The Hokey Pokey of Being a Successful Entrepreneur

This article originally appeared on  Socal.com in 2002 when I was launching my business coaching practice:

My husband and I are HUGE fans of Jimmy Buffet, a man who sings passionately about having fun with life, no matter what it looks like.  Jimmy, not coincidentally, has made a significant amount of money with his message.

So other than the fact that I have tremendous entrepreneurial respect for the Jimmy Buffet money-making machine, why would I bring this guy up in an entrepreneurs’ article?  Because Jimmy sings a great parody of the Hokey-Pokey.

I know what you’re thinking – this woman has been spending too much time in Margaritaville!  Isn’t the Hokey Pokey a polka reserved for family weddings???  I had the same initial reaction and I’m positive that I physically cringed when I saw a song called “The Hokey Pokey” on a Jimmy Buffet compilation CD our good friend Tom made for my husband.  In fact, I refused to listen to the song for months.  Being the first song on the disc, it was easy to skip.

Then one day I was in the car thinking about ten different things (the bane of an excited entrepreneur) and I realized that the “dreaded song” was playing in the background.  As I reached for the skip button, I was literally stopped dead in my tracks.  I can still hearing the horns blaring all around me.  I should have guessed this before based on Buffet’s general philosophy, but here was a song taking a full-frontal “poke” at people who take life too seriously.

So, back to the question, “what the heck does this song have to do with running a business?”  The answer, my friends, comes in one particular immortal line of the song:

“You only have two choices – having fun or freaking out – that’s what it’s all about….”

There is was!  A thunderbolt from the sky, courtesy of Jimmy Buffet.  Isn’t that what all of LIFE is about?  And why should running a business be any different?  Are you having fun or freaking out?  It IS that simple.

A number of years ago, when I first started leading entrepreneurs’ workshops, a lawyer approached me and asked me to put together something for solo-preneurs to help them deal with fluctuating revenue streams.  That request has always stuck with me, although I never complied with it.  I now understand that my resistance to her request stemmed from that the fact that this person wanted me to make freaking out “okay.”  I’m sorry, but I opt for the fun side of the equation.

Of course I’m not advocating that we all starve to follow our passion.  Just the opposite – I’m advocating that passion sells!  Whether you own a dry cleaning business or manufacture pet toys, your passion (or lack of it) will show up in everything from your print advertising to the top down culture you create for your employees.  And people, no matter who your client base is, want to touch passion – and they will pay top dollar for it.  Oh no – you won’t starve.  Ask Jimmy Buffet.

Are you passionate about your business?  If you say “yes,” check in with those around you (like clients and employees) to see if your talk matches your walk.  If you say “no,” ask yourself “why not?”  Are you in the wrong business?  Are you taking on too much of the stuff you don’t like in the right business?  What changes need to be made?  Put on a Buffet CD and get it all sorted out.

Remember, you only have two choices – having fun or freaking out.  If you’re not having fun, make changes.  Yes, it IS that simple.  Maybe a little hokey pokey around the room wouldn’t hurt either….

Comments on this article?  Tracy welcomes input and can be contacted at tracy @ tracythrowerconyers.com.

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