Success Stories

Carol Gardner & Zelda Wisdom
Carol Gardner & Zelda Wisdom

At the age of 52, Carol Gardner was facing a divorce that left her with a huge debt, no job, no income, and depressed. Her divorce attorney gave her some advice: “Get a therapist, or get a dog.” Carol chose the latter and bought a four-month-old English bulldog she named Zelda. They were both underdogs looking for a big dose of unconditional love.

A friend who knew of Carol’s financial plight told her about an annual Christmas card contest that a local pet store was sponsoring. The winner would receive forty pounds of free dog food every month for a year. Carol used her background as a creative director in advertising to combine the visual of Zelda along with verbal wit and wisdom.

With the Christmas theme in mind, Carol borrowed a Santa hat from a neighbor, filled the bathtub with bubble bath and lowered Zelda into the tub. With the hat on her head and a beard made from the bubbles, Zelda was the perfect Santa imposter. Carol snapped the photo and sent it off to the store with the one-liner: “For Christmas I got a dog for my husband… good trade, huh?” Six weeks later Zelda and Carol won the contest. She remembers asking Zelda how many ways she knew to fix dog chow!

Carol sent the prize-winning image out as holiday cards to all of her friends. The overwhelming response sparked the creation of Zelda Wisdom and a few years later, the attention of Hallmark. The unique international greeting card, gift, clothing, jewelry and book line offers wisdom such as “Life is tough…wear a helmet.” “Smile…it could be worse!” “Enjoy life…this is not a rehearsal.” “Go braless…it pulls the wrinkles down.”

Zelda, whose measurements are 32-32-32, allows us to laugh at ourselves and to recognize that things could be worse. “At the core of Zelda Wisdom is humor and healing,” says Gardner. “She always makes me laugh. Zelda and I started out as underdogs, but we are proof that you don’t have to be thin, rich, young or wrinkle-free to be successful. More importantly, you don’t have to be perfect.”

Charles Gibson of Good Morning America calls Zelda “the industry’s top dog!…a supermodel that has it all!” Tough but tender, sweet but strong, Zelda has attitude. Zelda Wisdom allows us to laugh at ourselves and helps us realize that in life’s ups and down, we are never alone. There is a Zelda in all of us!

Zelda is the official “spokesdog” of Delta Society Pet Partners®, an international program dedicated to the human-animal healing bond. She’s a certified therapy dog and works with children who have learning disabilities. Zelda’s one-liners keep them laughing while they learn to read and write.

Zelda Wisdom has now expanded into books, travel mugs, calendars, wall hangs, cellphone covers, clothing, gift wrapping and other areas.

John Stewart – Value of Experience, Expertise, Seasoned Judgment and Proven Performance (Double ESP™)
John Stewart – Value of Experience, Expertise, Seasoned Judgment and Proven Performance (Double ESP™)

This short story will, I hope, illustrate the value of staying productively engaged and using the value of your lifetime work…after two retirements.


A bit of background. I was blessed to have two great careers as an aviator — 26 years flying fighter aircraft in the United States Air Force followed by 12 years flying for Southwest Airlines. At the height of my productivity and capabilities, my aviation career came to a halt due to outdated FAA regulations that prohibited anyone over 60 from being a pilot for commercial airlines.

At the same time, I became a full-time caregiver for my parents. After several years in that role, I reengaged in aviation. At the age of 70, I had the “opportunity” to draw on all of my aviation wisdom to save my life and that of my best friend.

I was flying a post-maintenance test flight of a twin-engine airplane used in aerial firefighting…my third aviation career, which I started at 65. My pilot friend was in the right seat. It was a beautiful March day, clear skies after a brief snowfall the day before. All was normal…until both engines quit at about 700 feet above the ground on takeoff! It was later determined to be due to a technical fault in the fuel system. The aviation details of what happened are far less interesting than what happened in my mind.

In short, my mind took over and drew on the total sum of my 44 years of aviation experience… My mind went into hyper overdrive, and I had only seconds before a catastrophe. What is remarkable to me is that I cannot recall any specific decision points…and yet in seconds I made perhaps hundreds of life-saving choices. I was operating on pure instinct…the sum of all of my aviation experiences.

The first specific action was a very aggressive 180 degree turn back to the airport…this came from my experience flying fighters. I am told that at the same time, I was trying to restart one of the engines. Next came a complex assessment…can I make it back to the airport? I do remember that I could “see” that this was not possible…this capability came from years of flying gliders, where on each landing you have to assess the energy and position in space of the glider, and now I was flying a glider!

Next, somewhere out of my peripheral vision, I remember seeing a wide, long white strip to my left. This was actually a golf fairway with snow covering it. I did not know that, but apparently I recognized that there were no trees or poles there since it was pure white. This came from years of flying low in fighters and other aircraft, assessing the conditions on the ground.

Again, I could “see” that we could make it to the white area, and then I just flew. I settled gently onto the snow in a full stall…the slowest I could go. A few bounces and we ground to a halt. Looking back afterward, I could see that the margin that saved us was 12 feet…had I been 12 feet lower, I would have impacted a steep embankment head on…the result would have been catastrophic. It was only after an hour or so that I could reconstruct what happened…at the time, all of these choices and actions happened in a split second.

All of my years of experience came together to save my life and that of my good friend. Experience…plus expertise, seasoned judgment, and proven performance saved our lives.

Dave Alburty and Creation of Global Companies AlburtyLab and InnovaPrep
Dave Alburty and Creation of Global Companies AlburtyLab and InnovaPrep

Dave Alburty is the CEO of AlburtyLab and of InnovaPrep, related companies headquartered on Main Street in Drexel, MO, a town of about 1,000 population. Dave says he was an entrepreneur starting at about age 5. His family lived next to a golf course, and he sold found balls for 5 to 25 cents in the ’60s when you could buy three new golf balls for one dollar. In addition to making money, Dave says that he has always enjoyed interacting with people.


His father was in electrical engineering at McDonnell in St. Louis and “enjoyed inventing things”; he was a co-inventor of the flight simulator. Dave recalls that his father and mother were both visionaries, his mother also an excellent pianist. He has two brothers, and both enjoy “inventing things”. His older brother is in the robotics field and invented a motorbike with a front-wheel drive. His younger brother is a high-school science teacher who makes more money than his salary from selling large-flush toilet parts from an online company called Toilets’N Stuff.

Dave graduated from selling golf balls to a newspaper route, mowing lawns, shoveling snow, and doing a variety of odd jobs. He worked his way through college, which took him 13 years because he had such a wide-ranging curiosity–courses covering German, environmental studies, biological sciences, chemical engineering, business administration and many others. Along the way he obtained an associates degree in entrepreneurial studies. From 1983 to 1996, he worked in Root Dental Labs in Kansas City and played a leadership role in dental implants. He also worked in the Midwest Research Institute (MRI) from 1990 to 2005, starting as an Assistant Scientist in 1993 when he finally obtained his BS in Biological Sciences, having amassed a total of 276 course credits.

In 2005, Dave left MRI to establish AlburtyLab Inc. in a somewhat unusual way. He bought The Cabin, a 12’x 24’ building developed by a Mennonite group that consisted of 2x4s and a sheet metal exterior that was deposited on a foundation in his backyard. He turned it into an aerosol research and development lab that undertook aerosol testing and evaluation projects, the first and then others that were too small for MRI to handle. From 2005 to 2009, his company did quality control testing for oil pumps on motorcycles until the work was outsourced to China.

Innovation has been the critical factor in Dave’s success. In 2009, with partner Andy Page, InnovaPrep was formed with this mission: “Our mission is to be a world-class provider of cutting-edge solutions for rapid-sample collection, preparation and concentration that bridge the gap between the laboratory and real world environments.”

Dave serves as Chairman & CEO, and Andy is President & CTO of a company that was selected as Missouri’s 2010 Technology Company of the Year. Here is how InnovaPrep, now with a total of 15 employees, describes its business activities:

Company Overview
“InnovaPrep is engaged in biotechnology product development, sales, service, and related technology out-licensing. InnovaPrep’s core business is biological sample collection and sample preparation. The company is commercializing a collection of market-disruptive technologies for rapid, automated concentration of biological particles. "

Technology
“InnovaPrep’s seven patents center on highly-efficient recovery of biological particles including DNA, bacteria, viruses, molds and proteins from filters, membranes, surfaces, and objects. The primary utility for these technologies is to greatly improve the way biological samples, especially those containing pathogenic organisms, are prepared for analysis beyond the state-of-the-art. This advance is 150 years overdue.”

Anthony Full and Rock Barbers
Anthony Full and Rock Barbers

In the summer of 2009 I started to seriously pursue the idea of opening a new type of barbershop. One that would combine the attributes and services that were traditional yet appeal to a male crowd that had been going to salons for their services. Guys that had only heard stories about barbershops from their fathers and grandfathers. This new place had to have the latest technology and be able to utilize the web to its fullest. With those ideas as a starting point, I launched into writing a full-scale business plan to see if this made sense.

At the time I was working in Boulder, Colorado and had been “in the business” continuously for the past 30 years. It was time to strike out on my own again, and with the suggestion of several clients was tipped over the edge to go for it. The bad news was that the economy had started to wane and looked like there could be dark clouds on the horizon, but in my mind that was just a blip on the screen.

An advantage to a down economy is that you can contract space and equipment with more favorable terms than in a good economy. The 5000-year-old profession of barbering had historically been what economists refer to as “recession proof”. People always need a haircut; they might extend out the time between haircuts, but they eventually need one. That explains why the sine wave of peaks and troughs in the barbering business is very shallow. Was there risk in this endeavor? Yes, but with valid information there is always a bigger risk in not trying to live your dream.

There were positive aspects to this venture: I was experienced in all aspects of the industry, had previous experience in opening salons, had great credit, had saved enough money to fund the start-up, and had the unwavering support of my wife and family. There was another thing: early in my life after attending Illinois Wesleyan University, I understood that you create a distinct advantage by having a broad education in a specific field and that this benefit accelerates your success.

In 1979 I enrolled in barber school outside Washington, D.C. The curriculum was comprehensive in all the disciplines of becoming a professional barber: haircutting, shaving, and other tonsorial arts. After that, I recognized that my knowledge of cosmetology or the art of beauty from the female perspective was insufficient. Studying this would further enhance my comprehension of the field. I applied to Vermont College of Cosmetology in Burlington, VT and deepened my understanding of design, chemistry, and styling. That decision alone captured the essence that aptitude is another key to success.

Since then I have opened and operated two salons in different states, worked for the world’s largest hair care company managing a million dollar per year location and been an international platform artist for a product company. All the while actually utilizing my skills in the barbering industry.

I opened the doors of my new company, Rock Barbers, in March 2010. There was just one employee working in a six-chair barbershop-me. Although I had a client list that was substantial, it felt over-sized and quiet. However, my plan had begun, and I was not deterred by the solitude.

I had developed a website utilizing a friend who owned a web design firm and incorporated an online calendar/appointment system. I knew my clients well and that having control of making their own appointments online would be a big advantage. They would be able to see the schedule 24/7 even if the barbershop was not open to make the appointment. They could see all the services offered and get email or text reminders for their upcoming appointments. It was a big hit.

The atmosphere at Rock Barbers is geared to be very “male friendly”. We use toolboxes to store our equipment at each station for a manly look. We outfit each station with it’s own sink so clients do not have to flounce around the shop with a long cape to get to a shampoo bowl. We have large screen TVs with sports and business programs strategically positioned for everyone to see. There is a guitar in the waiting area for clients to play, and when they play a song they then get to autograph the guitar. We even have a small putting green to practice those devilish 3-footers that cause even the most skillful golfer to go “weak in the knees”. The putting green does double duty where a client can make a putt to “win” 10% off their product purchase. Clients always notice these ideas when they first walk in the door. Their next question is usually, “Is this a franchise?” I answer, “Maybe someday.” It makes me proud that the look and feel is professional and exactly the response I was looking for when it was designed.

My hiring process is simple: hire a person that is motivated, professional, and someone you would like to be around. In other words, do they have the right attitude? All states have a system to test for proficiency and grant a license, but that really does not guarantee quality. Some barbers are more skilled than others, but this is not a problem. I can train staff to be great barbers, but I can’t make someone nice.

When an applicant comes in to interview at Rock Barbers, I want them to know that this will be different than any other place where they have worked. I tell them that this position is about them, not me. I want them to know that at Rock Barbers, we value our staff as partners in success and that I view them as assets and not suspects. I ask if they are interested in a challenge to become better not only as a barber but to be more fulfilled as a person. I am interested in their success and that is why, when they are hired, they are required to always be reading a book. Reading helps people gain knowledge and sets them up for achievement. They are also required to attend events where they experience something novel whether it is an art exhibit, play or new restaurant with interesting food. This expands their mind to new ideas.

Most importantly, they are asked to write their own Personal Life Vision. This is an exercise to start them on a journey to self-understanding. It is a simple document stating what they think about life and how they want to live theirs. It is a mission statement that guides your everyday agenda. Like a business, if you do not know what you stand for then you will limit your success. So with that in mind, I found my first barber in June and added two more in July of 2010. In May of 2011 I added one more, and in January of 2012 I have added two more. There are currently seven on the staff and we are growing.

One of the best parts of my job is to see personal growth in our staff. I track their progress with data that is collected in our software system and meet with them to compare data points from our last meeting. The growth in each person on the team has been positive, and we build new goals at each of these meetings. I make sure that the goals are specific, measurable and positive for optimal accomplishments.

When I look at the success we have had in two years at Rock Barbers I think it points to many areas of preparation. I have built a network of professionals to help me accomplish growth. These are people who are experts in their respective fields and really have your best interests at heart.

I have acquired experienced professionals to help me with real estate, accounting, bookkeeping, law, tradespeople (plumbing, HVAC, carpentry), Internet Technology and website design. These contacts have been invaluable. I rely on them regularly for their help and expertise.

I have also become clearer on the importance of trusting myself in making decisions about the direction of Rock Barbers. Whether it is decisions in marketing or hiring, I know what is right deep inside. If a situation or decision feels strange, it is a good idea to ask for what you need and run it by someone in your network.

One exciting thing I have learned is that advertising and marketing is never given the credibility it deserves. In my opinion, you should devote a substantial amount to this line item each month. I have found that there is a direct correlation to the advertising I do and the revenue gain I achieve.

This year I plan on a complete re-do of my website. Singularly, it has been the best tool for my success. Most new clients say that they found us on the Internet and since my website, www.RockBarbers.com, is their first introduction to us, it had better be interesting, easy to navigate, user-friendly, and effectively tell potential clients why we are the best choice for their hair care needs.

Social Media is another burgeoning area that works. Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare are just a few in this growing field of marketing. Do not be intimidated by these new ideas. Slowly introduce yourself through their websites and tutorials. They can be a valuable and inexpensive way to acquire new clients and get your company exposure on the web. If you don’t have the time to manage your social media, work with someone and see the results for yourself.

I look forward to the future growth at Rock Barbers. With a positive attitude and expert aptitude, the future is very bright.

Lynn Brooks, Founder of Big Apple Greeter
Lynn Brooks, Founder of Big Apple Greeter

My story is one of overcoming the odds and never giving up. Almost everyone’s life is a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. But the most important thing I’ve learned is to believe in yourself and never give up–even when everyone says your idea won’t work.


I founded Big Apple Greeter in 1992 as the first “Welcome Visitor” program of its kind in the country. It is a non-profit organization that pairs visitors to NYC with volunteer “Greeters” who explore the city together, free of charge. Today we are more successful than I ever dreamed possible. But if you think my journey was an easy one – it wasn’t!

Before Big Apple Greeter, I left an eight-year job I wasn’t enjoying. People thought I was foolish since I was 59, and they worried I’d never be hired again. I figured if I didn’t have the courage to leave, I’d never have another chance to do work I enjoyed.

It took over 6 months, but I finally found a job, then I was let go in six weeks because of cutbacks! I was depressed, staying home and doing nothing, so I decided to start my own venture.

This turned out to be harder than I expected. Over the course of a year, I wrote letter after letter to the Movers and Shakers in New York. I’d tell them about my idea to match volunteers with visitors and ask for advice. (People will usually see you if you don’t ask for a job or money.)

So I met with everyone from the Mayor on down, and here’s what they said: “Lynn, it’s a great idea, but it won’t work. My advice is don’t do it.” Every time I heard this, I’d write another letter, but I was so bad at typing, it took me forever.

Eventually I found my way to Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messenger, who loved the idea. She couldn’t pay a salary, but she gave me a desk and office services. She also gave me a computer, which I didn’t know how to use, so I kept calling a friend for help!

What made all this even harder was that everyone in the tourism industry felt threatened by my idea. They were worried I’d take business away. Even the people in Ruth’s office thought I was taking her time away from them. I was knee-deep in setbacks, but kept saying to myself, “You can either keep trying or go back to job hunting.” I refused to give up or stop believing in myself.

So now I had to find funding! Even with the backing of the Borough President’s office, I continued to be turned down. When the publisher of Newsday showed interest in supporting Big Apple Greeter, my original timetable and budget went out the window! The publisher offered me six weeks of funding, but only if I launched the program in six weeks, in time for the conference he was hosting. Funding would end when the conference was over.

With the strength of my conviction and belief in my idea, I was able to persuade two wonderful people to take short-term jobs, believing that we’d find the funding to continue.

I was just as persistent when it came to finding donors. Later, with the help of our first Board Chair, Joel Epstein, EVP of Chase Manhattan Bank, we managed to attract enough financial support to launch.

The idea for Big Apple Greeter started during the 1980s when I’d talk to people on my vacation travels. At that time NYC had a terrible image problem: almost everyone I spoke to thought we were an unfriendly and dangerous place.

I wanted the world to know my city as I did: a great big small town with a huge variety of neighborhoods, mom-and-pop stores, fun places to dine, and friendly residents who were warm and welcoming to out-of-town visitors. I believed the best way to get to know NYC was to get to know a New Yorker.

Because I’d worked with volunteers most of my career, I thought they should be a central part of the program. My hunch was that many New Yorkers were so passionate about their city that they’d jump at the chance to “give back.” We launched on May 3, 1992, and soon after a notice appeared in The New York Times asking for volunteer “Greeters” to help visitors feel more welcome. I was shocked at the response! Within hours the phones were flooded with hundreds of calls.

Today we have more than 300 Greeters–most are over 55, more than 50% work, many are multi-lingual, some are blind or use wheelchairs. They are ready, rain or shine, to spend two to four hours with visitors, showing them our people, culture and diversity, as well as how to use subways so they can get around easily. They share their loving visions of the city as only native New Yorkers can, from buildings steeped in history to museums that are modern masterpieces; from the sparkling Diamond District to the Whispering Bench in Central Park.

This year as we celebrate our 20th anniversary, I realize I have learned many lessons: to surround myself with a remarkable staff, incredible volunteers, amazing benefactors, and board members who are generous with their time and talents. Without them, Big Apple Greeter wouldn’t have survived. I am grateful to all of them, and I always let them know it. I simply couldn’t have done this by myself.

I have also learned how important it is to listen–and to understand. When the tourism industry was upset about Big Apple Greeter, Ruth Messenger and I sat down with an industry representative and worked together to create a program that would help–not hurt–tourism. Since then, the tourism industry has been well-represented on our Board.

In terms of success, our cup runneth over. We’ve had more than 120,000 visitors since we started. We’ve generated over two billion positive, world-wide media impressions about New York City. 95% of our visitors give us “extraordinary” evaluations. Our volunteer retention rate is incredibly high. We’ve been called the most cost-effective public relations arm in the city. We’ve been widely recognized, starting in our early years, with awards that run the gamut from corporations to city government, and in January we will receive the prestigious 2012 Hotel Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2005, the Global Greeter Network was founded, which has grown to 36 programs on six continents. Each separate program is based on the Big Apple Greeter model of welcoming visitors as a way to promote understanding among cultures.

We have fulfilled our mission many times over: to enhance New York City’s worldwide image and enrich the New York City experience by connecting visitors with knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers.

Perhaps the greatest measure of Big Apple Greeter’s success is in terms of the human connection. On September 11th, 2001, just nine years after we started, our office was overwhelmed with emails and faxes from visitors all over the world expressing their concern for the safety of their Greeter friends. For these caring people, Big Apple Greeter will always be the heart of New York City.

Editorial Note: Lynn Brooks passed away on May 14, 2013, but she will long be remembered.

Barbara Traynor and a Life with Verve
Barbara Traynor and a Life with Verve

Walking provides impetus to ponder. My 65th birthday was hovering. I was not feeling old, but sixty-five? That’s major! Why I chose to walk the beach on a frigid winter afternoon is questionable; however with boots crunching on the frozen sand, gloved hands balled into my pockets, I reviewed my six-odd decades. Married at nineteen, three children by twenty-seven, moved eighteen times with a grass-is-greener spouse – instant on-the-job-training in how to deal with transition – and divorced after seventeen years.

Working as an administrative assistant for over forty-five years, single mother raising three children, generated an abundant desire for freedom and travel but little savings and no pension. Life was crammed with drama and trauma. Income matched outgo. I would have to live on Social Security income alone. I screamed into the thundering surf, “How can I afford to go anywhere? When is it my turn?” Surprise! Someone was listening.

Arriving home, I checked my email. A message from Alaska cajoled. How about becoming a long-distance, long-term volunteer? Hmmmm – it seemed that some organizations supplement their staff with volunteers, offering free room and board in exchange for workplace skills. WOW! That I could spend my over 65 “mystery” years this way inspired my imagination. My frozen fingers tingled. I began to rethink retirement.

ALASKA! Unlike previous random, frenzied relocations, this new opportunity would be creative and passionate. Receiving free room and board in return for working a forty-hour week was imperative. All I needed to do was get there.

Planning was crucial:
#1 – to-do list plus research on destination;
#2 – resign job, arrange for Medicare and Social Security;
#3 – downsize, sell condo, lease storage unit.

Equity from the sale went into the bank for a security cushion. From start to finish, preparation for my volunteer retirement lifestyle took eight months. By June, I was anxious to travel. As an afterthought, I queried local newspapers suggesting a travel journal via email submission. One editor bought “the idea of a woman driving alone across the Continental Divide”. Great! Writing, previously dismissed as a hobby, would generate income.

I’m now ready to drive off into the sunset, right? Yes! I slid copious sites-to-visit research plus itinerary into clear plastic sleeves. My travel binder “co-pilot” lay open on the passenger seat. A marvelous companion—never talked back!

My journey took me through Denver, North to the Rockies into Canada, turning West at Jasper to meet the Alaskan Marine Highway Ferry at Prince Rupert, B.C. For the first time in my life, it was my schedule, on my terms. Adrenaline pulsed. Vistas inspired passionate, random writings which appeared, with my digital pictures, in my local Sunday newspaper Travel Section. I drove onto the ferry for a two-night trip through some of the most dramatic scenery I’ve ever seen. Whales breeched. Glaciers loomed. On a sunny August day we docked in Sitka, Alaska!

With my new lifestyle came a change of attitude. No expectations. I was welcomed into a multi-generational, multi-cultural community of like-minded colleagues, basic necessities of housing and food provided. My assigned volunteer position as administrative assistant in the business office of a small college mandated working forty-hours per week, but evenings and weekends were free for hiking and kayaking, reading, writing, and sewing Tlingit moccasins.

All too soon it was May and my first volunteering experience was almost over. Again, planning prevailed. By visiting family, friends, and through invitation from my volunteer network, I only paid for one hostel and one hotel during my seven-week leisurely journey back to the Northeast. Amazing! Upon arrival, those I spoke with were amazed at my independence and courage. Independence was a given. Courage? Always figured it was my natural curiosity and zest for life!

Adventure along the way . . .
Dropping straight down through Western Canada, to the east of Juneau, Alaska, is the almost paved Cassiar Highway. I drive the gravelly surface on a clear August day, eyes eager for dramatic jade hued lakes; ears sensitive to the whistles of soaring eagles. Through the open passenger window, I hear scratching; see a brown lump rhythmically pawing at the bark of a downed tree. A bear having lunch! Easing the car into park, I snap one, two pictures. Ready to snap another, I realize the only sound is my idling engine. The bear has stopped scratching. Deliberately, he turns, rising to full height as only a grizzly can. My foot hits the pedal!

Back home with family and friends, I moved into an in-law arrangement with my son, a one-bedroom apartment with a separate entrance. Many kept asking, “How can I do what you do?” Since my new lifestyle was word-of-mouth, I decided to write a book detailing this budgetary option. This labor of passion took three years of writing, interviewing and editing.

Agents were impressed, but no book contract. Anxious to share my lifestyle, I decided to self-publish. After extensive research, I choose a PR package with exposure as soft-cover, hard-cover and EBook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and local bookstores. This did take a small portion of savings. While presenting my PowerPoint travelogue to libraries, Rotary Clubs and Senior Centers, I found this lifestyle appeals not only to retirees but to Boomers, those displaced by financial unrest, and college graduates seeking jobs. By selling my books, initiating a business plan and consulting SCORE, I came out about even with expense vs. income, and am confident that future income will increase. Meanwhile, I am contributing to the greater good and having fun!

To generate additional interest, I was interviewed on NPR and local TV, participated in writing forums and, due to my self-publishing experience, was asked to facilitate: The Book Inside You … How to get it out! These workshops provide extra income while giving confidence to those on the cusp of publishing regarding what to do when, managing social media, and how to decide if your book is a hobby or a business. Social media provides submission access to Blogs and on-line magazines. It takes perseverance to generate book sales, but I am into my 2nd printing with a new introduction and revised A-Z Index of volunteer destinations. This book is selling well to Boomers and college career centers. Via positive word-of-mouth, I am now receiving referrals for speaking engagements with payment or honorariums.

As birthdays accumulate and while enjoying excellent health, I will volunteer while investigating on-line writing venues. Networking possibilities are endless. In 2013, I will volunteer at the YMCA of the Rockies, a conference center near Boulder. I have offered a seminar, generating more sales and contact opportunity. If you have a writing buddy, think about teaming up to share costs. All you need is patience, flexibility, and compromise.

A friend said that taking a chance on an unknown lifestyle took verve. I looked it up. Verve means possessing a special ability to pull something off with panache and wild, chaotic, unpredictable passion in the reckless pursuit of pleasure, no matter how outrageous. Everyone should experience verve! Life percolates when you add the element of chance. Get out and give back. Enjoy the pleasure of an active life.