Tag Archives: Chris Guillebeau

The Happiness of Pursuit and What I’ll Be Pursuing Next…

Usually when I travel, I make the mistake of bringing too many things to do – too many books, too many drawing supplies, etc. – only to bring them all back home, together with a dose of guilt for not having been more “productive.”

On my recent trip to Portugal, though, I wised up and took only ONE book…

Book photo


Which I was fortunate to have received an advance copy of from author and blogger Chris Guillebeau.  (The book actually launches officially today, so if you’re interested, you can pick up a copy here.)

I’m not exactly a stranger to the concept of quests – my 365 days of A Design a Day jewelry design posts on this blog was a quest of sorts for me – but I’ve been feeling a bit rudderless of late.  So this book was the perfect read for me.  First off, I love, love the title – and reading a book written by someone who had the courage, patience and persistence to travel to EVERY country in the world was inspiring and reassuring as I braved some of the more stressful moments of my trip to Portugal.

Will I be undertaking my own world trip soon?  No.  Mastering the sport of kick-boxing before my next overseas trip?  No (but it might have come in handy when I was almost robbed in the subway station in Lisbon…but more on that in a later post.)

No, my next quest, while still somewhat ambiguous in my mind, will revolve around building confidence…my own!  As I figure out the hows and whys, I’ll keep you posted.

Stay tuned…



Filed under Influences, motivation, travel, wisdom

I’m Good At My Art….Now, Show Me The Money!

If you’re like me, you may be passionate about your craft – creating art – but a lot less passionate about proclaiming your genius from the rooftops.  A few years ago when I was working at my jewelry design and manufacturing business, I purchased a guide for do-it-yourselfers called The Empire Building Kit by author – not to mention the force behind The Art of Non-Conformity – Chris Guillebeau.  I diligently worked through the 365 dedicated, task-a-day emails and just as I was finishing…

Broadway blues detail framed

moved to New York City.

Exciting as that move was, it meant that I had to completely reevaluate my jewelry business.   Soldering tanks – which were essential to the creation of my jewelry – are not allowed in residential apartments.  And I wasn’t about to seek an outside studio space rental when the rent on our 1-bedroom New York apartment was roughly the same as the mortgage we payed on a 5-bedroom house in the Midwest!  So I went back to the drawing board.


(I mean that literally!)

As my illustration business is gaining traction, I decided this past fall to revisit the Empire Building Kit.  I knew that there were quite a few tasks the first time around that I wasn’t able to do because my business (or I) wasn’t in the right place.  Furthermore, although the Empire Building Kit has great stuff in it, since it’s not specifically targeted to artists, applying some of the lessons can take, well…creative thinking.

Imagine my surprise and joy when I recently learned that Chris Guillebeau is launching a new guide dedicated, this time, to creative types like ME!

Over the moon cropped detail

The guide is called Designed to Sell and it’s launching today!  As one of Chris’ affiliates, I’ve been given the opportunity to take a sneak peak at the guide and I’m excited by what I’ve read so far.  Specifically, if Jen and Omar at These Are Things can make a 6-figure income selling their maps, greeting cards, and images, then I figure there’s got to be a (lucrative) place for my art in this world, too!

If you’re interested in learning more about Designed to Sell, take a look here.

(P.s. I understand from Chris that there are some fun bonuses for people who purchase the guide in the first week of the launch.  These include an invitation to an hour-long Q&A session with Jen, Omar and Chris; and, if you’re one of the first 100 buyers, a custom, handcrafted notebook.)


Filed under Art, education, industry news, Influences, wisdom

A Timely Offer from Chris Guillebeau at Unconventional Guides

Black and white photo of Grand Central Station

A few years ago I purchased the Empire Building Kit – an online 365 day course with a targeted daily email task – to help me get my business off the ground and running.  Recently, I decided to revisit the course (once you’ve purchased the course you have unlimited access to it) to see if I could implement more of the tasks that were beyond me a few years ago.  Maybe it’s just coincidence, but this time around I’ve been falling behind on some of the daily emails because my business has been, well…


So I thought some of my  readers with a more entrepreneurial bent might be interested to know that Chris Guillebeau, the mind and force behind the Empire Building Kit and other great products like the Art and Money Guide, has just announced a site-wide 20% off sale.  This coupon is good also on his latest product called The Unconventional Guide to Law & Order (no, we’re not talking the TV show here, but the nuts and bolts to the legal side of creating and running a business.)  To redeem your 20% coupon, just type in “pumpkin” in the coupon field upon checkout.  (Sale runs until Friday night, December 6th.)

Happy Shopping!

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Filed under education, Empire Building Kit Review, Influences, photography, resources, wisdom

Jo’s Journey (A Somewhat Irreverent Guide to Doing Anything Better) – The Pursuit of Happiness

I’m a big fan of author and blogger Chris Guillebeau.  Part of what compels me to his writing is that I sense a truly wise and generous spirit.  More to the point, I appreciate that he approaches the world from a perspective of abundance.   I also identify with his desire to help others.  Although Chris usually writes from a positive view point, I was struck with a post he recently wrote entitled How to be Unhappy.    As I read, I found myself immediately thinking of people I know who have chosen to live their lives according to one or more of the “techniques” on Chris’ How to Be Unhappy list.

Realizing that I was in fact falling into the trap of making judgments about others (see Compare Yourself to Others), I got to thinking.  How necessary is criticism in our lives?  Does having a critical eye really make us superior, and if so, does that “superiority” bring happiness?

Marker and ink illustration of girl looking critical and distrustful by Joana Miranda

Thinking back to my own experiences, I realize that I’m most happy when I’m…

  1. admiring something beautiful
  2. creating art
  3. sharing a laugh with someone
  4. sharing a wonderful meal with a loved one
  5. helping someone
  6. giving and receiving a hug
  7. reaching out to someone
  8. challenging myself
  9. listening compassionately
  10. absorbing myself in something I’m passionate about

Not surprisingly, none of the above involves being critical of others or myself.   So what do I plan to do when I start feeling the urge to be critical?  A lot more of steps 1 through 10!

Whimsical illustration of sleeping dog on pillow by Joana Miranda

How about you?  What makes you truly happy?


Filed under education, Influences, wisdom


Photo of cranberries arranged in a heart

As many of you know, I’m a fan of Chris Guillebeau, his Art and Money and Empire Building programs.  I keep up with Chris’ blog posts and always enjoy what he writes since I find it to be inspiring, honest and interesting.  If you’re looking to do something different with your life, or just want to re-inject a little meaning into what you already do, I highly recommend you follow Chris on his blog here.  Doing so is free, you’ll learn a lot, and you’re sure to be connected along the way with lots of interesting people from Chris’ community.

If you are interested in any of his products, make sure you take advantage of the ongoing 15% off sale on everything in his shop.  Just enter the discount code CRANBERRY upon checkout. (Note: this offer is valid until the close of Cyber Monday, so make sure you don’t miss out!)

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Empire Building Kit – Week 52 and Final Review Post!

Photo of Purple Flower, taken by Joana Miranda

On May 19th, 2010, I began a year-long journey with the Empire Building Kit.  This program, authored by Chris Guillebeau, promises to help you build a sustainable life-style business doing what you love in 1 year.  Daily inspiration, information and suggested courses of action for growing your business is delivered to your email inbox for 365 consecutive days.

Shortly after I started work in the course, I realized that it might be interesting to chart my weekly progress for others who might be curious, but not yet ready to take the plunge themselves.  The added bonus for writing weekly Empire Building Kit review posts on my blog, was that I had an extra incentive for keeping current with the daily EBK emails and not giving up if the going got tough.

Now, coming full circle in my journey with this project, I have a much better understanding of what I got from it.  Those highlights include:

  • Having the courage to quit my full-time job in one of the worst economies
  • Realizing that I had resources for income in the sale of my old possessions and equipment
  • Overcoming the “salesman” stigma and actually enjoying the process of asking for and making sales
  • Seeing an increase in my blog readership, due, no doubt, in part to Chris profiling me and my business in one of his EBK daily posts
  • Enjoying the benefits of being one of Chris’ affiliates and earning just under $1000 in affiliate sales
  • Charting my weekly and monthly planned tasks – and success with completing these – using the free Freelance Planners put out by Charlie Gilkey (one of Chris’ affiliates and profiled “Emperors”)
  • Facing my fear of not being good at something and taking the risk to ask for advice and help
  • Proving to myself that happiness doesn’t come from a job title, income level or possessions
  • Reinforcement that the world is populated by mainly good people trying to do good things
  • Aligning myself with the people (both online and off) who inspire and help me to be a better person
  • Learning about and practicing the art of successful negotiation
  • Believing in the power of dreams and being provided with ample proof of “Emperor-in-training” success stories to back up those dreams
  • Realization that the pursuit of a lifestyle business has helped me shift my entire focus and has left me feeling happier and more fulfilled than I can remember ever being

Along the way, I not only moved (from Wisconsin to New York City), but switched the focus of my business from hand-fabricated jewelry to designs and illustration.  (And while sales of my remaining in-stock jewelry have reduced my inventory to only 6 pieces, these are still available at a 30% discount here.  Enter the word celebration upon checkout to receive the discount.)

Switching business focus has put me, in a sense, back at Day 1 of the Empire Building Kit.  However, I am now armed with not only 365 days of great business building information that I can revisit, but I feel like I have a team of trusted mentors to continue to guide and inspire me!

For those of you who have followed my Empire Building Kit review posts, I thank you for keeping me company on the journey and wish you all success as you move forward on your own journeys to a fulfilling lifestyle business!


Filed under Empire Building Kit Review, Influences, Joana Miranda Studio, motivation, Review

Empire Building Kit – Week 50-ish Review

Photo of wisteria over stone path in Central Park, taken by Joana Miranda

In my year-long project of working through the Empire Building Kit and posting weekly reviews here, I realize that somehow I must have messed up my record keeping.  Now, with only 6 more days of EBK daily emails scheduled for my inbox, I should be posting a “Week 51 Review.”  I could blame Chris Guillebeau for jipping me out of a week, but since I began this program on my birthday last year and am coming ’round to another birthday next week, I know that the fault in record keeping is on my end, not his!

In the last few days of the program, Chris has been sharing stories written in by other Emperors-in-Training.  The range of incomes earned from these success stories varies greatly;  however, the common thread is that each small business owner has stuck with their vision, has been willing to take risks to try something new, and has tweaked the process if it didn’t quite work out as expected.  For many, the measure of success goes beyond a dollar figure – often, it’s the realization that they are doing something that they are really passionate about, or that they are being richly rewarded by the quality of the relationships and the people they help in their lives.

As for my own journey, in spite of moments of great fear, doubt and insecurity, the  path overall has been remarkably sunlit and joyful.  While my financial business successes have come in spurts, the risk taking I’ve done has paid off in the deepening of old friendships, the pleasure of new friends and experiences, and a refreshed outlook on the world and what I can bring to it.

Next week, I’ll go into more detail as I wrap up the final EBK review.  Stay tuned!

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Filed under education, Empire Building Kit Review, Influences, motivation