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Home Office Weekly Profiles

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Darren L. Johnson
InsideOut Learning, Inc.
Nashville, TN

Years working from home: Since 1994
Hours per week you work: Varies
Happy at home index: (1 - miserable, 10 - nirvana) . 15 - off the chart!
Success at home index: (1-can't make ends meet 10-fabulously wealthy) 12 (off the chart) and heading
toward 20 real soon!)

What kind of business do you have at home?

Training, speaking, organizational development (OD) consulting, and publisher of
one book titled "Letting Go of Stuff: Powerful Secrets to Simplify Your Life."

What did you do before you started a home business?

I dreamed of having my own business.  I also worked in corporate America in the
auto manufacturing industry as a internal organization development (OD)
consultant.  I worked for General Motors (as a manager), Hughes Aircraft, and
Nissan, among others.

Why did you start a home business, and why this particular business?

Why? The short version was that I was being forced to hold a position that I didn't
want.  The company VP of HR told me that I could tray the new position for a year
and if I didn't like it I could go back to being an internal organizational
development (OD) consultant.  So I innocently agreed.

At the end of that year, the VP asked me what I wanted to do.  I thanked him for the
chance to spend that year in the other position but I let him know I wanted to
remain in OD.  He leaned back in his big leather chair, looked at me and said, "I
was afraid you would feel this way. Unfortunately, you don't have a choice."  We
talked back and forth a bit and finally he said, "Darren, you don't have a choice.  We
want you to be in this new position.  Not because you aren't good as an OD person
but because you have the 'look' to be in this new position.  It works for us."

II went home that weekend, thought about it, and decided that I would show him,
not only what kind of choices I had, but that my choice was to leave.  So I left and
haven't turned back.  That company ended up referring one of my first clients to
me.  Hee, hee!

What was your biggest challenge in starting your home business?

Realizing that I could determine how much money I can make during the year.  I
remember this very clearly.  On June 1, 1994, I sat in my new home office, desk
looking neat, new phone, new fax, new computer, new chair and new attitude.

There I was, sitting.  9:00, 10:00, 10:30...sitting, waiting for the phone to ring.  I even
picked up the phone to make sure the dial tone was working.  Well, there was no
ring.  Then, literally, while sitting at this new desk, it dawned on me: No one knows
I exist!  I have to go out and make something happen for this phone to ring.

Then at 11:35 a.m. the phone rang and I jumped to answer it.  It was a wrong
number.  Well, I attempted to talk to them about my day but they weren't interested

What I am saying is, my challenge initially was to realize that now, if I wanted to do
training I had to create an opportunity to do so.  I didn't have an organization with
employees to attend my seminars anymore.  I had to go find them.

What has been your biggest challenge staying in business?

Staying focused on growing the business, versus working IN the business.  That is
hard to do.  It is easy to work in your business, but it is more exciting -- yet
challenging -- to grow your business.  Growing means participating in activities
that may not pay off for months -- even years -- down the road.  Working in your
business is about participating in those activities that will create cash flow -- today.  
It is critical to find, and keep a balance between those two on a daily basis.

What do you love about working from home?

The convenience.  Negotiating contracts in my pajamas.  Staying warm during my
commute to the office, which is from my bedroom, down the hall, to the left and at
the bottom of the stairs. I love that I can have lunch and watch TV (if I choose) on
the comfort of my own sofa.  I love that I am not exposed to all of those folks who
have colds and don't have the sense or courage to stay home until they are better.  I
absolutely love the tax benefits of working from home.  I could go on and on!  I love
being my own boss and not having to worry about who just came out of the
bathroom, and...whew...what did they just do in there?  I love being able to sit and
read, when I want.  I love the mileage I'm saving on my Jaguar.  I love it all.

What do you hate about it?

Hate? Ha! Ha! Ha!  There's no hate here, seriously.  I have no regrets.  I don't believe
in regrets and I don't believe in hate.  I do wish that more people could experience
this freedom.  I think that in this country there are so many people who are living a
dead life because they are going into a place they may hate to do a job they don't
like to benefit a person they don't know (in most cases) -- the owner(s).  I think that
is so sad that there are so many people in this situation in a country like this.

How do you inspire or motivate yourself everyday?

I have never thought about not being inspired and motivated each day.  That is not
an option I have ever chosen.  Therefore, I only remain focused on what I want --
which is to be inspired and motivated, seriously.  I believe in what I do, the
products I have created and offer, and I want to make a difference in the lives of
those who use them.  I believe in my purpose and myself.  Plus, I have written a
book titled, "Letting Go of Stuff" so I am inspired by the fact that I feel compelled to
practice what I have written and what I teach.  I guess you could say the value I
have for my self as an individual is what keeps me inspired and motivated each

How do you separate home life from your work life?

I don't.  While I'm reading email I wash clothes.  When I take breaks I will do little
things around the house that may take just a few minutes, like changing light bulbs
or sweeping the car port.  You see, I believe that the only way to not get caught up
with separating the two is to go with the flow of what is going on in the house.  If I
go with the flow of it then it will all flow together as it should.  If I begin to focus on
what I don't want to do then I will end up doing just that.  In other words, if I focus
on what I don't want -- mixing home and business -- then I will end up mixing
them.  But if I don't worry about them blending then the two will blend, but will do
so in a way that allows me to still accomplish my business goals every day.

What is your daily routine?

Well, it changes from day to day.  Basically, I begin with transcendental meditation,
then jump on the trampoline, go in to the office and check email.  After that, I begin
the "to do" list I may have created from the day before.  I always try to schedule my
meetings between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. if I can.  This way I can avoid
early morning/afternoon traffic.  (I know, I have really become spoiled over the
years!) I may work in the office for two hours, or depending on the project, could be
there until 9 p.m.  I try not to do work after 10 p.m. if I can help it.  Usually I end the
day around 5 or 6 p.m. and get ready for that long commute back upstairs.  I change
my clothes and head for the kitchen for some popcorn...yeah!

I always change my clothes at the end of each day, even if I stay at home all day.  I
actually reduces stress levels (this is proven in research).

What is your biggest (or proudest) achievement so far?

The publishing of my book, "Letting Go of Stuff: Powerful Secrets to Simplify Your
Life."  I dedicated it to both my parents, neither of them lived to see it.

What are you working on right now to grow your business?

There are many new projects on the table right now:

1. Publishing a directory for the city of Nashville.
2. Preparing for our "Letting Go of Stuff" Seminar Tour.
3. Finding a literary agent for me.
4. The Biggest Project: We are planning a "Letting Go of Stuff" series of books and
will pitch the series to the publishing industry to get a deal with a major publisher
for the series.  I have titles for the series that will take us to 2012.

What advice can you give about starting a home business?

1. Stay focused on your business plan.  Use it as a way to keep you from watching
TV and doing other projects unrelated to your business.

2. Make sure you have a great CPA in the beginning and don't make any financial
moves without this person's counsel.

3. Make sure you satisfy the IRS requirements of having an office in the home.  This
is important because if one is ever audited this will certainly come into play.  I have
never been audited but if I were to be I am ready because I don't make any
decisions without first talking with my CPA.

4. Believe in your dream.  Live it! Breathe it! And don't depend on anyone else for
the realization of it.

5. Never let anyone make you feel bad about working from home.  Always be
proud of it.  And, remember, if someone has a problem with it, it is their problem
not yours.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do (or not do)?
I wouldn't change a thing -- seriously!  I don't believe in is a waste of
time and energy.  The mistakes you make are lessons and the successes are a result
of learning from the mistakes.

What do you do for fun when you're not working?
Mountain biking, jumping on my trampoline, roller blading, hiking, dancing, and,
the best thing of all for fun: Doing nothing!
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Home Office Weekly Profile:
Darren Johnson/Speaker, Organizational Developer Consultant & Trainer
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