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. A few years ago, 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 enthusiastic folks who were eager to bring their ideas to life was not only fun, their creative energy was downright contagious. I spent my long drive home stopping to write down ideas for my own business.

British author C.S. Lewis obviously understood the Idea Virus. He said, “Good things as well as bad are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire; if you want to get wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, peace eternal life, you must get close to, or  even into  the thing that has them. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very center of reality.  If you are close to it, the spray will wet you ; if you are not, you will remain dry.”

$100 Hour: Find a way to get paid to do something you usually pay to do. Love dining out? Sign up to be a mystery diner and enjoy dinner out in exchange for evaluating the service, food, etc. Love the symphony? Volunteer to be an usher. There are endless possibilities if you are willing to investigate.

Explore More:  Need some help brainstorming or clarifying an idea? Alice Barry, is a gifted Idea Artisan who spreads the Idea Virus wherever she goes. In the words of one of her happy clients, “She helped me to see and clarify a fuzzy picture of myself, who I want to be and  what I want to do.  She also helped me to see clearly how much I have already accomplished and gave me suggestions how to continue to build on this foundation.” If you need some idea-building assistance, a telephone consultation with Alice could get you moving forward.

An idea can turn to dust or magic…depending on the talent that rubs against it. ~ William Bernback

Build a personal portfolio of ideas. A man I know has the unfortunate habit of running out of money. When this happens, he goes into panic, followed by depression, followed by applying for a job he hopes he won’t get. During his latest cash flow crisis, I tried to explain to him, as gently as possible, that there was no reason for this endless Feast or Famine cycle.

If you’ve read Making a Living Without a Job or taken my seminar of the same name, you’re already familiar with the $100 idea. Whether it’s a new idea to you or not, this is the perfect time to commit to putting it into action.

You can begin implementing the $100 Hour even if you now have a job or other commitments that clamor for your time. Begin by making a pact with yourself that you will set aside time daily, if possible, or at scheduled intervals for the purpose of creating an idea that will bring you $100. You needn’t complete the plan in the hour, but if time permits use your surplus to get your idea rolling. Do research, make calls, write letters—anything that advances your goal. As Neil Fiore points out, “Keep on starting and the finishing will take care of itself.”

If you’re focusing your energies on a single profit center, come up with an idea for expanding it in a way that will earn another $100. If you’re going to try a number of different ideas in order to figure out what you most want to do, then this time can be spent designing a variety of projects. Begin by looking for opportunities that may be hiding in plain sight.

A word of warning is in order here. While this idea works wonders, your ego may tell you that $100 is too insignificant to bother with. Ignore it. After all, great fortunes and grand achievements have been accomplished by steadfast devotion to creating tiny successes—which ultimately add up to enormous success. 

The discipline that comes with using this technique is perhaps its greatest bonus. However, once you start seeing results, don’t stop using it. With continued practice, you’ll find it gets easier and easier to come up with $100 ideas. At that point, you can raise the monetary stakes, if you like. At any rate, you’ll discover that the quality of your ideas gets better and better with practice.

$100 Hour:  Clean out a closet. Why not resell things you no longer use? Clothes, especially high-quality ones that are in good repair, can be taken to a consignment shop—as can toys, sporting equipment, furniture and computers. You can also advertise on Craigslist, sell things directly on eBay or organize your own yard sale. 

Explore More: John Schroeder’s Garage Sale Fever is a perfect handbook whether you’re selling or buying with the purpose of reselling. Even if garage sale season is months away in your part of the world, this will help you get things organized. 

“I’ll never forget this idea” is the devil’s whisper. Catch everything that matters in your notebook. ~ Richard Bach


As is common on the eve of Compelling Storytelling, I am filled with antiicpation. Spending three days watching participants make fresh creative discoveries that will impact their businesses is just about the most fun I can imagine.

Creativity still is a mysterious force, but the behavior that welcomes it is not mysterious at all. Unfortunately, too many people are oblivious to the possibilities of what can happen when we tap into our own idea factory.

I have been spellbound several times listening to Stephen King’s audiobook On Writing. King, one of the big names in popular fiction, weaves his advice to would-be writers in between autobiographical tales. A voracious reader and fan of sci-fi movies as a kid, King fell in love with the writing life in childhood and has never put down his pen since. 

Married right out of college, King supported his family by working at several horrendous jobs and then as a high school English teacher. Even with two young children squeezed into cramped quarters, he always managed to find room for a writing corner and practiced his craft daily. The result is a mind-boggling body of work that includes short stories, novels, movies and television productions. 

King knows more than a little about the writing life and at one point mentions a number of writers—Harper Lee comes to mind—who produced a single book and then were silent. “Why,” King wonders, “if God gives you a gift, wouldn’t you use it?” 

What Stephen King, understands is that creativity begets creativity. The creative spirit that resides within all of us is prolific, abundant, and flagrantly generous. It’s only when we ignore our own creative impulses that they appear to go away.

What does it take to live a life of extraordinary creative output? The answer is not slavish workaholism—as many people think. Creators all work in their own unique ways, of course, but  there are several obvious characteristics that creative folks share. 

Besides a high level of commitment and discipline, the prolific creators among us are enormously curious about many things. They don’t dabble. They immerse.The creative thinker is always gathering ideas and inspiration from far-flung places and people. For instance, King frequently asks himself questions beginning with, “What if” to form new connections between seemingly unrelated ideas. They look, they listen, they’re fully alive. 

“The idea flow from the human spirit is absolutely unlimited,” says Jack Welch. “All you have to do is tap into that well.” And then go to market.


My love affair with  Dale Chihuly began about a decade ago when I stumbled upon a public television airing of Chihuly Over Venice. I had no idea who Chihuly was, but five minutes into watching and I was spellbound. I grabbed a videotape and popped it into the recorder sensing that what I was about to see was worth seeing again.

“In the moment of knowing a live,” says Ray Bradbury, “intensify it.” That’s just what I did, making it a personal project  to learn everything I could about this prolific artist. Since I like to spice up my travels with explorations, Hunting Chihuly became a favorite. I tracked down his work wherever I could find it and have admired his installations in Minneapolis, Tacoma, Seattle, Madison, as well as at the Dallas Museum of Art, Kew Gardens in London and, of course, at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

When I heard that the deYoung Museum in San Francisco was having a monumental display of his work, I knew it was not to be missed. Thanks to Southwest Airlines, it was easy to make a daytrip out of my next Chihuly quest. I decided to make the trip on September 9 since it’s a memorable milestone day for me and this seemed like a great way to celebrate. I invited the delightful Sharee Schrader, a recent participant in Compelling Storytelling, to join me. She was a perfect travel companion. Besides sharing my enthusiasm for the stunning works that fill eleven galleries, Sharee is also a voracious photographer and took dozens of pictures which I’m hoping I’ll be able to share some of them with you later.

I also enjoyed the descriptions in each room which discussed Chihuly’s sources of inspiration. In one of the first galleries, the wall plaque talked about how he got the idea to climb up on a stepladder and drop molten glass on the ground below to see what would happen. The pieces in that room are the result of that experiment.

The museum expects that by the time the show closes on September 28, more than a million people will have viewed it.  I can’t begin to describe what we saw, but you can get a sense of it by watching this Chihuly at the deYoung slide show. 

Chihuly loves to talk about his work, about creativity and the things that inspire him. Here are a few of his observations.

Chihuly on Chihuly

A lot of creativity has to do with energy, confidence and focus. These are the elements for making creative things. It’s probably the same thing whether you’re making a movie, whether you’re an entrepreneur doing business, whether you’re an artist, or whether you’re a gardener or a cook. These are all the same qualities that it takes.

Glassblowing is a spontaneous medium that suits me. It requires split-second decisions and a great team. It’s very athletic. The more you blow, the better you get. I’ve been at it for forty years and am as infatuated as when I blew my first bubble in my basement in South Seattle.

I thought it was the hot glass that was so mysterious, but then I realized it was the air that went into it that was miraculous.

You know, you don’t teach art. That’s the last thing you’d ever teach. All you have to do is set up the environment and it happens.

I’ve been such a nomad all my life. I don’t think I’ll ever lose the desire to travel to beautiful places—one more archipelago, another round of standing stones, another glassblowing session in some exotic spot, or just one more trip to Venice to see the full moon over the Grand Canal.

Happy New Year! Even if you don’t consider September the start of a new year as I do, you can use this idea to start the new month or phase of your life.

I wouldn’t dream of starting a new year or a new project without deciding first what my theme is. After all, a party is just a party—until you give it a theme. Then your creative imagination goes to work finding ways to illustrate that them, as well as eliminating what doesn’t fit.

A theme can put your entrepreneurial efforts on track and keep them there. It could be a single word or a phrase that becomes your motto. Doing so will help you gain clarity and focus. When planning your time or making a decision, a quick check will reveal if your choice adds or detracts from the theme you’ve declared. 

Here are a few them possibilities to consider, but they’re only a starting point.

Travel Light
Explore More
Make Connections
Build Strength
Do It Easy
Visible Abundance
No Limits
Daily Laughter
More Magic
Wildly Creative
Amaze Myself
Welcome Opportunity
Keep Moving
Back to Basics
Fully Engaged
Dream Bold
Catch the Spirit
New Adventures


Nothing in the universe is neutral. It either costs or it contributes. ~ Stewart Emery