Archive for the ‘Finding Passion’ Category

My life is a puzzle box

August 5, 2010

This week I met with a former pastor who gave me this description of his current situation:  “My life is a puzzle box – all the pieces are there but the picture on the front has been torn off.  I don’t know what it’s supposed to look like.”

His income has gone up dramatically in the last couple of years allowing him to tithe more than his entire income seven years ago.

But financial success does not remove the questions about proper direction.  Faster, bigger and more are sometimes just that – faster, bigger and more.  Ultimately we want to see that picture of our life – a completed whole.

If I try to do something noble, humanitarian or Godly that has nothing to do with who I really am, I may look good to others and to myself for a period of time.  But the fact that I am not being authentic will eventually have consequences.  I may end up doing more damage than if I had not attempted this particular area of “success.”  Trappist monk Thomas Merton addressed this when he said, “There is in all visible things….a hidden wholeness.”

We’re all looking for that completed picture on the front of our puzzle box – our “hidden wholeness.”  Don’t be content until yours comes into view.

Want to be “intelligent” and average or “creative” and successful?

August 1, 2010

Studies over the last 50 years show children increasing in IQ.  But since 1990, scores of creativity have gone down.  Our children, and adults, are becoming less creative.

The accepted definition of creativity is production of something original and useful.  Too much TV, video games and time indoors can be blamed.  But standardized tests and the push to accumulate facts have added to the decline.

As adults, creativity will open opportunities more than intelligence.  The average GPA of decamillionaires in America is 2.7.  A 4.0 GPA can lead to very common jobs and careers.  A lower IQ may allow for a more authentic and successful career path.

Here are some things we can do as adults to kill or increase our creativity.

Ways to kill creativity and idea generation:

  1. Wallowing in self-pity
  2. Blaming others
  3. Giving up on dreams
  4. Overreacting to criticism
  5. Underestimating your opportunities

Ways to increase creativity:

  1. Laugh out loud every day
  2. Break familiar routines
  3. Say to yourself, “I can do this”
  4. Set aside 15 minutes daily for “thinking”
  5. Read one non-fiction book a month

“A lot of what we think of as neurosis in this country is simply people who are unhappy because they’re not using their creative resources.”  Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way)

Honoring my wife and killing myself

July 7, 2010

Here’s a question with a common theme:

“Dan, I have a successful side business built around a weekly podcast I’ve been running now, part time for the past 5 years. Successful meaning it fills a need, has a large, loyal following and it generates a good supplemental income.  I’m miserable at my full time job- not only is it an hour and a half commute, 50+ hours a week taken away from my family, odd working hours and the salary not being competitive I’m physically drained and not mentally or physically healthy.  I’m thinking of going full time internet business because when I put 100% of myself into it –  I come alive, the business financially comes even more alive and I’m able to balance my life out.

The problem is my wife is not supportive of the idea. She feels safer with the weekly paycheck and the health benefits. I feel as though I’m honoring my wife but suffering inside and cheating my kids of a Dad during the best years of their lives.”

Let’s just deal with three major issues here:

  1. The job is “safer and more secure.”  In today’s workplace that is probably not true at all.  No job is secure.  And if you are miserable, you are likely beginning to sabotage your position there.   You simply cannot do well in a job where you are miserable, physically drained and unhealthy mentally.   Your chances of success are greatly enhanced in doing work where you “come alive.”
  2. With your current state of misery your feelings of “honoring” your wife will certainly turn to resentment – sooner than later.
  3. The fact that your wife wants you to continue in something where you are miserable and killing yourself raises some real red flags about your relationship.  Sit down with a coach or counselor and present the facts as you have here.  Get some outside advice about your best options.

My wife, Joanne, would have been very content if I had just gotten a regular job with a paycheck when we first married – or anytime since then.  But she laughs in thinking about me having a “real” job.  She knows how I am wired for change and innovation and she supports that in me even though there has been little “security” through the years.  “Honoring” one another in marriage means embracing how God has uniquely gifted each of us – and trusting that passion and joy will release more success than obligation.

Confused and Stunned – awesome!

July 2, 2010

Is now a time to try something new – perhaps something you’ve never done before?  Or should you sit out the “recession” and wait until “things get better.”

“The times when everyone is confused and stunned can present an enormous opportunity because no one’s really doing anything,” says Dell Computer founder Michael Dell.  “I think this is the time when the seeds of really successful new businesses will be created.”

Designer Kenneth Cole says, “When things are going well, people want to do what’s working and more of it.  It’s only in difficult times that people are open to creative alternatives.”

Mark Cuban, entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, points out that some of the greatest businesses were built in recessionary times.  “Money is easy to find in boom times, which leads to far too many businesses getting out of the gate that don’t deserve to be started.  When money is scarce, better ideas face less competition and better execution can lead to greater success.”

Whether it’s changing career paths or starting your own business, there’s never been a more opportune time than today.  July 1st marks the beginning of the second half of 2010.  And what better time to claim your “independence” than on July 4th.  Recognize you are in the driver’s seat, break ties with the mother country if necessary and begin your personal revolution. And remember, “things” get better when you get better.

Business is up and down – that’s good

June 29, 2010

Pat Cuartero was a Merrill Lynch analyst.  But as he says – he discovered a higher purpose – getting more people in New York City to play with yo-yos.  He funded his startup with $8,000 on credit cards and netted $32,000 in the first five months.  It was enough to persuade him to leave his “real job” and develop his passion for yo-yos.

Instead of just selling yo-yos, Pat developed YoYoNation – a robust community of enthusiasts.  There are blogs, forums, contests, and yes, you must register to be part of the community before you can buy a yo-yo.

He’s projecting $1.6 million in sales by the end of this year.  You can get cases, string, bearings, t-shirts and other gear once you’re part of the community.  You can start with the standard Duncan Butterfly Yo-Yo for $2.99 or step up to the handmade Oxy Ti titanium model for $549.99.

Anyone remember Tiddlywinks or the Slinky?  Probably just waiting for a champion to come along.

What’s your passion and what are you doing to develop it?

Just gimme some cash dude!

June 4, 2010

Yesterday I ran in to Taco Bell for a quick lunch.  The dude who took my order commented on the rather large roll of cash I happened to have in my pocket.  I asked him if he needed a loan and he said “Yes.”  So I asked him if I loaned him $1000 what he would do.  He immediately replied that he’d quit that job and just wait until the money ran out.

I explained that then he would have no job and a debt to me of $1000.  But he seemed to just bask in the thought of having a few days of not coming to work and still having money to spend.

Is it any wonder we have adults with the same mentality?

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” — Benjamin Franklin

Okay, now I’m wondering – is this really the mentality of most people?  To just exhaust any available resources and go deeper into financial bondage?

What would you do?  What if I gave you $1000 today?

If you kill the Golden Goose, this will….

June 1, 2010

Here’s a note I received this week from someone who wants to be a coach.

”Dan –With the poverty of the USA my spirit doesn’t feel right charging the poor that need help for coaching them in the right direction. Out of the love in my heart for others and their burdens I cannot see putting a boundary up (money) for what I know can help them.”


Coaching is a helping service – as I hope whatever you are doing in work is a helping service.  Coaching is not unique in being the only way to help others.  So we could substitute anything you do in the following sentence:

”With the poverty of the USA my spirit doesn’t feel right charging the poor that need help”

  • making their house payment
  • getting groceries
  • having dental work
  • fixing a plumping problem
  • repairing their car
  • preparing their taxes
  • getting legal help
  • having competent daycare
  • knowing how to get a job
  • keeping their yard trimmed or
  • having access to great books

I too have a heart for the downtrodden.  I allow 10% of my time for humanitarian and ministry needs.  That allows me to address those needs and still provide for my family.  But I couldn’t spend 90% of my time helping the poor – I’d simply become one of them and deplete my ability to help.  It’s impossible to give when your own cup is empty.  A sincere desire to help and serve can kill the golden goose just as much as raw greed.

American Idol – you can do it!

May 25, 2010

Okay, here’s an example of the power of this 48Days.net community.  On May 11th, on our weekly telemember call, I had 48Days.net member Chad Jeffers as my guest.  As Carrie Underwood’s guitarist he called in from Austin, TX that night.  We talked about his rise in music and his newly released book, 25 Notes for the Successful Musician.

Another member, Brian Griffith was listening to that interview.  The next morning he contacted me.  As the owner and designer of Anthology Gear Wear, he just wondered if there would be any way I could get one of his amazingly beautiful straps in Chad’s hands.  I simply connected the two – and here’s the potential of this community.  Brian has sent Chad one of his straps – and Chad is going to be using it tomorrow night when former Idol winner Carrie is performing on the season finale of American Idol.

In a note I received from Chad he said:  “The last time I played a particular guitar on the Grammy’s a few years ago, the luthier (builder) received 10 orders the next week!!  Hopefully I’ll have a strong impact for Brian.”

How would you like to have your product seen by the estimated 22 million viewers expected for the Wednesday night show?

Not all of us make guitar straps or play with Carrie Underwood.  But the real question is — what creative ideas are you using to actively increase the marketing exposure for your business?

For-profit or non-profit?

April 26, 2010

On December 3, 2009, the Philadelphia City Council voted unanimously to pass a bill that creates a new sustainable business tax credit of US$4,000 for B Corporations—certified socially responsible companies (1). The decision could be a sign of what’s to come: new legislation that provides incentives for businesses to operate in a socially beneficial manner.

There are so many variations of us who are doing “ministry,” ethical capitalism, green, organic, fair-trade, eco-capitalism, humanitarian, social  entrepreneurship or just serving customers well.  I’m not sure how much benefit or restriction the legal structures provide – or inhibit.

We’re seeing some new categories emerging around the world.  In the UK, the “Community Interest Company” (CIC) enables an organizer to run a business for the benefit of the community rather than for the benefit of the owners of the company. In the US, the latest innovation is the low-profit, limited liability company or L3C, which simplifies compliance with IRS rules for yet another hybrid structure.

I met Tom Szacky recently – founder of TerraCycle – what an exciting business.   Totally for-profit, yet they are changing the world in the way we view “trash” and they’re raising millions for charities.  I think we’re seeing a positive correction from the American corporations that have been raping their communities and customers.  The internet has made everyone more transparent with fewer opportunities to hide behind skanky business practices.

Bottom line – I think the legal structure we choose is less important than having a worthy mission to fulfill.  Your mission will drive how you do business, regardless of what’s in your corporate charter paperwork.

Finding Your Pot of Gold

April 20, 2010

Gold was discovered in California in the spring of 1848.  By May of 1848 reports were flying that “there was more gold than all the people in California could take out in fifty years.”  28-year-old Samuel Brannan opened a small supply store at John Sutter’s Fort, right in the heart of the gold rush.  Brannan purchased a little vial of gold and traveled the hundred miles back to San Francisco.  As he stepped off the train, he swung his hat, waved the bottle and shouted, “Gold! Gold! Gold!  By the middle of June, three quarters of the male population had left town for the gold mines near Sutter’s Fort.

Brannan never looked for gold, but selling shovels, picks and supplies to the wide-eyed miners made him California’s first millionaire.  His store was selling as much as $5000 a day (about $140,000 in 2010 dollars) in goods to the miners.

Did all the miners find their “pot of gold?”  Not a chance.  Most of them wasted time and meager resources only to return to their original homes, poor and discouraged.

So where are you looking for income opportunities?  In the last ten years thousands of people jumped on the computer bandwagon, believing that programming, web design and software development were the only real sources of wealth.  As you know, not everyone going in this direction has become wealthy?  But are there associated opportunities with this area of focus – absolutely! 

In the last ten years the number of massage therapists has quadrupled.  (Our massage therapist comes to our house every Friday afternoon.  People who work on computers all day are prime candidates for massage.

I have a friend here in Nashville who produced a red “panic button” that fits over any key on your computer keyboard.  She has now sold over 100,000 at $1.50 each.  A convent even ordered 10 PANIC buttons.

I have talented young musician friends who are not trying to be the next Alan Jackson but are generating significant income selling guitar straps, personalized drum sticks and a book on How to make it in the music industry.

Is it possible that in your own search for “gold” you are overlooking the opportunity to become a millionaire by selling picks and shovels?


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