Meet Barbara Winter


Barbara J Winter is a pioneering self-employment advocate, writer and teacher who has spent the last twenty-five years pondering the question, “Why aren’t we all self-employed?” Helping others discover the Joyfully Jobless life is her favorite occupation. To readers of Read more

Benvenuto!


Buon viaggio….good journey. How nice to have you along. This blog has been a long time brewing. Hardly a day passes when I don’t come across a fascinating new business idea, inspiring story or useful resource and want to pass Read more

A Short Story About a Long Success

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On July 15, 1993, I woke up feeling excited and apprehensive. The cause of this emotional turmoil had been years in the making. It was publication day for Making a Living Without a Job.

I had spent much of the previous year writing and rewriting and writing some more. But the story truly began decades earlier when I set out on my own rather lonely journey in self-employment.

My experience was very much like Paul Hawken’s who said, “When I started the natural food business in Boston, my business knowledge was scant. I did the best I could and began reading everything I could lay my hands on.

“I subscribed to The Wall Street Journal. It confused me. I read the major business magazines. Their Fortune 500 world seemed irrelevant.

“I sneaked into classes at the Harvard Business School. Their case studies were lunar in their usefulness to my enterprise.

“The more I searched, the more confused I became. The more exposure I gained to the official world of business, the more I began to doubt that I was in business at all. “I seemed to be doing something entirely different.

“I get that same feeling today when I read most of the standard business literature believe that most people in new businesses, and some in not-so-new businesses, have the same problem.

“They don’t feel connected to the conventional wisdom…as if a small business is just a flake chipped off the larger corporate world.”

Like Hawken, I figured it out for myself and created the kind of enterprise that felt like a perfect fit. After years of happily working on my own, something quite unexpected happened.

When I was a newcomer in Minneapolis, I kept meeting people who seemed both fascinated and envious of my Joyfully Jobless life. One day it dawned on me that I might be able to help them if I shared my experiences.

Fortunately, the local independent adult ed program, Open U, agreed to run my class which I thought was a temporary project, too radical to be popular.

I was wrong. Dead wrong. I had found my genuine right livelihood.

Making a Living Without a Job not only became a regular offering of Open U, it attracted curious learners from around the US and, eventually, Canada and Britain.

Almost from the start, people inquired if I’d written a book. I knew that eventually there would be one, but was not interested in writing it until I had evidence from the field (i.e. seminar attendees) that my ideas worked for others.

When it felt like the time had arrived to work on a book, I decided that it should happen in an unorthodox way. Instead of approaching publishers, I got the crazy idea that I wanted a publisher to find me.

To my delight and amazement, that’s exactly what happened when not one, but three, publishers contacted me. After sorting through the offers, I decided Bantam’s was the best fit for me.

So here I am twenty-one years later with an anniversary to celebrate. Making a Living Without a Job has been in print the entire time, with an updated version appearing in 2009.

No one is more surprised by that than me.

As I now point out to seminar participants, we aren’t always the wisest judge of what our best ideas might be. We’ve got to take them to the marketplace and see what happens.

Or as the writer Anais Nin once advised, “Throw your dreams into space like a kite and you do not know what it will bring back. A new life, a new friend, a new love.”

Turning On Selective Awareness

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You’ve probably had the experience of coming across a new word, looking it up in the dictionary, then noticing that the word appears all over the place.

Or you start thinking about taking a trip to Paris and the next thing you know Woody Allen has a movie coming out called Midnight in Paris. A few days later, you strike up a conversation with a stranger in a coffee shop and they mention they’ve just come back from Paris.

While we often think of such happenings as synchronicity, I believe there’s another factor at work here. I call it selective awareness. [...] Continue Reading…

Signs of Prosperity

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My friend Chris and I loved an old cartoon in which Ziggy declared,  “My idea of prosperity is a checking account with commas.” We promptly adopted that as our prosperity symbol.

Feeling prosperous is a highly individual thing and each of us has a different notion of what constitutes prosperity.  For many people, alas, prosperity means having more than whatever they currently have.

It’s much healthier to find small reminders that we are creating abundance in our own lives. Here are a few of my personal favorites.

* You use up your deposit slips faster than you use your check blanks. (This [...] Continue Reading…

Why Self-help Doesn’t Always Help

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Nick Ortner, author of the wildly successful The Tapping Solution, recently wrote about encountering a powerful bit of advice. The words that got his attention were “who you spend time with…is who you become.”

He says, “I first heard this quote and concept over 15 years ago at a Tony Robbins weekend event. I was there by myself, having seen an advertisement for it while walking the streets of New York where I lived, and knowing I needed to do something different with my life.”

Of course, if you look at his life today as a bestselling author and sought after [...] Continue Reading…

In Praise of Creative Excursions

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Julia Cameron calls them Artist’s Dates. Sarah Ban Breathnach calls them creative excursions. Whatever you call them, they are worth making a regular event in your life.

“The Artist Date need not be overtly artistic,” says Cameron, “think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration.”

The purpose of such solo events is to take time every week to make a visit to a new place to gather ideas or just [...] Continue Reading…

Say It Again, Sam

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Leo Babauta once wrote about being criticized by some of his readers for repeating himself. He said, “Repetition is often thought of as a bad thing — never repeat yourself! But actually, repetition is a powerful tool for making changes.”

I totally agree. Here are some things I repeat to myself all the time.

You are what you take time to become.

Passion: enthusiasm that must take action.

Inspiration expands our horizons.

What we call failure is often just running out of patience.

What you don’t know can be learned—or hired.

Do not take advice from uninformed sources.

Inspired entrepreneurs laugh a lot.

Stop looking for formulas. Start looking for [...] Continue Reading…

Friendly Fearbashers

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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 [...] Continue Reading…

Creating Your Own Job? Come to the Fair!

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As you may or may not know, Las Vegas was particularly hard hit during the economic downturn. Consequently, the local news featured at least one Job Fair being held in the city every week.

Long lines of folks showed up for the slim chance of procuring one of the few job openings. It was all rather glum.

During one such news story, a question popped into my head. “Why isn’t anyone talking about alternatives to getting a job?” I was talking about that, of course, but I couldn’t just ramble down Las Vegas Blvd. sharing that option.

Then the idea of creating [...] Continue Reading…

Less Can Be More

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Maybe I’m alone in this, but lately I’ve been fretting about trust fund babies. I mean who is less equipped to deal with economic upheaval? While  their wealthy parents were showering them with things, they took away the really valuable stuff such as personal initiative and innovative thinking.

That’s not true for everyone who inherits enormous wealth—particularly if you’re the offspring of Warren Buffett—but there are plenty of examples of squandered lives.

During the height of the Human Potential Movement, a program was started in San Francisco to deal with the issues of guilt experienced by trust fund recipients.

Nobody really talks [...] Continue Reading…

Pick a Number, Any Number

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There’s a character in Nick Hornby’s delightful novel High Fidelity who constantly challenges his friends to create on-the-spot Top Five Lists. “Name your top five Dustin Hoffman movies,” he demands.

The story is peppered with Top Five Lists covering all sorts of pop culture topics. It’s not a bad exercise.

When I began experimenting with ideas about setting goals, I started breaking down my yearlong aims into 90-Day Projects. For me, the number five was also operating.

For instance, one of my writing goals was to sell five magazine articles every 90 days. It’s an easy number to work with and I [...] Continue Reading…

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