Like many Americans, I was taught that we lived in the land of opportunity. Our history teachers reminded us that people had flocked to our country because of the better life that awaited them here. It was a source of great pride.
At the same time we were learning those history lessons, we were also being groomed to get a job. No teacher or guidance counselor ever suggested that living in the land of opportunity also offered me the possibility of creating my own enterprise.
When my travels began to take me outside of the US, I quickly discovered that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well and living everywhere, too.
It was an early Making a Living Without a Job seminar in London, however, that really made me aware that the entrepreneurial spirit knows no geographic boundaries. Participants arrived at that event from France, Denmark, and India as well as from the far corners of the UK.
So it comes as no surprise that on my recent trip to the UK I spent most of my time hanging out with some inspiring and creative entrepreneurial folks.
After my evening talk in London, I headed to Birmingham where I was met at the train station by the delightful Maggy Whitehouse, who also was my hostess for the night.
I met Maggy a decade ago when she attended a workshop I did in London on self-publishing. Although that was our only in-person contact, we’d stayed in touch over the years and I watched her writing and speaking career blossom.
My packed talk in Birmingham that night was another sign that there are plenty of people considering the Joyfully Jobless life. One man brought his 10-year-old daughter who has already shown interest in starting her own business.
Back in London the next night, I spent the evening with the Scanners Night group led by author and speaker John Williams. Once again, the audience was a mix of folks who were already self-employed and those wanting to be.
Because these self-proclaimed scanners have diverse interests, my talk that night was called Multiple Passions, Multiple Profits. I talked about creating a personal portfolio that incorporated their varied activities.
The following day, I spent the morning hanging out with Eve Menezes Cunningham, a freelance writer (among other things) who had interviewed me several years ago for the first article she had published. Since that time, she’s also included me in some other wonderful pieces she written.
Eve and I were joined by the vivacious Marianne Cantwell, the founder of Free Range Humans and about-to-be author. Originally from Australia, Marianne has been traveling the world since leaving her cubicle several years ago. When we discovered that we’d both be in London at the same time, we promptly planned to get together.
Unfortunately, I was in a fair amount of distress because of a most unpleasant experience I was having with my accomodations. Marianne swung into action and began looking for a new place for me to lay my head.
She enlisted John Williams’ aid in the search and thanks to AirBnB, I was headed to a lovely home in Fulham where I spent the rest of my time in the UK.
To my delight, my new hostess, Debbie Cave, is a woman who understands mutllple profit centers herself. In addition to having paying guests in her home, Debbie also runs her own public relations and marketing company.
After a good night’s sleep in my tranquil new room, I woke up excited about how I was planning to spend my last free day In London. Consultant Mary Phillips, whom I first met when she attended a seminar in the Lake District, was coming in from Bradford and we had plans to meet for lunch.
Since we both knew how to find the Whole Foods store, we had decided to connect there and have lunch. I passed by the store, but had never been inside.
Imagine my surprise when I stepped into the three-story market which was unlike any Whole Foods store I’d ever visited before. You can buy groceries there, of course, but since the entire second floor is devoted to a restaurant and food stations serving exotic smoothies, gelato, salads and more.
Since Mary and I hadn’t seen one another since my last London visit, we settled in for lunch and a catch-up chat. Five hours later, we tore ourselves away from the Whole Foods experience.
As I headed back to Fulham on the Tube, I realized that my week had not allowed for any touristy activities, but connecting with all these creative friends, old and new, had made this one of the richest visits ever.
Obviously, the land of opportunity isn’t a land after all. It’s a state of mind.