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According to his son Zane, Ken Kesey’s goal was making today different than yesterday.



Was yesterday different from the day before?

Today makes the cut if you’re not doing the same things as yesterday.

It seems so easy, but there is a penalty.

Log two similar days in a row and you’re off the bus.

This is where Portland helps baby boomers find their seat.

Only here could you go from the PCC campus near OMSI and a Better Smarter Richer alumni group meeting in the morning, then the Old Church and the Willamette Writer’s monthly meeting that evening.

After those two meetings you’re due for an epiphany. People reading about Portland probably think the place is covered by epiphanies. And goats.

The morning group belonged to the lady entrepreneurs, where ideas and help and insight were laid on the table for each member. Epiphanies exploded like Hog Wild poppers.

Jackie Peterson, the author of Better Smarter Richer, called for progress reports. The room turned into a think tank with its combined energy and experience focused on each presentation/pitch. (“Hello, my name is Dave. I write a blog called Boomer PDX to encourage the Me Generation to take another look in the mirror. I’m currently seeking advertisers and sponsors for the right fit.”)

I mentioned my other gigs, senior writer for Oregon Sports News, sports and fitness expert for Boomeon, then listened. You won’t find a more supportive group, which is what nervous new solo business people need.

Those who say they don’t need a kind word are lying. You get that and more at the Climb.

One of the biggest problems for the solo is mission creep, those time eating tasks you can’t fit in.

The group goal is working toward a narrow, deep, niche where you are the last word, the expert’s expert.

That’s where the payoff lives. Mission creep is everything that leads away from the niche. Why add anything more?

Later on payoffs took a different meaning. The speaker for WilWrite, Dana Haynes, explained how he decides what to keep in his stories and what to cut. Keep parts that advance the plot, deepen the character, or give a reveal of the eventual payoff in the story.

Dump every thing else.

In other words, a story needs to take us where we’ve never been, like a deep and narrow niche. Epiphany alert.

The more Dana talked the more he explained what no one bothers to explain. Most writers don’t talk about basic stuff to a roomful of writers because they don’t want to be remembered as the boring speaker. And writers who don’t know stuff won’t ask much to avoid looking like idiots.

From Dana: “A mystery is a Who Done It. A thriller tells how you keep them from doing it.” Who knew?

The longer Dana spoke, the more I saw him in front of the Better Smarter Richer class and Jackie talking to WilWrite. He’s got enough enthusiasm to light up a big room along with experience dealing with a difficult audience as Portland mayor Charlie Hales’ Communications Director. He’s been in the kitchen with the heat on.

Jackie’s got the right message and the right book for writers. She knows what they’re cooking.

Aren’t writers entrepreneurs at heart? They hope their work finds an audience of at least one, just like a business solo starts by identifying a need that didn’t exist and finding their first customer.

What helps writers, a story conference or a business plan? Make it both.

Call it a Portland thing when one of the business ladies said she moved to Portland for the art scene. That’s something to cheer about. She figured out a way to help artists and also worked the business side. Isn’t that the Portland America has come to embrace?

Most of all it feels like a commitment. That’s the same word for Martha Hull who is working on her second book. This is her first.

Will Mrs. Peterson find her way to the Old Church stage and address a full house of writers, poets, and screen writers? When she does, the audience will leave with their writing ambitions organized by time management and income stream ideas that work.

What will Dana Haynes tell the solo entrepreneurs? The same thing Ken Kesey might say. Taking a step each day toward your goals puts you further away from despair.

Everyone likes further.













About David Gillaspie
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