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“To love what you do and feel that it matters,
how could anything else be more fun?”
Katharine Graham

If You Love Brainstorming, Teaching, Coaching or Otherwise Pointing Out Interesting Ways Other People Can Make Money Doing What They Love, Then Please Don’t Miss This Chance For You to
Get Paid To Do What Comes Naturally

  • Are you constantly thinking up potential business ideas for yourself or other people?
  • Are you forever turning friends and acquaintances onto resources and alternatives they never knew existed?
  • Do you instinctively jump in to help others brainstorm ideas?

If that describes you, then I bet people love talking with you…

Maybe they even seek you out. And why wouldn’t they? After all, thinking creatively about ways to make a living without a “job-job” is something that just, well… comes naturally to you I’ll bet.

It does to me, too. Now I’d like to show you how you can share in my success as well. Since launching Changing Course in 1995, I’ve heard from literally hundreds of people who would love to get paid to do what I do:

“I’ve spent much time trying to find my own calling, and I realized that what I really like to do is help other people realize their dreams.” ~ Jean

“To see someone’s eyes light up when I’ve given them a great idea, is an incredible feeling. People are so grateful when you show them that a new path really does exist.” ~ James

“I’ve been doing this kind of thing for years for free – I might as well get paid!” ~ Gretchen

The “Passions into Profits” program is the first and ONLY entrepreneurial track career coach training system to hand you a proven blueprint.

You get everything you need to be able to offer private coaching or run workshops to show people viable ways to make money doing what they love – and get paid to do it.

To date over 130 people from as far away as Singapore, Kenya, Norway, Australia, the UK, Barbados, even Kazakhstan have learned how to launch themselves into a whole new first-time business or create a profitable add-on income stream to their existing coaching business.

This is an amazing opportunity to start your own business doing what you love – brainstorming creative ideas to turn passions into profits!

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to what people in the program had to say…

Schedule Your Free Business Brainstorming Session Today

If you are seriously considering training to become a Passions into Profits Coach so you can get paid to brainstorm with private clients or run workshops, read on…

There are two versions of this program:

The Passions into Profits Coach Training only

Or, the Passions into Profits Coach Training Marketing Jumpstart version

The last thing I want is for you to sign up for something that’s not right for you. And if you do sign up, I definitely want you to hit the ground running!

To decide which option – if either – is right one for you and to see how you can your own at-home business started for under $500, click here to schedule one of a very limited number of 15 minute Business Brainstorming sessions with me. *International callers, Valerie can phone you. (Sorry this offer is only for people considering becoming a Passions into Profits Coach. To schedule a personalized 90 minute career consultation with Valerie call 413-535-5107)

I have been circling around it for years and for various reasons and fears haven’t moved forward full steam. Somewhere inside I think I still didn’t believe that people would actually hire me or find me believable.  Not anymore…I am so impressed with all of the information we have received in this course… I feel so much more prepared and informed.

Of course I suspected I would feel this way because I have watched you for years and have always been impressed, which is why I signed up in the first place. I knew I would learn lots, especially about marketing and succeeding in my own business.

Lynn Burkholder, Ontario



“For the first time in the human experience, we have a chance to shape our work to suit the way we want to live instead of always living to fit in with our work… We would be mad to miss the chance.” ~ Charles Handy

 Don’t miss out on this opportunity for this free 15 minute session with me… here’s the link again:


Want to Make a Change? Be Curious



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

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

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

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

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

Crafts demonstration at Storrowtown Village

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

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

Don’t Be Sheepish

Tom Colyer of
Greenwood Hill Farms

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

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

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

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

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

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

The “Crazy Tomato Lady”

Marybeth Draghi the “Crazy Tomato Lady”

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

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

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

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

Cleaning Up in the Soap Business

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

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

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

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

Doggedly Pursuing a Passion

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

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

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

Finding the Unexpected

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

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

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

Perseverance Pays

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

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

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

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

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

After Curiosity Comes Action

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

Sir Richard Branson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turning Passions Into Profits

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

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

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

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

Pay Attention to What Excites You

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

Here I am with Gary Vaynerchuk in his office

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pay Attention to What Excites Other People

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

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

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

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

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

Hang Out With People Who Are Already Profiting From Their Passions

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

Carrie Wilkerson the Barefoot Executive and me before our shoot.

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

Suzanne, Carrie and me at the studio 

Perry Lawrence, Ask Mr. Video

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

Take Action

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

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

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

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

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

Pay Attention to Coincidences

Check this out…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get Paid to Help Others Turn Their Passions Into Profits

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

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

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

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

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

Is This Your Passion?

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

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

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

Registration Starts Next Week

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

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

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

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

Go there now:

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

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

To your dreams,

Valerie Young
Dreamer in Residence
Passions into Profits Expert

Innovative Ideas May Be All “In Your Mind”

Valerie Young

By Valerie Young

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

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

Capitalize on Mistakes

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

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

Sleep On It

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

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

Pay Attention

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

Be Ready

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

Trust Your Gut

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

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

Concerns Regarding Russell Brunson’s Micro-Continuity Program/Offer

Note from Valerie: I received the following comments from two fellow dreamers about Russell Brunson’s Micro-Continuity Program on my Facebook account and wanted to address it in a broader format as I’m sure others may share the same concerns and …

Carrie Wilkerson stole my idea!

What if you had 25 fearless female entrepreneurs… each one an expert in her own right, who all agreed to spill their best success secrets on everything from how to promote your business to how to find your passion… and …

Who Says You Can’t Live Your Dreams?

Valerie Young

By Valerie Young

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

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

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

Valerie Young

By Valerie Young

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

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

Can You Really Start Making Money in 48 Hours?

I know this sounds a little far-fetched, and if you know anything about me, then you know that I don’t like hype or far-fetched promises about overnight success. So, when I read the headline promising you could start a business …

This Gave Me Chills…

Ashley Smith once said, “Live your life to the fullest potential and fight for your dreams.”

Imagine, after spending years of grueling workouts, of local meets and state championships, that your dream of competing in the Olympics came down to a single match…

And then in a matter of minutes, it all slipped away forever.

That’s what happened to Russell Brunson. It’s been over a decade since his bid to compete in the Olympics came to a crashing halt.

But now, ten years later - all grown up and with a wife and three kids - amazingly the guy is fighting back… 

I was fortunate to be in the audience the day Russell took the stage and first made his moving announcement. I don’t know about anyone else, but I had chills.

When you hear someone who is willing to put everything on the line – to walk away from a multi-million dollar business and risk it all to pursue a dream – you can’t help but be inspired to dust off your own lost dreams.

Watch this inspiring 3-minute video to see how Russell almost lost his dream – and more importantly – his brave decision to reclaim what he lost…

Here’s the video:

I not only respect Russell as an athlete and competitor but as a fellow entrepreneur.

When his Olympic dreams died, this regular guy from Idaho funneled all that energy into helping people with little to no internet experience grow highly profitable businesses using a model he calls “micro-continuity.”

I figure if this guy can figure out how to make money online teaching people (okay teenage boys) how to make potato guns (did I say he was from IdahoJ), anybody can follow this model. Including you.

Russell Brunson and Valerie Young

Like I said, I was there in the audience a few weeks ago at Ryan Lee’s big Continuity Summit when Russell laid out his entire micro-continuity process. I was blown away at how much solid practical content he shared that two weeks later I hopped a plane to Florida to hear him again. What he had to share was THAT good.

If you missed my article on how continuity - or RECURRING income as it’s known - can provide you with a predictable and steady monthly flow of money, you can catch up now at

Most importantly, as you watch Russell’s Olympic dream video I want you to think about YOUR OWN DREAM.

Whether you want to work from home or become a writer or help raise self-esteem in teens or get paid for your art, remember the wise words of George Eliot - “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

To your dreams,

Valerie Young
Dreamer in Residence

P.S. I hope you’ll share this inspiring video with your friends and family. Most of all, I hope you share it with the young people in your life.

Here’s the link again:

Use Your Summer Vacation to Start Working at What You Love

Valerie Young

By Valerie Young

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

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

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

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

1. Become a Dream Detective

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Invest in Your Dream

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

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

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

How to Turn Simple Ideas Into Financial Freedom

Valerie Young

By Valerie Young

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

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

The Surprising Four Letter Formula for Success… It’s Not What You Think

Everyone is always looking for ways to get the “secret formula” to business success. The older I get, the more I see that in one way or another, the secret to success always comes down to one very simple little …

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



By Valerie Young

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

Part 1 of a 2 Part Series

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

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

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

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

For Creative Entrepreneurs, Problem = Opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Growing” Teen Entrepreneurs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post Your Burning Questions on the Outside the Job Box Career Expert Course

The doors are now open at for the Outside the Job Box Career Expert Course. If you still have any questions after reading the course description, please post them here.

And the Winner of the Opportunity Detective Contest IS…

We had so many wonderfully creative entries to our Opportunity Detective Contest. Thanks to EVERYONE who entered and took the time to share your inspiring ideas with the all of us.

With so much entrepreneurial creativity, picking a winner was an incredibly tough decision. In fact, “Note to Self…” never hold another contest, because it is just too hard to pick! But we finally did.

And the winner is… drum roll please!

Okay, I couldn’t pick one winner.

So I picked FOUR winners all of whom will receive the complete set of ALL of the Outside the Job Box Career Expert training materials — hundreds of pages of training manuals, training CDs plus marketing jumpstart CDs, templates of all forms, scripts, and email templates, and more… The program materials alone are valued in the thousands. Add to that the income potential from actively using your new-found knowledge and skills to grow your own small business, and the value is incalculable!

Let’s Congratulate the Four Lucky Winners Who Are:

Erika for persistence (key to success for entrepreneurs!)

John for juggling multiple income streams… as we speak!

Jerry for community spirit and for applying what he will learn to help his own struggling community!

Raghu for already deciding to reach out to fellow IT people in Silicon Valley to offer a free seminar. California, like Michigan and Florida, is hit so hard right now. So go Raghu.

In a world where everyone talks about changing course but few ever lift a finger to get that ball rolling EVERYONE who entered the contest is a winner in my book.

I’ll leave you with the words of George Bernard Shaw who once said, “The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.” THANK YOU for deciding to act!

Thanks again everyone!
Valerie Young

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

Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

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

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

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

Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

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

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

Opportunities to Learn About Marketing Your Business

Here are four opportunities happening over the next couple of weeks where you can get free or low cost marketing advice from some of the brightest marketing minds on the planet.

Since these seminars are happening right NOW and are …

I HAD to do something…

By Valerie Young

I know we’re in the midst of a global recession. But you wouldn’t know it from last weekend… I was so inspired I knew I had to do something to make it as easy as possible for …

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


Valerie and her rescue dog,
“Cokie Roberts”

By Valerie Young

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

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

Want to Live Your Dream? 5 Keys to Changing Course

I hear from a lot of people at various junctures along the road to right livelihood. Some are at the very beginning, still trying to figure out which path is right for them. Others have happily reached their destination. Others are midway on their journey.

Regardless of where you are in the process, there are five keys to changing course:

1. Set Big… and Small Goals

I know it sounds cliché, and especially at the start of the New Year, but if you’re really serious about taking control of your life, you need to set some goals for yourself. Knowing that you want to change your life or work for yourself is a great start. But expressing a desire is different from stating a goal.

In her Broadway show Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, Lily Tomlin’s bag lady character remarks, “I always wanted to be somebody. I realize now I should have been more specific.” Deciding you want to earn money by making and selling gift baskets is much more specific than saying you want to make money doing something creative. But even here you need to get more precise.

One of the best ways to move a goal along is to quantify it. Using our gift basket example, the key questions are how much money do you want to make and by when. You can always shoot higher, but for now let’s think in terms of generating $5,000 in gift basket sales. From here you’d want to make your goal both real and reachable by breaking it down into smaller more manageable goals, like, for example, making and selling six gift baskets in 60 days. Actually writing the date on your calendar will make it even more real.

2. Figure Out What It Will Take to Reach Your Goal and Start Doing It

A long-time subscriber named Joe understands the importance of looking to others for inspiration. He also understands how important it is to hear not just about people that have followed their dream and made it happen, but also about, he says, “those currently traveling the pathway to a new career, setting goals for themselves, managing to keep their dream alive and staying focused on the goal of a new career.”

And setting and working toward a goal is exactly what this 33 year old software engineer from Maryland is doing. But I’ll let Joe tell you about his plans – and progress – in his own words:

“A year and a half ago I started reading a lot of real estate investing books. I wanted to get into the medical field as a Physical Therapist and needed a way to supplement my income. I took classes and soaked up all of the real estate knowledge I could get.”

“I worked with advisors until I landed my first deal. It was a rehab house, and after I repaired it I made $28,000 profit for an endeavor I spent five months on part-time. I was thrilled. I took this money and used it to help purchase a rental property and another rehab which I am now selling.”

“I set goals for myself. My big goal is a career change at five years. Presently I have four years left. I plan on generating enough income to cover all of my expenses. I also have smaller goals. At the two year mark I plan to make $1,000 net cash flow per month. At three years I plan to make $2,000 net cash flow per month. This will allow me to pursue Physical Therapy without worrying about money! I have volunteered in two hospitals and determined that this is where I belong.”

“This is my journey. It’s hard to wake up every morning and go to my current job. However I now see an end in sight. I know that in a few years I will be enjoying helping people every day. And when that day comes, it will be a dream come true.”

Some of you are probably saying, “Five years! I can’t wait that long.” You don’t have to. Joe’s goal is very specific – to generate enough money from real estate to be able to fully support him during his schooling. Depending on your goals, your financial situation, your level of commitment, and the amount of time you’re willing to invest, you can certainly change course in far less time.

Whether you want to be living your new life in five years or in five months, the point is to set a goal, quantify it, and then, one day at a time, take the small action steps required to make your goal happen.

3. Live Life Now

Shooting for a future goal is great. But I received a deeply moving email that reminded me of the importance of also remembering to live life fully in the moment. A woman named Pam wrote to thank me for inspiring her partner Bruce, a man I never met but who I apparently encouraged to live his dream. Pam has generously allowed me to share her and Bruce’s story with you.

Before he was killed instantly in a traffic accident, Bruce was living his dream. Bruce had been a computer consultant who, explained Pam, tired of the cubicle life. “Although he made a boatload of money doing it, he realized that there was more out there to do. He always wanted to do something purposeful with his life, and didn’t see that the programs he wrote made much of an impact.”

Pam went on to say that she and Bruce lived together for two very wonderful years, “living our dream. We both left the corporate grind, had opened our own business as massage therapists. Bruce was a wonderful man. He had healed so much in his life and many times said, ‘If I’m to be the kind of spiritual man I wish to be, then I need to work on this.’ He was making a difference in people’s lives on a daily basis. I’m so very grateful for every moment that we shared. We were blessed to have many friends. And I plan to continue our dream.”

Although I never had the privilege of meeting Bruce, he sounds like a truly remarkable human being and one who will be missed by many. How wonderful that while he was among us Bruce was living his dream. Pam’s strength, her gratitude in the face of unspeakable grief and her resolve to continue to live their dream is inspiring indeed.

When we think about goals, we tend to think about achieving some future result. And yet as John Lennon once observed, “Life is what’s happening when you’re making other plans.” Bruce’s story serves as an important reminder that even while you strive to reach your future goals, you must live life now and with as few regrets as possible.

4. Break a Rule

Sometimes changing course can begin with the simple act of shaking up your normal routine. Take Barbara, a former coworker of mine from my corporate days. Most people spend their Saturday mornings in a frenzy of house cleaning and errands. Barbara does this stuff too but not until after she’s indulged herself by crawling back into bed with a cup of coffee and popping in a suspense movie.

Spending your Saturday morning watching a movie may not be your cup of tea, but surely there is some small fun thing you can do to shake things up. If you tend to read self-help books try a romance novel. Walk your dog in a totally new place or drive a different way to work. Visit your local historic society or museum. On the first day of each month have ice cream for breakfast. Go to the movies on a weeknight. Experiencing small changes can make the bigger ones seem more doable.

5. Use the One Step a Day Approach

When I was desperately trying to get myself out of corporate America, I promised myself that I would not go to bed at night until I had taken at least one small step toward my goal. It doesn’t have to be a big step.

For example, I knew that at least in the short term, leaving my job-job would mean I’d be earning less money. So one day I brainstormed a list of ways to supplement my income. I have a finished basement with a bath so one idea was rent it out to a commuting grad student who needed a place to stay during the week. The next day I stopped by the hardware store to see what I could find out about sound proof ceiling tiles. The following day I looked up the Web site for the housing office at the local college, and so on.

Not only do small steps add up, but just as important is the sense of momentum you’ll gain. And once you get started on a dream, it’s hard to stop!

“The big break for me,” said Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, “was deciding that this is my life.” Another year is upon us. Since this is indeed your life, let this be the year you start making your dreams happen.

How Do You Overcome the Terror of Failing?

Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

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

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

Answers To Your FAQs About the “Outside the Job Box” Career

Naturally, I’m also getting loads of questions from those who took the online survey as well as in response to the email that went out this week.

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 purchasing the Self-Study Training later 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.

To your dreams,

Valerie Young
Dreamer in Residence


Q: What will it cost and will there be a payment plan available?

I know the economy is an issue, so I’m working on some kind of discounted pricing now. At the same time, you need to understand that this course represents over a decade of intellectual property so I can only discount things so much.

For the amount of information I’m providing – hundreds of pages of step-by-step materials, over 13 hours of actual client sessions personally conducted by me – all of which are designed to rapidly accelerate your learning curve, AND given that we’re talking about you being able to launch an entire new profit center, pricing experts tell me I should be charging three times what I have been.

I’m going to create two options. The first will be for people who already have a coaching practice or perhaps work for some kind of career center or recruiting company and really just want the parts that have to do the Changing Course Formula and the consulting process itself. Since they don’t need help with marketing, there’s no reason they should have to pay for it. So that “standard” kit will be less.

For the people who do want and need a marketing boost, there will be additional resources, obviously at a higher price point. Having this information is going to save considerable time and energy and will help you sure that once you get the consulting parts down that you can start attracting clients faster.

I will definitely offer a payment plan. I’m known for going out of my way to break things down in a way that let’s more people than who could otherwise not afford it able to get the system. Having said that…


If, God-forbid, you have lost your job or your home or your spouse/partner is going in for major surgery or you are the sole breadwinner in your family or are otherwise in dire financial straights and you need enough income from a new business to pay the bills in the short term, do not purchase this program.

Even if you have a job and have realistic expectations about what it takes to start and grow a consulting practice, honestly, if you can only afford a few hundreds dollars, regrettably this is not a good fit for you. You might want to check out Fab Job where for something like $29 you can at least get the basics of starting a wide variety of other kinds of small businesses. I know it’s not the same, but I’m trying to be honest here and at least it’s a start.

Q: Will the information in the self-study program be the same as that in the live training?

Information-wise, the answer is YES! Obviously at nearly $10,000 the people in the live 5-day training program got the highest possible level of support.

But as far as the actual training content – a step-by-step break down of the Changing Course Formula and then knowing what to do before, during, and after a consulting session – the self-study version contains the same essential information you need to be able to work effectively with clients.

Q: Would a lack of degree impact my ability to get clients?

You do not need an academic degree to be an Outside the Job Box Career Expert and Business Ideas Consultant. You don’t need to be a coach of any kind.

When you get outside of the box, you realize that there are many paths to expertise. Here’s a story I tell my clients – and you can use with your client’s too…

Imagine you’re out shopping when you spy a fabulous piece of art that would look perfect in your living room. You start to head over for a closer look when it suddenly hits you. “What if the artist doesn’t have an MFA?” As ridiculous as that sounds I’ve seen far too many people hold themselves back for fear of not being “qualified” enough. Naturally there are some professions where credentials are mandatory. But not all career paths require fancy degrees or formal training of any kind in order to achieve expertise.

Consider too, the unlikely case of self-taught weapon system expert Jeff Baxter. Despite no formal education on weapons systems, Baxter chaired the Congressional Advisory Board on Missile Defense and is a highly paid consultant to military contractors like General Atomics and Northup Grumman. His prior experience? “Skunk” Baxter, as he used to be known, was a guitarist with rock bands Steeley Dan and the Doobie Brothers. If someone can become a self-taught weapon systems expert, you can become a self-made expert on just about anything.

Then there’s Jean Nidetch. In the early 60’s, the homemaker from Queens started inviting friends to her home to support each other’s ongoing battle to lose weight. Her approach of mutual support coupled with sensible eating worked. So well in fact that Nidetch went on to found a little multi-billion dollar international empire called Weight Watchers. Notice, she did not have a degree in nutrition, or exercise physiology, or degree of any kind.

One of the topics covered in the training program – and one of the things that as an Outside the Job Box Career Expert and Business Ideas Consultant you will help your own clients to see – is that there are many paths to expertise.

Q: Is there a system to this business and do all your students follow the same guidelines?

I’ll answer this along with another question which was, “What happens if I'm in a "dry spell" with my ideas?” There very much is a system. It includes everything from what to say when a client calls to inquire about your services to a “script” to help you kick off and close every session and how and when to process the client’s credit card.

As for running out of ideas, the fact that you are interested in this program tells me that you are a creative thinker (and if you are not, you should not go into this line of work). It’s a combination of using your naturally curious mind and then having a system that includes enough tools to make sure that you never run out of ideas – and if you do, you know exactly where to go to find more!

Keep in mind, too, that what you are promising your clients is that they will walk away with at least one good idea for how they can turn their interests into income. Because each client has different interests, each one will be different. With the right process and tools, coming up with interesting ways to turn passions into profits will not be an issue!

As for everyone having to follow certain “guidelines”… I address this at length in the program description so suffice it to say that if you use my concepts you need to credit these back to me just as you would if you were talking about say Barbara Sher’s concept of “Scanners vs. Divers.”

Also this is not a franchise and therefore, nobody has to do things “my way or no way.” There plenty of structure for those who want guidelines and plenty of flexibility for people who want to create their own thing.

Red Flag Questions:

There were a few comments and questions some people raised in the survey that I consider “red flags.” Before you even think about doing this kind of work I want to make sure you a) have the right “mindset” for this work and b) understand what it is you are training to do…

Red Flag Comment 1: “What is a creative career consultant's average success rate – how many people get 'placed' as it were, in a career that they like?”

Red Flag Comment 2: "What is the success rate of clients? How many find outside the box work they love as a result of the counseling?"

ANSWER: Maybe I am being overly sensitive to words here, but I don’t want to take any chance. Words like “placed” even if they are in quotes and “find” work are both job-related. Being self-employed is about creating your own job basically.

Your clients are not ge
tting “placed” anywhere and none of them will “find work” as a result of a consultation with you. Instead you are helping people to see ways they can turn their interests into income so they can then CREATE income streams and get customers or clients to pay them for what they have to offer. There is a huge difference.

I think the real question people are trying to get at is, "How successful
are consultants at helping people discover interesting business ideas based on
their passions and interests?" Well all you have to do is read these evaluations
to know the answer to that. These are just a small sample of the 100+
evaluations previously trained consultants have received from the practice
clients that Changing Course provided to help jumpstart their new practice:

“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.”

Red Flag Comment 3: “How do you overcome the terror of failing?”

Actually I was going to talk about this in the next newsletter but since this is such a big issue, I’m going to give you a sneak preview.

No one likes to fail. But terror? There are things worth being terrified about like global warming or war or bombings. But giving something your best shot and finding out it’s not for you? I call that life.

At one point I decided to produce a line of humorous greeting cards. I spent months drawing them and a couple of thousand of dollars on printing. They sold pretty well in four major cities but soon into it, I realized that the business was more about selling than anything and I hate selling (marketing I like, selling I hate). So did I waste $2000? No. I gave it my best shot, learned a lot and moved on.

If you’re going to be an entrepreneur, then you need to readjust your emotional response to failure and mistake making. You need to understand some fundamental truths about failure that have guided successful people since the first spear missed the first brontosaurus.

Here are five more must-have rules for entrepreneurs about failure:

Rule 1: No one bats 1000. The fact that you identify with the Impostor Syndrome tells me that emotionally you still expect yourself to always bat 1000. To put that into perspective, consider that in baseball a .333 batting average is considered outstanding. If you’re not a baseball fan, what this means is that for every 10 pitches, the batter only has to hit the ball three times to be considered exceptional. Even the legendary Babe Ruth “only” batted .342. The point is, you can be at the top of your game and still strike out more often than not.

From time to time everybody makes bad decisions. Everybody gets egg on their face. Everybody fails. Failures, flops, and fumbles are such a part of life that Harry Truman once remarked, “Whenever I make a bum decision, I just go out and make another.” Okay, it’s hard to imagine a female president getting away with the same remark without some questioning her fitness. But you can’t control what other people think. You can only control your own response which begins with giving yourself permission to fall as flat on your face as the next person.

Rule 2: Failures offer valuable lessons – and opportunities. Believe it or not there is lots of good news about failure. Henry Ford understood that, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” In engineering, the process of “failure analysis” is based on the recognition that you can learn just as much from studying what went wrong as you can from what went right. It is this understanding that led Thomas Edison to famously remark, “I have not failed. I have successfully discovered 1,200 ideas that don’t work.”

Instead of seeing your flops as evidence of your incompetence, think of them as information you can use to do better next time. Do you need to develop or hone a certain skill? Do you need more practice or a different approach? Do you need to delegate the things you’re not gifted at? What will you do differently next time? What lessons can you glean? For example, have you ever walked away from a conversation and thought, “I sounded like such an idiot”? Everyone has. Next time, skip the self scolding. Instead use that time to replay the conversation the way you wish you’d handled it.

Now I don’t want you to mistake this for the usual negative self-talk about what you “should” have said or done. Rather what you’re doing is consciously laying down a positive new pathway in your brain, one that will make you better prepared to respond in a similar situation in the future. The sooner you glean the learning value following what feels like a set back, the better. The key is to fail forward.

Rule 3: Failure is just a curve in the road. I know how easy it is to be so discouraged by setbacks that you just give up. But it’s time you start seeing failure for what it is, a curve in the road and not the end of the road. Did you know that Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper job for “lacking ideas”? Or that H. Macy’s store failed seven times before it caught on? Or that Michael Jordan was cut from his junior varsity basketball team? Did they give up? No.

If Abraham Lincoln had taken failure as cause to quit it would have changed the course of history. In fact he suffered repeated failures on the road to success. After failing as a storekeeper and a farmer Lincoln decided to run for political office. He failed. Once he finally did get elected to the legislature, when he sought the office of speaker and failed. He failed in his first bid for Congress. He failed when he sought the appointment to the United States Land Office. And he failed when he ran for the United States Senate. Despite repeated public failures, Lincoln never saw failure as a reason to give up.

Rule 4: Not taking risks may be the riskiest move of all. Whenever you try anything there will always the risk of failure. At the same time, not taking risks is often the riskiest move of all. The reason Michael Jordon says he made so many baskets is because he was willing to take so many shots, explaining, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Stepping up to take your shot is especially important because Impostors think that by avoiding risk they can dodge detection. After all, if you don’t take chances or never put yourself or your work out there, you significantly lower the chances of failures.

Here again it comes down to shifting your thinking. People often comment on what a big risk I took when I left my safe corporate job to go out on my own. But to me, the far greater risk was to look back at my life with regret and say, “I was miserable, but at least I had a good dental plan.” As the great Opera diva Beverly Sills once said, “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”

Rule 5: It’s not your failures that count but how you handle them. Imagine making a major mistake with 1 billion people watching. That’s what Miss USA Crystle Stewart did when she fell during the 2008 Miss Universe pageant. She handled the fiasco by putting on a radiant smile, picking herself up and clapping her hands over her head as if to say, “Let’s have a round of applause.” This was not the first time Stewart had to pick herself up after a failure. It had taken her five tries before being crowned Miss Texas. To feel as bright and capable as you really are, remind yourself that it’s not your failures that count, but how you handle them.

Not only do you have a choice about how you handle failure, you also have a huge say in what kind of failures to have. You can have the mundane ones like getting a D in physics or not getting an interview or you can take the advice that Garrison Keillor offered to students in his commencement address at Macalister College. Keillor encouraged the audience to “have interesting failures.” Let those words sink in for a moment. Have interesting failures.

Whether you like or not from time to time you’re going to miss the mark. So why just be a failure at parallel parking or balancing your checkbook when you can come in third at the National Jigsaw Puzzle Championships, only write one children’s book, or make it only half way up Mount Everest? The fact that you never fail indicates that you consistently chose settling over reaching, inaction over action. As Billie Jean King once said, “Be bold. If you’re going to make an error, make a doozey, and don’t be afraid to hit the ball.”

What else do you need to know…?

I am confident that a lot -- if not all -- of your questions will be answered when you see the full course description. But if you have a burning question that can’t wait, jot it down here and I will do my best to get back to you ASAP!

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

Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

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

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

Attention Entrepreneurs, Independent Professionals and Small Business Owners

I'm not one to throw around big promises like "Turn your annual income into your monthly income." But I met a guy who, through much trial and error and hard work, has successful managed to do just that... and quite …

A Tale of Two Entrepreneurs: Why Joey Will Never Be A Success and How You Can Be

Joey is an old family friend with a great mind for inventions and such. He left his corporate IT job about five years ago to sell a specialty clothing item he created for skiers and other outdoor types. It’s a really good product and there is nothing else like it on the market. He even got a patent.

Joey’s first product brochure was really bad. No, make that horrible.

In my old corporate marketing job, I worked on product brochures all the time. So I tried to offer Joey some friendly pointers. When I did, he literally put his hands over his ears and said, “No, no, no.” I am not making this up.

Since then, he’s had some success traveling around the country selling his clothing at ski shows. But, when you calculate in the time and the cost of driving half way across the country and sitting at a booth for three days, it’s easy to see why Joey’s business barely breaks even.

Bad marketing aside, Joey consistently chooses the least customer friendly ways to do business. For example, he doesn’t take checks from his customers because one might bounce. He won’t accept American Express credit cards either because the fees are too high.

I’ve tried to tell him that out of many hundreds of customer orders I’ve received by check, in all that time maybe one was bad. And even if two out of 100 did bounce, he’d still come out ahead because he’d be making sales he wouldn’t have otherwise.

Like credit card fees, the occasional bounced check is just the price of doing business. Like any business expense they just come off your taxes. Joey won’t listen.

Over the years, I’ve tried to tell him that that he should be marketing his product on the internet. Joey resisted for a long time before finally throwing up do-it-yourself site. It’s ugly and not at all user friendly. Not surprisingly, he only gets a couple of orders a month at most.

Not one to give up easily, I’ve tried to talk to him about ways to drive traffic to his site, about building a list so he can keep in touch with his prospects and clients, about partnering with other companies to jointly sell his products – but Joey always comes back with some reason why “it will never work.”

Over the years, I’ve recommended different workshops or Web designers. But Joey doesn’t want to spend the money. Besides, one of them might rip off his ideas.

At one point, a major ski manufacturer was interested in licensing his product. As he prepared to talk numbers, I told him to focus on sales volume and not a per unit profit. After all it’s better make $2 on a million sales than to make $20 on 1000 sales. But Joey decided it was better to play hard ball on price instead. The deal never happened.

Why am I bothering to take time out of my weekend to tell you about a small business failure?

It’s simple. I know you want nothing more than to fire your boss and do your own thing. And, unlike Joey, I actually want you to make enough money so you can support yourself, take some nice vacations, and enjoy a good retirement.

But it’s never going to happen unless you bring the right mindset to your goal of changing course.

Case in point, compare Joey to a guy named Ted that I met last weekend at a seminar in Salt Lake City. Ted flew all the way from Florida, took three days out of his life, and spent several thousand dollars to learn a new way to drive more traffic to his Web site from an expert.

Ted is an airline pilot who was looking to start a side business in his spare time. He took a seminar on starting an online business, found a product he wanted to sell (a medical device), contracted with manufacturers and distributors, used everything he learned and made it happen. That was three years ago.

Now compare where Ted’s business is compared to Joey’s.

Ted works on his business part-time. Joey works on his full-time.

Despite spending more time on his business, Joey has made relatively little money, has a garage full of inventory, and has an increasingly impatient wife who just wants him to get a “real job.”

Ted’s business started out slowly, but today he is seeing monthly sales of about $50,000 and next year projects sales to top a million. Corporate headquarters is a spare bedroom in his condo.

“Information Will Set You Free”

There is one reason, and one reason only, why Joey’s business is not making it. He won’t listen to anyone.

Joey thinks he knows it all and sees no value in working with other business owners.

Ted on the other hand goes out of his way to find people who are more knowledgeable than he is and to learn from them. He also partnered with a parent’s organization devoted to helping young people impacted by the condition Ted’s product helps.

Joey doesn’t want to spend a dime on his business that he doesn’t have to, preferring instead to do everything himself. He thinks everyone is out to rip him off – the customer, marketing consultants, internet marketers, workshop leaders.

But like me, Ted invests heavily in his education. That’s because Ted knows for every $1 he puts in he will get $10 or $20 back in increased sales.

My changing course mantra has always been “information will set you free.” Ted gets this. Joey doesn’t.

Last week I shared some information with you about two very smart and very successful people whom I consider to be mentors of sorts – Yanik Silver and Jeff Walker.

Since purchasing their products and then getting a chance to meet and spend time continuing to learn from them, my own business has succeeded beyond my dreams. (One of the best things about making more money is it’s allowed me to give more money to my favorite international cause, and my favorite local cause, The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts.)

Both Yanik and Jeff are experts at helping people like Joey (if he’d listen), or Ted, or me, or you to start with literally nothing more than a glimmer of an idea, to turn that idea into a viable product or service, and then to sit at home reaching out to people who would benefit from our idea by marketing it via the World Wide Web.

Neither of these guys is afraid that people are going to rip them off. Quite the opposite. In fact, right now Yanik and Jeff are both giving away a TON of information that is free for the taking.

For example, Yanik is giving away almost $300 worth of products to any current or aspiring entrepreneur who wants to learn from a true master. All just to get you to give a subscription to his new Maverick Insiders newsletter a fair try.

These are not digital products he’s giving away. This is a big box of stuff that Yanik is going to mail to your home for just the cost of postage and handling. Now compare that to Joey who is too afraid that a customer will rip him off that he won’t even take a check!

Then there’s Jeff Walker. Jeff’s whole philosophy is built on being generous with his knowledge. So, for the last week or so, he’s been letting people listen in to a series of training videos that others have paid thousands to see.

Is Jeff just being a “nice guy”? Yes and no. Jeff truly is one of the nicest, most down-to-earth guys you’ll ever meet. I’ve been at conferences with him where some “little guy” who used Jeff’s program will come up tell him that they went from making a few hundred of dollars a month to making anywhere from $5,000 to (and I am not exaggerating here) $100,000 in a week.

Jeff knows what it’s like to barely have enough money to keep his own kids in diapers. So when people come up to thank him like this, you would think he hit the lottery! I’m guessing no one has thanked Joey.

But Jeff is also savvy enough to know that being successful in business means establishing relationships. Relationships are all about trust and credibility. You gain trust by putting your customer’s needs above profits. Like me, I know for a fact that Jeff has walked away from sales or potential business partners if it didn’t feel right.

Jeff also knows that the best way to establish credibility with prospective customers is not to guard the palace, like Joey does but rather to “move the free line” as Eben Pagan says, and give away as much free information as possible.

What can you learn from how Jeff or Yanik do business? Are there ways you can be more generous in your own business? Or offer people what Yanik calls an “ethical bribe” to try your product or service?

The Question Is: Who Do You Want To Be Like?

Technically Joey and Ted are both small business owners. But they could not be more different. If you’re dreading going to work tomorrow, then you need to ask yourself some important questions:

  • Yes or no, are you really serious about succeeding in your own business? Or is it just one of those “someday-maybe” things you tell yourself to make yourself feel better about getting up and going to your mind-numbing job?
  • If the answer is yes, go to the next question…

  • You probably invested a lot of time and money in getting some kind of a degree, right? But what have you invested in your business? If the answer is nothing, then how much are you planning to invest? Or do you think that starting a business just happens?
  • What do you need to learn to get to the next level and who can you learn from? What is your plan for actively learning from people who are doing what you want to be doing? Is there a book, a workshop, an apprenticeship, a product that will help you get there faster?
  • My plan is to continue to invest a minimum of $10,000 a year in my own education (something that would have been unthinkable to my working class brain just a few years ago).

    And I plan to continue to learn from people like Yanik and Jeff. Last week I shared some specifics about both of their programs. So I’m not going to get into all that again. Besides they both do a far better job explaining what they have to offer than I do so, if you’re interested, I invite you to go see what they have to say.

    But, if you have been thinking about starting a business that you can operate online from anywhere, then what you DO need to know now is that there is a clock on all this generosity and that clock is tick, tick, ticking…

    I honestly don’t know when Yanik plans to end the $298 in free products offer. All I know is a) it’s not going to be around forever, and b) he wrote to say he plans to kick in what he says is a “killer last minute bonus.” So, if you want to meet Yanik, to see photos with him and his pal Sir Richard Branson (talk about networking!) and how Yanik teamed up with Branson to raise money for some very good causes, and to learn more about grabbing your free products, go to:

    So many people grabbed Jeff’s program that he stopped taking orders on Friday. But he’s re-opening the doors one last time on Monday, November 17th at noon Eastern Time. But just for a few hours or until he sells out.

    To watch Jeff’s newest free informational video or just to get in line for this last chance to grab his program go to:

    Being a Successful Entrepreneur is All In Your Mind

    So much of being a successful entrepreneur has to do with your mindset. Do you want to be like Joey or do you want to be like Ted? Maybe you aren’t out to make millions. But imagine how nice it would be to make a good living on your own terms and not have to worry about money. Better yet, imagine being able to make enough to help other people too.

    Sir Francis Bacon once said, “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” A wise woman will too. Change your thinking and it is amazing what opportunities you will invite into your life.

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

    Valerie and her rescue dog,
    "Cokie Roberts"

    By Valerie Young

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

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

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

    Valerie and her rescue dog,
    "Cokie Roberts"

    By Valerie Young

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

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

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

    Valerie and her rescue dog,
    "Cokie Roberts"

    By Valerie Young

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

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

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

    Valerie and her rescue dog,
    "Cokie Roberts"

    By Valerie Young

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

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

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

    Valerie and her rescue dog,
    "Cokie Roberts"

    By Valerie Young

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

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

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

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

    Fantasy vs. Reality

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

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

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

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

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

    Getting Prospective Customers to Put Their Money Where Their Intentions Are

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Turning Problems Into Opportunities

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    Valerie and her rescue dog,
    "Cokie Roberts"

    By Valerie Young

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    If you would like to learn more about this interesting business, visit Deb online at and you can read Deb's Top 10 Misconceptions About the HRN Business at

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

    Be a Part of Valerie’s New Book

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

    If so, join the club!

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

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

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

    Question of the Week

    What does “competence” mean to you? For instance, what goes through your mind as you think about starting your own business or promoting yourself as an “expert,” going after a new job or a big promotion, or taking on a new and unfamiliar project, or perhaps writing a book of your own? In these situations or others, what do you think it takes to be competent? How do you define competence? How will you know when you are “there”? Is there a story that reflects an experience where you or someone you know struggled to feel competent?

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

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

    Valerie Young
    Recovering Impostor

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

    Valerie and her rescue dog,
    "Cokie Roberts"

    By Valerie Young

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

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

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

    Valerie and her rescue dog,
    "Cokie Roberts"

    By Valerie Young

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

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

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

    1. Catch a falling star.

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

    2. Grow a dream garden.

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

    3. Take advantage of the longer days.

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

    4. Read a real thriller.

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

    5. Invest in your dream.

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

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

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

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

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

    Valerie and her rescue dog,
    "Cokie Roberts"

    By Valerie Young

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    All It Takes is A Little Creativity

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

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

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

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

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

    If you want to "see" what a member site might look, like you can take a short video "tour" of the Fast Track Community here: 

    Learn From the Experts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    A Little Knowledge Can Go a Long Way

    How to Generate a Steady Cash Flow
    Using What You Already Know

    Valerie and her rescue dog,
    "Cokie Roberts"

    By Valerie Young

    “The number one money challenge for people who want to transition from a salaried job to being an entrepreneur is the unpredictability of their earnings.”

    There are lots of different ways to “package” and sell what you know teaching classes, writing a how-to manual, and so on. But there is another lesser-known way to turn your interests into income. And, it’s the only way I know that is actually designed to generate a steady and relatively predictable flow of income on a monthly basis.

    If You Want a Predictable Stream of Income, Create a “Continuity” Program

    From the book of the month club to the Netflix DVD rental model, member clubs (often referred to as “continuity” or “subscription” programs) have always been popular with consumers. It’s easy to see the appeal. Members like the idea that for a flat monthly fee they’re guaranteed exclusive access to a continuous flow of information, resources, entertainment, support, or products of interest.

    The huge appeal to entrepreneurs is that membership programs provide a CONTINUOUS and relatively predictable flow of income. Take Consumer Reports magazine as an example. Instead of charging the full subscription price upfront, they will automatically bill the subscriber’s credit card in monthly installments of $4.95. Ongoing “membership” allows the subscriber to access password-protected areas of the website at any time.

    You do the math. Even if you manage to attract only 1,000 members – at $4.95 a month that’s $4,950 in income a MONTH. Some continuity programs charge as much as several hundred dollars a month.

    You don’t have to be a big company to start your own member program. Successful member programs can be found in such diverse niches as embroidery, jazz guitar... even sky diving!

    Anyone Can Start a Member Program

    Not too long ago Ryan Lee was struggling to support his young family as a physical education teacher in the Bronx. Ryan still loves the world of fitness. But today he runs 48 different membership sites all in the health, fitness, and sports training field.

    Here’s where it gets interesting…

    You don’t even need to have personal knowledge or experience in a subject area to start a member program. It may surprise you to learn that the guy who founded
    has a background in fitness – but he himself is NOT a massage therapist. Instead, he relies on a team of “faculty” with expertise in growing a massage practice to create value-added content for his members.

    Turn Your Interests into Income

    As you’ve just seen, setting up a membership site can be as simple as figuring out what your audience needs and then finding the people who can provide it. But let’s take a hypothetical example of an untapped market.

    Let’s say you love fresh lavender. Hop on the internet and you’ll find there are literally hundreds of viable farms and lavender related businesses all over the world – many in the U.S. and Canada.

    Now what if one of these growers wanted to join the American, Canadian, or North American Lavender Growers Association? They could join the Australian Lavender Industry Association for $125 a year ($155 international) or the New Zealand Lavender Growers Association. It may be out there but I could not find a North American counterpart.

    Do you hear what I hear? It’s the sound of opportunity knocking!

    Think about it… even if you sign up a mere 200 lavender farm owners and charge them a modest $35 in monthly member fees. You’d be bringing in $7,000 a MONTH!

    Don’t Know Where to Begin? Figure It Out!

    I’ve been in this business long enough to know that you’re probably muttering, “But how am I supposed to start a member program for lavender farmers if I don’t know anything about out it?”

    The answer comes down to three little words that every aspiring entrepreneur should memorize: Figure It Out!

    Instead of trying to guess what your prospective members want, go to the source and ask them! Do lavender growers need help marketing their products? Making operations more efficient? Finding seasonal workers? Breaking into new markets? Understanding new and existing government regulations? Creating joint ventures like advertising campaigns or events with other growers? Learning about new state or provincial programs to support agri-tourism?

    In my very limited search, I learned that as part of the planning phase prospective growers often travel to France for a first-hand look at the lavender industry in Provence. And yet, I could not find a single person running lavender farm tours to France. Now imagine if your member program sponsored tours to France and you got to go! How fun is that!

    Once you understand your market’s needs, all you need to do is find authors, successful farmers, agricultural marketing experts, botanists, organic food store owners and others who you can interview or who you can get to write articles. You could set up Teleclasses, put on regional or national conferences, and otherwise seek out other resources that your members want. Like I always say, you may not know everything there is to know about a subject but you’re always smart enough to figure out who does!

    As long as you make good on your promise to consistently deliver quality content, as a member program owner, you’ll receive a steady flow of revenue in the form of member fees.

    Where Do You Begin?

    Fortunately, when it comes to knowing exactly what it takes to set up and run a successful membership site, you don’t have to figure it out on your own.

    Remember Ryan Lee – the former P.E. teacher turned millionaire fitness membership site owner? Well, last year Ryan teamed up with a really terrific guy named Tim Kerber. Tim is the co-creator of a turn-key membership software solution called MemberGate. Together they started (are you ready…) a membership site for membership site owners.
    was created to help new and seasoned membership site owners to continue to grow and learn.

    Next, Tim and Ryan teamed up to conduct a program to teach people how to start and run their own membership programs. Not surprisingly, the program sold out in a week.

    Tim emailed me this week to tell me that he and Ryan are going to once again open up their Membership Site Bootcamp to new members.

    To help people decide whether running a membership site is right for you they’ve put together a short video to show you:

    §        How membership sites work

    §        What makes membership sites the ultimate portable business (as long as you have a laptop and an internet connection you can run your business from anywhere)

    §        The income potential including how recurring income increases the value of the business for future resale

    You also get to see some pretty amazing case studies of actual people who, in literally a matter of months, are generating a steady monthly income stream from their new membership sites. I happen to know a few of these people behind these success stories personally, so I can assure you they are very real.

    If the thought of generating thousands to possibly tens of thousand of dollars a month in steady, recurring income appeals to you I encourage you to watch the video at

    “The Way to Get Unstuck is to Get Informed”

    My guess is the first thing you feel when you hear about the income-generating potential of membership sites is excitement. After all, with a steady income you really CAN quit your job!

    After the excitement though comes fear. Am I right?

    If that sounds like you, then repeat after me: "I don't have enough information right now to be afraid OR excited."

    When it comes to changing course, information really will set you free, because the greater your knowledge, the greater your options and the less risky change becomes.

    As you watch the video, I’d like you to do two things. One, jot down any questions and/or ideas you have about member programs. Two, pay attention to any inner dialogue that is self-enabling or self-defeating. Then fill in these blanks…

    • The biggest question I have about starting and running a member program is….

    • The first idea that springs to mind is….

    • I know I can do this because… 

    • The reason I know I could never do this is…

    To learn more about how to start a member site and how to make it profitable, watch this short video now and be sure to sign up for the follow up case studies:

    Whether your passion is salsa, gardening, art, or wrestling, there are a myriad of ways to turn what you already know into your livelihood. If you are drawn to the idea of a more regular, predictable income stream that has the potential to be extremely profitable, then running your own member site may be something worth exploring.

    Dale Carnegie once said, “We all have possibilities we don’t know about. We can do things we don’t even dream we can do.” “

    Whenever you find yourself thinking that your dream is not possible, find someone who is successfully doing the thing you want to do and follow them. I guarantee that this road will lead you to a lifetime of satisfaction, well-being, and even greater possibilities than you could ever imagine.

    To your dreams,
    Valerie Young Signature
    Valerie Young
    Dreamer in Residence
    Turning Interests into Income Expert


    P.S. Get Rich Slow

    When you watch the video you’ll see some revenue figures from actual member sites that range from $4,500 to a whopping $193,000. Again, because it’s a continuity program, these figures are per MONTH.

    These numbers are impressive.

    Yet, if you’ve been following Changing Course for any time now, then you know that I do not advocate anything that even remotely smacks of “get-rich-quick.” Starting a member site, or any reputable on- or off-line business, takes time and effort. And a member program certainly offers no fast, easy road to riches. But I figure if you’re going to work hard to grow someone else’s business, you might as well work hard to build your own.

    I would not suggest you go into the membership site business necessarily expecting to be a millionaire like Ryan. And certainly not right away.

    But I do believe that if you are willing to put in the time and effort, that it is entirely possible that by this time next year you could be earning enough from your member site to quit your job or at the very least go part-time.

    The key is to begin. Here is the link again:

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

    Valerie and her rescue dog,
    "Cokie Roberts"

    By Valerie Young

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

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

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

    1. Turn griping time into planning time.

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

    2. Keep your goal front and center. 

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

    3. Buy with an eye to the future.

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

    4. Avoid the nay-seers. 

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

    5. Do what you can – but DO SOMETHING. 

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

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

    Valerie and her wonder dog,
    "Cokie Roberts"

    By Valerie Young

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

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

    Page 2 of 3123


    A New Direction

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    Curvology Studio

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