I love proving people wrong.
Not all people.
Just the ones who are operating
under the kind of faulty and
self-limited assumptions that
prevent them or the people around
them from working at what they
That was definitely the case for a
recent client named Ellen
(not her real name). Ellen was totally
convinced she'd be, as she put it,
my "first failure", a belief she'd
repeat several times throughout
To prepare for our phone meeting, I
asked Ellen to send me a list of
things she loves to do. It was pretty
clear right from the get-go that she
held out little hope of turning any
of her passions into viable
I don't think there is any money maker
in my Love-to-Do's, she wrote, adding,
I really worked at this list. I am not
sure you can help since this is all I
came up with.
Boy was she wrong.
By employing a few simple techniques,
I was able to help Ellen come up with
not one, not two, not three,
seven ways to make a living
doing exactly what she loves.
Using Ellen as an example, I've put
together to help you
discover the Income Generating
possibilities and opportunities hiding
inside your own passions.
In other words you're about to attend
Opportunity Analyst Boot Camp!
And, just in case any of the books I
recommended to Ellen, resonate with
you-for your convenience they're
available in the Changing Course
Before we begin, take a minute to
read Ellen's "Things I Love to Do"
list to see if you can come up with
any ways she might turn them into income.
Ellen loves to:
- Go to art museums
- Planning things
- Get dressed up
- Different cultures
Okay, any ideas?
If you came up empty or close to
empty, that?s understandable. What
often gets framed as a lack of
creativity, I happen to think, is
really just a lack of information.
The information-gathering phase is
critical to discovering ways to
make a living from your passions.
Which leads us to our first tip!
If you want to come up with great
Income Generating Ideas you've
got to get into the habit of asking
questions? lots and lots of questions.
Take Ellen's list for example.
Presumably, she knows what research
and planning things mean, but did you?
As silly as it might sound, you need
to start asking yourself some questions
What exactly DO I mean when I tell
people I love to cook or surf the
net or write?
What kind of cooking, surfing, or
writing? Do I want to do it for or
with other people?
Do it at home?
Do it outside of home?
Do it every day, a few times a month,
a few times a year??
I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
For now, use Ellen?s list to practice
flexing your Opportunity Analyst muscles
by making a list of questions.
For example, do you want to learn more
about what her love for politics is about?
What does she mean when she says she loves different cultures?
- 2) FOCUS ON YOUR LIFE FIRST,
In short, despite everything we've
learned from guidance or career counselors,
making a living isn't only about work,
careers, or income. Making a living
is also about Making A Life. Your quest
for Right Livelihood must start
with a clear vision of what you want
your LIFE to look like.
In fact, I can't even begin to help
someone figure out what their ideal
job might be until I understand what
they want their ideal life to be.
Once you've determined the kind of
life you want, Your Vision then
becomes a bench mark by which to
evaluate various career options...
or what I call the Life First Test
For example, if you want to Work from
Home and you work best alone,
opening a bookstore wouldn't pass
the "Life First Test"
but being a freelance writer might.
(Since I've talked about this topic
at length before, I suggest if you want
to learn more, head over to the Articles
section at Changing Course and read
The Think Life First- Work Second
Approach to Discovering Your Ideal Career
(or just click here http://www.ChangingCourse.com/articles/).
Like a lot of people, Ellen's ideal
life is a combination of working from
home and being out in the world.
In her case, it means starting her day
at home researching things that interest
her like history and travel.
In the afternoon she'd like to get
outside. When I asked Ellen what she
might like to do outside the home,
she reluctantly told me about what she
called her Crazy Dream Job
being the organizer of a big museum
installation like the King Tut exhibit.
I didn't think Ellen could land her
fantasy job overnight, but I didn't
think it was crazy either.
What I did wonder was whether it would
pass the Life First Test.
You see, Ellen's ideal life includes
living in the country, so living in any
city big enough to support a large
museum was definitely out.
But still, the excitement in her voice
was too important to just dismiss this
interest in big exhibits.
Which leads to the next technique every
Opportunity Analyst must know.
I decided to probe beneath the surface
to try to understand what exactly it
is that Ellen likes about being in charge
of a big museum installation.
What really excites her is doing things
on what she referred to as A Grand Scale
The biggest event in most people's lives,
she explained, is their own wedding.
I think events like this should be really
wonderful and grand."
In this case, going deeper meant
figuring out what kind of grand
scale events, in addition to weddings,
could Ellen put on that would
really jazz her?
I'll give you a hint--
he answer is in her list.
Take a look
Since Ellen loves history and
research I asked her what she
thought of specializing in co-
ordinating large and elaborate
Not only could she do all the event
planning, but with a little
training in genealogy, Ellen could
also offer to research the family
tree. And, depending on what
(and the client's budget) she
could get her Grand-Scale kicks
by organizing historical
re-enactments using local actors
or somehow involving the family
Ellen loved the idea!
To help launch her new business,
I suggested she take a page out
of Barbara Winter's Establishing
Yourself as an Expert class
and create a tip sheet.
She could put together
The 10 Biggest Mistakes People
Make in Planning a Family Reunion
or a piece called 5 Ways to
Guarantee a Stress-Free Family Reunion
She could use the tips in a press
release to her local newspaper,
include them in a brochure, or on
To educate herself on the event
planning business, I also suggested
Ellen get a copy of a book called
Dollars & Events:
How to Succeed in the Special Events
Business by Joe Goldblatt and,
And what about the Life First Test?
If Ellen lived in jeans and sneakers
and liked to be in bed by 9:00 p.m,
we probably would have nixed the
idea of putting on gala affairs.
Instead we'd have explored how she
could put her passion to work
putting on fantastic children's
parties or mega- picnics.
Fortunately, since Ellen loves
dressing up and is a night owl,
the family reunion and wedding
planning idea passed the test
with flying colors.
But why stop here?
We could have stopped here, and
Ellen would have been perfectly
happy, but during this same
conversation she also told me
about an armor exhibit she"d
seen at the Metropolitan Museum.
The fact that Ellen was not the
least bit interested in medieval
weaponry and yet clearly so taken
with the exhibit told me there was
more gold to be mined here.
Time to keep digging.
It didn?t take much probing before
Ellen was practically gushing as
she described how incredible the
shiny armor looked displayed in
front of the rich, colorful tapestry.
As we talked, it became clear that
Ellen also loves arranging things
for maximum aesthetic value.
Any ideas on how she might use
Ellen was only mildly interested in
room décor so we quickly dismissed
Instead I suggested she think about
freelancing as a window dresser for
retail stores or as a photo stylist.
Photo stylists are the people who
clients pay to arrange products,
props, food, and the like so they
look good in print ads, catalogs,
TV, film, and so on.
I pointed Ellen to the Association of
Stylists and Coordinators where
she could learn all about what it
takes to break into this fascinating field.
We know from Ellen's list that she
liked writing but that's pretty
broad. Normally when I ask someone
what kind of writing they like,
he or she will say they enjoy fiction,
non-fiction, romance, children's
books, technical writing, etc.
But the first word that popped out
of Ellen's mouth was concise.
Ellen likes writing paragraphs,
not pages, and she also prefers
Any ideas leap to mind?
My first thought was that Ellen
had all the makings of a columnist.
She loved the idea but naturally
had lots of questions about how
to get started.
So I pointed her to a book called
You Can Be A Columnist
by Charlotte Digregorio.
The more specific you are, the
better able you are to pinpoint
what kind of information you
need to get started.
- 6) TURN DEFICITS INTO BENEFITS
Ellen also enjoys politics.
So writing a political column was
a perfect fit. Unfortunately
political columns are the
toughest kinds of columns to land.
That's because the powers that
be want established experts,
which is really just short hand
for political insiders.
The fact that Ellen is considered
a commoner among the political elite
doesn't need to be a dream stopper.
The trick is to find a way to make
this apparent disadvantage work for her.
For example, by calling her column
(and maybe ending each one with),
"But, Hey What Do I Know??"
she just might be able to use her
"just a regular Joe-anne,
average woman on the street"
type status to her advantage.
It worked for Independent party
presidential candidate Ross Perot!
And if a millionaire businessman
can convince millions of Americans
that he's just like them, then Ellen's
got a shot at selling her column
to a local editor.
- 7) LOOK FOR MORE THAN ONE WAY
TO USE YOUR GIFTS
Like most writers, Ellen also likes
editing. What if, I suggested, she
offered her editing services to
professors and graduate students
who need to write papers, but
for whom English is a second language?
Since she also enjoys doing research,
for an extra fee she could also help
them track down information.
Chances are you may have wondered
what kind of photography Ellen loves.
Bridal? Portrait? Nature? Animals?
Action? When I put this question to
Ellen, she once again hesitated
fearing I'd find her answer odd.
Quite the opposite! I found it utterly
fascinating! You see Ellen loves
photographing unusual buildings,
and she works exclusively in
black and white.
How cool is that!
Okay, you?re wondering, but who's
going to pay Ellen for her cool
black and white photos of
Well, there's a bank in my area that
hands out free calendars featuring
vintage photographs from the
What if she pitched the idea of a
calendar featuring unusual architecture
to a community-minded bank or to the
Chamber of Commerce?
If it worked out, it could lead to
a whole series of calendars or
perhaps even posters or framed photos.
Which leads me to the next thing
every Opportunity Analyst
There's more than one bank and more
than one Chamber of Commerce.
In fact, there are thousands of
them and they're everywhere!
Since Ellen loves to travel,
why not make this same pitch in
towns and cities all over the country?
She could even make a name for
herself as the unusual building
photographer and publish a book
or better yet, a whole series of books!
10) LEVERAGE YOUR TIME AND TALENTS
Since Ellen's going to be traveling
the country taking photographs anyway,
why not tap into her love of writing
by being a travel writer.
Not only can she make some money,
but travel writing is a great way to
defray the costs.
Just ask Duane and Harlene Harm.
According to travel organizer Barb
Perriello at Agora Travel, Duane
and Harlene attended the American
Writers and Artists Institute Travel
Writing Course in Paris.
Then they spent the following summer
traveling across the western U.S.
All told, they visited 23 different
dude ranches in Colorado,
Wyoming, and Montana over a
three-month period, staying for an
average of three days at each ranch.
The total value of their summer stays?
and they didn't pay anything.
Not one cent.
What's more, they wrote an article for
"Steamboat Magazine," a high-end
coffee-table publication based in
Steamboat Springs, CO that comes
out twice a year.
And they were paid for their work.
(You can learn more about careers for
people who love to travel at
Okay, back to your Opportunity Analyst
You already know Ellen likes travel and
But there?s another clue that told me
travel writing was the perfect fit--
do you know what it is?
It was Ellens reference to different
By employing the previous nine tips,
I discovered that Ellen has a real
passion for learning about different
culturea... but not by reading alone.
What Ellen loves is tracking down and
visiting the places the locals like to go.
She's also fascinated by local
traditions and etiquette.
All this tells me Ellen won't be
writing about the typical tourist haunts.
Instead she'll be using her interest
in cultural diversity to educate her
fellow travel lovers about how to see
area through the eyes of its residents.
Nobody likes to be proven wrong.
That is, unless the thing you're
wrong about is thinking you can't
profit from your passions.
Follow these ten tips
and you'll be well on your way to
becoming an Opportunity Analyst
and one giant step closer
To Earning Your Living Doing
Exactly what you love!
About the Author
Off the Beaten Career Path
Consultant, Valerie Young, abandoned
her corporate cubicle to become
b>the Dreamer in Residenceat
offering free resources to help
you Discover your Life Mission
and Live It.
Her Career Change Tips have been
cited in The Wall Street Journal,
USA Today Weekend, Redbook, Entrepreneurs
Business Start Ups, and on-line at MSN,
CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com.
An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, she's presented her How to Feel as Bright
and Capable as Everyone Seems
to Think You Are program to
thousands of people.