Every so often I am asked some variation of the question, “Do you ever worry about money?” The truthful answer to that is, “Not anymore,” but getting free of the Money Dragon had little to do with earning more money and everything to do with challenging my belief system about money. Allowing the Money Dragon to rule your world is a surefire invitation to sleepless nights and perpetual poverty. Banishing that monster starts by answering some important questions.

Do you live in a world of scarcity or surplus? Las Vegas legend Wayne Newton lives on a 52-acre ranch where he raises prize-winning Arabian horses. He’s also signed a multimillion-dollar deal to continue performing. Things weren’t always so rosy. In 1991, he faced bankruptcy. Throughout the ordeal, he continued to remind himself that he had created his wealth and could create it again if he lost it. Four years later he was back on firm financial ground.

Many people create scarcity by focusing on everything they don’t have. Author Sondra Ray points out that if you have any money anywhere — even a few coins — you actually have a surplus. How many people give themselves credit for that?

Thinking abundantly comes from a healthy self-image, knowing you have options, and an understanding of the role that attitude plays in creating wealth. Most of us arrive at that state through conscious work, eliminating thoughts and words of poverty. Books such as Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Creating Money can help us get rid of our own blocks and limiting thoughts.

What has goal setting got to do with it? Although more people are coming to understand the importance of the goal-setting process, many fail to make the connection between setting goals and generating cash flow. “I’d like to travel,” they sigh, without giving any thought to making it happen.

A great way to build your goal-setting muscle is to invent a small project — one that really excites you — and create the funding for it in a totally new way. Then work up to a slightly larger project. Not only will you realize more of your dreams, you’ll build a larger Option Bank for yourself as well.

Is it a debt or is it an investment? The media love to remind us that credit card spending is out of control. Accumulated debts can lead to shame and take a toll on self-esteem, of course.

An entrepreneur needs to understand the difference between debt and investment. As Jerry Gilles points out in his classic book Moneylove, debt can be a sign of trust and belief in your dreams. The trick here is to know when spending is actually an investment in your future and when it’s just frivolous. Which leads us to the next question.

Is it ego or is it essential? People who leave corporate life often take with them a spendthrift attitude. Doing things to create a successful image may seem like a good idea, but you need to consider whether it’s the seductive siren song of your ego urging you to buy that luxury car or spend thousands for a fabulous brochure or whether it’s essential to running your business. Yes, it’s wonderful to have great toys and a successful image. It’s even better if you’ve earned them.

If it’s essential, it’s an investment; if it’s ego, it’s just debt.

Is it anybody’s business? Several months ago, I was introduced to a man who is working frenetically to launch a business that’s based on a terrific product he’s designed. At our first meeting — and in every conversation since — he’s told me, “I’m absolutely broke.” In fact, he seems to be wearing his impoverished state as a badge of honor.

Your finances are really not appropriate public knowledge. Besides your spouse and your accountant, nobody needs to know the contents of your bank account. This is also true, incidentally, when you’ve hit the jackpot.

What have you given lately? Financial guru Suze Orman tells the story about reaching the lowest point in her life after having her business wiped out by an unscrupulous partner. Orman spent weeks at home licking her wounds, not knowing how she’d recover. One day she turned on public television during their fund drive. Despite having limited funds herself, she decided to make a contribution. She credits that simple act of giving with turning her life around. Today, Orman’s seminars are often featured during fund drive week on public television.

Money is energy and needs to flow out as well as in. Make your own acts of generosity count by giving money to causes that you truly care about. Selfless giving benefits the giver by adding to feelings of abundance. Money Dragons can’t exist in that environment.

There’s more where this came from.
Order Winning Ways now!

Community fairs and markets are becoming increasingly popular, providing a nice environment for many artisans to market their wares. To maximize the potential of these short-term venues, consider the following tips.

Look like you want to do business. Too many exhibiters at flea markets, craft shows, fairs and conventions seem to think the merchandise speaks for itself. Yes, it’s hard work to stand on your feet and greet passers-by, but doing so will let people know you’re proud of what you have to offer.

It’s astonishing how many sellers seem to have missed this basic part of marketing, preferring to curl up with a book or chat with other sellers while ignoring the people that they’re there to serve. Nobody wants to do business with someone who is wearing a “do not disturb” sign.

Go out of your way to greet people as they pass. Offer a sample or brochure, even a piece of candy. Make your stand a standout by your cheerfulness. Remember, too, that special events have a holiday spirit about them, so potential customers are usually more relaxed and friendly.

Good manners matter in dealing with a wide range of people. Some time ago, I was putting together a slide show about entrepreneurship and decided to take pictures of people selling at a flea market in California. One man offered to do a product demonstration for me. When I finished snapping my pictures, I thanked him and began walking away. He hurled an insult at me for not purchasing—despite the fact that his demonstration had drawn a crowd of spectators. That’s a classic case of turning opportunity into adversity. I’m sure his nasty attitude cost him sales.

Arouse curiosity. Marketing is easier when someone asks you about your business, so find a way to bring people to your booth with a question on their mind. It will provide a perfect opening for you to talk about what you have to offer. If you market antique tools, for instance, you could display an unusual implement and ask passers-by to guess what it is. Or have a contest to guess how many dog biscuits or jelly beans are in a container. Anything that makes people stop and take a closer look increases your odds of making a sale.

Depending on your product, you might create an ongoing event by working as you exhibit. One man who travels around the country selling his popular twig furniture always attracts people to his display by working on pieces and answering questions from the crowd about his technique.

Make your booth look different from the others. Look around any convention hall or flea market and you’ll notice that most displays are almost indistinguishable from one another. While many events have stringent rules about what you can and cannot do with your rented space, you still have plenty of leeway in using color or graphics or, even, costumes to help you stand out from the crowd. Find out how much creative opportunity is permitted and take advantage of it. Simple things like soft music or a catchy theme can make your display memorable.

Plant seeds for future business. We’ve all seen those conventioneers with their plastic bags stuffed full of brochures that get tossed away once they’re home. You, of course, want to be remembered, so adding another brochure for the trash makes no sense.

Get creative. Come up with something useful, like a how-to tip sheet of information aimed at the interests of your audience. If you’re selling dried floral wreaths, for instance, you could give visitors a tip sheet with ideas for keeping their wreaths and dried flowers fresh longer. They’ll appreciate the helpful hints and be more apt to hang on to your piece. Be sure, also, that anything you give away has your name and address on it so people can find you again if they want more of your product.

Whether selling through flea markets and special events is your main business or a sideline, keep attention-getting ideas in mind, and experiment until you find the ones that help you stand out. Not only will it attract new customers, but it will also help you become a familiar presence, bringing repeat customers back time and again because you made a good impression the first time.

There’s more where this came from.
Order Winning Ways now!

Sometimes it’s fun to learn something new just for the sake of learning; at other times, that learning leads to a new profit center. Wherever your learning path takes you, the important thing to remember is that learning is one of the best uses of time ever invented.

Where do you begin? Here are a few possibilities, many of them gleaned from The Independent Scholar’s Handbook by Ronald Gross.

Adult and continuing education. Available in almost every community except the smallest. Colleges and universities, as well as independent programs, public school systems and even libraries offer opportunities.

Networks. You can plug into one of the many invisible networks of people learning from one another on a regular basis via mail, phone, computers and newsletters.

Home improvement and craft stores. Places like Home Depot and Michael’s offer many free or inexpensive useful classes.

Conferences. A good place to meet others in your field and to take in the most up-to-date issues, ideas and technologies.

Learning groups. Convening your own group of co-learners is easier than you think.

Specialized bookstores. Whether you visit them in person or via catalog or correspondence, you will find not merely books but also people who share your interests. Don’t overlook the free author talks at full-service bookstores, either.

Television. Making creative choices in your television viewing and following up on what you’ve seen can add a new dimension to your learning life.

Libraries. Libraries are an entrepreneur’s best friend. Beyond offering books, they can serve learners in unexpected and useful ways that most people have not heard of — and such help is available for the asking. Make friends with a reference librarian. Many libraries also host speakers.

Churches. These are beehives of free or inexpensive learning options. Many New Thought churches offer wonderful workshops.

Magazines and newspapers. Get the most out of them; challenge yourself to read other points of view.

Teleclasses. This hot new learning system lets you gather new ideas and information from the comfort of your home.

Arts centers. The arts, an ideal way to learn and grow, are burgeoning nationwide, especially at a grassroots level.

Teaching. It will increase and extend your command of your subject, prompting you to take a fresh overview and forcing you to make sure your knowledge is up-to-date.

Audiocassettes and CDs. There are recordings that cover an entire range of subjects and you can listen at your own speed.

There’s more where this came from.
Order Winning Ways now!


Every business has times that are less busy than others. You can use this time to fret and worry that your entrepreneurial life has come to an end—or you can view it as a gift of time to do some of those things you’ve been telling yourself you’ll do when you have time. It just makes sense, it seems to me, to spend this time wisely and well. Here are a few possibilities.

Review and Revise Your Support System.  Is it time to hire a virtual assistant? Find a new tax accountant? Get expert advice? Unless you’re  willing to settle for the first person that comes along (and we all have had times when we’ve done that and regretted it later), this is a perfect  opportunity to clarify what you need from various service providers and make  certain that you’re getting it. If you are ready to add to your support  team, start interviewing potential sources of support.

Simplify, Simplify.  Been meaning to clean out your closets and pass things along to a charity shop? Get your office in shipshape? These are time-consuming tasks that aren’t very glamorous, but the psychic rewards are huge.

Get out some trash bags, put on some upbeat music and have at it. Get rid of the junk in the junk drawer. Weed your library. Update your filing system. Clean out your e-mailbox. It’s as liberating as losing twenty pounds.

Up Your Wellness. Use this extra time to walk or workout. Get a massage or facial. Read up on nutrition. Experiment with new healthier foods that  take time to prepare. Start meditating again. Plan a stress reduction program. Work these things into your schedule now and you’re more apt  to keep up with them when your busier times return.

Volunteer. Pass your gift of time along to someone else by helping out. If you live in a major metro area in the US and are needing ideas, go to www.VolunteerMatch.com which lists a wide variety of projects in search of  help. Why not volunteer at your kids’ school or at a local foodbank or shelter? You could even instigate a project of your own and get your friends involved.

Learn Something New. Build some brain cells with a class or seminar. Add to your computer skills, start learning a new language, take up salsa dancing. Use this time to saturate yourself in a new subject that catches your fancy.

Finish Things. Okay, not everyone has unfinished projects gathering dust, but chances are there’s an article you started writing or a home improvement project that got bogged down and abandoned because it didn’t seem urgent.  Imagine if all these loose ends were tied up before you plunge back into your business. It would feel great, wouldn’t it?

Take a Mini-Sabbatical. Got a stack of books you’ve been wanting to read? For years, Bill Gates has gone away on a reading retreat. You don’t have to be a billionaire to borrow this idea.

Been meaning to visit a historic site in a nearby state?  Need to refresh your creative spirit? Plan some purposeful time away. Borrow a friend’s cottage. Rent a motorhome. Don’t check your messages. A change of scenery may be just what you need to recharge your batteries and come up with some fresh insights.

Invest Sweat Equity in a Longterm Project. Been putting something off because it will require lots of hours to get to completion? This could be the time to start putting in those hours to get it launched.  Since most of us flourish when working on new projects, getting started has the added bonus of re-energizing other more familiar things.

Host an Idea Night Potluck. Invite four or five other positive self-bossers to share food and ideas with each other. Make sure that everyone gets equal time and that all ideas get a hearing. Idea Parties are more successful if you lay down the ground rule that arguing or discounting ideas is strictly forbidden. Guests go home with an inventory of potential  ideas which they can evaluate later.

Expand Your Visibility. Write a press release. Have a new photo taken. Start an ezine. Get yourself interviewed on a local radio show. Revamp your Web site. All this seed planting takes time and is easy to overlook when you’re busy. Why not do it now and see what doors might open?

Whenever you find yourself with a gift of time, think of ways to spend it wisely and creatively. It’s a worthwhile investment.

There’s more where this came from.
Order Winning Ways now!

If you quake at the thought of going out on your own and setting up shop, here are some fearbashers that can reroute you back to the road to success.

Do temporary work. March into a temporary help agency and get signed up for a short-term project. When you get an assignment, don’t think of this primarily as a way to earn money. Use this project to do some homework. No matter what business you are sent to work in, observe what goes on in a detached and analytical manner.

I’m willing to guess that you’ll quickly discover that all sorts of mistakes and mishaps (and even stupid decisions) will be part of every day. Now notice that despite this lack of perfection, the business manages to stay afloat. If you’re really lucky, you’ll get an assignment on a ship of fools who are oblivious to their own goofiness. You don’t have to be arrogant about it; just notice that every business has huge margins for error and it doesn’t bring them crashing to their knees. You can certainly do better than that, can’t you? So get out there and do it.

Observe a successful immigrant entrepreneur. A high percentage of people who come here from other parts of the world start their own businesses. Imagine how much harder that would be in a strange culture where you may not speak the language. Yet, many of these newcomers have such a desire to build something of their own, a desire that they couldn’t fulfill in their homeland, that the obstacles melt in the face of that determination. We look like wimps next to the hardworking and committed business owners who have been drawn to this land of opportunity. Let them inspire you.

Fail on purpose. Young children aren’t judgmental when it comes to trying new things. As we get older, many of us avoid any situation where we might not be brilliant. As a result, our world shrinks down to a short list of acceptable activities. That is not the road to personal growth. If you are terrified at the thought of failing, make a list of all the things that you are an utter klutz at doing. Then do something on your list as frequently as possible. At the very least, you may amuse your friends when you throw three gutter balls in a row. At the other end of this temporary humiliation is all the power you’ll gain by surviving a minor failure.

Develop a big roar. Next time you’re driving in your car, pretend you’re the Lion King. It worked in the Wizard of Oz and it will work for you, too. No kidding.

Make Nathan Lane your patron saint. A few years back, the wildly talented Lane starred in his own television series, which was downright awful. It was so terrible, in fact, that it only ran for a few painful episodes. Had it been even mildly successful, Lane would have continued taping the series instead of wowing audiences in The Producers, the biggest hit Broadway’s seen in years. If you try something that turns out badly, think of it as your own failed series — and celebrate the end of your contract.

Imagine your success. I am convinced that most people fail to go after their dreams or leave their comfort zones because they haven’t taken the time to really think about what rewards their ultimate success would bring them. When you are focused on the rewards that will inevitably come, setbacks and disappointments are easier to handle. Often, in truth, what looks like a setback is just a resetting of the course and may, in the long run, make the journey sweeter. That’s why it’s so important to be willing to defer short-lived gratification in order to have something grander in the future. But first you must envision it and sell yourself on that new and better life you foresee. After all, courage is not the absence of fear but, rather, the determination to act because the rewards are worth it.

There’s more where this came from.
Order Winning Ways now!

How do you become a household name? The simple answer: by relentlessly getting your message out, by generating publicity for yourself, by finding new ways to package information.

While this can be a time-consuming activity, having a monthly goal can keep you moving forward. Here are some basic activities to include:

Find a role model. Several are even better. They don’t have to be experts in your field, but they do have to be experts that you admire. Analyze how they’ve built their careers. It’s fascinating to see how others have done it — and it makes the process seem less daunting.

Have a current photograph taken — one you really like. People will remember you more easily if they have a face to connect with a name. When you have a picture you like, put it on your brochure, offer it to publications that are printing your articles, use it on flyers for seminars and events, and post it on your web site.

Compile a media mailing list. Keep adding to it as you find new sources that might be appropriate for you. Include local and national newspapers and magazines, names of reporters who write about your field, and radio and television interview programs that use experts as guests.

Speak up. Don’t overlook the publicity value of writing letters to the editor. If a magazine or newspaper does an article that covers your area of expertise, respond. Keep in mind that most people write letters only when they’re angry. You can use this same simple tool to praise or add another insight to an article. Make sure you also incorporate your qualifications for speaking up (e.g., “As a longtime resident of this community,” “As someone who has studied tai chi for two decades,” etc.).

Network. Let your peers and fellow professionals know you’re available to give talks, to participate in panel discussions and so forth.

Stay light. Keep a playful attitude about publicity — especially if you find yourself misquoted, relegated to the back page or mercilessly edited.

Recycle. Find ways to reuse your material. Turn a magazine article into a talk, submit a tip sheet to different markets, record a workshop and sell it as a CD set.

Resource. Get a copy of Marcia Yudkin’s 6 Steps to Free Publicity, which will give you the nuts-and-bolts information you need, along with firing up your enthusiasm and giving you new ideas for broadening your visibility.

There’s more where this came from.

Order Winning Ways now!

If you plan to package information, publish a customer newsletter or establish yourself as an expert by writing and/or speaking, you’ll find yourself collecting information all the time. After a while, however, it’s easy to depend on your regular sources and forget about the other options you have for finding useful material. To make your information gathering more effective, you’ll want to tap into as many sources as possible.

Before you do, however, set up a system for handling the material that you collect. A series of file folders labeled with the broad categories you’re most likely to use is the easiest system. When you see an item of interest in the newspaper or a magazine, you can clip it and file it quickly. Consider having a folder for random ideas, too, so when you think of a subject or anecdote that you’d like to use in the future, you can make note of it and slip it into its proper place. Since ideas are fleeting and can occur anytime and anyplace, you have to be prepared to preserve them on the spot.

Although you’ll be depending on personal experience for some of your writing and speaking, your work will be livelier and have more impact if you support what you have to say in a variety of ways. When it’s time to collect ideas and information, here are additional sources to consider:

Conduct a poll or design a questionnaire. Who would people most like to be seated next to on a long flight? The hands-down winner in one poll was Oprah Winfrey. We love to know what other people are thinking and doing. As a result, pollsters have created a lively business interviewing folks on every conceivable subject. You don’t need to be Gallup to conduct a poll of your own and publish the results.

Several years ago, Suzy Mallory instigated her annual poll to select the Most Watchable Men in America. Mallory, the founder of Manwatcher’s International, sent out a questionnaire to her members, who then voted on the men they found most attractive. Once the results were tabulated, Mallory would send the findings to newspapers and other major media outlets, generating a ton of publicity for her organization and, I assume, attracting more paid members.

If you publish a newsletter, you could follow Mallory’s lead and quiz your readers. Or you could spend a few hours at a mall or an airport polling anyone who will talk to you. Members of an affinity group also make fine candidates for polling.

Once you’ve got the results (and it doesn’t have to be highly scientific), write a press release or include your findings in some other work.

Interview interesting people. Experts in your field, your peers, and unusual folks in your neighborhood are all good subjects for interviews. The key to a successful interview is to come prepared with questions that you want to cover. Sometimes that means doing some preliminary research on your subject; at other times, you can ask your subject for suggestions about topics they want to discuss.

If your interview is taking place in person, ask your subject if it’s okay to tape record the conversation. You’ll have a more accurate account of your interview than if you rely on your notes or memory. If the person objects to being recorded, however, you must comply with their wishes. Some celebrities do not allow interviews to be recorded, but your local inventor will probably have no such objections.

Subscribe to related publications in your field. What are the trends in your industry? New discoveries? Who are the movers and shakers? Keeping up in the Information Age can be challenging, but the better informed you are, the more credible your work will be. Take time to glean information from trade journals, general publications and specialty newsletters. Online services are another vast source. As an expert, one of your jobs is to condense huge amounts of information and pass along the most pertinent to your audience.

Keep up with the latest books. Knowing the newest books in your field is, obviously, important. If you publish a newsletter or frequently write and review books in your field, you may find that book publishers are willing to send you review copies of their new titles. (Yes, for free.)

Here’s how it works. First of all, you must request titles that are new or nearly new — published within the last year. Make regular trips to your local bookseller to see what new titles have arrived. Another good source is Publishers Weekly magazine, which you can find at your library. When you come across a title that appeals to you, write to the promotion department of the publisher.

Not all requests will be granted, of course, but when you do review a book, send two copies of your piece to the publisher. You may even find an excerpt from your review included as a testimonial when the book comes out in paperback.

Do hardcore research. Your reference librarian can be a great asset to your research efforts. Take time to get to know what resources your local library has. Colleges and universities often let legitimate scholars use their facilities, even if they are not affiliated with the school.

Backing up your ideas with quotes, examples and stories from other experts in your field can add credibility and also demonstrate that you’ve done a thorough job of investigating your subject. Don’t skimp.

Sometimes your information gathering will take on the personality of a detective hunt. At other times, information will seem to drop into your lap. Either way, the search is endless and the more you have to draw on, the more interesting the search will be for both you and your audience.

There’s more where this came from.
Order Winning Ways now!

Write a one-paragraph biography of yourself such as you might see listed at the end of a seminar description. How can you describe yourself in a brief and interesting way?

Make a list of 10 tip sheet subjects. Write one of them. Now make a list of all the ways you can use this list. Pick one and go for it.

Find 5 potential affinity groups (see Gale’s Encyclopedia of Associations or ask your reference librarian for a similar publication). Send for information and study it. How might you be of service to them?

Challenge yourself to expand your mastery in one area. Join Toastmasters, for instance, if your speaking skills need to be polished, or take a class in marketing your articles. Keep learning more about your subject, too.

Make a list of 6 basic questions a radio or TV interviewer might ask you. Turn them into a sample interview in Q&A format and add to your press kit.

Consciously watch experts in action. What can you emulate? What would you avoid? If you can find an autobiography of an expert you admire, read it for clues about how they built their reputation.

Make an appointment with a portrait photographer and get a picture of yourself that you love. Use it on your brochures or marketing material and always offer it to a magazine that’s publishing your article or conference where you’ll be speaking.

Avoid the common mistake of thinking One Big Appearance will clinch your career. No, not even Oprah. Establishing yourself as an expert is an ongoing process that needs to be nurtured and built one step at a time.

Imagine you’ve been invited to speak at your local Rotary luncheon. Write an introduction to give the person who will be introducing you to the audience.

Print your favorite tip sheet on a bookmark to give as a handout. Don’t forget to include contact information for yourself.