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Could Your Passion Be The Problem?

Passion is all fine and well, but it should be tempered by reality, a clear mission and a touch of humility.

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We take the value of ‘passion’ for granted. You have a business? You have an idea? Well, then you need passion when you talk about it. You talk about it with passion, you get ‘converts’. You get converts, and those converts ‘evangelise’ for you. Passion begets passion begets passion. And let the people say: Hallelujah!

Ugh. There are those of us who don’t respond well to extreme passion.

We’re the sceptics. And we’ve always annoyed the zealots: Why won’t they just listen?! Well, the passion is making it hard to listen.

The problem with passion is that it can cloud your message and overshadow your mission enough that it’s no longer clear what you’re talking about, or even what your business is. The more passionate you are, the less professional you seem – the less human you seem. At some point, passion begins to mask the humanity it seeks to express. Passion has diminishing returns.

Related: Want to Start a Business but Questioning Your Passion? Try This 

The advantage, of course, is that passion costs nothing to implement. It’s not a budget item. You just have to muster it. And this is why it’s overused. Says Mike Manning, co-founder and CEO of DealVector, an online network for fixed-income investors:

“When you’re creating something out of nothing, you’re often selling a vision, because you don’t have the metrics. So I think an awful lot of being an entrepreneur speaking to employees, funders [and] customers is allowing that passion to substitute for metrics.”

But there’s a way to be passionate. A method, even. It involves what absolutely no expert refers to as the ‘enthuse, temper, enthuse’ approach. The idea is to occasionally, and quite explicitly, undercut your passion with self-deprecation or, even, hedging.

The idea is

When you’re talking passionately about your product, idea or business, you need to tone down the enthusiasm, so that it’s obvious to your audience that you aren’t on some one-track mission to convince everyone of your brilliance.

On the highway of enthusiasm, you need to stop and stretch your legs every now and then, take a restroom break, buy some beef jerky. You need to relax and look around. By acknowledging – even vaguely – that your idea is not The Great Idea but one in a cosmos of good ideas, you’re making your notion even more appealing. You’re placing it in a sane context – the context of the rigour that it will take to get the idea off the ground.

“I think you can own the part of the wild-eyed entrepreneur to some degree, as long as you can do it with humour and levity and be clear you’re not taking yourself so seriously,” Manning says. “You need to do it with enough humour so that people understand you’re both in the part and playing the part.”

Wild-eyed is not a virtue. Unmitigated passion is a marker associated with various psychological disorders. You need to seem sane. The best way to do this is to look at your pitch or speech as a conversation. Your passion must be inclusive. Otherwise you’re imposing your idea on people, instead of helping them understand why it’s so good – for them.

In a conversation, you need to pick up on cues. This is not a new idea; in sales you’re taught to ask a lot of questions to home in on your audience’s needs. “If you just start talking without truly understanding your audience, you run the risk of making incorrect assumptions,” says Lee Zane of the Department of Management at Rider University.

“When I used to do sales work when I had my software business, we would do conference presentations where we’d invite 20 firms in and present our software, and I wouldn’t start until I’d asked a bunch of questions. Why are they doing this now? What problems do they have? Then I could go in and be reasonably enthusiastic in a presentation, because I knew what they were looking for.”

You can’t know what people are looking for when you’re too busy telling them what to look for. Passion is important, but it has to be tempered. It has to seem connected to reality and to your mission that was (presumably) thoughtfully considered and rigorously executed. It’s good to seem passionate. It’s better to seem driven.

Key Technical Matters

  • Use body language to express passion.
  • As long as it’s body language that doesn’t involve raising the roof. Or pelvic thrusting. Or indiscriminate fist bumping. Or shielding your eyes from the wattage of your own brilliant idea. Or chest beating, which has worked for exactly two people: King Kong and Celine Dion.
  • Closing your eyes and reciting a quote you found by Googling ‘passion quote’ will not make you seem authentically passionate.
  • Passion butts right up against a lot of other, less positive qualities, such as: mania, scumbaggery and an eagerness possibly fueled by cocaine. Fine lines there.
  • Words to use instead of passion (which is an overused word): hunger, enthusiasm, drive, excitement, zeal.
  • Not-so-good words to use instead of passion: obsession, infatuation, paroxysm, strong urge, zealotry.
  • Your general demeanour should be somewhere between ardent and fervent.
  • If you find yourself being merely keen, you are not passionate enough.
  • If you are vehement, you are too passionate.
  • If you are taken away by the police, you are way, way too passionate.

Want fervour with that?

We asked Loren Bouchard, writer and creator of the Fox animated sitcom Bob’s Burgers, to tell us what makes Bob, passionate owner of a hamburger joint, a well-rounded character.

“The key to balancing passion is humility. When we write a character who’s super-passionate, but we want them to be likeable and relatable, too, we use doubt and humility as our secret ingredients.

“Bob knows he makes a great burger – a truly original and creative burger. We’ve layered Bob’s character with all the attributes of a real artist – a beef artist, let’s call him. And Bob, like many real artists, has pursued his passion to the point that he is actually trying to make a living at it. And that’s when things get tricky. When the artist doesn’t immediately succeed in his chosen field, doubt comes – he sees himself struggling, sees his family having to sacrifice, to do without, all so that he might practice his art.”

Now you have a relatable character. That guy is the guy you want to meet. He’s humbled by circumstance, but does he still make a great burger? Of course he does. He makes the best burger around. He’s confident and resilient, and he’s making burgers at the peak of his burger-making powers. You love his burgers!

He just can’t pay his bills. He can’t afford that nice thing he wants: The condo with the yard, maybe. Is he bitter? Well, define bitter. He’s exactly the amount of bitter that many great flavours are: Coffee, Scotch. (Those are bad examples. You get the idea.)

Passion and confidence are great, but without humility they seem naive, unrealistic, teetering toward narcissistic. Add a healthy dose of humility, though, and you’ve got the makings of what we might call Character with a capital C. Real character is a good ingredient for storytelling and for humans, too.

Related: Alfie Cox The Racing Legend: On Humble Pie and Passion

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

(Podcast) Being An Entrepreneur Is Painful

There is a pain attached to running your own business. It’s time to discuss how tough it is – address the reality and you might just be one of the successful few.

Nicholas Haralambous

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Entrepreneurship is fun. But on the whole, running a business is hard. Far fewer business owners succeed than fail. Statistically your business is going to fail. Those are the hard numbers.

There is a pain attached to running your own business. It’s time to discuss how tough it is – address the reality and you might just be one of the successful few.

Listening time: 5 minutes

Related: (Podcast) Playing To An Audience Of One

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

3 Dangerous Entrepreneurial Myths You Need To Ignore

This terrible advice won’t actually get you anywhere.

Entrepreneur

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Entrepreneurial Myths

We’ve all heard the numbers about how hard it is to build a long-lasting business. While there are many factors at play to get there, without effective marketing and sales a business cannot survive.

Unfortunately, there is a multitude of dangerous and destructive marketing advice swirling around the heads of vulnerable entrepreneurs. Like vultures seeking their next meal, “gurus” pontificate nonsense that these hard-working business owners follow, only to discover that what they tried doesn’t work.

Often, once the damage is done, it is too late for them to do anything else about it.

If you want to not only survive, but thrive, here is some of the terrible advice you need to start ignoring:

1“You need to be everywhere”

I’m sorry, but how do these people sleep at night without the use of narcotics? “Experts” spew out dribble to make headlines saying you need to get on Snapchat, get on Periscope, do YouTube Live … be everywhere! They’ll say you need to get on this platform or that social media network. Oh, and use LinkedIn Live! And make sure to post on Instagram three times a day and Facebook twice a day. And don’t forget those Facebook Lives. Make sure to do them every day.

Related: The Journey Of Entrepreneurship: How The Tough Get Going

ACK! Just writing that paragraph stressed me out. How the heck are you supposed to be on all of those channels, never mind doing it all effectively, and still run your business? Of course you can’t. And you shouldn’t. (Unless self-torture is your thing, in which case have at it. There are books about that, but I’m not giving any titles because I’d have to Google them and then I’d be retargeted by the ads and that would just be gross.)

It is impossible to spend even half an hour on each major network and still get any work done. Forget about focusing on measurement, profit and return on investment. They don’t mention that on purpose, because then these crazy-pants suggestions would really make no sense. But, then these “experts” would stop making the headlines, so they keep serving up spoiled advice for the poor folk who chow down and then get sick on it.

Don’t allow yourself to fall victim to their plots of deception. Demand strategies that value your time and produce results in a significant and measurable way quickly.

2“It takes money to make money”

cash-flow-management

I didn’t take the easy way out. I am part of a group of scrappy entrepreneurs who have a lot of hustle and heart and little/no/negative funds. I didn’t come from family money, and the big banks certainly weren’t lending to businesses like mine.

The only way I was going to get a big pile of cash was if I won the lottery. And since I’ve only played about four times in the last decade, the chances of that happening were slim. What I had to find was the same thing you most likely want – a solution to predictably bring in customers when there is no marketing budget to play with.

3The Schmo-bags

The worst are who I call the “Ferrari Marketers.” They rent a sportscar for an hour or two, hang out in front of it and then sell us shiny object strategies that they haven’t even used in their own business.

Related: 6 Timeless Strategies That Drive Successful Entrepreneurship

They are abhorrent, hideous and dangerous. Not only are they crooks stealing the money of the people who are seeking a solution from them, but they may prevent really talented people who have a gift/service/product/offer to share that can help someone else from ever reaching them.

Did I mention they suck?

But, once you discover a game-changing system, you are responsible for implementing it. You can’t be distracted by shiny objects any longer.

As Jack Welch says, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

Don’t allow yourself to be enticed or distracted by fads or the “latest and greatest/not greatest” new social media strategy, channel or tactic.

Once you uncover how to truly get results, be strong-willed and stubborn. Repel any idea, strategy or initiative that requires you to keep spending money to make money. If you keep throwing dollars and time at a goal, hoping and wishing that it will work, yet not tracking or measuring the results and scaling accordingly, then you cannot expect results.

Start measuring, tracking and demanding results from your time and money, rising above others and landing in the successful minority that thrives instead of survives.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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5 Mindset Changes You Must Make When Going From Employee To Entrepreneur

As one prominent author wrote, “Entrepreneurs don’t finish when we are tired. We finish when we are done.”

Sujan Patel

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Thousands of people dream of the day they can quit their jobs and escape the 9-to-5 life. In fact, Gallup found that 87 percent of the employees it surveyed worldwide did not see themselves as engaged.

But quitting your job and starting your own business is only half the battle. You need to prepare to be an entrepreneur. Besides getting your finances in order and having a plan in place, you also need to prepare your mind.

Your habits dictate your success, and if you’re still stuck in that 9-to-5 mindset, your endeavors will fail. You must adopt an entrepreneurial mindset and start thinking the way the world’s top leaders do.

Being an entrepreneur is very different than being an employee, and the way you envision it may be completely off base. Here are five changes you must make to your thinking in order to prepare yourself for the realities of being an entrepreneur.

1Train your mind to think outside the box

Once you leave your office job, you’re no longer confined by corporate life. That means you need to open your mind to new possibilities – possibilities that may not have been an option in your old life.

Related: For Shatty Mashego Success Lies In Maintaining A Positive Mindset

In an article for TIME magazineWarren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said, “People will always try to stop you doing the right thing if it is unconventional.” In short, others may not see your vision, but you can’t let that stop you. You need to be creative with your business, offer something new and be different to be successful.

2Develop both short-term and long-term vision

Albert Einstein once told the New York Times, “A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.”

That new type of thinking needs to be focused on a strategic goal. You must have a vision for your company – an idea of where you’re going and how you’ll get there.

As an entrepreneur, you are the leader of your company, and your team members are looking to you to show them the path to success.

What’s your plan? You should be able to see the big picture as well as all of the steps it will take to reach your main goal. Then, you must communicate that vision to those on your team and ensure they each understand their individual roles in the plan.

3Let it all fall on your shoulders

stress-on-shoulders

Becoming an entrepreneur can be scary. Your success is now completely dependent on the work that you do. You can no longer fall back on a salary or benefits.

As an employee, if you had a bad day at work, you were still paid your salary, regardless. But as an entrepreneur, if your business isn’t successful, you won’t make any money. Plus, you now have others relying on you for their livelihood.

Ryan Farley is a typical example of corporate employee-turned-entrepreneur, quitting a fast-paced finance job to start lawn care marketplace LawnStarter Lawn Care. “I was used to working extremely long hours in the corporate finance world,” Farley told me. “I thought that would have conditioned me well, but nothing can prepare you for this amount of stress.

“It’s pretty common for founders to have the stress get so bad it affects your physical and mental health,” Farley continued. “But you have to press on, and you’re better off for it.” Prominent entrepreneurs like Brad Feld and Mark Suster, have expressed similar sentiments.

Working for yourself also means you need to be your own motivator. You no longer have a boss hounding you to get your work done. You need to stay organised and focused, and you’re going to have to be comfortable with hard work and long hours.

Related: 8 Mindsets That Will Set You On The Path To Success

4Get ready to be a jack of all trades

As an entrepreneur, you can’t say “That’s not my job.” Every job is your job now. There’s no one else to pick up the slack but you. You need to make sure everything in your business continues to run on track, and that may mean doing work you aren’t used to doing. You may need to be the accounting department, IT, marketing and more in addition to leading your company.

Entrepreneurs wear many different hats and are constantly learning new skills and working hard. If you think becoming an entrepreneur means you get to sit back and kick your feet up, you’d better stick to your day job.

As entrepreneur, author and investor Robert Kiyosaki has written on Twitter, “Entrepreneurs don’t finish when we are tired. We finish when we are done.”

5Be flexible, focused and positive

Attitude is everything in business. You can’t let challenges get in the way of your dream. Entrepreneurs need to be optimistic and stay focused on their goals. Your passion must drive you.

Related: An Entrepreneurial Mindset – Why And How To Develop One

As Steve Jobs once said in an interview with the Smithsonian Institution, “Unless you have a lot of passion about this, you’re not going to survive. You’re going to give it up. So, you’ve got to have an idea, or a problem or a wrong that you want to right that you’re passionate about; otherwise you’re not going to have the perseverance to stick it through. I think that’s half the battle right there.”

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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