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Dilbert Creator Scott Adams Totally Blew Me Off (And I Have His Email to Prove It!)

I remember it like it was yesterday.

On July 14, 1999 I cranked up my dial-up connection to get onto the World Wide Web, excited to hear the now iconic AOL greeting, “You’ve got mail!”

To my amazement I’d received personal response from Scott Adams –creator of the enormously successful syndicated cartoon Dilbert.

In the early ‘90s, headlines were filled with stunning news that corporate giants like AT&T and IBM were laying off workers by the tens of thousands.

Perfect timing for Adams to step in and lampoon the sometimes crazy world of performance reviews, near constant re-organizations, and in his words, “evil pointy-haired” bosses.

It’s also what made 1995 the perfect time to launch the Changing Course newsletter.

I was doing what I loved and some money was following. But not enough to completely break me out of job jail.

If there were some way I could build on the Dilbert brand, I knew it would put Changing Course on the map in a BIG way.

So after reading an article about Adams in Newsweek I reached out to explore the possibilities.

To put it bluntly – he blew me off.

scott adams

I was CRUSHED!

But the line that stuck with me most was the last one…

“You don’t need me anyway.”

I couldn’t believe my eyes! Was he out of his mind?

OF COURSE I NEEDED HIM!

It took a while (okay, years…) but I finally realized Adams was right.

I already had the drive and vision I needed to make my business work.

And so do you.

The fact is, with most ventures you really don’t “need” anyone to endorse you, sponsor you, partner with you, or even believe in you.

However, there are important exceptions.

One of these exceptions takes us right back to Adams’ and my own roots in the corporate world.

There are some things that would take you and me years – if ever – to learn.

Times where we really do need a knowledgeable mentor to show us the way.

For you, that teacher just might be my friend and former corporate executive turned self-bosser Belinda Pruyne.

Belinda

When Belinda first hung up her shingle as a business and leadership coach she tried to put as much distance between herself and the corporate world as possible.

Then one day she had her Big AHA…

There’s still plenty of money to be made in corporate – and you don’t need to be an employee to do it.

Instead, Belinda realized that for a lot of people, turning a large organization into your biggest customer or client can be the absolute best way to truly profit from your passion.

Last week I introduced you to a number of non-corporate types who landed corporate contracts.

Contracts that allow them to both serve more people and make more money doing it – without compromising their values.

Like the photographer who loves photographing babies but couldn’t get enough babies in the pipeline to make it sustainable.

Photographer at work with newborn baby boy

He never knew where his next client was going to come from.

He’s now the photographer for the maternity ward at a huge hospital in New York City. So he’s there to capture all the moments surrounding many of the births in that hospital.

Or the health coach who was tired of trying to convince individuals to sign up as clients who didn’t always understand the value she provided.

Then she noticed that one of her friends from the C-suite in a big company was stressed beyond belief, exhausted, and wasn’t eating well. It gave her an idea…Employee Benefits placard isolated on white

Today, she has contracts with big corporations where she goes in, assesses all the employees in the C-suite, and develops a meal plan for the company chef.

If the company doesn’t have a chef, she creates individual meal plans and sits down with each executive’s assistant to help them support their boss.

She’s just returned from Paris doing this for a company. Before that, she was in Singapore.

Pretty cool right?!

If these people can earn $25k… $50k… $75k… from a single corporate client – then you can find a way to turn your own gifts and interests into a compelling win-win.

Like I said, my newsletter business was pretty straightforward; so I really didn’t need Scott Adams’ – or anyone’s — help.

But when it comes to knowing what it takes to sign a corporate client, you will need someone to show you the way.

That’s why I’m so excited that Belinda has agreed to put on this free online presentation called….

BIG Corporate Connections. BIG Contracts. BIG Cash

3 keys to snag BIG corporate gigs with the matching paychecks
(Even if you don’t know the first thing about the corporate world)
Tuesday, March 22nd at 1pm EST US

If you missed my announcement last week, there’s still time to jump in.

Click here to register BigCorporateConnections.info

In this powerful 1-hour presentation, you’ll learn…

  • How to turn YOUR expertise & services into compelling offers for corporations – without having to twist yourself or conform your beliefs to “fit in.”
  • The #1 secret to “get past the gatekeeper”. (Belinda has a brilliant example of how one outside vendor got past her own secretary back when she used to be the one hiring outside vendors.)
  • How to get decision makers to pay attention and take you seriouslyeven if you have no experience working in corporate yourself!
  • The BIGGEST thing you need to know about corporate decision makers BEFORE you try to connect.

… And more!

Go It Alone or Get Help?

For many of you, getting the answers to these three key questions will be all you need to hit the ground running.

Others will need more guidance.

Looking back, I so appreciate Scott Adams taking time out of his busy schedule to so nicely blow me off.

But what I really appreciate is the reminder that I didn’t need Dilbert to make my newsletter a success.

However, when it comes to corporate contracts, you definitely do want a seasoned corporate insider to at least take you through the basics.

If you’re curious to see how partnering with a large organization might help you profit from your passion in a BIG way – you do not want to miss Belinda’s free presentation Tuesday March 22 (tomorrow) at 1PM EST.

It costs nothing to attend, but you do need to register at BigCorporateConnections.info.


Want to Really Profit from Your Passion? Try This Unconventional Path

Whether you’re in business already – or you’re still trying to figure out how to profit from your passion – the key to making it remains the same:

You have to find people willing to pay you for your product or service.

In other words – you need customers or clients. That’s the obvious part.

Precisely because it IS so obvious, a lot of people make the mistake of thinking in terms of only the most obvious customer or client.

That’s a huge mistake. Because…

If You Really Want to Profit From Your Passion, You Have To Go Beyond The Most Obvious Client or Customer

Let’s look at how taking an unconventional path enabled these three people to profit from their passions.

A photographer who loves photographing babies but couldn’t get enough babies in the pipeline to make it sustainable.

Photographer at work with newborn baby boy

He never knew where his next client was going to come from.

He’s now the photographer for the maternity ward at a huge hospital in New York City. So he’s there to capture all the moments surrounding many of the births in that hospital.

It’s a win for the hospital because it gives expecting parents yet another reason to have their babies with them as opposed to a different hospital.

And he gets more work coming in than he could possibly drum up for himself.

Another great example…

A health coach who was tired of trying to convince individuals to sign up as clients who didn’t always understand the value she provided.

Then she noticed that one of her friends from the C-suite in a big company was stressed beyond belief, exhausted, and wasn’t eating well. It gave her an idea…

Employee Benefits placard isolated on white

Today, she has contracts with big corporations where she goes in, assesses all the employees in the C-suite, and develops a meal plan for the company chef.

If the company doesn’t have a chef, she creates individual meal plans and sits down with each executive’s assistant to help them support their boss.

She’s just returned from Paris doing this for a company. Before that, she was in Singapore.

Yet another example…

A LinkedIn expert who works with people on optimizing their profiles and upping their visibility.

One day, she realized that companies are now doing LinkedIn pages.

But there was a big disconnect between what the company put out versus what their C-suite executives put on their own profiles.

Ostersund, Sweden - August 1, 2015: Linkedin website under a magnifying glass. Linkedin is a business oriented social networking website.

Now, she goes into a company and handles its page, along with all the profiles of its C-level execs. So the company representation is consistent across the board.

In other words, what if you expanded your thinking from selling strictly business to consumer, and explored ways to sell business to business – aka “B2B.”

If you have no idea how to get a corporate contract – or maybe, you see corporations the same way I once did… as big huge mysterious places totally outside of your realm of experience or comfort zone – don’t worry.

Anyone Can Land a Big Contract – IF You Know How

According to Inc. magazine, companies spent 2 trillion dollars last year on outside vendors.

All you have to do to get a piece of these contracts is to package your services and expertise (the exact services and expertise you already have) in a way that shows a corporate decision maker that YOU have their solution.

Don’t worry if you have no clue how to do that.

Because in just a few days, my friend and colleague Belinda Pruyne is going to peel back the curtains and explain all of the above during a free online presentation…Belinda

BIG Corporate Connections. BIG Contracts. BIG Cash

3 Keys to Snag BIG Corporate Gigs With The Matching Paychecks
(Even if you don’t know the first thing about the corporate world)
Tuesday, March 22nd at 1 PM EST US
Go to BigCorporateConnections.info now to save your free spot.

Before she took the leap to self-employment, Belinda spent years as a corporate executive herself.

So she knows first-hand that when you’re pursuing BIG (or any!) corporate contracts – there’s 3 things you absolutely need to know…

#1 What you can offer corporate that they’re willing to pay for

Trust me – you DO have something they want. You just have to find it + know how to package it.

#2 The RIGHT way to “get past the gatekeeper”

Doing this the wrong way can ruin your chances of ever getting through to the decision maker.

#3 How to speak with decision makers in a way that’s relevant to them

Anyone can learn how to do this, even if you’ve never worked in corporate yourself and “don’t speak the language.”

Register for this free webinar at BigCorporateConnections.info

Because in this powerful 1-hour event, Belinda is going to show you…

  • How to turn YOUR expertise & services into compelling offers for corporationswithout having to twist yourself or conform your beliefs to “fit in.”
  • The #1 secret to “get past the gatekeeper.” (Belinda has a brilliant example of how one outside vendor actually got past her own secretary back when Belinda used to hire outside vendors for her company.)
  • How to get decision makers to pay attention + take you seriouslyeven if you have no experience working in corporate yourself!
  • The BIGGEST thing you need to know about corporate decision makers BEFORE you try to connect.

… And more!

Ready to get some of Belinda’s insider secrets on landing BIG corporate contracts?

Go to BigCorporateConnections.info to reserve your seat for Belinda’s online presentation Tuesday, March 22nd at 1 PM EST.

And see for yourself how landing a single corporate contract could change everything.

P.S. Belinda used to be one of the corporate decision makers who hired outside help.

But now she’s a small business owner that lands corporate contracts of her own.

Because she’s been on both sides of the fence Belinda has a unique advantage when it comes to helping other small business owners and service providers do it too.

If you’re at all curious about the world of corporate contracts, I highly recommend you listen in to what Belinda has to say next Tuesday, March 22nd at 1 PM EST.

RSVP at BigCorporateConnections.info now.


What the Lobster Man Can Teach You About Changing Course

In the 16th century Francis Bacon defined a wise man as one who “makes more opportunities than he finds.”

He could have been describing Dan Zawacki… aka the lobster man.

photo of a whole red lobster isolated on white background

The Chicago-based sales rep for Honeywell was tired of the same old holiday gift ideas for customers.

So he came up with the idea of giving each one a live lobster along with a stick of butter.

But Dan had a lot of customers and lobster is pricey. So he arranged a barter with a lobster fisherman in Maine.

When the lobsters arrived, he added a stick of butter and personally delivered boxes to his customer.

Dan was so bowled over by the response that he decided to open a small side business shipping live lobsters complete with pot, crackers, butter and bibs to crustacean-lovers coast-to-coast.

In the beginning, Dan worked out of his bedroom, storing his lobsters in a used tank in his father’s garage.

The first year he netted only $4,000.

Then one day his boss heard Dan pitching Lobster Gram, Inc. on a local radio station and promptly fired him.

I first wrote about Dan back in 1997. At that point he was a decade into his business and doing well.

Fast forward another decade and a half and Dan is doing very well!

In 2006 Lobster Gram opened an 18,000 square foot distribution center in Biddeford, Maine.

Five years later they opened a store in Chicagoland to serve the local lobster, steak and seafood lover market.

Closeup of delicious grilled lobster tails served with asparagus and bearnaise sauce

His company counts Macy Gray, Sharon Stone and Gene Hackman among their famous clientele. Fans who likely heard about Lobster Gram the same way I did – in the media.

The company has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC as well as in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Oprah’s “O” magazine, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Readers Digest, TIME, Men’s Health, USA Today, and many more.

But it was a chance encounter with QVC buyers in New York that put Lobster Gram into the national spotlight in a big way. Today they’re one of QVC’s hottest products airing some 60-70 times a year.

The last sales numbers I could find were from 2007. At that point Lobster Gram’s revenue was a cool $12 million.

Maybe you’re not looking to make millions.

But if you want to create a livelihood that allows you to live and work on your own terms, then Dan’s example has much to teach you.

7 Immediately Usable Lessons from the Lobster Man

1. Pay attention

Creative ways to make money are all around you. Click To Tweet

Most people just aren’t paying enough attention to even notice them.

Dan saw his Honeywell customers’ reaction to their unique gift as the opportunity it was.

What About You?

Are you consistently paying attention to income generating opportunities.

If not, make a list right now of the kinds of things people around you — friends, family, co-workers — complain about, worry about, or get excited about?

Once you find a good example, ask yourself how could someone (it doesn’t have to be you) turn that into a small profit center or a full-scale small business?

Blueprint of bulb lamp. Stylized vector illustration.

2. Keep your current job — or get a new one

Seeing an opportunity is one thing – acting on it is quite another. The question of course, is… Click To Tweet

Realistically, most people can’t afford to just quit their job to start a business. Which is why Dan kept his day job until he was forced out.

If you also need that paycheck take my friend Suzanne Evan’s suggestion and think of your job as your business loan.

Note: If you log 50+ hours a week, waste hours on a long commute, or work in a toxic environment, before you launch any business, you may need to first turn your attention to finding a new “business loan.”

What About You?

Is your goal of a better future worth toughing it out for a while at your j-o-b aka your “business loan”?

If your current situation allows no time to work on your business are you willing to look for a new job even if it means a reduction in pay?

3. Bootstrap

Just because he had a good sales job doesn’t mean Dan spent a bunch of money on his business right out of the gate.

Instead, he worked with what he had using his bedroom as his office and his dad’s garage as his warehouse.

He bought his initial lobster tank used.

And remember, he bartered for those initial gift lobsters!

What About You?

Are there things like office equipment, inventory, how-to books you can buy used?

Is there garden, studio, office or other space you can barter for? What about services like web design, proof-reading, or copy writing?

4. Treat your profit center like a business

From the beginning Dan regarded Lobster Gram as a business.

After all, look at all the media coverage he got.

People who see their passion or their idea as a business do things like create a PR plan. For Dan that didn’t mean hiring a pricey PR agency.

Instead, I’m guessing Dan did the same thing I did initially to get my own business into these and many more publications in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Brazil…

2013 media

He sent press releases and followed up with phone calls.

If you currently have a small or even a side business, start small by pitching to local daily, monthly, or even monthly publications. Check out local radio too.

The great thing about PR is once you get that initial press, reporters, freelancers, and producers start coming to you.

In the last two weeks alone I was interviewed by Redbook and  interviewed as part of a 30 minute BBC documentary.

But none of these things would have happened for Dan or me if we hadn’t treated our profit center like our business and not our hobby.

What About You?

If you already have a small business — or even a solid idea for one — have you thought about, never mind, done a business, PR, and marketing plan?

What would you do differently if you treated your work as a serious business rather than a hobby?

5. Be realistic about the money

Dan didn’t expect his business to replace his salary right away.

To the contrary, the fact that he made any money served as proof of concept. Proof that had to soften the blow when Dan was fired.

moneyAfter all, if he could make $4,000 working his business part-time then he could make a lot more by going at it full-time.

It took me a decade to replace my corporate salary. Looking back there are things I could have done to earn get there quicker. (Like this next lesson.)

But still, like Dan, I didn’t start my business expecting to replace my corporate salary after just a year or two… and neither should you.

What About You?

Would you keep going if your business only brought in a few thousand the first year seeing it as a sign that you’re on the right track?

What about the second – or the fifth year? If yes, have you determined the threshold you need to hit before you quit your j-o-b to grow the business full time?

6. Hustle then hire

Dan started Lobster Gram while still employed at his job-job.

It’s not easy running a business nights and weekends. (Trust me I know!)

But Dan wanted to make a go of selling lobster tails, so he was willing to work his own tail off to make it happen.

Like most small business owners, Dan started out as a one-man show.

It was only once Lobster Gram got too big to handle that he brought on employees.

You’re not going to afford to hire help right away. It took me ten years before I felt comfortable enough to bring Lisa on – and even that was scary.

Looking back, I wish I’d done it a lot sooner.

What About You?

Even if you don’t want to manage people, can you outsource things like bookkeeping, website upkeep, and/or administrative tasks?

(To be clear, if you imagine outsourcing to mean hiring other people so you just pop your head in now and then to check on things – review all of the above.)

7. Do the thing that scares you

In an interview Dan said he really nervous on his first live QVC show.

Being on live TV in front of millions of viewers would make anyone nervous.

Dan went on TV anyway.

Maybe it was the fact that he made 600 sales in six minutes… but after that Dan said he “got the TV bug.”

If you’re scared to put your work out to potential clients or customers or are afraid of rejection or public speaking, all I can say is…

Join the club.

Everyone has fears and insecurities – no matter how experienced.

Comic high angle portrait of a middle-aged businessman with a scared fearful expression raising his fists to his face as though beseeching help, isolated on white

I’ve been speaking on the topic of confidence for 30 years.

But in a few weeks I’ll be giving a talk to 300 people at a Silicon Valley networking event being held at Apple headquarters. (If you’re in the area, this is one of rare talks that’s open to the public!)

Am I nervous? It’s freakin’ Apple – so you bet I am!

But I also know that the solution is not to wait until you’re no longer afraid.

Instead you need to act despite your fear, prepare like heck, and know that even if you fall flat on your face you’ll at least have information you need to regroup, adjust, improve or tweak… and then try again.

(If lack of confidence is among your top 3 challenges, you may like to know I’m working on a new program called 5 Weeks to Confidence. Stay tuned for details.)

What About You?

In what ways does self-doubt hold you back?

Instead of asking ‘What would I do if money were no object?’ ask, ‘What would I do if confidence were not a factor?’

The Bottom Line

All business owners experience setbacks and made missteps along the way.

There are moments of uncertainty or self-doubt… times when sales slow and money is tight. It happens.

At the same time, going from having a boss to being your own boss is a lot less complicated then people make it out to be.

Fundamentally, changing course comes down to the 7 simple things Dan did.

If Dan can do it, so can you.


Super Simple Ways to Test Your Idea

You have a great idea for a small business. Or for a workshop or a book or a website.

Now what?

Contrary to what you might think, the next step isn’t to dive into the deep end of the pool.

After all, there’s a reason why I named my business ChangingCourse.com and not Jump-Off-a-Cliff.com.

Fear aside, jumping in without adequate information is just… well… dumb.

Especially when there are simple ways to test the waters. Here are four ways to do just that.

Do small product tests

Sometimes the thing you need to test is the idea itself.

Which is exactly what cycling enthusiast Robin Bylenga did – to great success.

When the single mother of three was laid off from her job at L’Oreal she took a job at a local bike shop.

It was there Robin got the idea to create a bike shopping experience aimed at the female market.

To test the concept, she bought $5oo of women’s biking apparel to sell at a local race.

When she turned that into $1,500 in sales Robin knew she was on to something.

Closeup of three bright colored city urban woman bikes tires row outdoors in the park

Today Robin is the owner of Pedal Chic with stores in Nashville, Tennessee and Greenville, South Carolina.

The same advice applies in other markets. For instance, want to go into import export?

Experienced importers will tell you not to invest in a cargo container full of inventory before you know how it will sell.

Instead return home with just enough to fill a couple of suitcases to test both products and price.

Take advantage of free market research

Even when you know a specific business is viable, you still need to test it in the marketplace.

And you can do it without spending a dime.

For example, in the late 70s I launched a line of humorous greeting cards.

In addition to selling locally, I got them into bookstores in New York City, San Francisco, Hartford, Conn., and Provincetown, Mass.

But before I invested thousands in printing, I created a feedback form and had friends rank each idea on a scale of 1-5.

Awesome added on top of a customer evaluation form with red pen ** Note: Shallow depth of field

Even if someone loved a given card, I always asked the question: How can I make it even better?

Social media didn’t exist back then. Today you can easily poll your Facebook pals.

You don’t have scores of available friends on or off-line to get free input. I do it all the time!

Say you want to run workshops or write a book…

Or you’re can’t decide on a domain name.

Just do what I do and turn to the person sitting next to you on a plane, train, bus, café – wherever – and ask them.

When I do this, it sounds like this:

Excuse me, can I get a quick opinion on something?

(Who doesn’t want to give their opinion! Especially when it’s quick!)

If you saw these three headlines/book titles/business names on a magazine cover or online – which would you pick/click on?

If a majority of people choose one over the other – go with it.

Work for someone else in a similar business

You could start a sports camp or launch a clothing line and figure it out as you go.

Or you could first get a job working at a sports camp or for a clothing designer.

Working in a similar business offers an invaluable insiders perspective.

Best of all, if you do decide to go out on your own, you just got paid to learn!

That’s what long time Changing Course reader Kristi Kelley did.

Here’s how Kristi says working for someone else rapidly accelerated her entrepreneurial journey:

In 2013 I quit my corporate job and went to work for a local, very well respected floral and events company here in Dallas.

I started as a contract employee helping on a “as needed” basis in their wedding and events department.

After about 3 months, I got accepted into their floral design apprentice program which was supposed to last 12 weeks.

Then after 7 weeks they said I was ready and sent me to their retail shop as a designer there.

I worked at the shop for about 9 months before I quit on good terms to start my own business.

Colorful flowers isolated on a white background

Kristi was not asked to sign a non-compete clause. However, depending on the business, you may be asked to do so.

Today Kristi is the proud owner of Stem and Style.

She’s working from home, already has several regular corporate clients, and Kristi says she couldn’t be happier!

Volunteer

A few years ago I had a chance encounter Steve Curwood.

Steve is the host of an engaging environmental news and information program called Living on Earth heard on over 300 Public Radio International (PRI) stations.

Lone Wolf howling in cold winter environment. ** Note: Slight blurriness, best at smaller sizes

(Right now they show is featuring fascinating research on when wolves howl.)

I immediately had the same question you should have when you meet someone doing something unique or interesting– namely:

What does it take to [fill in the blank]?

Obviously, in this case I wanted to know how a person goes about getting a show on PRI?

Steve’s advice was simple:

Before you try to pitch an idea, first volunteer at your local station to learn first-hand how public radio works.

This same advice holds true for many situations.

You may not be able to volunteer full time.

But you can find time to volunteer if even for a few days or weeks – enough to understand how things really work from the inside.

Testing out your idea helps you answer all sorts of burning questions – like:

  • Will it work?
  • Will people pay me for it — and if so, how much?
  • If it does work, will I like doing it?
  • If so, what will it take to get where I want to go?

So, what are you waiting for? Test!

Add Your Two Cents With the Changing Course Tribe

Your thoughts mean a lot to me.

More importantly, what you have to say can help inspire the other 27,000 change seekers who’ve received this article.

So, what did you just learn or re-learn?

What thoughts, ideas, or experiences on this topic can you share with your fellow change seekers?

What’s one way you can use what you just learned to help you change course?

We’d love to hear from you!


Steve Harvey Wants You to Quit Your Job – Here’s Why

BURBANK - APR 26: Steve Harvey at the 42nd Daytime Emmy Awards Gala at Warner Bros. Studio on April 26, 2015 in Burbank, California

Steve Harvey has a lot to teach the world about working at what you love.

He knows even more about what it takes to do it.

If you don’t know Steve Harvey he’s a stand up comedian, turned actor, turned radio host, turned day-time TV show host, turned author.

What you may not know is how passionate he is about inspiring people like you to follow your bliss.

Or why Harvey thinks you need to quit your j-o-b in order to do it.

Or the one thing he says you should definitely count on happening once you do.

Click on the video to hear Harvey’s inspiring and surprising advice

Now that you’re all pumped up to, in Harvey’s words, “live in your gift…” I have some really bad news for some of you.

Sadly, Most People Will Never Jump

If you watched the video then you know Harvey says that once you jump, your parachute probably won’t open.

In fact, he says you can count on getting pretty banged up and bloodied along the way.

But that’s okay… because, like Harvey says, you’ll live through it.

For Harvey, surviving the jump comes down to faith in God.

You don’t have to be religious to understand that jumping requires a certain “leap of faith.”

But getting to live your gift jumping is about something else too.

Something contained in Harvey’s own backstory.

He grew up in West Virginia, the youngest of five children. His dad was a coal miner who would later die of black lung disease.

After college Harvey tried different paths.

He sold insurance, delivered mail, cleaned carpets, even took a shot at becoming a professional boxer before finally finding his calling in comedy.

So Harvey jumped into the highly competitive world of standup comedy.

And just like he said, his parachute didn’t open.

In fact, Harvey was homeless – for a very long time.

After a divorce he was sending most of his meager nightclub earnings back home to support his two kids.

Things were so tight that when a couple of gigs fell through Harvey suddenly found himself forced to live out of his 1976 Ford Tempo.

Reflecting on that time in a 2013 People magazine interview Harvey said:

“It was so disheartening. A week is really the maximum you can do. This was three years! It was rock bottom. But even in my darkest days, I had faith it would turn around.”

And turn it around he did. But not right away.

Harvey continued to try to make it as a standup, all the while being homeless.

His big break came when he got the gig hosting Showtime at the Apollo.

LOS ANGELES - MAY 13: Steve Harvey is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame on May 13, 2013 in Los Angeles, California

From there he worked in a number of films before going on to star in a show that ran on the WB network from 1996 to 2002.

Harvey still hosts the weekday-morning radio show he began in 2000.

When he’s not being the newest face of the long-running TV gameshow Family Feud – a show that’s seen a ratings surge – Harvey is busy hosting his own day-time talk show.

Along the way, he’s racked up a pair of Emmy’s and scores of NAACP awards.

And if that weren’t enough, Harvey also wrote a best-selling dating advice book for women.

Clearly the man is a multi-talented go-getter whose faith has served him well.

At the same time though, Harvey was rewarded for that faith by being willing to make the sacrifices required to live in his gift.

He did it first by putting the welfare of his children above his own.

He did it again when he doggedly pursued his calling despite homelessness… a situation he endured for three long years.

Compare Harvey’s sacrifice with that required of another man with a dream.

“Joe” tells me he hates his job, knows he has gifts and interests, but doesn’t know how to make money doing.

Joe said he really wanted to be a part of my recent weekend long Work @ What You Love virtual workshop – but he couldn’t.

The problem?

Joe lives in the west coast so he’d have to be on the webinar at 7:30am. And as he put it, “That would suck because I like to sleep in on the weekends.”

The workshop sold out and if the evaluations are any indication… lives were changed that weekend. Sadly, Joe’s life was not one of them.

You don’t need to spend a single day living out of your car.

But are you willing to get up an hour earlier or stay up an hour later to go after your dream?

Are you willing to put down the remote control and take one small step each day to take control of your life?

If not, then I suggest you do as I told Joe: Stick with your j-o-b.

What about you? Do you truly want to experience the joy of being able to “live in your gift”?

If so, then I invite you to learn from Steve Harvey’s inspiring example… and jump.

To help you make a safe landing, I created a planning guide designed to help you LOOK before you leap.

10 Steps To Escaping The Job World

It’s called the 10 Steps to Escape the Job World and Create the Life You Really Want Personal Planning Guide.

This is an invaluable resource that helps you track your dreams, identify the exact steps you need to take, and make a concrete plan for creating the kind of balanced, satisfying life (and work) you deserve.

Your 127-page Personal Planner includes all sorts of useful tools for getting your new life off the ground – a Business Plan template, a Multiple Income Stream worksheet, a worksheet outlining the 10 different places to look for support so you can put together your personal Dream Team… and much, much more…

Click here to Learn More.

 


All Who Wander Are Not Lost

Do you know what you want?

I didn’t. In fact, in 1993 I was totally lost.

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Back then I was commuting 90 miles a day to my corporate job.

I knew I needed a change… The problem was I had no idea what I wanted to be “when I grew up.” (Sound familiar?!)

Then I got one of life’s unwelcome wake up calls. My Mom passed away totally unexpectedly of a heart attack.

My mother was just 61 years old and a mere five months short of her much awaited retirement.

Perhaps you’ve had a wake call of your own.

A lay-off. Divorce. Serious medical diagnosis – yours or someone close to you. Or like me, losing someone you love.

For me it was the catalyst to take a job at a smaller company with a much shorter commute.

It took only a few months to realize that career-wise, I’d just traded deck chairs on the Titanic.

My new boss was a door slamming, table pounder with a short fuse. The VP of customer service referred to a new hire as “the colored girl” Seriously?!?

yeller

To be fair, I also worked with some wonderful people. And gratefully I was paid well.

I feel for people who work in a toxic environment and earn very little for their trouble.

Here’s what that experience taught me.

If being miserable was all it took to change course – the world would be full of empty cubicles and commuter traffic would cease to exist. Right?

Up until then I was hoping for the self-employment of Mr. or Ms. Job to fall in my lap.

That’s when I began to do something I now refer to as…
Purposeful Wandering

It’s one thing to be wandering aimlessly with no direction or roadmap.

It’s quite another to meander with the intention of gathering insight and information that can lead you to a specific destination.

At that particular moment I only knew things:

1) I desperately wanted to be my own boss and

2) Whatever I did for work, I wanted to be able to do it from home.

I just needed some kind of direction.

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I got it from when Parade magazine featured a story about an enormously successful newsletter called the Tightwad Gazette.

Amy Dacyczyn and her husband put the newsletter together to share the frugal tips that allowed them to raise six kids on a Navy pension and pay cash for their home and acreage in Maine.

Their millions of devoted readers learned ways to make your money go further by making things you use last longer. Things like cutting your scrubbing pads in half (great idea) and re-using your dental floss (uh, no thanks).

The newsletter ran from 1990 to 1996 and soon after became a series of best-selling books. It stopped because the couple made so much money – they no longer needed to live frugally or publish a newsletter!

That was my aha moment!

What if I created a newsletter for people who wanted the same thing I did?

A newsletter that offered ideas and information for people who also wanted to change course from having a boss to being their own boss.

Now that the ship pointed in the right direction it was a matter of figuring out how to get to my destination.

Keep in mind this was before the internet. Back when the way to learn things was to buy a book.

So I bought a book that listed resources for people who want to start a business.

That led me to a company that specialized in newsletters. So I mailed them a check for a cassette tape on how to start a newsletter.

From that recording, I learned about a company called the Newsletter Factory that offered day-long classes on how to launch a successful newsletter. So I was off to Boston.

I was still wandering… exploring… figuring things out. But I was far from lost. In fact, I’d never felt so alive.

Because now I was wandering with a purpose.

Purpose sign with sky background

The late comedian Jonathan Winters said, “If you’re ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it.”

Being lost is draining. Having a clear direction is energizing. So stop waiting and start doing.

Head to your local bookstore and notice which section you gravitate to…

If you prefer to buy books online, go to Amazon and enter some key words that speak to your gifts or interests and see what pops up…

Check out the magazine rack at a large grocery or bookstore to see what catches your eye…

Pay attention to what television shows interest you…

These are all small things you can do to purposely wander in the direction of your dream.

What about you – do you have a direction?

If not, I invite you to take moment and post below one small thing you can do this week to purposefully wander closer to clarity?

If yes, what’s one small thing you can do this very day to get to your desired destination?


5 Simple Ways to Avoid Choosing the Wrong Career

Do you know what you love to do?

Claire does. I met her last week when I spoke to an auditorium full of students at the University of Oklahoma.

When I asked Claire about her career plans, this bright business manager said something I’ve heard from countless young people before…

“I love helping people so, I’d like to go into human resources.”

All I could think was, “Oh, honey — do you understand what HR is?”

Separating Fantasy from Reality

It’s one thing to know what you love to do.

It’s quite another to find the right match for actualizing that passion.

Woman HR manager at desk
Claire imaged herself sitting in her large private office eagerly helping interesting employees find interesting solutions to their interesting problems.

In reality Claire will spend the bulk of her time managing the “administrivia” of the employment world… hiring and firing… benefits and payroll… promotions and grievances.

Claire could have just as easily said she wanted to become an attorney or a pharmacist or a nurse and the fact would remain the same… most jobs look different from the outside.

Any kind of work has its highs and lows. Parts you love and parts you’ll find… less fun.

And, as my last post on running a bed & breakfast proved – it’s true for businesses too.

You May Find That a Depressing Thought – But It Should Be a Totally Liberating One

It’s why I devote an entire section in my workshop to freeing you from thetyranny of this (and three other) misconceptions that can keep you from experiencing the freedom of being your own boss.

I’m a huge fan of looking before you leap. Understanding the pros and cons helps you do just that. 

So here’s five super simple ways to stick your toe into the information pool.

Talk to people already doing what you love

Find out what they love – and don’t love – about their work.

Ask what a typical day is like?

Find out what they’d do differently if they had to do it all over again.

Never talk to just one person. There are negative Nellie’s and Ned’s in all professions, so always get a range of opinions.

Finally, make sure you talk to people who are actually successful in that business.

Read “how to” books  

Search Amazon for “how to start a landscaping business” or “how to start a pet treat business” and you’ll find dozens of books on these and hundreds of other small businesses.

Of course, not all books are found in bookstores.

After years of running a thriving home-based plant business Mike McGroarty wrote a manual to teach his system to others with a green thumb.

Not into reading an entire book? Then start with an article.

For example, here’s one I found for a client who was considering starting a food truck business.

Take a Class

Are you a foodie?

The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City offers short, less formal courses on how to do such topics as how write a cookbook, breaking into food writing, and how to be a food stylist/photographer.

There are classes on virtually every subject. Check with your local adult education program or do a search for schools specializing in your area of interest.

You never know what’s out there until you look.


Join an industry association

Professional or industry associations offer a host of opportunities to learn from and connect with people in your prospective line of work.

Everything from small newsletters to big glossy magazines. On-line seminars and self-paced classes. Local, regional meetings, and national conferences.

If, for instance, you’d been among the thousands of people from 20 countries who attended the last Romance Writers of America conference, then you’d could have learned from any number of the whopping 800 published authors in attendance. 



If you missed it, there’s still plenty of time to sign up for this year’s conference in beautiful San Diego where I’m honored to be delivering a keynote on confidence.

You don’t necessarily have to join an association to attend their events. You will of course, pay a higher non-member fee. But once there you may be able to join at a conference-goers discount.

To find an organization search [your interest] and [association]. If you want a local experience, add your state or province. 

Hang out with people who are already doing what they love 

There are lots of way to spend time with self-bossers – even if you’re not yet one yourself.

For instance, you don’t have to be an established inventor to join a local inventor group.

Groups like DCInventors.org in the Capital area also have a Google Group.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark office has a list of networks by state. If you live in Canada see Enterprises Canada.

Remember… Small Steps Really Do Add Up

There are so many low cost, low effort ways to explore your passion.

For me it began when I sent a check for $39 for an audio cassette (remember those?!) on how to break into the newsletter business. That was over 20 years ago.

Since then the Changing Course newsletter has helped thousands of people just like you to live and work on their own terms.

The key is to just begin.

Imagine what it would be like if you could go from “wishing” you could work at what you love… to living the dream.

If you had someone to take you by the hand and guide you a step-by-step through a proven process.

What if in literally in a matter of hours you got answers to burning questions like…

How do I figure out what you love to do?

I know what I love to do, but how do I make money doing it?

Is there help for a “scanner” like me who’s paralyzed by the thought of having to choose just one gift or interest?

I have a great idea but where do I begin?

You can have all of this and more. It’s called… 

There are two ways you can show your dream some love this Valentine’s day weekend…

For an intimate online workshop experience — including live Q&As and brainstorming sessions — join me this weekend LIVE at the virtual Work @ What You Love workshop/retreat.

Or, act now to pre-order the recordings so you can take the Work @ What You Love workshop on your own schedule — your choice!

But don’t wait too long because registration ends Friday. 

See what past participants had to say at WorkatWhatYouLoveWorkshop.com

There’s never been a better – or a more affordable – time to start creating the life you really want.


The Biggest Regret of All May Surprise You

Regrets are an inevitable part of life. Fortunately not all regrets are created equal.

Some regrets are minor.

You regret buying those too tight shoes just because they were on sale….

Or picking up the phone as you were trying to leave the office….

Or ordering the fish when everyone in your party is raving about the pasta.

The good news?

Regrets like these (often referred to as “First World problems”) are ones we can learn from and hopefully, minimize the chance of repeating.

Utmost regrets, on the other hand, are more problematic because the consequences are so much bigger.

Utmost regrets, are also more difficult – and sadly, sometimes even impossible to reverse.

worryI’m referring to the kinds of things you’d absolutely hate to know would one day be etched on your headstone.

Vivian could have been a great writer, if she’d tried.

Sam could have changed a lot of lives, if he’d had the courage to act on his idea.

Ordering the fish is one thing. Bailing on your dream of helping unadoptable kids or entering a writing contest is quite another.

Elizabeth Berg learned a lot about dreams. However, she learned even more about regrets while working as a nurse with terminally ill people.

In an article titled, Dreams Are Not Enough, the award-winning novelist wrote movingly about how not pursuing our dreams may be the riskiest move of all.

It is a lesson she learned from those whose time had almost run out.

Those dying people I cared for believed, as most of us do, that they would have time for everything. So they put things off… Then suddenly their days were almost gone. They were out of the time they thought they would have forever. And while I bathed them, they stared out the window and talked about what they had missed. They might say, ‘I always wanted to see Hawaii, but… I don’t know. I never did.’ The sense of regret was so strong that we both ached. I wanted to lift those people up out of bed, put them in a wheelchair, and take them to the airport. ‘Hawaii, please,’ I wanted to tell the ticket agent.

Everyone has dreams, sadly far too often they get put on hold.

Asking, and then answering her own question, Berg writes:

“What happens to our dreams? They die of lack of nourishment, that’s what. ‘Later,’ we say, and when we turn around, they’re gone.”

The Worry Factor

According to many of the 1,200 elders who took part in Cornell University’s Legacy Project, there is a powerful link between regret about the past and worry in the present.

When asked what they most regret when they look back on their lives, the answer most often given was they wished they hadn’t worried so much.

The way 102-year-old Eleanor sees it,

You just can’t go on worrying all the time because it destroys you and your life, really…. You have to put it out of your mind as much as you can at the time. It’s a good idea to plan ahead if possible, but you can’t always do that because things don’t always happen the way you were hoping. So the most important thing is one day at a time.

And 87-year-old James Huang agrees…

Why? I ask myself. What possible difference did it make that I kept my mind on every little thing that might go wrong? When I realized that it made no difference at all, I experienced a freedom that’s hard to describe.

The thing that takes a lot of people by surprise is this.

regretnothingWe waste our lives worrying about the “unknown risks” that change can bring, when in reality we should be more scared of the known risk of spending the rest of lives in the same place we are today.

If we fail to at least try to create the life we really want, we risk making good on Benjamin Disraeli’s often quoted prediction that “most people die with their music still locked up inside them.”

The sudden loss of my mother at just 61 totally changed how I viewed time (we can choose how we use it), money (things work out), and life (it’s all too short).

I won’t lie. Walking away from a good job with good benefits was – and still is – not without risk.

Yet I knew that the real risk was looking back at my life and saying, “I was miserable; but at least I had a good dental plan.”

What Will You Most Regret?

Take a moment now to choose three things you would most regret not doing in your lifetime. Of these, which would be the biggest?

Now name one small thing you can do today – not tomorrow, not next week or next year, but today – to help prevent your biggest regret from occurring.

Finally, take a moment to post it either in the Facebook comment section, or scroll down for the general comments area. Just by putting your regret and your intention into words is itself a powerful first step!

And, if one of your three utmost regrets is spending your life in a soul-sucking job, I have good news.

As I write this, scores of your fellow change seekers from across the US, Canada, and Europe have signed on for the fast approaching Virtual Weekend Retreat.

WWL-MLWVirtual2015-Click2If you share the dream of finding your calling and a way to make money doing it in order to live a life where you get to calls the shots, then don’t worry…

You still have time to join us. The Early Bird 96% SAVINGS ends Wednesday February 3, 2016.

But don’t wait too long, because after that the price DOUBLES.

Spending twice as much money is not the worse regret in life. But wouldn’t it be nice to instead use the money you’ll save in the service of your dream?

Can’t Make the Dates?

No problem. You can still get access to the Work @ What You Love Roadmap.

For a limited time you can pre-order recordings of the entire 2-day workshop. That way you won’t miss a thing. Plus you can take the class on your own schedule and pace — and retake it as often as you like.

To make sure you get maximum value from the replay, you’ll still receive a complete set of the 30+ page Work @ What You Love handouts.

Whether you join us live or you take the Work @ What You Love workshop on your own schedule… remember this:

When you go to bed tonight, don’t worry about what will happen if you fail. If you must fret at all, worry about how much you have to lose if you never even try.


How to Live the B&B Life Without Owning One

When you work with as many change seekers as I do, you begin to see some common self-employment dreams.

One is the classic bed and breakfast fantasy.

When I ask these clients what they love about owning a B&B, they often say things like…

“I’d love to pick out furnishings and decorate all the rooms…”

Or, “I’d love to go out to the garden to pick fresh herbs for the cook to use in the special omelet of the day…”

Or, “I’d love to welcome and chat with all the interesting guests.”

Once the guests check out, my clients picture themselves sitting by the fireplace with a good book… or puttering in the perennial garden while the housekeepers tidy up.

Utter bliss.

There’s just one problem.

As many B&B owners have discovered, this familiar B&B fantasy turned out to be a nightmare when realized too late that they don’t have the capital to hire people to do the cooking, cleaning, and office work.

Instead they’ve become a combination cook/chamber maid/bookkeeper/front desk clerk!

To be clear: There are wonderful things about running a B & B.

If you’re a natural host who genuinely enjoys meeting new people and making them feel at home…

Or, if you love rising early to prepare a scrumptious breakfast, then go for it!

Still there are several ways you can get your feet wet without taking a financial soaking.

This first one is also perfect if you want to live the B&B owner lifestyle but have neither the funds or the desire to actually own one.

Become a B&B Sitter

Just as 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 Interiminnkeepers.net match B&B owners in the US with experienced relief workers.

Some like Jill Britt have run their own B&B in the past and are looking to channel their experience by offering sitting and other services including consulting with start-ups.

Others, like Kari and Rick Willis are retirees from other careers and up for a new adventure.

Take a Class

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.

No classes in your area? Then 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.

Or for $125-$199 (slightly more for couples) BB Team offers one-day seminars as well as more intensive (and higher-priced) weekend training programs in Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, Maine, and elsewhere.

If you’re ready to take the B&B plunge in a big way – or if like me, you just L-O-V-E looking at real estate – check out BB Team’s listings of fabulous B&Bs for sale. (For more affordable options, check the “lifestyle” box.)

Look, every line work, no matter how interesting it may be, will always have aspects that are less than glamorous. Mine included.

The key is to check out how wide the expanse between fantasy and reality really is, before you take the leap.

So what’s your fantasy business? Post it below.

Then keep your eyes out for the next issue when we explore other ways to test your idea before you change course!

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” George Elliott

Do you have a great idea but no clue how to make enough (or any) money doing it?

Or are you still trying to figure out what you want to be when you “grow up”?           


Then again, do you love so many things that you never seem to act on any of them?


If you answered yes to any of these questions, I invite you to join me and a community of like-minded souls from around the world to discover how you too can…

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Click on the heart to learn how.


They Said She Couldn’t Sell Her Music (Boy Were They Wrong!)

It’s been 15 years since I featured the unlikely success story of a homemaker named Lorraine Doan.

Now as then, this story offers hope for anyone who wants to follow your own road but been told, “it can’t be done.”

Like many businesses, Lorraine’s was born out personal crisis when her marriage of 23 years came to a sudden and unexpected end.

At midlife, Lorraine was forced t0 support herself and her kids.

Despite starting piano lessons a mere six years earlier – and at the most devastating period of her life – Lorraine began to compose hymns.

Then she decided to produce an album.

There was just one little problem…

Lorraine had no previous business experience, no computer skills, no knowledge of the music industry, and no financial backer.

Most industry experts would have predicted a doomsday failure.

Lorraine’s, dream of making, never mind selling her own album, should have been history, forgotten, and buried.

But that’s not what happened…

Breaking into Music On a Wing, a Prayer, and a “Secret”

In just two years and without the benefit of commercial advertisement or the backing of a major label Lorraine had placed 13,000 copies of her album The Promise.

That was in 2000. Since then that number has grown to an astounding 91,000 copies!

How Lorraine did it was the subject of an interview with Lisa Hendey, founder CatholicMom.com. (A site which by the way, offers another great example of someone who took a passion and ran with it!)

In the interview Lorraine credits God for her gift, the inspiration to create an album, and for leading her to people who become collaborators and champions.

From there Lorraine used the same “secret” as every other successful small business owner – she rolled up her sleeves and got busy, explaining:

The marketing and distribution of my album was something I learned from scratch. I developed a very simple strategy.  I called every Catholic store in the US that I could find.  Then I mailed a demo and followed up with a phone call.

Her dedication paid off.

Today Lorraine has over 900 accounts that sell her album including some Christian stores.

Since starting her own independent music publishing business in 1998 Lorraine recorded two more albums, her music has been featured on television and radio, been a frequent guest speaker at various Catholic churches and gatherings, and produced albums for another artist.

Turning Can’t Into Can 

We all have gifts. Including you.

Once you discover your gifts, you’ll have also found the path to living life on your own terms.

Sadly, though most people fall victim to the belief that it’s not possible to change course.  Little wonder.

“By the time you’ve hit your 20’s,” says Walter Anderson, author of Courage is a Three Letter Word and The Greatest Risk of All, “you’ll have heard a whopping 25,000 “can’ts.”

Twenty-five THOUSAND… that’s a lot of “can’ts.”

You can’t work at what you love and make a good living.

It’s too hard.

There’s too much competition.

It will never work.

Impossible.

The message is clear: You need to just forget about your crazy dream.

The problem is… you can’t.

The fact that you’re reading tells me you really do know it’s possible to do as the Changing Course motto says and work at what you love… follow your own road… and live life on purpose.

That’s why it’s so important to learn from people like Lorraine.

And to every other self-bosser who ignored conventional wisdom and said, “Yes I can.”

Lorraine was in her mid-forties when she changed course. Once again proving in the wise words of the Victorian writer George Eliot…

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

You just need to start.

Today is the last day to get your free copy of Yes You Can: The Inspirational Kick in the Pants You Need to Take Control of Your Life and Go After Your Dreams (a $29 value).

If you’re ready to turn can’t into can, then click on the heart now to learn how you too can…

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