Crush it! Living Your Passion or Earning a Living?

December 26, 2009

I just finished reading Crush it! a book written by Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) creator of Wine Library TV and built a $60M business. He’s got three rules. Rule #1: Love your family. I look at these three rules and I can’t disagree with his list. One of the guiding principles that I’ve put in place for thinkspace is “We respect our associates’ responsibility for putting family first”. That to me is similar to his first rule. We feel a happy home means a person can focus at work and be productive. Rule #2: work superhard. Every successful entrepreneur that I know that has built a million + dollar business eats, sleeps, and breathes their business because it does take that much energy to get it to that point. Rule #3: Live your passion. I’ve always believed this, whether I was working for someone else or building my business. Early in my corporate career, I took a job that was in line with my passion which was working on databases and sports. In fact, I took a significant pay cut in order to work there, I started out at $38,000 per year. I worked 50-60 hour weeks, was on-call on Christmas day, but absolutely loved what I was doing. In fact, everyday I couldn’t believe that I was getting paid to perform that job. I think that because of my passion, plus hard work, not to mention an awesome boss, my salary quickly increased and then it was three steps forward.
Fast forward to now. I’m passionate. Always have been. I’ve shaped by business to focus on the things that I’m passionate about. One life lesson that I can share is is that I’ve made compromises in the past. Rather than take a job offer from Microsoft, I stayed with Washington Mutual because they offered me a big pay increase. After one year, I came to recognize that I stayed for the wrong reason — money. I will never do that again. Through that situation, I’ve also come to recognize the one thing that sucks more life and energy out of me are the people that complain about how they are unhappy with their job, hate their boss, don’t make enough money, or unhappy with their situation. Get up and change your situation, quit and do something else. If you’re just earning a living, then you deserve what you get. For me today, it’s critical to surround myself with people that know what they want, know what success is, and won’t compromise their happiness for money. Those are the things that help keep me energized and stay charged up.
@garyvee shares that he’s seen many businesses close. One of the most important thing is to “know how to tell your story”. The other day I was talking with Nicole Donnelly, entrepreneur and founder of BabyLegs about a new business idea that I’m considering to pursue. One of the things that she said to me is what is your story? Just like @garyvee, Nicole, understands that in order for a business to differentiate itself, there’s got to be a really great story behind it and you have have to be a good story teller too. The one thing that @garyvee emphasizes is that you also must know what your medium is in order to convey that story. “Know yourself. Choose the right medium, choose the right topic, create awesome content, and you can make a lot of money being happy”. The key thing is to infuse it with personality and everything that makes you unique.
One of the best things about this book is his discussion on creating community and ensuring authenticity in your approach. Once you figure out what your passion is, you focus on creating a community around. For me, thinkspace is my passion, but, I’m also focused on creating a community. In fact, a main focus of my business is building up my community both inside thinkspace as well as the community outside (physically and online). I even created a position in my business called “Community Manager” to focus on this with me. @garyvee says it perfectly, “Making connections, creating and continuing meaningful interaction with other people, whether in person or in the digital domain, is the only reason we’re here”.
So, when I look around at the members of thinkspace, I would have to say that most people here are definitely living their passion. Everyday I get inspired working side-by-side other entrepreneurs. You can find office space anywhere to run your business, however, it’s invaluable to surround yourself with people that “crush it” every day.


Picture of thinkspace