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The only viable strategy for economic growth

How does a nation stimulate economic growth?

Jobs? Yes, jobs would help people survive. But we want more for the people of the CNMI than to merely survive. We need to thrive! And unfortunately, jobs alone aren’t enough. The truth of life in a capitalistic system is this: You can never really raise your standard of living working a job. Since most of us are performing jobs that others could also perform, most of us are ultimately really only trading our time for a paycheck. In such a trade, the only way to make more money is to work more hours, or get paid more for the hours you work. You are at the mercy of an employer who decides if and how often you work, and who decides your value by setting the amount of your annual wages. Ultimately, the upper limit of your value is dictated by the profit margin of the company you work for. So, even the most well-intentioned employer can’t ever pay you or your fellow-employees what you’re really worth since he or she would go out of business.

Investors? While investors can help in the short term—providing an infusion of cash and jobs for the CNMI—it’s only part of the optimal strategy.

Any strategy for social and economic change must encourage changes to the island’s mindset as well as its methodology. One such mindset shift is the realization that while we may have limited control over what happens to us in life, we have complete control over how we choose to respond. And it is in such choices and responses that we have the unique opportunity to redefine ourselves, our environment, our goals and our resulting reality.

So in light of current economic conditions, it is of vital importance to foster a mindset of self-sufficiency among the people of the CNMI, one that places value on our natural resources and talents, as well as the ideas that exist right here. We must focus on the things that make us unique, find the value in them, and offer them to the rest of the world. And this brings me, therefore, to what I believe is the only viable long-term strategy for economic growth that exists:

The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond mere surviving is to create or develop your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. You can thereby remove the limitations that others place on your income and growth. That simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy is one that has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual is one who has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!

Your "passion" is that natural talent, hobby or interest that you have always been drawn to, and wish you could spend all of your time doing. Everyone has a passion! But few people get to make money doing what they really love and turn that passion into profit. But it is very possible! With the right methodology, mentors and models, you can discover your passion, think differently about ways to make money, conquer common fears about being an entrepreneur and develop a concrete action plan to start turning your dreams into reality. Whether it’s an invention, a business idea, a hobby, or simply a talent or skill, you CAN turn any passion into a thriving business, providing the potential of unlimited income for yourself, employing others if you choose, raising your own standard of living and improving the nation’s economy in the process.

That’s what “The Saipanpreneur Project” is all about. Several weeks ago, I did a “Turn Your Passion Into Profit” workshop at the Pacific Island Club here on Saipan (See March 3rd’s Saipan Tribune). Since then I’ve been working with several individuals and organizations to continue the momentum of that event. This growing network of average-citizens-turned-Saipanpreneurs has been brainstorming on new ideas, creating products and launching websites to generate income and take control of their financial destinies.

Every week in this column, I’ll provide inspiring profiles of these individuals, as well as effective business tips, ideas, book excerpts, practical motivation, all in a new language of success designed to help stimulate entrepreneurial activity. As you read how these individuals right here in the CNMI launched their businesses with just their ideas and little or no money, you’ll discover a truth that many successful entrepreneurs know: You don’t always need money to start a business, and you don’t have to be rich to help an economy grow, you just need The Three C’s: Courage, Creativity, and Commitment.

With courage, creativity and commitment we can set new and empowering examples for our children, and redefine our expectations, our language, and most importantly our response to the challenges that the CNMI will face as it moves along the road to better times.

With courage, creativity and commitment, we can foster a new island identity among the citizenry, within the Pacific region and within the world at large, so that in a relatively short time the CNMI will become an inspiring role model for other regions wishing to redefine themselves in the face of similar economic conditions.

With enough courage, creativity and commitment, we can achieve our island’s goal of economic growth, through adding the elements of passion and profit to the CNMI’s present allure of paradise!

So until next week, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!

(Walt F.J. Goodridge is the author of 12 books including Turn Your Passion Into Profit. Walt offers coaching and workshops to help people pursue and profit from their passions. Originally from the island of Jamaica, Walt has grown several successful businesses in the United States, and now makes his home here on Saipan. To learn more about the Saipanpreneur Project and Walt’s philosophy and formula, visit and Send article suggestions, entrepreneur nominations and feedback about this article to

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