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

The Power of Small Doings

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My 5-year-old grandson Zachy started Kung Fu lessons this fall. It has not been an easy experience.

So when I got a call from his mother last week, I was delighted to hear her say, “Zachy earned his yellow belt today. Can you come over and watch Noah while I take Zachy out for ice cream?” I was on it.

Celebrating small victories is more important than our busy selves sometimes realize. It’s reinforcement of the most basic sort that we’re on the right track.

It’s also fun to celebrate, of course.

We build a track record or a body of work by […] Continue Reading…

Staring Down the Money Dragon

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On my way out of the bank this morning, I picked up several deposit slips. As I walked back to my car, I suddenly remembered that a friend once jokingly pointed out that a sign of prosperity is using up your deposit slips before using up your check blanks.

Quaint, huh? In this day of online banking and virtual commerce, we don’t need to ever have direct contact with currency. Advertisers and credit card companies have done a brilliant job of making money an abstract concept.

Unfortunately, too many of us have failed to realize what a disservice we’re doing to […] Continue Reading…

The Power of Plugging In

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Long before I began my life as a gypsy teacher, I was a gypsy student. I attended seminars on personal growth, on marketing, on building a business as often as I could. Since the teachers I wanted to study with weren’t showing up in my small town, I spent a great deal of time and money traveling to learn.

What I learned (among many other priceless things) is that seminar rooms are my natural habitat. I love to learn and I really love being in places where new ideas and insights also show up.

I began meeting people with the same […] Continue Reading…

Unexpected Passion

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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. Several weeks ago, while listening to the weekly broadcast of PHC, Ostroushko performed the most glorious piece, something he’d written to […] Continue Reading…

5 Ways to Cultivate a Bumper Crop

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The small tree in my front yard looked pathetic. I suspected it might be dying.

So imagine my surprise on a spring morning, when I looked out the window and saw it had burst into bloom overnight. Tiny pink blossoms covered the recently barren branches.

I wonder what else I’ve condemned to a premature death, I mused.

Ever since I read Paul Hawken’s marvelous Growing a Business, I have looked for metaphors in the plant world to help me solve problems and find better ways of growing my business.

Even though I never lived on a farm, I grew up surrounded by small […] Continue Reading…

The Pumpkin Farmer and the Plumber

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Note: I drove to Ventura again today and got thinking about this story of the Pumpkin Farmer from two years ago. Decided it was worth a revisit.

Yesterday I drove to Ventura where my sister Margaret lives. I’d been assigned the task of finding a vacation rental apartment in Paris for our sibling outing next spring and didn’t know where to begin. Margaret agreed to coach me since she’d already tracked down our Amsterdam accommodations.

In the springtime, this drive reminds me of Ireland because the craggy hills are so lush and green. Right now they’re festooned in shades of beige […] Continue Reading…

Hanging On or Moving On?

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Every few months, I get the alumni magazine from my college. I usually glance through the class notes to see if there’s anyone I remember who has gotten mentioned.

Most of the entries are a bit, well, dull, saying things like, “Now retired after 30 years teaching in the same school” or “Just retired from 40 years at the bank.”

Apparently, my fellow college students were big on staying put in one place.

One time, however, an entry caught my eye. It read, “Retired after thirty-five years as a social worker and probation officer. He now spends his time as a traveler […] Continue Reading…

In Business to Annoy

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They’re baaaaaack! Those annoying Internet flashing banner ads that disappeared for a while have returned with a vengeance. They make my eyes cross and my head hurt.

They do not make me think, “Oh, that looks interesting. I’d better check it out and see what I’m missing.”

Same goes for local tv ads that are broadcast at twice the volume of regular programming.

And do you know anyone who adores automated phone systems?

Also rating high on my Annoyance Index is my local supermarket. I only shop there for a few things when I don’t have time to run to the delightful Trader […] 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.

I think 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…

The Self-employed Way to Fund a Project

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Back in 2002, I was having a milestone birthday and thought a celebration was in order. I invited my friends and family to join me in Las Vegas, a place I had avoided for many years.

When I called my travel agent to make arrangements, she laughed and said, “Oh, Barbara, I can’t see you in Las Vegas.”

“That’s the point,” I told her.

As you probably know, that was the beginning of a surprising love affair that led me to moving to that unlikely place. That wasn’t all that happened as a result of that party.

My younger siblings decided to mark […] Continue Reading…