° Be a model in the world. Proudly share the joys of self-employment. We’re still a small minority and often a curiosity to friends and strangers alike.

When someone says, “Oh, but isn’t that risky?” be prepared to respond with all the rewards and benefits you’ve discovered since going out on your own.

And, of course, take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way to encourage entrepreneurial spirit in others.

° Patronize small business. It’s not always an easy option, but make the effort to support the community that you’re a part of. Organized efforts to patronize local food growers are taking place all over the country. It’s a start.

Find ways to patronize local entrepreneurs whenever you can and urge your friends to do the same.

° Adopt a protege. Even if you think you are still a novice, you’re bound to have already learned things that would help a beginner. Don’t be surprised if you’re the one who learns the most.

° Be a micro-lender. My favorite organization is Kiva  because you get to choose the entrepreneur who receives your loan. It’s a real joy to help a business grow in a far corner of the world and it only takes $25 to get started.

Another popular option comes from Heifer which has helped all sorts of folks become independent by giving them livestock to raise.

° Start a local Meet Up group. Homebased businesses can be invisible to their neighbors. Why not insitgate a small gathering and see who shows up? This is a great way to connect with other entrepreneurs in your own backyard.

° Help a kid. Volunteer to talk about entrepreneurship at Career Day at your child’s school. Or become a Junior Achievement volunteer. There’s nothing like a living  role model to show that there’s an alternative to getting a job.

° Attend Tribal Meetings. Retreats, seminars and workshops designed to help you make your business better are happening all over the place. The connections you make may be as valuable as the information you receive.

When I opened my mailbox at the post office, I found a note and magazine article from Sandy Dempsey. She said she’d been going through a stack of magazines and, “When I came across this lovely interview with Bill Bryson I thought of you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.”

The article made me smile, but I was genuinely pleased that Sandy had thought of me when she read it.

A few days earlier, I received an e-mail from Charles McCool, mastermind of McCool Travel, telling me that his family is planning a trip to Venice. Did I have any tips? Recommendations? Things not to miss?

Of course, I did, but it made me smile that he’d consulted me.

On Thursday evening, I had a surprise call from Vancouver resident Sally Laird. “Guess where I am,” she said. I thought a moment and guessed, “Las Vegas.”

“Yup,” she laughed, “at the Bellagio. Eating gelato.”

Sally is well aware of my fondness for both.

Then there was the inquiry from my sister Nancy wanting to know about Kiva and how to become a lender.

These sorts of things happen to me on a regular basis and I never get tired of people thinking of me when they encounter something they know I love.

My true loves are not a secret.

Anyone who spends time with me discovers my fondness for Bryson, Venice, the Bellagio, gelato, Kiva—and dozens of other things. I’ve probably posted links to articles on all those subjects on Facebook.

Anyone who visits my home can see that I live surrounded by images, books and other evidence of my true loves.

I’ve never seen the point of keeping passion to myself, although I was frequently advised to do so. “Oh, Barbara,” my mother would sigh,  “you wear your heart on your sleeve.”

She did not mean it as a compliment.

“In the moment of knowing  a love,” I once heard Ray Bradbury advise, “intensify it.” For me, sharing a passion is one way of adding intensity to it.

Passion is, after all, often contagious. Before I became friends with Georgia Makitalo, I knew nothing of the Romantic artists known as the Pre-Raphaelites. Before long, Georgia’s enthusiasm had me joining her on excursions to see their work in Toronto, Delaware and London.

I was only vaguely aware of architect Frank Lloyd Wright before my friend Jill McDermott began telling me of her passion for his work. We made a pilgrimage to his home in Spring Green, Wisconsin.

Eventually, she and I made a road trip which included explorations of his buildings in Oak Park, IL and Fallingwater, his masterpiece in Pennsylvania. When Jill moved near his home, Taliesin, in Spring Green, I attended her first outing as a tour guide there.

Having passionate friends has consistently enriched my life. And passion is an essential  ingredient if you want to create a business that is worthy of your time and energy.

Quite simply, building a business with passion as the cornerstone makes the process so much easier. It’s obvious that passion pulls you forward, keeps curiosity alive, connects you with kindred spirits.

It’s the X Factor that makes you magnetic.

Best of all, you get to wear your heart on your sleeve all the time.

So how do you display your passion? Feel free to leave a comment and share.



LIke most Americans, I grew up with frequent reminders that I was living in the land of opportunity. Sometimes my elders even mentioned that the free enterprise system was what set us apart from struggling parts of the world.


Ironically, nobody ever suggested that I could personally take advantage of all this opportunity by engaging in entreprise myself. Instead I was groomed to be a servant to someone else’s dream.


Since becoming entrepreneurial, I’ve learned that  while we might still be spreading the Land of Opportunity Story, the enterprising spirit is not limited to any geographic locale.I see evidence of that every day. For instance,  this morning I had a delightful Skype chat with a budding entrepreneur from Geneva, Switzerland. A few years ago, I taught a Making a Living Without a Job seminar in London that had participants from France, Sweden, Scotland, India and Germany.


Of course, succeeding at business isn’t limited to those countries, either, as Kiva.org has shown us. This impressive micro-lending program has connected us with businessowners in places most of us have never heard of, much less visited.


It appears that geography has almost nothing to do with success, but other factors such as desire, willingness and innovation do need to be present if we’re to build something of our own.


Yesterday I received an e-mail that reminded me of how universal the entrepreneurial spirit is. I was so thrilled by her story that I shared part of it on Facebook. Here’s the message in its entirety. 


 I have read your fantastic book Making a Living Without a Job and I would like to thank you so much for your help! It was one of the best books I have ever read on the subject of being my own boss. 


I come from Slovakia, a post communist country where I was brought up believing the state will take care of me. Going from one corporate job to another I was coming home late in the evening everyday not having time for anything else. In first ten years after school I believed this is the way  how it should be, working for somebody else, building a career. Only after some time I have realised I have destiny in my own hands and I don’t have to sit in front of the computer all day long in a job I hate. 


I have moved to the Netherlands with my partner and I was struggling to find a job. Now I  have ended up in a job which I truly  hate from all before. This job made me realise its time to finally do it, and after I have read your book I made a business plan and next month I am going to start my own portable career. 


I bought some other books but they were most like dry manuals probably written by some bankers ;~  They did not have that soul searching bit I was looking for. You have become my friend, my guide, my inspiration through your words, quotes, advices and exercises. You have made a difference in my thinking and my future path. 


 Andrea Zátoriová


I probably don’t have to tell you that this was my favorite message of the day.