Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Learn how to get the job you want. "Fire Yourself" is available for sale in paperback at Here is the direct link:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Making Your Passion Pay

Making Your Passion Pay

This is part 2 of my thoughts on the importance of pursuing your passion.

In Part 1 I talked about why it is important and how to discover your passion.  Now, I want to get very practical and talk about how to make your passion pay.

For many years now I have heard some very successful people tell me that I should forget about earning a living and pursue my passion.  "The money will follow," they would tell me.

It seemed to me that was easy for them to say since they didn't have to feed and house me and my family while I pursued my passion long enough for the money to catch up to me.

So, I came up with a practical guide to following your passion until the money catches up.

  1. Identify your passion - we covered this is Part 1, so I won't go over it again here.
  2. Start pursuing your passion as a hobby
  3. Convert your hobby into a small business
  4. Build your small business over time
  5. Quit Your Job and Pursue Your Passion 
The idea behind these five steps is simple, but not easy. 

#1 - see part 1 of this article
#2 Pursuing Your Passion as a Hobby: By first pursuing your passion as a hobby, you are investing a bit of time and money in learning and doing and acquiring some of the skills, knowledge, tools, and network needed to turn your passion into your life.

You show up as an enthusiast.  You go to trade conventions.  You buy the books and videos of the guiding lights in the area of your passion.  You experiment and hone your skills while keeping your investment of time and money appropriate for a hobby.  You continue to pay proper attention to your job so that your bills get paid.

Maybe you do some things in your hobby well enough that other people want to buy them.  From the trade shows, you have a good idea what is a fair price for what you do.  Go ahead and make the sale. It will help offset the costs of your hobby.

For sure you find forums where other enthusiasts are discussing your passion.  Join in the dialog and make sure you give good value as much as you can.

Lastly, make sure you put names and contact information for every other enthusiast you meet into a spreadsheet, a rolodex, a notebook, your PDA, phone or anyplace else you can keep and retreive it later.  More on this later.

#3 Convert Your Hobby Into a Small Business:  I could go on for a long time about how everyone should have their own small business and why.  Instead of doing that, I will focus on why you want to convert your hobby into a small business.

As soon as you convert your hobby into a business you can deduct the full cost of all your business related activities and supplies that you were already spending money on, and then some.

By showing the IRS that you intend to make a profit, you change things dramatically.  A hobbiest hopes to make a profit.  A business intends to make a profit.

Establish your company name, logo, and brand.  Make business cards and get someone to buid a quick website for you that may be little more than an internet billboard.

Keep going to the trade shows and forums.  Now, you may also be setting up a table at the show.  Start blogging about your passion.  Write at least 50 great blogs and set them up to go out at a rate of 1 per week for the next 50 weeks.  You don't have to write all 50 before you start posting.

If you are a terrible writer, then you can either figure out the 50 blogs and go to or and hire someone to ghost write them for you, or you can go on YouTube and make 50 video blogs on the topics of your passion.  Again, you should spread their release out over time.

And, if you can't write well and you have the kind of face that is really suited to radio, you can record your 50 topics as audios and post them for your friends and fans, again spacing them out over time.

Keep gathering those names and make sure your blog/video/audio has a way to capture new names as people find you.  Only now you also want to start reaching out to those names and letting them know that you are doing your own thing.  Let them know that if they or someone they know is interested, you are now providing this product or service.  These people may be your first customers or referrals.

#4 Build Your Small Business Over Time: The reality with nearly every business is this - if you cannot make money doing it part-time, you won't make money doing it full-time.  So, start your business part-time while still getting a steady paycheck elsewhere.

By now, you should redo your website so that it can be a storefront and let your fans become your clients.  Sell them information that they can download and get them to buy the products of your passion.

As your blog and website pick up traffic, you can also begin to leverage the power of advertising by reaching out to some of the companies that supply the materials that make your passion possible and invite them to pay for advertising on your blog or website.

Your financial goal with your small business is to build it up to the point where the income from your small business is enough to meet or exceed your ordinary operating expenses.  This is where you begin to be able to get out of the rat race.

#5 Quit Your Job and Pursue Your Passion:  When you reach the point where business is able to support itself and you, and your job is getting in the way of you making more money with your business, it is time to give serious thought to quitting your job and investing yourself full time in the business of your passion.

It is not a decision to be made lightly and you will want to consider all the money that may be on the table in terms of retirement benefits, health benefits and such, before you plan to exit your job. 

For me, I worked at it for about 5 years before I was ready to make the transition.  Then, I waited another 2 years for my retirement to fully vest so that I wouldn't leave any of that behind when I moved on.  Then, I waited until just the right moment for me and announced my retirement plans.

Although it has been a challenging ride since then, I don't regret making the move.

Tom S.

Thanks for Being a Good Friend to me.  Let me Give something back to you!

Tom Sheppard is the author of "Fire Yourself: Get the Job You Want" from XLibris Press and has been successfully investing in real estate since 2001 while working part time. In 2008 he left a six-figure job as an enterprise project manager with a major national bank to manage his real estate business full-time. His goal is to help 100,000 people find peace of mind by finding quality, affordable homes. 

He is currently looking to expand his network of funding partners who are helping him achieve this goal. If you would like to know more about how you can Do Well By Doing Good (TM) go to 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Why Pursue Your Passion

Why Pursue Your Passion

Do you know what your passion really is?  Do you know how to figure out what your passion really is?  Do you have any idea why pursuing your passion is so important?

Let me start with the last question.

When you are pursuing your passion, your physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health is optimal.  When you are pursuing your passion, all those elements are aligned and focused.  The alignment is the part that affects your health.

Ill health, be it physical, mental, spiritual or emotional is often the consequence of negative stresses in our lives.  Medical studies have cited over and over the adverse health consequences of negative stress in our lives.  It leads from lowered immune systems and higher blood pressure all the way to heart disease and may even be linked to cancer.

Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud may have had their disagreements, but both agreed that the human psyche is made up of three parts.  Freud called them the Id, Ego, and SuperEgo while Jung referred to them as the Ego, Animus, and Self.  Even modern medical science recognizes three elements, although they have trouble tacitly acknowledging the third element.  Physicians recognize that every person has a mind, a body, and some third power that keeps both of those other two running.  When it leaves, it doesn't matter how healthy the mind and body are, the whole system collapses and death occurs.

Because I believe in God and the everlasting nature of people, I am going to refer to this third element as our Spirit.  If you want to argue with me about the names or nature of these three parts, don't.  Take it up with Freud and Jung first.  If you get them to concede, we can talk.
Your body is the sum of your physical assets.  Your muscles, organs, tissues, etc.  When your body is working smoothly, you can accomplish your physical tasks with grace, skill and power.

You mind is your intellectual assets.  The knowledge, wisdom and experiences you have gathered up along your journey through life.  When your mid is working smoothly, your thoughts are clear and focused and your knowledge and memories come to the surface even more quickly than you realize you need them as you accomplish your tasks with insight, focus, and innovation.

Your spirit is your will.  It is what is absolutely most important to you.  It is what you truly want.  When your spirit is working well, there is nothing that can stop you.  When your spirit is not working well, there is almost nothing you can accomplish.

Let me give a couple of examples to illustrate what happens when these three are misaligned.

The professional basketball player has a body and mind that are wholly aligned with and prepared for the rigors of the game of basketball.  But, if the Pro Player decides (exercises his will) that he is bored with the game and wants a new challenge - we say his heart isn't in it anymore.  So, even though his mind and body are the same and still fully capable of playing the game in a peak performance, because his spirit isn't aligned with what the body and mind are doing, his performance will degrade.

In a similar manner that pro basketball player may truly love the game.  But his knees are badly damaged because of so much high impact from jumping and landing hard or, more commonly, his shoulder is damaged beyond repair.  He is still often capable of delivering some excellent moments, as his spirit and mind drive his body beyond its limits.  But, his performance will degrade.

Finally, even if that pro basketball player has a superbly conditioned body and the will to play, but his mind is clouded by a blow to the head or through illness, disease, or drugs, then his body and spirit will not be able to make up the difference and his performance will degrade.

What is true for the pro basketball player is equally true for the executive or the laborer.  The demands on mind, body and spirit may be different in each role, but without all three functioning properly and is some degree of alignment, our performance will degrade.

When you are doing things that are bad for your body, causing it distress, it is because your mind or spirit has ordered it.  As the body is distressed, it automatically produces chemicals into your blood stream which directly affect the mind and indirectly affect your spirit.

Or, to look at it another way, when your mind, body, and spirit are misaligned, the three spheres or disks are banging around against each other creating dings, dents, and friction whenever they collide with each other.

In contrast, when body, mind and spirit are all aligned and truly have the same purpose, they resemble a bulls eye target.
Aligned, they are able to work together without friction and allow all the energy and resources of your body, mind and spirit to work together in harmony.  When this happens, you are "in the zone."

Do you recall what it feels like to be in the zone?  You are firing on all cylinders.  Whatever you are focused on has your full attention and the effort is moving at a smooth and rapid pace, progressing and overcoming obstacles almost without effort.  Time becomes irrelevant and you are almost unaware of its passing.  Even the need for food and drink seems to fade away.

Suddenly, you stop and realize that what seemed like mere moments to you has actually been the passing of hours.  Yet, you feel almost more energized when you are done than when you started.  You are excited about what you have just accomplished and would love nothing better than to share what you have done with someone else who can appreciate the beauty and difficulty of what you have just brought to pass.

If you have ever found yourself "in the zone" like this, take the time to consider deeply what you were doing.  For me, it happens most frequently when I am writing or teaching.  I noticed over the years that often when I taught a class or delivered a speech I felt more energized afterward than I had any right to be, given the hour and amount of energy I had just expended.  And, there didn't seem to be a particular topic that excited me more than another.

If I was teaching computer programming and able to illustrate the concepts in ways that my students understood, or teaching Sunday School and people were grasping how these truths could be applied to make their lives happier, either way I would come away energized and eager to invest more time in teaching them.

Likewise when writing.  Whether I am writing an instructional manual, a business article, or a fantasy novel, I often find myself focused on my writing to exclusion of everything around me.

Finding Your Passion
Using Zone Analysis(TM).   Being in the zone is a symptom of your passion.  Look over your life and identify when and where you have been in the zone.  Find the common thread(s) in all those most recent experiences.  Was it what you were doing?  Was it the kind of people you were with?  Was it where you were?  Who, what and where are good places to start to understand your passion.

For me, the common thread was communicating ideas in simple ways that allowed people to understand and use them to better themselves.  It didn't matter if I was doing it face-to-face or through the written word.  Of course, when I do it face-to-face and see the light go on in somebody's eyes it is a really big reward for me.

If you have never found yourself in the zone, then you have a more difficult challenge.  The best way I know to start to figure out your passion when you have never really been in the zone is to play The Funeral Game (TM).  Yeah, I know it sounds bad, but keep reading.

Imagine you are getting to listen in at your own funeral.  What is it that you want to hear said about you from your family, your boss, your coworkers, your friends, leaders in your community?  Write all this down as imaginary eulogies.  Then pick it apart for the common threads to figure out what is really important to you.  Figuring out what is important to you is going to get you very close, if not right on top of, your passion.

By the way, before I ever did the Zone Analysis(TM) I did The Funeral Game (TM).  The latter helped me understand that I really have a passion for helping people to succeed.  The former helped me to confirm what I had learned in The Funeral Game (TM).

Your Passion Changes
Oh, and just because you get in the zone doing something, doesn't mean that will always be your passion.  Like the superstar who consistently beats all comers and is the undisputed champion, sometimes suddenly retires and pursues something else entirely because they have lost their passion for that particular challenge.  We were never meant to be one-trick-ponies.  When we have truly become the master of one area of passion and are world-class in our performance, it is natural and right that we then move on to face another challenge and learn to master it too.

When you know what is your passion and you can invest your time in it, life becomes much easier.  Our health is better and life is more fulfilling in every way.

That brings me to the next challenge for many of us, finding a way to make a living doing what we love.

Hey, you didn't think I would be able to answer all your questions in one short blog, did you?
Thanks for Being a Good Friend to me.  Let me Give something back to you!

Tom Sheppard has been successfully investing in real estate since 2001 while working part time. In 2008 he left a six-figure job as an enterprise project manager with a major national bank to manage his real estate business full-time. His goal is to help 100,000 people find peace of mind by finding quality, affordable homes. Why pay retail when you can buy a home at below market prices? He is currently looking to expand his network of funding partners who are helping him achieve this goal. If you would like to know more about how you can do well by doing good, contact Tom at

The Funeral Game and Zone Analysis are trademarks of A+ Results, LLC and may not be used without permission and acknowledgement.