It appears that I have fallen in love with the mandolin. This was no overnight love affair, however. It kind of sneaked up on me.

As a longtime fan of the music of Antonio Vivaldi, I had heard my share of mandolins and associated the instrument with music from the past.

That all began to change when I attended  a performance of Prairie Home Companion and heard the amazing Peter Ostroushko play. Nevertheless, I wasn’t ready to commit.

Then it happened. Last year, while listening to the weekly broadcast of PHC, Ostroushko performed the most glorious piece, something he’d written to celebrate a friend’s wedding. I promptly ordered his latest CD and The A and A Waltz has been a regular feature on the soundtrack in my car ever since.

I’ve been thinking about this slow love affair quite a bit because I suspect when folks hear about passion, they have a vision of being gob-smacked by something that grabs them by the shoulders and won’t put them down. Love at first sight, perhaps.

I don’t think it works that way. In fact, other than the births of my daughter and my grandchildren, I can’t recall any other times when passion was present from the first moment.

More often, it creeps up, like the mandolin, but it doesn’t come at all unless we expose ourselves to new experiences and possibilities. Passion isn’t passive, after all; we have to get involved.

One way of doing that, of course, is to pay attention to the passions of others. People we love dearly and admire genuinely may very well have passions that leave us cold. On the other hand, passionate people may get our attention simply because of their contagious enthusiasm.

I’m not particularly interested in cars, but listening to Car Talk is a frequent pleasure on my weekends at home. I’m also not much of a foodie, but John Curtas, a Las Vegas restaurant reviewer, is a delight to listen to on Nevada Public Radio and often has me making notes about places I really must visit.

Opening ourselves to things that delight others may deliver lovely surprises we hadn’t anticipated. At the very least, we’ll benefit from the power of enthusiasm  that raises our own positive attitude simply by being present.

At the same time, we need to notice when a passion has passed its sell-by date. It’s extremely easy to spend time doing things out of habit because we failed to notice that passion has fled.

Sometimes when you partake in a longtime activity and find it no longer amuses or informs or entertains, you’ll begin to feel a bit of disappointment, as if you’d been jilted.

Some passions simply have a longer run than others. Just as closets need to be weeded from time to time, so do the activities that are worth our time and attention.

Thinking about collectors and collecting has had me contemplating the role of passion in a slightly different way. How do collectors decide what to gather? What’s the difference between those who build thoughtful and valuable collections and those who are simply packrats?

As I was musing about all this, I stumbled upon a delightful book called Merry Hall by Beverley Nichols, a British journalist and fanatic gardener.

The book begins with a bit of a confession: “Some fall in love with women; some fall in love with art; some fall in love with death. I fall in love with gardens, which is much the same as falling in love with all three at once.”

Nichols goes on to tell his story of finding a wreck of a place in rural England that required years of diligent labor to transform it into the garden of his dreams. Thus began a perpetual hunt for interesting specimens to add to his collection. It’s obvious that his passion for plants continued to increase even as the challenges involved expanded as well.

But, of course, passion is like that. It often has us doing things we never imagined we could do—or would do.

Whether that passion is for music, art, cars, food, gardens, social justice or any one of a thousand other things, ultimately passion invites us to become more, to do more, to be more. Eventually those enthusiasms infiltrate other areas of our lives.

“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings,” Elizabeth Gilbert reminds us. Passion is a pointer to where those blessing can be found.

When the mandolin plays or the antique doll at the flea market catches your eye, pay closer attention and see where it leads. Give it time and see if it grows into something spectacular.

And if that doesn’t happen, keep looking. Just don’t insist on love at first sight.

There’s a group of people that I follow on Twitter who are fascinating and annoying. In high school, we’d have thought of them as the Cool Kids. You remember them, don’t you?

They had their own little posse and allowed the rest of us to watch them. They wouldn’t have been caught dead talking to us, of course.

The grown-up Twitter version of this isn’t much different. The Cool Kids are mostly male with one female who has been allowed into the club. Most of their posts are conversations between themselves or promotions for their own events and products. The female also likes to share glowing testimonials she receives, but the males are more modest.

According to her profile page, the female follows more than 6,000 people.You’d never know it from her Tweets, however. She never shares resources or interesting articles from anyone outside her “awesome peeps” (her term of endearment) clique. She loves slang and acronyms that are a kind of secret code known only to insiders.

Now, of course, there are no rules for how to function on Twitter or on a blog or on any social media site. What we need to understand, however, is that Twitter and Facebook are actually powerful magnifying glasses that seem to enlarge and enliven who we are.

I’m not saying that to scare you. In fact, I think if you aren’t using these free resources to connect with others, you’re doing yourself and your business a disservice.

I’ve always thought that having your own business is where you go to earn your Ph.D in human relations. It’s a long curriculum with plenty of room for error.

Here’s lesson number one: When it comes to your clients, customers and potential clients and customers what’s your sign? Are you putting out the Welcome Mat—or hanging a Do Not Disturb warning?

I  learned about the Do Not Disturb sign from years of flying with Northwest Airlines. Apathy and indifference seemed to pervade the corporate culture. The planes themselves got grubbier and dirtier. Questions were often treated as an irritation and passengers were the enemy.

There wasn’t much smiling going on during the million miles I logged with them.

Once I was not limited to NWA (now Delta) as a carrier, I avoided them at all costs. In fact, I’ve not touched my frequent flyer miles with them despite the fact that I could have a free trip to Europe if I was feeling the need for  more abuse.

On the other hand, my trips these days are mostly on Southwest Airlines and I find myself anticipating these trips because I never  know what friendliness may be in store.

Is the flight attendant heading to Las Vegas auditioning as a standup comedian? Will the passengers be invited to sing  Happy Birthday to a fellow traveler? Will I manage to read all the interesting articles in their in-flight magazine before we land?

Even if you consider yourself to be an introvert, you can assume the position of welcoming host to your business. Start with the Golden Rule and make it your policy to treat everyone as graciously as you possibly can.

In every part of your business where you’re connecting with other people, keep the Welcome Mat  out. (And, certainly, there are times when the Do Not Disturb sign comes in handy—especially if you live with other people who don’t understand that you have a business to build.) Here are a few other reminders:

° Answer all telephone calls with friendly expectation. Yes, it might be a telemarketer on the other end, but unless you’re a really gifted psychic, don’t risk it by sounding grumpy. You voice message also needs to be upbeat as well.

° Get into the conversation on social media sites. If you’ve got gas or you’re bored, keep it to yourself. Praise, share, ask questions, interact. That’s not difficult stuff, but a lot of people  seem to have forgotten.

° Respond quickly whenever possible. Set aside time, if necessary, to catch up on e-mails and phone calls. Dazzle people with your fabulous and thoughtful good manners.

Setting your life up to be lived as an on-going treasure hunt, can only happen if you’ve  identified things that enrich your life. Not all of those things are things, of course.

Here are some collectibles that enhance the entrepreneurial life.

° Testimonials. Happy clients and customers who take time to let you know that they appreciate your efforts do more than simply lift your spirits: they can also help you attract more happy clients and customers. Develop a system for saving the e-mails, thank yous and verbal words of praise.

° Experiences. Different experiences are good for your curiosity, your personal growth and, often, the basis of  your best stories. Why, then, do so many people fail to put themselves in new situations?  Habit, routine and self-doubt are some of the culprits here.

While all new experiences aren’t necessarily planned in advance, it’s a good idea to regularly put some on your calendar. Without them, you won’t have many good stories to tell your grandchildren.

° Joyfully Jobless friends. It was Napoleon Hill who first brought attention to the notion of a Master Mind Group. That’s still a fine idea, but you also need informal relationships with others who are self-employed.

Start following entrepreneurs on Twitter. Organize a local Meetup group. Find out about organizations and informal gatherings of self-employed folks in your area. Go to workshops and conferences aimed at the self-employed.

Follow up on recommendations of friends who say, “Oh, you should meet So-and-So. You have a lot in common.” Before you know it, you’ll have a tribe.

° Stories. More and more marketing gurus are  singing the praises of storytelling. Not only is this an overlooked marketing tool, many people overlook their own best stories.

Keeping a simple journal or file of stories you encounter—both in person or as a reader—is a good idea. When it comes time to  write a speech or spiff up your Web site or produce a mailing, you’ll have a pool of material to draw from.

Then there’s this from Michael E. Gerber: “I dare say, all successful entrepreneurs have loved the story of their business. Because that’s what true entrepreneurs do: They tell stories that come to life in the form of their business.”

° Portfolio of profit centers. There’s a line in the movie About a Boy that I love: “Two’s not enough. You’ve got to have backup.” They’re talking about relationships in the film, but it is equally true for profit centers.

As I’ve frequently mentioned, all enterprises go through cycles, but not all cycles are synchronized. If you have variety in your offerings, you can adjust, revamp, shift gears as necessary.

However, the flukes of the marketplace are only part of the reason for building a portfolio. You need outlets for all of your passions. An evolving portfolio is how you create the pieces of our own particular puzzle.

° Resources. The abundance of information available to us is both dazzling and daunting. Knowing that useful resources exist  can do a great deal to dispel fear and doubt, but only if you take advantage of the  best resources you can find.

Go beyond a Google search and find resources in your community, at the library, and, perhaps, your local visitor’s center. Does your local newspaper do stories about small businesses in the area? Are there local radio talk shows that might enjoy having you as a guest?  What about adult ed programs that can sharpen your skills?

° Expertise. Almost from the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, I recognized that being regarded as an expert would be useful. Of course, if you’re passionate about something, growing into expertise is almost inevitable.

Using that expertise to expand your visibility, help others, make new discoveries, and create additional profit centers requires understanding the expert’s role and a willingness to value what you already have accomplished.

As I point out in my Establish Yourself as an Expert seminars, this isn’t something you do by the first Tuesday of next month. It’s an on-going, evolutionary process—one that keeps you stretching, exploring and growing. Doing so can also open doors of opportunity in delightfully surprising ways.

You and I have within us the creative intelligence to recognize the conditions of existence that support our growth and we what the wherewithal to place ourselves in such an environment. ~ Stewart Emery

If you’ve never lived in a place that seemed inhospitable and incompatible with your dreams, you probably have no idea how soul-squashing that can be. Emotional well-being, creativity and the ability to spot opportunities are all hampered when our environment is out of sync with our goals.

Staying in such a place can be an act of self-sabotage.

In The Little Money Bible, Stuart Wilde talks about closing the gap between where you are and where you want to be. He says: “Certain industries are located in certain places in the world. If you’re a long way from where the action is, you may want to consider closing the gap.

“For example, if you want to make it big in movies, you’ve more or less got to be in New York or Los Angeles. Closing the physical distance is a matter of showing up in the marketplace, becoming a face that people know, demonstrating your expertise, and getting into the loop where the movers and shakers are.

“People who could bestow great opportunities on you aren’t scouring the distant hills for talent. They’re in the flow.”

Living in a place that you love is one of the genuine rewards of being self-employed—and it’s not always a city that draws those who work for themselves.

I first noticed this trend among mail order entrepreneurs who frequently seemed to flee urban areas in order to live in quiet, scenic environments.

Gary Comer was a billionaire who frequently showed up on lists of the wealthiest Americans. There’s a good chance that you’ve never heard of him, but he’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

Comer started a little mail order company in a garage in Chicago, but once he got a glimpse of the real potential for his business, he relocated it to a rural area of southern Wisconsin. It was there that he built the powerhouse known as Lands’ End.

Why Dodgeville, Wisconsin? Here’s what Comer said about that: “The main reason we are here is that I fell in love with the gently rolling hills and woods and cornfields and being able to see the changing seasons. And then we found that along with all that nature had to offer us, we came to know what a remarkable group of people we were joining with in the community.

“It’s a farm community, and our fellow workers were the sons and daughters of farmers and their families included a fine bunch of kids. We quickly found that they are the kind of people who get up mighty early in the morning, because they may have a cow or two to milk before coming to work. When we first came here, we started small. But the business and the community have been good to us.”

Once you’ve determined what you love most, it seems logical and prudent to do it in a place that you love—and that loves you back. While our personal location may also be determined by demands of our businesses or families, it’s important to remember that we’re living in a new world where technology makes options available to us that were unheard of a few years ago.

You can plunk yourself down on the western slopes of Colorado or in an Alpine village and run an international consultancy. You could follow the lead of the couple who opened a virtual art gallery from their island home near Vancouver.

Perhaps dividing your time, as writer Julia Cameron does, between lively New York City and funky Santa Fe is more your style.

Or maybe your perfect World Headquarters has wheels.

Where you choose to grow your dreams should be as consciously chosen as the dreams themselves. Sometimes a dream that’s not growing needs to be transplanted to more fertile soil. The freedom and willingness to do that is a reward worth cultivating.

Last week my 8-year-old granddaughter Zoe dropped something off at my place. As she was heading back down the stairs, she said, “I’m so excited. I’ve got a surprise to tell you about. Here’s a clue: ny.”

NY? Not yet? I was not solving the mystery.

A couple of hours later, I was at Zoe’s house and she couldn’t wait to tell me the news. Her family had decided to visit New York in October. This is their most ambitious vacation so far and Zoe was already bursting with excitement.

“There are museums and parks and I get to see The Lion King,” she exclaimed.

“I need to earn money,” she said—and she was wasting no time. “Do you have any paying chores for me?”

I expect  I’ll be hearing that question frequently in the next several months. When she came for a visit on Saturday, The Trip was on her mind. She had calculated that she wanted to raise $180. She and her father had figured out that her monthly goal for fund-raising was $20.

We brainstormed some options and I volunteered a small amount as seed money. She was off and running.

When Zoe was working her way through the Harry Potter series, every encounter with her began with an announcement of the page number she had reached. I suspect that I’ll be having regular updates on her money-raising project in the months to come.

More importantly, I’m happy that Zoe has become a practicing goalsetter at such an early age. It’s a tool that far too many adults don’t possess.

How many lovely goals and plans are abandoned because of the all-too-common approach used by the frustrated? It goes something like this: inspiration strikes, a  wonderful idea appears, then resistance kicks in with the dreambashing thought, “I don’t have the money for that,” and the idea is dead.

Do that often enough and inspiration goes elsewhere.

On the other hand, those who live with a steady stream of exciting ideas they’re bringing to life go about it in a very different way.

First, they decide what they want to do. Then, they figure out how to finance it. Perhaps it involves creating a new project to generate cash flow to fund the dream. It nearly always turns on creative thinking and uncovering hidden options.

It probably calls for some sort of tradeoff. In Zoe’s case, she may have fewer play dates with her friends while she’s helping her grandmother out. She’ll also resist the temptations of Toys R Us and use the library more and the bookstore less.

Of course, this won’t feel like deprivation to Zoe. She’s serving her apprenticeship in the fine art of building a dream.

“The mightiest works have been accomplished,” said Walter Bowie, “by those who have kept their ability to dream great dreams.” I’m going to do my part to make sure that Zoe stays in that group.

Best of all, there’s plenty of room for all of us if we are bold enough to ignore the can’ts and hows.


Want to spread some entrepreneurial spirit and acquire more dreambuilding tools? Then join me for my upcoming Joyfully Jobless Weekends. I’ll be in Houston on February 15 & 16 and Phoenix on February 22 &23. Y’all come.


Despite numerous stories extolling the profound rewards of taking time away, it’s an idea that is not being as heartily embraced as it might be. In fact, many people find the thought downright terrifying.

Because the notion of regular sabbaticals throughout our lifetime has been so ignored in recent times, there’s some confusion over what constitutes a true sabbatical. My definition of sabbatical is time away with a purpose. The purpose of such a time is not to abandon your life, but to enrich it.

In the original concept, first defined in the Old Testament book of Hebrews, a sabbatical was to be taken by everyone, every seven years. During this year off, fields were to lie fallow, debts were to be forgiven, relationships were to be repaired and introspection was encouraged.

Over time, of course, the notion disappeared and today many people don’t even observe a weekly Sabbath, much less consider an entire year of restoration.

Whether you’re in a year divisible by seven or not, here are several signs that it is the perfect time to consider a sabbatical of your own:

° You can’t remember the last time you had a new idea you were excited about.

° You’ve reached all of your goals.

° You’ve reached none of your goals.

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

° You have a nagging suspicion that you’d be really good at something if you only  had time to learn how to do it.

° You get wistful every time a plane flies overhead.

° Nobody ever asks you what’s new.

° A long-term relationship or career has come to an end.

° You’re ready to find a new hometown.

° You’re tired of being an armchair traveler and want to see distant lands for  yourself.

° You feel drawn to donate your time and talents to a humanitarian cause.

° You need time to do research or start a long-term project.

° Your soul is weary.

If you agreed with any of these, it’s time to let go of excuses and get going. As architect Sarah Susanka reminds us, “What I discovered is that when you make the time and the space for what you long to do, everything else shifts to accommodate it. It never works the other way around. If you wait until there’s time to do what you want to do, you’ll be waiting until your eighty-fifth birthday.”

It is not an exaggeration to say that we spend our days moving closer to our dreams—or farther away. Every moment that we invest in our goals brings us closer and every moment we ignore the prompting of our hearts takes us somewhere else.

When people tell me that fear is a huge obstacle, I am quite certain that they have misdiagnosed the problem. Most of the time we are bewitched by self-doubt, not genuine fear (unless a tiger is about to devour us).

Self-doubt can afflict anyone, of course. When this occurs, the healthy approach is to combat it with action rather than remaining inert. The more alternatives you have for dealing with those tenuous times, the more quickly you’ll move through them.

If you quake at the thought of going out on your own and setting up shop, or are nervous about embarking on a new venture, here are six fearbashers that can reroute you back to the road to success.

° Do temporary work. March into a temporary help agency and get signed up for a short term project. When you get an assignment, don’t  think of this primarily as a way to earn money. Use this project to do some homework.

No matter what business you are sent to work in, observe what goes on in a detached and analytical manner.  You’ll quickly discover that all sorts of mistakes and mishaps (even stupid decisions) will be part of every day.

Now notice that despite this lack of perfection, the business manages to stay afloat. Notice that every business has huge margins for error and it doesn’t bring them crashing to their knees.

You can certainly do better than that, can’t you? So get out there and do it.

° Study a successful immigrant entrepreneur. A high percentage of people who come here from other parts of the world start their own businesses. Imagine how much harder that would be in a strange culture where you may not speak the language.

Yet, many of these newcomers have such a strong desire to build something of their own, a desire that they couldn’t fulfill in their homeland, that the obstacles melt in the face of that determination.

We natives often look like wimps next to the hardworking and committed businessowners who have been drawn to this land of opportunity. Let them inspire you.

° Fail on purpose. Young children try new things without thinking of success and failure. As we get older, many of us avoid any situation where we might not be brilliant. As a result, our world shrinks down to a short list of acceptable activities.

This is not the road to self-actualization.

If you are terrified at the thought of failing, make a list all the things you are an utter klutz at doing. Then do something from that list once a week. At the very least, you may entertain your friends when you throw three gutter balls in a row.

At the other end of this temporary humiliation is all the power you’ll gain by surviving a minor failure.

° Develop a big roar. Next time you’re driving alone in your car, pretend you’re the Lion King or Queen. It worked in The Wizard of Oz and it will work for you, too. No kidding.

° Make Nathan Lane your patron saint. In 2000, the wildly talented Lane starred in his own television series which was downright awful. It was so terrible, in fact, that it only ran for a few painful episodes.

Had it been even mildly successful, Lane would have been taping the series instead of wowing audiences in The Producers, a big Broadway hit for which he won the Best Actor Tony in 2001.

If you try something that turns out badly, think of it as your own failed series—and celebrate the end of your contract.

° Imagine your success. I am convinced that most people fail to go after their dreams or leave their comfort zones because they haven’t taken the time to really think about what rewards their ultimate success would bring them. Instead, they console themselves by saying things like, “Well, this job or relationship or apartment isn’t really that bad.”

However, when you are focused on the rewards that will inevitably come, setbacks and disappointments are easier to handle. Often, in truth, what looks like a setback is just a resetting of the course and may, in the long run, make the journey sweeter.

That’s why it’s so important to be willing to defer short-lived gratification in order to have something grander in the future. But first you must envision it and sell yourself on the new and better life you foresee.

“We think much more about the use of money, which is renewable, than we do about the use of time, which is irreplaceable,” Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber warned. Anyone who is serious about building a business needs to be clear about both spending and investing their time.

Just as we invest money in the expectation of a greater return in the future, we need to invest our time in the present in order to see a bigger reward in the future.

Sometimes that means devoting large chunks of time to creating a product that won’t generate revenue for months. At other times our investment may be a demonstration of faith in ourselves and our vision.

It’s a practice I discovered in the early days of my business when out of town trips often involved staying in less than elegant hotels and driving Ugly Duckling rental cars. In my heart I believed I was a good investment and was willing to trade present comfort for a brighter future.

Here are some smart ways to invest your time whether you’re a new startup or simply want to keep your self and your enterprise invigorated.

° Take the boss for a walk. Any creative enterprise will profit from a frequent change of scenery. Have you ever noticed how diplomats often go for a walk together when negotiations break down?  Walking can both calm us down and stir up positive thoughts.

Even if your office or studio is the happiest place on Earth, moving around a botanic garden or browsing in a hardware store can rekindle your creative spirit.

° Hang out with some wise guys. Put yourself in regular contact with our best entrepreneurial thinkers who generously share their insights with anyone who cares to listen.

Seth Godin is at the top of my list, of course. If you haven’t already done so, sign up for his mailings and take advantage of his unique and profound insights at

Don’t try to listen to everybody who is offering advice. Find your favorites and pay close attention. Don’t just read and delete. Consider how you can put their ideas to work in your enterprise. Remember, too, that your team of trusted advisors may change over time.

° Reach out and connect. I am growing quite weary of folks who declare that they  can’t be bothered with social media or  building relationships.Yes, it takes time, but if you do it right, the rewards are huge.

It’s still true that we all like to do business with people we know and like. If people don’t know you, they can’t like you. Simple as that.

° Schedule 90-Day Inventories. Regularly invest time in looking at what’s working, what needs help and what’s ready to be discarded.

It’s easy when our business is growing to get swept along in the tide, but in order to create something satisfying and profitable, a regular evaluation is a valuable tool. Put it to work for you.

This is also a time to consider the ROI you are—or are not—receiving.

° Don’t be tricked by convenience. I once had a friend who was dating a most unpleasant man. When I challenged her choice of mates, she acknowledged his lack of character, but defended spending time with him by saying, “But he’s convenient.”

I’ve seen entrepreneurs use the same justification for hanging onto uncongenial clients or projects that no longer thrill them.

While there are certainly times when convenience makes sense, don’t give it a high priority when making decisions.

° Be willing to practice. I’m not sure if Malcolm Gladwell’s assertion that it takes 10,000 hours to master something is accurate or not, but it’s certainly true that those who become more than mildly adequate invest heavily in practice.

If you need encouragement to embrace this important activity, pay a visit to The Art of Possibility by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander.

° Become a No Excuses Entrepreneur. It’s astonishing how quickly we can offer excuses when a creative solution is what’s needed. Unfortunately, excuses are extremely clever at worming their way into our minds and won’t leave unless we consciously evict them.

It’s like this: we can either have our excuses or we can have our dreams. We can’t have both. It makes sense to choose wisely.

The late Jim Rohn was a huge proponent of investing time wisely. He said, “Fortunately, life has a unique way of rewarding high investment with high return. The investment of time you make now may be the catalyst for major accomplishment. It is precisely this effort that will open the floodgates to the place where great ideas can work their magic.”

In mid-December, my brother, three sisters and I spent a day exploring current exhibits at the Getty Center and Getty Villa in Los Angeles. This is a normal Winter Family Outing.

All of us love museums and after decades of living apart, we’re now in close enough proximity that art outings are easily organized. In fact, there’s another one coming up to LACMA and Norton Simon.

It some ways it’s an astonishment since we didn’t really grow up with much exposure to art. Somehow we each discovered the joy of creativity and came to appreciate those who shared their imaginations with us.

So, of course, I feel sad (and angry) when I hear about art programs being eliminated in schools.

For years, most business schools have ignored the role of art and inspiration, but some of the most successful entrepreneurs have also been passionate patrons of the arts.

One of the memorable stories in Stanley Marcus’ brilliant book, Minding the Store, talks about this very thing. Marcus, whose father, aunt and uncle founded Neiman-Marcus department store in Dallas, shares a piece from Fortune magazine called “Dallas in Wonderland.”

“As for Neiman-Marcus executives, they too live just one idea: The Store. It’s madcap, or inspired, beginning sprang from an enthusiasm—and almost religious enthusiasm— that has never ceased.

“They are exciting business people because in one sense they aren’t business people at all; and they live the store, not by lacking outside interests, but by transferring them all inside.

“Herbert Marcus quotes Plat0 or Flaubert at you, displays a Canaletto in his dining room and dreams of owning a Renoir.

“It isn’t a matter of being 100% on the job, but rather of being dedicated to some austere and lofty mission.”

As Marcus goes on to explain, that lofty mission was to bring beauty to the lives of everyone (not just the wealthy) living in that dusty cow town.

Inc. magazine founder Bernie Goldhirsh frequently reminded his writers that entrepreneurs are artists and business is their canvas. Exposing yourself to the art of others can be one of the best things you do for your business.

So go visit a musuem this month. Browse in a local art gallery. Or, if you’re feeling really frisky, pick up a paint brush yourself.

Your business will love it if you act like an artist.


Want to spread some entrepreneurial spirit in Texas? Then join me for my upcoming Joyfully Jobless Weekends. I’ll be in Dallas on January 18 & 19, then Houston in February 15 & 16. Y’all come.

Take a look. Apparently Gaping Void and I are on the same wave length today. More Art = More Inspiration

A couple of years ago, I was teaching Making a Living Without a Job at UNLV. Although it wasn’t going to be a large class, I always have a sense of anticipation on seminar days and this was no exception.

After I had finished the first part of the program, I asked if there were any questions or comments. A woman raised her hand and asked a good question which I did my best to answer.

I noticed a man named Rich on the other side of the room suddenly sitting up straighter. As soon as I’d handled the first question, his hand went up.

“I’ve been listening to what you’ve had to say,” he said and paused. I thought a disagreement was coming.

I was wrong. “And I’m happy to learn than I’m doing a lot of things right, “ he said.

Without any prompting, he went on to share his story. “I did everything possible to keep from losing my job,” he said. “I took a pay cut, I worked longer hours, I hung on for dear life. A few months ago, I was laid off anyway. When I left, my employer said they hoped to hire me back as soon as possible and wanted me to leave my office just as it was with my wife’s picture and other personal things. I agreed.”

Then he went on to tell us that he’d spent a couple of weeks licking his wounds and then decided it was time for a new plan. This new plan included starting a service business as a handyman and junk remover.

Rich told us a bit about his what his days are like now. “My wife says,” he laughed, “that she’s never seen me so relaxed and happy.”

The longer he talked the more enthusiastic he became. “Last week,” he went on, “I decided to go back and visit my old employer. I’ve only been gone a few months, but everyone looked like they’d aged two years. I looked at my old office and thought, ‘I’m never coming back.’”

As often as I hear stories like Rich’s, I never fail to be moved by them.

Discovering our right livelihood is often a turning point, after all, one that introduces us to more joy, more adventure, and more extraordinary people than we ever realized was possible.

When he finished his story, I said, “So do you know what the number one regret is of people who become self-employed?”

Without hesitation Rich said, “That they didn’t start sooner.”

He is absolutely right. That’s a regret that can be avoided, of course, but only if you go after your dreams sooner.

Psychologist Alfred Adler concurs. “There is only one danger I find in life,” warned Adler, “you may  take too many precautions.”