Cover image for The passion plan : a step-by-step guide to discovering, developing, and living your passion
The passion plan : a step-by-step guide to discovering, developing, and living your passion
Chang, Richard Y.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Francisco : Jossey-Bass, [2000]

Physical Description:
xxxi, 285 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Why passion works : the way of the passioneer -- From passion to profit : a model for success -- Step 1: Start from the heart -- Step 2: Discover your passions -- Step 3: Clarify your purpose -- Step 4: Define your actions -- Step 5: Perform with passion -- Step 6: Spread your excitement -- Step 7: Stay the course -- Profit with a capital P : reaping your rewards.
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BF637.S4 C484 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Whether they climb mountains, run multinational corporations, or feed the homeless, the successful and satisfied share one trait - a powerful sense of passion for what they do. In The Passion Plan, Richard Chang, a leading consultant on performance for both organizations and individuals, shows readers how to discover their own passion, decide where they want it to take them, and develop a plan to get there. Readers learn how to use passion to improve their performance, persuade others to help them meet their goals, and persist in the face of obstacles. The result is profit measured in personal satisfaction rather than in dollars.

Author Notes

Richard Chang, Ph.D., CEO of Richard Chang Associates, Inc., based in Irvine, California, is an internationally recognized management consultant. His clients include Toshiba, Marriott, Citibank, Universal Studios, Nabisco, Fidelity Investments, and McDonald's. Dr. Chang currently serves as chairman of the board for the American Society for Training and Development and has served as a judge for the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.



Chapter One Why Passion Works The Way of the Passioneer We may affirm absolutely that nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.     HEGEL, PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY , 1832 When I was eight, I knew I had to create and run a business. It had to be my own. I don't know how to explain it, but I knew what I had to do. It was in me, part of me. The other kids on the block dreamed of being a movie star or a baseball player, but I dreamed of becoming a great entrepreneur. I knew I couldn't build a financially successful business empire without experience, so I started a lemonade stand. First I persuaded my mother to give me the recipe and some supplies. Always supportive, she gladly turned over a pitcher, lemons, sugar, ice, and glasses. I hosed down my little red wagon, painted a sign (which I attached to the side), and set off to canvass the streets and find my fortune. My mobile store was so successful I soon enlisted the help of friends. Under my direction they created four more makeshift stands and positioned them strategically on each corner entering neighborhood. With the help of our "Beat the Heat" marketing blitz, we made more money in a few weeks than we could spend on comic books, candy, and Frisbees in a year.     I was not the only kid to start a lemonade stand; doing so was a virtual rite of passage in our free-market economy. My reason, however, was probably different from most. Though my enterprise was successful, I was not simply after money; even then my entrepreneurial passion was so strong I could not ignore it. The desire to create a business burned within me and fueled my imagination. I could not think of any better or more exciting way to fill my time than by building something that people would find useful. Too naive to doubt myself and unacquainted with inhibition, I simply set my eyes on my goal and went for it.     The story of my passion could have ended as I closed the lemonade stand when school started. I could have graduated from college, worked for a large corporation in an important position, and been prosperous. At any point, I could have chosen to put my passion on the back burner in lieu of a safer route. But I was fortunate enough to stay in touch with my passion, cultivating and growing it over the years. My neighborhood entrepreneurship grew to include a theater group, which performed in front of a blue-flowered backdrop in my friend Sammy's garage and subsisted on entrance fees paid by family and friends. Front-row seats were a dollar; those in rows two through four were fifty cents. Later, I expanded the lemonade stand's product line to include Pixie Sticks, Life Savers, and occasionally the candy bars the school forced us to peddle as a fund-raising activity.     In high school, I found I could pursue my passion in unconventional ways. Academic and extracurricular demands precluded me from selling sugar water on street corners, but not from turning class fund-raisers and the yearbook into moneymakers. As junior class president, I organized fundraising activities to fill our class bank account so we could fund the prom at the end of the year. In addition, we aggressively solicited advertisements from local businesses. We were so successful that the yearbook turned a profit. Using the proceeds, we were able to pay for many additions: full-color photos, a full-color centerfold, and other new features.     I describe this only to illustrate how passion has always been vital to me. I have always carried out the entrepreneurial passion in some way--throughout college, graduate school, and my professional life. It has always driven me to start new businesses. When working for organizations, I managed departments and work groups that operated in a start-up or entrepreneurial mode. Today my consulting, training, and publishing company advises organizations around the world. I have come a long way from lemons and Life Savers.     I feel fortunate that life's challenges have not robbed me my passion. I sometimes wonder what I would be doing if I had not listened to my heart, if I had chosen a more practical or less demanding path. Perhaps I would have succeeded, but I doubt that I would have the degree of joy and exhilaration in my life as I do now. FOLLOW YOUR HEART Asked how I built a business at a relatively young age, I used to provide traditional answers: I worked hard, set goals, never gave up. Then one day it hit me. Those were true, but I received the praise and recognition of my clients and colleagues only because I was following my heart. I continually improved my performance and increased the range of my abilities. I was--and still am--excited by the opportunities each day offers to pursue my passion further. I learn new things about myself and my potential with every experience and constantly find new ways to express my passion. This book is one.     I am not alone. Many others have discovered their passion and followed their heart. Recently, I saw a TV segment on a motocross champ who recognized his passion for racing early and pursued it with great success, winning a national championship when he was young. Along the way he married the longtime girlfriend who had cheered him on unfailingly over the years. Together they traveled the country, living in trailers and hotel rooms so he could compete--not a situation most newlyweds would crave. They were committed to his dream, and despite the obvious stresses enjoyed their time together. But just when everything seemed perfect, a terrible accident put him in the hospital. Doctors said he would never race again. The couple had a new son, so the former champion and his wife felt an obligation to be sensible and heed the doctors' advice. But something told them that he could come back--that he needed to come back. After months of intense therapy and rehabilitation, he proved the doctors wrong. He returned to the circuit with a vengeance, won races, and was well on his way back to another national championship. It seemed nothing could stop him.     His wife, now expecting their second child, and his son watched only months later when--at the same course where he had been injured the year before--he crashed again, this time breaking his arms. Surely now he would have to quit. How, as a husband and father, could he ignore the dangers racing posed? He and his wife seriously considered the possibilities. Finally, after weeks of deliberation, they knew what they had to do. As his wife told a reporter, he had to follow his heart. He couldn't give up on his dreams. You may think that foolish, but the emotions she expressed said it all. She knew he would be unhappy not competing, and with her support the benefits of continuing to race greatly outweighed the costs. Abandoning racing and betraying his heart actually became the more dangerous alternative.     This example is perhaps unusual; the passion involves actual hazard to one's health. And I'm not advising you to race motorcycles, wrestle crocodiles, or dive from cliffs. Passion is not about pursuing challenges or opportunities that are beyond you. It is a gift, something precious to be handled wisely and carefully. It is to be valued, not abused. Only when you weigh the motivations of your heart with the considerations of your head, including the limitations of reality, can you reach your Profit--the goal you really want to achieve in life--without risking your current and future happiness. THE PASSION CONUNDRUM Most of us, tragically, never recognize the relationship between head and heart. We are taught to defer to the head in all matters of judgment. But the key for passioneers like the young motocross champion is to start with the heart. Only when people are in touch with their passions do they use their heads to give shape and substance to their dreams. By linking the two in a process of self-evaluation and action, passioneers use their greatest strengths to achieve their greatest goals.     In his landmark work The Prophet , Kahlil Gibran (1995 [1923]) wrote, "Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite." Passioneers defy this conflict and set their heads and hearts in harmony. The two can work in tandem. So why do many fall into the category Gibran describes? Why do we let emotion and reason battle for control of our lives rather than harnessing them both to achieve our best?     I think the main reason is that from childhood most of us are taught to fear passion, to view it as dangerous. We are led to believe that there is something dark about it, that it has a sinister element that compels people to commit crimes in its name. That it is irrational and unpredictable. That it brings heartache and regret. We begin to believe that the pursuit of passion is also the pursuit of pain and uncertainty. Why put everything on the line when the payoff might be resounding failure or humiliation? Why bring such risk on ourselves when we can take a much safer and foreseeable path?     These concerns are reinforced by the experiences of many celebrities of our day. How many rock stars have followed their passion for music or fame down a road of self-destruction? How many actors have sought acclaim and fortune only to be rewarded with crisis and despair? All around us are people led astray by passion. No wonder we recoil into safe, comfortable roles--scared of the reckless abandon that is passion.     History, factual or fictional, confirms our fears. What good did passion do Romeo and Juliet? I mean not so much their physical passion as the passion that compelled them to abandon privilege, money, family, and friends to create a life they wanted, even needed, together. Were they rewarded with happiness? No. They died, a tragedy most of us were required to study at great length in school. Is it any wonder in the face of such examples that we learn to be wary of our passions, that we find ways to disguise or repress them?     But I wonder if Shakespeare would have considered it a greater tragedy for Romeo and Juliet to live. Imagine if he scripted them to forsake their love and spend the rest of their days alone and apart. Certainly they would be miserable, but their tragedy would be ordinary. Think about it: they would be ordinary. Tragic, yes, but in an ordinary way. They would become more like the rest of us, fearful of where their passion might lead them. Instead they die in pursuit of something greater; they weigh the risks and view life in defiance of passion as not worth living.     Fortunately, for most of us, following our heart today does not entail great danger or complete rejection of our present lives. We are reluctant nonetheless. We know that passion lurks inside us; we feel tinges of it now and then. If you doubt this, consider the last time you saw a movie or read a book that really moved you. Remember how you felt--elated, uplifted, saddened. You probably left with a spring in your step or pondering the joys and sorrows of life. You were moved to experience more than you normally do, to reach a heightened state of emotion. Something you observed in the characters touched on your own passion and brought it out, if only momentarily.     When this happens to me, I am reminded of the power of my heart. Each time it is a revelation. I see a character make a life choice based on the desires of her heart and realize the truth in her example. She is honest with herself or, to use a much-abused cliche, she is true to her heart. Such vicarious experiences resonate deeply. If only we had the necessary courage, we too would make such choices. Our hearts race, leap, and soar. These little windows into our own hearts, these small moments of exhilaration, show us that our passion, no matter how out of touch, remains vital. A LIFE WITHOUT REGRET When we act in opposition to our heart, defying our passion, we are left with feelings of emptiness, longing, and unfulfillment. When we rule out passion, we introduce ourselves to a life of regret, a life of what-ifs. What if I had gone after my dreams? Could I have realized them? What if I had tried to be a musician or an executive or a doctor? What if I could have been good enough? Would I have made it? What if I had had the courage to take that trip, make that move, apply for that job?     Probably you already have asked yourself such questions. If you are like most, at some point you have looked your passion in the face and denied it. If you did, you sold yourself short. You let self-doubt, caution, and fear make decisions for you.     I often hear people muse about regret. On one's deathbed, they say, no one will wish they had spent more time at the office--a modern cliché. I don't think it's that simple. Most of us spend time at work out of necessity. We must provide for ourselves and our families. In retrospect, I think more would wish they had spent more time at a different job, or in the same organization doing things differently. Even parents who stay at home to raise their children might have similar regrets. They might wish they had had more fun with their children or that they had worried less about what parenting books said was important and more about what their children needed.     Passioneers live with few regrets. They learn the lesson that is so hard for many: to achieve and preserve happiness by following your passion, you cannot give up more than you will gain. You must keep your eye on the prize, so to speak. You must know what your Profit is and pursue your passion in a way that leads you toward it rather than away from it. This is where our troubled celebrities usually make their mistake. They decide fame is the end, or living large, or making money. They might consider their families and friends as an afterthought, their health as an aside. Their passion mutates and distorts, often bearing no resemblance to the feeling it originally was. The passioneer on the contrary treats passion thoughtfully, taking great care to protect it and nurture it, realizing that some sacrifice may be necessary to ensure its continued survival.     You have an innate sense of the balance between risk and benefit whether you choose to heed it or not. When you take a job that pays less but offers more room for advancement, you acknowledge that you value certain things more than others, that you are willing to give something up in favor of something else that is more important. When passion is involved, the stakes are often high. If my neighbor discovered that his greatest passion was mountain climbing, I would not advise him to sell his house, abandon his family, buy a sport utility vehicle, and travel from mountain to mountain surviving on trail mix and water. He might (though I doubt it) feel no regret in doing so initially, but he certainly would later when he was out of money, alone, and shunned by his family. A true passioneer would evaluate his life, decide what he wanted to gain from mountain climbing, and find a way to pursue it within the bounds of current reality.     Gibran (1995 [1923], pp. 50-51) acknowledged the potential for contention between the human elements, but also recognized the way of the passioneer as the answer: Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas. For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction. Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing; And let it direct your passion with reason that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes. Your passion can lead you to the heights and achievements you seek when accompanied by the guiding force of reason. The secrets of endurance, renewal, and enthusiasm reside in the marriage of the two. Either alone is wasted. WHICH PATH WILL YOU FOLLOW? Figures 1.1 and 1.2 show what can result from the balance you strike between your head and your heart. If you listen only to your heart and passions (path A in Figure 1.1), you are less concerned about what you have now and you do not consider the negative directions passion can lead you to. To put it simply, you set yourself up for danger--physical, emotional, or financial. In following your heart you must be willing to make sacrifices, but you do not want to give up anything you will regret losing in the long run. That would leave you unhappier than if you had never pursued your passion. Spouses, once lost, are not easily won back. Money, once thrown away, does not magically reappear.     The second outcome (path B in Figure 1.1) of heart-driven approaches, the one we all dream of, is Profit. It is the result of starting from your heart and then using reason to determine the best outlet for your passion. By doing so you tap into your unique reserves of energy and ability. You evaluate opportunities and plan how to integrate your passion into your life, laying the groundwork for reaching your goals and enriching your life along the way. The key to this approach is to embrace your passion first and then use your intelligence and reasoning to nurture, develop, and incorporate it into your life.     Figure 1.2 shows the results of starting with your head. When logic and reason dictate what we hope for, we are bound to limit ourselves. We convince ourselves that Profit is a nice idea but that we must settle for what is practical. We talk ourselves out of taking risks. Friends have told me, "Starting a successful business might be achievable for you, but I do not have enough money, time, or ideas to make it work for me." Usually this is not true. Rather than opening up to their passions--to create, to sell, to achieve, or to excel--they reason them away as impossible or impractical. They render their dreams unattainable.     The irony is these people still cling to their dreams as if they might spontaneously come true. Perhaps a wealthy benefactor will find them out of the blue and provide them with a large cash infusion to get things started. Maybe they will casually mention one of their ideas at a dinner party and be overheard by someone who wants to help them. Maybe they will be "discovered" walking down the street and win instantaneous fame. Not likely! Especially if you do not allow your passion to manifest itself in some way through action . Actresses discovered in coffee shops fall out of the limelight quickly if they exude no passion in their acting. Business owners are ousted by directors or sink their enterprises if they lose their fire.     Even beginning with Profit in mind, we may lose the passion that distinguishes our performance and helps us reach our goals. If you are not excited by what you are doing, you are less likely to be a top performer or to win recognition. Not that you cannot do a great job when you start from your head. Determination has gotten many people far in this life. Claims such as "I am going to become a vice president by forty, whatever it takes" often prove true. Unfortunately, those who profess them usually do so at great expense to their heart and in turn to their happiness. Those who start from their heart somehow set themselves apart, which helps them end up where they want to be.     When you start from your head and consider the whisperings of your heart only as an afterthought (path A in Figure 1.2), you choose a life of regret. Every step of the way you make decisions that you know belie your heart. You remain aware of your desires enough to pine for them but not enough to exercise them. People who choose this path often become bitter or sad, wondering what could have been if they had only listened to their heart. When they go to their grave, they take with them a long list of "I wish I would haves."     The other alternative for those who start from their head is to rule out their heart completely (path B in Figure 1.2). Such people end up living in ways that do not resemble who they are or once were inside. They sell their dreams for a mess of pottage--a condo by the ocean, a dull career--whatever they believe to be the prudent life. They are not necessarily cold or unfeeling, but they lack the joy and self-knowledge that comes from being in touch with your heart. PASSION IS THE CORE OF YOU Why is all this so important? Because passion is at the core of you--it is who you are. Without it we would be automatons, going through the motions of life without feeling or distinction. Passion gives you life. It defines you just as much as where you come from and who you spend time with. Philosopher Edmund Burke went so far as to declare that passion is "the central part of human character."     Not long ago, I read a modern fable by Pablo Coehlo called The Alchemist (1998). The central character learns that the key to his happiness is following his heart. By so doing he will fulfill his personal legend and find his "treasure." According to the story, each of us has a legend that is distinctly ours. Our heart provides us with clues, but most of us ignore them and we therefore fail to live our legend--we let our lives wander in no apparent direction, toward no apparent end. We die, as Oliver Wendell Holmes (1884) observed, with our music still inside us.     Whether you subscribe to the Jungian notion of a collective unconscious, biological theories of instinct and intuition, or religious explanations of the spirit, you must acknowledge that there is a potential for accomplishment in each of us. Passion is a manifestation of that potential. It is the key to unlocking it. If you are like most of us, you find yourself wondering what you are supposed to contribute to the world, what role you are to play in its evolution. Whatever you are doing now, you probably sense that there is something more you could or should be doing. It might be important to millions or only to you, but you must know that the time to begin realizing your potential--whether the result is treasure, happiness, or karma--is now. Now is the time to begin following your heart and living your passion. Passion Defined By now you're probably asking, what exactly is passion? To use it, you must understand it. But understanding it poses a challenge, because passion is not simply defined. Webster offers no less than twelve definitions, only some of which pertain here. But there is a common denominator to most: strong emotion. One Webster definition is "any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling." Another is "a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything." Both are facets of passion that merit further explanation. The Passion in Everybody The word passion covers a gamut of intense emotions: love and hate, joy and despair. In this book it is used to describe the underlying force that fuels all these emotions. We all have passion; the choices we make determine how it expresses itself. So I like to describe passion as personal intensity, the special part of our nature that determines what topics or activities stir the powerful emotions in us. If you have a passion for something, it strikes a chord in you. It heightens your awareness, engages your attention, and kindles your excitement. If you betray or defy it, you feel miserable, angry, or confused. But if you fall out of touch with your passion after years of neglecting it, often your feelings will be more muted: you might feel only apathy or a tinge of regret.     If so, you are probably living a dispassionate life. This does not mean you have no happy or sad moments. But in general you are numb to your passion and therefore numb to the world. The environment you create for yourself--the people with whom you surround yourself, the jobs you take, the activities you pursue--do not reflect your passion. They cannot stir the wellspring of emotion that fuels greatness and fulfillment. You are not living with intensity.     Passioneers, however, recognize their passion and welcome it into their life. They crave the rush it gives them and seek to keep it flowing by doing things that feed it. Thus passion directs them and ensures their commitment, perseverance, and performance. They feel more satisfaction and freedom. They are acutely aware of their surroundings and create environments that feed their passion rather than subdue it. They know that they have power, through the choices they make, to actively engage their passion and use it to create an exciting and fulfilling life. THE PASSION IN YOU We all share the capacity for personal intensity. Nobody is born without it. But many of us never learn to tap into the source of our intensity because we fail to discover what inspires it: we do not discover our personal passions. Passion refers to the force for intensity in all of us; passions are the things that elicit--draw out--our passion individually. Your passions might be writing, gardening, and working with children; mine might involve business, competition, and personal improvement. In considering the distinction between the two, think of your life as a building under construction. Your passions are the bricks that give shape to the building, whereas your passion is the mortar that holds it all together. The variety of passions is limitless, so the buildings we construct are as varied as the urban skyline. But few of us are fortunate enough to discover all or even some of our passions, so our buildings remain unfinished--skyscrapers, cathedrals, warehouses, and monuments unrealized.     A friend of mine once dreamed of being an actor. Certainly she was not alone in that dream. But others outgrew it while she still felt it. She knew she was passionate about acting because whenever she pondered it her heart raced. She delivered heartfelt soliloquies and powerful performances before her mirror to an imaginary audience, but she was too scared to pursue her passion outside the safety of her bedroom. Indeed, she never acted--not so much because anyone's chance of becoming a movie star is slim but because she doubted her passion and was afraid to pursue it. Eventually she lost the feeling and chose to focus on a career as an advertising executive. Today, as a middle-aged woman, she regrets her cowardice and finds herself wondering if she could have made it.     My friend was lucky in one sense: she recognized one of her passions. That she could not act on it is not unusual. One purpose of this book is to show you how to live out your passions once you find them. Even more common, and more difficult to address, is the failure to identify your passions at all. If Beethoven had not been forced to play the piano by his father while young, would he have discovered his great passion and genius for music? What if he had been born to the bread makers or chimneysweeps next door? Would his passion ever have manifested itself? Often I wonder what we are missing. Might we possess a passion for something that we never encounter? Might we not miss our call to personal greatness? I think the answer is yes. If so, we must actively seek out our passions in order to make them a central, ruling force in our lives. What Passion Is Chapter Four is devoted to discovering your passion, both plural and singular. I hope that by showing you ways that others have done so you may begin your own process of discovery. Now, however, consider some of the characteristics of passion so that you may recognize how it may already be present in your life. First, passion is natural . As I have said, passion is part of you. You do not need to create it, only to give it form and function and help it thrive.     Second, passion is dynamic . Acknowledge and nurture it, and it will most certainly evolve to encompass new areas and directions. If your passion is for teaching and you spend many years in the classroom, for example, that passion may evolve to include sharing your knowledge of teaching. You might develop teacher training programs, lecture teachers' organizations, or start a television program to promote good teaching techniques. But the core passion stays the same: helping people learn.     As one passion evolves, you may discover others. If, per the last example, you start a TV program or begin lecturing, you might discover that you have a great love for public speaking. That might lead you to seek opportunities you never imagined as a teacher.     Some might argue that passion is limiting because it blinds you or makes you single-minded. Not so! Passioneers find that passion expands their horizon rather than confines it. Passion brings out your best. When we perform well and are pleased with where we are going, we are willing to try more. We are more self-confident and therefore entertain more possibilities for our future. We envision success rather than defeat, progress rather than stagnation. In this way, passion is empowering .     Perhaps most important, passion is unconditional . It may evolve, but it is unwavering. You may bludgeon it, suppress it, squash it, or lose sight of it, but it is a given, a constant. When you act from your heart, you do not need to call on your reserves for energy or initiative. Your passion is ready and willing to provide all the stamina and inspiration you need. If, for example, you have a passion for sailing and someone offers you an afternoon on a schooner, you could have a fever of 103, a stack of documents to review, or a party to attend, but you'd still get to the dock on time--even if you had to finish the documents in record time, miraculously fight off the fever, or make a circuit of the harbor before the party started. If sailing was that important to you, none of these things would be show stoppers. If not, you might tell yourself that it would be nice to go sailing, but chances are you would procrastinate and lose the opportunity--while still getting behind in other activities. (Continues...) Copyright © 2000 Richard Y. Chang and Jossey-Bass Inc.. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

The Authorp. xi
Forewordp. xiii
Prefacep. xvii
Acknowledgmentsp. xxi
Introductionp. xxiii
Chapter 1 Why Passion Works: The Way of the Passioneerp. 1
Chapter 2 From Passion to Profit: A Model for Successp. 43
Chapter 3 Step One: Start from the Heartp. 57
Passion Plan Worksheet #1p. 73
Chapter 4 Step Two: Discover Your Passionsp. 75
Passion Plan Worksheet #2p. 110
Chapter 5 Step Three: Clarify Your Purposep. 113
Passion Plan Worksheet #3p. 146
Chapter 6 Step Four: Define Your Actionsp. 149
Passion Plan Worksheet #4p. 180
Chapter 7 Step Five: Perform with Passionp. 183
Passion Plan Worksheet #5p. 210
Chapter 8 Step Six: Spread Your Excitementp. 215
Passion Plan Worksheet #6p. 241
Chapter 9 Step Seven: Stay the Coursep. 245
Passion Plan Worksheet #7p. 271
Chapter 10 Profit with a Capital P: Reaping Your Rewardsp. 275
Referencesp. 285