Most everyone I work with tells me that they want the work they do to
matter. That’s one reason I desperately wanted out of my marketing job
in the insurance industry. Sure, insurance is important, but I just
couldn’t seem to feel passionate about pitching estate planning for the
What could be better than to turn your values into your vocation?
I recently discovered three businesses that provide a product or service
that have their origins in the convictions of their creators.
I think you’ll be inspired by how, in their own way, each of these
businesses are making a difference.
1. Mary Janes
I learned about Mary Janes Farm from a client. How I missed this little
gem is a miracle. From her utterly glorious organic farm outside of
Moscow, Idaho, Mary Jane Butters and her enthusiastic crew operate
several small environmentally conscious businesses.
In addition to producing and selling her own line of instant organic
food (just add hot water and stir), Mary Janes Farm sells organic
fruits, vegetables, and flowers at the local farmer’s market and offers
customized visits, over-night stays, private cooking classes, dinner,
weddings, birthday parties and school group tours on the farm.
But that’s not all. Mary Jane writes a syndicated column and publishes
her own glossy magazine called Mary Janes Farm. House & Garden described
the magazine as “…homey and smart and interesting… part Martha Stewart
Living, part Oprah magazine, part Organic Style, part Nation, part
Ladies Home Journal…”
I was left wanting to know more about Mary Jane and how she came to
start these interesting enterprises. So I did some poking around and
discovered that her story is even more fascinating than her business.
All that led up to Mary Jane buying her farm site unseen is too long to
tell here. But the fact that she was one of the first women wilderness
rangers hired by the U.S. Forestry Service back in 1974, enrolled in
carpentry school a year later, and formed one of the first community
anti-nuclear organizations in the Northwest in response to the Chernobyl
nuclear power plant catastrophe gives you a hint of how Mary Jane
arrived at where she is today.
For a real visual treat check out http://www.MaryJanesFarm.com To read
about Mary Jane herself, go to
I learned about Toronto-based Cooperative Games through their ad in
Life magazine. Just as their name sounds, this company designs and
sells games designed to foster cooperation, not competition.
I was impressed both their wide range of games for children and adults
and the philosophy behind them. As they explain it: “We play games
because we want to do something together. How ironic then that in most
games, we spend all our efforts trying to bankrupt someone, destroy
their armies, or getting rid of one another! We soon learn how to pick
on the other person's weaknesses in order to win the
game….Unfortunately, the games people play can become self-fulfilling
prophecies, contributing to the creation of a negative world rather than
helping deal with it or improve it.”
3. Junkyard Sports
On the Cooperative Games site was a quote by game designer, consultant,
and author Bernie DeKoven. I discovered that Bernie is also the creator
of something called Junkyard Sports.
Junkyard Sports are a little tough to explain (but there are lots of fun
pictures on the web site). Basically they’re sport-like games with names
like Frying Pan Sock Baseball, Office Olympics, and Ice Golf.
The games are made out of found objects like balled up socks and office
chairs on wheels and are based on Bernie’s philosophy that
1) fun is fundamental to happiness and 2) people can be taught how to
have more fun.
Today, organizations and groups pay Bernie to spend a day showing them
how to make their lives more fun. In addition to playing lots of games,
participants learn how to lead games and change games, as well as the
biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy based on
his book “Well Played Game: A Playful Path to Wholeness.” You can learn
more Junkyard Sports and Bernie’s upcoming train the trainer program in
the Netherlands at http://www.DeepFun.com
Okay, what about you… what do you feel strongly about? Is it the
environment? Ending hunger? Empowering people to fulfill their potential
or tap into their gifts? Respecting the wisdom of our elders? Bringing
peace and beauty into the world? As these three entrepreneurs
demonstrate, you don’t need to start a non-profit to make a difference.
How can you transform your beliefs and values into a viable way to make
a living while making a difference?
It’s a wonderful feeling to know that the work you do somehow
contributes to a better world. But that’s not all. People like Mary Jane
and Bernie, and the creators of Cooperative Games, remind us that
Katherine Graham was right when she said, “"To love what you do and feel
that it matters, how could anything else be more fun?”
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About the Author
"Profiting From Your Passions®" expert Valerie Young abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at ChangingCourse.com offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger's, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman's Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.
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