Think an entrepreneur can’t learn from a master harpist? Think again.


You’ve heard it time and again: Successful people have a whole spectrum of skills in common. One of those skills is an ability and willingness to learn from anyone who has good ideas – not just experts in their own field. I was recently reminded of that at a concert by Bryan Bowers.

Back when he was a bouncing baby autoharp player, trying to figure out how (if) he could Strategic planning and action minimize the effects of the revenue roller coaster.possibly support himself playing music, Bryan was given a gift by John Hartford, a more experienced professional musician. John’s gift was a simple recommendation: “Do good work every day; that’s the best way to cope with the financial and emotional roller coaster of earning a living as a musician.”

(If you were to substitute “entrepreneur” for “musician”, would the roller-coaster reference sound at all familiar?)

When Bryan asked what John meant by “good work”, John gave him several examples: work on composing a song (NOT with the goal of it being a hit, but just to write); read a book by or about a musician you like; pick up an instrument you’re not familiar with; learn to play a new song.

And why did John say this type of work is so important? Because as long as you do something in or for your craft every day, you can go to bed at night feeling good – no matter where on the roller coaster you are.

Bryan followed John’s advice, and it apparently worked for him: He’s been earning his living as an autoharpist for nearly five decades, has released numerous albums to both popular and critical acclaim, and has been inducted into the Autoharp Hall of Fame.

Action precedes success. Always.

On the surface, it may seem like being a successful entrepreneur is a less straightforward proposition than being a successful musician. After all, you not only need to maintain your technical skills (i.e., those that people actually pay you for); you also need to figure out how to market yourself effectively so you have the opportunity to apply those skills.

That’s actually good news. It means that your good work can apply to both sides of your business: the actual delivery of services as well as the development of future income opportunities. Here are some “good work” ideas to add to your existing list:

Now, if you’re obsessive enough to have counted these activities…you’re my kind of person.  You’ll also have noticed there are 21 of them.  If you’ve been floundering to actually be productive, just think what it would feel like to do one of these tasks every day for the next three weeks.

The challenge, of course, is not to go crazy simply adding items to your To Do list; that way lies madness. Rather, the idea is to intentionally and strategically choose your business-growing activities for each day, and this list can help you jump-start yourself when you feel stalled or overwhelmed.


So when you look back over this first month of the new year, do you realize you’ve been doing good work every day? In that case, a celebration is in order.

But what if you realize there have been days when you’ve been the slug of the universe and have accomplished exactly zero to propel your business forward? If you’re stuck in that groove, I have some tools and resources that can probably help.

My speciality is working with entrepreneurs who are either staring at their To Do lists like a deer in the headlights, jumping like a magpie from one shiny object to another, or impersonating a hamster on a wheel by running fast and getting nowhere.

Do any of those ring a bell for you? Then maybe we should have a phone conversation to see if we’d make a great butt-kicking team to get you better results.

Since the work I do doesn’t suit everyone – but is a lifesaver for the people it does suit – that phone call will enable both of us to confidently decide whether our fit is fabulous, okay, or “You’ve got to be kidding.”

So I invite you to make today’s “good work” activity grabbing a spot in my calendar for that no-charge, no-risk-to-nobody get-acquainted call.

(BTW, thanks to Spencer Wright for publishing the image of this nauseating roller coaster in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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