See what is present. Fill in what is missing.

What if you could have it all? No compromise. Win-win, as they say in the conflict resolution seminars. When we employ natural entrepreneurial thinking, we look for ways that a situation could be whole. We look for what we can fill in, even if what we are filling in is more space to breathe.

Always ask both of these questions, when looking for opportunities or solutions:

  • What is present that is working?
  • What is missing that, if it were present, would make things better?

Keep asking these questions. The answers are like puzzle pieces that can come together to give you a vision of what is possible. Translate and convert any negativity into something that is missing.


The “Magnificent Seven”

All of the distinctions between Classic Employee Tendencies and The Elements of Natural Entrepreneurial Thinking (listed in my last post) apply to these seven ways to exercise your entrepreneurial muscles:

  • Intrapreneur: A person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation. Intrapreneurs understand that entrepreneurship is truly a mindset, not a title or job description.  (See Appendix 4 for more about using entrepreneurial thinking while on the job.)
  • Freelance/ Self-Employment / Independent Contractor: A person who works for him or her self (1099) with no employees.  Many work from home or travel to work at their clients’ offices. Some work out of a small independent office space, and others share resources in a co-working environment.
  • Multiple Income Streams: A person with 3-5 sources of income, usually in some form of sales. Each Stream generates at least one fifth of personal income. Some common income streams include rental properties, tightly managed stock portfolios, royalties, and sales commissions (both direct sales and affiliate sales).
  • Social Entrepreneur: A person who recognizes a social problem, and creates a solution using entrepreneurial principles. The micro-lending trend started with social entrepreneurs who wanted to help small businesses grow. Out-of-hospital birthing centers are run by social entrepreneurs offering a family-centered alternative for healthy women and their families.
  • Franchise: A franchisee is a person who purchases a license to sell or rent another company’s products and to use its name. Buying a franchise usually includes an application process, training, and rules to follow. The best franchisee contributes to this kind of partnership with experience in the industry, a focus on helping systems become more profitable, or an affinity for the customer that supports better marketing and sales. Franchisees often collaborate and work cooperatively to support the entire brand.
  • Buying a Business / Acquisition: A person who buys an existing business. Usually there is an intention to make the company more profitable or take it in a new direction. The best acquisition is one that creates as many winners as possible. The worst acquisition results in presiding over a group who feels like you beat them.
  • Traditional Start-up: A person who starts a business that requires capital investment for inventory, equipment, property, and/or building. This might be a main street store front, or a manufacturing facility, or a business-to-business service corps.

I collaborated with Jeanne Larson, MBA, and founder of The Incubator, where students explore seven options for what she calls the Preneur Spirit. We called these options the “Magnificent Seven” after the heroes in the classic 1960 film by the same name. The “Magnificent Seven” are heroic roles that ethical entrepreneurs can play in their communities.

The Elements

We love rags-to-riches and triumph-of-the-underdog stories because it reminds us of our own basic human capacity.

For several years, I had the honor of working with and learning from Barbara J. Winter, best selling author and guru for inspired entrepreneurs. Barbara is a great muse for many who choose to leave corporate life to be “joyfully jobless” and make a living with self-employment, multiple income streams, and creative small business.

She helped me clarify the difference between the experience of the classic employee and the inspired entrepreneur.  Below you will find my version of the chart we developed, followed by descriptions of each aspect of natural entrepreneurial thinking. Continue reading

10 things learned in the past year

Like most lessons, many of these are repeats, and now I get it even deeper. I hope this inspires you in your self-made lesson plan.

1 ~ When life happens, roll with it: Around this time last year a chain of unforeseeable events started in my personal life. By the time I got to the end of that chain, 5 months later, it felt like I’d been hit by a tidal wave. When the first challenge came, I pressed on, determined to be unshaken. By the time the rest of the challenges stacked up, I felt as if I had died and wasn’t sure what mattered anymore. I was shaken, stirred and on an odyssey to rediscover everything. When I let go and rolled with it, I found deep gratitude for all the lessons that came my way.

2 ~ Perspective is paramount: I know by now you’re guessing it was the economy. Actually, the news of Wall Street was mostly background noise to the challenges I faced, which included hospitals, the death of loved ones, accepting that I would not be having children of my own, and wondering if anyone really wanted to learn what I wanted to share (self-doubt is so syrupy isn’t it?). My “tidal wave” was a mere ripple in comparison to what some people have experienced in the past 12 months. I am so grateful for the way these events got me to step back and take a long slow look at it all. I softened my focus, widened my view, and tried on other people’s ideas. This practice helped me let go even more, saved me from getting stuck in grief, and opened me up to new possibilities. Continue reading

Do you want to be informative, insightful or irreplacable?

While working on a mutual friend’s collaborative project, I met Jonathan Luebbers. He articulately shared a great insight for our friend. He has given me permission to share with you as well. These are his words:

If you are informative, you’re interesting and nice to have.
If you are insightful and prescriptive you’re extremely valuable.
If they cannot achieve their objectives without you, you’re irreplaceable.
At informative, you get cut if money gets tight and might be replaced when money flows again.
At insightful and prescriptive, you are the last non-essential item to be cut and one of the first to be reinstated when money flows again.
At mission-critical, they pack their lunches, skip wine at dinner, trade down their cars, and cancel the family vacation. They don’t cut you.
Your authority at start will flow from what you present and how you present it.
In the longer run your authority will flow from the results of your clients.


Jonathan Luebbers (Jonathan_Luebbers [at] yahoo [dot] com) enjoys using strategy, product management, and market research to help people and organizations release their untapped potential. Having returned to MN to be closer to family, he’s looking for his next opportunity. In the interim he co-founded Non-Profit Transitions, an organization of professionals dedicated to helping non-profits through the bumpy waters of the current economy. In his free time he and his wife enjoy finding new ways to make their 9-month old little boy laugh.
Jonathan’s professional profile can be found at

Response to Shame and Disgust by Louis Rosenfeld

I recently read a blog post by Louis Rosenfeld, titled “Shame and Disgust” about an ethical issue he faced a while back. A link to his story was posted as an example of dilemmas worth discussing at an upcoming usability conference. Due to spam, his post is now closed to comments. However, he found my reply useful and gave me his blessing to post it here for you.

Hello Lou,

You asked what you “should have done.” I can’t answer that, but I can tell you what I would have done as a contractor in this order:

  1. I would have slept on it and calmed down.
  2. Stopped everything and scheduled a brief private person-to-person meeting with the person who told me, “they didn’t really want to make it easy for veterans” [His dilemma:  It appeared that his client asked him to go against his better judgment and avoid making a website as usable as possible for the intended web site visitors, who happened to be U.S. military veterans. ] Continue reading

What are the best lessons to learn?

In my last post, some will imagine that I am suggesting we all go out and play with matches to feel like entrepreneurs. Others, who resonate with the metaphor and feel they have been burned in an entrepreneurial venture, will imagine that injurious experience means they are not well suited to for entrepreneurship. Others who really enjoy playing with fire in a destructive way will imagine I am condoning destruction.

None of them would be getting the best lessons here.

However, you are NOT one of them. Continue reading

Flirting with captivity and freedom

When people speak with me about captivity, freedom, and entrepreneurial thinking saving their lives, I understand and encourage us all to take a deep breath and let it out with a big sigh.

In this moment, you may choose any place on the continuum between captivity and freedom. Like everything else, it’s a matter of perspective. No matter where you see yourself right now, you may see it as an advantage or a disadvantage. Freedom can feel both exciting and terrifying. Captivity can feel both protective and confining. It is all part of what is true.

The dance upon that continuum tells me something about us. I notice that we approach entrepreneurship much like we approach fire. Continue reading

The crackpot theory that could save your life

First, the theory

We are born with everything we need to become entrepreneurs.

The elements are simple and accessible to all who dare to remember.

When dormant, these elemental desires and behaviors merely await release and expression. Sometimes we just need a tickle in the right direction. Sometimes we require some deprogramming or healing to enable these experiences to have full expression. Sometimes we need to rally friends and family to help. Sometimes we need to find like-minded partners. Sometimes we just need to plow ahead on our own. In my experience, when the effort is made, the elements are always there in each person’s mind waiting to bloom.

Continue reading

How to Get Good Testimonials

These steps are for do-gooders. When you do good work, you get good testimonials.
If you are new at what you do, you can still get good testimonials while you are getting practice. The trick is to work with clients who are eager to work with you at your current skill level.

Step 1: ASK for the testimonials

This sample email message can be adapted for testimonials or permission for featuring someone in a case study.

From: [YOU]
To: [CUSTOMERS YOU LOVED WORKING WITH and WHO ENJOYED YOU – Be choosy. It’s not only rude, but a really bad idea to contact people who did not FULLY enjoy your company for a testimonial. Contact them for feedback if you want, but not a testimonial.]
Subject: testimonial for website



As you now know, I am building a website for [“me” or “us” or NAME OF YOUR COMPANY], and am asking for a few minutes of your time to help me.
What we are going to do on the new site is tell some success stories and I would like to feature the project we did with you.
Thank you for responding to the following questions. I would like to quote you in the story.

1) Why did you choose to hire [“me” or “us” or NAME OF YOUR COMPANY]?

2) Name 3 aspects of working with [“me” or “us” or NAME OF YOUR COMPANY] that you appreciated the most.

3) How did [“me” or “us” or NAME OF YOUR COMPANY] help you achieve your goals?

4) For what reasons would you recommend [“me” or “us” or NAME OF YOUR COMPANY] to someone else?

THANK YOU and I would love to hear any other feedback you have for me/us about the work we did for you. We really enjoyed working with you!

Best regards,


Step 2: Tie up Loose Ends

  • With the testimonials that come back right away (within a week):
    • Send an immediate, hand written, THANK YOU card in the mail.
  • With the folks who do not respond right away, call each one and reconnect:
    • Ask how they are doing
    • Ask if it would be easier to just give you a testimonial or feedback on the phone
    • Promise to show them what you type up for their approval before you publish it as a testimonial
    • Get it typed up and approved quickly. Call them again if necessary to for phone approval to keep your process moving.
    • Send an immediate, hand written, THANK YOU card in the mail, as soon as you get approval.

Step 3: Follow-up

When you launch your site, be sure to share the joy with these folks FIRST.