That can only occur if you feed yours regularly with activities and thoughts that are nuturing. Here are some of my favorite ways to do just that.

°  Give yourself a change of scenery. It may be efficient for factories to standardize their production lines, but our creative selves thrive on variety.

Take a different route when running errands, take a sabbatical, take a vacation, take your laptop to the park. You can be productive without being routine.

°  Tithe your time. Don’t just send a check to support things you care about. Find ways to share your time.

When Joe started his own insurance agency he decided he’d spend 10% of his time doing volunteer work. Eventually, he worked his way up to 50% volunteer time. Did his business suffer? Not at all. He made so many contacts along the way that his insurance business grew naturally.

This is another way to back up your personal values with action.

°  Create a research project. What would you like to learn more about? Look for a way to fund your research.

Start by checking the grant directories at your local library. You may have a project that someone is eager to fund. Get clear about how this will enhance you personally and entrepreneurially.

You could  find yourself photographing  mosaics in Morocco or interviewing artisans in Ecuador. Use your imagination to come up with a fresh research project that excites you.

°  Share what you already know. Write a tip sheet and get it published—or publish it yourself and distribute it. Mentor a new entrepreneur or a kid. Put your experiences together and teach a seminar.

There’s no better confidence builder than sharing your unique insights and experiences.

°  Find  great entrepreneurial stories. On a flight, I read about a mother and her daughters who started a fascinating business called Junk Gypsies. I was so enchanted by their story that I logged onto their Web site the next day and became a customer.

There are thousands of inspiring stories out there. Make it your hobby to find them. After all, it’s your tribal history.

°  Offer praise. Master the art of writing the exquisite fan letter. Let other people know that you noticed.

After I read Monica Wood’s breathtaking novel Any Bitter Thing, I began planning a review for my local library Web site as well as Amazon. And the author deserves a letter of thanks as well, I decided, to know that her writing has touched her reader.

Catch others doing something good and let them know you noticed. It’s good for them and good for your soul.

°  Learn how to synthesize ideas. We should have learned how to do this in school, but I fear many of us haven’t.

For instance, I was reading Jim Miller’s Savvy Senior column in my local paper. He was asked by a reader how to find a reliable handyman. He offered dozens of suggestions.

As I read what he had to say, I thought that anyone wanting to have such a business could find some great suggestions for marketing themselves using the suggestions in Miller’s article.

It’s equally important to look at enterprises that are nothing like yours and figure out what you can adapt from their way of doing things or their overall philosophy.

° Attend with a friend. I always like to see pairs of people showing up together in seminars. I realize that sometimes a friend comes along hoping to discourage their companion from doing anything foolish.

However, sharing a learning experience with an entrepreneurial friend can be a great way to extend and deepen the lessons learned. There’s nothing like building dreams with someone who gets it.

° Record your journey. Keep an illustrated journal of your entrepreneurial life. Don’t just include the big events; do a photo essay of an ordinary day in the life of your business.

The sooner you begin this, the better. It might become your grandchildren’s favorite storybook. Even more importantly, when we record and acknowledge our own lives, it raises our self-worth.