One of the most important assets in your business as an entrepreneur isn't what they tell you in college...
The academics and gatekeepers will often say that technical ability, EQ / emotional intelligence and education will ultimately dictate your success in life.
Those are all very important factors, but I believe the biggest driver of success among entrepreneurs (that I respect and follow) is passion.
Some of the most brilliant minds in business were also the most deeply flawed and socially inept people you would ever meet, yet, they were able to build something that few in history ever have.
I've often asked myself, how?
How was an insufferable protectionist like Steve Jobs, or a social misfit like Bill Gates able to build the kind of companies that stood the test of time?
They were driven and brilliant men, but they stumbled many, many times and should have faded away.
Somehow, they kept fighting. They kept pushing. What kept them going?The answer was simple.Passion.
When you really love what you do anything is possible.
Finding Your Real Passion Is All That Really Matters
I've found myself at a cross roads in recent years. Coming up on 40 and facing my own mortality, I have started asking myself questions about the things I put my time into.
I think a lot more about Return on Time, Return on Effort and Return on Engagementthese days than just the initial monetary investment.You spend your 20s just trying to establish yourself, your 30s building wealth and larger recognition - but I believe your 40s are more about doing what you are really good at.
These questions led me to my own passions.I am known for digital marketing and strategy, but I started my career in design.
The reason behind much of my success is my ability to communicate visually.I find myself more intrigued by books like Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products and UX Strategy: How to Devise Innovative Digital Products that People Want than the latest book by GaryVee (no offense Gary - it's me, not you homie!).
In the years to come, I will be moving further into the field of User Experience (and more specifically Product Development & Interaction Design) and putting a focus on better understanding Blockchain & AI technology.
This isn't an official departure from my web development and digital marketing roots, but an early nod to the legacy I plan to build in my 40s.
In the last few years of my agency, for the first time since my late 20s, I've found what I'm happiest and most interested in doing again.
Sometimes you lose touch with that along the way.Despite one of the hardest years of my adult life personally and professionally, I'm excited to realign with my passions and look forward to that journey.
If you find yourself at a place in your life where you don't like what you are doing, don't just find the courage to change it - but the planning and resolve to make that change successfully.
When You Have Purpose You Will Never Lose Passion
It's no secret to those close to me I have been focusing more and more on products the last few years.
The last 12+ years of killing myself to build up my agency from complete obscurity to one of the more recognizable boutiques out of North Texas has taken it's toll.
The boom and bust cycles, the way agencies make their margin (squeezing employees + overcharging clients), the revolving door of junior staff, the abusive overbearing clients who don't pay on time (or enough), the hyper competitive atmosphere of snide, self important sales and account people in an over-saturated market, and the orchestra of misery that it all creates... it can really erode your inspiration over time.
I admire the next generation of people coming up right now trying to build agencies. Wide eyes and high hopes. Dreams as big as the sky. Self assured. They have it all figured out.
I remember all that.In some ways I envy them. Not for the battlefield of land mines they are about to step into, but the optimism they have for the challenge.Revenue wise, I've already achieved several times over what some of the top consultants in my industry are still clawing their way towards at this very moment.
I hope they don't lose their passion in the process, and I hope even more of them go into it knowing their real purpose. What has kept me going all these years was my passion.
When the money was low, everyone in my life doubted me and I was down on my last leg, passion was the fuel that kept me moving forward.To create value for my clients and a brief, fleeting opportunity to connect people to an experience.
I loved that aspect of the work and (when everything went as planned) I loved the results even more.I found purpose in that process.
Ended up meeting the love of my life through my path to better understand and master it all. I believe everyone on this spinning rock should have a purpose.A cause.A mission.Something that drives them. Some people aren't lucky enough to find that. If you do, be grateful. It's an amazing thing to find what you were put on this earth to do.
The world would be a better place if more people were doing what they were passionate about.
Passions Change, Evolve and Fade But Purpose Remains
Although my passion for the things that made my first business successful have shifted, evolved and even faded away - the reasons I built it are still the same.
I wanted to build a family.I wanted to find love.I wanted to leave something behind of value to the next generation. I wanted to leave the world a little better than it was when I got here.
Two out of four isn't bad, but I'm not done yet. We'll see how that story unfolds before I check out.So many entrepreneurs I meet are driven by the wrong things.
Their purpose is to prove to peers, their parents or some imagined group of thought leaders within their industry that they are important.
You are important regardless of any of those people's approval. Don't let anyone tell you different (even that little voice in your head). So many entrepreneurs I meet want acceptance, money, power and things that really don't matter.
I think the most interesting companies being built today are by people who have purpose. They aren't paying attention to what everyone else is doing.
They are too busy following their passions and working toward making their dreams a reality.You should bet on those guys.
Although their first time out to bat may not be a grand slam, one day, you can rest assured they will knock it out of the park.
Have you really found the reason you do what you do?
What is your passion?
What is your purpose?
I originally published this article on LinkedIn a few years back and just wanted to share it here.