There are so many selves in everybody and to explore and exploit just one is wrong,
dead wrong, for the creative process.
~ James Dickey

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 stalled in their lives 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.

Whether you have diverse interests or a strong singular passion that you’re building around, the key to a solid business is what I call Multiple Profit Centers (MPCs). Quite simply, a profit center is any activity that generates cash flow. Whenever you add another product or service to your enterprise, you’re creating another profit center. It’s also important to realize that profit centers come in all different sizes. Some will provide the largest percentage of income for you, while others will be fillers.

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. Having a variety of sources is one way to even things out a bit, since each profit center will have its own cycle.

Here are a few more things to keep in mind when planning your 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. Keep in mind the Mall Model where you find anchor stores on the corners with smaller shops in between. Your business will be a small scale version of that.
  • 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. It’s up to you whether or not you want to have one bank account for various things or a different one for each. Whatever makes things easier for you, is probably the best choice. At the same time, 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. Time magazine did a story about Suze Orman, a woman who clearly understands MPCs. She is not an advocate of multitasking, however. “I think it’s the absolute ruination of the perfection of a project,” she says. “The people who multitask do everything to mediocrity at best. While they are getting a lot done, they are getting it done in such an inefficient way that they usually have to do it again.”

    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.

Several years ago, I had a lovely long-term consulting assignment which kept me both busy and solvent.  One morning I woke up and realized that it was coming to an end and I had nothing lined up.  After a few moments of panic, I decided to get serious about creating my next income source.  I didn’t have a great deal of time to devote to this, so I gave myself the challenge of finding a way to earn $100—an easily accomplished goal.  What I didn’t realize at the time, was that I had just created a new habit that has kept my business—and cash flow—moving smoothly along.

Over time, I’ve learned that there are other benefits to this simple technique.  For instance, I teach a seminar called “Making a Living Without a Job” throughout the United States and Canada.  Nearly every seminar has at least one person who tells me that they want to be self-employed but don’t know what kind of business to start.  Using this technique is a wonderful way to sample a number of different possibilities, while training you to be creative.  In other words, you’ll learn to think like an entrepreneur.

There’s an old saying, popularized by Robert Schuller, that goes, “By the inch, it’s a cinch. By the yard, it’s hard.” Any successful goalsetter will tell you that reaching goals big or small is dependent on breaking the big picture into tiny, doable steps.  That’s the essence of my favorite idea, the $100 Hour. It works with such infallible certainty that once you make it a regular part of your plans, it’s like a rocket propelling you to your goals.

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 finding 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.  If you’re focusing your energies on a single profit center, then 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.

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 successes.  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 a $100 idea.  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 Idea Starters

To show you how easy this is and to get you thinking along these lines, I’ll give you some of the $100 ideas that have appeared on my lists and those of others who are joyfully jobless.  Each of these could be worth far more than $100 and each can be adapted and embellished to suit your interests and skills.

* Be a broker.  Match up a buyer with a seller and collect your fee.  If you’re smart about automobiles, for example, you could be a consultant for people shopping for a used car.  Or you could develop a referral service for professionals.  That’s what speakers’ and writers’ agents do. If you know a lot about art, you could broker the work of artists as a couple I saw on television do.  These folks live on an island off Vancouver and run an international art business via the Internet.  Read some classified ads and see whether you might be a matchmaker between someone offering something for sale and a potential buyer.

* Clean out a closet.  There may be cash in your trash. Isn’t it time for a yard or tag sale? I know several folks who run sales every month, earning at least $100 each time.  If you’re really loaded with old stuff you want to sell, consider renting a table at a flea market.  Clothes, especially high-quality ones that are in good repair, can be taken to a consignment shop—as can toys, sporting equipment and computers.  You could also organize and promote a neighborhood sale, and collect a small fee from other sellers in exchange for doing the advertising and promoting.  Now that recycling is trendy again, used merchandise is politically correct.

* Sign on as a temporary worker.  All sorts of temporary agencies match workers with work.  Many are general, such as Kelly Services, while others specialize in computer operators or medical workers.  Some people make a career out of doing temporary work; you may want to use it as an emergency profit center, since it can be tedious.  You may have to put in a lot of hours to earn $100 this way, but it’s nice to know you can if you must.

* Eliminate an expense that doesn’t bring you joy.  Every so often, use your $100 Hour to save $100 that you’re now spending.  It’s the same as earning it, in a way.  Quit smoking. Or find a credit card company with a lower interest rate than you’re now paying.  Find a tax deduction you’ve 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.

* Deliver a valentine.  There are dozens of possibilities if you’re a natural romantic. You could specialize in enhancing romance all year long. (If you’re good at this, you may not realize that you have a gift!)  How about selling a basket of erotic massage oil and other romance-enhancing treats? Or catering breakfast in bed? Or setting up mystery evenings in conjunction with a limousine service?  If you love love, this one’s for you.

* Organize a tour.  Is there a geographic area or subject that you know a lot about? Do you live near a historic battlefield or favorite fishing spot? You could create a tour right at home that would appeal to visitors to your area.  Several companies in London offer fascinating walking tours covering everything from Shakespeare’s London to places where the Beatles hung out.  If you long to travel, find a travel agent or company that will work with you to organize a trip abroad.  In exchange for marketing the tour, you can receive a free trip.  A focused specialty tour offers the best possibilities, so concentrate on planning a trip around your area of expertise.  You could produce regular $100 Hours with this one.

* Take in a paying guest.  You may not want a full-time roommate, but what about an occasional out-of-town visitor?  You could specialize in providing homey accommodations for business travelers in town for long-term assignments, or hook up with a local college that hosts visiting professors and conference-goers.  If you speak a foreign language, be a paid host to travelers who aren’t sure about their English.

* Barter services.  Some people thrive on exchanging services, building their own underground economy.  This moneyless way of doing business can be great fun if you find other traders who enjoy bartering, too.  I’ve known people who have bartered for everything from laser printers to time in a vacation home. There’s a fabulous architectural drawing hanging over my sofa that I got in exchange for some promotion services for a home furnishings consignment store.

* Clean something.  Windows and floors always need cleaning, but you might aim at something larger—like an airplane or boat—and collect your $100 more quickly. It’s unfortunate that cleaning is considered lowly work, since the opportunity to clean things is enormous.  If you find tidying up a satisfying occupation, you could easily clean up financially with this one.

* Give your opinion.  Market research companies are always looking for people to try new products or sample old ones.  For this they rely on consumers who are potential users of the product.  Check your Yellow Pages for such firms in your area and ask to be added to their database.  If you like telling people what you think, why not get paid for your opinions?

* Teach a class.  Not long ago I found an old $100 Hour list of mine.  One of the ideas was to send a proposal to Open U in Minneapolis for a class called “Making a Living Without a Job.” That single idea has brought me tens of thousands of dollars in income and hundreds of hours of bliss in the classroom.  What are the hobbies you love? Where’s your expertise?  Build a class around what you know and start teaching.  This idea can, of course, be repeated endlessly, bringing you many $100 bills.

* Throw a party.  Planning special events can be fun and profitable. Or offer to cook for your busy friends for the price they’d pay in a restaurant.  If you have abilities as a confident host, this is a wonderful way to indulge your partygoing personality—and get paid.  Companies, too, engage the services of professional party planners; or you might specialize in class reunions or wedding receptions.

* Get a grant.  Thousands of dollars go unclaimed every year.  All sorts of private foundations offer grants for a huge range of projects. If you want to do research, work on a product design, or investigate another culture, there may be a grant just waiting.  You need to do lots of legwork and proposal writing for this, but don’t overlook this option for acquiring cash.  Your reference librarian can point you to the directories of available grants.

* Contact former customers.  Remind them that you’re available and willing.  Generating repeat business can be easier than finding new customers all the time.  Don’t wait for the phone to ring. Once your have customers to call your own, keeping in touch with them should be a regular event.

* House-or pet-sit.  House- and pet-sitting are popular ways to earn money. You could have a specialty, such as caring for cats or vacant houses waiting to be sold.  One enterprising fellow offered his services through real estate agents, housesitting for people who had moved, but not yet sold their house. He’d bring in some oriental rugs and a few pieces of nice furniture, making the empty space more attractive. One woman I know got hired to housesit for a client’s home in the south of France. If you’re flexible and love a change of scenery, this could be perfect.

* Finish things.  How about a follow-through service to complete unfinished projects? If you’re handy at repairs or household jobs, you could complete things that do-it-yourselfers didn’t do.  Needlework is another area where enthusiasm sometimes diminishes before the work is done.  Busy people often start more than they can finish so you could find a gold mine here—and relieve a bit of guilt.

Every single one of these ideas can be started easily and inexpensively, so there’s no excuse for not getting your own $100 Ideas List started.  Better yet, each of these have the potential to grow into large, luscious profit centers.  You might think of them as acorns, harboring an oak inside. Get busy planting.

To put your goalsetting and entrepreneurial efforts on—track and keep them there—begin by giving your year a theme. It could be a single word or a phrase that becomes your motto. Either way, it 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.

Let’s say you’re starting a new project, one that you know little about. If you think of it as My Project Where I Am Clueless About What I’m Doing, you’ll produce very different results than if you name it My Exciting Apprenticeship in New Territory. Instead of focusing on everything you don’t know, your attention will be drawn to seek out teachers and sources of help and learning. This is a powerful shorthand technique for bringing your focus back to what your true goals are.

You’ve seen this in action plenty of times. You want to throw a party, but can’t quite figure out how to make it special. A party is just a party, after all, until you give it a theme. Then ideas start rolling. Suddenly it engages the imagination of the guests and the host. Or you decide to go to Paris and  bump into an old friend who just got back from Paris; then articles on your destination seem to appear out of nowhere.  Coincidence or selective awareness caused by focus?

 Here are a few theme possibilities to consider:


Travel Light


Explore More

Make Connections

Build Strength

Ease & Joy

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

Once you’ve got your overall theme, give individual themes to your projects. Post reminders around your home and office. I also do Treasure Maps that remind me of my themes. One of my current ones is Inspiring People in Beautiful Places. Next to my desk is a poster I’ve done with scenes from Venice, Sedona, Tuscany and the Lake District plus a photo of Valerie Young and me along with participants in Making Dreams Happen, an event we held in Boulder several years ago. 

Give 2009 a theme and ideas will follow. 

$100 Hour: Throw a party. If you love social events and tending to details, why not get paid for all that fun? Once a month you could organize a dinner for your busy friends for the price they’d pay in a restaurant. You could specialize in class reunions or wedding receptions. Alice Barry loves entertaining and loves inspired entrepreneurs so she turns those passions into occasional events like the Holiday Office Party for Inspired Entrepreneurs.

Explore More: Alice Barry calls herself an Idea Artisan. Anyone who’s spent time with her, knows how good she is at helping people gain clarity and plan action.You can book a session with Alice by visiting  

Got your theme? Share it in the comment box, if you’d like.

Money follows ideas. Money doesn’t create anything at all, much less ideas. Money goes where ideas are. ~ Paul Hawken

According to people who study such things, we’ve gone from the Industrial Age to the Information Age and are now entering the Idea Age. Creative thinking, often scorned by left-brained thinkers, is taking on a new importance. Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, says,  “Access to talented and creative people is to modern business what access to coal and iron ore was to steel making.” 

I am wildly excited about this turn of events because I’ve known about the power of ideas for a long time. Shortly after I started my first business, I came across a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes that became a mantra for me. He said, “A person’s mind stretched to a new idea can never return to its original dimensions.” I could see plenty of evidence of that in my own journey.

It saddens me when people talk about a vision and then dismiss it by saying, “It’s just an idea.” JUST an idea?  Think about this: ideas can be…





















on target















The one thing I know for sure is that the best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas. So this is your official invitation to join me for Ideafest! a month of ideas designed to feed your entrepreneurial spirit. If, as Daniel Pink says, the future belongs to right-brainers, we need to be enthusiastic idea-spotters, gatherers and implementers. I hope you’ll stop back daily to add to your idea collection, find inspiration and launch your best year ever.

Buon Anno!

Another Good Idea: If you want to get focused or simply  need to acquire a power tool for your Joyfully Jobless Journey, join me for Goalsetting 101, a 90-minute teleclass that will show you a creative approach to setting and achieving goals. The teleclass takes place on Tuesday, January 6, 8-9:30 PM Eastern, 5-6:30 PM Pacific. 

Explore More: If you haven’t already done so, read A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink asap. 

A person’s mind stretched to a new idea can never return to its original dimensions. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

After we opened our gifts last Christmas, my daughter said, “I was going to give you a Blackberry, but I didn’t want to feed your e-mail addiction.” Although I protested that it wasn’t that bad, she had evidence to the contrary.

What Jennie doesn’t understand is that my e-mail is usually full of interesting stuff. Reading it isn’t a chore at all. Here’s a sampler of a few things that have recently arrived.

The other morning, my handywoman sister Margaret sent this brief message: ”I must right a listing Christmas tree before a seafaring man comes home for the holidays.” The next message I opened was from Pat Peterson, a lively woman from Des Moines who had attended a Las Vegas event and Camp Jumpstart. Seems she had started a new business–or, to be more accurate, a new business had found her. It was such a delightful story that I asked her for permission to include it in the next Winning Ways.

Charla Swift, who just attended Compelling Storytelling, sent a message titled Still Reeling from Las Vegas. She began her update by writing, ” To say I’ve had idea overload is an understatement!  The first night my son Justin and I stayed up late talking about all the wonderful marketing ideas we came up with around the campfire. And the ideas just keep coming.” She went on to tell me about their exciting plans which are already in motion less than a week after the seminar. Charla ended her message by saying, “I cannot thank you enough for opening a whole new world for me to embrace. (Justin merely smiled as I told him of my revelation…do you suppose he already suspected???)  Sometimes, as the story goes, the mountains are much more visible from the plains. How true!  In addition to this new discovery, I have discovered more kindred spirits in my tribe.  Just when I think I can’t discover anything new, I find how little I know.” 

What’s more fun than hearing from an excited entrepreneur? Hearing from many excited entrepreneurs. Jay Hepner wrote to tell me he’d started a new blog. His first post called Taking My Own Advice is terrific.

Then there was this message from a complete stranger:

I don’t typically e-mail people who write newsletters but today is an exception!  Your latest newsletter will be forwarded in its entirety to many friends who are facing change in the hope that they will embrace the challenges positively.

My own story includes periods of time of purposeful disconnection from employment. Early on people couldn’t understand why I left very good job at the peak of my career and downsize at an age when the majority of people are focused on career and the accumulation of wealth.

My answer was complicated but the simple answer was “To live my life with integrity.” I had bought into the American Dream and was incredibly unhappy. I knew the process of connecting with my purpose in life would be challenging but I did not realize that the search would be as dramatic and enlightening as it has been. 

Over the last five years I have been a teacher at a high school in North Carolina where I taught Foods I and II (nutrition and cooking); a substitute teacher in WV and VA;  hiked miles of trails including the AT and other trails in the east;  visited with my children including my grandson who will be a year old in January; started a farmers market; grown a garden; met new people; and earned my personal trainer certification.  I am still not “employed” but I am happy making contributions to the communities were I live. 

As I write Good Morning America is airing interviews with people who have lost their jobs. My heart goes out for them as they are being jolted from the comfort of life as they knew it. Their paradigms are being imploded. People who have their identity defined by their employment and career no longer feel valuable. Self-esteem is challenged, ideas are challenged. Soul searching will begin. 

I gave up job hunting. Now I barter for what I need. Right now I am a professional domestic and personal chef and love it!   It is my hope that I can help people transition during these challenging times to see their value and to redefine what they need to be happy. 

Change is all we can count on.

Thank you for living your life with integrity and sharing your thoughts.

Ms. Harmony Leonard

Currently in Bradford PA but that could change next week!

Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.~Yeats