On the day that Bill Gates announced that he was beginning a transition from the day to day operation of Microsoft in order to spend more time working with his Foundation, I spent the morning listening to Jerry Greenfield, of Ben & Jerry’s fame, talking about Social Responsibility and Radical Business.

Philanthropic entrepreneurs are nothing new, of course. Early industrialist Andrew Carnegie spent the first half of his life building a fortune and the second half giving it away. As a result, thousands of cities and small towns across America were the recipients of a public library.

Celebrities, too, have done […] Continue Reading…

It appears that I have fallen in love with the mandolin. This was no overnight love affair, however. It kind of sneaked up on me.

As a longtime fan of the music of Antonio Vivaldi, I had heard my share of mandolins and associated the instrument with music from the past.

That all began to change when I attended a performance of Prairie Home Companion and heard the amazing Peter Ostroushko play. Nevertheless, I wasn’t ready  to commit.

Then it happened. A  few years later on the weekly broadcast of PHC, Ostroushko performed the most glorious piece, something he’d written to celebrate […] Continue Reading…

Like millions of people, I tuned in for the Beatles Tribute on CBS. It was a lovely evening, but it wasn’t  anything like my evening attending a Paul McCartney concert several years ago. It was magical from beginning to end.

You probably have memories like that, too, when you found yourself in the same room with someone you’d admired from afar. That is not an experience that can be duplicated by technology.

As much as I appreciate the gifts of technology, I often wonder if we’re forgetting how powerful it is to have real contact.

Back in the nineties, the independent adult […] Continue Reading…

You’ve probably seen an article—or even a book—about starting a business that begins, “Not everyone can be an entrepreneur.”  That cautionary warning always annoys and mystifies me.

Why, I wonder, would anyone write a how-to piece and begin by scaring away the reader?

Over the years, interviewers have frequently asked me if anyone can be an entrepreneur. My answer was and is, “Yes, I believe anyone can be self-employed, but I don’t believe everyone will make that choice.”

At the same time, I’ve been keeping track of some of the groups of people who have successfully started a business. As you can […] Continue Reading…

On Monday evening’s Daily Show, the Moment of Zen at the end was a clip of Phiilip Seymour Hoffman speaking at the Golden Globes. When you’re just starting out, he said, you must take every opportunity to act. Even auditions for parts you know you won’t get are important to mastering your craft.

It’s a message that frequently gets lost on mature adults. Sometimes our egos prevent us from embracing the beginner stage of a new project. Sometimes we forget how important it is to keep practicing even after we’ve already invested a great deal of time doing just that.

When I […] Continue Reading…

On Saturday morning I was running some errands and despite the early hour was surprised by all the traffic I encountered. A friend came up from Los Angeles midday and reported that it had been a slow drive on the freeway. Later in the afternoon, a Facebook friend posted that he’d been to Costco and discovered a pre-Superbowl madhouse.

All three of us are self-employed, so being slowed down by crowds is something we do our best to avoid.

When I first moved into my condo in Valencia, I was surprised to discover that many of my neighbors were on their […] Continue Reading…

Some experiences simply do not translate. You have to go to know.  ~ Kobi Yamada
Although there are an unlimited number of ways to make the transition from employee to entrepreneur or from current business to a new profit center, people stuck in either-or thinking overlook one of the best options.

What I’m talking about is a variation of what Barbara Sher calls “a temporary permanent commitment.” Instead of disposing of all current enterprises, you find a creative way to test your passion.

You’re in a much better position, after all, to assess an idea once you have actively engaged in its pursuit. […] Continue Reading…

Albert Einstein once pointed out that everything should be made as simple as possible—but no simpler. This certainly can be applied to any business that wants to keep its equilibrium.

For most entrepreneurs, that requires constant vigilance since a business can become complicated and cumbersome in the blink of an eye. Here are some guidelines to keep that from happening.

° Make simplicity a goal. It’s not enough to say you want to simplify your business. Identify specific measurable results that will indicate that you have made your systems, marketing, accounting, etc. as simple as possible.

° Work on one profit center […] Continue Reading…

When I tuned into my public radio station this morning, I broke into a smile when I discovered they were playing one of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. I’m not alone in loving that music. Classical music stations report that listener surveys always list the Concertos as a top favorite.

Did you know that this glorious series began life as a huge disappointment?

They were written as an audition for a commission Bach hoped to get with the city of Brandenburg. Bach lost the competition, but no one seems to remember who the winner was nor what music was voted superior.

Bach, of course, […] Continue Reading…

You don’t have to be a math whiz to put numbers to work for you. Assigning a number to a project can help you focus and, also, give you a finish line.

Open-ended goals have a way of never reaching completion, but attach a numerical addition and getting started is much easier. Here are a few ideas to borrow.

° Pick a number under ten and use it as a goal setting guide. For me, it’s the number five. You might prefer three or six. Then instead of thinking, “I need to get more clients,” set a short term goal […] Continue Reading…