As someone who has been a business trainer and workshop leader for more than 40 years, when I say that your most valuable asset is your knowledge, I don’t mean it as a trite platitude—a way to feel better about getting older—I mean it literally. Your acquired knowledge of a subject, skill, or hobby is not just precious in its own right, it’s also a great resource for creating income.
I recently designed and led a strategic planning, goal-setting retreat for the Department of Probation in the California county where I live—an event for which I was paid $1,650.
I’ve been a paid instructor at the annual Writers Conference in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where I’ve led workshops in English, on marketing, and memoir writing. Instructors are paid $100 per workshop, plus given admission to the conference and free room and board.
These days, I actively seek out opportunities to lead seminars on a range of subjects, wherever I am—usually in one of my two homes in Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico.
I choose my subjects based on my passions. Fortunately, I have eclectic interests, with lots of potential for interesting classes, workshops, and seminars. If I need to brainstorm ideas, I ask myself, “What problems have I solved?” “What advice or help have other people asked me for?” and “What needs do I see around me?”
For example, most people I meet are interested in fitness, and many want to lose weight. As someone who spent years being out of shape before becoming an “adult onset” fitness buff, I love sharing information and encouragement on that subject. One year I led a three-part series on Mejora Tu Bienestar (Improving Your Wellness), aimed at working-class Mexican moms, in which we discussed walking and exercise, eating mindfully, and managing stress. Another year, at a senior center, I led a group on personal journal writing—a completely new kind of writing for the participants. I provided notebooks and pens, and each week we’d explore a different theme, such as sleep, music, and friendship.
In California, I offer management and communication training for local government and other businesses. I call this my “serious” work, because it pays well. But I also teach for a national organization called the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), which offers courses for people ages 50 and up. OLLI is where I teach my “fun” subjects. For example, my husband, Barry, and I jointly teach classes on budget travel, and I lead workshops on downsizing and cooking for the kitchen-averse. I am neither a professional organizer nor a chef, but I don’t need to be. I simply share my own experience, my mistakes, and the insights I picked up over the years. Pay depends on the number of participants per class and is split 50/50 with the organizers.
Workshops give me the opportunity to meet people with similar interests, to make a difference in people’s lives, and, in Mexico, to improve my Spanish.
Back when I began teaching ESL, I would never have dreamed that more than 40 years later I’d still be leading groups and working with adults. But when you find what you love to do, you never grow tired of it. Any day I lead a workshop is a happy day.
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