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

7 Ways to Invest Your Time

Barbara Build a Better Business 4 Comments

“We think much more about the use of money, which is renewable, than we do about the use of time, which is irreplaceable,” Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber warned. Anyone who is serious about building a business needs to be clear about both spending and investing their time.

Just as we invest money in the expectation of a greater return in the future, we need to invest our time in the present in order to see a bigger reward in the future.

Sometimes that means devoting large chunks of time to creating a product that won’t generate revenue for months. At other times our investment may be a demonstration of faith in ourselves and our vision.

It’s a practice I discovered in the early days of my business when out of town trips often involved staying in less than elegant hotels and driving Ugly Duckling rental cars. In my heart I believed I was a good investment and was willing to trade present comfort for a brighter future.

Here are some smart ways to invest your time whether you’re a new startup or simply want to keep your self and your enterprise invigorated.

° Take the boss for a walk. Any creative enterprise will profit from a frequent change of scenery. Have you ever noticed how diplomats often go for a walk together when negotiations break down?  Walking can both calm us down and stir up positive thoughts.

Even if your office or studio is the happiest place on Earth, moving around a botanic garden or browsing in a hardware store can rekindle your creative spirit.

° Hang out with some wise guys. Put yourself in regular contact with our best entrepreneurial thinkers who generously share their insights with anyone who cares to listen.

Seth Godin is at the top of my list, of course. If you haven’t already done so, sign up for his mailings and take advantage of his unique and profound insights at SethGodin.com.

Don’t try to listen to everybody who is offering advice. Find your favorites and pay close attention. Don’t just read and delete. Consider how you can put their ideas to work in your enterprise. Remember, too, that your team of trusted advisors may change over time.

° Reach out and connect. I am growing quite weary of folks who declare that they  can’t be bothered with social media or  building relationships.Yes, it takes time, but if you do it right, the rewards are huge.

It’s still true that we all like to do business with people we know and like. If people don’t know you, they can’t like you. Simple as that.

° Schedule 90-Day Inventories. Regularly invest time in looking at what’s working, what needs help and what’s ready to be discarded.

It’s easy when our business is growing to get swept along in the tide, but in order to create something satisfying and profitable, a regular evaluation is a valuable tool. Put it to work for you.

This is also a time to consider the ROI you are—or are not—receiving.

° Don’t be tricked by convenience. I once had a friend who was dating a most unpleasant man. When I challenged her choice of mates, she acknowledged his lack of character, but defended spending time with him by saying, “But he’s convenient.”

I’ve seen entrepreneurs use the same justification for hanging onto uncongenial clients or projects that no longer thrill them.

While there are certainly times when convenience makes sense, don’t give it a high priority when making decisions.

° Be willing to practice. I’m not sure if Malcolm Gladwell’s assertion that it takes 10,000 hours to master something is accurate or not, but it’s certainly true that those who become more than mildly adequate invest heavily in practice.

If you need encouragement to embrace this important activity, pay a visit to The Art of Possibility by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander.

° Become a No Excuses Entrepreneur. It’s astonishing how quickly we can offer excuses when a creative solution is what’s needed. Unfortunately, excuses are extremely clever at worming their way into our minds and won’t leave unless we consciously evict them.

It’s like this: we can either have our excuses or we can have our dreams. We can’t have both. It makes sense to choose wisely.

The late Jim Rohn was a huge proponent of investing time wisely. He said, “Fortunately, life has a unique way of rewarding high investment with high return. The investment of time you make now may be the catalyst for major accomplishment. It is precisely this effort that will open the floodgates to the place where great ideas can work their magic.”

Artists of Everyday Life

Barbara Catch the Spirit Join the Conversation!  

The late Jim Rohn spent nearly half a century sharing his insights on successful living, insights gained in his own entrepreneurial career. His seminars, books and tapes are considered classics and his recorded products continue to influence scores of people who are working to build a better life.

Of course, he had plenty to say about being entrepreneurial. Here’s a little sampling:

An enterprising person is one who comes across a pile of scrap metal and sees the makings of a wonderful sculpture.

An enterprising person is one who drives through an old decrepit part of town and sees a new housing development.

An enterprising person is one who sees opportunity in all areas of life. 

To be enterprising is to keep your eyes open and your mind active. It’s to be skilled enough, confident enough, creative enough and disciplined enough to seize opportunites that present themselves…regardless of the economy.

Rohn believed—and taught—that entrepreneurs needed to build character and cultivate creativity. Like so many other business philosophers, he realized that entrepreneurs are truly artists who simply happen to work in a different medium.

What goes hand in hand with the creativity of enterprise is the courage to be creative. You need courage to see things differently, courage to go against the crowd, courage to take a different approach, courage to stand alone if you have to, courage to choose activity over inactivity.

Jim Rohn was a quiet philosopher, which was quite a contrast to the army of self-proclaimed success gurus working diligently to sell you formulas, shortcuts, sure-fire steps for building a fortune. Popular as many of these events happen to be, they’re about as nourishing as fast food.

What’s truly needed, however, aren’t auditoriums packed for success rallies and pep talks. Entrepreneurs need to discover how to nurture their own creative spirits—and regularly do the things that inspire them to act.

That’s more easily accomplished in quiet ways, quiet places.

(Can you imagine what might have happened if someone had stood behind Van Gogh shouting, “Paint, damn it, paint!”?)

When we realize that running a business is a creative activity, not just a money machine, it alters everything. Like any art form, it’s an on-going exercise.

As Goethe pointed out, “The art of living rightly is like all arts: it must be learned and practiced with incessant care.”

A Foolproof Investment

Barbara Making Peace With Money 1

I’ve learned that following what you love magnifies your talent. You just have to have the faith to invest in it. ~ Leslie Rector

Every day we are inundated with advertising that urges us to buy things that may or may not improve the quality of our lives. Seldom are we encouraged to invest in experiences that will enlarge our inner selves.

One day I got a call from a stockbroker who said, “How would you like to get a higher yield on your investments?” When I told him that my primary investments were my businesses, he said, “Oh, isn’t that scary?”

“Not at all,” I said. “Giving my money to a stranger over the phone is scary.” I wasn’t just being flippant.

My dictionary defines “invest” this way: to spend money or time or effort on something that will bring a profit. To invest implies that you must first put something in in order to get something greater out.

When most people think about investing, it generally involves putting money into something rather cold or impersonal, then waiting in the hope that the investment will grow.

There’s a far lower risk  when we invest our money, time and effort in ourselves and our dreams. Although it can be a far better investment to do so, many people have a hard time understanding its importance.

Writer Sondra Ray confronts this attitude. She writes, “Let’s take a look at the priorities on which people spend their money. What comes first? The rent; and this is the worst investment on the list.

“Compare rent with self-improvement. The fact is that self-improvement is the most valuable item on the list and most people don’t even have a category for it. Fear of running out causes you to spend only on things people told you to spend money on.

“When it comes to buying things that are really good for you and that make you happy, guilt comes. When you say, ‘I don’t have enough money to go to that self-improvement seminar or buy that self-improvement book,’ it is almost like saying, ‘I am not a good investment.’

“The best way to make money is to invest in yourself and that is what self-improvement is all about.”

When you invest in yourself and your dreams you are making the most important financial decision of your life. You have also invested in the one thing that lasts a lifetime and cannot be taken away from you.

The ups and downs of the economy have little effect on your investment in yourself. In fact, if you do it whole-heartedly, you’ll acquire skills and tools for circumventing difficult economies.

Author Jim Rohn has some other suggestions about sound investing. “Each month,” he suggests, “set aside a portion of your income and invest it in your search for knowledge. Spend the money to cultivate the sleeping giant inside you. The money—that’s a small price.

“There can be a great deal of difference between cost and value. I used to ask, ‘How much does it cost?’ I’ve learned to ask, ‘What is it worth?’ When I started to base my life on value instead of price, all kinds of things began to happen.

“Missing skills, missing knowledge, missing insight, missing values, missing lifestyle are all a result of not reading books or spending time in seminars or with those who have something to teach you.

“The promise is unlimited potential. More important than money is your next expenditure: time. Alas, there are no shortcuts.

“Fortunately, life has a unique way of rewarding high investment with high return. The investment of time you make now may be the catalyst for major accomplishment.

“Finally, you’ll be making an investment of effort.  In everything you do, be it self-observation, reading or observing others, the intensity of your efforts will have a profound effect on the amount of knowledge you gain.

“It is precisely this effort that will open the floodgates to the place where great ideas can work their magic.”

Looking for a great investment? I highly recommend the upcoming Obstacle-Busters Mastermind with Terri Belford and me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspiration Everywhere

Barbara Postcard from Barbara 2 Comments

Thanks to an ominous noise coming from my front left wheel of my trusty Saturn, I spent my holiday weekend close to home. Although I had no idea what was causing the noise, I kept thinking of a recent caller to Car Talk who had a problem with a front axle. I believe she was warned not to push her luck.

My daughter had recommended Big John’s, a family-owned local shop, so I called them ten minutes after they opened at 7:30 AM. They suggested I come in as soon as possible for a diagnosis, which was exactly what I hoped they’d say.

The men behind the counter at Big John’s were all enormous and enormously tattooed. Most of them sported scraggly beards and jolly smiles.

In the customer seating area there was a sixty-inch tv sporting a duck hunting reality show. I was sorry I’d left in such a hurry that I forgot to grab a book, but noticed a stack of magazines on the coffee table in front of the leather sofa. I was not optimistic that I’d be able to amuse myself.

About ninety percent of the magazines were back issues of Men’s Health or Sports Illustrated. Then I spied Departures, an American Express publication featuring luxury travel.

I decided it was more promising than the other choices, so I began halfheartedly browsing through it. In amongst the ads for expensive watches and hotels, I came across a fascinating story by a writer who had paid a visit to Rumi’s adopted hometown in the south of Turkey.

Yes, that Rumi. The beloved poet, I learned, had been born in what is now Afghanistan, but for most of his adult life lived and wrote in Konya. By the time I finished the piece, I wanted to join the 5,000 pilgrims who visit his tomb every day.

By this time, my car problem was diagnosed and it was, indeed, an axle and bearing causing the racket. I was told it would take about 2 1/2 hours to repair. The jolly man at the counter said, “We’ll let you have the remote for the tv.”

I was feeling pretty jolly myself when he told me my repair was going to come in under $500, about $1000 less than I’d anticipated. I laughed and said I’d call my daughter to come and rescue me.

While I waited for my ride, I decided to browse through another magazine, a thick marketing piece for an MLM company disguised as an issue of Success magazine. It was mostly filled with stories extolling tales of financial freedom distributors of the company had found through their businesses.

I kept turning pages and there at the end was a non-marketing article about the late speaker Jim Rohn. Much of the story was familiar, but at the end of the piece was a glorious tip sheet called something like Jim Rohn’s Seven Steps for Living a Great Life.

One of the tips that got my attention was a call to action.

Rohn said, “Don’t miss the game. Don’t miss the performance, don’t miss the movie, don’t miss the show, don’t miss the dance. Go to everything you possibly can. Buy a ticket to everything you possibly can.”

After my solitary weekend, that was music to my ears (or, literally, eyes). I smiled thinking how inspiration really is every where when you’re open to it, but Rohn wasn’t done with me yet.

“Live a vital life,” Rohn advised. “If you live well, it will show in your face. There will be something unique and magical about you if you live well.”

So I’m happy to report that my car is once again running quietly. And I promised Big John’s I would write a rave review about them on the Car Talk Website so I need to see if I can do so without gushing.

After all, public gratitude for great service is another aspect of living a vital life.

Of course, Rumi knew that, too. “The rule that covers everything is: How you are with others, expect that back.”

I’m guessing the guys at Big John’s demonstrate that everyday. What could be more inspiring than that?

6 Smart Ways to Invest Your Time

Barbara Self-employment Rocks! Join the Conversation!  

“We think much more about the use of money, which is renewable, than we do about the use of time, which is irreplaceable,” Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber warned.

Anyone who is serious about building a business needs to be smart about investing their time.

Just as we invest money in the expectation of a greater return in the future, we need to invest our time in the present in order to see a bigger reward in the future.

Sometimes that means devoting large chunks of time to creating a product that won’t generate revenue for months. At other times our investment may be a demonstration of faith in ourselves and our vision.

It’s a practice I discovered in the early days of my business when out of town trips often involved staying in less than elegant hotels and driving Ugly Duckling rental cars.

In my heart I believed I was a good investment and was willing to trade present comfort for a brighter future. I used the same philosophy in investing my time.

Here are some smart ways to invest your time whether you’re a new startup or simply want to keep your self and your enterprise invigorated.

° Take the boss for a walk. Any creative enterprise will profit from a frequent change of scenery.  Walking can both calm us down and stir up positive thoughts.

Even if your office or studio is the happiest place on Earth, moving around a botanic garden or browsing in a hardware store can rekindle your creative spirit.

° Hang out with some wise guys. Put yourself in regular contact with our best entrepreneurial thinkers who generously share their insights with anyone who cares to listen.

Seth Godin is at the top of my list, of course. Sign up for his mailings and take advantage of his unique and profound insights.

John Jantsch is another fellow who is both smart and practical. You can connect with him via DuctTapeMarketing.

Don’t try to listen to everybody who is offering advice. Find your favorites and pay close attention.

Don’t just read and delete. Consider how you can put their ideas to work in your enterprise. Remember, too, that your team of trusted advisors may change over time.

° Reach out and connect. I am growing quite weary of folks who declare that they can’t be bothered with social media or building relationships.

Yes, it takes time, but if you do it right, the rewards are huge.

° Schedule 90-Day Inventories. Regularly invest time in looking at what’s working, what needs help and what’s ready to be discarded.

It’s easy when our business is growing to get swept along in the tide, but in order to create something satisfying and profitable, a regular evaluation is a valuable tool.

This is also a time to consider the ROI you are—or are not—receiving.

° Don’t be tricked by convenience. I once had a friend who was dating a most unpleasant man. When I challenged her choice of mates, she acknowledged his lack of character, but defended spending time with him by saying, “But he’s convenient.”

I’ve seen entrepreneurs use the same justification for hanging onto uncongenial clients or projects that no longer thrill them.

While there are certainly times when convenience makes sense, don’t give it a high priority when making decisions.

° Be willing to practice. I’m not sure if Malcolm Gladwell’s assertion that it takes 10,000 hours to master something is accurate or not, but it’s certainly true that those who become more than mildly adequate invest heavily in practice.

If you need encouragement to embrace this important activity, pay a visit to The Art of Possibility by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander.

“Fortunately, life has a unique way of rewarding high investment with high return,” Jim Rohn pointed out.  The investment of time you make now may be the catalyst for major accomplishment.

“It is precisely this effort that will open the floodgates to the place where great ideas can work their magic.”

When a Book Calls, How Do You Answer?

Barbara Bookshelf 10 Comments

While I don’t have any hard evidence, I suspect that many authors have a box like the one in my office labeled Fan Mail. I truly appreciate my readers who have taken the time to let me know that they liked/learned/appreciated something I wrote.

Some fan letters are so unique that I memorize them. One of my favorites came from a reader in Houston who said, “I went to the bookstore to purchase a book on resume writing, but your book made such a commotion on the shelf that it wouldn’t let me leave without buying it.”

I’ve amused my self from time to time imagining Making a Living Without a Job dancing around in a bookstore singing, “Buy me, buy me.”

And, of course, I’ve had my own experiences being snapped to attention by a book that refused to be ignored.

One such encounter happened several years ago when I was browsing in a small bookstore in Minneapolis that specialized in spirituality and personal growth titles. I went into the store with nothing in particular in mind.

A few minutes later, I spied a book by Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer called Creating Money. I picked it up and read the cover notes and scanned the chapter titles. I put it back on the shelf with the reminder that I already owned several metaphysical books on prosperity thinking.

A day or two later, I was in a larger chain bookstore still browsing for a new book to purchase. As I looked over the selection in the personal growth section, I noticed that Borders was also selling Creating Money.

I continued to resist.

A quiet weekend was coming and I still had no book to share it with. I decided to check out the offerings at my neighborhood Barnes & Noble. I don’t recall the section that I was visiting, but as I looked across the shelf in front of me, there sat Creating Money at eye level.

It was misplaced, as if someone had changed their mind and plunked it down as they were leaving the store. I recall thinking, “All right, all right, I’ll buy you.”

Frankly, I wasn’t expecting much from the book. I’d read plenty of others on the subject and was quite happy with the changes I’d made in my relationship with money.

On Saturday afternoon, I sat down and began reading Creating Money. I couldn’t stop. I read it in one long sitting interrupted only by my need to sleep. I resumed reading on Sunday morning and finished the entire book in the early afternoon.

Surprisingly, it was not just a rehash of all the other books I’d read on building a prosperity consciousness. I felt my mind expanding in some new, healthier ways.

What happened next may have been coincidental—or a powerful demonstration about paying attention when good things come our way. At any rate, on Monday morning I had a large, unexpected windfall.

Of course, I was excited. I called a friend to tell her the good news and then promptly ran out and bought a copy of Creating Money and sent it to her.

Almost immediately, another windfall arrived. I gave another copy away and the same thing happened. Opportunities were coming from places I didn’t even know existed.

Maybe this is my new occupation, I mused. Perhaps I could just sit on a street corner handing out copies of the book and keep collecting windfalls.

I stopped myself from testing that idea, but I’ve never ignored another book that catches my attention.

“Wealth is not a matter of intelligence; it’s a matter of inspiration,” said Jim Rohn.

Frequently, that necessary trigger to inspiration is residing in a book that’s trying to get our attention. How do you answer?

°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°

Here’s a terrific article for all of you bibliophiles. Will the home library survive the surge of the e-book?

 

 

 

 

 

A Library of Your Own

Barbara Bookshelf 1

“When I have a house of my own,” said a character in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, “I shall be quite miserable if I have not an excellent library.”

While many of us can’t imagine living without books, storing them can be a problem. Even a small collection takes up space.

Whether you’re a young bookowner just starting to build a collection or a seasoned reader with a haphazard library, you can gain even greater pleasure from the books you own if you think of them as your personal library collection and treat them as such.

If you’re ready to turn a pile of books into an orderly and beloved library, here are some guidelines for organizing your collection and building it into something really special.

Take an inventory of the books you currently own. Do you really want to keep that old college biology book? The forgotten bestseller from 1980? Your library will serve your needs best when it’s made up of books you truly love.

Begin by pruning your collection. Check with family members and friends to see if anyone wants to adopt your outcasts.  Box up unwanted titles and sell them to a used bookdealer or donate them to a literacy project.

Organize the books you want to keep. What categories do you find?  Group books together by subject and alphabetize them by author within each section. Subdivide larger sections.

If, for instance, you love fiction, organize your novels into American, English and World Fiction divisions for greater ease in locating.  As your library grows, new acquisitions fit naturally and neatly into existing departments.

While family members may have their personal books housed in their bedrooms, ask them to share favorites with everyone. The bookshelves in your home should reflect the reading tastes of the people who live there, not just the adult readers.

My daughter has introduced me to wonderful books throughout her life that I would have missed without her recommendation. Sharing a passion for reading should not be just an adult-to-child activity.  Sample books that your kids love, too.

Keep book notes. When a friend suggests a book or you read a review or see an author interviewed on television, jot down the title and any other special information about the book  you want to remember.

Your trips to the bookstore will be more fruitful if you have particular titles in mind to investigate.  These lists also come in handy at gift-giving time when a friend or family member asks for suggestions for the perfect gift.

Track down alternative sources of books. Many bookstores rely heavily on new titles, but don’t stock books that were on the scene a year or so ago.

Library sales, secondhand bookstores, out-of-print search firms and garage sales are all places where you might uncover a treasure. It takes time to browse through a pile of used books, but there’s great delight to be had when you discover a title you’ve been hunting.

Many booklovers build visits to great bookstores into their travels, too. If you’re traveling to another part of the country or abroad, investigate the local book scene.

Build a special collection. Your friends and family can share in the hunt for new additions.

Of course, a specialized collection acquired over the years can become valuable and be sold or donated to a favorite college or library—or passed on as an heirloom.

Don’t forget the classics. Those wonderful stories that have thrilled readers for generations deserve a spot in your library, too.

Writer Jim Rohn says, “Some people read so little that they have rickets of the mind. Don’t just feed your mind the easy stuff. You can’t live on mental candy.”

Meeting Silas Marner as an adult isn’t at all like meeting him in junior high school.  “When you reread a classic,” says Clifton Fadiman, “you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than was there before.”

Design a personal reading project. Whether it’s a favorite author or a theme or a new subject that interests you, give yourself the gift of a personally created reading project, one that spans several months or, even, years. It will enrich both you and your library.

Building your own library can offer a lifetime of joy and satisfaction that can’t be found any other way. And, best of all, you  can spend everyday surrounded by the books that you love and cherish most.

 

Finding the Time to Read

Barbara Bookshelf 3 Comments

Psychologist Eda LaShan says that middle-age occurs when you realize that you won’t live long enough to read all the books you want to read. According to LeShan’s definition, some of us were born middle-aged.

Finding the time to read isn’t just a problem of our busy, modern world, however. Back in the 14th Century, Italian poet Francesco Petrarca faced the same dilemma and solved his conflict this way: “Whether I am being shaved, or having my hair cut, whether I am riding on horseback or taking my meals, I either read myself or get someone to read to me.”

Doubling up on activities is, of course, one way of squeezing in more reading time. Here are some other ideas from voracious readers.

Carry a Good Book

Having a book with you at all times is a good idea. Paperbacks have made it easy to tuck a current favorite into your purse or briefcase and use unexpected free moments to read a chapter or two. Electronic book readers are increasingly popular portable reading devices.

Some readers finish a number of books every year in those odd moments waiting for the dentist or a lunch companion. Accessibility is the key.

Eliminate Something Else

What habitual time-users fill your days? Cutting out just one television program or adjusting your schedule ever so slightly could open up reading time.

Take a look and you might surprise yourself.

Listen to Audio Books

Authors and actors narrate both fiction and nonfiction titles. These are great for listening during drive time, while doing housework or walking with your iPod.

Audible.com is a popular source with over 85,000 titles available for download.

Travel by Public Transportation

My idea of paradise is a long train trip with a stack of books. If it’s possible to take a bus or subway, rather than drive yourself, you can get lots of reading done.

Wear Headphones

Just don’t turn them on. If your reading time takes place in a noisy restaurant or airplane, don a headset. It will block some outside noises and deter others from chatting with you—if you’d rather read.

Don’t Finish Books That You Don’t Enjoy

Sounds obvious to me, but many folks think there’s something wrong with stopping midway through a book. Nonsense. Get on to another that brings more pleasure.

And be discriminating. I’m amazed at the number of people I see on airplanes reading books that were hastily purchased at an airport shop. I always travel with a book that I’ve started and know will be a delightful companion on my flights.

Learn To Skim

Time expert Alan Lakein suggests, “When you pick up a book, start by reading the headlines on the book jacket. Then glance through the book quickly, looking for something of interest to you….Your job in reading a book is to find the key ideas and understand their application to your situation. The preface and table of contents, as well as summaries that are sometimes found at the beginning and end of a book, will help you do this quickly.”

Skimming isn’t a substitute for reading an entire book, of course, but it’s a way to reinforce the most valuable ideas that you want to remember.

Have A Daily Reading Time

Tune into your own speical body clock and discover the times when you feel less energetic, less creative. Take advantage of these times to schedule your reading.

Even reading for 15 minutes every day will yield big results over time. The critical thing is to make it a part of every day, like brushing your teeth.

It’s still true that the person who can read and doesn’t has no advantage over the person who can’t read.

Philosopher Jim Rohn points out that by reading two books every week, you’ll have acquired the knowledge of over one thousand books in the next ten years.

“Do you think,” he asks, ”that acquiring the knowledge inside a thousand books will influence the many dimensions of your life?  Missing skills, missing knowledge, missing insight, missing values, missing lifestyle are all a result of not reading books.  Remember, the book unread is the one that can’t help you. You can’t read too many books, but you can read too few.”

 

Books Are The Bomb

Barbara Bookshelf 3 Comments

During a time when I was wondering if I’d ever figure out what to do with my life, it was a book that lit the way. One evening years ago, I read a short newspaper article about two women who had started their own business using their natural talents and imagination to create a successful enterprise.

The next day, I went to the bookstore and found their only copy of Supergirls: The Autobiography of an Outrageous Business by Claudia Jessup and Genie Chipps. Their story became my handbook.

Although I ultimately started a very different business from the one they’d created, I gleaned so many lessons from their story.

They started on a shoestring. So did I.

They got lots of free publicity. Me too.

They evolved into a very different business over time. That’s what happened to me.

I still wonder if I would have found my entrepreneurial spirit without that book to point me in the right direction.

What I know for sure is that books have made a continuous contribution to my growth and development as a person and as an entrepreneur.

Of course, I am not alone in discovering the impact of reading on the Joyfully Jobless life.

Tim Sanders is a consultant and former Chief Solutions Officer at Yahoo’s in-house think tank. In his book Love is the Killer App, he speaks passionately about the importance of books. Here’s what he has to say:

Here’s another 80/20 rule: Spend 80 percent of your time on books and 20 percent on articles and newspapers. And by books, I don’t mean just any book. I mean hardcovers. A paperback is made to be read. A hardcover is made to be studied. There’s a huge difference.

True, hardcovers are more expensive. But I’m talking about your career. If you can afford to party, or to buy new techno-gadgets, or to eat in fancy restaurants, you can afford a few hardcover books. The books you read today will fuel your earning power tomorrow.

Simply put, hardcover books are the bomb. They are fun to hold. They become personal the first time you mark them up, the first time you bend back the binding. There’s something exciting about writing down the ideas that interest you. Soon your book becomes more than just pages between covers. It becomes your ticket to success.

The ability to transfer knowledge is a huge advantage for anyone struggling to succeed in the new economy. It’s an easy skill to learn, it’s simple to facilitate, and there are more good books than you will ever be able to use, which means that the resources are unlimited. In fact, it’s so easy that there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start now.

Buy a book. Carry it with you. Its power is so great that you will feel as though you were carrying plutonium in a briefcase.

Jim Rohn was a popular speaker who frequently encouraged his audiences to take up reading if they want to succeed. “Miss a meal, if you must,” Rohn said, “but don’t miss a book.”

Rohn’s fans are also familiar with Mr. Shoaff, the man who mentored Rohn and taught him the valuable lessons that became the basis of Rohn’s philosophy. Mr. Shoaff instilled in the young Rohn a love of reading and eloquently inspired him to spend time with books.

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it put any better than this: “Mr. Shoaff  taught me that life puts some of the more valuable things on the high shelf so that you can’t get to them until you qualify.

“If you want the things on the high shelf, you must stand on the books you read. With every book you read, you get to stand a little higher.”

 

Why Bother Reading?

Barbara Bookshelf 1

Shortly before I began teaching high school English, the International Paper Company began an advertising campaign with the theme Send Me a Man Who Reads.(Yes, it was back in more sexist times.)

Those ads became regulars on the bulletin boards in my classroom. The gist of the campaign, which ran for several years, was that readers made better employees.

Of course, readers make better entrepreneurs as well. That’s no big surprise to those of us who wandered into entrepreneurship thanks to our devotion to lifelong learning.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of struggling businessowners who don’t seem to realize that books are their friends—and business mentors. Equally shocking is the fact that many small business bloggers and book authors do not acknowledge the writing of others.

I once knew a frustrated entrepreneur who dismissed reading as a frivolous waste of time. Evenings on the road were more apt to be spent in the hotel bar than curled up with a book that could have inspired or informed him.

Instead he labored to figure everything out himself. He was making his journey far more difficult than it needed to be.

As Mark Twain once pointed out, “The person who can read and doesn’t has no advantage over the person who can’t read.”

Why does regular reading matter so much to building a business? Here are some of the gifts.

Catch the spirit “Stuff yourself full of stories,” advises Ray Bradbury. “I’ve never had a dry spell in my life because I feed myself well.”

He was talking to writers, of course, but the same thing holds true for entrepreneurs. Many inspiring stories have been written by and about those who have gone from employee to entrepreneur.

Such stories not only inspire for telling the tale of overcoming challenges; they also are vivid records of entrepreneurial thinking in action.

By the way, fictional entrepreneurs can also help readers build an entrepreneurial mindset.

Keep curiosity alive “What I already know is enough,” is not the mantra of the successful. Passion begets passion, of course, but keeping passion alive is closely tied to staying curious.

Whether it’s human behavior or building an online presence that catches your fancy, books can keep you stretching.

Acquire wisdom Nobody has to tell you that we are living in changing times. Those who ignore the changes, operate at a huge disadvantage. It may be more serious, however, than just being handicapped.

As Jim Trelease points out, “People who have stopped reading base their future decisions on what they used to know. If you don’t read much, you really don’t know much. You’re dangerous.”

By all means, don’t confine your reading to quick Internet searches.

Leisurely reading, thoughtful reading, challenging reading can connect you with innovative thinkers and eloquent storytellers. For a few dollars, they can move into your World Headquarters and help you build a better business—providing you spend time with them and put their good ideas to work.

As Jim Rohn so aptly reminded us, “The only thing worse than not reading a book in the last ninety days is not reading a book in the last ninety days and thinking it doesn’t matter.”