Could you be overlooking your most obvious next step?

Stepping stones over river and small waterfall.

Good morning from the Houston airport!

My family and I are headed to Akumal, Mexico for my retreat. While I first wondered how I would fill a multi-hour layover, I suddenly realized: I can write to y’all! (I am in Texas, so it is OK to use that expression even though I grew up in California).

I have been meaning to update you on big happenings, so this is the perfect opportunity. And as a coach, I thought I would work in a metaphor that you could apply to your own work, as I tell you about mine.

What is so obvious that it is invisible?

For the last six years, I have worked in a wonderful and peaceful office in East Mesa, Arizona. I got the office after Escape from Cubicle Nation came out, and it became impossible to do 52 radio interviews in 14 days with two toddlers at home. So I found a quiet office that was close to home, and reveled in its seclusion. It was a perfect space to write and coach, and spend long hours working on projects.

Five years ago, I hired my assistant Sheila Sanders, and she occupied the office next to mine. We had a safe and comfortable space from which to launch new online ventures.

With such a busy daily schedule, I never had much time to spend time with the substantial startup and entrepreneur ecosystem in the Phoenix metro area. As much as I wanted to be connected to my local community, I never seemed to find the time.

Then: The Tour

As many hundreds of you know who attended my 25 city tour last Fall, I hit the road in search of the coolest local communities in North America. I had so much fun in Fargo, and Philly, and Berkeley, and St. Paul, and New York, and countless other places where super cool people were doing super cool things.

In every tour stop, I would say “One of my main objectives of this tour is to have all of you really cool local people get to know each other so you can continue to develop your local ecosystem.”

And yet … how was I developing and connecting mine?

The instigator: Ivan Martinez

While visiting my friend and former client Ivan Martinez at his photography studio in  Mesa, he told me all about the wonderful things happening downtown. For many years (decades, even), Mesa has been a fairly sleepy town. But in the last few years, some new merchants have moved in, there are some super cool arts projects underway, a community garden, plans for a coworking space, and a hacker/maker space at Heatsync Labs. This is mixed with lots of solid and traditional businesses — insurance brokerages, cafés and banks.

All of a sudden, I got a full-body chill.

What if I were to move my office to the middle of downtown Mesa?

And instead of hiding away from my local community in my safe and peaceful office in East Mesa, I would create a central, open space where I can host live workshops, meetups, visiting authors, school groups, and do a Malcolm Gladwell Tipping Point DefCon 5 version of being a Connector in my local community?

I felt like the clouds parted and I suddenly realized the sky was blue, not gray.

So I am moving full-speed ahead, looking for the perfect space (psst: I think we found it, too early to confirm), and exploding my heart with joy.

We will move in this summer, and have a blow out, mix it up, bring the whole Phoenix small biz ecosystem together in one big mondo open house party.

You are all invited!

And before that — I will be having a huge barn raising, painting, furniture procuring, get it all ready to program the hell out of the year with live and virtual classes for small business owners campaign.

Sometimes the obvious things are the most powerful

My greatest joy has always been building community. And I am passionate about small towns, especially those that may be viewed as the underdogs, compared to their fancier/more famous/wealthy surrounding cities.

Small business owners are my people. I am a raging extrovert, and love the hustle and bustle of people working together toward a common mission of economic well-being for all.

So my next step is clear. Finally.

Sometimes you just need to slow down to see the obvious best choices in front of you.

Your obvious zones

Now it’s your turn — what obvious next steps are you missing? Answer the questions below:

What does everyone tell me I am good at?


What do I daydream about?


What gets me so excited that I can’t stop thinking about it/talking about it/reserving domain names for it?


What would I do if I didn’t have to work?


What have I been afraid to do, because it seems so silly/easy?



When I was 5 years old, I wrote a poem about how much I loved to write. It only took me 38 years after writing that poem to write my first book. So maybe I should start to pay attention to obvious signals a wee bit earlier. Perhaps you should too. 🙂

Have you ever been blinded by an obvious choice in your life? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

Reader Interactions


  1. Lisa says

    I love this post! It spoke to me so much; plus, I’m one of your people! When I was a kid, I told everyone I wanted to be a writer. While I’m not a published author, I launched a blog in December, and allowing myself the space the play with words has been like the sky parting for me. The other thing is, when I was in high school, one of my friends said to me “you should be a counselor” and while I’m not a counselor, a year ago I became a certified coach and I know with complete certainty that I’m do THE THING I will do for the rest of my life. Both of these things were career ideas that I played with way back when but then dismissed. I went for the the things I “should” do and then got totally off-track. Your questions posed above are the perfect prompts for anyone to take steps towards finding their way back. Thanks!

  2. Margie says

    So thankful for this read. Confirmation for me today that I enjoy training others at work. To empower someone with knowledge and tools to be the best at their job is priceless to them, and to me!

  3. Leslie Zucker says

    Love this post. Totally relate to it. I have a symbol for what you describe (the most obvious thing). It’s to put my pointer finger right under my nose and say “it’s right there!”
    Thanks for all you do. Hope we get to meet this summer, when I’m home in AZ.

  4. Barbara says

    I’ve found mine! It’s performing. I love performing. I’m not sure what to do with that yet, but I know it’s the answer to how not to have to sit down all day for work! So I just started reading poetry, telling stories, and even acting!

  5. Gail Gaspar says

    I love it too when you put your finger on the pulse of your process (: I’m still smitten with this line from one of my mentors years ago: “How can it be easy?” The simplicity took me quite by surprise (say what, no struggle needed??) Often the clues are right here, waiting to be uncovered, sparked, permitted. What a joy each time we connect with best choices. Congrats on following this dream!

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