“Follow your passion!” we have been told for a generation. From personal development “gurus” and school teachers to parents, friends and even celebrities, fulfillment comes from pursuing your dreams. “Follow your dreams and you’ll never work a day in your life!” the internet meme screams out at us.  But heading this popular admission has contributed to more business failures and personal financial struggles, than any other flawed career advice.


“What’s wrong with passion?” you say. There is nothing wrong with passion, as long as there is a solid business model behind. For most, there is not. That burning need you have to share your story, advocate for your cause or overcome your troubled past, has nothing whatsoever to do with what most people want to buy.

To be clear, this isn’t a capitalist manifesto, it’s a wake up call that the rest of the world feels no obligation to help you live your dream. The world needs to feed their families, pay their bills and invest in their future. While you, or your teens may be eyeing that college degree in philosophy, I don’t think a lot of philosophy firms are hiring right now.

As a professional speaker, I see countless aspiring colleagues led astray by well-meaning friends who encourage them to “get out and tell your story.” And while I appreciate that you survived cancer, you need to know that over 15 million cancer survivors are currently living in America alone! Nearly 4,000 people have successfully climbed to the top of Mount Everest. Over 12,000 former NFL players are still alive today and two million Americans have lost at least one limb. Passion is not enough.

Focusing on your passion is a luxury reserved for the wealthiest among us. The rest of us need to focus on a solid business model of trading value for fair compensation. We need to take out passion and have a clear target for who, with money, needs what we are offering. We must have a way to find contacts and turn them into leads; and leads into legitimate prospects; and prospects into paying clients.

Pragmatism trumps idealism. Of course, my three idealistic Millennials will disagree with me on this point, but they have that luxury as they don’t have to pay the bills…yet.

Make no mistake, there are some very successful idealist, and the successful ones are impacting millions because they have a solid business model that generates real dollars. Your passion will certainly help you get up in the morning, but your business savvy, competitive advantages and hard work will feed your family.

Instead of focusing on your passion, focus on your business model. Work your tail off. Be strategic, diligent, persuasive, different, frugal, and demonstrate your value better than others who are competing for your audience. Craft your words, authentically connect with you buyers and close that sale!

Make no mistake, I am passionate about my work on stage as a business speaker and my impact on my consulting clients. My focus, however, is on building and promoting my business, supporting my employees and my family. With my priorities in place, I can follow my passion for the rest of my days.

David Avrin, CSP speaks internationally on strategic business marketing and branding. He helps organizations, entrepreneurs, sales professionals,  employees and business owners gain meaningful competitive advantage. David is also the author of the popular business book: It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows You! Watch a preview video at http://www.VisibilityInternational.com


  • Tiffany Lengyel says:

    Great blog. Great points.

  • Julia Hubbel says:

    I have to admit that I was deeply impressed with the fact that I had climbed Kilimanjaro at the age of sixty…until I read about the quadriplegics who had done it without prosthetics, the fact that some 25,000 attempt it every year, yada yada. Since then I have done so many so called epic and impressive things that it boggles the mind. Yet…really? honestly?

    The self importance shrivels fast. Nobody gives a shit, frankly, only you do. And, perhaps, those closest to you. What it taught me, the stories along the way, what I learned from my guides, my climbing partner, now those were different stories. Those had lasting value. Nobody cares about your lookitme heroics. That’s a VERY hard lesson to learn.
    When we can walk away from our self-absorption and recognize how meaningless we really are, and how we really are nothing, then perhaps we can look at what we CAN do with our offerings. Instead of being so needful of recognition, attention, and adoration, perhaps then we can beg the question: how can I turn this into something useful for others?

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