During the years that I lived in Santa Barbara, I always looked forward to the annual writer’s conference. Although I never attended the entire program, I often showed up for the evening talks given by successful writers.

The highlight for me was opening night when the legendary Ray Bradbury was the conference kick-off speaker. He was so popular that he held that distinction for years.

Members of the audience were often treated to personal information such as the fact that he refused to travel by air and would only go places that could be reached by car or train.

It was also not well known outside of Los Angeles that Bradbury and his wife supported an amatuer theater. He said that when they sat down to plan their new year, he’d ask her, “Is this our year to lose money on plays?” Most often, the answer was, “Yes.”

Even after all this time I recall him telling us that the way he wrote was simple. “I sit down at my desk every morning and ask my characters, ‘Where do you want to go today?’ and then I just follow them around with my typewriter.”

One year, I arrived early enough to get a front row seat. Surprisingly, nobody sat down next to me until Bradbury arrived and grabbed the empty seat. When it came time for him to speak, he handed me his notebook and asked if I’d hold it for him. It was most difficult to resist the temptation to peek inside.

I fervently believe that anyone sincerely interested in personal achievement has an obligation to themselves and their dreams to pay attention to wise folks who are farther down the path.

Bradbury was such a person for me.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from him. I hope it’s obvious to you why I admired him so much. By the way, you don’t have to be a writer to learn from his wise words.

We are an audience for miracles.

Write a story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad ones in a row.

There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.

I’ve never worked a day in my life. The joy of writing has propelled me from day to day and year to year. I want you to envy me, my joy. Get out of here tonight and say: ‘Am I being joyful?’ And if you’ve got a writer’s block, you can cure it this evening by stopping whatever you’re writing and doing something else. You picked the wrong subject.

I want your loves to be multiple. I don’t want you to be a snob about anything. Anything you love, you do it. It’s got to be with a great sense of fun. Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun with it.

If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.

We’re on birth alert around here right now. No, I am not expecting another grandchild. The arriving baby belongs to my doula daughter’s client.

I had never heard of birthing doulas until a few years ago when a student in one of my Sacramento seminars told me that she was one.

According to Wikipedia, this is an ancient profession that originated in Greece. A doula is a nonmedical person who assists before, during and after childbirth. The continuous support during labor is associated with improved maternal and fetal health.

How Jennie became a doula still intrigues me.

One morning about seven years ago, she fetched me from the Burbank Airport. She could hardly wait to tell me her news.

For some time, Jennie had wanted to have a second child, but was not getting much enthusiasm from her partner.

Then the revelation came.

“I woke up this morning,” she told me, “and thought maybe I don’t need to have another baby. Maybe what I really want is to have babies in my life. My next thought was that I could become a midwife.”

Although it was early in the day, she had already called her local college, found out the requirements for becoming a midwife and was planning to enroll.

She spend the next year taking math and science classes which had not been part of her previous undergraduate program. After doing her catch-up work, she was scheduled for two years of nursing training followed by midwifery school.

It was a big commitment. Along the way, Jennie did have a second child and decided that doula training was a better fit for her. She also added Reiki training and hypnobirthing to her toolbox.

Although I’ve never seen her in action, I can imagine that her calm and confident demeanor is a huge asset to her clients. I have heard  that she’s glowing when she returns home from a birth.

Ray Bradbury advised, “In the moment of knowing a love, intensify it.”  New ideas are as fragile as babies. They also require incessant nurturing if they are going to grow into something magnificent.

That’s precisely what Jennie did.

It also happens to be the way we get our marching orders for the Joyfully Jobless life.

Once in awhile, an ad will pop up on television featuring small business and, of course, those ads always get my undivided attention. I especially have liked the one running recently from the US Postal Service featuring homebased businesses.

It begins with the mailman saying something like, “I have one employer. Actually, I have forty-six.” It goes on to show him picking up packages at the front doors of’ different houses. Nice.

There’s another one from LegalZoom that also gets my attention, but not quite for the same reason. This ad features a woman who has started a candy business using her mother’s special toffee recipe.

After we’ve heard all the reasons why LegalZoom can help a small business owner, she says, “I never thought I could make a living doing what I love.”

I’m pretty sure she’s being sincere—and that makes me sad. Why in the world should making a living in a creative, joyful way be rare?

Years ago, I heard the wonderful Ray Bradbury speak at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. He said something I’d never heard before, but have never forgotten.

“In the moment of knowing a love,” advised Bradbury, “intensify it.”

Can you imagine what would happen if all of us took that advice seriously? That when we uncovered a new love we would nurture, not ignore, it?  Or when we met a kindred spirit we’d make spending time with them a top priority?

Sometimes those loves—whether recent or longtime—became the basis of a business. Sometimes those loves are an enduring pastime. Either way, it’s up to us whether we intensify or weaken our affection.

Seems to me that one of the most effective ways of intensifying our loves is by sharing them. If you spend any time at all on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll notice that some people are using those venues to pass along discoveries that have enriched their lives.

What I know for sure is that when we follow the path recommended by Ray Bradbury, the rewards are enormous.

As Leslie Rector said, “I’ve learned that what you love magnifies your talent. You just have to have faith to invest in it.”

Writers talk about (and agonize over) a condition they call Writer’s Block. When this occurs, even experienced authors report feeling stuck, unable to work, to come up with anything to say.

Any creative endeavor can get bogged down when the creator feels blocked, of course. Psychologists  suggest that we can shorten our down time by doing something unrelated to the project that has us stymied.

In other words, we can solve the problem by walking away from the problem…for a  bit.

With that in mind, I polled several people and asked them, “What do you do when you need some fresh inspiration?”

Many of their replies included old favorites, tried and true nudges. Since I think it makes sense to have a portfolio of remedies for getting unstuck, take a look at the list and note any suggestions you aren’t currently using .

The next time you need a creative jolt, try one or more of these:

° Keep an inspiration journal filled with quotes, stories of people you find inspiring, pictures of beautiful places. Page through it when you need a lift.

I also keep a file labeled Make Me Laugh so I know where to go when I’m getting too serious.

° Go to a busy place like an airport or shopping center and watch people. Make up stories about the folks that pass by.

° Dance or exercise. Walking is a proven way to slow down and open up.

° Brainstorm with other people and pay attention to even the silliest ideas.

° Do needlework or make something with your hands. Give your mind a rest.

° Meditate. Stare out of a window. Browse in a bookstore. Be very quiet.

° Practice mindless motion—like vacuuming the rug. I am convinced this is the secret weapon of creative thinkers.

° Call a friend. Ask questions of someone who might have insights to share, but isn’t emotionally invested in your project. Listen.

° Read a book. Take a class. Bump into good ideas that have nothing to do with the project that has you stumped.

The key, this poll would suggest, is to shift gears.

The late Ray Bradbury would agree. He said, “There shouldn’t be any difficult moments. As soon as things get difficult, I turn on my heel and let the idea percolate on its own. I pretend to abandon it!

“It soon follows and comes to heel. You can’t push or pressure ideas. You can’t try, ever! You can only do. Doing is everything.”

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.



Shortly before I began teaching high school English, the International Paper Company began an advertising campaign with the theme Send Me a Man Who Reads.(Yes, it was back in more sexist times.)

Those ads became regulars on the bulletin boards in my classroom. The gist of the campaign, which ran for several years, was that readers made better employees.

Of course, readers make better entrepreneurs as well. That’s no big surprise to those of us who wandered into entrepreneurship thanks to our devotion to lifelong learning.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of struggling businessowners who don’t seem to realize that books are their friends—and business mentors. Equally shocking is the fact that many small business bloggers and book authors do not acknowledge the writing of others.

I once knew a frustrated entrepreneur who dismissed reading as a frivolous waste of time. Evenings on the road were more apt to be spent in the hotel bar than curled up with a book that could have inspired or informed him.

Instead he labored to figure everything out himself. He was making his journey far more difficult than it needed to be.

As Mark Twain once pointed out, “The person who can read and doesn’t has no advantage over the person who can’t read.”

Why does regular reading matter so much to building a business? Here are some of the gifts.

Catch the spirit “Stuff yourself full of stories,” advises Ray Bradbury. “I’ve never had a dry spell in my life because I feed myself well.”

He was talking to writers, of course, but the same thing holds true for entrepreneurs. Many inspiring stories have been written by and about those who have gone from employee to entrepreneur.

Such stories not only inspire for telling the tale of overcoming challenges; they also are vivid records of entrepreneurial thinking in action.

By the way, fictional entrepreneurs can also help readers build an entrepreneurial mindset.

Keep curiosity alive “What I already know is enough,” is not the mantra of the successful. Passion begets passion, of course, but keeping passion alive is closely tied to staying curious.

Whether it’s human behavior or building an online presence that catches your fancy, books can keep you stretching.

Acquire wisdom Nobody has to tell you that we are living in changing times. Those who ignore the changes, operate at a huge disadvantage. It may be more serious, however, than just being handicapped.

As Jim Trelease points out, “People who have stopped reading base their future decisions on what they used to know. If you don’t read much, you really don’t know much. You’re dangerous.”

By all means, don’t confine your reading to quick Internet searches.

Leisurely reading, thoughtful reading, challenging reading can connect you with innovative thinkers and eloquent storytellers. For a few dollars, they can move into your World Headquarters and help you build a better business—providing you spend time with them and put their good ideas to work.

As Jim Rohn so aptly reminded us, “The only thing worse than not reading a book in the last ninety days is not reading a book in the last ninety days and thinking it doesn’t matter.”