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A Death in the Family

My heart is heavy.

Two members of the extended Changing Course family have passed away.

Cheryl Young died in May. Jane Kirsch in June.

Both left us too soon.

To my knowledge, Cheryl and Jane never met, but they had a lot in common.

They were both fiercely committed to finding a way to be their own boss.

They both had a passion for helping other aspiring self-bossers to connect the dots between what they too could make money doing it.

Little wonder Cheryl and Jane were among the early wave of students in the “Outside the Job Box” career coach training (later known as Profiting From Your Passions career coach training).

Jane was in the inaugural class of 2006; Cheryl came into the program the next year.

This week has been bittersweet because I found a video of one and the writings of another.

I share them here partly as a tribute to two kindred spirits who were members of what I’ve come to think of as the Changing Course Tribe.

But I also hope their words and stories move you to do as Cheryl and Jane did and act on the Changing Course mission I set forth in 1995, to…

Live life on purpose ~ Work at what you love ~ Follow your own road

Jane Kirsch, North Carolina

If I had to pick one word to describe Jane, it would have to be lovely. She was truly a lovely human being.

When you watch this short video you’ll know why.

The touching wisdom of her final words here brought me to tears.

The video was shot in 2007 at the Work at What You Love workshop in Northampton, Massachusetts.

It was one of many such workshops I produced and co-led with guest presenter Barbara Winter, author of Making a Living Without a Job.

The voice behind the camera is my trusty assistant and friend Lisa Tarrant who I’d helped break out of job jail just two years earlier.

There was no social media back then.

Instead, Jane and I stayed more or less in touch through the Changing Course newsletter.

About six years ago we ran into each other at the Chautauqua Institute in western New York where I was vacationing with friends from Pittsburgh who had a second home there.

Turns out Jane grew up in Pittsburgh and her family also owned a home at Chautauqua.

Two years later we ran into each other there again.

I remember sitting across from Jane at lunch and thinking how lucky I was to know her.

I learned of Jane’s passing from Dawn Dominique, a student in her same Outside the Job Box coach class.

Back then the course was held entirely via teleclass.

So the two had never actually set eyes on one another until the Northampton workshop.

A dozen years later the two stayed in touch. Dawn told me that just last fall she and Jane met up in North Carolina for lunch and a stroll through the local art galleries.

Of her friend, Dawn wrote, “She touched a lot of people and made a positive difference in the world.”

It reminded me of something Katherine Graham once said…

“To love what you do and feel that it matters – how could anything be more fun?”

Jane, you and your work mattered to many. You will be missed, my friend.

Cheryl Young, Vermont

As with Jane, I heard about Cheryl’s passing through another member of the Changing Course family, Wendy Heileg, who was in Cheryl’s same class.

It’s tremendously gratifying to know that Changing Course has facilitated so many wonderful and lasting friendships.

I lost touch with Cheryl…but I never forgot her.

She was larger than life. Perhaps that’s why despite never having met in person… I felt I had.

Cheryl was that kind of person.

When you’ve run a business like mine for 24 years you’ve got a lot of old computer files.

A search for “Cheryl Young” and voila – up popped a sixteen-year-old assignment she’d submitted for class.

It began with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Do not follow where the path may lead.
Go instead where there is no path and create a trail. 

And that’s exactly what Cheryl did. Here, in her own words, is some of her changing course journey.

Growing up in Nebraska, I was fascinated with the Oregon Trail and the pioneering spirit.

That pioneering spirit has guided my life as I have created and discovered many new trails. 

I come from a large Swedish family where I was surrounded by entrepreneurs. I had 7 uncles, 2 brothers, my father and 2 grandfathers who were either farmers or small business owners. 

My dad was my role model for changing careers.

He had been a business teacher/high school sports coach, who eventually changed careers to start a grocery business.

My mother was an elementary teacher, so I grew up hearing about both business and education as equal options for a living. 

My own foray into the world of entrepreneurship began after 20 years in education… Then there came a day when I asked myself an important question:

How could I prepare students for the world of work if I had never been employed outside the world of education? 

I had either been a student or a teacher for the last two decades. 

So I left the classroom and began my adventure exploring the world of work.

I sought “real life” career experience which took me into administration of programs, college teaching, insurance sales, land sales, writing, self-publishing, traveling, public speaking, producing and marketing educational and training programs—experience was my teacher.

By becoming an Educator in Private Practice I found a way to integrate my experience and skills with my passion for entrepreneurship.

So, it was only natural that I was drawn to Valerie Young’s “Out of the Job Box” Career Consultant certification program.

I loved the idea of creating your own living out of things you love to do…that you’re not limited to making a living by working for someone else for the next 10, 20, 30 years or so.

It’s so exciting to discover opportunities to work anywhere, with anyone, at any time while contributing to my client’s lives in a meaningful way.

And I have to admit, I also love the freedom, flexibility, creativity, setting my own schedule, working from the comfort of my Vermont home, and meeting fascinating people.

What I remember most about Cheryl was that she was FEARLESS!

Sometimes, new coaches hesitate to take a first client out of fear that they “still don’t know enough,” aren’t yet “expert” enough – Cheryl dove in.

Fortunately for her clients, she did.

At one point, Cheryl talked about helping a WWII female pilot set up and market a speaking tour.

Did she have any experience organizing or marketing speaking tours? Heck no.

Instead, she just understood that the best way to learn most things is to just do it and grow as you go.

She also described helping a new client who was in the process of parlaying her experience as special education teacher and entrepreneur to create a four-million-dollar high school to house a combination of culinary arts, store, artist gallery, herbal garden, sewing shop and a restaurant to teach special needs youth in community impacted by Hurricane Katrina.

This was the ideal client for Cheryl because she herself always went BIG!

She thought nothing of reaching out to people in her even state government to see how they might team up to support entrepreneurship in the state.

Shooting high paid off.

Cheryl would go on to become the Vermont Ambassador for Entrepreneurship Education.

In closing, she wrote:

I transitioned out of education knowing that there would be risks – and the risk paid off.

Today creativity and flexibility are alive in my life.

I believe everyone should have the opportunity to create a life they love doing work they create… outside the box!

Before he died, Michael Landon said, “Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows.”

We spend so much time being afraid to take risks, when what we should worry about is how much we have to lose by never ever trying.

Thank you, Cheryl and Jane, for being sources of inspiration to us all and for refusing to die with your music still in you. Rest in peace, my friends.

If you would like to leave a remembrance of Cheryl or Jane… or just share what inspired you about their lives, comment below.


A Death in the Family, redirect


How to Start a Business in a Weekend

Is it really possible to come up with a great idea on Saturday, be in business by Monday, and hit the $1 million mark in the first year?

You can if you’re willing to ditch a lot of lame rules that hold most people back.

That’s what serial entrepreneur Maria Elena Ibanez did.

It all began at her hairdresser’s when she struck up a conversation with another woman who had a background in the Latino food business.

The chance meeting stimulated Ms. Ibanez’s hunger — not for food – but for opportunity. In that instant, she decided to become a player in the Latino food business.

That was in 2002.

By the end of year one, her business, Intermark, had $1 million in sales from four food products. Today her brand, El Latino, carries 256 products.

Ms. Ibanez did have a background in business. In fact, she’d already launched two successful international computer distribution businesses and sold one.

So, starting a business was nothing new.

But this new enterprise was in an entirely different industry.

In fact, she knew absolutely nothing about the food business whatsoever.

Despite a lack of knowledge, Ms. Ibanez leapt at the opportunity!

What can you learn from this “weekend business launcher” that can help you jumpstart your own entrepreneurial dreams in a matter of days? Plenty!

Lesson 1: Find People Who Know More Than You Do

Stop thinking you need to know everything before you can begin. As Woodrow Wilson once said, “I use all the brains I have and all that I can borrow.”

There are lots of ways to tap the expertise of other people.

You can partner with a subject matter expert, you can apprentice with an expert, or you can pay someone to consult with you from time to time.

Lesson 2: Create Your Own Crash Course

You don’t need to get an MBA or have worked in a field for 20 years to figure out the basics. Ms. Ibanez ordered a couple cases of books on Amazon and spent a few weeks creating her own crash course in the food and grocery industry.

Pretend your boss told you to put together a three-month self-paced training program on how to make money growing irises in your backyard or how to get a syndicated sports radio show.

You’d figure it out, right?

So why not do it for yourself?!

Make a list of what you need to know to move your dream forward.

Then create a plan for how you’ll find the information, skills, and/or resources you need.

Lesson 3: Trust Your Instincts

Humans tend to make things more complicated than they need to be.

For example, Ms. Ibanez built her brand by going into an under-served niche in the Latin food market — dairy foods.

How did she know to specialized there? By walking the aisles in the supermarket.

How many times have you seen a solution right under your nose only to second guess yourself because it’s too “obvious”?

That’s why you need to trust your instinct.

If your gut is telling you to DO IT you need to pay attention because, within seconds, another voice will chime in.

That other voice is the one you mistakenly think of as your more “practical” or “logical” side.

“Well, if cheese for the Latin market is such a great idea, someone else would have thought of it, right”?

The thing is, this so-called “logical” side is usually the far more emotional and fearful side.

If something looks like an opportunity and acts like an opportunity and your heart is saying, “Yes, go there!” then pay attention.

Lesson 4: See Problems as Opportunities

Opportunities often come disguised as problems.

Rather than pull back during the slow economy Ms. Ibanez capitalized on it.

Cheaper rent and more available brainpower looking for work are just two reasons why she says an economic downturn is the best time to start a business.

What problem can you capitalize on right now?

If you lost your job, can you use the extra time between job hunting to read a book on marketing or create a small profit center?

If you have no idea what you want to be when you grow up, can you invite a group of friends to dinner and ask them what they think you should “be.”

[Warning: Only invite friends who are entrepreneurially minded… otherwise your brainstorming session will probably lead you back to working in a glorified cubicle.]

Lesson 5: Take Action

Notice Ms. Ibanez did not spend days, weeks, months or years locked in analysis paralysis.

She made a decision, and two days later was in full-blown action mode.

So fast in fact, that the Latino food expert she met at her hairdresser’s on Saturday reported to work in Ms. Ibanez’s home office on Monday!

She didn’t even have time to tell her husband.

Fifteen years later, Amazon announced a partnership with El Latino to offer foods from every country in South and Central America in its Miami deliveries.

The Bottom Line

You don’t have to run out and start an empire tomorrow.

But imagine what you could do if you just dove in and started somewhere…. anywhere!

Will you make mistakes along the way?

I certainly hope so. Because if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning anything.

Will you go from 0 to a million in a weekend?

Not unless you’re doing something illegal. What about a year?

Ms. Ibanez’s story proves that some people do. But this is definitely the exception.

Does that mean you shouldn’t start? Not at all.

It took me about seven years before I became an “overnight success!”

If I’d understood these five simple lessons at the outset, I could have cut that time by more than half.

There are lots of ways you can profit from your own passion.

Lots of ways to turn interests into income.

Lots of ways to make money on your own terms.

Lots of ways to go from having a boss to enjoying the freedom and satisfaction of being your OWN boss.

Use all five lessons, and there is no reason why you too can’t get your own entrepreneurial dream in motion in a weekend.

Why waste another moment when you can take the first step creating the life you really want?


Great Home-Based Biz Ideas for Introverts

When you picture a successful entrepreneur, you probably imagine someone with an outgoing, talkative personality. The kind of person who loves to socialize and meet new people.

The person you probably don’t picture is someone who is quiet, becomes overwhelmed and exhausted by noisy environments, or avoids spending too much time around other people, especially large groups.

So where does that leave the shy, socially reserved introvert who wants to start a business?

Better off than you think!

For starters, most experts see introversion/extroversion as a spectrum with few people at the extremes. Instead, most of us fall closer to the middle.

What about you?

Take the Quiz

  • Do you feel exhausted after an evening out with a lot of people (like at a party or networking event)?
  • Do you find you really need quiet time alone, for example, just reading, meditating, listening to music, or watching TV?
  • Do you tend to prefer to socialize in a very small group (just a couple close friends)?
  • Do you find it difficult to initiate a conversation with a stranger?
  • Do you label yourself (or do other people label you) as shy or quiet or socially inept?
  • If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, you’re probably closer to the introvert end of the spectrum.

But that doesn’t mean you’re not cut out to start your own business.

Hugely successful entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, or Warren Buffett are not the kind of guys you’d find chatting it up at a party.

And there are plenty of famous actors, professional speakers, and other performers who can “do” extrovert but are in fact quite introverted – myself included.

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, it’s important to know yourself and where your energy lies.

In fact, think of your energy like a battery; if you are an extrovert your batteries are charged by social interaction, if you are an introvert your batteries will be drained.

That means you need to play to your strengths and get help in the areas where you’re weaker.

So, if you are an extreme introvert, you may prefer to run a home-based business rather than founding a company that requires you to interact with employees.

Or, if you really do want to build an empire like Zuckerberg, Gates, and Buffet, then just know you’ll probably need to partner or hire an extrovert who is good at the more social parts.

25 Money Making Ideas for Introverts

As an introvert, it’s important to find the right business for you.

For instance, an online business can be a great fit for introverts because it allows all the freedom, control, and income of self-bossing with less of the frequent people contact that you find so draining.

Another benefit to a web-based business is you get to use your online interactions and presence to determine the persona the world sees.

So you can be reserved Rachel or Raphael at home and Rock Star Rachel or Raphael in your business!

But selling online is the only way to generate income. Here are 25 other ideas that are well suited to people who enjoy solitude:

  1. Webmaster or IT consultant
  2. Artist
  3. Graphic design
  4. Blogger
  5. Copywriter (using words to sell a product or service or to promote causes)
  6. Fiction writing (romance, novels, etc.)
  7. Travel writer (see how-to info below)
  8. Genealogy
  9. Social media consultant
  10. Editing and/or proofreading
  11. Web designer
  12. Craft-related businesses
  13. Creating patterns: Sewing, knitting, woodworking
  14. Creating software or apps
  15. Woodworking
  16. Cooking/baking
  17. Clothing maker
  18. Working with animals
  19. Growing and selling flowers, vegetables, and/or herbs
  20. Errand service
  21. Translating
  22. Bookkeeping
  23. Fixing things: Cars, appliances, clothes alterations, broken pottery, antique clocks/watches, appliances
  24. Making things better: Custom cars, motorcycles, campers, etc.
  25. Building things: Furniture, boats, decks, etc.

Finally, you may be an introvert but if you want to be your own boss then you still need to stretch yourself now and then.

Join a Toastmasters club to conquer your fear of public speaking. Or if you must attend a networking event set a goal of talking to just three people.

To this last point, you may even choose a business precisely because it pushes you to talk to strangers.


For example, International Living magazine editor Jen Stevens, says one of the many great things about travel writing is it gives introverts a built-in excuse for initiating conversations with owners of inns, shops, cafes and others along the journey who can add value to your article.

(And if you do love to travel and like the idea of making money while you do it, I highly recommend The Ultimate Travel Writer’s Program.)

For even more ways to make money without a job-job, check out the Cool Jobs and Ideas page at Changing Course.

With so many ways today to communicate with clients and customers and to make business connections without ever venturing into public, you don’t need to be an extrovert to become your own boss.

Instead, be true to yourself, find the right business for you, and then take action!


How Dave Murdered His Dream

In my 24 years at Changing Course I’ve grieved the premature death of hundreds of perfectly viable business ideas.

Ideas which were totally possible – some even brilliant.

Ideas which, if acted upon, could have sprung their owners from job jail… and made a difference in the world as well.

But sadly their owner let them perish.

There are two main ways to kill a dream.

Death by Discouragement

For starters, you can believe the life-long cubicle dwellers who love to tell you that being your own boss is just a pipe dream.

Or, you can become so overwhelmed with the thought of acting on your great idea that all you want to do is zone out in front of the television.

Or you can become consumed with the “what ifs.”

  • What if no one wants my art, repair service, writing?
  • What if I fall flat on my face?
  • What if I don’t know enough to be a [fill in the blank]?

That’s what happened to Dave.

Today Dave has a corporate job. But as a child he spent time in foster care

Dave’s dream was to open a sports camp just for kids in foster care.

Family and friends had lots to say about Dave’s dream.

“Never work.” “Too much liability.” “Where would you hold it?”

Sadly, Dave became so discouraged, overwhelmed, and fearful about what might happen if he failed, that he never paused to consider what his life and the lives of the campers would be like if he was successful.

Death by Silence

The most common way to get away with murdering your dream is to keep it to yourself.

After all, if no one ever knows about your big idea they can’t possibly judge it… or you.

If you don’t share your business plan… then no one will know that you didn’t lift a single finger to get it off the launch pad.

If you never let your idea see the light of day, never show your art or share your writing or perform your comedy act… then no one will expect anything from you.

In other words, when you’re accountable only to yourself, then there’s no real consequence for failing to follow through.

Or is there?

When you murder your dream you’ve made the decision to spend the rest of your life in job jail.

If you think that price is too high, then you have a choice.

You can continue to slowly starve your dream to death through sheer neglect.

Or you can decide to get off the misery-go-round.

If you wisely chose the latter, here are two simple steps you can take right this very minute.

Step 1: Publically Declare Your Intention

For five years I produced a fabulous two-day workshop called Work at What You Love which I co-led with my friend and author of Making a Living Without a Job, Barbara Winter.

At the end, I’d ask each person to publicly declare an intention.

One by one upwards of 150 people rose, microphone in hand, and declared their dream to a room full of people.

“I’m going to spend summers living on a river barge in the south of France.”

“I’m going to write the biography of my grandfather’s life.”

“I’m going to open a bike repair shop.”

Your Turn

The ground rules of a public declaration are simple:

  • It must be summarized in one sentence.
  • It can’t begin with “I’d like to…” or “Maybe I will…” or “It would be great if I could….” Instead, your declaration must begin with the words “I’m going to___”
  • It must include a commitment to act.

So you have a choice. You can murder your idea and no one will ever know.

Or you breathe life into your dream by going on to social media or emailing your closest friend and making your own public declaration now.

Step 2: Do your homework

In the beginning, you don’t have enough information to be excited or scared.

You need information.

Who else is succeeding at the thing you want to do? After all, if someone else is doing it, then there must be both a need and a way.

Had Dave done a search for “summer camps for foster kids” he’d have found many examples of thriving enterprises.

A simple online search for “camp insurance” would have led him to dozens of companies that offer quotes for sports and non-sports camps.

As for how to begin, this is just one of many “how to start a summer camp business guides” Dave could have found to get the ball rolling.

Take five minutes now and see just how much you can find out about your dream business.

Step 3: Find people who want to see your idea succeed as much as you do

The forces of fear, self-doubt, and overwhelm are mighty.

That’s why you need a team of people who want to see you realize your dream as much as you do.

People who will be there to support one another, to hold each other accountable for making slow steady progress, to offer new ideas and solutions, to help one another overcome the inevitable setbacks, and to celebrate the wins big and small.

Left on your own and you can feel hopeless.

But when you’re in a group of supporters you feel empowered.

You become almost “bigger” than you usually are.

You feel a confidence that’s sometimes impossible to muster on your own.

Yet with this network of supporters cheering you on, you’re inspired to go on… to plow ahead with a certain audacity that you might not normally feel you have in you.

As importantly, your productivity will soar.

With a dream team behind you, you will get more done in six months than you would otherwise accomplish in six years!

The people on your dream team can be friends, like-minded co-workers, even total strangers. You can meet in person or via conference call.

Regardless of who’s in your group or how you communicate the key is commitment.

After all, a dream is a terrible thing to waste.


Praise

A New Direction

I decided to take the Work @ What You Love Workshop and also work one-on-one with Valerie. The workshop explored so many unusual and unexpected solutions to my specific questions. I made so many new connections to what clearly works for me in crea...

Julia Raymond
Curvology Studio

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