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Update 3: Find Your Calling By Helping Others Find Theirs

Answers To Your FAQs About The “Outside the Job Box” Career Consultant Certification Program & An Important Date Change

If you caught last Friday’s issue (March 7th) of the Changing Course newsletter then you already saw the video where previous attendees in the Outside the Job Box Career Consultant Certification program talked about their experience.

If you missed this newsletter and want to watch the video click here now:

http://ChangingCourse.com/archives/issue179.html

Apparently, their enthusiasm was contagious because ever since then there’s been a flood of interest from people who love the idea of getting paid to help people brainstorm interesting ways to turn their interests into income. Naturally, I’m also getting loads of questions.

I started to reply to everyone personally. But then it just got out of control. So I decided the smarter thing would be to use a FAQ (frequently asked questions) format and post them here at the blog. That way you can post additional questions or comments. I’ll do my best to respond within 24 hours.

I highly recommend you read through the FAQs before the registration period begins at the end of this week. You’ll have a lot of the information you need to make an informed decision whether this program is right for you.

I’ll warn you in advance – some of my answers to your most Burning Questions are on a little long. But I’d rather err on the side of giving you more information than less.

NOTE IMPORTANT DATE CHANGE

Northampton, Massachusetts is a college town and tourist destination. The interest in this live Certification program has exceeded all expectations. Which is great but it also got me worried that there may not be enough hotel room capacity over what is turning into very busy tourist weekend…

So the training dates have moved up one day.

The Certification Program will begin on SUNDAY, May 4th and run through THURSDAY, May 8th. My apologies for any inconvenience or confusion!

Hold the Date! Free Live Teleclass!

On Thursday March 13th you’ll get to hear current and previous attendees talk about their experience in a live Teleclass.

Morning Teleclass: 10:00-11:00 a.m. Eastern
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Evening Teleclass: 8:00-9:00 p.m. Eastern
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

To your dreams,

Valerie Young
Dreamer in Residence
www.ChangingCourse.com

Burning Question #1

“I love the idea of helping people in their careers (and would also like to work with other coaching goals as well). What attracted me to your program is the level of support you will provide. What scared me about the form was the specific information you wanted (e.g., number of clients, annual income goals, etc) – I just haven’t gotten that far yet (and feel like I need some help sorting all that out). So the primary question I want to ask you is if this training is geared towards people who are a little farther along in the business development process than I am?” Elizabeth

ANSWER

You do NOT need to have any previous business experience to qualify for this training program or business. In fact 90 percent of past program participants had NO previous experience. What they did have – and what you will need — is a passion for helping, for creative brainstorming, for making a living without a job and for helping others discover how to do the same.

The form Elizabeth was referring to is Pre-Qualification and Needs Survey. I amended the survey to make it clear that there are no “right” or “wrong” answers to any of the questions!

So if you have not yet completed the survey – or you started and got overwhelmed –please don’t stress out over questions like whether you already do coaching or currently have a website. You do NOT need either previous coaching/business experience or a website to qualify or to succeed in this program.

Also don’t get hung up on the questions about how many clients you think you’d like to have in a week… your financial goals… whether you’d like to work with clients over the phone or in person… niche markets you might like to work with… and so on. These are exactly the kinds of questions you’ll get a chance to really hone in on during the Certification program itself. Believe me… by the end of the Certification you will be crystal clear on all of these questions and more.

For now these questions are as much for YOU as they are for me. Part of your work as an Outside the Job Box Career Consultant is encouraging your clients to create work AND a life they love… I’m hoping you will use these questions as an opportunity to start imagining what you would like YOUR future life to look like as well.

Once you sign up to be on the First in Line priority notification list you will automatically receive an email with a special link to the survey. If you are not yet on the list you may do so now at:

http://ChangingCourse.com/firstinline.htm

Burning Question #2

“How do you get people to pay for this service?”

ANSWER

Honestly, I’m not sure if the questioner is asking, “How do you convince someone that your services are worth paying for” which is a marketing question. Or whether it literally means, “Considering that these consultations occur over the phone,  are do clients pay by cash, check or credit card”?

I already covered the marketing question in the March 1 Certification Update which you can jump to now if you like. So let me come at this question from the nuts and bolts “How do I receive payment?” perspective.

As part of the Certification, web guru Lisa Tarrant will be on hand to help you set up a merchant account so you can accept payment via credit card. You will also get an Intake Script to use when a prospective client calls. Talking about money makes some consultants uncomfortable. The script explains exactly how and when to ask for and process a client’s credit card payment.

Essentially people give you their credit card information at the time they book an appointment. However, the consulting fee is not charged to the client until after the consulting session. In other words, you would never pre-bill for services that have not yet occurred. Once you process the credit card your consulting fee is automatically deposited into your bank account. (That’s my favorite part!)

Burning Question #3

“I have done traditional career counseling in the past and found that I didn’t enjoy working with groups of people. I prefer the one-on-one counseling. To be successful at coaching, however, it seems like a great advantage to work with groups. Is it possible to be successful without doing workshops and training sessions?” Laurie

ANSWER

Yes! It is not at all necessary to do group work to be an Outside the Job Box Career Consultant. I do one big workshop a year – all of my other consulting work on this topic is done with individual clients.

While you can certainly apply what you learn to a workshop setting, the Certification is all about working with individual clients. Most people prefer working with someone who offers a one-to-one approach because the time is 100 percent dedicated to them, their passions and goals. Working one-to-one also means you get to work with more people because there is no travel involved for the client.

Since the consultations are conducted over the phone your client can be from anywhere in the country – indeed in the world. Which leads me to the next…


Burning Question #4

I’ve already heard from people from as far away as France, England, and the Bahamas. Armelle asks, “Does your program work only for working in the US, or is it global enough for people from Europe to benefit?”

ANSWER

The yearning for freedom, control, and satisfaction are truly universal. Fortunately, not only is this the kind of business you can run from anywhere in the world but the tools and techniques you’ll be learning really can work anywhere! I have personally worked with clients from Great Britain, Italy, Pakistan, Spain, and Australia.

And I’m sure my international friends have thought about this already but with the dollar the way it is right now this program will be a steal for attendees traveling in from abroad.

If your goal is to reach an international audience, there are lots of sites around the world looking for fresh content. Some in some unexpected places… like Fred Ouma’s article “Are you bored by your work” that appeared at a site called The New Vision which promotes itself as Uganda’s largest website (http://www.newvision.co.ug). Contributing articles to sites and publications like this isa great way to become internationally known!

How cool would it be for the U.S. and Canadian consultants to team up with the international consultants to offer some kind of “live your dreams” tour and retreat for people who love to travel!

Burning Question #5

“I am a 69 year old wanna-be. I currently work [at a job] and need to “retire” to my own business. Would you advise someone in my age group to consider the program?” Myra

ANSWER

Age is really not a factor in your ability to do this kind of consulting work or to be successful.

Without knowing you and going “just” on age though I would suggest you consider “riding the horse in the direction the horse is going.” What I mean by that is you might specialize in working with people over 60 who are either retired, semi-retired, or fully retired but need or want to continue to generate an income but are sick and tired of having a traditional job. You would have a lot more credibility in this niche than someone who is 30, 40, 50…

I would offer this same advice to someone in their twenties or thirties. Several people in this year’s Certification program plan to target other young people who want to ditch their job-job for more a more satisfying livelihood and more freedom.

Burning Question #6

“I am interested in how some of the previous graduates of the course are doing with their own businesses.” Jan

ANSWER

Previous program graduates are in different places depending on two things — their interests and how much time and energy they’ve put into developing their businesses.

From the “class of 2006” for example, one person has written a book aimed at his niche market (attorneys) and created over 300 podcasts with career change experts… Several have launched their own online newsletters… Some are leading workshops while others are focusing exclusively on individual clients.

One Canadian consultant has just returned from a Florida meeting with a mastermind group she has joined with other entrepreneurs… Still another quit her job as a school teacher, enrolled in a six week course in black and white photography in Maine and is moving to the mountains of North Carolina to pursue two income streams – photography and career consulting.

The current Certification program is still in progress. Everyone is pretty much where I would expect them to be. They are working on their web sites and their marketing plans.Everyone has completed at least one practice session with actual clients – some have conducted two or three practice sessions.

Here are just a few of the many testimonials people enrolled in the current Certification class have received from their practice clients:

“Arthurine-you are a truly gifted and amazing Outside the Job Box career consultant!  I deeply appreciate my consultation, and I am looking forward to moving forward to some of the ideas you gave me.  Thanks a million!!”

I believe Craig really will be good at being a full time consultant, and recommend him to others for a great job. I enjoyed working with him, and look forward to emailing him with my future career expansions!”

“Michelle is great! She has a lot of enthusiasm and that gave me energy. She is very easy to talk with. She also offered some good ideas, and seems to really care about what she is doing.”

“Gail was great. The session was exactly what I’ve been looking for a long time. I’ve met with several career coaches, but this is the first time I felt I got worthwhile feedback. It was a great experience… the process doesn’t consider what you’re good at, but rather what you love. And what could be better than doing what you love and getting paid for it. Gail, I think you’ll be enormously successful in this field.”

Can you imagine what a high it was for these new consultants to get this kind of feedback?!

Most of the consultants in the current class also collaborated with me to record a CD called Advice From the Dream Team II. This is something I will be doing for attendees in the May program as well.

Not only do you get a public forum to pass along on your collective words of wisdom but now you also have your first information product. This is something you can then sell if you like, offer as a free bonus, or otherwise use to promote yourself and your new business.

Some of the people in the current Certification are zooming ahead. One has already filled a four-week program she designed around what she learned in the Certification and another just received her first speaking invitation!

Burning Question #7

“What is the certifying body for this type of certification?”

ANSWER

Changing Course is the certifying body. I am certifying that you understand the Changing Course Formula (TM) and have been trained in my methods and processes.


Burning Question #8

“How much does the Certification cost?”

ANSWER

I am still crunching the numbers so I don’t have a firm answer yet. I have some figures in mind but the reason I haven’t yet totally settled on a final tuition is that there are a lot of “parts” to consider.

Obviously since this is a live event it means there are major costs that were not a factor when pricing the Teleclass version of the Certification. Since I know a lot of people are interested in putting on public seminars themselves, I thought it might be useful to have a better idea of what goes into producing an event like this.

If you’ve ever put on a live workshop then you know that booking five days of meeting space that include morning and afternoon breaks (this is where the hotels make their money!) very quickly runs into thousands of dollars.

But if it means getting to deliver the training in person where I get to work with you – and you with each other – in a much more personal way then is possible with a Teleclass, then to me it’s worth the extra cost.

Another big expense I need to factor is the many thousands of dollars in per participant expenses. This includes things like printing and duplication costs for all of the materials (a very big step-by-step consultant manual, actual client consultations case studies on CD including written transcripts, all of client case studies loaded onto your own MP3 player so you can listen in at the workshop, the entire contents of my Fast Track Tool Kit (http://ChangingCourse.com/fasttrackyourdream.htm) among other things.

The current program includes a lot of marketing training and tools all of which will be included in this live version as well. This training is all about getting where you want to go faster.

To facilitate this business acceleration process, one big and very costly difference between the Teleclass version and this live program is that directly following the training portion of the program that I will be delivering personally, you will receive six months of mentoring with marketing expert Ilise Benun of http://Marketing-Mentor.com

I went into great detail about the marketing mentor portion of the Certification program in a previous post (click here to go there now). Cost wise Ilise normally charges $900 for three months of individual and small group mentoring.

But, to help ensure your rapid success, I’ve arranged for a full six months which means you get $1800 worth of mentoring and training.

You will be working closely with Ilise to identify three achievable marketing goals and then receive the training and mentoring you need to reach them. The importance of this kind of support cannot be underestimated. In fact I thought it was so important that you and Ilise meet in person that I am paying her normal speaking fee and travel expenses to bring her to Northampton to speak to and meet you all personally.

Another big difference between this program and the Teleclass version is that we are going to do much of the work of getting you ready to do business on the internet for you. That means I’ll be hiring internet guru Lisa Tarrant to come in to walk you through setting up your own web site or blog template, registering your domain name, setting you up with a host, and applying for a merchant account so you can process payments by credit card.

In addition I’ve also paid a professional copywriter to create pre-written marketing copy for you and to then work with you to create a personalized bio that works even when you have no previous track record. I’m even paying a photographer several thousands of dollars to be on site to take a professional head shot for your website or blog. (So bring your favorite outfit and colors!)

When you consider the level of support you’re getting it’s like having an entire business handed to you on a silver platter.

I’m also doing something that you just don’t see in the seminar or training business. I’m covering your lodging and meals for five days.

The event is being held at the historic and elegant Hotel Northampton (we’re not talking “budget hotel” here). With the Certification coming during graduation season they’re able to charge premium rates. But you don’t have to worry about that because it’s on my tab.

My brain is pretty full right now, so I know I’m forgetting some things. But hopefully I’ve given you an idea of what some of the major expenses I need to factor into the final price of this training and business development opportunity.

All of these costs I just outlined can be quantified. That’s not the hard part. There are two things that make pricing this particular training more difficult.

For one – and this is significant – you need to understand that I am giving away literally ALL of my intellectual property. And I do mean all. Every technique and process that I have taken a decade to develop is at your disposal to use with your own clients.

For example, if you’ve had a consultation with me you already know that each of my clients receives a password-protected link to a complimentary copy of “Finding Your True Calling: The Handbook for People Who Still Don’t Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up.”

This 100-plus eBook is not just a “bonus.” Finding Your True Calling is your client’s pre-work. The pre-work is a way for your clients (and you) to prepare for the consulting session. When you sign on for the Outside the Job Box Career Consulting Training Program you will be granted exclusive usage rights to Finding Your True Calling for 2 full years.

That means for the first two years of your business you can use Finding Your True Calling with as many of your paying clients as you like, as often as you like. The hardcopy version of this book sells on Amazon for $24.95. The electronic version is not available for purchase separately at any price.

However, with your exclusive product licensing agreement you’ll have unlimited access for two full years. Having a tool like this available any time you need it is a great way to kick off your new business and instant credibility.

The marketing tools and support you will receive will be comprehensive. All the handholding and help you’ll get with your web site and blog will save you tons of time and hassles. Getting to use my eBook with your clients for free is great. But all of these things are really just the frosting on the cake.

The CAKE is getting to tap into a decade worth of knowledge and experience about what it takes to help your future clients to turn their interests into income… the incredible store of information and resources I have amassed… and the proven process for working with clients that I have perfected with literally hundreds of clients.

I’m going to be breaking down every nuance of my 5 Step Changing Course Formula ™. Once you master this powerful process you will know exactly what to say and do with your paying clients.

When you stop to think about it you can get marketing and web support just about anywhere. You can have the best marketing plan and the coolest web site in the world. But what are you going to do when you get a live client on the phone? Do you know what to say? Do you have a process? I do. And I’m going to teach it to you.

Sharing with you all of my intellectual property is not the only thing that makes this Certification so hard to price. The other big thing I need to factor in is my time.

Instead of delivering the content every other week for 90 minutes over the phone, for the first time ever, I will be conducting the program in person. That means you’ll be getting lots of individual attention from me.

I love meeting and working with people in this intense way. But frankly its a lot more work on my part. From the time we begin on Sunday, May 3rd at 9:00 a.m. to the big farewell barbeque at my house here in the country on Thursday, May 8th, I will be giving you 110 percent of my time and attention.

I know that for some people the cost will be a make or break thing. I knew when I came up with the idea of a live, five-day intensive that a lot of people would be priced out. And I definitely do not want anyone taking out a second mortgage on their home to pay for this program.

A couple of people indicated on the survey that they thought at $5000 the Certification would be “expensive but still worth it.” Now that you have some insight into what this live program is costing me to put on –and more importantly what you will gain in terms of essentially being handed your own business and then giving you everything you need to ramp it up very, very quickly… I hope you understand that there is just no way I can offer this level of intensive, live training and ongoing support and cover all of your lodging and meals at anywhere near that price. I would go broke.

That is a very long way of saying all I can say on the price right now is that I will have a firm answer this week. I promise to let you know before registration begins so you know what to expect.

In the meantime I do want to point out something you may not have thought of: Even if you are just starting out, you can deduct the cost of this training in 2008 as a legitimate business expense.

It’s true! As far as the IRS is concerned, as long as you are making what they call a “good faith effort” to earn a profit in the future – you can begin deducting any money you invest in building your business right away. And what could be more proof of your intention to succeed then signing on for an extensive training course designed to help launch you into your own profitable business!

Burning Question #9

“Is this really something that someone with no prior experience in career counseling can do?” Elizabeth

ANSWER

Absolutely! I would be really surprised if you did have prior experience doing the kind of non-job career consulting that I do because, frankly, I don’t know anyone else who is doing it!

You do not need a special degree or previous training to do this kind of work. What you are training to do is to brainstorming ways your clients can turn their interests into income.

Before I go any further, there are two things you really need to know right up front.

One, if you’re looking for more traditional career counseling training that incorporates things like skills assessments and personality profiles – this program is definitely not for you. You see, I’m not particularly interested in what a person is “good” at. I mean I’m good at typing and mowing the lawn but that doesn’t mean I want to do either for a living!

This program is NOT about counseling people who want to be a junior accountant, a human resources manager, or a pharmaceutical rep. In fact it has nothing whatsoever to do with the world of job searches, resumes, or interview skills.

Quite the contrary…

Being an Outside the Job Box Career Consultant is all about helping people see all the different ways there are to make a living doing what they love without a “job-job.”

Likewise, this program will not train you to become a general “life coach.” Don’t get me wrong. There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t offer your clients ongoing coaching to help them keep their dream on track. But this program will not train you to be a coach. If that’s what you’re looking for, I can refer you to some excellent coach training programs.

So, what’s the difference between a consultant and a life coach? 

For one, coaches typically work with clients over a period of several months, even years. I work with people on a one-time basis. That’s because I have a laser-like focus on one goal and one goal only. And that is helping my clients generate creative alternatives to working 9-to-5. 

Once again, you may decide to structure your practice to offer multiple sessions (and frankly you’ll make more money if you do). But 99 percent of my clients tell me they got exactly what they needed in just one session.

The other difference between a consultant and a coach is that, generally speaking, the job of a life coach is to guide people to discover their own answers. But the way I see it, if my clients already knew how to make a living doing what they love – they wouldn’t be calling me.

People hire me because they want expert advice. They also want someone who knows about resources for people who want to start a doggie day care or become a motivational speaker or have a flair for home design or become a travel writer…

When you sign on for the Outside of the Job Box Career Consultant Certification Program, you’ll learn how to give your clients the ideas, information, and advice they need to get out of the grind of working for someone else and to profit from their passions.

Again, this course will not teach you to administer and interpret tests and inventories. You won’t be learning about job hunting strategies. And we definitely won’t talk about how to use the Labor Department’s Occupational Handbook.

In a nutshell… this course will prepare you to take a client’s interest in say gardening, dogs, art, or the environment and a) immediately see possible income streams and b) point them to the resources they need to turn a particular interest into a successful small business.

The Career Consulting Skills side of this program will be extensive.

I’ve spent the last decade helping people tap into their deepest desires and work at what they love. Much of what I learned was through trial and error. When you do something for so long, you start to figure out what works, and frankly what doesn’t.

Once you learn all the core concepts as part of the Certification process I will arrange for you to work with several practice clients. This is where you get to practice doing the initial Client Intake, communicating with the client about their pre-work assignment, preparing for the session, using the client’s pre-work to actually conduct the brainstorming session, and doing the follow up.

By far this has been one of the most beneficial aspects of the program because it’s where everything you’ve learned about the Changing Course Formula ™… about where to find information and resources the client needs… and about the techniques for working with clients all come to life. A consultant enrolled in my current Certification program just signed up her first paid client — a referral from a very satisfied practice client!

In addition to getting to try out your new found skills, the practice sessions are also a way for people with no previous experience to establish a track record. That way when a paying client calls you’ll have some real life success stories to share. Plus you walk away from the practice sessions with something worth its weight in gold — client testimonials that you can proudly display on your web site.

Just because I had to learn all of this stuff the hard way doesn’t mean you have to. The Changing Course Outside the Job Box Career Consulting Certification Training Program is designed to give you all of the training, tools, and support you need to effectively consult with clients and to get your first paying client in as little as 4 weeks.

Burning Question #10

“Is there still room in the May class?” Pat

ANSWER

If everything goes as planned it looks like registration for people who are on the First in Line list will begin on Saturday, March 15th.

Registration for the general public will begin two days later on Monday, March 17th.

If you have not yet signed up to receive advance notification you can do that now at:

http://ChangingCourse.com/firstinline.htm

If you want to speak to me directly, feel free to call me at 413-535-5107. And, don’t be surprised when I answer the phone myself – it’s just me and the dog – and he won’t lift a paw around here!

I’d love to hear your questions or comments. I’m especially interested to hear why you feel drawn to do this kind of work… Click on “comments” now to share.


Are Your Attitudes About Money Holding You Back?

Part 2 in a 2-Part Series About Women and Money

Valerie Young and her wonder dog, By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 179 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

Well I’m back from my big New York trip and ready to pick up where I left off in the discussion of women and money. The first part of this article highlighted some common and potentially limiting attitudes some women hold about money including a tendency to feel undeserving or even shame for making – or wanting to make – good money.

Moral and other money-related dilemmas are not unique to women. Yet, having and managing money is often a bigger challenge for women. It’s not surprising when you consider it was not until 1974 that all women got the right to have business credit in their own names. Today the barriers are more attitudinal than institutional. Just ask Gail.

“Making Money is Selfish”

Gail is a consultant and trainer to non-profits. “Many times over the years,” she says, “I’ve encountered and been frustrated by the attitude that there is a special ‘glory’ for non-profits in making do with as little as possible, using outdated equipment and shabby facilities, paying staff little, working them too hard and offering few benefits, expecting the director to also be the janitor, etc., etc.” Adding, “In this framework, for-profit = bad (the “dark side”) and non-profit = good, so apparently money must be a necessary evil.”

Despite having spent more than 20 years working in the non-profit sector herself, Gail could never quite put her finger on what was behind these attitudes. Last summer she attended the Work at What You Love workshop and the light bulb went on. She explains:

“A woman in one of my discussion groups was feeling real anguish that her business idea could make her significant money. She had spent her career in non-profits and felt it would be somehow ‘wrong’ and ‘selfish’ to earn a larger income by working for-profit. The connection that jumped out at me between this attitude and your article is the large percentage of non-profit staff who are women. A coincidence? I don’t think so!”

“No Nobility in Poverty”

Not everyone gets what all the fuss is about. Fayette, a 54 year old single mom and long time small business owner wanted me to know that she’d raised three children and managed to get them all through college. “Had I not been marketing and making money in my business, my kids would not have made it to the point where they are now. All of this I did on top of working a 40 hour a week job.” Adding, “When you are in business, one of the things you are in it for is to make money. My saying is, ‘There is no nobility in poverty.’”

There may not be any nobility in poverty but there sure is a lot of fear about it. Suze Orman cites a 2006 survey in which nearly half the women respondents said they’ve imagined ending up homeless. It’s no wonder that many of the women I heard from are actively exploring their relationship with money. “I may not be happier rich but am I happy being poor?” asks fellow reader and writer, poet and interfaith minister Sandra Lee Schubert. Answering her own question she writes:

“No. So I don’t tell ‘those’ friends about my goals or what I am setting up online. I have joined groups that support my goals. At this moment I want to make MONEY. And I am no longer ashamed to say that. I want an apartment at the river’s edge overlooking Manhattan. I want to be able to afford the kind of medical care to improve my life. I want to buy good clothes. I want to feel generous again. That feeling will come from me. Slowly I am spending money on my education, creating my Web site and laying the foundation.”

At the moment Sandra says none of this makes her feel particularly comfortable, “But,” she adds, “looking at living in poverty in my golden years makes me really uncomfortable.” (You must visit Sandra’s delightful Web site and see an adorable photo of “young Sandra” at Writing-For-Life.com)

Change Your Thinking and Change Your Life

Someone who has absolutely no qualms about women entrepreneurs making money is Nell Merlino, cofounder and president of Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, the leading national non-profit of online micro loans for women entrepreneurs. Nell is also the visionary behind Make Mine a Million $ Business (MakeMineAMillion.org).

Along withfounding partner, OPEN from American Express®, the Make Mine a Million $ Business program hopes to inspire and support one million women entrepreneurs to reach annual revenues of $1 million by the year 2010. The program provides a combination of financing, mentoring, marketing and technology tools to help grow their businesses from micro to millions.

Someone who has done just that is Garnett Newcombe. Her Los Angeles-based organization, Human Potential Consultants, trains veterans, newly released convicts, and others to return to the workplace. Garnett had managed to grow her business to $400,000 a year in revenues but then hit a wall.

Then, she decided to compete for a spot in the Make Mine a Million $ Business program (think American Idol for entrepreneurs) and made it. Barely a year later, she’s grown her business to $4.2 million and has $18 million more in contracts. And she’s added 70 staff members to what had been a 10 person operation.

In the last article I told you that I’ve never aspired to be a millionaire. But I have to tell you I’m kind of warming up to the idea. Between 1995 and 2005 I probably spent a total of $2,000 on books and courses to help me learn how to grow my business. That’s a total of $200 a year. My business grew steadily to the point where I could pay the bills but not much more.

Then, between the fall of 2006 and 2007, I invested over $25,000 in my own education. This year alone it looks like it will be around $16,000. Just a few years ago, this would have been unthinkable for me. But what I have very quickly discovered is that for every $100 I have spent on self-study programs, a mastermind group, or a live workshop I have made $3,000 back. You do the math.

Change Your Thinking and Change Other People’s Lives

What turns a lot of women off, including me, are the people who make it ALL about the money. Worse is when I hear some big internet millionaire bragging about how he found someone in some developing country to work for him for a few bucks an hour. It’s sickening.

For me it’s not about making money for the sake of making money. I don’t need a fancy car or a bigger house. I don’t even wear half the clothes I already own. It’s not about having more “stuff.” For me, the goal of making more money is that it will allow me to do more for other people.

I’ve always contributed to favorite causes on a regular basis… $50 dollars here, $100 there. But in 2006 I decided to use my good fortune to help those far less fortune than I am by partnering with a wonderful micro-grant organization called TrickleUp.org to donate a portion of all profits from Changing Course.

With your help, in December, I was able to donate $5,000. That money directly helped 50 people previously living on $1 a day to get the seed money they need to start small businesses. When you consider their families the impact is closer to 250 people. But these are just numbers.

Putting a human face on some of these hard working entrepreneurs, I feel incredibly grateful and humbled. (Click here to read these inspiring profiles TrickleUp.org/entrepreneurs/profile.html) In 2008 I hope to double my contribution.

Never Say, “I Can’t Afford It.”

I started to write, “If I can afford it, in 2008 I hope to double my contribution.” Then I remembered some advice I read that said you should never say “I can’t afford it” to anything. You can say, “That’s interesting, but it’s not for me,” or you can say, “Where do I sign up!” or you can say, “I can’t swing it right now.” But when you say “I can’t afford it” unconsciously you’re telling yourself that you not only don’t have the money right now but that you never will.

You might not be ready yet to imagine yourself making a million dollars. And you may not be in a position to give away thousands of dollars. But that doesn’t mean you can’t change your thinking in small but important ways.

I’ve barely scratched the surface on what is a complicated and vast subject. But in doing so I hope to stimulate a conversation that can enable all of us to grow, learn, and prosper…whatever prosperity means to you.

P.S. On a personal note: I was brought up in a very private family where how much you earned was “nobody’s business.” When I share my financial successes in these kinds of public arenas, I assure you it is not to toot my own horn. I’m telling you this because as the Garnett Newcombes – and every single other successful self-bosser I have ever met will tell you – the more you learn the more you earn. Investing in yourself, your education, and your business truly is money in the bank.

P.P.S. And since I’m sharing… The reason I was in New York was because a literary agent set up two whirlwind days of interviews with nine major publishing houses including Simon & Schuster, Collins, Crown/Random House, and Brown Little. The meetings were quickly followed by – are you ready – an auction which resulted in a bidding war. I am thrilled to say I have signed with Crown for a, drum roll please, six-figure contract for How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are. Somebody pinch me! I hope this inspires other first-time authors to go for it!


The Key to Changing Course is to Start: 6 Tips on How to Get Started

 



Valerie and her wonder dog,
“Cokie Roberts”

Sometimes signs arrive when you least expect them. On a recent dog walk along the Connecticut River, I spotted a large white sign tacked to a tree on the opposite shore. The sign contained a single word: Start.

This simple but powerful word got me thinking of all the different places someone who wanted to change course could start. Here are 6 tips to get you started on getting started:

1. Start where you are.

The great tennis player Arthur Ashe once said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Let’s say the main thing holding you back is money. You might start by downsizing your life now so when you do take the leap, you’ll be better prepared to earn less in the short term. Or, you could start by setting up a special savings account to fund your dream. The psychological impact of saving for a dream can be as powerful as the actual monetary earnings.
 

2. Start hanging out with the right crowd.

A client named Eve had been a teacher for 20 years. Whenever she talked about the things she’d love to do – travel, work with dogs, start a summer camp, her voice would fill with excitement. This initial excitement, though, would though always turn to resignation, “I know this is just a pipe dream,” she’d sigh.

The fact that I never see dreams as unrealistic made me think that Eve was probably hanging out with the wrong people. People who have always worked for someone else tend to have a status quo, play it safe, the only way out is to hit the lottery type mentality. Entrepreneurs on the other hand are possibility people. They think “what if…” and “why not?” and then they go out and make it happen.

Where do you find entrepreneurs? You don’t have to be a business owner to join your local chamber of commerce or another organization like Business and Professional Women (BPW).  Even though I’m not an inventor, I joined a local inventor’s group just to be in the company of “yes you can” type people.

3. Start tuning into your gifts

A great place to begin to explore your true calling is by looking back at the kinds of things you loved to do as a child. That’s what Barbara Ewing of Springfield, Massachusetts did. Barbara has known since she was young that she loved to cook. When other kids were outside playing, Barbara would be in the kitchen.

Pay attention, too, to the things you love to do right now. Like Barbara, Cindy Friedman of California shared a passion for food and cooking. When I first met Cindy she was considering becoming a personal chef. Living in wine country also made her want to work somehow with wine.

For Gail Greenwald, a 41-year-old from New York City, that love is yoga. So much so, that after a long day working at her job in a media research company, Gail still had the energy to teach a yoga class. If something makes you happy, it probably contains important clues to your calling.

If you still don’t know what you want to be “when you grow up” then start by trying to find out. You might want to do as Barbara did and start by recalling the kinds of things you loved doing as a kid, start reading Wishcraft, or anything by Barbara Sher, or checking out numerous articles in the Changing Course articles archive at ChangingCourse.com/articles

4. Start listening more to yourself and less to others.

Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Unfortunately, even in childhood, our dreams too often get dismissed. Barbara says that growing up, her interest in cooking was always either viewed as a hobby or as “cute.” She says, “I was never encouraged to pursue this as a career choice,” adding “sadly, I am not alone. If more people would just stop listening to others and instead develop [their] God given talent or skill,” she writes, “we as a society would have happier, less stressed, successful workers (versus the grumpy, stressed, unhappy, successful workers).”

Once you do find your gift, Gail says you should never dive in without doing your homework. Once you do, though, she adds, you should “listen to your heart because your head will tell you differently.”

5. Start letting go of the idea that everything has to be perfect

In his online newsletter, Quick Tips for Creative People, creativity coach Bob Baker writes, “Far too many creative people drag out the artistic process, adjusting a detail here, fine-tuning a nuance there… waiting for a time when the thing is as perfect as they can get it. Others wait years just to start a new project. They require every factor (including their mood) to be in alignment before they’ll even take the first step.”

Perfectionism is the bane of dreams. So is striving to be the “expert” who has to know everything there is to know about a subject before you can take action. And like perfectionism, striving to be the expert can slow you down or, in some cases, bring your goals to a screeching halt.

Why? Because if your definition of competence is “needing to know everything there is to know” then there will always be one more book to read, one more class to take, one more presentation to make, one more book to write, one more degree to earn before you dare pronounce yourself “qualified.”

6. Start taking action

Since attending the Dreams Can’t Wait workshop, Barbara has made tremendous strides in turning her dream of launching her own food line into reality.

She writes, “I have decided on a name for my food brand, contacted the Franklin County Community Development Center and met with director of the Food Center. I have chosen the first six or so recipes I want to use to get the food line started. I have also started formulating the next level (growth) processes. In addition to the contact with the Food Center and development of my ideas, I have enrolled in the AWAI Copywriting and Resume Writing courses. My plan is to use some of the writing income to fund the Food project.” (For more information on these courses go to ChangingCourse.com/awai.htm)

Cindy, too, took action. After 16 years in the software industry in Marin County, California, the 39-year-old decided it was time to get off the fast track. She quit her high-pressured sales job and moved to a less expensive area of the state to work in the fields she really loved, wine and food.

But first she reconsidered her initial idea of becoming a personal chef. “After giving this careful consideration I decided to hold off pursuing it in the fear that I would burn out and not enjoy cooking for my own family and friends anymore… which is something I enjoy immensely.”

The important thing is that Cindy put herself in a position to be open to possibility. So when a part time position opened up in Chico at a very successful wine bar and cheese shop, she went for it. “The customers are demanding and walk in with their dinner menus and ask for specific wine pairing recommendations. This job has turned into much more than just retail sales. I have helped the owner with special events, including wine tasting classes, etc.”

Sometimes changing course happens in phases. Cindy says, “I am exactly where I need to be. Even though I am not running my own business I have flexibility and am able to enjoy being involved with something I am passionate about. Perhaps someday I’ll become such an expert in my field that I can teach community classes about wine tasting basics and pairing wine and food!”

Gail has also taken bold steps to transform her love of yoga into her career. These are the kind of follow up emails every career advisor loves to get. She writes:

“About 3 weeks [after our session] I found a listing on a yoga website for a yoga teacher at a B&B in Cozumel, Mexico. I corresponded with the owner, went down in June to visit and this Thursday I’m leaving for a stay of four months to teach yoga classes in English. I quit my job to follow a more rewarding path.”

Three weeks later another update arrives. Reading Gail’s update should inspire anyone with a dream to start. She writes:

“My decision to go to Cozumel, Mexico involved a surrendering of some sort. I left a steady job, the sites and sounds of New York City, said goodbye to clients, co-workers, friends and family to make room for a new experience. My schedule and transportation options allow me to bike to Playa Azul during the day. I swim in the clear turquoise colored waters at this beach and admire palm trees sprouting out of white powdery sand.

I am able to travel to Isla Mujeres, another island that is a laid back Caribbean paradise of shallow clear waters. It is twenty minutes by ferry from the city of Cancun on the Mexican mainland. An overnight stay at the island enabled me to see the moon lighting a lunar path over the sea and fall asleep to the sound of the ocean’s ebb and flow.

I find myself giving in to afternoon naps. The temperature has been in the 80’s with high humidity. It is perfect for falling asleep below a whirling ceiling fan. There are areas of Cozumel I would still like to explore, but when I feel my body dragging and my eyes closing, doing nothing is more satisfying.”

Not quite ready for such a big change? Then start small. Read a book, take a course, talk to someone who is doing work you’re drawn to, research how other people are making a living from their love of animals, cooking, writing, travel, art, or wherever your own gifts lie.

If you’re waiting for inspiration to strike first, don’t. As Frank Tibolt put it, “We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.” When it comes to changing the course of your life, the key is always simply to start.


Are Your Attitudes About Money Holding You Back?

Part 1 in a 2-Part Series About Women and Money

Valerie Young and her wonder dog, By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 177 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

I’m the owner of an online business. I’m also a woman. What that means is I often have to manage something a lot of my male counterparts do not, namely women’s attitudes – including my own – about money. Certainly there are men who have money issues. But when it comes to either investing money in our dreams or making a lot of money ourselves, I find women struggle a lot more than men.

I knew there was no way I could tackle such a complex topic myself, so back in December I asked my readers for input. I’ve included some of their comments here. I hope you’ll add yours as well.

What prompted the discussion about women and money was a Teleseminar I conducted with Alex Mandossian. Alex is an expert on how to develop your expertise and build a list of prospective customers using Teleseminars. During the call, Alex gave example after example of people he’d worked with who’d made tens of thousands of dollars in product sales as a result of introducing themselves to potential customers via a single Teleseminar. He also made a point more than once of underscoring that getting to this level of success takes at least three years.

I got a ton of positive feedback about the call. But I also heard from a woman named Agnes. Agnes told me she wanted to sign up for Alex’s training program but, she said, “I couldn’t help but wonder if it isn’t just a little ‘smarmy’ or something to make soooo much money so quickly? Even though I rationally know there really isn’t anything wrong with it – I can’t seem to put my finger on my own hesitation.”

It was Agnes’s next comment that got me thinking about a wildly popular method for making fast money that no one blinks an eye at – namely, the lottery. She writes, “I would love to win the lottery like everyone else and that doesn’t seem sleazy. I’m not a stranger to hard work and am very willing to work – it’s almost like I feel like I have to work very, very hard in order to deserve to make a lot of money – although now I work very hard and DON’T make a lot of money! Why does that seem ‘okay’ on some level?”

Even people who never play the lottery can relate to the allure of becoming an instant millionaire. I know I can. But clearly there is something deeper going on.

Chance vs. Effort

I don’t know why it seems more acceptable to get rich by chance than by effort, but I certainly can relate to Agnes’s confusion. I’ve been self-employed for about twelve years now. It took 11 years of hard work and sacrifice, but I finally had my first high five figure week. It was a major turning point in my business and in how I looked at money. It was also cause for celebration.

So I made reservations at a pricey area restaurant and treated a small group of friends to a fabulous dinner. When I was growing up, the only fine dining I ever knew was the very occasional Friday night fish fry at Howard Johnson. So it felt great to say, “Order everything you want!” and boy did we! The celebration was in high gear when some mutual friends happened by our table and asked what all commotion was about. “Tell them how much money you made this week, Valerie!” exclaimed my exuberant dinner companions.

I wanted to tell them. In fact I wanted to tell the entire restaurant. But instead of feeling proud, I felt embarrassed. I mean it’s one thing to share the good news with a few close friends, but to talk about how much money you made so publicly? I just wasn’t raised that way. But deep down I knew there was more than just my working class roots kicking in here.

In that moment I remember thinking how I wish I’d won the money on a lottery ticket. No one would blink an eye if I leapt on the table, winning lottery ticket in hand. In fact there would have been high fives all the way around! I know I certainly would have felt different about the whole thing. Intellectually I knew that I had worked, as Agnes said, “very, very hard.” Yet, still, I felt awkward talking about it.

Why is an unearned windfall from an inheritance, gambling, the lottery, or other form of chance somehow more internally acceptable than earning it through our own talents, hard work, and determination? Why do women feel undeserving to be affluent? Why is the desire for financial prosperity considered somehow wrong? I certainly don’t have all the answers but here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

“If I’m Too Successful, People Won’t Like Me”

For better or worse, men’s self-worth is often tied to how much they earn. The downside to this is that it puts a lot of pressure on men to prove themselves financially. On the plus side though I find most men are also a lot more comfortable charging more for their services or with wealth-building in general.

Women on the other hand tend to measure our worth based on the richness of our relationships – not our bank account. Talking about a windfall could be construed as being “too full of ourselves” which could make people think less of us. Being relationship-oriented also means taking care of other people’s feelings. A longitudinal study conducted with young girls enrolled in the gifted class found that if a girl earned an A on a test but her little friend only got a B, she would lie and say she got a B too. Women learn at a young age not to talk about their accomplishments to avoid making others feel bad. 

Some women are afraid that if they are “too successful” other people won’t like them. It may be harder to relate to friends and family, a spouse or partner may be threatened if you start earning substantially more, co-workers may resent your promotion.

I happen to think that maintaining healthy relationships and caring about the impact of our behavior on others is an important virtue and skill. It’s what makes women great managers and in some ways, marketers, and, I believe, what will ultimately save the planet. It’s finding that balance that is the key.

I’d like to see women have both – rich, rewarding relationships and freedom from financial worries. I also want us to find ways to feel good about and even celebrate our accomplishments. For example, these same researchers helped the gifted girls brainstorm ways they could continue to care about their friend’s feelings but also feel proud of their accomplishment.

That leads me to another important clue to understanding women’s attitudes about money. This too has to do with relationships. But here it is about how we feel about money and those who have it.

Our Love-Hate Relationship With Money

Part of my old corporate job included organizing these incredibly lavish sales retreats to reward the top sales people. The events were held in places like Palm Springs, Beverly Hills, or Monaco. We flew in a film crew from New York to shoot video montages, paid a song writer to compose a theme song, constructed elaborate sets. No expense was spared. Needless to say, the sales people qualifying for these events were very well off with no shortage of millionaires. That was when I became consciously aware of my conflicting feelings of contempt and envy around money and people who had it.

So it’s in that context that I try to understand the occasional emails I receive from people – almost always women – who are not just angry, but enraged with me if they are unable to afford to purchase something I may be offering. After all, the reasoning goes, if you really cared, you wouldn’t charge me.

I’m not the only one who has observed this resentment toward successful people. “When do women leave behind the mindset of poverty?’ writes Sandra. “When can they take on the mantle of success and not feel bad about it?” Rather than feeling contempt or envy, Sandra feels inspired. “I like to look to Ali Brown of Ezine Queen for some inspiration. She is not ashamed or shy to flaunt her success. And I mean flaunt in the best way.” I know for a fact that Ali also receives her share of hate mail. (If you aren’t familiar with Ali or her work, and would like to see an example of someone is not ashamed to talk about her financial success go to ChangingCourse.com/recommends/blueprintbox)

Perhaps part of the reason some women have strong negative feelings about people who flaunt their success is that women often devalue their own skills. After all, we think, if I can do it, anybody can. We have a really hard time attaching a dollar figure to our work and an even harder time assigning a high value. Not surprisingly, studies show that women are more likely to take the first salary offer while men are more apt to negotiate.

But here’s the thing. Once you learn to place a higher value on your knowledge, skills, and time, you start to charge more. And when you charge more you become more financially successful. And when that happens, you’ll run into other people who struggle with the same contempt/envy response I had. Some may even secretly want you to fail. This brings full circle… “If I’m too successful people may not like me… and I may not like myself.”

Personally I’ve never aspired to be a millionaire. Even if that were to happen, I’d give a lot of the money away. I mean how much money does one person need? Basically, I don’t want to die a poor old woman and I don’t want you to either.

There is of course much more to say about women and money but I’ll save that for the next issue. In the meantime, I hope you will take a moment to join the conversation at my new blog.


Follow the Trends to Find a Profitable Business Idea

Looking for an inspiring or innovative business idea? One surefire place to look is to trends. Depending on your interests it might be trends related to the U.S. housing market, global warning, parenting, fitness, food, pets, technology, travel, dating, sports… the options are really limitless.

Today we’re going to look at three examples of how entrepreneurs benefit from the trend of safety. As you will see, each one is connected to the safety trend in a very different way.

Trend #1 Back to Basics With Wooden Toys

If a year ago I had told you wood-working types that you could run a successful business building simple wooden toys you would have said I was nuts. But with millions of recalled toys manufactured in China containing lead paint and other dangerous chemicals, the makers of domestic wooden toys were swamped with holiday orders.

Ron Voake operates Vermont Wooden Toys (VermontWoodenToys.com) out of his home in Norwich, Vermont. His company makes over 135 different kinds of wooden toys from “riding size” fire trucks to doll carriages to blocks. According to an article in the New York Times, wooden toy makers like Ron can barely keep up and are hiring extra employees. “Every time there was a story about a recall,” said the 61-year-old Voake, “I got flooded with orders.”

Voake isn’t the only toymaker to benefit from the trend toward safe toys. Mark Rainville of Maple Landmark Woodcraft (MapleLandmark.com) in Middlebury, Vermont was also deluged with orders. With toy orders up 60 percent in the last quarter of 2007, he and his holiday staff of 45 were working 16-hour days. It’s clear from his company’s Web site that Mark is seizing on other current trends like the buy local movement and environmental responsibility. And speaking of the environment…

Trend #2: Safe Water and a Cleaner Environment

When Stacey Griffin graduated from Tulane School of Social Work in 1995 she was more interested in healing kids than the environment. Five years later she opened a psychiatric facility for low-income children and adolescents (MilestonesMHA.com) in New Orleans. Then she lost it all to hurricane Katrina. Safe, clean drinking water was just one of the many problems in flood ravaged New Orleans.

During the time she was rebuilding her staff and agency, Stacey got an idea from her then 3-year-old daughter who had a strong preference for juice boxes over water bottles. Why not package drinking water in juice boxes?

Initially she was discouraged to find that two other companies were doing it. When she looked closer, though, she found that one specialized in disaster relief and the other geared their product to kids. That left a huge unfilled niche – environmentally responsible people like me who hate the wastefulness of creating, shipping, and then land-filling plastic water bottles.

Stacey started Aqua2Go in 2006. She got a lot of help from her husband who worked on the business in addition to his full-time job. Things really took off when Ellen DeGeneres featured Stacey’s water boxes on her show. The very next morning a big merchant who Stacey had been working hard to contact called her at her home. Today Aqua2Go is in selected Target department stores, Winn Dixie super markets, Whole Foods in Louisiana, and other major retailers. (I plan to print out info about Aqua2Go at WaterOnTheGo.com and present it to manager of my local Whole Foods store.)

Every day 40 million plastic water bottles go into the trash or becoming litter (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5279230), putting a huge a burden on local landfills. Some communities like San Francisco have responded by banning city departments from buying bottled water for their offices. This trend toward municipal bans, the need for safe drinking water on the go, and a growing awareness about global warming all point to continued success for entrepreneurs like Stacey.

Trend #3 All Natural Products for Kids

This next example comes from Kristen Bassick of Stuff4Sprouts.com. Like Stacey, Kristen’s business idea was also inspired by her children. In Kristen’s case it was to find a natural way to treat the persistent dry skin of her own children, or little “sprouts” as she likes to call them.

So at the urging of her husband who was throwing money at products that didn’t work, Kristen decided to start her own line of kids’ skin care products formulated without using nut oils, animal products, paraben-based preservatives (to which some people are allergic), soy, artificial colors, or chemical fillers. Her company’s promise also serves as her motto: To produce products with “Nothing weird.  Nothing gross.  Just good stuff for dry skin.”

My Canadian friends who love the idea of all natural products for kids and prefer to shop local should check out an online company in the Toronto area called ParentingByNature.com. In addition to a wide range of products like an organic baby skin care line and cloth diapers they also carry wooden toys!

I love Canada but I have a soft spot for Kristen’s business because she is one of the many success stories to come out of my annual Work at What You Love seminar. I’ll let Kim share her progress report in her own words:

I came to the seminar last August unhappy with my “job” and with an idea for a new business venture.  But I was terrified by the idea of building a “business” with employees, and a building, and a manufacturing site…and all that stuff that just seemed like more than I wanted to take on.

Sitting there listening to all of the stories of micro-business owners, who didn’t have a “job” and didn’t have what I had initially thought that a “business” would need to be, opened my eyes to what was possible.

I launched my company in September after two years of putting all of the pieces into place.  Manufacturing is outsourced, distribution will be soon.  I work from my home office, available for all of the things in my actual life that demand my presence.

I was lucky to be on the receiving end of a well-timed downsizing/severance at my corporate job and now have the chance to move Stuff for Sprouts to the next level. Life is good and my new jobless job is so completely cool I just had to share!

I said I was going to share three business ideas but there is actually one more safety-related trend worth mentioning. This one is actually not a new trend. In fact, it’s been kicking around for quite some time. I call…

Safety Trend #4: Thinking Up New Excuses For Staying Stuck

There’s nothing safer than staying miserably where you are. And one of the best ways to play it safe is to come up with a litany of excuses about why dream making is always easier for the next person.

Admit it. How many of you zeroed in on the line about Kristen’s well-timed severance package and thought, “Hey, I could start my own business too if I had money coming in from a severance package!” Maybe you would and maybe you wouldn’t. But did you also see the line about spending two years putting all the pieces into place?

I’ve worked with my share of desperate people who had a full year to find and work on a business idea but waited until they had one month of severance pay left to call in full out panic mode because they were going to have to find another j-o-b. There are plenty of other people out there with either the time or the money to start their own thing – but because they are too afraid, or they lack confidence, or they don’t know where to begin, or all of the above, they do nothing. Kristen did something.

As Shirley Hufstedler said, “If you play it safe in life, you’ve decided that you don’t want to grow anymore.” If you are tired of contributing to the negative trend of coming up with reasons why you can’t leave your safe but ultimately soul-sucking job then do this one small thing. Get yourself a small notebook and label it Trends = Ideas. Then start actively being on the lookout for the thousands of trends that can be the catalyst to your brilliant business idea.

One you have an idea, take a step. Any step. Once you get the entrepreneurial ball rolling, it’s hard to stop. Besides, as Hufstedler put it, “Security is not the meaning of my life. Great opportunities are worth the risks.”


What Does Gratitude Have to Do With Career Change?

Valerie Young and her wonder dog, By Valerie Young 

This article originally appeared in Issue 175 of the Changing Course Newsletter

As I drove alongside the Connecticut River today, I spotted two snow-white swans gliding elegantly atop still waters. I felt so blessed to have been in that place at that time to experience such a serenely beautiful moment. I feel lucky that way… a lot.

I don’t think I happen upon these moments any more than anyone else does. I just “see” them more than others do. I believe that’s because gratitude is so central to both my life and my work. I also happen to believe that maintaining a state of gratitude is fundamental to the process of changing course. Yet, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard another career counselor talk about gratitude as an essential element of career change. Come to think of it, I’m not aware of any career related books that talk about the importance of being thankful either.

I think perhaps the reason you don’t hear a lot of career change agents talk about gratitude is that we’re in the business of helping facilitate people moving from where they are to where they’d rather be. Changing your work and life are by definition all about the future. Gratitude on the other hand is very much about the present.  

I understand that it can be pretty tough to be grateful when what you want is freedom, time, and a deep knowing that the work you do matters, but what you have instead is a soul sucking job that leaves you no time to see, never mind smell, the roses. 

And yet if you really want to make a positive change, I believe it’s imperative to shift from a state of constant yearning for what you don’t have to being mindful of those blessings, however small, that you do have… right now. Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin talked about this concept in their groundbreaking book Your Money or Your Life. They write, “So much dissatisfaction comes from focusing on what we don’t have that the simple exercise of acknowledging and valuing what we do have can transform our outlook.” Said another way, ungrateful people make lousy self-change agents.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that there is a lot wrong in the world. Far too many good people dying in too many bad wars… far too many people losing their homes because of bad loans… far too many people with no job at all. I know, too, that during this holiday season that some of you may be faced with dire circumstances. Yet, “Once we are above the survival levels,” say Dominguez and Robin, “the difference between prosperity and poverty lies simply in our degree of gratitude.” 

Even during my most financially challenging and emotionally discouraging days of struggling to transition from my corporate job to working for myself, I still knew on any given day that I was blessed. I can see. I can hear. I have all my limbs. I am, God-willing, free of disease. I live in relative safety. I have food. I have heat. I have clean water. I have access to medical care. I have transportation. I have friends and family who love me. And I am blessed to have all of you. 

At the risk of going all Oprah on you here, to me living life from a perspective of gratitude is not just an exercise in happy thinking. To me it goes much deeper than that. Melody Beattie described the benefits of gratitude well when she wrote:

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity… It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

On the bulletin board at my post office hangs a quote from the Women’s Theology Center in Boston. It reads, “We must go slowly, there’s not much time.” Achieving a dream takes hard work, perseverance, and, yes, time. Yet, life is too short to put off happiness until we have achieved our goal. In other words, with a dream, as with life, the journey is just as important as the destination. 

As you enjoy a drink of clean water, a warm bed or the company of a loved one today and every day, pause and be grateful for what and who is in your life right now. Go after that better future… but also be here now and savor the journey.
 


Teleseminars Are a Great Solution for People Who Hate to Sell

This article originally appeared in Issue 174 of the Changing Course Newsletter. 

Do you have a business (or an idea for one) but hate the thought of having to “sell”? Do you love sharing information, resources, insight or knowledge with others? Do you have a message or cause you want to promote? If so, the solution may be as close as your telephone.

Teleseminars make it possible to share your knowledge and experience or otherwise and get the word out about your business to people literally all over the world. All you need is a conference or bridge line and a message, and you can reach ten to hundreds of people at a time.

Anyone Can Conduct a Teleseminar… on Just About Anything

Don’t think Teleseminars will work for you? Teleclasses are a great income stream and can be utilized with virtually any business. Check out these interesting markets that are using Teleseminars:

  • Horse Training Secrets
  • Aviation Services
  • Book Promotion
  • Real Estate Q & A
  • Global Warming

As with any business, success begins with finding a topic you feel passionate about. It could be nutrition, the challenges of single parenting, hunting safety, energy conservation, aroma therapy, surviving divorce later in life, urban gardening, traveling solo, baseball trivia – you name it. There really is no end to the topics that can be turned into a Teleseminar.

Some topics lend themselves more naturally to the Teleseminar format more than others. It would be tough, for instance, to teach a motorcycle repair or a cooking class purely by phone. But you could teach a class on how to write and self-publish your own cookbook. Not an expert? Then use your Teleseminar to interview people who are. Then, turn the recordings into a CD set and companion booklet called “Secrets of Canada’s Top Cookbook Authors: How to Write and Promote Your Own Best-Selling Cookbook.”

Or say you create a video series on basic motorcycle repair at home. You could market your product with a free Teleseminar called “The 10 Biggest Motorcycle Repair Shop Scams and How to Avoid Them.” As long as you include valuable information in the free class, your listeners won’t have a problem with you ending the Teleseminar with a special offer to purchase your entire video series.

If you’re just starting out, don’t fall into the dream-zapping trap of thinking you need to have three PhDs or 20 years experience before you consider yourself remotely qualified to be speak on a particular subject. If you have a passion for your topic, I guarantee you already know more than you think you do.

Start by thinking of the three most important things you think people need to know about “surviving divorce” or “safe hunting practices.” Then, for each of these three main points, complete the question, “The three or four most important things someone should know about this point are…” Before you know it, you’ll have a top ten list to form the basis of your seminar.

7 Reasons You Should Seriously Consider Putting On Your Own Teleseminars

Whether you have an established practice, a small business, or are just starting out…

  1. Teleseminars are a great way to get your name out to a larger marketplace and establish yourself as an expert in your field.  
  2. Teleseminars are ideal for people who, like me, hate to sell but love to teach. Informing and demonstrating your commitment to helping others is a great way to build credibility. And being a credible source of information or assistance will ultimately lead people to want to do business with you.  
  3. Teleseminars are a great way to build a list of prospective customers or clients. Once you have a list, you can continue to find ways to share your expertise, educate them about the work you do and what you offer, get valuable referrals, and generally connect with prospective customers and clients.  
  4. Teleseminars make it amazingly easy to create your own information product for future sale. Simply by recording the call, even a free class can be transformed into an ongoing source of revenue.
     
  5. You don’t have to actually “teach” to run Teleseminars. If you have Larry King envy, you can host your own Internet Talk Radio Show and interview top experts and leaders in their field. (Trust me – it’s not as hard as you might think.)  
  6. You can create lucrative joint venture partnerships with other enterprising entrepreneurs who offer products or services that add genuine value to your customers lives. The profit sharing potential here can be enormous.  
  7. Teleseminars are not just about making money. They’re also a great way to promote a cause or otherwise share a message that’s near and dear to your heart.

Experience Not Required

Setting up a Teleseminar is a snap. There’s no need to print up flyers or pay for pricey ad space. Start by promoting your class to your own email list. You can collect payment yourself or through a shopping cart or merchant account.

Technology-wise all you’ll need is a conference or “bridge line.” Once you sign up with a bridge line service, the moderator (that would be you) and your attendees will be assigned a dedicated phone number and pass code which you can send out to your list via an autoresponder.

Then, when class time rolls around, you can hop on the couch (no need to dress up), pick up the phone, push some buttons to get into the call and another to record the class and voila, you’re delivering your message to 10 to 200 or more eager seminar attendees.

There are a lot of bridge lines out there ranging from free to hundreds of dollars per month. Obviously the more expensive bridge lines offer more features, but many of these features are unnecessary when starting out.

FreeConference.com is well known in the industry for offering a free service for up to 150 callers using their Web-Scheduled Standard. They also offer an 800# service with a recording option for a nominal fee. Two other free services I’ve used are FreeConferenceCall.com and TheBasementVentures.com. Normally they work fine but there have been a few technical glitches with each.

Another service I plan to try out is InstantTeleseminar.com by Xiosoft. There is a monthly fee but this includes recording, event templates, a simultaneous webcast for those who prefer to listen in online (this is a biggie), and a number of other bells and whistles.

If you plan to turn your Teleseminars into information products, invest the money to have the call recorded by an outside service such as AudioStrategies.com. They’re reliable, professional, and deliver the MP3 file within an hour of the Teleseminar.

I don’t want to make delivering Teleseminars sound effortless. Anything you do to advance your dream of changing course requires some kind of effort – period. But the Internet has made the whole process pretty darned easy. And, hey if an avowed technophobe like me can do it…

Imagine Turning Your Annual Income into Your Weekly Income

If you’re even considering getting into Teleseminars, the undisputed leader in the field is a guy named Alex Mandossian.

Alex has delivered Teleseminars with many of the world’s top leaders and authors, including Donald Trump, Stephen Covey, and Mark Victor Hansen and has trained over 13,000 students since 2001. Over the past 12 years, he’s helped his clients generate over $203 million in sales.

Over the past few years, Alex has transformed his annual income into his monthly income. To see his actual numbers – and why he believes his marketing strategies can help practically any entrepreneur do the same – visit ChangingCourseTeleseminar.com

Whether you have a business now or are still dreaming about quitting your job to work at what you love, you won’t want to miss this “Teleseminar Secrets Training.” Even if you have no plans to run a Teleseminar, I guarantee it will forever expand your thinking about turning your gift for teaching into a viable way to make a living.


Tools to Help You Go From Creating Debt to Creating Dreams

Valerie Young and her wonder dog, By Valerie Young 

This article originally appeared in Issue 173 of the Changing Course Newsletter

The traditional kick-off to the holiday shopping season in the U.S. is Thanksgiving. This year ads started popping up before Halloween.

It’s been said that holiday debt is the gift that keeps on taking. According to a survey done last year by Consumer Reports, the average bill for holiday shoppers using credit cards to buy gifts will be $626. The average American household carries $9,000 in credit card debt throughout the year and then holiday debt gets piled on top of that.

A big question for anyone looking to ditch their job and join the ranks of the self-employed is, “How can I afford to change course?” And if you’re drowning in debt, the thought of being able to strike out on your own feels all the more impossible. There are all kinds of books and other programs out there to help you get out of debt and/or create prosperity. Over the last year and a half or so I’ve had the opportunity to cross paths with a number of authorities in the field. Each offers a different take on the money theme… finding it, keeping it, and managing it.

If you need to get your financial house in order before you can change course, here are a few people and resources I believe are worth checking out.

First Things First

I first told you about Joan back in 2006. What makes Joan’s story so compelling is that she spent most of her adult life in a pattern of under earning and compulsive debting. After her two brothers tired of bailing her out, Joan discovered the 12-step program Debtors Anonymous (DebtorsAnonymous.org). It worked she says, for a while.

After building a successful business she once again ended up in serious debt forcing her to close her business and declare bankruptcy. Eight years later, at age fifty-six, Joan relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico with a mere $200 in her pocket. Losing her business propelled Joan to learn more about her financial dysfunction by digging deeper to untangle the deep emotions and family issues associated with money.

Today Joan uses what she’s learned to help others who are similarly stuck in unproductive money patterns. Her money self-help manual, Building Your Financial Muscles, contains exercises and resources for people who are searching for a way to relieve financial pressures and change the way they deal with money. Joan also offers a number of different audio programs with titles like, “Let Go of the Aloneness” and “Discovering Your Core Financial Issues.” More recently she’s expanded into tools specifically for entrepreneurs with a CD/workbook set called, “Marketing Your Micro-Business.”

Another new addition is a facilitator kit for people who want to run support groups for others struggling to become financially healthy. Right now the facilitator kit costs $89 . If you get ten participants and each pays up to $20 per meeting then you can earn $200 per meeting. To learn about Joan and her unique approach to financial health go to ChangingCourse.com/recommends/prosperityplace

Living Debt Free

Whether you are drowning in debt, or just love the idea of living debt free, you should get to know the work of a fellow named Leo Quinn. I had the pleasure of meeting Leo last June at a workshop I attended in Denver. I discovered over breakfast one day that not only was he one of the event speakers, but with 27,000 loyal subscribers, he’s also a well-respected expert in the debt-elimination field. In fact, Leo had been doing this work long before the Internet boomed.

His most popular program is called “How to Own Your Paycheck Again.” Just to be clear, if you are not able to pay your bills or are teetering on bankruptcy, this is not the program for you. Leo specializes in working with people who want to get rid of their debt so they can live on less, retire early, or just generally spend less time working and more time doing the things they want to do. Personally what I like about it is that you can take the money you would have used to pay your credit cards or mortgage and apply that to your new business.

Normally “How to Own Your Paycheck Again” costs $97. But when I called Leo for this article he offered to extend a special $50 discount for Changing Course readers when you order before November 21st. With an iron-clad money-back guarantee you have nothing to lose but your debt. Learn more at ChangingCourse.com/recommends/leoquinn

Goodbye Boss, Hello Kids

“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. One of the all too common problems that savvy savings expert Darlene Arechederra saw was that of two-income families in which one of the parents (usually the mom) wants to stay home with the kids but can’t afford to. Knowing that nothing is impossible if you know what you’re doing, Dar developed a self-help program called Goodbye Boss, Hello Kids.

For the same reason my site is called Changing Course and not Jump off a Bridge, Dar talks about the need to create a transition strategy, or a “bridge” as she calls it, from where you are to where you want to be – which in this case is home with the kids. A few of the lessons working parents receive in this 10-minute a day course include Finding Money to Grow Your Coming Home Account, Eliminating One of the Biggest Expenses for Working Women, Strategies To Help You Come Home Sooner, and How Bosses and Co-Workers Can Speed Up Your Journey Home. Learn more at AffordtoStayHome.com.

Creating Money for Your Small Business

What if you don’t have kids or just want to escape your job-job to work at what you love? Well, in addition to helping her clients to “unearth potential home business ideas that make their heart sing,” Dar also helps future home business owners create the money they’ll need for their cottage industry or home business. (Fast Track members be sure to log into the Money Matters section of FastTrackHeadquarters.com to find Dar’s “5 Must-Know Secrets to Creating Money for Your Dream” in the current Money Matters e-Tip. It’s a must read for anyone who needs to find the money to jumpstart that great business idea.)  

I came to know Dar when she enrolled in my 2006 Outside the Job Box Career Consulting Certification Program. Initially I was fascinated by her expertise in helping women specifically and people in general become financially savvy enough to jumpstart a small business. But what really intrigued me is that Dar is an introvert training for a career in a field you would think would better suit someone who is more outgoing. But like a true entrepreneur, Dar has turned what some might consider a challenge into an asset by specializing in working with other introverts! She even has a free blog called CreativeCareersForIntroverts.com. Now how smart is that?!

Journey to Abundance

Finally there is Fast Track Your Dreams member Kamin Bell. Kamin started her professional career as the U.S. Navy’s first female African-American helicopter pilot. She then went on to become a Mary Kay Sales Director and consultant. From here Kamin transitioned to having several small business ventures, the most recent of which is to publish her first book, Journey to Abundance. Kamin sent me a review copy in September and I was genuinely impressed. Using the true story of her own financial ruin, fear, and crisis of faith, Kamin takes you along with her as she discovers the abundance and prosperity God wants for us all. Whether you are Christian by faith, or simply feel guided by a Higher Power as I do, you can not help but feel enriched, encouraged, and informed by Kamin’s story and by the thought-provoking exercises she has designed to set you firmly on your own journey to abundance.” As part of the book’s pre-release Kamin is giving away a free chapter KaminBell.com/abundance

There are many paths to financial well-being and prosperity. As we move into this period of holiday spending take some time to be mindful of the role that money plays in your life. If excessive giving will put you farther into debt perhaps this is the time to realistically assess your finances, your dreams, and how your relationship with money may be serving or undermining your goals of changing the course of your life.


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