Post to Twitter

I was in San Francisco last week, and last Sunday my sister hosted a potluck dinner at her house, with about eight of us – including my mother 🙂  (Mom, did you enjoy it??)

Here’s an example of what makes PebbleStorm, including these kinds of events, so gratifying for me…below’s an (unsolicited!) note from Erin-Marie Driscoll, a budding entrepreneur:

“Hi Aaron!!
Thanks again for hosting the PebbleStorm event tonight. I am totally re-energized and now have a few more reserves of courage to move forward with my dreams! I really can’t thank you enough. It was great to hear from other people about their experiences, discuss the process and ideology of PebbleStorm/ entrepreneurship and to have the enthusiastic support from those in the group! This is exactly what I needed to move forward, and I am truly grateful for that.

How can you tap into your talents and enjoyments, to create something that adds this kind of value to other people?  And then create a business around it?  That’s what I’m here, through PebbleStorm, to help you do.

Post to Twitter

I’m always looking for cool apps to use and recommend, whether for business or personal productivity. With Maria’s help (PebbleStorm’s intern), we published a list of some favorites.  You can find the link in the PebbleStorm navigation bar, or click on “Great tools”

Any other recommendations or suggestions?  Email me or leave them in the comments!

Subscribe to the PebbleStorm blog by email

Do it now

September 19th, 2008

Post to Twitter

“I’ll do that…someday”

Sound familiar?

When I’m busy, it’s easy to put things off. I admit to regularly doing that with blogging. I’ll get to that tomorrow / next week / someday…

Yesterday I wrote an email to a friend that included the phrase “I intend to add more about my personal journey to my pebblestorm blog” (the ‘someday’ was implied).  I’ve thought that and even noted it to myself, but writing it to someone made it that much more real.  And within an hour I drafted and posted Using rocks and babysteps to dodge the fear.

Speaking of babysteps, a well-designed one is something small enough to accomplish in 1-4 hours.

Sometimes I put a task/project off, and it works out well because later I realize the task/project would have been a waste of energy to do anyway 🙂

Sometimes I just have to do it now.

Look, I’ve done it again!

Subscribe to PebbleStorm by email

Post to Twitter

Here’s one thing that scares me: organizing new events.  Yep.  You thought I was fearless?  Or that other people who start their own companies are fearless?  No – they feel fear just like anyone else (even CEOs of the largest companies)…but they don’t let the fear stop them from moving forward.

Consider it this way: practically by definition, entrepreneurs (that includes you too) always feel fear because they constantly push the boundaries of their comfort zone.  Yes, some people have bigger (even massively bigger) comfort zones than others, but there is still a comfort zone. Even for Donald Trump.  Doing anything new, such as making money through enjoyment, requires you to get out of that zone…which is by definition scary. Make sense?

For example, I find it’s always scary to decide (because now you’re committed) to organize a new kind of format event, such as the one I’m holding next week in San Francisco: Once you’ve done it, it gets much easier and you find other ways to get out of your comfort zone to scare yourself 🙂

A peek into my process

Here’s what I go through in putting an event together (whether in person, a conference call, anything):

  1. I reflect on the kind of event I want to have, including it’s purpose, type of attendees, location, and how I can make it enjoyable for both myself and them. I might reflect on this for a few days, weeks or months, until it gels enough for me to want to do it.
  2. I pull out a calendar and just pick a date.
  3. I post a note and that date on my blog (now I’m committed!) That committed energy ‘pulls me forward’ to make the event happen. Another example from May: “Upcoming Pebblestorm Events (LA, SF, DC, Kauai)“.  For example, I had no idea about the logistics for the Kauai trip when I first posted about it.
  4. I prepare everything…argh.  This is still a part of the process I mostly don’t enjoy. I do enjoy creating handouts and exercises for it, but not the logistics (venue, invite list, food…)  I do work to find ways to make it easier to organize, such as doing it with friends, at the same place regularly, etc.  Anyone who enjoys helping get events together as a hobby, PLEASE contact me.
  5. The event works out perfectly and we all have a great time!

Throwing rocks

The analogy I use is this: I’m standing at the edge of a river I want to cross.  Do I take a long time to architect and build a perfect bridge?  I could.  Or do I just pick up a big ol’ rock and throw it in the basic direction I want to go and then jump?


Are you stuck? Take babysteps

Stop and consider the question, “is my fear holding me back from moving forward?”  If you’re stuck, here are some ideas, PebbleStorm-style, to play with.

1) Rather than ignoring fear or pretending it doesn’t exist, acknowledge that it’s ok and normal.  EVERYONE feels it.

2) Consider ways to make it easier on yourself, such as taking babysteps.  You know you should do something, and that big something is paralyzing you. What is the smallest little step you can take to move forward?  It should be something you can complete within seconds (such as making a decision) to a few hours.

3) Return again and again to the principle of “make money through enjoyment” as your guide to which babysteps to take.  How can you make your path work for you and what you want?

4) Choose a next babystep NOW to commit to. It could be as small as picking a date for the event, or reserving a URL for a business, or buying a notebook. Small is great! Fall in love with small. Huge castles are made of lots of little bricks. It’s more important to think of ways to not let fear stop you, rather than feeling like you have to take huge steps.

5) Repeat steps 1-4.

Examples around events

– Instead of starting by trying to throw a 100 person event as your first, hold some 5-20 person sized events to practice and build a first audience base.

– Hold an event at your house or a friend’s house, to simplify the venue.  Though it might complicate the cleanup, ha.   Speaking of which, I’m going to have one for 6-8 people at my place in Santa Monica on the evening of Sunday, September 28th, details to come in the next week. See how I just committed to it without having done any planning behind it yet? 🙂 Ker-plunk!

– If you’re nervous about charging for an event, start with an amount you’re comfortable with.  $5? $10?  $1000?  It’ll vary per person.  You can take babysteps to experiment and to build confidence and momentum. Also, it’s perfectly ok to lose a little money here and there in some experiments, but your intention must be to have a profitable business. That means if you lose money on an event, don’t do the same event/pricing/whatever again, change it up and try something else!

– Try overcharging for an event or service once in awhile. You might discover that you AREN’T overcharging, and that people are happy to pay your ‘high’ price, because they’re getting more value from your events/services/products than you assumed.

– Instead of a sit-down dinner, start with a potluck.

– Call a friend to brainstorm about it, or to get support (either emotional or logistical) for it.

…You get the idea.

Now pick a teeny tiny babystep and just do it!

Subscribe to the PebbleStorm blog by email

Post to Twitter

George Kao introduced me as a guest business speaker to HUB (Humanity Unites Brilliance), a very interesting organization that helps people combine their interests in personal development, business development, and humanitarian work.

Without further ado, here are the conference call notes, courtesy of Elizabeth Jarosz, the moderator (who did a fantastic job). I’ve added a few pictures, but overall the notes are unchanged:

HUB BUSINESS GROWTH – Hosted by Elizabeth Jarosz
“Making Money Through Enjoyment” with Aaron Ross


In the past, many people have tried to make a choice about doing a) what they love OR b) making a stable income. Aaron wanted the best of both worlds. He wanted to:
1) Do what he does best,
2) Make money,
3) Enjoy every day, and
4) Work through meaning (to make a difference, contribute)

This is an integration of personal development and work. They are complimentary. Why should we live a life of disconnected ‘lives’? (work, spiritual life, family, etc.)  Isn’t that a form of multiple-personality disorder?

Making money for enjoyment can be “for profit” or “non profit”. All organizations need money flow to sustain itself and do what it needs to do.

Core concept from PebbleStorm = Unique Genius

All of us have a certain combination of things we love to do, we are talented at, and it adds meaning to our life, as we can understand what those are. Once we understand this we can start to understand our “unique genius”.

Five Steps

1. Reflect – often we dive into creating a business too quickly (rush, rush society). Begin reflecting on your unique genius: 1) what you love to do; 2) what you’re good at; 3) what would add meaning to your life. Combine your passions. What do you love? What are you good at? How could you combine them? What do you want to create? Reflect – what is your unique genius?

2. Play – Play and experiment about your ideas / your unique genius. The more serious you take things, the less you enjoy them… Play with it. You’ll never know how it will look, so try this and that. Create something you can show another.  Experiment to find out what works, what clicks with people.

3. Attract (an Audience) – Examples are posting a blog, creating an event, etc.

4. Package – After you have an audience, what is it that the audience wants to buy or subscribe to. It doesn’t have to be yours… Package products in a way that’s compelling to the audience.

5. Receive – receive income, receive growth.  

Full blog post on the stages: “The Five Stages of PebbleStorm”

A Major Trend In Business

There’s a massive shift right now in business – away from masculine (forcing) energy, more to a feminine (receiving) energy. The internet is a great example. Now, for example, people can find you. You put your “materials” out there, as beacons or magnets, and they attract people. In the old days to market yourself you’d send out mail pieces and follow up in person, etc. – not any more. In sales, it no longer works to be pushy or manipulative. What does work is to be helpful. Put something out there and wait for them to be ready for it. We’re moving away from “making something happen” to “creating the conditions to make it more serendipitous to happen”.

Put something that is unique / yours – and put it out there for people who want it to receive it. And you will receive the business.

Keys To Success: Patience & Resonance

It’s usually not months when you’re trying to make money through enjoyment. This is contrary to our culture that wants it fast, that wants instant gratification. Think in years. Be patient. It will come. Spend your time to make your passion creative and unique. Find your own resonance – it’s this resonance that will appeal to others who are like minded. This will make your message stand out. Faster is NOT better, more unique / authentic is better. Take your time. This will allow you to build the business that you truly enjoy.

You can begin to enjoy your current work now – if you start paying attention to it.  How can you eliminate, delegate, outsource, automate or reframe/reposition tasks you don’t enjoy?  At least to minimize the amount of time per week you spend on them.  Selling is one example, and a theme of his sales blog,, is that by rethinking ‘sales’ and making it more enjoyable for both the seller AND buyer, both parties can be more successful.

What consistently works in creating a business?

1. Put out your stuff in places like-minded people will find it, and let it germinate.

2. Word of mouth. People will “share” what’s interesting to them.

Things that trip people up / Things to think about

Most people think they need to quit their job to create a new business. No! Start it while you’re working. It could end up to be an extension of what you’re doing. If you’re only enjoying 20% of your day and you want to enjoy 80%… perhaps you need to outsource some things and that’s it!

There is an ebb and flow to things. When there’s ebb – it’s OK to put it aside for a while. When there’s flow – go with it. It’s OK to put it on the shelf for a few months.

People feel guilt – in order to enjoy what you do, hold no guilt. At the end of each day, “am I enjoying this?” If not, how can you reframe / shift so you can enjoy it. Sometimes that means putting it down for a while. Sometimes it’s eliminating and activity. Sometimes it’s reframing your mind. Sometimes it’s creating something new.

Steps / Actions You Can Take

Unique genius is the core. Ask yourself “what is my unique genius”. Take out a blank page. Write things out for yourself. Example questions:

Assume money was abundant and you wanted to do something that makes your heart sing, what would it be?

What are your “hobbies”?

What did you want to do when you were young / 8 yrs. old. This will offer clues. I wanted to be a pilot. Now one of my core things is “freedom”

What do people come to you for advice on?

Create a list of your passions. Start to combine them. My friend started a yoga studio and also likes poetry. I said, “what if you combined yoga and poetry?” Framed pictures / large poems on the wall. Small cards by the front door for people to take. Poetry during class. She added meaning to her life in a way that was unique to her.

This is a beginning of a longer conversation with yourself about what you want to do. Start keeping a journal, online or offline.  Regularly consider it and write in it.  Within a few weeks or months, you’ll amaze yourself at what begins to take shape.

Baby Steps

What are the small steps you can do today to take you one step closer to your passion. Could be as easy as reserving a url, making a list of what to do tomorrow, do a blog post. Take a baby step. We’re used to creating such big things. The alternative is burnout, overwhelm, or penalization.

If you can only do one thing today, what would it be? (prioritization technique)

Just “throw a rock” in the direction you want to go. “Leap and the net will appear.” I wanted to do an event (didn’t know what it would be, who would come). I picked a date and posted it on a blog. That created the momentum and it will be successful. This is pre-committing. It’s OK if you don’t know how it will happen.  Throw the rock, and it’ll energize everything that needs to make it successful.

Thank you.

Subscribe to PebbleStorm by email

A Serendipity Board

September 8th, 2008

Post to Twitter

We tried an experiment at the PebbleStorm event last week. I put up a big piece of paper on the wall, and let people write down something that they’re looking for or to share…

That’s the funny thing about serendipity – you never know how or when those interesting connections will happen (either at the event or later), but at least by putting your intentions and information out there, you’re enhancing the possibilities!

Here they are, typed up:

Aaron Ross – PebbleStorm
“Looking for people interested in helping define or starting their own ‘PebbleStorm Circle’ group”
aaron at pebblestorm dot com

Ben Chou –
“Looking for PR/buzz generators/mavens/connectors” (people who can help spread the word about his business)
pbchou at MyCosmeticSurgeryAdvisor dot org

Ray Schiel – Social Media
“Sharing info on how social media can help your business”
rayseo1 at yahoo dot com

Olivia Kuhn-Lloyd – &
“Looking for bloggers for”
olivia at intent dot com

Ryan Born – AudioMicro
“Looking for music and sound effects”

Ingrid Chen – Health & Wellness “Dream Team”
“Looking to share Life’s too short to just be making $”

Simon Dibos – Latin America
“Business in South America”
simondibos at yahoo dot com

Kim Selbert – Joy of Laughter
“People to laugh with” / kimselbert at mac dot com

Post to Twitter

Amazing Energy

The PebbleStorm LA Open House was last night, and it was phenomenal!  (I’m biased, but it’s still true.)  We had about 25-30 people and there was just a GREAT energy in the air. I felt a lotta lotta interaction and inspiration.

I knew about 2/3 of the attendees personally, and the rest either came as guests or found PebbleStorm through the group on  I felt that everyone really was very open, friendly and interested in each other.

LA’s My Playground

The second ‘stage’ of PebbleStorm is “Play”, and Los Angeles is my playground for PebbleStorm itself – events and all. There’s an enormous creative, entrepreneurial energy here looking for more ways to be channeled and directed.  That (ok plus the fun and weather) is why I moved here! As I experiment and tune PebbleStorm tools, event formats and such, I’ll then take them to a few other main areas as well (SF Bay Area – you’re next).

Fear Gremlins

I’m not someone that holds much fear of doing or trying new things (as my friends and family know). But even I, when doing a new event format, even with a small group of people, always have those little ego/fear gremlins: Am I missing anything? Will people show up? Will the format work?  Will they enjoy it, get value from it?

Then, once the event starts, whether in person or a conference call, I get into the flow and love it, and it always works out exactly as it should. I know this from experience, and yet the gremlins are there each time I do a new one 🙂

PebbleStorm Circles

Ah, fear. Everyone experiences fear and loneliness as they start and run a business, especially if you’re a single entrepreneur or CEO without a true peer or partner in the business. One of, or the, best antidotes for this common fear and loneliness is connecting with other people going through similar journeys, people who can also help each others’ businesses. Community increases the enjoyment and makes it easier to be successful, since you have a group of people helping you out!

A fundamental part of PebbleStorm includes connecting people in supportive communities, both offline and online.  I’m still working on fleshing out the idea of a ‘do it yourself kit’ for motivated people who want to start their own “PebbleStorm Circle”, a small local group of like-minded people that would meet say, at least once a month.  (Interested in finding out more? Send me an email.)

Unique Genius

A topic we spent some time on last night was “Unique Genius”…a unique mashup of your talents, interests and enjoyments combined in a way that adds meaning to your life – usually by helping others in some way. For example, I say “helping people make money through enjoyment” is my unique genius, and PebbleStorm is the manifestation.  I’m getting closer to putting up a real blog post about it (the raw material is on the wiki: unique genius).

Another Open House Post Coming

I’ll put up another followup blog post with some more content, pictures, etc. in a few days once I digest everything and ask the group for some stories or impressions I can share here.

Digital Versions of Handouts / Contact Info

If anyone at the event missed my contact information, or would like digital versions of the handouts, you can reach me at: aaron [at] pebblestorm [dot] com

What PebbleStorm is NOT

September 3rd, 2008

Post to Twitter

PebbleStorm IS about:

“Making money through enjoyment”

NOT about:

“Making money and then enjoying it”