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Want the Perfect Career? Take a Page Out of Helen Hunt’s Success Book

By Valerie Young

Starting out, what kind of career did you want? When PBS’s Charlie Rose put this question to Helen Hunt, the actor replied confidently, “This one.”

Can you say that?

Sure she’s a famous movie star at the …


Want to Be Your Own Boss? Ask These Three Questions First

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In the last few weeks I’ve talked to over a dozen people who all desperately want to change course. When I ask them why, they all say the same thing. “I want more control and flexibility over …


Want to Make a Change? Be Curious

 

 

It was a beautiful fall day when I passed through the gates for probably the 45th time on my nearly annual pilgrimage to The Eastern States Exposition. At least that’s what it was called when I was growing up. Since then marketers have shortened it to The Big E.

The Big E is a huge state fair, except it encompasses all five New England states. This is the first year I went alone. Gratefully alone.

No negotiating with friends or family about whether to listen to the presentation on sheep shearing (I vote yes), or enjoy seeing the pride on the young people’s faces as they compete for ribbons and bragging rights for their well-groomed cows (a must), or talk with the volunteer historical interpreters in the authentic village square called Storrowtown Village (that’s another yes for me!), or whether to eat the clam fritters in the Rhode Island building, the apple pie in the Vermont building, or the lobster roll in the Maine building (yes, yes, yes).


Andrew Rice, professional sheep shearer and farm consultant, Brattleboro, VT


Young people and old alike
travel from several states away to
show their livestock


Crafts demonstration at Storrowtown Village

This year I got to do whatever I wanted, for as long as I wanted. And what I love best is being curious.

I actually didn’t plan to turn my trip to the Big E into newsletter writing assignment. But with so many interesting entrepreneurs and lifestyles all around me, I couldn’t help myself. Here’s what I learned, and how my curiosity can help you to change course.

Don’t Be Sheepish


Tom Colyer of
Greenwood Hill Farms

I spent a lot of time chatting with retired Navy Captain turned merino sheep rancher Tom Colyer of Greenwood Hill Farms in Hubbardston, Massachusetts

  • I learned that… 80 percent of the lamb that is sold (and therefore eaten) in the United States happens along the eastern seaboard states from Washington, DC north to New England. What that tells me is that, unless you are a vegetarian, there is an opportunity to creatively work with the various state sheep councils to encourage chefs in other parts of the country to put lamb on the menu.

  • I learned… you can dye wool with Kool-Aid (you can get a FREE GUIDE TO DYING WOOL WITH KOOL-AID just for stopping by the Greenwood Hill Farm site)

  • I learned that… it’s a lot more profitable for people who raise sheep to
    spin and sell their own yarn then to sell the wool in bulk

  • I also learned there is a demand for sheep shearers to service smaller farm operations like Greenwood. Time magazine even did an article last February on the effort to train more shearers. And, according to Tom, some of the best shearers are women.

Lesson: It is amazing what you can find out if you just talk to people. What would you want to ask Tom that I didn’t?

The “Crazy Tomato Lady”


Marybeth Draghi the “Crazy Tomato Lady”

In the Connecticut building I met an exhibitor named Marybeth Draghi from Little Acres farm in Glastonbury, CT. Marybeth’s delicious heirloom tomatoes have earned her the title of “Crazy Tomato Lady.”

She’s grown from a small stand to selling her tomatoes at three Whole Foods stores (two in West Hartford and one in Glastonbury), at the famous Stew Leonards chain in Connecticut and New York, and with more chains and outlets in the works.

Are you curious how Marybeth landed these major accounts? I was. Are you ready? She asked, and the store manager said yes.

Lesson: Speak up. Ask questions. Talk to people about what you do… or hope to do. The door to opportunity opens when you open your mouth. What would you want to ask Marybeth that I didn’t?

Cleaning Up in the Soap Business

From the Blue Heron Soap booth, I learned that, like a lot of businesses, this one was born out of necessity. Owner Peggy Manthei’s daughter had sensitive skin. Her search for a solution led to tinkering with her own soaps and years later Peggy and husband Carl continue to make all the soaps personally.

Money questions can be a little more delicate but my curiosity got the best of me. “Is it really profitable to truck all this soap from Minnesota for a 3 week fair in Massachusetts?” I asked. The young man grinned from ear to ear and said simply, “We get $6 a bar.” Enough said.

Obviously the fair circuit is an effective marketing strategy. According to the show schedule on their web site, this year alone they’ll be in North Carolina, Chicago, Tennessee, South Dakota, and elsewhere.

Lesson: When you think about marketing your product or service, do a cost-benefit analysis. If your marketing investment is $1,000 but you have the chance to make $2,000, then you’re ahead of the game. What would you ask the people at Blue Heron Soap that I didn’t?

Doggedly Pursuing a Passion

From the young man at the Annie’s Pooch Pops All Natural Dog Treats booth, I learned that a business you might assume to be local and/or online exclusively actually has quite a mobile marketing strategy. Between Annie, her son, or her son’s friend, they sell at over 200 of these kind of fairs and shows a year!

But it was from Annie’s website that I got the bigger story. Like most businesses, this one started small and grew. In the beginning, all the baking happened in Annie’s kitchen. For a while they rented a restaurant kitchen during off hours. “Cooking from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. wasn’t easy,” says Annie, “but the crew, with additional help from friends, began to see treat sales take off. After six months and no sleep, we moved into a converted 4000 square foot barn in Northern New Jersey horse country where we remain today.”

Lesson: Starting any business requires sacrifice and hard work. Period. Ask yourself. “What do I love enough to work that hard to grow?” What would you want to ask Annie and her team that I didn’t?

Finding the Unexpected

There were also a few surprises at the Big E. For example, also in the Connecticut building was a guy selling something you would not normally expect among the alpaca socks and maple syrup vendors. But there was Kirk Sinclair along side a stack of his books, Systems Out of Balance: How Misinformation Hurts the Middle Class.

According to his business card, Kirk is a “Middle Class Advocate, Social Systems Analyst, and Rabble Rousing Bard.” He’s also the token middle-aged guy in a rock band that plays at local colleges. I have not read Kirk’s book (but plan to), but after I met him, I recalled that last year I bought a book at the same fair from a woman who’d traced the history of her Native American grandmother.

Lesson: Being an entrepreneur means sometimes showing up in surprising places. Where can you show up? What about offering piano lessons at the farmer’s market or negotiating with a local clothing or paint store to conduct puppy training demonstration a well-blocked off section of their parking lot?

Perseverance Pays

The great thing about visiting the same booths year after year is you get to see what’s changed. The fact that a vendor is back itself tells you the investment in time and money was worthwhile.

Case in point, last year I helped myself to a free sample of Kathie Rosenschein’s SuperSeedz Pumpkin Seeds (yum!). My family was not as keen on my curious mind, but I managed to chat long enough to find out that this mother of five’s business was starting to take off.

When I went back this year I discovered Kathie had started selling her gourmet pumpkin seeds on QVC! If you place an order, I highly recommend the curry flavor. Even if you don’t buy, check out Kathie’s first stint on national television talking about her product on QVC.

In a past life, I delivered a few seminars at QVC headquarters in Pennsylvania and got to talk to the product evaluators. What I learned was that it’s not that hard for even small business owners like Kathie – or you – to get product on their network or on the Shopping Network.

Lesson: Stick with it and great things can happen and never assume you’re too small.

After Curiosity Comes Action

Have you ever been curious about what it would be like to sit down with one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time… a living legend?


Sir Richard Branson

I am. So, as a select few of you already know, a few days ago I plunked down 5 figures (gulp!) to grab one of only 10 spots in a private brainstorming session with Sir Richard Branson! Yes, THAT Sir Richard Branson – the billionaire founder of Virgin Records, Virgin Airlines, and numerous other Virgin enterprises.

Why would I spend such an outrageous sum of money simply to satisfy my curiosity? Good question since money alone does not impress me. If it were Donald Trump, as interesting as that would be, at that price, I’d pass.

What DOES impress me is that, like me, Richard Branson is a passionate social entrepreneur. Not only will I get to pick the brain of one of the most brilliant entrepreneurs on the planet, but my entire $10k will go to support not one, but two amazing organizations.

A few hours after the brainstorming session I’ll be heading to the annual Rock the Kazba fundraising gala. For some cool videos of last year’s big gala click here.

The Eve Branson Foundation seeks to improve the lives of women and girls in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco by providing the tools they need to create marketable goods – and thus become economically self-sufficient.

Her organization is part of Virgin Unite which harnesses global resources and entrepreneurial energy so that business becomes a force for good. What I especially love about this organization is the emphasis addressing both social and environmental problems and on helping disadvantaged youth to develop and launch businesses.

I plan to pick his brain about how best to bring the message of turning passions into profits to a larger, potentially global audience. The time is so ripe for this message of hope.

It’s been decades since Pulitzer Prize-winning author Studs Terkel traveled the country conducting interviews for his book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. Among them was a woman named Nora Watson who said, “I think most of us are looking for a calling, not a job. Most of us, like the assembly line worker, have jobs that are too small for our spirit.”

I think the same can be said for dreams. Most people have dreams that are too small for their spirit. Your dreams need to be as big and as powerful as you are. That means learning to think bigger about your work, your life, and your gifts. Simply said, I want you to want more both for yourself and for all those you touch.

You and I are on the cusp of an incredibly exciting movement!

It’s a movement where job placement and career counselors are starting to understand that the old ways aren’t working. It’s no longer enough to push people into accounting or engineering or pharmaceutical sales. People today want more. They want to find ways to turn their passion for cooking or sports or travel or art or healthy living into a viable way to make a living via a small business.

Richard Branson has plans to reach out to disadvantaged youth in the United States. So I’m thinking there may just be a way for the people who have gone through my Outside the Box/Passions into Profits Training Program to get involved somehow.

Plus, when I reach out for corporate sponsorship and begin to license this training program to university career centers, how cool will it be to say, “Well, when I was chatting with Richard Branson about this idea…”

To be perfectly clear, I have no idea what’s going to happen when I meet Sir Richard Branson. After all, I haven’t even met the man! But hey, an hour earlier I was making a poached egg. Suddenly I’m booking airfare to LA to meet with a billionaire social entrepreneur!

You never know what can happen when you are curious, when you dream big, and when you honor your dreams with action.

On a more serious note, while there’s no connection to Branson’s organization, Lisa passed along this inspiring story of a desperately poor 14 year boy from Malawi whose curious mind led him to figure out how to build a windmill from trash. William Kamkwamba did not speak or read English. Instead, he relied on the pictures in library book to guide him.

Being curious will change your world. As young William reminds us, being curious can change the world for the better as well.

In the next 24 hours, I challenge you ask at least one small business owner at least one question. Then post your question (and the answer) at the Changing Course blog so we can all grow from your curiosity!

P.S. Have questions for Valerie about the NEW “Passions into Profits” Coach Training coming up soon? Email them to [email protected].


Turning Passions Into Profits

When the October issue of More magazine arrived, I tossed it into the pile with the other mail. I didn’t remember subscribing to More. But then it wouldn’t be the first time I ordered something and then forgot I did it. Turns out I had forgotten more than I realized. 

Two days later I got a call from a producer named Noreen from WPIX Channel 11 in New York City. She was calling about my interview on career re-invention in the latest issue of – you guessed it – More magazine!

In my defense the More interview happened months ago. I’d given several other interviews since then and with writing a book and everything, it just slipped my mind. Anyway, Noreen loved the article and wondered if I could come to New York to do an on-camera interview.

I’m not telling you this to impress you. I’m telling you this because over the course of the next few days I re-learned some valuable lessons about turning passions into profits that can benefit you as well.

Pay Attention to What Excites You

You would think being interviewed by a major New York television station would be exciting enough. But really the highlight of my 3-day romp around Manhattan (besides seeing the fabulous Broadway show Wicked) was the opportunity to sit down with mega-entrepreneur and social media phenomenon Gary Vaynerchuk at his enormous offices in the Village.


Here I am with Gary Vaynerchuk in his office

Talk about turning a passion into profit! While working at his immigrant parent’s New Jersey liquor store, he realized that the average person not only didn’t know a lot about wine. And because of the snob factor, most were too intimidated to ask.

So he set up a small video camera at his kitchen counter and started taping himself talking to the average Joe and Jane about wine. And with that Wine Library TV was born! 

If you haven’t seen Gary teaching people about wine, you’re missing out. All too often people think the only way they can be successful is to some somehow turn themselves into someone they’re not. Not true.

Just by being himself – in fact because he was being himself – Gary’s viewership swelled to over 80,000 a day, and his family’s wine business grew from $5 million a year to over $60 million. Since then he’s made television appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Ellen DeGeneres, NBC’s Today Show, and elsewhere and has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today… the list goes on and on.

There was a time when starting a business meant you had to have a big marketing budget. But gone are the days when you have to spend $50,000 on an ad in the New York Times or have a commercial during the Super Bowl to get noticed.

Gary’s latest passion is letting everyone who wants to profit from their passion know that money is no longer a barrier. I’ll let Gary tell you himself…

Gary is about to release a new book called Crush It: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In On Your Passion. It goes on sale starting Tuesday, October 13th but you should reserve your copy now. In a minute I’ll tell you how you can get a free copy.


Pay Attention to What Excites Other People

If you see other people getting excited about something, it often signals an opportunity. When I was in New York, the winners of the annual Vendy Award were being announced. It’s an award that goes out to the best street food vendors in the city.

The fact that New Yorkers are excited about being able to buy gourmet waffles or falafels from the side of a truck, or that the one-year-old Big Gay Ice Cream truck which sports toppings like toasted curried coconut or wasabi pea dust, was among the Vendy Awards finalists, tells you that people in your community would probably be excited to have a way to get that same kind of fast but good food in your area. (Okay so maybe the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck might be somewhat less popular among some members of some communities, but you get my point.)

Similarly, you’d expect an entrepreneur like Gary Vaynerchuk to be passionate about turning passions into profits. What I didn’t expect was the enthusiastic response from the people at WPIX. It was really just a five minute interview of me sharing many of the same tips I’m sharing here with you and about the importance of dwelling in the world of possibilities.

But when the interview ended, Noreen and Bart the videographer were positively breathless. “That was so inspiring!” said Bart “We never get to talk to people like you!” Then Noreen said, “Have you ever thought about having your own TV show?”

As flattering as it was, honestly, I was more struck by their excitement than by any future fame. Noreen talked about how hungry people are for this kind of information. I’ve already begun to think about how a "Passions Into Profits" make-over show might work! Even if it doesn’t happen, it’s exciting to know that more and more mainstream people are open to the idea of being their own boss.

Hang Out With People Who Are Already Profiting From Their Passions

The whole reason I was going to Manhattan in the first place (besides meeting with my editor at Crown Publishing) was because my friend Carrie Wilkerson AKA The Barefoot Executive asked me to film a segment for her new online TV show.


Carrie Wilkerson the Barefoot Executive and me before our shoot.

Carrie also invited a soon-to-be-new friend and kindred spirit, marketing guru Suzanne Evans.


Suzanne, Carrie and me at the studio 


Perry Lawrence, Ask Mr. Video

Someone else along for the excellent adventure was my friend Perry Lawrence from AskMrVideo.com. I got to know Perry when we were both in Aspen on a Maverick Business Adventure trip. To say that Perry is a “nice guy” is truly an understatement. He’s also passionate about helping people create their own online television series, something else we’ll talk more about in the coming weeks.

Take Action

Loving something alone is not enough to turn it into a business. You have to DO something with your passion. If the path is not clear, here are some ways to get started:

Apprentice: Find someone already doing what you want to do and see if you can study under them. You’ll need to work for free or pay for the individual attention or both. Still, there’s no better way to get hands-on training than to learn from a master.

Volunteer: If you want to work in radio, volunteer at a radio station. If you want to stage events, volunteer to help someone stage their event. If you want to start an organic farm, put in some time at an organic farm. An hour a week or one weekend a month can add up to give you valuable experience and contacts.

Take a Course: Most communities have continuing education programs through a community college or the state university system. For example, I recently signed up for a course through my local community college on how to be a talk show host. I could have just as easily registered for cheese making, transforming trash into art, or import export – and come next spring, I just may!

When I take courses like this it’s not so much about me wanting to be a talk show host or make cheese or import things. For me it’s about fueling my mind so I can pass that information along to you and to the people who have taken my Outside the Job Box Career Coach Training program so they, in turn, can share it with their clients.

Pay Attention to Coincidences

Check this out…

  • I “just happened” to have been interviewed by More magazine. And Noreen, the WPIX producer, “just happened” to see it and think it would make a cool story…

  • I “just happened” to be on my way to New York when Noreen asked if I’d come to their New York studio for an interview…

  • I “just happened” to register for a $39 course on how to be talk show host a week before Noreen suggested I have my own show…

  • Carrie “just happened” to hear about me because she heard me speak on a recording that was made at an Ali Brown event…

  • Carrie “just happened” to set up that amazing meeting with Gary Vaynerchuk…

  • Carrie also “jut happened” to invite Suzanne Evans who I am now partnering with to help more aspiring entrepreneurs who hate to market….

Most importantly, I believe that none of this is coincidence. I believe successful people make their own luck. We reach out, we show up, we act – even when we don’t yet feel fully confident – and we put in the effort.

Are you still in search of your passion? Or do you wonder how to turn your passion into money? Trust me, there are “forces” that are trying to communicate with you every day. It could be a bumper sticker on that pokey car you got stuck behind, a random conversation with someone at the hardware store, someone you saw on television, or indeed this very newsletter.

So often you really do know what you need to do. You just need to pay attention to the voices guiding you and allow yourself to go there.

Get Paid to Help Others Turn Their Passions Into Profits

What I’m passionate about is helping people change course to work at what they love. I also love teaching people how to do what comes naturally to me.

Even though I have not met many of them in person, I consider the previous graduates of my Outside the Job Box Career Coach training program to be a part of “my tribe.” It’s hard to meet everyone. Some live as far away as Singapore, Kenya, Norway, Australia, the UK, Barbados, Canada, and even Kazakhstan!

Others I have met only over the phone or through the special “Connect & Collaborate” networking site we set up just for the consultants to meet, share, and support one another. (Like the two California coaches who recently discovered they live in the same town and met for lunch to brainstorm ways they might work together. How cool is that?)

Some of the people who’ve completed the training are taking private clients. Some are doing group coachings. Some are running workshops. Some are writing articles, running blogs, writing books, and creating information products. Some are still in the process of creating their web sites or devising their marketing strategies.

There is one thing that everyone who has gone through the Outside the Job Box Career Coach course shares in common. And that’s a strong passion for helping people see how they too can profit from their passion. In fact, I’m very seriously thinking of renaming the entire program the "Profit from Your Passions Coach Training Program"!

Is This Your Passion?

To date over 75 people have signed up for the Self-Paced version of this one-of-a-kind training program bringing the total number of trainees including those who have attended the Teleclass version and my live program to over 125 people worldwide!

I’m particular proud of the Self-Paced program. That’s the system I developed to allow people anywhere, regardless of time zone or circumstance, to learn how to be an Outside the Job Box Career Coach.

When we met up with some of these people last spring, Lisa asked them to share their thoughts with you. It’s energizing to see people so passionate about their work and about the opportunities the future holds…

Registration Starts Next Week

Starting next week, I’ll once again open registration to another very limited number of trainees. In the meantime, I’m working on some very cool bonuses including even more tools to help you start earning money, faster.

For starters, the first 35 people to register will get a free copy of Gary Vaynerchuk’s new book Crush It: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In On Your Passion. Plus I have another video Gary did to share with you. As you can see it was a total video fest!

I’ve also got some very cool brainstorming calls coming up just for the people on the Priority List. Being on the Priority List guarantees you’ll also have a head start on registering before I open the course up to all 40,000 people on my list.

If your passion is teaching, coaching, writing about or otherwise helping others turn their passions into profits then make sure you get your name on the list!

Go there now: ChangingCourse.com/firstinline.htm

As Lou Stoops wrote, “It has been estimated that well over ninety percent of the things people worry about never happen! What a waste to spend time pondering ‘what ifs’ when we could be pursuing ‘what might be!’”

A passion is a terrible thing to waste. Find yours, then imagine what might be if you really got serious about profiting from your passion!

To your dreams,

Valerie Young
Dreamer in Residence
Passions into Profits Expert


Live and Work in Paradise: How to Transition to the Right Job in the Right Place

Valerie Young

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 215 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

What if you could earn a living working not only at what you love but where you love as well? If location …


Why We Wind Up On The Wrong Career Path And What To Do About It

Valerie Young

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 214 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

You don’t have to look very far to find people who’re trapped in the wrong job or profession. Carpenters who should have been accountants. Accountants who should have been horticulturists. Horticulturists who should have opened an animal shelter.

Having worked with career changers for nearly a decade, I’ve found there are four reasons why people get, or stay, on the wrong career path. You’ll soon see that the obvious reason – money – didn’t make the list. That’s because, unless you are truly at the subsistence level, I find that money is all too often an excuse used to mask deeper issues. Let’s take a closer look at what some of those issues might be.

1. Listening to Your Head and not Your Heart

Billy Wilder once said, “Trust your instincts. Your mistakes might as well be your own instead of someone else’s.” Instinct speaks to us in many forms. Sometimes it’s an unsettling flutter in the solar plexus warning you that something isn’t quite right here. Other times instinct whispers encouragingly in your ear, “Go this way.” And sometimes instinct makes itself known as an unmistakable and heart-pounding, “NOOOOOOOOOOO!”

I learned the hard way about ignoring these internal yellow, green, and red lights. It was 1993 and I was commuting 90 miles a day to my corporate job when a marketing job came up in a smaller company with half the commute. I had a good interview with the Vice President of Sales to whom the position reported.

He seemed like a decent enough guy, confident and amiable in that way people in sales often are. A week later we were on the phone negotiating my salary. When I tried to discuss a higher salary his whole demeanor abruptly changed. His voice took on a kind of annoyed edginess that teetered on rude.

A flag went up immediately. Instinct said, “There’s something not quite right about this guy.” After a sleepless night I did what a lot of people do when money or fear or both are involved: I let my rational mind shout down my wiser inner voice. “It’s still a great salary." “The benefits are good." “It’s so much closer to home." “He was probably just having a bad day.”

Of course my instincts were right. My new boss turned out to be an egotistical fist pounder who could be charming and rational one minute and a raging bull the next. This experience taught me a valuable but painful lesson about instinct. More often than not, the heart has a far more sophisticated early warning system than does the head.

2. Turning Other People’s Dreams into Your Own

Whenever I do a career consultation, my clients are assigned the task of putting together a list of things they love to do. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of working with an engaging young engineer from Portland, Oregon named Manish. It was clear from the beginning that Manish was struggling to come up with his list. I think a lot of the problem had to do with the fact that he’s spent years living someone else’s dream. But I’ll let Manish tell you his story in his own words:

"When I was young and unsure of what I wanted to be when I grew up, I asked my dad ‘What would be a good job to have when I grow up?’ He told me, ‘an engineer.’ I didn’t really know what an engineer did, but I figured I could do it. I made it a goal of mine to become an Engineer and made a point to take classes in school that would prepare me for this line of work.

I was enrolled in an engineering prep class in high school, and one day we got to visit a local universities engineering department. From that point on, I knew that the engineering field was not for me, but did not listen to my inner-voice and continued towards my goal. In fact, I found myself more curious about the people around me than anything else. I found myself almost distracted by everyday behavior and didn’t pay much attention to the engineering department tour. More on this interest of mine in a minute…

While in high school, I spent a lot of time with my older brother of 7 years in his garage working on, and mainly playing with, cars, motorcycles, boats, etc. Now I can’t remember if it was because of my lack of technical savvy or my continual rambling on about ‘psychological stuff,’ but my brother would interrupt me now and again by saying, ‘Are you sure you want to be an engineer? You should go into Psychology.’ I never took him serious, or anyone else who told me this, because I thought every other career was less than being an engineer. So without putting any thought to it, I continued towards my goal.

When I entered college and signed up for my engineering coursework, I was faced with the reality of engineering not being very interesting to me within the first term. To top it off, I wasn’t very good at it either. Still determined to achieve my goal, I told myself I can’t give up (so stubborn of me). So I ended up in a field similar to engineering called Safety Engineering or Occupational Health and Safety.

Safety had some technical stuff to it, but it also had some behavioral stuff to it. I thought I had hit the jackpot… but to make a long story short, I hadn’t. Safety was 10% fun and 90% not. I’ve been in the field for a little over six years now and I’m ready to make the jump. Funny thing is, my wife says that I’ve been talking about getting into school counseling or any other field since I started in my first job out of college. I wonder why I never listened to myself…until now :)"

Manish is certainly not alone in turning a deaf ear to one’s inner calling. Classrooms and professions are filled with people who are living someone else’s dreams. That’s because it’s not the major, or the job, or the career path itself that’s so hard to let go of. What’s hard to give up is other people’s approval – especially if they happen to be people you love and respect. Walking away from a career, even one you know deep inside is all wrong for you, means risking that esteem. As Manish is learning though, it’s never too late to start listening to the one person who knows more than anyone else about your true gifts and interests – you!

We’ve all received – and perhaps continue to receive – a lot of subtle, (and perhaps not so subtle) messages about what we should “be” work-wise. But outside pressure isn’t the only reason Manish and a lot of other people push on in dogged pursuit of a profession for which there is little real interest. That leads us to two more closely related reasons why otherwise intelligent people get and stay on the wrong career path.

3. Not Being Willing to Admit you Made a Mistake

As Manish’s story also demonstrates, the real pressure that keeps us on the wrong path is self-generated. At some point along the way, Manish shifted from fulfilling his father’s notion of the ideal profession to not wanting to give up on what had become a personal mission. Despite his brother’s attempts to point Manish toward the right road, he opted to continue on like a driver who stubbornly refuses to admit he’s lost.

The good news is Manish has wisely decided it’s time to pull over to ask for directions and is now heading toward his true gifts. The bad news is there are far too many other lost drivers on the highway of life who are still unwillingness to admit they’re going the wrong way.

Despite the occasional story about a physician who left to become a florist or an attorney turned singer, the overwhelming majority of unhappy people choose to stay miserably stuck largely out of pride. For a lot of people it’s a lot easier to keep that lousy job than to stand up and admit to the world that they zigged when they should have zagged.

4. Not Wanting to “Waste” the Degree

Then there are those who really did love their chosen career – at least in the beginning. But over time, they and their occupation, well, they just grew apart. If this sounds familiar, chances are what keeps you on the wrong path is, just like a relationship gone bad, it’s hard to walk away from a career into which you’ve put so much time and effort to say nothing of the financial investment.

Take my friend Donna. After earning her master’s degree in social work some fifteen years ago, she went into private practice as a family therapist. For the first five or so years, Donna got a lot of satisfaction out of helping others. For the last ten though, her work has felt more like a burden. So what keeps her there? It’s simple. Donna doesn’t want to “waste” the degree.

Now I know it’s not easy to turn your back on an established career, especially if it’s one that pays well, has some prestige associated with it, or required earning some kind of advanced degree. And yet, think about the logic here. If you identify with Donna’s dilemma what you’re really telling yourself is. “I’ve wasting the last 10 years of my life so I might as well throw away the next 20 as well. To hell with my true gifts, I’ve got more suffering to do"

John Powell once said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” If you identify with any (or all) of the four reasons for getting and staying on the wrong career path, don’t waste time despairing. Instead learn and then act.

The fact of the matter is we all get lost from time to time. That’s life. The danger comes when we fail to heed the road signs and thus remain stuck in the breakdown lane. I have an abiding belief that everything in life happens for a reason. The key is to find the lessons.

Even my job with the boss from hell offered invaluable lessons and experiences. In addition to getting to travel the country, I learned in no uncertain terms to trust my instincts. That job was also just the catalyst I needed to make my final exit from the j-o-b world. And, as importantly, it introduced me to meet people who’ve been integral to helping me succeed as a solo entrepreneur.

What should you do if you find yourself on the wrong career path? We’ll, if you’re living with the consequences of having long ignored your better instincts, get a pen and paper, find some quiet space, and put your listening ears on. Then write down everything that little voice has been trying to tell you but this time without censor or rationalization.

If you’ve been living someone else’s dream, then take a good look at what’s really going on. Some questions you might want to ask yourself are: What does having other people’s approval or meeting someone else’s needs help me avoid or get? What price am I paying for this approval? Does the cost outweigh the benefits? If so, it’s time to start exploring your own dreams.

If you’re hanging on to a job or career because of all the time and money you’ve invested, then the first thing you’ll want to do is to let yourself get close to your fear. I’m not talking about the fear of letting the world know you made a mistake or financial angst. What I’m talking about is getting in touch with the one thing that should really scare the heck out of you – namely, never getting to experience what your life would be like if you pursued your true gifts and passions.

Once you’ve let that little reality sink in, sit down and write a “Dear John” letter to your past love. Tell your career that while it has been a good and faithful partner for some time that you have simply fallen out of love. It will understand. Then pick up a paintbrush, look into culinary school, or otherwise start courting your new love interests.

It’s easy to find yourself on the wrong career track. When that happens, the key is to stay alert for warning lights, watch for the signposts along the way, learn from those inevitable detours, ask for directions, and then start slowly inching your way onto that big expansive highway called Your Life! As George Bernard Shaw once observed, “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing."


Innovative Ideas May Be All “In Your Mind”

Valerie Young

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 213 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

Aspiring entrepreneurs – especially those who are “creativity-impaired” – can take heart in knowing there is more than one way to generate ideas for products or services.

Capitalize on Mistakes

Some of the best product ideas were unintended. Did you know, for example, that Post-It-Notes were the result of what 3M Company researchers at first thought to be a bad batch of glue?

Then there was Thomas Sullivan, a New York City tea importer who, in 1908, found that the sample tins of tea he normally sent to customers had become more expensive. His solution was to send less tea and to have the samples sewn into small silk bags. Sullivan’s customers assumed that these convenient bags were meant to steep in hot water and orders started rolling in for this new product innovation now known as the tea bag.

Sleep On It

One of the best times for idea development is in the early stages of sleep. Both Thomas Edison and artist Salvador Dali often used their nap time to stimulate creative thinking. The men would nap in a chair while holding a small metal object (Edison held a ball bearing, Dali, a key).

The object would eventually clank to the floor, awakening the nappers with a start. Edison and Dali would then quickly jot down whatever ideas or intuitive connections may have been in their mind.

Pay Attention

Did you know that burrs were the inspiration for the popular clothing fastener known as Velcro? When you start looking at the familiar with fresh eyes you’ll be amazed at the creative business possibilities you might see.

Be Ready

Keep a notebook and pencil or a small tape recorder handy at all times. After all, you never know when or where the inspiration for your new enterprise may strike!

Trust Your Gut

Speaking of Post-It-Notes, back in the late 1980s my then employer held a course on innovation. Attendees were put into small groups to brainstorm new product ideas and then present the best idea to the entire class. As I watched the other groups writing their favorite idea on flip chart paper and hanging them on the wall with masking tape, the light bulb went on…

What if flip chart pads were manufactured to work like giant Post-It-Notes for easier hanging? Being a trainer myself, I thought it was a great idea. My group didn’t agree and picked another one instead. What was at the time a novel product improvement is today pretty much the standard for flip chart pads. I may have missed out on a fortune but I learned an invaluable lesson – trust your gut and go for it.


Still Don’t Know What You Want To Be “When You Grow Up?” Here Are 3 Ways To Find Out

This article originally appeared in Issue 212 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

If you’re well into your career but still aren’t really sure what you want to be “when you grow up,” join the mid-life career crisis club! Here …


Who Says You Can’t Live Your Dreams?

Valerie Young

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 211 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

Dreamers beware: for every dream there are 10 naysayers just waiting to dash it. It almost happened to Beverly Goodman Park. Park …


Dreams Can Come True: The 7 Key Lessons to Turning Dreams into Reality 

Valerie Young

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 210 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

Early in his career, college football coaching legend Lou Holtz made a list of 107 things he wanted to accomplish in his …


Use Your Summer Vacation to Start Working at What You Love

Valerie Young

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 209 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

Remember writing those "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" essays way back when?

Summertime may not be the endless carefree season it was when you were a kid, but it’s still a great time to jumpstart your dream of working at what you love.

Here are three ways to use your summer vacation to grow a dream:

1. Become a Dream Detective

Imagine yourself a Dream Detective… someone who has an uncanny nose for scoping out unique business ventures. Like any good detective, you’ll want to take lots and lots of notes. Whether your vacation plans take you to the beach, the mountains, or the city, make sure to pack a small notebook along with the sunscreen and maps. But this isn’t any old notebook… it’s your Dream Notebook!

The idea is to use your Dream Notebook to capture as many cool business ideas as possible. If you’re traveling with kids you might even want to enlist their help by making a game of it. Maybe you’ll spy an interesting business in the airport terminal or along the roadside. Or perhaps you’ll find an existing business that’s come up with a unique income stream, like an outdoor cafe that, for a fee, will walk patron’s dogs while they dine.

If the business itself is nothing new, but they’re using some neat marketing tactic to get customers in the door, add the marketing idea to your list as well. For example, I read about a CPA who partnered with a hotel to offer weekend guests a completed tax return by checkout. Two unlikely business partners who profited from a creative idea.

The purpose of capturing cool business and marketing ideas is to shift your thinking away from the more limiting idea of "job" to the more option-expanding concept of “livelihood.” But that’s not all. Even if you have no interest in starting your own soft-serve ice cream shop/kids bookstore (with a fun hand-washing area dividing the two,
of course), a summer camp for Star Wars fans, or an antique stove repair business, just by paying attention to the wonderfully vast number of ways there are to make a living without a j-o-b can help fuel your own creative thinking.

2. Use The Longer Days To Start Working On Your Dream

Even though there’s still only 24 hours in a day, the extra hours of sunlight somehow make the day feel longer. Use the “extra” time to start actively working on your dream. For example…

If you still don’t know what you want to be “when you grow up,” read a book about tapping into your true calling. (You'll find numerous suggestions in the Changing Course Bookstore.)

If you’re in the exploring stage, consider taking an adult education course through your local college. I did a random search for courses and found such intriguing topics as How to Write and Sell Movie Treatments, Leather Bookbinding, and Opening Your Own Bed & Breakfast.

If you have a business idea in mind, you could spend the time researching your business, building your website, or working on your marketing plan. The point is to find a way to shine some of that extra sunlight onto your dreams.

3. Invest in Your Dream

One way to invest in your dream is to start spending less and saving more. If you need to save money to put toward your new home office or to purchase inventory, consider vacationing at home and stashing away the money you would have spent on a costly vacation into your “dream fund.”

The other way to invest in your dream is to make a conscious decision to spend money in the service of your dream. Sometimes the smartest (and quickest) way to start working at what you love is to invest in the skills, training, experiences, materials, or other resources you’ll need to launch your dream.

Coleman Cox asks, “Now that it’s all over, what did you really do yesterday that’s worth mentioning?” Looking ahead instead of back, the question will become, "How did YOU spend your summer?" Hopefully the answer will be, “Launching my dream of working at what I love!”


How to Turn Simple Ideas Into Financial Freedom

Valerie Young

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 208 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

Sometimes the smallest things can have the biggest impact on your life. Two weeks ago I attended a workshop in Stamford, Connecticut …


Time to Break Out of the Job Box: Readers Share Cool Ideas for Turning Your Everyday Interests Into Money-Making Small Businesses

 


Valerie

Young

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 207 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

Part 2 of a 2 Part Series

(Catch up on Part 1)

There is no limit to the ways you can make …


Time to Break Out of the Job Box: Readers Share Cool Ideas for Turning Your Everyday Interests Into Money-Making Small Businesses


Valerie

Young

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 206 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

Part 1 of a 2 Part Series

In his hour-long interview with Charlie Rose, Bill Gates said something that made me grab for my pen. He said, “This is the best time ever to be someone who is curious.” How true. There are so many fascinating ways to make a living without a job. To see them, though, requires a certain amount of curiosity.

Like Barbara Winter, I’m constantly “interrogating” people about their work. When I spent the night in the hospital last year, I asked a (very taken aback) physician, “Why did you decide to become a hospitalist?”

Then last month I spoke at a gathering of women optometrists meeting at a hotel in Atlanta. While I was testing out the microphone system, the hotel was setting up for a chocolate fondue and martini reception. When I saw a nice young man from a local company wheeling in vats of liquid chocolate, I pounced. I’m sure the hotel staff thought I was a bit odd, but I was curious to learn how someone would dive into chocolate – as a business, that is.

I’m not the only one who is curious. I recently held an “Opportunity Detective” contest where aspiring entrepreneurs competed for a spot in my Outside the Job Box Career Expert course. Contestants were asked to submit 10 unique small business ideas. Here are just a few of the many fascinating ideas I received. Sprinkled among the business ideas are some lessons from me on how you, too, can break outside of the job box!

For Creative Entrepreneurs, Problem = Opportunity

When you view the world from the eyes of an entrepreneur, you understand that some opportunities come disguised as problems – and all the more so in these challenging economic times. For example, there’s a company in California that (and don’t ask me how) somehow sprays green coloring onto brown lawns so homes that are For Sale or bank-owned look lived in.

Not long ago, a cooking show featuring recipes from the Great Depression would have gone largely unnoticed. But today, 91 year old Clara Cannuciari’s Great Depression Cooking segments have been picked up by all the major news outlets. The videos, shot in her kitchen by her grandson, were such a hit on YouTube that he’s packaged up the DVD to sell. They’re also monetizing the site with Google ads, but I could easily see getting big time corporate sponsors like Ronzoni or Idaho potatoes. If you could use a smile check out Clara’s site or track her down on YouTube.

Try the problem = opportunity technique yourself. Think of something challenging or stressful, then find a way to address it. Take for example, weddings. You already know about professional wedding planners. But perhaps the only thing more stressful than planning a wedding is cancelling one. It was Opportunity Detective contestant Erika Harris who turned me on to an actual business someone started as a professional event canceller. What is especially noteworthy about this business is that, like many enterprises (mine included), it started with a personal crisis.

In 2008, Lindsay Riggin went through the painful process of cancelling her own wedding. Obviously it was tough. But it also made her realize that she may be able to put her social work degree to work by helping others in the same position.

Today, this Chicago-based entrepreneur helps her clients by doing everything from notifying guests, calling vendors, re-negotiating contracts, and answering etiquette questions. Obviously, handling all these details takes someone who likes organizing things and has good people skills. But Lindsay also puts her counseling background to good use by offering therapeutic support and advice to individuals or couples.

Like the organizing/detail part, but don’t have a counseling degree? Here’s a work-around: Partner with a therapist in your area to deal with the emotional fall out and you handle the practical side of things!

Finally, sometimes other people see our gifts before we do. When a friend saw John having lots of fun with women at a conference, he encouraged John to create a training guide on “Dating For Over 40 for Men.” John’s friend even offered to market it for him!

This business may turn out to be a great funnel for John’s other idea. He even has a name for it: “No More Nervousness - Complete Confidence for The Best Man - Prewritten Toasts and Speeches for Everyone Who Has to Talk at a Wedding or Reception.” (Personally I think John could start a little side business helping people come up with catchy book and product titles… he’s obviously got a knack for it!)

There are lots of benefits to surrounding yourself with other entrepreneurs. For instance, John has another friend who is a Wedding DJ, and this is one of many add-on services John and he are considering. If you don’t know other entrepreneurs, then make it your plan to seek them out.

And in these challenging economic times, it is all the more important to look beyond – or at least in addition to – the traditional job path.

“Growing” Teen Entrepreneurs

A lot of people share my passion for reaching out and helping teens start a business. When I was at Yanik Silver’s Underground Online Marketing seminar in Washington, DC last month, the entire first row was reserved for young entrepreneurs. One came as far away as the UK – by himself!

Supervising and advising all of those teens at the event was a dynamic woman named Shonika Proctor. According to her business card, Shonika is the “speaker, author, consultant, and doer” at RenegadeCEOs.com. (That’s her to the right of me in the photo.) Her organization focuses exclusively on training, coaching and promoting entrepreneurial teens across socioeconomic backgrounds and across the globe. Virtual coaching (via phone & Skype) is available for those outside of the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

I just revisited RenegadeCEOs.com and learned that MTV is seeking contestants for a Teen CEO Reality Television Show. Obviously you would have to be a REALLY cool parent to put your family out there on national TV, but if you’re a bit of ham, it’s a great way to get exposure for your teen’s entrepreneurial dream. Unfortunately, the deadline is April 10th so go to www.RenegadeCEOs.com ASAP for details and to learn about this and the other cool things they’re doing to support teen entrepreneurs.

Teens and children were another popular theme amongst Opportunity Detective contestants. For example, David’s dream is to help fathers and children spend more time together by teaching families how to start businesses together. “I want to take teenagers and get them involved in entrepreneurship [as a way to give] the vast majority who will not go to college a different option than 'just a j-o-b.'”

Here are examples of seven cool full-time businesses David says were all started by teens:

  • Popsy Cakes” -- Cupcakes on a stick! The brainchild of an 18-year-old girl enrolled in an entrepreneur program
  • Creating videos and music for special occasions and events
  • Eco Dog Treats - vegetarian dog treats
  • E&E Basket Company – gift baskets for all occasions
  • Tutoring and strategy business for college students
  • Online SAT preparation
  • Selling imported Peruvian jewelry

Walter from Canada shared this enterprising example of an even younger entrepreneur. “Grade eight Ottawa student Charlie Sobcov invented a painted, plastic window decal to save migratory birds from ‘skyscraper slaughter.’ Birds can see the ‘stop signs,’ but the paint color makes the removable decals invisible to humans. Although he’s still only testing the decals, he already has orders coming in.”

Remember how I said problems are an entrepreneur’s best friend? Walter shared another neat example of the problem-opportunity approach in action. After waiting 15 minutes in the icy cold for his bus, only to discover that he had missed it, 16 year-old student entrepreneur Eric Forkosh decided, "There has to be a better way…" So Walter reports, Erik created a hand-held Bus Alert that uses radio signals to alert him when the school bus is coming. How many kids, and parents, would love that!

Home-based businesses are very popular with the home schooling community. Another Opportunity Detective contestant named Olivia tells of homeschooled teen in her area who turned her love of plants and animals into a nature class for homeschoolers. “She teaches plant identification, how to track animals, animal and reptile habitats, etc., taking students on them on nature walks and has the class outdoors,” says Olivia. How cool is that!

Olivia has been teaching her own children to think outside the job box for a while now. Her 11-year-old even has a cake decorating business! Helping children is her passion. “I’m always looking for what their talent is and guiding them that way. After studying home-based businesses for 3 years (I’m a scanner), I’ve decided I want to help women find their uniqueness and how to profit from it. I was shocked when I found your website. It’s what my heart is! Teaching women to spot their children’s gifts and to help them think ‘outside of the box’ instead of just going down the same beaten path as everyone else is another area I want to help with.” Adding, “They’re our future!”

I couldn’t agree more! What I love about Olivia is she “gets” that there really is a way to take the thing she loves to do and share that with others who want to do the same thing. Don’t you wish you had a mother like Olivia? I’m also a huge fan of combining multiple interests into one or more income streams. For an interesting approach, one reader is taking that combines teen entrepreneurs and the green theme, go to the In the Garden section below.

The Opportunity Detective contest yielded dozens of other fascinating small business ideas. Proof that a curious mind is key to thinking outside the job box! What can you be curious about today? Practice flexing your Opportunity Detective muscles by making it
your mission to chat it up with at least one business owner you come in contact with today. It could be the person who owns the corner store or the dry cleaners… or perhaps your chiropractor, yoga instructor, the trainer at your gym, the neighbor down the street. Entrepreneurs, like ideas, are everywhere. You just need to look.

P.S. I was supposed to pick just one winner of the Opportunity Detective contest. Note to self: Never run a contest where I have to choose! I ended up choosing 4 lucky winners. They are Erika, John, Jerry and Raghu. Their curious and creative minds have earned them a complimentary spot in the Outside the Job Box Career Expert Course. I feel fortunate that they will be joining this growing community of well over 125 Outside of the Job Box Career Experts!

Too many people waste time daydreaming about being rescued by “Mr. Job,” the career equivalent of waiting for Mr. or Ms. Right. This kind of passive approach is sure to disappoint. Face it: The only person who’s going to liberate you from job jail is you! If you want to be your own boss then take a proactive lesson from Jonathan Winters who said, “I couldn’t wait for success,” he reportedly said, “so I went ahead without it.”


Do You Love Thinking “Outside the Job Box”?

***CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED***

Enter the “Opportunity Detective” Contest
for Your Chance to Win Big…

You’ve been an idea-person all your life. Now here’s your chance to formally exercise your Outside the Job Box muscles – and get a chance …


No Time to Go After Your Dream? How to Turn Your Dreams Into Reality in Five Minutes a Day and Other Tips for Time-Stressed Dreamers

Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 205 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

You've already made up your mind that there has to be more to life than careers, cubicles, …


Ten Tips for Figuring Out How to Get Paid to Do What You Love  

Valerie and her rescue dog,
“Cokie Roberts”

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 204 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

I love proving people wrong. Not all people… just the ones who are operating under the kind …


Do You Need to Make Money Now? Avoid the Heartbreak and Myths of Marketing

Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 203 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

The person on the other end of the phone was crying so hard that when she first …


Lessons on Inspiration, Guidance and Success from a Real Estate “Artist”

 



Valerie and her rescue dog,
“Cokie Roberts”

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 202 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

Last summer, I joined internet marketing legend Yanik Silver and 25 or so other entrepreneurs for a“Maverick


Turn Your Love for Sports Into an Income

Valerie and Pat Beith from
Sports Camp Empire

In the last issue of the
Changing Course Newsletter, I introduced you to my friend, Coach Pat Beith, and the informative videos he’s created on how to make money running sports


A 3-Step Process for Finding What You Love to Do and Getting Paid to Do It



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 201 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

When you are so busy just trying to do whatever job you trained for or fell into, …


How Do You Overcome the Terror of Failing?



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 199 of the Changing Course Newsletter.


That was the question someone asked in a recent survey of Changing Course readers. It was the …


What’s Keeping You Up at Night?



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 198 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

The thing that keeps me up at night is not the economy. Don’t get me wrong. My …


Make Every Day Thanksgiving: How Creating a Better Future Starts With What You Do in the Present



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 197 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

This week most Americans will be celebrating Thanksgiving. Our Canadian friends celebrated their Thanksgiving in October. Other …


Instant Career Change: Is There A Fast and Easy Way to the Top?



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 196 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

I admit it. I’ve watched more than a few episodes of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? …


From Food Stamps to Entrepreneurial Success

If you really are serious about wanting to look in the mirror and see the boss, then there’s someone I really want you to meet…

Valerie Young with Jeff Walker

Valerie with
Jeff Walker

One of the very best ways to be an entrepreneur yourself …


Want to Work for Yourself: Those Dream Jobs Don’t Just Happen, They’re Created



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 195 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

While traveling in northern California a few years ago, I happened to tune into a local newscast. …


Why Wish Upon a Star When You Can Reach for One?



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 194 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

It’s been over thirty years since Pulitzer Prize-winning author Studs Terkel traveled the country conducting interviews for …


How to Turn a Negative Experience Into a Positive Way to Make a Living Without a Job



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 193 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

You know the old expression, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. You’re about to meet seven …


Profit from Experience: The Key to Your Right Livelihood May Be Right in Your Own Backyard



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 192 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

We all know the story of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Swept away to the enchanting …


How to Make Money by Breaking the Rules



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 191 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

Too many people who want to work at what they love seem to suffer from the misguided notion that there are certain “rules” that must be followed. Let me give you a quick example. At the beginning of every career consultation, I ask clients to describe their ideal life. To prompt their thinking, I pose a series of questions such as what time do you want to get up in the morning, would you like to work at home or outside the home, do you want to work with other people or do you prefer to work alone? The question that gets the biggest reaction is, “Would you like to have summers off?” Invariably someone will say, “Oh, can you do that?”

I’m always tempted to say, “I don’t know, let me consult the official Work-Life Rule Book.” The thing is, I don’t know if you can have summers off or not. But what I do know is this – if the desire to have your summers free is not consciously on your mental radar screen, then the likelihood of it happening is next to nil. If, on the other hand, you were crystal clear that you’d love to take summers off, then you’d be in a better position to make a conscious effort to come up with ways to generate income that would allow for a lengthy work break.

This self-limiting belief that you somehow have to do things a certain way also hampers to a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs. For example, this week alone I’ve spoken with two people who had considered taking the
American Writers and Artists Institute course on how to become a freelance copywriter. The reason they decided against it was they didn’t want to have to write promotional copy for products and services they don’t believe in. Who would? I know I certainly wouldn’t want to pitch Dr. Zildo’s amazing watermelon diet or some shady work from home program.

But where is it written that you HAVE to take on clients you don’t like? I once had a client named Donna whose idea of heaven on earth is to have some kind of a portable income so she can spend months at a time with her daughter in England. Donna enjoys writing and even has a background in advertising. She’d considered the copywriting option in the past but again rejected it because she didn’t want to write about products she didn’t believe in.

Instead of letting this values clash be a show stopper, Donna needed to ask herself, “So, what do I believe in enough to promote?” For Donna it’s the whole mind, body, and soul connection. In fact, her dream job is to organize events for motivational speakers. Because it would be difficult living in a relatively rural area to make a full time living organizing events, we had to come up with a supplemental – and portable – income stream.

This meant challenging the idea that to succeed as a copywriter, or for that matter, in any business, you have to do things a certain way. What if Donna intentionally structured her copywriting business to focus entirely on motivational speakers and authors of mind, body, and soul type books? This kind of niche marketing offers a whole host of advantages.

For one, Donna would genuinely enjoy doing the research on topics she finds interesting. She’d also get a great deal of satisfaction from helping spread the word about concepts and practices she believes in.

Another highly practical advantage is that people in the same field tend to talk to one another. In football terms it’s known as going deep and wide. In my small world, I get to talk to like-minded souls like Barbara Winter and Barbara Sher. I’ve recommended good copywriters to them and they’ve steered me in the direction of great web masters and other vendors. In other words, when you niche market, ultimately you’ll have to do less self-marketing because your business becomes primarily referral-based.

Okay, so what misguided rules are you operating by? Do you think you have to come up with just one way to make a living? Think again. Think you can’t turn your hobby into your career, get paid to work with animals, or that changing course means having to choose between money and happiness? If so, check my ever-increasing list of Cool Jobs at
ChangingCourse.com/cooljobs.htm

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said, “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” How can you stretch your mind today? Once you realize that some misguided rules about work and life can, and should, be broken, a whole new world of opportunity can open up.


Have a Great Idea for a Business? Test the Waters Before Diving In



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 190 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

Now and then I meet someone (usually a young person) who tells me they really like helping with people, so they’re thinking about going into Human Resources or HR as it’s commonly referred to. They imagine themselves sitting in their large private office eagerly awaiting a long line of interesting employees with interesting problems in need of interesting solutions.

Ask most people who are already in HR though and they’re likely to paint a very different picture. Instead of spending time helping people, most people in HR spend the better part of their jobs days dealing with the "administrivia" of the business
world – hiring, terminations, benefits, pensions, payroll, and all too often, petty grievances.

A lot of jobs seem different from the outside. Think about your current career or job. Now that you’re there, is it what you thought it was going to be? Probably not.

Fantasy vs. Reality

Entrepreneurs are not immune to this "leap before you look" syndrome. Take the classic bed and breakfast fantasy. Clients often tell me they love the idea of selecting the colors and the furnishings, picking fresh flowers from the garden for the breakfast table, greeting the guests, and generally making everyone feel at home. Once the guests check out, they picture themselves settling into a big comfy chair with a good book or perhaps puttering in a Zen-like perennial garden. Utter bliss.

Once the real estate is purchased, most people don’t have the capital to hire others to do the cooking, cleaning, and bookkeeping. As a consequence, once the decorating is done and the garden is planted, they realize they’ve become a combination short order cook/chamber maid/bookkeeper!

Every business has its more mundane parts – especially in the beginning when you’re bootstrapping your business or are a "solo-preneur." But still, the goal is to love more of the work than not. So, before you leap, you need to check out just how wide the expanse is between fantasy and reality.

How do you test out a business idea? Well, if you truly do want to run a bed and breakfast (and for people who are natural hosts, there are lots of wonderful aspects of running a B & B) the best way to get your feet wet without taking a financial soaking is to become a B & B sitter. Just like it sounds, sitters take over the day-to-day operations of established inns so the owners can go on vacation or otherwise get away. Companies like Deserve a Break actually match B & B owners in Australia and New Zealand with experienced relief workers. Similarly, in the UK, farmers can turn to a decades old company called Loring, King and Loring for relief and contract milking and agricultural staff.

Another option is to go to "school." Sticking with our B & B example, you don’t need to earn a four year degree in hotel and restaurant management to learn how to run an inn. Many B & B’s offer weekend workshops for aspiring inn-keepers and some owners do individual consulting. If there are no classes in your area, contact a local B & B and ask if they’d let you intern with them in exchange for some free staffing time once you’re trained.

Getting Prospective Customers to Put Their Money Where Their Intentions Are

Even large, well established companies look before they leap. Hotel giant Hyatt ran an ad in the New York Times Magazine for its new Life Care community in Briarcliff Manor, New York. What caught my eye was not the fact that a hotel chain is branching out into senior housing, but rather the clever way Hyatt went about testing the waters before making a significant financial investment. Here is the fine print:

Through this marketing material, Classic Residence by Hyatt is exploring the market demand for a Life Care community in Briarcliff Manor. By joining the Priority Reservation Program, you are expressing your interest in future residency at Classic Residence by Hyatt at Briarcliff Manor. A Priority Reservation agreement is not a Continuing Care Residency Agreement. All deposits will be held in escrow at Bank of New York. You may obtain a full refund of the reservation system deposit, with interest earned at the prevailing rates at any time for any reason. If a refund is requested, however, you forfeit your priority number and benefits. Your status in the program is subject to the terms of the Priority Reservation Program, which are explained in the Priority Reservation Agreement. Classic Residence by Hyatt is currently under development, with a proposed opening date of 2009. Hyatt is a registered trademark of Hyatt Corporation.

How smart is that? In this case, it paid off. Hyatt withdrew plans to open the community due to escalating construction costs.

Think you’d like to borrow from the Hyatt model to explore market demand for your own high priced product or service? Before you start cashing any checks, keep in mind that the people sending you money are not investors. And as such you can’t use prospective customer’s money until you actually decide to move forward with your enterprise and your customers have signed a clearly spelled out agreement on the front end. This is definitely one place where you’ll want to employ the services of an attorney. But still, if your business idea lends itself to a similar approach, it’s a fascinating example of testing the waters by getting prospective customers to put their money where their intentions are.

There are lots of ways you can look before you leap into a new business. For example, you can:

  • Talk to people who are doing the kind of work you think you’d enjoy. Find out what they love – and don’t love – about their work, what a typical day is like, and what they would have done differently if they had to do it all over again.

  • Read "how to" books. It may not give you the total picture, but at least you’ll know more than you did.

  • Search for "how to" Web sites. As with reading books, it is not the same as test driving a business idea, more like sticking a toe into the information pool.

  • Work for someone else in a similar business. Depending on the business, you may be asked to sign a non-compete clause. Then again, if your goal is to start a specialized summer camp, the smartest way to see if you’d like running a camp is to first work at one.

  • Take classes. Check with your local adult education program, do a search for schools specializing in your area of interest, or seek out online courses. You never know what’s out there until you look. For example, The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City offers courses in how to write a proposal for a cookbook, breaking into food writing, and how to be a food stylist/ photographer (ICECulinary.com).

  • Join an industry association. In addition to getting their publications, most associations offer conferences, seminars, and other opportunities to learn from and connect with people in your prospective line of work.

  • Hang out with people who are already doing what you think you’d like to do. If you’ve got an inventive mind but have never acted on it join a group like the Inventors Network in Minneapolis (InventorsNetwork.org), Washington, DC (DCInventors.org), or Springfield, MA (IRNetwork.org). You’ll find a list of networks by state at InventNet.com.

  • Find a mentor. Some people will mentor you for free. However, depending on how much time and training you need, you should expect to pay your mentor. If that person is successful in the business you’re considering, it will be well worth the investment.

  • Volunteer, intern or apprentice. I had the opportunity to chat with Steve Curwood, host of Living on Earth, an engaging environmental news and information program heard on over 300 National Public Radio stations. Naturally the first thing I did was pump him for information on how someone would go about getting their own program on public radio. Before trying to pitch an idea, Steve urged anyone interested in being on the air to first volunteer at their local station so they can learn first-hand how public radio works.

  • Take on a few clients or assignments for free. In addition to gaining experience, building confidence, and developing a portfolio or track record it’s a great way to see how you like the work before making a larger investment of time and money.

  • Start small. Everyone wants to go from nothing to having their own full blown business in a day. Not only is it not possible but you’d miss invaluable lessons. But perhaps most importantly, starting small once again allows you an opportunity to dabble in a new enterprise before deciding if it’s right for you. Small steps add up. Changing Course began when I sent away for a cassette tape on how to break into the newsletter business. That was over 10 years ago. Today I have over 22,000 subscribers. The key is to just begin.

Do you have a great idea for a business? There are lots of ways to test the waters before you dive in head first. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."


Business Success Bootcamp for Fitness Enthusiasts

Are you (or is someone you know) a personal trainer, fitness instructor, conditioning coach, or other independent fitness professional… or want to be? Are you passionate about being healthy and fit and helping other people do the same? Do you want to stop working twelve hour days and still grow your business by an extra $4000-$5000 a month?Turn Your Enthusiasm for Fitness into an Income Stream

Then I encourage you to seriously consider grabbing a seat at fitness entrepreneur Ryan Lee’s third Personal Trainer Business Success Bootcamp happening this September in Connecticut (Fair warning: his first two Bootcamps sold out fast). The theme of this year’s mega-event is Work Less Make More.

It would be impossible to share all the rave reviews from past attendees but here are a few standouts to give you a feel for what it’s all about… 

“[The workshop was] awesome, fantastic, fabulous, fun, informative, high energy, non-stop excitement. I will be back. Thanks Ryan, I am amazed and awed.”
~ Susan Ripley, Fit for Teens

“I can surely double or triple my income in the next year. I can’t wait to get back to London and start kicking a_ _!” ~ Gavin Walsh

“As a newcomer to this industry, I learned more valuable and immediately useful information in 3 days than I learned in 12 years of attending events in my previous industry!” ~ Lindee Goodall

“Ryan Lee’s Bootcamp is the single best fitness event of the year. The quality of successful independent fitness professionals is on post above all the best. If you have any aspirations of running your own successful business in fitness, you must attend this event.” ~ Jason White, Strength Radio

Ryan is bringing together a world-class group of speakers on a wide range of income-generating and time-saving topics including…

  • How to earn an extra $100.00 a day with your own fitness blog

  • How to go from being a local fitness professional to an international fitness celebrity (gotta love those big dreams!)

  • Secrets of $75,000 per year part-time trainers: How to transition away from traditional one-on-one training

  • How to put your entire fitness business on autopilot with (I happen to know this speaker and he absolutely knows his stuff)

Ryan has helped over 17,525 fitness professionals to dramatically increase their income. In addition to knowing Ryan personally (you will LOVE him), I’m also in a “mastermind” group with one of Ryan’s star students – a really great guy named Craig Ballantyne out of Canada who is rapidly closing in on a seven figure income. (And speaking of rapids, I’ll be white water rafting, rock climbing, and mountain biking with Craig and a buch of other entrepreneurs next week in Aspen – I’ll be the one returning in a cast! But I digress…)

When you read about the speakers and all of what will be covered I am confident you will be as impressed as I was. But what I KNOW will blow you away is the price. Ryan has made this event affordable and accessible to just about anyone.

To learn more about this impressive business- and income-growing training event for fitness professionals at all stages of their careers, go to ChangingCourse.com/recommends/fitnesstraining
 


Be a Part of Valerie’s New Book

Do you secretly worry that others will find out you’re not as intelligent and competent as they seem to think you are? Do you often dismiss your accomplishments as a “fluke” or “no big deal?” Do you sometimes shy away from or obsess about taking on greater challenges because of nagging self-doubt? Are you crushed by even constructive criticism, taking it as evidence of your ineptness? Are you waiting to be exposed as an impostor, fake, or fraud?

If so, join the club!

It’s estimated that 70 percent of people have experienced these feelings of intellectual fraudulence which are especially common among first generation professionals, creative types (Mike Myers says he’s always waiting for the “no talent police” to show up at his door), students, and others. Fearing that we have somehow managed to fool others “impostors” live in fear that sooner or later we are going to be “found out.”

In March I signed a *big* book deal with Crown Publishing Group to write a self-help book on the so-called Impostor Syndrome. And I am committed to including as many voices and experiences as I can. Simply said, I need your help.

For the next few months I’ll be posing a different question designed to help me better understand how impostor feelings manifest in the lives of my readers. I hope you will take a moment to share your thoughts, stories, fears, and solutions with me so that I may in turn, help more people to feel as smart and competent as they truly are.

Question of the Week

The theme this week is “success.” What does success mean to you… or in other words, how do you define success? Do you see success as being the same or different from “achievement” or “ambition” and if so, why and how?

Please include as much information as you feel comfortable sharing – first name, current occupation, age, race, state/province/country. Share as much or as little as you like. No matter what you share, I think just reading other people’s stories will be enlightening to all.

Thank you in advance for your input and support. I couldn’t do this without you!

Valerie Young
Recovering Impostor
ImpostorSyndrome.com


Turning Problems Into Opportunities

New Page 1

 

Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 189 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

"In the middle of difficulty," observed Albert Einstein, "lies opportunity." Some of the best opportunities often originate from problems – either yours or someone else's. For example, like a lot of parents, Deb Cohen's problem was that after her first child was born she wanted to find a way to be a stay-at-home Mom.

Around that same time, Deb became aware of a real problem for most homeowners – namely, finding someone reputable to do home repairs or improvements. By putting these two problems together, she came up with the perfect solution for both her problem and that of her neighbors.

Since 1997 Deb has been owner of a highly successful company called Home Remedies of NY, Inc. (HRN), an organized referral company that matches homeowners with skilled, pre-screened independent home-repair workers.

HRN offers homeowners referrals to reputable home improvement contractors free of charge; the contractors represented in the network pay a commission to HRN for any work secured. If you've seen any of NBC's Dateline segments on unscrupulous home repair men (I would say home repair "people" but I've never seen a segment that featured a woman) then you can imagine what a relief it would be to homeowners to be able to easily find trustworthy and competent contractors.

In fact, a few years back I remember picking up a brochure at my local hardware store about a service that sounded a lot like this one. I only wish I'd looked into it before I hired the fly-by-night guy who replaced my roof last summer. What a NIGHTMARE!

I first learned about Deb when the Work from Home channel at iVillage.com featured her as their "Mompreneur of the Month." I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that Deb's business has become so successful that she has expanded to offer others the chance to launch a Homeowner Referral Network in their community. I felt instantly reassured when I read that, to date, there are more than 400 Homeowner Referral Networks operating in the U.S., Canada and abroad.

What's nice, too, is that aspiring entrepreneurs can choose from a range of business start-up kits at different price points. The kits offer step-by-step procedures on how to start a network in your area and include contractor commission structures, liability information, a complete direct mail and advertising campaign, and how to locate, screen and represent a comprehensive network of home improvement contractors.

All kits include The Complete Guide to Owning and Operating a Successful Homeowner Referral Network and unlimited leads from the HRN Web site. Kits range in cost from $1,995 – $6,495 with the higher priced kits including options ranging from business forms to individual phone consultations with Deb to a turnkey website and an online marketing tool designed for HRN owners to stay in touch with their clients.

This also seems like a good opportunity for someone who wants to start their own home repair/improvement business because HRN takes care of all of the marketing and you are instantly affiliated with a company that is known for referring only quality professionals. If you've had a good experience with a home repair person, HRN is actively seeking referrals from satisfied homeowners.

Deb’s business is just one of an infinite number of ways to turn a problem, complaint or threat into a money-making business opportunity. For example, when the news was filled with horror stories of tainted pet food from China, enterprising people leapt on the opportunity to make and sell organic pet food.

The key to being a successful entrepreneur is to become adept at being what I call an “Opportunity Analyst.” The easiest place to begin is to consciously stay on the lookout for examples of problems, complaints or threats and see if you can come up with interesting income-generating ways that you – or someone – could solve them. Look around you. What kinds of things do you, your co-workers, friends or family complain about? Study news sources. Drive through your local neighborhoods or commercial areas.

If you would like to learn more about this interesting business, visit Deb online at ChangingCourse.com/recommends/hrn and you can read Deb's Top 10 Misconceptions About the HRN Business at ChangingCourse.com/hrntopten.htm

Trust me – there are plenty of problems out there for an enterprising person to turn into a great small business opportunity! If you’d like a little help developing your “opportunity muscles,” join me for my monthly Teleclass, “Turning Interests into Income Opportunity Hour.” Learn more at ChangingCourse.com/courses.htm


When it Comes to Your Dreams, Sometimes the Best Advice is to Ignore Everything Your Parents Told You



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 188 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

Most of the time my parents did get it right. But everything I learned about achieving career …


Recreate Your Life: Summertime is the Perfect Time to Grow a Dream



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 187 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

Has the school calendar of your youth hardwired you into seeing September as the time for new beginnings? If you yearn for a new job, a career change or maybe even a total life makeover – summertime is by far the best time to act.

Summer is synonymous with fun. It’s possible to make a change and still have time for recreation. In fact, the word recreation literally means to “re-create.” And what better way to spend your summer than recreating your life! Here are six ways you can use the rest of the summer to grow a dream:

1. Catch a falling star.

When my best friend, Elaine, and I weren’t building forts or skipping rope we could be found lying beneath a shady tree or a star-filled sky. These weren’t idle pursuits. We were flexing our imaginations. As the most carefree of the four seasons, summers are made for dreaming. It’s the perfect time to gaze upward, to look inward and to imagine what could be.

2. Grow a dream garden.

Look within and you may find the seeds of a dream planted long ago. Left untended though, dreams will fail to sprout. Summer is the ideal time to cultivate our dreams both old and new. Start with good soil. What is it you care deeply about? What makes you happy? What do you want your life to look like? Now get rid of the weeds – the lame excuses, apathy, self-doubt, and fear born from lack of information. Tend to your dreams and watch them grow.

3. Take advantage of the longer days.

Even though those so-called lazy days of summer have gotten a lot busier of late, the additional hours of daylight do seem to add a bit more time to our lives. Once you’ve engaged in some active reflection, use some of this “found time” to start working toward your goals. Even if it’s only 20 minutes a day, it’s all forward motion!

4. Read a real thriller.

As you’re packing for the beach leave the romance novel or who-done-it at home. Instead treat your life like the adventure that it is by picking up a real thriller like Paul and Sarah Edwards' The Practical Dreamers Handbook or Create a Life That Tickles Your Soul by Suzanne Willis Zoglio. Maybe you already have a new direction in mind. Then take this time to read up on that exciting new career.

5. Invest in your dream.

Save both money and time by spending your vacation at home. Make it a real vacation by doing the kinds of things a tourist on a budget might do – go on a picnic, head to a museum, take a day trip. Stash the money you would have spent on a more costly vacation into a “dream fund.” Use your savings to take career-expanding classes, buy some snappy new interview outfit or even start your own business. If your dream includes relocating, do hit the road by using your vacation as an exciting research expedition.

6. Summer is the ideal time to ease into a new job.

With all the overlapping vacation schedules, many organizations operate in a somewhat more relaxed mode in July and August. As a new hire, that means the trial by fire period is apt to be a little less trying. If you’ve been putting off a job move until the fall, keep in mind the slower pace makes summer a great time to learn the new job ropes before the workplace once again launches into fall overdrive.

Recreating your life is about making choices. What choices are you willing to make to grow your dream? Whatever you decide to do, have a safe, relaxing, and inspired rest of the summer!


One Viable Way to “Unjob,” Turn Your Interests into Income, and Still Get a Steady Flow of Income



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 186 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

I'm all about finding ways to help people to "un-job." One obvious barrier to quitting the 9-to-5 grind to work on your own is the predictability that comes with a steady job.

Getting a regular paycheck is fabulous – that is if you love your job. But if your work is taking a toll on your health, your relationships, and your very soul, then that's a pretty high price to pay for predictability.

So what if there was a way to do something you really enjoy, be your own boss, and still get a predictable flow of income coming in at regular intervals?

Better yet, what if you actually were taking something you already know and care about – fly fishing or knitting or antique toys or selling on eBay - and were somehow able to create a business that brought in a relatively predictable amount of money every month. I'm not talking about a few dollars here and there. I mean anywhere from a several hundred to tens of thousands of dollars a month? Would you want to learn more?

Well, you may recall that around this same time last year I told you about membership programs – sometimes referred to as continuity or subscriber programs. Before I get into the incredible income potential that can come from running your own membership/continuity program, let's take the example of the online dating service Match.com. You may not think of this as a continuity program but I assure you their accountants do! Singles wishing to be listed or to contact singles listed on Match.com pay a monthly subscriber fee. Unless you cancel, your credit card is automatically billed every month.

Another example I've used before is Consumer Reports magazine. For $4.95 a month I get continued access to special reports and information not available on the free portion of their site. Unless I cancel, the subscription fee will automatically be billed to my credit card.

What makes a membership/subscriber/continuity program so popular comes down to this:


1)
Recurring Monthly Income: In both examples, the businesses automatically bill the consumer's credit card every month, resulting in a steady and relatively predictable stream of recurring income.

2) Access: Members or subscribers sign on because they are getting some kind of ongoing benefit dependent on accessing the content. With online dating services, it's the ability to communicate with and potentially meet the love of your life. With Consumer Reports its' access to a regular stream of desirable information.

3) Convenience: The consumer can sign up once without the hassle of check writing or otherwise having to remember to renew. As the business owner, you skip the hassle of sending out invoices because the money is automatically deposited into your bank account. (Sweet!)

4) Affordability: Far fewer people would shell out hundreds of dollars all at once. But if payments are small, then recurring billing makes what's being offered more affordable to the consumer, resulting in increased sales for the business.

Okay, now that the model is starting to make sense, you're probably thinking, "I'm not a big organization, I'm just one person – how can I possibly run my own membership site?" That's the beauty of the Internet and membership site enabling technology. Today, there are thousands of very profitable membership/continuity programs that are one-or-two person operations.

And before you start moaning about how you don't have anything to offer that anyone would want to buy – I met a guy who is making five figures a month running a member site all about crocheting – and he doesn't even crochet!

That's just the thing – whether you decide to go the membership route or just want to find a way to change course…

Turning Your Interests into Income is a Lot Easier Than You Think

The reality is, you don't even have to have personal knowledge of or experience in a particular field or subject area to start any kind of business, including a member program. I'll prove it.

Last summer I had the pleasure of meeting a guy named Todd Brown. Todd is the founder of MassageBusinessUniversity.com, a member site for massage therapists who want to grow their practice.

Before starting this particular member site (he runs several), Todd was in the fitness field. Here is the thing – he is not a massage therapist. Instead, Todd relies on a team of "faculty" with expertise in growing a massage practice to create value-added content for his members. Todd's expertise lies in knowing how to find out what members want and making sure they get it.

What Todd and other successful entrepreneurs get is that competence isn't about knowing how to do everything perfectly. Competence isn't doing everything yourself. Competence does not mean needing to know 150% before you consider yourself remotely qualified to wear the label: "expert." Competence means knowing how to identify the resources it takes to get the job done.

All It Takes is A Little Creativity

Continuity programs always revolve around the delivery of some kind information, instruction, or even entertainment. However, the type of information, and even the delivery itself, can vary widely. For example, I'm a member of master Internet marketer Yanik Silver's "Underground Secret Society." For $87.63 a month, I receive a big red envelope stuffed with marketing tips and templates and a CD with a new before-and-after Web site critique. If you want to get a better idea of how Yanik structured his member program, go to ChangingCourse.com/recommends/secretsociety.

Yanik's program is unique in that he also puts on a big annual event on Internet marketing. In addition to saving on the registration fee, Secret Society members enjoy such perks as reserved seating and an upgraded break area and the chance to network with other members at exclusive cocktail and dinner functions.

At the event I attended, there were at least 200 other Secret Society members. That means from just these 200 members alone Yanik is raking in over $17,500 A MONTH! And these members represent just a small fraction of overall members.

My own member program, the Fast Track Your Dream Program, is set up a little differently. For one, the whole point is to speed up the process of going from having a boss to being your own boss. So the first thing members get is a "Fast Track Kit" full of books and CDs on a range of topics from finding your calling to how to create a step-by-step exit strategy. Members who are really in a hurry can go to a password-protected site to download much of the material immediately.

Fast Track members also get access to a live "Turning Interests into Income" Teleclass every month, three online resource guides, and daily "inspirational nudges." And, to help fight the isolation that Barbara Sher famously cites as THE dream killer, there's also a members-only discussion forum.

If you want to "see" what a member site might look, like you can take a short video "tour" of the Fast Track Community here: ChangingCourse.com/fasttracktour-20.html 

Learn From the Experts

You don't need to know how to set up and run a membership program – or any business for that matter. All you need to do is figure out who does and then learn from them.

Last summer I introduced you to Tim Kerber and Ryan Lee. Tim and Ryan have established themselves as "the" experts on how to set up and run a highly profitable membership business. Ryan's claim to fame is that he went from struggling to provide for his young family as a physical education teacher in the Bronx to earning over a million dollars a year running a dozen different membership sites on different aspects of fitness.

And Tim is the founder and president of a turnkey solution that handles all the technical aspects of a member program called MemberGate. Together Tim and Ryan run a very helpful program for membership site owners called MembershipSiteOwner.com, of which I am a member.

Last summer, Ryan and Tim created a Tele-training program which obviously hit a nerve because the program sold out in less than a week. Tim wrote to tell me that they're going to open the program again sometime in the next few weeks. But before they do, they've put together a short video to give people a better idea of what it's all about. You'll see in the video some actual revenue figures from folks who went through the training last summer. The numbers range from $4,500 to a month to a whopping $193,000 a month!

These numbers are impressive. But don't forget that starting a member site, or any reputable on- or off-line business, takes time and effort. And a member program certainly offers no fast, easy road to riches. But because of the recurring income that membership programs provide, if you are willing to put in the time and effort, it is entirely possible that by this time next year you could be earning enough from your member site to quit your job, or at the very least go part-time.

Learn more about how easy it is to start a membership site and to make it profitable by signing up to watch the first of a series of short videos from Tim and Ryan now:

ChangingCourse.com/recommends/membershipbootcamp

There are lots of ways to turn what you know into income. If you've already been thinking about writing a how-to book, designing and leading workshops, teaching Teleclasses or otherwise profiting from what you already know, you may want to consider adding a member program to the financial mix. No matter which path you choose, it all comes down to just taking that first small step!

P.S. Oh, and one other benefit to you as an entrepreneur is if you ever decide to sell your business, having a continuity program makes your business more desirable because prospective buyers can more easily project future sales.


No Time to Go After Your Dream? How to Turn Your Dreams Into Reality in Five Minutes a Day and Other Tips for Time-Stressed Dreamers



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 185 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

You’ve already made up your mind that there has to be more to life than careers, cubicles, and commuting. Yet, the prospect of making a major life change when you’re already feeling caught between a “clock and a hard place,” feels overwhelming.

Here are five simple steps even the busiest person seeking a major career change can take to get the process rolling:

1. Turn griping time into planning time.

How much time do you spend every week blowing off steam about your lousy job? Instead of wasting precious time complaining about what you DON’T want, use the time to create a clear mental picture of what you DO want. Then make a plan for getting from here to there. Five minutes a day spent working your plan will move you far closer to your goal than 15 minutes of griping.

2. Keep your goal front and center. 

Get out your calendar and set a target date for when you want your new life to begin. Besides being a great source of motivation, knowing how much time you have until "D-Day" lets you create a realistic plan for hitting it. Next, find creative ways to keep your dream, literally, in your face. As you come across images or quotes that reflect your dream, place them around your workspace, in your daily planner, on the refrigerator – any place you’re sure to regularly "see" your destination.

3. Buy with an eye to the future.

If your dream involves working from the comfort of home, you probably won’t need all those business suits overrunning your closet. Resolve now to make do with the work wardrobe you already have. When you do take the leap, you can donate your business attire to an organization like Dress for Success that assists men and women just entering the job market. Spend the money you’ve saved instead on things you’ll need for your new career or venture – like courses, buying or upgrading a home office computer, purchasing equipment, inventory, and so on.

4. Avoid the nay-seers. 

Erma Bombeck once said, “It takes a lot of courage to show someone else your dreams.” Erma knew that most people – especially those closest to you – tend to discourage change of any kind. Unfortunately, other people’s skepticism, like the flu, can be contagious. And, unless you’ve built up your immune system, these dream killers can knock you for a loop. Don’t look for support from pessimistic family or friends. Instead seek out people who can give your dream the support it deserves. 

5. Do what you can – but DO SOMETHING. 

As one Chinese proverb reminds us, moving a mountain begins by lifting one stone. To keep from being overwhelmed – while still making headway – break your larger goal down into more manageable steps. Then, no matter how hectic your day, pledge to take at least one small step. Before you know it you’ll have turned your dreams into your life.


Breaking Into Print: How to Get Paid to be a Freelance Writer – Fiction or Non-Fiction



Valerie and her wonder dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 184 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

You’ve always been drawn to writing – and to the freedom and flexibility of a freelance writer …


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A New Direction

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