Marnie loves the symphony, but with a business in its infancy season tickets are a bit out of reach. That didn’t stop her from enjoying the full spectrum of concerts last year, however. She became an usher at Symphony Hall and heard every note. In addition, she was paid a tiny amount of money for her services so she was following a favorite rule of the entrepreneur’s unwritten code: find ways to get paid to do what you want to do. 


Thinking this way is new to Marnie. She says, “Before I had my own business, I just assumed  I could only do things that I had the money for. Now I look for ways to make things happen in the most creative possible way. Sometimes that involves no money at all.”


There’s a silly scene in Wayne’s World which finds Wayne and Garth lying on the hood of their car at the end of an airport runway reveling in the wake caused by planes taking off. Mike Myers says this scene was inspired by a favorite pastime in his family called No Money Fun. The idea was to come up with entertaining activities that didn’t cost a cent. When I heard Myers tell the story, I thought, “No wonder he’s so creative.” No Money Fun is a terrific way to activate the imagination and it comes with the built-in reward of all that free fun.


There are two ways to bring more No Money Fun into your life. You can take advantage of all the free things around you such as strolling through a beautiful public garden or museum. The other option is to use alternative currencies. No, I’m not suggesting you take up counterfeiting. I am, however, challenging you to become as creative as possible about finding alternative routes to have and do more of what you want.


There are a few cautions in doing this. I’m not talking about becoming a certified cheapskate. In fact, you’ll notice that the wealthy are masterful at using alternative currencies in place of cash. Cheapskates, on the other hand, pride themselves on deprivation. The other caution is that you only use alternative currencies to acquire things you actually want or need.


So how can you cultivate alternative currencies? Begin by refusing to ever, ever use lack of money as an excuse. You can only master this if you understand that this is a practical exercise in creative thinking and living. Start looking for options—and open yourself to offbeat ideas.


Let’s say you want to live in a gorgeous home. Most people think that their options include buying or renting. Don’t tell that to Joe. When he was in his early twenties, he found himself drawn to the ocean and wanted to live as close to it as possible. He got the idea to offer his services as a yacht sitter and almost immediately found himself living in luxury. 


Or perhaps more travel is on your Dream List. Jan is a bookworm who published a newsletter for cozy mystery lovers. Next to books, her other great passion is England. For several years, she organized and led Cozy Crimes, Cream Teas and Books, Books, Books tours to the UK creating a free trip for herself and a delightful experience for other mystery lovers.


When considering creating innovative ways to get more of what you want, it’s essential that you design mutually beneficial arrangements. For instance, Joe didn’t just get a great place to live, he provided security for the yacht owner. 


There’s an even bigger benefit in all of this, one with long-term rewards. Mastering No Money Fun is first and foremost an exercise in learning that there’s never just one way of accomplishing things. It can banish uninspired thinking and open up a new world of creative possibility. Best of all, you’ll be living your life from a position of abundance and imagination. What business wouldn’t be better with that kind of thinking running it?      


Nearly all of us who arrived on this planet after World War II grew up in the Culture of the Single Lifetime Career. From early on, we were encouraged to pick a path and follow it. Once we had made the choice, we discovered that getting off that path was not only difficult—it incurred scorn and criticism from others. Besides the enormous discontent that such thinking has produced, it’s also crippled our adventurous spirits.

R. Buckminster Fuller was one of the greatest thinkers of the past century and someone who refused to give in to such singular notions. In his fascinating book, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, he writes, “Society assumes that specialization is natural, inevitable and desirable. Yet in observing a little child, we find it is interested in everything and spontaneously apprehends, comprehends and coordinates an ever-expanding inventory of experiences. If the total scheme of nature required man to be a specialist she would have made him so by having him born with one eye with a microscope attached to it.”

Isn’t that a great image? Think about an older person that you know, one you would describe as youthful. What’s the distinguishing characteristic of this lively elder? I’m guessing that curiosity about anything and everything is what stands out.

It’s the same quality that makes for successful entrepreneurship. We need to be curious about our own industry, of course, but we need to be equally curious about things that seem to have no direct bearing on what we’re up to. After all, the world is full of people who are crazy about things we know nothing about  and discovering what they love can make our lives richer.

One Thanksgiving, I had dinner with a group of relatives I didn’t know very well. The sister of the hostess sat next to me at dinner and the moment she sat down announced, “I want to have my own business.” I asked her if she knew what she wanted to do and she lit right up. “I love doing beadwork. I come home from my job and go right to my project room and bead all night,” she told me. The moment dinner was over, she whipped out her beads and spent the afternoon making jewelry. It was fascinating to watch her work and her joy was visible.

A few minutes later, my cousin Ray came over to visit with me. Ray has been a farmer his entire life raising corn and soybeans. Four years earlier, he turned several acres of his farm into vineyards—an unusual crop in Minnesota. In his second year of production, his crop outperformed all expectations. He was so excited about this new aspect of his business and had a list of ideas for building it. I couldn’t wait to return in the summer to see his vines.

Even though I may never take up beading or growing grapes myself, being with these passionate folks opened a creative valve and I spent my long drive home stopping to write down ideas for my own business.

Exploring is more than just amusement. There’s no doubt in my mind that you, I and our fellow humans are in possession of Renaissance souls just waiting to be discovered. It’s only by following our hunches, by trying a wide range of things, by listening to others share their passions and by moving outside the familiar that we can unwrap the gifts that are waiting our recognition.

You don’t have to go halfway around the world in order to be a genuine explorer. You just need to open your heart and mind to testing and tasting the unfamiliar. And when you catch yourself thinking or saying, “I would never…” reverse that thought and give what you’d never do a try— providing it’s not immoral. You might discover that you adore traveling alone or giving a speech. Or you might discover that once was enough. Either way, you’ll have gained a new insight into what brings you the greatest joy.

“You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it,” said J. Krishnamurti. “That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing, and dance, and write poems, and suffer, and understand, for all that is life.”

Anytime’s a good time to feed your entrepreneurial spirit, of course. But if your weekend means you have a little extra time, here are some armchair travels for the joyfully jobless.

I admit I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to business cards so when Sara Young handed me hers at the end of my San Antonio workshops, I took notice. “Where did you find this wonderful thing?” I asked. To my surprise, she told me hers had come from I couldn’t wait to check it out for myself and was dazzled by the selection. If your business involves earth-moving equipment, you won’t find anything here, but if you want something funky and slightly different, this could be a treasure chest for you.

Before you head over to Etsy, check out this article that Nicole Relyea sent me on Creative Business Cards. You’ll be astonished by the original creations in this piece. You’ll see cards that look like theater tickets, one made from a household object, another that looks like a razor blade. No kidding.

Wish you were wildly creative? That’s what Ken Robert thought, too, but decided to settle for mildly creative. He wrote a terrific piece about his discovery and I bet you’ll find it useful, too. Check out How to be Mildly Creative.

Your Next Quest is the name of Michele Meagher’s business which helps women design the next chapter of their lives. Her February Quest Maker interview is with Margaret Winter, my baby sister, and it’s a great story of making the transition from employee to entrepreneur. Go take a look.

In 1999, I took an 8 month sabbatical and spent part of the time traveling solo in Europe. Along the way, I met an artist in London who urged me to contact Alternatives, a long-running program that offers workshops and talks on all aspects of spiritual and personal growth. Since I was avoiding anything resembling business at that time, I listened to her recommendation and promptly forgot about it. Fortunately, Alternatives came back on my radar screen and I became a huge fan of their work. Needless to say, I’m thrilled to be going back to London the end of this month where I’ll be doing two all-day workshops with them. On March 29 there’s Making a Living Without a Job and the following Saturday, April 4, What Would an Entrepreneur Do? If you or an entrepreneurial friend are in that part of the world, I’d love to see you there. 

Whether you’re in the UK or not, you can listen to the lively podcast interview I just did with Alternative’s director Steve Nobel about learning to think like an entrepreneur.

Several days ago, I had to take my car in for some minor repairs. I grabbed a brand new book I’d ordered to take along for company while I waited. To my amazement, I found myself hoping the mechanic wouldn’t finish too soon. I could hardly put the book down. What was so enchanting that I didn’t want to leave the smelly brake shop?

Rubies in the Orchard by Lynda Resnick, that’s what. Resnick is a) a marketing genius and b) a fabulous storyteller. You may not know her name, but I’m guessing you have heard about some of the companies she and her husband have grown: Franklin Mint, Telaflora, POM Wonderful and FIJI Water. Besides having a fascinating personal story, Resnick’s book is loaded with marketing tips she learned along the way. Highly recommended.

Finally, join me for a teleclass or two. On Thursday, March 19, we’ll be exploring A Beginner’s Guide to the Seminar Business. If you’ve been thinking about adding seminars and workshops to your portfolio, but don’t know how to get started, this one’s for you. If you’re itching to travel and looking for ways to turn seeing the world into a profit center then How to Support Your Wanderlust will give you dozens of ideas for becoming an entrepreneurial gypsy. That one’s coming up on Monday, March 23. And if you can’t join me in person, you can still register and receive the audio download.

When setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from those who have never left home. ~ Rumi

While stories of woe filled the news, the entrepreneurial spirit was quietly marching on in all sorts of ways and places. I kept thinking of the Louis Vuitton ad that asks, “Does the person create the journey or does the journey create the person?” Here are some creative/inspiring/useful things I came across on my journey this week.

Who’s your ideal customer? Although I’ve been talking about getting a clear picture of your ideal customer in my seminars, I have never seen a better example of that then the one SHIFT-IT coach Christina Merkley shared on her blog. Take a look and then do your own version. 

Practical problem-solving.  Since Springwise mentioned this last week, I can’t stop thinking about this brilliant idea of building a corps of thrifty British grandmothers to share money-saving tips. That’s what Oxfam is doing with it’s Green Granny program. 

The service aims not only to help UK consumers save cash, but also to encourage recycling and help tackle climate change, which it notes has a particularly hard impact on the world’s poorest populations. You can find them on their own YouTube channel and at “Ask a Granny” on Oxfam’s Website. Sheer genius. 

Your business on YouTube? Yesterday I had a link to the spiffy video Linda Gannon did about her Rhinestone Gypsy handbags business. After I saw it, I asked her how it had been produced. She assures me that it’s extremely easy to do yourself thanks to OneTrueMedia.

Ideas for Freelance Writers. Susan Johnston, writing at Freelance Switch, has a list of 50 ways for freelancers to find article ideas. Lots of great suggestions.  

Need ideas for an encore career? Make friends with Jane Kirsch at Life and Work by Design. Her blog is full of great business ideas, including a woman’s enterprise that’s just smashing.

Seth scores again. Grave New World, Seth Godin’s blogpost this week, begins with this attention-getter: “Creativity loves a problem, but it hates a lousy audience.” It’s a brilliant and brief examination of how a negative attitude makes problem-solving impossible. 

Creativity boosting teleclasses. Alice Barry and I are wildly excited about our upcoming Better Than Brainstorming teleclass on Wednesday, February 18, 8-9:30 PM Eastern, 5-6:30 PM Pacific. Whether you have too few ideas or too many, this teleclass will help you operate from a creative perspective in all areas of your life. The following week, Outsmarting Resistance and I Hate Marketing make a return engagement. If you sign up for two or more, you get a discount off the already affordable price. And, of course, everyone gets an audiio download of any teleclass they’ve enrolled in.

Shoestring marketing in action. Julie Knudson sent me this story along with this note: “This story from one of my local news channels reminded me of your advice to be creative in marketing.  His approach is inexpensive and catchy.  Brilliant!  Lucy of Peanuts fame would be proud.”

Marketing is telling a story that sticks, that spreads and that changes the way people act. The story you tell is far more important than the way you tell it. ~ Seth Godin







Move around. Whenever I see Rodin’s statue of The Thinker, I’m certain that whatever he’s thinking about is not causing a creative rush. Sitting and thinking while hoping ideas will land in your lap is both grueling and ineffective. While our minds need to rest, daydreaming seldom spawns a new idea, although a new idea may erupt after a daydreaming session. Although different people find different experiences creatively stimulating, people in motion seem to generate ideas more easily.

A woman who had left her corporate job and started a small service business called to share her excitement about her new life. As she talked about her venture, she said, “I have so many ideas now. I never had ideas when I worked at my old job.”

“I have a theory about that,” I told her. “I think ideas are out there floating around in the air, but they can’t get through to corporate cubicles.”

I was only partly joking. In order to attract ideas, we need to engage in activities that stimulate our thinking. Sitting and trying hard, doesn’t seem to help at all. Next time we’ll look at a surefire way to generate a steady stream of good ideas.

$100 Hour: Eliminate an expense that doesn’t bring you joy. Every so often, find a way to save $100. Quit smoking. Or find a credit card company with a lower interest rate. Find a tax deduction you overlooked. Cancel the movie channel you never watch. Sometimes our spending becomes automatic and habitual. It’s healthy to reevaluate and change old spending habits from time to time.

Explore More: I’m not sure I’ve ever come up with a good idea while reading about creativity. However, following the suggestions for exercises and activities in such books often gets things rolling. A perennial favorite is How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci by Michael Gelb.

Innovation is what you get when you get up from behind your desk and go and see where ideas and people lead you. ~ Richard Branson

The handouts are printed, the hotel has our room set up order, the Mystere tickets are booked. Everything that needs to be ready for another great Compelling Storytelling is in place. Alice Barry and I aren’t the only ones getting more excited as the days grow closer. Here’s a comment participant Charla Swift made on an earlier blog posting:

I can feel my heart starting to boom in my chest. I’m so excited about Compelling Storytelling, meeting new people who  share similar passions, returning to Vegas, and most of all reconnecting  with the woman who inspires creativity.  Barbara, you amaze me at how  effortlessly you embrace new experiences. You give me courage to see every event (small or large…planned or unplanned) as a gift.  One to be held up to the light, shaken, turned upside down, and really examined  to make certain I don’t miss the opportunity which may be hidden inside. It is with relish I board the plane on Dec. 1 to embrace yet another opportunity to be in your delightful company!!

Before I get to work whipping up the cranberry sauce for my family’s Thanksgiving feast, I wanted to pass along some things I’ve gathered recently. This is a random collection of resources to explore for yourself.

Need a little stress relieving break? Hop over to and start playing. I’ve been telling everyone about this site since I learned about it. Be warned, however, that it can be addictive.

Remember what you got for Christmas last year? When I was visiting my daughter this week, we were talking about last year’s gifts and discovered we couldn’t remember what we’d received. The exception to that for me were the gifts that made a difference in somebody else’s life. My sister Becky made a donation to KIVA in my name, my daughter sponsored a Heifer llama in my name and I gave a Room to Read girl’s scholarship in her name. Maybe more stuff isn’t the most memorable gift after all.

Love a good success story? The October 13th issue of Newsweek had a special section on Women and Leadership. Several of the personal accounts were written about their entrepreneurial journey. You can read about Anna Sui’s Launching Her Label, Lisa Price’s On Becoming an Entrepreneur and Kimberly Pierce’s The  Power of Plot. All three are wonderfully inspiring. 

Fretting about the economy? Here’s what Seth Godin says entrepreneurs need to consider:

In times of financial stress and bailouts, the obvious solution (eliminate all the waste!) is not the one that works. In fact, in these times, we’re more likely than ever to be nervous about the status of the organization we’re working with.

I’d replace the expensive sponsorships and buildings with something more valuable, quicker to market and far more efficient: people. Real people, trustworthy people, honest people…people who take their time, look you in the eye, answer the phone and keep their promises. Not as easy to implement as writing a big check for the Super Bowl, but a lot more effective.

Life is enriched because of the commitment, passion and focus we give it, not the time we give it. ~ Jim Loehr