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

Got Backup?

Barbara Tricks and Treats Join the Conversation!  

This week has been mostly about getting ready for the Joyfully Jobless Jamboree. There have been long Skype conference calls with Alice Barry and Sandy Dempsey and a steady stream of e-mails.

All of us are filled with anticipation and excitement because we’re old hands at taking ourselves away, changing the scenery, surrounding ourselves with a new cast of characters, and focusing on moving ahead without distractions or interruptions.

Retreats are so powerful that I can’t imagine why everyone doesn’t take advantage of such opportunities. After all, in order to do all we can and have all we desire, we must first become all that we are.

For most of us, that requires the assistance of those who are farther along on whatever path we’re treading. There was another example of this last week from one of my Facebook friends.

Andrea Brigitte Klee wrote, “I just returned home from Barbara Sher’s Scanner Retreat in France. What a week! I ate the best southwestern French food ever, and had a major breakthrough concerning the direction of my life. I found the answers to two basic questions, and, surprisingly enough, it was me who answered the questions.”

Yup, retreats have a way of letting us get in touch with our boldest dreams. At their best, they also provide us with tools to keep the momentum going once we’re back in familiar territory.

Author Sondra Ray once pointed out that the most important item in a budget is for personal growth and yet few people include it. Ray says, “When someone says, ‘I don’t have enough money to go to that seminar,” it’s like saying, ‘I’m not a good investment.”

Precisely.

If you’re a one-person operation, you are the biggest asset your business has. Without investing time and money in yourself, it’s difficult for that asset to expand.

Retreats have another bonus in addition to self-discovery. Ever see the movie About a Boy ? It has nothing to do with attending a seminar, but it certainly is a terrific story about personal growth.

Hugh Grant plays a purposeless young man who is supported by royalties from a silly Christmas song his father wrote years earlier. His life begins to change when he unwillingly befriends a socially inept boy.

At the end of the movie, when many lives have changed for the better because of the relationships they’ve made, the boy says, “One is not enough. You’ve got to have backup.”

That astute observation doesn’t just apply to personal relationships, of course. Having backup is critical for anyone who is serious about building business longevity.

So what kind of backup should we be putting in place? According to Scott Stratten’s brilliant new book UnMarketing, it starts with connecting to others. To do that successfully requires making relationship building an on-going activity.

Some of those relationships will begin via social media, of course, but face to face offers another dimension that can’t be achieved via a computer.

So I’m heading to Austin expecting to come home with new ideas, new enthusiasm, and fuel for the next leg of my journey.

Most of all, I’m excited to find some new friends who will provide—and receive—backup, because, quite simply, you can never have too much of that.

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We’ve had many questions about recordings from the Jamboree. However, we decided it’s a “you had to have been there” kind of experience so we won’t be Tweeting, posting, recording or taping the event.

Sightseeing Tips for Entrepreneurs

Barbara Ideas Everywhere Join the Conversation!  

The prolific Martha Stewart once told an interviewer that she had just returned from a trip to Munich and came home with dozens of new ideas. “Everywhere I go,” she said, “I scout for ideas.”

She’s not  the only entrepreneur who finds inspiration when she travels. Would there have been a Starbucks if Howard Schultz hadn’t been smitten with Italian coffee shops?

Shortly after my daughter and her family moved to Austin, TX  I flew in for a visit. Before we went to their house, I got the mini-tour.

When I commented on all the people we saw who were running, walking or bicycling, Jennie said, “This town isn’t about buying stuff; it’s about doing stuff.” I liked it already.

I got even more interested when Hector said, “What I love about this place is all the little independent businesses.”

Those words were barely out of his mouth when we passed a parking lot where there was a shiny Airstream trailer with a giant cupcake on the roof—and a long line of customers. As I was about to discover every time we passed that way during my visit, the long line of people never diminished.

I couldn’t wait to learn more about Hey Cupcake! As soon as it was politely possible to excuse myself, I began investigating this business on the Internet. I found out that Hey Cupcake! is the brainchild of Wes Hurt, a 20-something Texan who says he was born entrepreneurial.

His story reminded me of an article I wrote in Winning Ways newsletter called “Take a Trip, Come Back With a Business”. That’s exactly what Hurt did.

The inspiration came during a trip to New York when he visited the Magnolia Bakery. He says, “I waited in line for 20 minutes or so and was amazed by the enthusiasm and anticipation emanating from everyone in line. That day I started planning what would eventually be Hey Cupcake!”

Hurt’s idea wasn’t exactly an instant success, however. He opened his first cupcake stand on the campus at the University of Texas where about 10,000 students passed by daily. Unfortunately, not enough of them stopped to buy a cupcake.

Hurt was disappointed, but in true entrepreneurial fashion decided to revamp. He changed locations and moved into the Airstream. That did the trick. At their busiest, they now sell about 1,000 cupcakes a day.

I met several more members of the Austin entrepreneurial community when I stopped at a beautifully restored post-Victorian house where David Walker runs a co-working space called Conjunctured. He and his partners have created a place where solo entrepreneurs can come and work in a less isolated environment.

It didn’t take long to learn that Walker is wildly enthusiastic about the Joyfully Jobless life, but this isn’t his only business. He and a group of folks run 302 Designs which produce t-shirts with beautiful designs and inspirational words. He’d just signed a contract with Whole Foods who will be distributing their shirts.

With all that entrepreneurial energy flying around, it was easy to select Austin as a natural locale for the Joyfully Jobless Jamboree.

Almost any place you visit becomes an opportunity to explore local businesses. I often begin my own sightseeing by checking out independent bookstores. On a visit back to Minneapolis, Alice Barry took me to one of my favorites, Wild Rumpus, a splendid children’s bookshop.

When I was writing in my diary tonight, I noticed on this day a couple of years ago, I’d been in Portland, OR where I spent time at Rejuvenation Hardware, a store I could happily live in.

It’s a wonderful way to nurture your own entrepreneurial spirit, even if you have no intention of running a shop yourself. Seeing someone else’s dream brought to life might inspire a new dream of your own.

Money Dragons Make Lousy Pets

Barbara Ideas Everywhere Join the Conversation!  

Last week, Vibrant Nation reprinted my article on Outsmarting the Money Dragon.   Not surprisingly, it generated a number of comments.

The article begins this way:

Every so often I am asked some variation of the question, “Do you ever worry about money?” The truthful answer to that is, “Not anymore,” but getting free of the Money Dragon had little to do with earning more money and everything to do with challenging my belief system about money.

Allowing the Money Dragon to rule your world is a surefire invitation to sleepless nights and perpetual poverty. Banishing that monster starts by answering some important questions.

Do you live in a world of scarcity or abundance?

Many people create scarcity by focusing on everything they don’t have. Author Sondra Ray points out that if you have any money anywhere — even a few coins — you actually have a surplus. How many people give themselves credit for that?

Thinking abundantly comes from a healthy self-image, knowing you have options, and an understanding of the role that attitude plays in creating wealth.

Most of us arrive at that state through conscious work, eliminating thoughts and words of poverty. Books such as Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Creating Money can help us get rid of our own blocks and limiting thoughts.

You may have to work more diligently than ever these days. In case the Money Dragon hasn’t been scaring you lately, the media is quick to remind us that it lurks behind every corner, in the alley and may turn its fiery breath on us all at any moment.

It matters not that Warren Buffet, who long ago tamed his own Money Dragons, offers a cautiously optimistic forecast. Plenty of people have a vested interest in keeping the Money Dragon hovering in the shadows. After all, money has been one of the most effective ways of controlling others for centuries.

As long as we participate and allow ourselves to be controlled by money fears (whether imposed by others or generated by our own thinking) the Money Dragon will continue to breathe over our shoulders.

As I have frequently said, “Self-employment is where we go to examine our relationship to money.” If we aren’t willing to honestly examine our limited scarcity thinking, we can’t expect to prosper in our businesses.

For many of us, this has been an uncomfortable part of the curriculum. When I first realized that my own belief system about money was hindering, not helping, me, I got busy doing something about it.

I read books, attended seminars, created projects that stretched my thinking and, ultimately, my bank account. I stopped avoiding people who had a reality of abundance and began to seek them out.

In one seminar I attended, the leader challenged us by asking, “Who has a problem that they had five years ago?” It  was a genuine wake-up call as I realized that any problem that becomes a regular part of our lives turns into an excuse for not living boldly.

So why, I’ve been wondering, do so many people insist on keeping the Money Dragon around as a pet? They feed it, nurture it, haul it out to show others why they can’t do wonderful things.

“Can’t you see I have this Dragon to feed? How could I possibly go to the Joyfully Jobless Jamboree…even though I see More Money is one of the themes?”

If you’ve got one of those Money Dragons hanging around, here’s a way to start releasing it back into the wild. Define the problem and avoid blaming yourself, your parents, your previous choices.

Take personal responsibility for changing your attitudes and, ultimately, your situation. Explore the connection between setting goals and generating cash flow—and take responsibility for that as well.

A great way to build your goal-setting muscle is to invent a small project — one that really excites you — and create the funding for it in a totally new way. Then work up to a slightly larger project. Not only will you realize more of your dreams, you’ll build a larger Option Bank for yourself in the process.

You might even decide to acquire a new pet—one that’s worthy of sharing your joyfully jobless life.

Exercising Your Options

Barbara Good Investments 1

Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market may seem an unlikely business to gain international attention, but that’s exactly what happened after filmmaker John Christensen noticed the enthusiasm and energy that the fishmongers brought to their job. He decided to make a film about this unique business.

What Christensen learned was that the fish market had four simple principles that they put into action every day. One of those principles is so important that without it the other three don’t work.

It’s also an option we all have, but not everyone exercises it on a daily basis.

As one of the fishmongers explains, “My buddies and I realized that each day when we come to the fish market we bring an attitude. We can bring a grouchy attitude and irritate our coworkers and customers.

“Or we can bring a playful, cheerful attitude and have a great day. We can choose the kind of day we will have.

“We spent a lot of time talking about this choice, and we realized that as long as we are going to be here, we might as well have the best day we can have.”

That’s not just a nice philosophy, however. Everyone at the fish market looks for creative ways to demonstrate that a positive attitude makes the place delightful for workers and customers alike.

Fish fly through the air and crowds gather around the market that seems to specialize in performance art.

“In fact, we got so excited about our choices that we chose to be world famous. A day spent ‘being world famous’ is a lot more enjoyable than a day spent being ordinary.”

The simple secret of the Pike Place Fish Market is, of course, the realization that attitude is a choice. That’s not something I always believed.

In my early life, I thought that my attitude was a result of what was going on around me. If things were going well, I stayed pretty positive; if my plans weren’t working, it was cause to be cranky. Then I was led to one of the first personal development programs I ever heard of called Adventures in Attitudes.

This program was inspired by the psychologist William James who said,  “The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitude of their minds can change the outer aspects of their lives.”

I loved that idea, but found taking charge of my own attitude was not always easy. Just knowing that attitude is a choice—not a random emotional event—is the first step to taking charge of it.

If we don’t know or don’t believe we have choices, we don’t.

When it comes to our attitude, if we don’t exercise those choices, creepy, crawly, dark thoughts can move right in. While we can’t control how we feel, we can control how we think and act.

When we take personal responsibility for our attitude, situations may not change, but how we handle them does. And when we are serious about that responsibility, we refuse to let the behavior of others take control of our own attitude.

As my two-year-old grandson would say, “That’s huge, Grandma. Huge!”

If you want to see your business soar, decide that negativity, crankiness and unpleasantness are not options for you. After all, being in charge of an inspired business begins with being in charge of that way of thinking and behaving we call attitude.

“A man without a smiling face must not open a shop,” says an old Chinese proverb. It is not an exaggeration to say that the ultimate success of your business will be determined more by your attitude than any other factor.

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A quick reminder that the Early Bird enrollment for the Joyfully Jobless Jamboree ends at midnight on Labor Day. There will be plenty of positive attitude in action in Austin on October 15 & 16. Don’t miss it.

Feeling Left Out on Labor Day?

Barbara Alternatives Join the Conversation!  

Although the Labor Day holiday has evolved into a weekend that commemorates the end of summer, it began with a very different intention. In an attempt to appease unhappy workers, President Grover Cleveland proposed a holiday to honor their accomplishments. It was quickly and unanimously approved by Congress.

At about the same time, the United States began to evolve from a rabidly entrepreneurial culture to an employee culture. By the time you and I arrived on the planet the conventional wisdom about the importance of finding and keeping a good job was firmly in place.

Having a national holiday to shine the spotlight on laborers undoubtedly has also had the benefit of keeping workers on the job. After all, it’s a public statement that job holders matter enough to have a special day of their very own.

So where does that leave the joyfully jobless? Yes, I know we know we are diligent and committed workers. I also know that our relatives may regard us as slackers. We are not the ones for whom Labor Day was intended.

Several years ago, a self-employed friend joined her former coworkers for drinks one Friday evening.  Although she was looking forward to seeing them, she soon felt bored and disconnected from the conversation.

“The only thing they talked about,” she told me sadly, “was their desire to stay in their jobs until they reached top pay.”

What was this lofty goal that kept them going back day after day? A whopping $17/hour. “That seems to be their only goal,” my friend reported. She never attended another of those gatherings.

However, she did make a diligent and consistent effort to connect with other self-employed people. Instead of finding herself in conversations about top pay, she now was spending time with people who were going places, doing things and making a difference.

“Sometimes I just need to be reminded,” she says, “that being self-employed is a wonderful choice. These days I find myself sharing ideas, getting good advice, and being inspired to set bolder goals. While I really cared about my coworkers from my old job, I know that encounters with them don’t leave me feeling the way I do after hanging out with my new creative friends.”

“Be with those who help your being,” advised the Persian poet Rumi. I often wonder how much happiness, accomplishment and joy would be unleashed if everyone adopted Rumi’s advice.

Since the beginning of 2010, I’ve spent the bulk of my time working on the upcoming Joyfully Jobless Jamboree in Austin, TX. Right from the start, our idea was to create a two-day event where self-employed folks could be with those who help their being.

When we discovered the second day of the Jamboree just happens to be National Boss’s Day, we knew that was a holiday we wanted to celebrate. According to Wikipedia, National Boss’s Day has traditionally been a day for employees to thank their boss for being kind and fair throughout the year.

Alas, many people who have a boss would have a hard time finding little worth celebrating. On the other hand, we who are the boss need to take time to acknowledge the ways in which we’ve been kind and fair to ourselves this year.

So while we won’t be parading through the streets of Austin and no politicians will be stumping at the Jamboree, we will be whooping and hollering and redefining for ourselves what Top Pay means.

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Breaking News: We’re extending the Early Bird enrollment until Labor Day, September 6th. Go to http://jjjamboree.com to take advantage of this saving. It seemed a fitting way to participate in the holiday.

However, the special room rate for the Jamboree at the beautiful Lakeways Center expires on August 31.

10 Ways to Feed Your Joyfully Jobless Spirit

Barbara Alternatives 1

My definition of job security is having a strong, healthy entrepreneurial spirit. That can only occur if that spirit is fed regularly with activities and thoughts that are nurturing. Here are some of my favorite ways to do just that.

Give yourself a change of scenery. It may be efficient for factories to standardize their production lines, but our creative selves thrive on variety.

Take a different route when running errands, take a sabbatical, take a vacation, take your laptop to the park. You can be productive without being routine.

Tithe your time. Don’t just send a check to support things you care about. Find ways to share your time.

When Joe started his own insurance agency he decided to spend 10% of his time doing volunteer work. Eventually he worked his way up to 50% volunteer time.

Did his business suffer? Not at all. He made so many contacts along the way that his insurance business grew naturally.

You could also look for ways to volunteer and spread some entrepreneurial spirit at the same time. Mentor a kid business or offer your services pro bono to an organization you admire.

Create a research project. What would you like to learn more about? Look for a way to fund your research.

Start by checking the grant directories at your local library. You’ll be astonished by the funding sources that often are overlooked and unspent.

Get clear about how this will enhance you personally and entrepreneurially, then begin looking for a match.

You could find yourself photographing  mosaics in Morocco or interviewing artisans in Ecuador. Use your imagination to come up with a fresh research project that excites you.

Share what you already know. Write a tip sheet and get it published—or publish it yourself and distribute it. Mentor a new entrepreneur.

Put your experiences together and teach a seminar. There’s no better confidence builder than sharing your unique insights and experiences.

Find  great entrepreneurial stories. There are thousands of inspiring stories out there. Make it your hobby to find them. After all, it’s your tribal history.

Offer praise. Master the art of writing an exquisite fan letter. Catch others doing something good and let them know you noticed. It’s good for them and good for your soul.

By the way, although e-mail is quick, a handwritten  note is even more special because they’ve become so rare.

Learn how to synthesize ideas. We should have learned how to do this in school, but I fear many of us haven’t.

For instance, I was reading Jim Miller’s Savvy Senior column in my local paper. He was asked by a reader how to find a reliable handyman. He offered dozens of suggestions.

As I read what he had to say, I thought that anyone wanting to have such a business could find some great suggestions for marketing themselves using the suggestions in Miller’s article.

It’s equally important to look at enterprises that are nothing like yours and figure out what you can adapt from their way of doing things or their overall philosophy.

Attend with a friend. I always like to see pairs of people showing up together in seminars. I realize that sometimes a friend comes along hoping to discourage their companion from doing anything foolish.

However, sharing a learning experience with an entrepreneurial friend can be a great way to extend and deepen the lessons learned. There’s nothing like building dreams with someone who gets it.

Record your journey. Keep an illustrated journal of your entrepreneurial life. Don’t just include the big events; do a photo essay of an ordinary day in the life of your business.

The sooner you begin this, the better. It might become your grandchildren’s favorite storybook.

Join other creative self-bossers at the Joyfully Jobless Jamboree.

The Company You Keep Impacts the Company You Build

Barbara Alternatives Join the Conversation!  

It’s easy to imagine people looking at the prolific William Morris and saying, “I wonder how he gets so much done.” During his lifetime, he produced a dazzling body of work that included writing, social activism, publishing and all those intricate textile and wallpapers.

I’ve always suspected that the secret of his enormous output stemmed from the weekends he organized at his home, Red House, where he invited his artistic friends to come and spend the weekend “making things.” Rosetti, Burne-Jones and the others who came to make up the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were participants in these Art Weekends.

In gathering all these creative souls around himself and nurturing their talents, he was taking advantage of that extraordinary energy known as synergism.

This phenomenon was first noticed and named by the pharmaceutical industry where it was observed that combining drugs sometimes produced a result greater than the individual parts. In other words, synergy says two plus two equals twelve.

The same thing can happen when people gather together and the result is greater than the individual contributions.

You’ve probably been the recipient of synergistic energy and know how powerful it can be. One November, I went to London accompanied by Karyn Ruth White, who is a perpetual idea machine. Everything seems to trigger a creative thought in her.

I returned home with a notebook full of ideas for my business. Happily, the momentum of that time kept my creative spirit on alert for months and months.

While synergy can occur spontaneously and in unexpected ways, the smart entrepreneur will consciously create situations to help it along.

This is particularly important for those of us who work alone and need to reach out to other self-bossers on a regular basis to take advantage of the rewards of synergism.

Here are some suggestions for doing just that.

° Instigate. “As I look at my life,” says Stewart Emery, “I notice that all my friends are people who support me in learning the lessons I have to learn. We have consciously chosen each other based on the contribution we can make to each other.”

Create situations and gatherings for the purpose of brainstorming. Form your own small Joyfully Jobless group. Have regular breakfast meetings with another self-bosser.

If you’re feeling really frisky, invite a few trusted folks to go away on a mini-retreat where you spend time away from normal demands and concentrate on generating ideas for all members of the group. You could even host your own Art Weekends ala William Morris.

° Show up. You’re  more likely to be the recipient of synergistic energy at a seminar than you are watching old reruns on television.

Today many people are enthusiastic participants in chat rooms on the Internet. While this may be an efficient way to share information, it’s not the same as being in the presence of other people. Communication is more than just words and, in fact, nonverbal communication is hugely important.

When you get involved in events and activities where ideas are encouraged and flow easily, like the upcoming Joyfully Jobless Jamboree, it can directly impact your success for years to come.

° Be opportunity-minded. My friend Chris Utterback and I seldom had a conversation without one of us exclaiming, “Oh, there’s a great business idea!”

We always were observing the world around us with the attitude of finding better ways of doing things or discovering something that was missing. Often this led us to giving ideas away to others who could carry them out.

More importantly, it conditioned us to see the world as a place filled with abundance and unlimited opportunities. We knew that we’d never run out.

What more valuable perspective could an entrepreneur have?

Explore More

Barbara Alternatives Join the Conversation!  

Nearly all of us who arrived on this planet after World War II grew up in the Culture of the Single Lifetime Career. From early on, we were encouraged to pick a path and follow it.

Once we had made the choice, we discovered that getting off that path was not only difficult—it incurred scorn and criticism from others. Besides the enormous discontent that such thinking has produced, it’s also crippled our adventurous spirits.

R. Buckminster Fuller was one of the greatest thinkers of the past century and someone who refused to give in to such singular notions. In his fascinating book, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, he writes, “Society assumes that specialization is natural, inevitable and desirable.

“Yet in observing a little child, we find it is interested in everything and spontaneously apprehends, comprehends and coordinates an ever-expanding inventory of experiences. If the total scheme of nature required man to be a specialist she would have made him so by having him born with one eye with a microscope attached to it.”

Isn’t that a great image? Think about an older person that you know, one you would describe as youthful. What’s the distinguishing characteristic of this lively elder? I’m guessing that curiosity about anything and everything is what stands out.

It’s the same quality that makes for successful entrepreneurship. We need to be curious about our own industry, of course, but we need to be equally curious about things that seem to have no direct bearing on what we’re up to.

After all, the world is full of people who are crazy about things we know nothing about  and discovering what they love can make our lives richer.

One Thanksgiving, I had dinner with a group of relatives I didn’t know very well. The sister of the hostess sat next to me at dinner and the moment she sat down announced, “I want to have my own business.”

I asked her if she knew what she wanted to do and she lit right up. “I love doing beadwork. I come home from my job and go right to my project room and bead all night,” she told me.

The moment dinner was over, she whipped out her beads and spent the afternoon making jewelry.

A few minutes later, my cousin Ray came over to visit with me. Ray has been a farmer his entire life raising corn and soybeans. A few years ago, he turned several acres of his farm into vineyards

In his second year of production, his crop outperformed all expectations. He was so excited about this new aspect of his business and had a list of ideas for building it. I couldn’t wait to return in the summer to see his vines.

Even though I may never take up beading or growing grapes myself, being with these passionate folks opened a creative valve and I spent my long drive home stopping to write down ideas for my own business.

Exploring is more than just amusement. There’s no doubt in my mind that you, I and our fellow humans are in possession of Renaissance souls just waiting to be discovered.

It’s only by following our hunches, by trying a wide range of things, by listening to others share their passions and by moving outside the familiar that we can unwrap the gifts that are waiting our recognition.

You don’t have to go halfway around the world in order to be a genuine explorer. You just need to open your heart and mind to testing and tasting the unfamiliar.

And when you catch yourself thinking or saying, “I would never…” reverse that thought and give what you’d never do a try.  You might discover that you adore traveling alone or giving a speech. Or you might discover that once was enough. Either way, you’ll have gained a new insight into what brings you the greatest joy.

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The upcoming Joyfully Jobless Jamboree on October 15 & 16 is going to be a fantastic opportunity to explore more. We’re thinking of it as Woodstock for the selfl-employed. Spending time in a beautiful setting surrounded by lively, creative self-bossers is certain to inspire you to take your business higher and farther.

This is the perfect place to explore, connect and create. Early Bird deadlines are rapidly approaching so don’t wait any longer to get registered.

Lasting Connections

Barbara Get Connected 4 Comments

A couple of weeks ago, I got a message from Julie Hanson, a longtime Winning Ways subscriber, from Glasgow, Scotland, whom I first met when she attended a Making a Living Without a Job seminar there.

Julie said she was headed to Las Vegas and wondered if we might connect. A few days later, we located each other under the Chihuly ceiling at Bellagio.

A lively lunch followed and I learned that she’s one of the leading authorities on seasonal yoga, which I knew nothing about. She gave me a copy of her beautifully done, self-published book 5 Seasons.

She said coming to my seminar had first opened her mind to the possibility of creating products to go along with her yoga teaching. I loved hearing about the evolution of her business.

Then she whipped out her iPad and we discovered our mutual passion for Apple technology.  That reminded her of a delightful story about going to her local Apple store for her weekly one-on-one training session.

When the fellow who was working with her asked what she wanted to focus on in their session, she said she needed to design her book cover. “You’re kidding, aren’t you?” he asked. “Did they put you up to this?”

She assured him that she that the book cover  truly was her project of the week. He then told her that in his other life, he designs book covers for which he is paid large sums of money. She was the lucky recipient of his talent that day.

I loved that story and loved knowing that the Glasgow Apple store was as jolly as my local one on The Strip.

Then our talk turned to Julie’s visit. I gave her Las Vegas travel tips. When she mentioned she was going to go to Sedona later in the week, I gave her some more.

In many ways, it was an ordinary encounter with a kindred spirit. Even though they’re ordinary, those encounters never fail to make my heart sing.

Of course, I’m not alone in realizing how important connecting with creative, self-actualizing people is for anyone wanting to succeed in their own business.

Even though I don’t know them personally, I follow a number of joyfully jobless folks on Twitter who are good friends. They all run fairly young businesses and do quite different things, but are each other’s biggest fans.

If one of them is launching a new product or running a program, the others all Tweet about it to their own lists. They’re wildly supportive of one another and although they live in very different parts of the US and Canada, it’s obvious that these relationships matter.

They originally met at the massive SXSW conference in Austin, Texas and have continued to stay in touch and cheer each other on. There’s no doubt in my mind that their individual journeys—and thriving businesses—have benefited enormously from that shared experience.

Your business will benefit, too, from sharing time and space with others who are bringing their own ideas to life. That’s precisely the kind of opportunity we’re busily creating with the upcoming Joyfully Jobless Jamboree, also in Austin, TX, on October 15 & 16.

We’re going to make it easy for the folks who attend to get to know each other, to explore ways they can collaborate and leave with new connections that will be valuable alliances. Some of those will undoubtedly be lasting connections.

If you’re really quick, you could save $150 on the Jamboree registration. But that’s not the best reason to attend.

To paraphrase our friends in real estate, it’s connection, connection, connection.

The 90-Day Stretch

Barbara Get Connected 3 Comments

Yesterday I realized that we were entering the 90-Day Stretch leading up to the Joyfully Jobless Jamboree. Since the 90 day time frame is one of the best power tools I’ve discovered for creating focus and making regular new discoveries, I  know where my attention will be in the coming weeks.

If you want to accomplish more, make your business diverse and fascinating, and enrich your life enormously, I urge you to make 90-Day Projects a regular activity.

Imagine how rich your life could become if you took up the practice of finding new things to explore four times a year. In forty years’ time, that would add up to 160 new discoveries.

The simplicity of this plan is that you do each thing as fully as possible—one thing at a time. It’s a way to grow and stretch yourself by focusing on a single new activity.

Been wanting to try contra dancing? For three months, become the world’s most enthusiastic contra dancer. If at the end of 90 days, you’ve had your fill, move on to salsa. If you’re really hooked on contra dancing at the end of three months, find a way to work it into your life on a permanent basis.

* Begin with the end in mind. To get started, take a look at your lifetime goals list. (You don’t have a lifetime goals list? Make writing one your first 90–Day Project.) What item catches your fancy?

Pick one that suits you and give some thought to your intention in pursuing it. Do you want to enhance your creativity? Acquire a skill that will be useful in your business?

Meet some new and interesting people? Travel?

* Give it a theme. A friend who had been procrastinating about getting her writing career launched called her project Anne Learns How To Market Her Writing. This led her to read several books on the subject and take a couple of adult ed classes.

Before the 90 days were over, she’d sent out five query letters and gotten a writing assignment. Having a theme, kept her on track.

A theme helps add focus and raises awareness so you notice what supports that theme—and eliminate things that do not.

* Immerse, don’t dabble. While you’re in the midst of a project, be fully there. Immersion is popular with language schools and it works for other things, too. Make what Barbara Sher calls a “temporary permanent commitment.”

No, you don’t have to stick with this for the rest of your life, but be totally committed for all 90 days. There will be times when you’re bored or lose interest. That’s just part of the learning process. Keep at it anyway.

* Include the unpredictable. If you’ve always wanted to learn Swahili, do it. You don’t have to have a reason or application for using what you’ve acquired. Personal growth is the top priority here and learning for its own sake is commendable.

* Go for variety. For nine months of the year, Todd builds twig furniture in his home workshop. When summer rolls around, he hits the road, selling his wares at Arts and Crafts festivals around the country. It’s a huge contrast to the solitary time that makes up most of his year.

“Getting out and talking to people, explaining how I work and so forth can be exhilarating and exhausting. But it always fires me up for my creative time.”

At its best, the 90–Day Project generates synergy partly because it provides a contrast.

* Get involved in a parallel universe. Anyone who takes up a new learning activity quickly discovers that there’s a whole group of people already engaged in that pursuit. Part of the fun of being a neophyte is meeting more advanced aficionados.

This is also a great way to make progress on your goals. Want to lead a tour to the Mayan ruins someday? Create a 90–Day Project to research Mayan history.

Then create another to learn all about organizing and promoting a tour. Then create another to market your  Mayan Exploration.

Not only is this a logical way to move ahead, making smaller projects out of a bigger project can eliminate a great deal of anxiety and fear. After all, you are just researching, learning and experimenting.  There’s nothing too scary about that.

There are other bonuses to the 90–Day Project as well. You’ll become more disciplined, committed and, best of all, more interesting.  So go feed your Renaissance soul with a new adventure. Then in three months do it again.