Several years ago, I confessed to the participants in my Making a Living Without a Job seminar that I was mysteriously drawn to learning to play poker. A man, who looked as if he might have sat at a few poker tables himself, shook his head and said, “You won’t be good at it.”

I laughed and said I knew exactly what he meant. After all, when I was in high school my mother had warned me by saying, “Your problem, Barbara, is that you wear your heart on your sleeve.”

It was not intended as a compliment, of course.

Although I decided not to become a professional poker player, I have created a business that is all about letting me wear my heart on my sleeve.

I’ve been publishing Winning Ways newsletter for 27 years without getting bored. I’m certain my enthusiasm has remained high  because it’s a perfect vehicle for sharing the treasures I uncover in my own Joyfully Jobless Journey.

In fact, a really good business is simply a way to repeatedly share what we love with others.

So it always startles me when I get a friend request on Facebook from someone I don’t know with no profile picture, no biographical information, or, even, a mention of where they live.

In ordinary life, we become friends with people who share our interests or make us laugh or enrich our lives in some way. Over the years, my closest friends have all introduced me to new pleasures and inspired new explorations of things I knew nothing about.

That couldn’t have happened if they kept these passions private.

One of the things I love most about social media is that it becomes another outlet for sharing passions. Anyone of my Facebook friends who is paying attention knows that I am passionate about books, treehouses, and Venice, in addition to being fervent about self-employment.

So this month, I’m going to write about some of those passions on this blog and want to suggest that you consider how things that seem to have nothing to do with your business can actually inspire it.

I love the way Robert Weider puts it: “Anyone can look for fashion in a boutique or history in a museum. The creative person looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport.”

And then they wear it on their sleeve.

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.

We have Charles Handy to thank for popularizing the idea of the portfolio career.

It was a concept Handy first adopted in his own life. He explains, “I created what I call ‘a portfolio life’, setting aside 100 days a year for making money, 100 days for writing, 50 days for what I consider good works, and 100 days for spending time with my wife.

“I mark these days out in my diary. When people phone and ask me to do something, I can then say, ‘I’m terribly sorry, that’s my day  with my wife’.

“It is a freeing way of life. A 100 days a year for me is enough for making money, there is no point in making more; and I find I do as much work in 100 days as I used to in a year.”

Of course, you know that I’m a big advocate of this approach. The single lifetime career is over. Thank goodness.

Your portfolio is as unique as your fingerprint. No two are ever exactly alike. Here are some things to keep in mind.

° Give new ideas a fighting chance.  Few of us know what our best ideas will ultimately be. A smart entrepreneur starts quickly, abandons slowly.

I like Phil Laut’s suggestion that you make a commitment to stick with each new project until it has earned at least $100. (There’s that magic number again.) Then evaluate whether or not to continue.

° Assemble different sizes. In my Making a Living Without a Job seminars I talk about the Mall Model.  Anyone who’s visited a large shopping mall knows that the popular building format has been one that includes a large anchor store on each corner with smaller shops of varying sizes in between.

Your portfolio can mirror that notion with several major income sources and a variety of smaller ones. Not only does this approach expand your skills, it also is a proven way to eliminate boredom.

Bonus idea: create your own Mall Model Vision Map and hang it in your world headquarters. Keep filling up the spaces between your anchor clients with as many smaller incomes sources as you can handle.

° Keep challenging your imagination. Alice Barry introduced me to a fun website that had my mind racing as I thought of new possibilities.  In fact, I’ve come to think of it as a gym for your entrepreneurial spirit.

If you haven’t participated, I urge you to check out, a site that bills itself as  the place for people to share things they’re willing to do for $5. Pay Fiverr a visit and challenge yourself to create a $5 offer. Warning: this is also the perfect place to do a bit of impulse shopping.

° Trap ideas as they arrive. “I’ll never forget that idea is the Devil’s whisper,” warned Richard Bach. I suspect you’ve heard the whisper, as have I.

One of the easiest ways to avoid losing a good idea is to have a physical place to store them as they come. It could be a box that holds articles and lists of interesting possibilities or a computer file.

Building an inventory of options not only makes financial sense, it also gives you a place to search on the mornings you get up and aren’t sure how you want to spend your day.

° Play the Ubiquity Game. While some folks are busy ranting about social media as a big waste of time, others are quietly tweeting and friending their way to bigger and better businesses.

I’ll say it again: we all like to do business with people we know and like. If people don’t know you, they can’t like you.

Show up. Participate. Connect. Get busy building relationships with kindred spirits near and far.

Challenge yourself to find new and different ways to get the word out about who you are and what you have to offer.

° Pay attention to yearly cycles. Some of your profit centers will operate all year long, but others will have a season when they’re most robust. Figuring out those cycles makes planning your time more effective.

For example, I discovered that adult ed classes did really well in southern cities in July and August, but slowed to a crawl in places like Minnesota where summertime was devoted to outdoor activities. Once I saw the pattern, I scheduled my seminars to take advantage of those cycles.

° Take inventory regularly.  Review your offerings and eliminate those you’ve out-grown or become bored with to create space for new ideas.

After all, running a portfolio business is about creating something that reflects who you are now—not who you were then. And remember this bit of advice from Charles Handy:  “If somebody asks what you do, and you can reply in one sentence, you’re a failure. You should need half an hour.”