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.


“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.




Author Robert G. Allen wrote, “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.”

As a person who has traveled across the country to attend a seminar and even further to conduct one, I can’t imagine why everyone hasn’t discovered the joy of participating in events that have the power to change our lives for the better.

People who can’t be bothered never learn this little secret: getting yourself to a seminar may, in fact, be more important than what happens in the seminar.

When you are willing to spend your time and money to expose yourself to new ideas, new techniques for doing things, and new people who can add their enthusiasm to your dreams, you’re also sending a strong message to your subconscious mind about your own worth.

Conversely, not investing this way also sends a strong message. As Sondra Ray says, “When you say, ‘I don’t have enough money to go to that self-improvement seminar or buy that book, it’s almost like saying, ‘I am not a good investment.’ The best way to make money is to invest in yourself.”

What would you like to be better at? Speaking German? Creative marketing? Managing your time? Boosting your emotional intelligence? 

You can accelerate your progress at anything by putting yourself in a roomful of people who are on a similar quest.

Best of all, an investment in yourself is the one thing that no one can ever take from you. No matter what is happening in the economy or where interest rates are headed, the investment you make in your personal growth—and continue to make— never stops paying dividends.

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

With all the resources—the books, the seminars, the insights of  others—available, it makes no sense to skip the critical preparation stage. 

Because, in the the final analysis, winning isn’t about what you have or even what you do. Winning is about becoming the person you were meant to become no matter how long and difficult that journey may be.

If you truly want to join the winner’s circle, take advantage of every  resource you can find. You never know what might happen if you do.

You could be sitting in a roomful of strangers and suddenly meet yourself.

Yesterday I mentioned that “How you gonna do that?” is a question that stops the idea flow. I’ve always been annoyed by cynical queries, but  it wasn’t until I read The One Minute Millionaire by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen that I really began to understand why questions matter so much. They write, “The size of your question determines the size of your answer. Few people ever ask  earning, inventing, innovating, generating and creating questions.” 

Whether you’re asking a question of yourself or helping someone else find a creative solution, what kind of question can help you find better answers? You can start with something as simple as, “What’s the best use of my time right now?” that helps you focus on a positive outcome. 

There’s another question starter that seems to be the companion of the creative thinker. Two little words can open up the imagination: What If? What if people could carry their favorite music around in a tiny device? What if we build a Website where friends could connect? What if we put solar panels on the roof of a car?

Or try asking yourself, “What can I do to…”

grow myself?

create abundance?

serve others?

find kindred spirits?

build my dreams?

have more adventure?

Don’t dismiss too quickly questions that challenge you and don’t stop asking because you don’t get an answer a minute after the question crosses your mind.

If I’m stuck or bored, there’s one question that I’ve found guarantees I’ll swing into action. That question, which seems ridiculously simple, is “How can I make things better right now?” As soon as I ask it, I start looking right in front of me for the answer. Sometimes the answer is a bit mundane (i.e. fold the laundry or stop being so grumpy), but move often it leads to an awareness of larger improvement that can be started immediately. 

Most certainly, notice whether you’re asking yourself questions that welcome or discourage creative thoughts. Once you become aware of the power of questions, you’ll start asking for the answers that you truly want.

$100 Hour: Trendspotter Faith Popcorn suggested that time is the hot commodity and great opportunity lies in creating a business designed to save people time. Personal concierge services have become increasingly popular, as have more specialized things. One of my favorites is a service that downloads music on busy folks’ iPods.

Explore More: Several years ago, I met  Maureen Thomson when she showed up in Making a Living Without a Job in Denver. Since then, she’s come to seminars in Boston and Las Vegas.  I’ve had the fun of watching her take a little idea of being a wedding officiant and build it into an enchanting business called Memorable Ceremonies. Maureen also writes a column for theNorth Denver News and her recent piece called Simple Pleasures brought more mail than anything she’d written. Take a look and I think you’ll see why. It’s a terrific piece about her own joyfully jobless journey and how she’s moved ahead. 

Outlandish ideas move the world ahead far more powerfully than logical steps. An outrageous imagination is ultimately the most practical contribution. ~ Alan Cohen