Steven Kalas is a family counselor with a lively practice. He also plays in a band that’s been busy promoting their new CD, but I know Kalas for a different reason: he writes Human Matters, my favorite column in the Las Vegas Review Journal.

Like many people with multiple interests, he’s found ways to incorporate his diverse interests into satisfying ways of making a living.

Of all the ideas in Making a Living Without a Job, none has ever gotten a stronger response than the notion of incorporating eclectic interests into a unique livelihood.

Many people have felt stifled trying to fit themselves into the Single Occupation mold. There’s often a visible sense of relief when I suggest that it’s possible to create a business from diverse passions.

There’s a practical side to the MPC notion, as well: multiple income sources can level out cash flow. No business, no matter how large or small, is immune from the ups and downs of income.

To everything there is a season, including cash flow.

Here are a few more things to keep in mind when planning your potfolio of profit centers.

° They don’t have to all be the same size in order to be valid. Some profit centers will be occasional, some will peak and then decline, some will be major income sources.

° Under one umbrella or separate identities? If your profit centers are completely unrelated (eclectic rather than clustered), you will probably need to have individual identities for them.

You don’t want to confuse your market by clustering things that don’t go together.

 ° If it matters to you, it belongs in your portfolio. If your interests are diverse, you may decide that some ideas aren’t serious enough to turn into a profit center.

More likely, your apprehension comes from the old belief that if it’s fun and pleasurable, it  should remain a hobby.

Nobody tackles this issue better than Steven Pressfield who writes in The War of Art about turning pro. He says, “The conventional interpretation is that the amateur pursues his calling out of love, while the pro does it for money. Not the way I see it. In my view, the amateur does not love the game enough. If he did, he would not pursue it as a sideline, distinct from his ‘real’ vocation.”

° Differing  activities can boost creativity. In the name of efficiency, we’ve turned many of the workers of this world into robot-like machines who show up in the same place at the same time to do the same things day in and day out.

The capacity to think creatively is the first casualty of that system.

Creativity thrives on variety and setting up your profit centers to give you a wide range of experiences is ultimately as good for your imagination as it is for your bank account.

° Take inventory on a regular basis. Many profit centers require a lot of time and attention at their launch, but  become somewhat self-sufficient after that.

It makes sense to review the various projects you’re working on and align your attention with what each one needs.

Sometimes a profit center becomes a noisy child and takes you away from the others.

At other times, you’ll find you’ve grown bored with an idea and it’s time to consider a different future for it.

Every 90 days or so, do a review and make changes where necessary.

° Be wary of multitasking. One way to stay focused, is to assign different days of the week to different projects. When you’re throwing pots, you aren’t writing your pottery seminar, for instance.

° It’s evolution, not instant creation. Profit centers evolve over a long period of time. Ideas morph, new ones show up, old ones have served their time.

The important thing is to create a business that engages your talents and imagination, and pays you to do what you love doing most. As Paul Hawken reminds us, “The business you can succeed with is distinctly and utterly you and yours. It is unlike any other business in the world.”

You have your MPCs to thank for that!

My niece Gretchen is about to give birth to her first child. During her pregnancy, her husband Tony has been reading to their unborn baby. Currently, he’s working his way through Don Quixote.

In my family, this is considered normal.

Of all the things I’m thankful for, high on my list is that I was raised by readers. Since I was the eldest child and my father was faraway fighting a war, my mother read to me incessantly. Happily, I’m still being read to.

In the midst of her kindergarten year, Zoe called. When I answered the phone, I was greeted with an exuberant, “Grandma, I can read!”  Read she can and does. When I’m a guest in their house, I have the pleasure of Zoe reading to me every evening.

Of course, you can catch book passion any time in life. However, the sooner you get it, the more time you have to consume more titles.

Once caught, this fever doesn’t diminish. My sister Nancy, who has lived abroad her entire adult life, is relocating to Santa Barbara. She told me that the shipping company required that she count the books in her library.

“I discovered,” she said, with some amazement, “that I own 1,026 books.” Now I’m eager to do an inventory of my own since I have no idea how many books are in my library.

Since Nancy and I are both moving into new homes, finding the perfect spot for our books is a top priority. I keep thinking of Anna Quindlen’s observation, “I will be most happy if my children grow up to be the kind of people whose idea of decorating is to add more bookshelves.”

So while reading for pleasure is what often snares us to begin with, a desire to become our best selves often has us exploring new sections of the library and bookstore.

If you’re building a business, new titles and old can accelerate your success, connect you with ideas, resources and inspiration you’d never have encountered while walking down the street.

Here are five old favorites that are a pleasure to read and filled with useful insights for the Joyfully Jobless life:

Growing a Business by Paul Hawken

Making a Literary Life by Carolyn See

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Small is the New Big by Seth Godin

A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink

While some of these titles may be old friends already, I chose them because they all are worthy of more than one visit.

And if you aren’t a regular reader, make time every day to sample the creative thinkers, the life teachers, the pioneers who have wonderful things to teach us. If you don’t, you’ll be inflicting a needless handicap on yourself.

As the wise Jim Rohn used to say, “The only thing worse than not reading a book in the last 90 days, is not reading a book in the last 90 days and thinking it doesn’t matter. Skip a meal if you must, but don’t skip a book.”

It’s been ages since I’ve done a roundup of articles and resources that have been gathering in my files. Obviously, it’s time for a Weekend Excursion so you can explore them on your own.

There’s no real rhyme or reason or theme to this list of treasures except that they all delighted me in different ways.

Green and Growing

If you’re a subscriber to Winning Ways newsletter, you will recall that I recently did an issue exploring what gardeners have to teach entrepreneurs. Last week, I learned about an extraordinary English gardening writer named Beveley Nichols who chronicled his evolution as an amateur gardener.

After reading his book Merry Hall, I wanted more and came across a collection of his wit and wisdom called Rhapsody in Green. When I read the following passage, I realized he could just as well have been advising someone growing a business:

Gradually my impatient desire for immediate results, which is the besetting sin of all beginners, died down. I began to take a joy in the work for its own sake. Until you actually own a garden, you cannot know this joy.

Before and After

The other day, I received an e-mail from Connie Hozvicka sharing her excitement about taking the big step. Connie is a dynamic artist and her blog at Dirty Footprints Studio is always a visual feast.

However, her post I Want You to Hear Me took my breath away. Go read it for yourself and you’ll see why.

Expose Yourself

It’s no secret that I’m a raving fan of Seth Godin who constantly astonishes me with his regular blog writings. This one, called Expose Yourself, illustrates the importance of choosing your influences carefully.

Follow Your Fascination

I’ve been working on the next issue of Winning Ways and am writing about collectors and collecting. Everyone I’ve known who is a serious collector has a story to tell about how their passion for collecting perfume bottles or old coins or Disney memorabilia began with a mild interest and grew stronger as they explored farther.

So that was on my mind when I came across this short piece called  Innovation Begins with Fascination. Don’t miss the exercise at the end.

Loving a Writer

Steven  Pressfield has this advice for spouses, partners, and other caring folks who may be perplexed by their writer/entrepreneur/musician lovers. If you are feeling misunderstood, you may want to print out Loving a Writer to share with your beloved.

Just in Case

I’ve been raving everywhere about Sandy Dempsey’s amusing video about her adventures with Flat Barbara. You may have been within earshot.

However, if by some fluke this has passed you by, pay a visit now and see how Flat Barbara is learning about the Joyfully Jobless life. (Scroll down to see the video.)

It appears that career counselors have it all wrong. Instead of asking people what they most want to do, they should explore what they are most avoiding.

There’s plenty of evidence that what we ignore is often our most cherished dream. Our Resistance is a maddeningly accurate indicator of what would serve us best.

I watched a vivid reminder of this unfold when  The Today Show invited viewers to submit their ideas for a feature they did called Live For Today. The television program challenged their audience to tell them  the one thing they wanted to do before they die.

The response was huge. Obviously, this invitation awakened numerous dreams that had been put to sleep.

That wasn’t the most amazing thing about this project. What’s astonishing was how doable the submissions were. People weren’t asking to acquire their own islands; the ideas were more along the lines of “be an extra in a movie.”

Many viewers reported that they’d had their dream for years. So why have they avoided doing something about it?

In The War of Art , Steven Pressfield profoundly blows open the insidious ways in which Resistance keeps us stuck in place. When I learned that the author was doing an Internet radio interview, I tuned in.

Midway through the program I called in and asked him if there was such a thing as good Resistance. He laughed and said, “When the Resistance is really strong, you better fasten your seatbelt, because something  big is trying to get your attention.”

Entrepreneurship is a surefire awakener of this phenomenon. I suspect that nobody starts a business without having to confront their own Resistance. But it doesn’t stop there. At every step of the way, our Resistance comes out to meet us.

The closer we are to getting what we want, the stronger our Resistance becomes. I see proof of this with every seminar I do. There are always folks who wait until the very last minute to enroll.

I used to think that these were people who were mildly curious, but had no intention of actually doing anything. Now I think these malingerers may be the most likely to succeed—and they’re scared to death to find that out.

While we can’t eliminate Resistance, we can use it as a power tool to move us closer to our dreams. It takes some courage and maturity to do that, but every great achiever has already learned how to pay attention to their Resistance, acknowledge the truth it tries to obscure and then move past it.

Consider what Vincent Van Gogh had to say about it: “If you hear a voice within you saying, ‘You are not a painter,’ then by all means paint…and that voice will be silenced.”

What have you been avoiding? What adventure have you let Resistance abort? What if instead of seeing Resistance as a red light or a stop sign, we started treating it like what it really is: a signal to proceed?

You don’t even have to deny it’s there. In fact, you have to notice it and call it by name.

“Aha,” you might say, “there you are again, but you’ll not be having your way with me this time. I assume you’re here to alert me to something wonderful and I will continue on.”

What if you began to trust your Resistance? At the very least, your confidence would grow because with every defeat of Resistance we get stronger. Viewed from this angle, Resistance seems more benevolent than we may have thought—and far more useful.

So go ahead—be contrary. Listen to your Resistance and then do the opposite. If it tells you not to bother, be contrary and bother. If it tells you that scrubbing the toilet is more important than writing your next chapter, let the toilet go unscrubbed.

Challenge it. Laugh at it. And, most of all, trust what it’s telling you.

Every so often, I open my mailbox at the post office and have the surprise of a check I hadn’t known was coming. I always think of Bill Bryson’s observation, “Is there anything, apart from a really good chocolate cream pie and receiving a large unexpected check in the mail, to beat finding yourself at large in a foreign city on a fine spring evening?”

Happily, I also have had the pleasure of a fine chocolate cream pie and springtime evenings in foreign cities. Except for the chocolate cream pie, the unexpected checks and evenings in Venice were not part of my life before I became joyfully jobless.

In fact, the pre-entrepreneurial life I led bears little resemblance to the post-entrepreneurial life I’ve created. And I’m not the only one who is aware of the differences.

In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield writes, “The moment an artist turns pro is as epochal as the birth of his first child. With one stroke, everything changes. I can state absolutely that the term of my life can be divided into two parts: before turning pro, and after.”

Seth Godin echoes that in Small is the New Big. He says, “For the last six years, I’ve had exactly one employee. Me. This has changed my life in ways I hadn’t predicted. The biggest changes are:

“1. The kind of project that’s interesting is now very different. It doesn’t have to be strategic or scalable or profitable enough to feed an entire division. It just has to be interesting or fun or good for my audience.

“2. The idea of risk is different as well. I can write an e-book and launch it in some crazy way and just see what happens. Because my costs are nothing compared to those of a large organization, there are no boundaries in the way I approach something.”

Like Pressfield and Godin, I’ve been thinking about my own before and after story. For instance, in the before part of my life I didn’t know anyone who loved their work. Now I hardly know anyone who isn’t passionate about what they do.

In my previous life, I only dreamed about traveling. Today, I’ve filled up several passports.

Before I was self-employed, I had never been to New York, Seattle, Toronto, Victoria, the Lake District, Boston—or dozens of other wonderful places. Best of all, I not only have gotten to see the world, I’ve gotten paid to do so.

So, of course,  I identify completely with Peter Mayle’s observation: “I would rather live precariously in my own office than comfortably in someone else’s.” 

The After version of me knows something the Before version didn’t even suspect: Mayle just defined perfectly what security really means. I can’t imagine ever wanting to trade this life for the one that came before. 

This isn’t just change…it’s transformation.

I believe this calls for a celebration. How about a jamboree?

Leigh was a single mother with a stressful job and two young children. After attending Making a Living Without a Job, she knew that self-employment was the answer for her. She quit her job,  purchased a vending machine route and tripled its sales within two months. Once that was in order, she started her next profit center, buying and renovating houses. Not only did she find that she was spending more time with her kids, she also got them involved in her business as much as possible.

One day Leigh and her children went to visit a friend who had moved into a large new house. The friend took them on a room-by-room tour of the house proudly showing off her new home. When the tour ended, Leigh’s 5-year-old daughter looked at her  quizzically and said, “Mom, where’s the office?”

Leigh’s daughter is not the only one who assumes that a home should have an office. Glossy  magazines now feature layouts of slick home offices. Builders of upscale homes are including an office in their plans. Trendspotters tell us that this work-at-home lifestyle is not a passing fad.

Whether your work space is a studio, a rented office or a card table set up in a corner of your bedroom, efficiency is only one of the requirements. Your working space needs to be inviting, a place where you function easily surrounded by  things you love and find inspiring.

My friend Karyn laughs about her first home office that was a mirror image of the corporate workspace she had abandoned. No wonder she had a hard time going there and getting her business launched. Today her office reflects her witty personality—including the life-sized Elvis Presley cutout that guards the entrance.

It’s obvious that most of us do not duplicate the corporate cubicle look when we set out to design our personal working space. Gray and gloomy may be an appropriate backdrop for corporate workers, but home workers like to spice things up a bit. Color, personal objects, music, incense, fountains, and toys are apt to be part of the new entrepreneur’s decorating style. (If you’d like to add a really special touch to your office, checkout the decorative possibilities at

Chances are you’re reading this on your office computer. So take a look around. Does your office reflect your power and vision, or does it resemble a junk room with a desk? Are there objects, pictures and words that lift your soul? Is it easy to find things or do you waste precious time going through piles of papers? 

As Steven Pressfield points out, a professional seeks order. “He eliminates chaos from his world in order to banish it from his mind. He wants the carpet vacuumed and the threshold swept, so the Muse may enter and not soil her gown.”

Does entering your office make you smile? It should, you know. This is your laboratory, your creation center, your idea place. So listen to Vivaldi, light some incense, get a fountain, paint the walls terra cotta, hang a poster from your favorite movie, or decorate with whatever brings you joy. It’s a one-of-a-kind creation and you’re the beneficiary. Make it both beautiful and useful.


There are dozens of things to love about being joyfully jobless, but at the top of my list are the fascinating people that I would never have met had I stayed put in my old life.


For many years, relationships were something ordained by blood or geography. Even as I became an adult and expanded my world a bit, I mostly knew people who worked with me or attended the same church. Of course, I liked some more than others, but I had no idea that there were so many fantastic people in the world and that knowing them would enrich my life. 


That discovery didn’t happen until I became self-employed.


I thought about this blessing of people on a recent morning when I sat down to check my messages. Besides all sorts of intriguing posts from my Twitter friends (many of whom I’ve never met in person), there were several lovely e-mails from new readers of Making a Living Without a Job.


Then there was a message that said, “Hi Babs! Where are *your videos?* I miss seeing you speak. You’re smart and you’re fun.” That nudge came from Barbara Sher and it made me giggle. Then there was a delightfully excited message from Valerie Young who was about to spend the day with Sir Richard Branson. I was almost as excited for her as she was.


These pleasant encounters got me thinking about an important-—but seldom talked about—aspect of moving ahead in life.: the cast of characters in our life is going to change when we do. And that can be terrifying.


Consider what Steven Pressfield says about that very thing in The War of Art. “We know that if we embrace our ideals we must prove worthy of them. And that scares the hell out of us. What will become of us? We will lose our family and friends who will no longer recognize us. We will wind up alone, in the cold void of starry space, with nothing and no one to hold onto.


“Of course, this is exactly what happens. But here’s the trick. We wind up in space, but not alone. Instead we are tapped into an unquenchable, undepletable, inexhaustible source of wisdom, consciousness, companionship. Yeah, we lose friends, but we find friends, too, in places we never thought to look. And they’re better friends, truer friends. And we’re better and truer to them.”


Last year, Seth Godin shone a spotlight on our need for connection when he wrote Tribes and set up a Website to foster connections between kindred spirits. He explains, “Human beings can’t help it: we need to belong. One of the most powerful of our survival mechanisms is to be part of a tribe, to contribute to (and take from) a group of like-minded people…Tribes make our lives better.”


Several years ago, I began to notice that when I led a two or three day event, people would start saying, “I finally found my tribe.” There always sounded a bit giddy at having made this discovery because they knew it was going to make their own life better.


If you aren’t actively looking for your tribe, you’re missing one of the great bonuses of the joyfully jobless life—rich relationships that are the result of choice, not chance.




You can connect with the Joyfully Jobless tribe at our upcoming Follow Through Camp on November 6 & 7 in Chaska, MN. Even though that’s coming up fast, we still have a spot left. Is it yours?

At the end of every year, I pick my favorite books from the ones I’ve read in the previous twelve months. When I came upon Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art a few years ago, I declared it one of my favorite books of the decade. It still is.

Whether you’ve discovered the book for yourself already or not, I am delighted to share Steven Pressfield’s answers to my questions. Here they are.


 My  enthusiasm for The War of Art comes from having a whole new understanding of the nature and role of resistance. How did you begin to recognize resistance and deal with it in your own life?

 I first tried to write a novel when I was 24, quit my job, etc.  (I told this story in The War of Art, but I’ll tell it again here.)  I got 99% of the way  through and I totally fell apart.  Couldn’t finish it.  Bottom line: divorce, heartbreak, causing terrible pain to people I love, years of wandering, working weird jobs, etc.  It was very clear to me that SOMETHING was screwing me up; I just didn’t have a name for it.

Finally, finally, finally I realized that all my troubles stemmed from that one failure of courage (and a million other such failures thereafter.)  I had to go back and do it over.  Not that same book but another one.   Along the way, I came to call that negative force in my mind “Resistance.”  That’s what it felt like to me.

It seems to me that nurturing inspiration is a powerful way of dealing with resistance. How do you feed inspiration and what inspires you personally?

 I’ve never thought about it that way, Barbara.  That’s pretty cool.  You may be onto something there!  The positive force that actually produces Resistance as “an equal and opposite reaction” is an Idea—for a book, a movie, a business, whatever.  That’s the baby  that wants to be born.  So the more you can feed that embryo, the stronger will be the mother-love and the urge to be born.

I realize, thinking about it (thanks to your question) that I really do cultivate my ideas, when I’m lucky enough to get them.  I raise them in secret, inside myself, like little hothouse tomatoes.

One thing: I don’t talk about them.  I don’t dilute their force by blabbing to everybody.  The pregnant mom metaphor is pretty good.  You gotta protect that “baby bump”  and give it time to grow.  Once it’s really growing, it produces an irresistible power to be born.  Even Resistance is no match for it then.

How can a new writer or entrepreneur or musician put fear of rejection into perspective?

Great question, Barbara.  I’m not so sure it’s all about fear of rejection.  Fear of success may be the bigger issue.  The bottom line for me (and I suspect for many other writers, artists and entrepreneurs) is that the pain of NOT taking that chance is greater than the pain of taking it.  It’s like you have a choice of two forms of difficulty—the difficulty of facing your fears and doing the work you were born to do …  and the difficulty of losing your mind, your wife and family, etc.  I know that sounds pretty hard-core but I think it’s true.

People seem to flock to how-to formulas. Do you think it’s possible to live a creative life if we don’t leave room for mystery?

How-to formulas help, but they can also be a particularly insidious form of Resistance.  We spend all our time studying “how,” and forget to actually “do.”

There’s a great quote from Plato, which I can’t remember even close to verbatim.  He puts it in the mouth of Socrates, who says something like, “The skilled poet is no match for the divinely inspired fool.”  In other words, it does all come down to the mystery, which is really not so mysterious at all—it’s just hearing the voice in your head or seeing the vision in your heart and believing it in enough that you find the courage to actually manifest that voice or that vision in the real world.



Steven Pressfield’s blog post this week was called Just Show Up and talked about the importance of putting yourself in the arenas where you want to succeed. So simple. So easy to resist. 


In my early days of studying success, I discovered that the folks who made the effort, who spent the time and money to attend seminars and gatherings of other entrepreneurs invariably succeeded more quickly than those who avoided such events.


Part of their success could be explained as gathering ideas and information that was helpful to their business. But that was only part. Being in the presence of other business builders also made a huge impact. 


One of the most difficult things I ever do is to convince new (and not so new) entrepreneurs to include in their plans regular attendance at events where they’ll connect with other joyfully jobless folks. How do you know when it’s time to show up? Here are some signs:



You’ve reached all of your goals

You’ve reached none of your goals

You’re in need of some fresh ideas

You’d like to get a new perspective 

Your kids think you’re a nerd and you suspect they’re right

You can’t remember the last time you felt really excited about something

You have more ideas than you know what to do with

You’re scared to death of your real dreams

You’re ready for a new adventure

You remember that a change of scenery always refreshes you

You aren’t making the kind of progress that you’d like

Nobody ever asks you what’s new

You need time to figure out your next step

You want to be bolder

Resistance is stronger than inspiration

You’re ready to have more fun with your business

You think boring and ordinary are the scariest words in the English language

You want to expand your entrepreneurial network

You believe your dreams are a good investment

Your creative spirit needs a jumpstart

You’re tired of trying to fit someone else’s idea of who you should be

It sounds like fun


Or as Steven Pressfield says, “There’s tremendous power in putting your ass where your heart wants to be.”




You can participate in events large or small. If you’d like to be part of a tiny group that’s committed to helping you gain momentum and forward movement, consider joining Alice Barry and me for Follow Through Camp coming up on November 6 & 7 in Chaska, MN. If you want to be along for this amazing event, don’t dither. From the moment I announced this next session, orders started arriving.