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Tuesday
Mar302010

how to make money and have fun

People always tell me: if only I had the money I’d lifeshift straightaway, dump the career and do what I love- be it photography, tango dancing or growing carnivorous plants.

Money is always the biggest excuse for not changing.

I even coined my own pnemonic to deal with that negative thought when it occurred, which it does fairly regularly: MINTS- Money Is Not The Solution.

When I think MINTS I force myself to think of all the ways I can solve a problem without money. For added emphasis it might work to have a bag of mints ready to suck on sitting on your desk.

The thing is there is a paradox or two here. 1)Rich people often don't worry about money- really- they just act rich and even more comes to them and 2) to make money you need money but instead of focussing on money too much focus on people, work, production and things you can get for free.

MINTS means attracting people to a project before money. If you have believers the money will follow. Instead of thinking I need X amount think of the kind of person who has whatever good or service you need. Think how you could attract or persuade them rather than simply forking over a ton of cash.

MINTS means you should think about earning or working sincerely to achieve a lifestyle, rather than trying to buy it immediately off the shelf. If you want a farm you can start by renting a field rather than looking for the money to buy land.

MINTS means that having lots of money won’t help you find something worthwhile to spend it on. Neither does the presence of money reduce your problems- it just changes their nature. If you are a worrier by nature, more money will probably just make you worry more unless you deal with it first.

But surely we need money to start anything?

Of course- but you need the right perspective on money, you need to realize that being creative can cut massive costs right at the beginning.

My friend Frank was a penniless immigrant from Iran to Australia in the 1990s. His family trade had been weaving and selling carpets- so he looked for a place to start a shop in Melbourne. The minimum  rent he was looking at paying up front was $26,000. He didn’t have that. Instead he went looking for an empty place in a busy street that had been overlooked for whatever reason. Eventually he found a promising site -in a red light district. It was a disused pub. The owner was eager to let the place to a reputable business and Frank told him he would take the place if he was given three months free rent just to get started. The owner agreed. So right at the beginning he had saved thousands of dollars.

Generally speaking- the more meaningful a task is to you, the less money you need to accomplish it. When I set out to cross Western Canada by birchbark canoe I was told I would have to pay guides to go with me. Instead, because of my complete dedication to making the journey I found enthusiasts who helped pay for the trip and help me as well.

Money may be the goal, the way you keep score- but it is not the right way to start thinking about starting something new. It's a tool that takes second place behind people, ideas, energy, enthusiasm and a correctly structured effort.

Top aikido teacher Robert Mustard spent years in Japan learning his skills. He had no idea that he would one day do it for a living- for him it was just what he loved to do. He returned to Canada with a 6th Dan and a towering reputation. Over time he built a good living  from teaching at his own dojo and at seminars.

One of my favourite lifeshifters is Peter Vido, the obsessive scythe enthusiast and co-author of “The Scythe Book” that has run to several editions and is still very much in print twenty years after being published. It would be hard to find a more obscure lifeshift  niche than scything (for those in the dark it’s a long handled sickle for cutting grass and corn) but Vido’s fascination comes over both in his book, website and instructional videos. He also runs seminars to teach scything (it’s all in the sharpness of the blade).

Long Tail Lifeshifters

The scythe man illustrates the so called Long Tail phenomenon where obscure subjects can be remunerative through the internet’s ability to link up enthusiasts from all over the world. The long tail can be put to work by lifeshifters worldwide.

There may be nobody in your town interested in finding new rock art in the Libyan desert. But Hungarian Lifeshifter Andras Zboray has built a business, FJ expeditions that links everyone in the world interested in Saharan rock art. Through his extensive website, CDs and translations Zboray attracts clients for his expeditions to search for new art- mining the long tail to make a good living in his chosen work.

By harnessing the power of the long tail almost any lifeshift can be made remunerative.

The stages of making money from an interest are:

1)Build your competence in your chosen lifeshift- not difficult because it’s your dream work, what you find most meaningful.

2) Establish a website with an information heavy content. Providing real value with updates in the form of news, reviews and useful blog material.

3) Publish a book on lulu.com publicized through the website. Produce dvds, courses, talks etc.

4) organize events that combine travel with teaching people your lifeshift skill.

5)Combine travel or tourism with your interest- courses in exotic locations that trade on the value added of being a holiday as well as a course.

I have followed this method with the successful Explorer School where my Lifeshift interest in exploration has been built into a business providing courses where people can learn exploration skills.

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