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.”

Rescuing Curiosity

Barbara Self-employment Rocks! 2 Comments

The other day I was hanging out with my grandchildren when Zachy, who’s not yet 4, decided to turn his younger brother’s cradle into a helicopter. He tipped it on end and struggled to cover it with blankets.

The contraption was wonky and kept slipping across the wooden floor. Zachy was undeterred.

I suggested he abandon the project, but he kept at it. “I’m making an awesome helicopter,” he explained.

I’ve known Zachy long enough to know that determination is one of his trademarks. Once he has a vision, he follows through. He is unimpressed by adult wisdom and advice. It’s obvious that he would rather struggle than settle.

Zachy reminded me that innovation can be messy and uncomfortable, but when we’re curious that doesn’t matter much.

I also realize that without curiosity it’s hard to make things happen or to make much of a difference.

Seth Godin’s book Tribes has much to say about the importance of recovering our curiosity. “I don’t think it’s a matter of saying a magic word; boom and then suddenly something happens and you’re curious,” he writes.

“It’s more about a five- or ten- or fifteen-year process where you start finding your voice, and finally you begin to realize that the safest thing you can do feels risky and the riskiest thing you can do is play it safe.

“Once recognized, the quiet yet persistent voice of curiosity doesn’t go away. Ever. And perhaps it’s such curiosity that will lead us to distinguish our own greatness from the mediocrity that stares us in the face.”

This weekend I’m headed to Denver to teach at Colorado Free University, one of the longest-running curiosity incubators in the country. I’ve been wondering if the people area realize how fortunate they are to have such a treasure in their midst.

While I’m looking forward to meeting the people who are curious about how to establish themselves as an expert or make a living without a job, I’m especially excited to see who shows up in my new program, Become a Great Idea Detective.

I could have called it, I’m Curious. Now What? because it’s loaded with tools for exploring and expanding ideas. Besides that, hanging out with curious people is at the top of my list of favorite activities.

“It’s taken me three decades to unlearn the impulse to be practical,” confessed writer Sarah Ban Breathnach. “Just imagine what you might have accomplished if only you’d been encouraged to honor your creative reveries as spiritual gifts.”

Happily, it’s never too late. If you’re curious.

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.”

5 Ways to Make it Harder

Barbara Postcard from Barbara, Tricks and Treats 1

If you’ve met me or seen my picture, you may have noticed that I am blessed with hair that’s straight as a ruler. Unfortunately, when I was a little girl, Toni home permanents came up with a solution—Tonette for children.

After it appeared on the market, my mother enthusiastically administered this smelly monstrosity to my hair at regular intervals. When I would protest, she’d remind me, “You must suffer to be beautiful.”

It became one of my mother’s favorite mantras and I suspect the message spilled over into other areas of life. How dare I feel proud about any accomplishment that came easily?

While I no longer believe that suffering is a necessity when it comes to personal achievement, I do know that worthwhile endeavors usually involve a challenge—or several.

Nevertheless, I suspect that too many of us continue to make things harder than necessary when we’re going for a dream.  I also suspect that we’re often unaware of those behaviors that slow us down and add drudgery.

How can we be sure we’re making it harder than it needs to be? Here are five surefire ways that can burden the entrepreneur’s journey.

1. Avoid investing in ourselves. Anyone who starts a business signs up for a learning adventure, but those who never bother to attend a seminar or travel to a conference are making their own success a low budget priority.

And it’s not just information that needs to be acquired. As author Earnie Larsen points out, “You can’t outperform your own self-image.”

For most of us, acquiring a healthy self-image requires an investment of time, money and assistance from pros.

2. Pamper our excuses. We’ve all got them and when we repeat them often enough, they begin to feel welcome.

That’s only a short step away from believing them. The moment we do that, our excuses assume a position of power.

It’s hard to move ahead when our excuses have lodged themselves around our ankles.

3. Never ask for help. In a recent post, Seth Godin said, “Too often, businesses (and freelancers) focus on making it on their own. In fact, the secret of being indispensable is making it together.”

Colorado Free University founder John Hand believed that for everyone who has a problem, someone in the community has the solution. Whether the community is geographic or virtual, we make it harder for ourselves if we fail to find those helpful resources and listen to their advice.

4. Ignore the successful. The world is full of people who are willing to share their experiences, lessons and techniques.

The best way to keep from following in their footsteps is to avoid putting yourself in their presence to begin with, but should you find yourself in the same room, use it as an exercise to compare yourself to them rather than learn from them.

5. Scorn inspiration. One of the best kept secrets around is that inspiration is available to all of us, but it needs to be cultivated. In order to do that, we need to know what inspires us—and take ourselves to those people and places on a regular basis.

As Mary Pipher observes, “Inspiration is very polite. She knocks quietly and if  we don’t answer, goes elsewhere.”

Inspiration, even at its quietest, helps us to feel more brilliant, more creative, more capable. When we undervalue it, we rob ourselves of its gifts.

It’s so much harder to succeed if we haven’t invited inspiration along as a companion.

Weekend Excursions

Barbara Get Connected 3 Comments

It’s been ages since I’ve done a roundup of articles and resources that have been gathering in my files. Obviously, it’s time for a Weekend Excursion so you can explore them on your own.

There’s no real rhyme or reason or theme to this list of treasures except that they all delighted me in different ways.

Green and Growing

If you’re a subscriber to Winning Ways newsletter, you will recall that I recently did an issue exploring what gardeners have to teach entrepreneurs. Last week, I learned about an extraordinary English gardening writer named Beveley Nichols who chronicled his evolution as an amateur gardener.

After reading his book Merry Hall, I wanted more and came across a collection of his wit and wisdom called Rhapsody in Green. When I read the following passage, I realized he could just as well have been advising someone growing a business:

Gradually my impatient desire for immediate results, which is the besetting sin of all beginners, died down. I began to take a joy in the work for its own sake. Until you actually own a garden, you cannot know this joy.

Before and After

The other day, I received an e-mail from Connie Hozvicka sharing her excitement about taking the big step. Connie is a dynamic artist and her blog at Dirty Footprints Studio is always a visual feast.

However, her post I Want You to Hear Me took my breath away. Go read it for yourself and you’ll see why.

Expose Yourself

It’s no secret that I’m a raving fan of Seth Godin who constantly astonishes me with his regular blog writings. This one, called Expose Yourself, illustrates the importance of choosing your influences carefully.

Follow Your Fascination

I’ve been working on the next issue of Winning Ways and am writing about collectors and collecting. Everyone I’ve known who is a serious collector has a story to tell about how their passion for collecting perfume bottles or old coins or Disney memorabilia began with a mild interest and grew stronger as they explored farther.

So that was on my mind when I came across this short piece called  Innovation Begins with Fascination. Don’t miss the exercise at the end.

Loving a Writer

Steven  Pressfield has this advice for spouses, partners, and other caring folks who may be perplexed by their writer/entrepreneur/musician lovers. If you are feeling misunderstood, you may want to print out Loving a Writer to share with your beloved.

Just in Case

I’ve been raving everywhere about Sandy Dempsey’s amusing video about her adventures with Flat Barbara. You may have been within earshot.

However, if by some fluke this has passed you by, pay a visit now and see how Flat Barbara is learning about the Joyfully Jobless life. (Scroll down to see the video.)

Before and After

Barbara Making it Better Join the Conversation!  

Every so often, I open my mailbox at the post office and have the surprise of a check I hadn’t known was coming. I always think of Bill Bryson’s observation, “Is there anything, apart from a really good chocolate cream pie and receiving a large unexpected check in the mail, to beat finding yourself at large in a foreign city on a fine spring evening?”

Happily, I also have had the pleasure of a fine chocolate cream pie and springtime evenings in foreign cities. Except for the chocolate cream pie, the unexpected checks and evenings in Venice were not part of my life before I became joyfully jobless.

In fact, the pre-entrepreneurial life I led bears little resemblance to the post-entrepreneurial life I’ve created. And I’m not the only one who is aware of the differences.

In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield writes, “The moment an artist turns pro is as epochal as the birth of his first child. With one stroke, everything changes. I can state absolutely that the term of my life can be divided into two parts: before turning pro, and after.”

Seth Godin echoes that in Small is the New Big. He says, “For the last six years, I’ve had exactly one employee. Me. This has changed my life in ways I hadn’t predicted. The biggest changes are:

“1. The kind of project that’s interesting is now very different. It doesn’t have to be strategic or scalable or profitable enough to feed an entire division. It just has to be interesting or fun or good for my audience.

“2. The idea of risk is different as well. I can write an e-book and launch it in some crazy way and just see what happens. Because my costs are nothing compared to those of a large organization, there are no boundaries in the way I approach something.”

Like Pressfield and Godin, I’ve been thinking about my own before and after story. For instance, in the before part of my life I didn’t know anyone who loved their work. Now I hardly know anyone who isn’t passionate about what they do.

In my previous life, I only dreamed about traveling. Today, I’ve filled up several passports.

Before I was self-employed, I had never been to New York, Seattle, Toronto, Victoria, the Lake District, Boston—or dozens of other wonderful places. Best of all, I not only have gotten to see the world, I’ve gotten paid to do so.

So, of course,  I identify completely with Peter Mayle’s observation: “I would rather live precariously in my own office than comfortably in someone else’s.” 

The After version of me knows something the Before version didn’t even suspect: Mayle just defined perfectly what security really means. I can’t imagine ever wanting to trade this life for the one that came before. 

This isn’t just change…it’s transformation.

I believe this calls for a celebration. How about a jamboree?

What Successful Goalsetters Know

Barbara Good Investments 12 Comments

It happens every time I announce a new special event. Almost immediately, I begin getting messages that say, “Someday I’d love to attend your Storytelling seminar.” Or “When will you be doing your Inspired Livelihood event in Alaska?”

These questions come from folks who don’t understand effective goalsetting. They’ve got it backwards. Sadly, that is a recipe for frustration.

Several years ago when Valerie Young announced our upcoming Making Dreams Happen event, she was deluged with e-mails from people saying they’d like to attend but couldn’t afford the enrollment fee.

She called me to see if I had any ideas about how to handle this onslaught. I pointed out that since this event was about bringing dreams into reality, getting there was the first exercise. 

The ever-creative Valerie issued a challenge to her readers asking them to share what they were doing to fund the conference. We got wonderful stories about the creative ways that participants found to be involved. 

A year earlier, two friends and I decided we wanted to take a little vacation. My cash flow was good so I had the funds;  they had  both spent the previous months working on writing projects that had yet to pay off so their cash flow was squeaky. 

Once we set the goal for the trip, however, they  swung into action. They  had each built a nice little portfolio of cash flow options that included things like selling on eBay, doing market research, spending a Sunday as a flea market vendor. In less than two weeks, they both had the money  they  needed for the trip.

Last year, another entrepreneurial friend was experiencing a cash flow slowdown and decided to get creative. She wanted something that wouldn’t distract too much from other projects she was working on, so she put an ad on her local Craigslist offering her services as a pet sitter in her home. Not long after, I  was talking to her and she proudly announced, “I just passed the $1000 mark with pet sitting.” 

In his blog post Pennies and Dollars, Seth Godin writes, “In fact, too much worrying about cash is the work of the lizard brain, it’s a symptom of someone self-sabotaging the work. The thing to do is invest in scary innovations, large leaps, significant savings.”

So the order of making things happen is this: goal first, funding second. 

What successful goalsetters know is that the process goes something like this: focus on a goal, brainstorm obvious and crazy ways to make it happen, start taking action. 

Keep going until the goal is met. 

Set another goal and repeat.

  °°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°

Been thinking about joining Alice Barry, Terri Belford and me for Inspired Livelihood in Sedona? Don’t let your lizard brain keep you home. Commit to coming, register and create a funding project. And start your project by giving yourself a nice discount by signing up before March 15

Change of Plans

Barbara Closing the Gap Join the Conversation!  

Like many people, I have a lengthy pre-holiday To Do List plus all the normal things that fill my days. Today I was planning to pick up some packages that have been languishing at my post office, but when I stood in the long, long line for ten minutes without any movement, I abandoned that project. 

Next on the list was to write a new blog post about another way to Close the Gap. After reading Seth Godin’s blog post, however, I abandoned my idea and now urge you to get your very own free copy of his brilliant ebook What Matters Now. This may be the best gift any entrepreneur could get this year. And it’s loaded with wise words from wise people. Pay attention, and you’ll find even more ways to close the gap for yourself.

Oh, and then pass it on.

But is it Enough?

Barbara Making Peace With Money 1

There was a popular bumper sticker I used to see that read, “I Owe, I Owe, So Off to Work I Go.” Amusing pun or self-fulfilling prophecy?

 

I thought of that dreadful affirmation when I was shopping for new blank checks and saw that you could buy checks printed with this tribute to poverty: “Money talks. Mine says good-bye.”

 

Since money is a source of so much upheaval, each of us needs to thoughtfully examine our own attitudes and beliefs in order to create the healthiest approach we can must. Going along with unchallenged ideas about money or old scripts from our parents won’t do the trick. For most of us, building a Wealth-as-State-of-Mind attitude is a lifelong challenge.

 

Coco Chanel, who said a lot of smart things, once observed, “There are people who have money and people who are rich.” It’s not hard to figure out which is which. The people whom I think of as rich are those who have a practical prosperity consciousness.

 

Consider, then, this story from Charles Handy, the British business guru.

 

“How much money do you earn?” I used to ask my friends in my competitive days. It seemed the best way of comparing progress in life. I was brought up short by one who replied, “Enough.”

 

”What do you mean—enough?” I asked.

 

“What I say—enough. I work out what I need and that’s what I make sure I earn. How much sugar do you buy in a year?” he turned and asked me. ‘I have no idea,’ I said. He replied, “But I bet that there’s always sugar in your house when you need it. Money is like sugar, no point in hoarding it, it usually goes bad, or you have to make unnecessary cakes to use it up.”

 

In most of life we can recognize “enough.” We know when we have had enough to eat, when the heating or air conditioning is enough, when we have had enough sleep or done enough preparation. 

 

More than enough is then unnecessary, and can even be counterproductive. Those who do not know what enough is cannot move on. They do not explore new worlds, they do not learn, they grow only in one dimension. They are trapped in the rut of their own success, always wanting more of the same, always dissatisfied, never knowing the feeling of abundance.

 

Growth can mean better rather than bigger. Bigness, in both business and life, can lead to lack of focus, too much complexity. We have to know when big is big enough. 

 

Give serious thought to what “Enough” means to you. And don’t miss this short video from the wise Seth Godin talking  about money.

Bad Time to Start a Business?

Barbara Spring Spruce-ups 1

After all the wonderful discussions at Saturday’s Un-Job Fair, I got thinking about this post from a few months back and decided it was worth another visit.

All sorts of folks are blogging about whether it’s too dangerous to start a business during our current economic challenges. Some of them have lengthy arguments against taking such a radical step.

I’m not sure where they’re getting their advice, but the Joyfully Jobless folks in my life are some of the calmest people around. After all, they’ve already demonstrated that they can bring an idea to life, understand multiple profit centers and consider themselves to be wonderfully flexible.

So what do the people who are doing it say?

A perfect example of what I’m talking about came via an e-mail message from Lisa Sellman, owner of Aloha Pet Care. She wrote:

I was just watching a little of the news about our poor economic times and how anyone could be ready for a lay off at any second. The expert in the field suggested that everyone get their contacts together because as one firm lays off another firm could be hiring. So even if your company looks good, any minute your life could change.

It was a story completely fear based. I kept waiting for the news to encourage people to start their own business and create their own destiny but not a word about that.

I am so glad that I started my own business four years ago and I am completely secure with my clients. Even in this economic times, my clients still completely need my services.

My new pet portrait business is going extremely well and I had my first art show two weeks ago and I am working on my comissions currently. Also, I have another art show on the 22nd of November as well as one in January.

It is very exciting to create my future and to feel safe and secure knowing that no one can take this away from me.

Thank you, Barbara, for encouraging entrepreneurs everywhere. Entrepreneurs Unite!

Entrepreneur Tom Breitling wrote a brilliant piece called The Art of Entrepreneurship. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever read about what it really means to ben an entrepreneur.

He says that a good idea is recession-proof. How come? “Entrepreneurial minds don’t stop thinking creatively just because the economy is hurting. This is when creative minds focus.”

(When you have a moment, do read his entire piece. You may want to print it out and save it.)

Seth Godin, the most popular business blogger on Earth, had a piece called Looking for a Reason to Hide. He ended his piece by saying, “Inc. magazine reports that a huge percentage of companies in this year’s Inc. 500 were founded within months of 9/11. Talk about uncertain times. But uncertain times, frozen liquidity, political change and poor astrological forecasts (not to mention chicken entrails) all lead to less competition, more available talent and a do-or-die attitude that causes real change to happen.

If I wasn’t already running my own business, today is the day I’d start one.”

Person who says it cannot be done must not interrupt person already doing it. ~ Chinese Proverb