Following Your Passions Pays Off

Passion Pays Off

I just found another example of how following your passions pays off, and it was right under my nose. Thom Rockliff and Elliot Ng, two of my colleagues at The St. John Group, just won a big international award – the Summit Marketing Effectiveness award – and it happened just because they followed their passion for technology.

A couple of years ago Thom and Elliot became interested in RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology. I didn’t have a clue what it was, but they explained, “When you pull up to a gas pump and use your speed pass, RFID reads your card and tells the pump to give you gas.” I said, “So what? We do marketing for products like BlackBerry, not gas pumps. Is there a client paying you to work on this stuff?” They said, “No, we’re just curious and interested in RFID, so we’re messing around with it in our spare time.”

I watched as they built some gizmos in the back room and made the RFID technology do cool things. To be honest, I wondered if all the effort was worth it, but I’d worked in Nortel Networks research labs long enough to know that if someone is passionate and excited about doing something, it might pay off someday. That day came a year later when we were working with our Research in Motion clients on a BlackBerry booth for a Las Vegas trade show. One of the clients said, “I wish there was a better way to track what interests visitors to our booth, so we could get them the information they need faster.” Bing! Thom and Elliot immediately saw how RFID could solve the problem and they soon developed a powerful solution.

So, now when you go to the BlackBerry booth you get a card, and when you want the scoop on a product you just touch the card to a tag next to it and the system quickly sends you information on everything that interests you. Customers visiting the booth get information FAST that’s targeted to their needs and BlackBerry staff receive up to the minute data on customers’ interests. The icing on the cake is the solution just won a top international award, and it all happened just because two guys followed their passions and interests. As Joseph Campbell once said, “Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before.”

PASSION was number one for Bill


passion1When I was talking with Bill Gates we were discussing the “Eight Success Principles” on the back of my business card. Pointing to WORK, I said, “One thing I like about Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers is the research that shows it takes 10,000 hours of practice to get good at something.” Then pointing to the top of the chart, I said, “But didn’t Malcolm miss the most important thing, the number one factor for success – PASSION – finding something you love to do?” Bill said, “Yes, I agree. If you don’t love it, you won’t spend the 10,000 hours.”

I said, “You found something you loved. There’s a quote of yours in my book 8 To Be Great where you say, ‘Paul and I never thought we would make much money. We just loved writing software.'” Bill said, “It’s true.” So take it from a man whose passion took him to the top, the number one thing is to find something you love to do. It may not be easy to find. It wasn’t for Bill. But that’s another story.


50,000-Watt People

I was just told I’m going to be interviewed by some radio stations and they’re all “50,000-watt stations.” That means they have lots of energy, so they can go far and reach more people. My mind jumped to the thought that if you rated the energy of many of the great people I have interviewed, they would be “50,000-watt people.” Richard Branson and Martha Stewart had so much energy they struck me as 50,000-watt people. So did Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, and eBay cofounder Jeff Skol, to name just a few. They have tons of energy, largely because they’ve found their passion and are doing what they love. On the other hand, many people who are not doing what they love are more like 100-watt people. So, if you want more energy to push you further, forget eating energy bars and instead find your passion. That’s the way to reach 50,000 watts in your life.