The Power Of Personal Passion

5/26/2010 – Eileen Gittins –
How entrepreneurs can turn what they love doing into successful businesses.

Most people think about their jobs as the thing they do, instead of the thing they get to do. When you can build a culture where people feel privileged instead of entitled, that’s magic. And that’s what the best Silicon Valley companies do: They tap into the power of personal passion.

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About 10 years ago when I was fundraising for my second startup, I came across a former entrepreneur-turned-VC who had decided to return to the trenches. It was clear she was more than happy running her new company–she was unabashedly delighted. I remember thinking, “Really?,” because her company was developing back-end technology that, honestly, was lost on me.

It didn’t matter that I couldn’t appreciate her company’s business–the point was that she loved it. And I realized that I loved that she loved it. It was a bit of an epiphany, actually. It sounds obvious, but that level of passion is not only about commitment, it’s about meaning and, just as important, it’s about fun.

Entrepreneur Lesson One: Do Something You Love
This is the first lesson in my own entrepreneurial playbook: Do something you love. Life will throw a lot of pies in your face, and there will be days when you can’t get out of your own way–so there better be something big that sustains you. Big as in “you just can’t not do this” big. Like when artists say they paint because they have to, or writers say they write because they can’t not. It has to be way more than a paycheck.

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Entrepreneur Lesson Three: Hire For Passion And Curiosity
Skill is actually not the most important thing we look for as we build our team. We look for people who are passionate about something, anything. It’s actually a great interview conversation; I learn more about candidates in the interstices, in the “not business” moments, than when we are talking about SEM conversion or agile software development. As a result of asking the passion question, we (a) don’t hire the people who can’t answer the question and (b) have hired people who are competitive boxers, BMW driving school instructors, part-time DJs, theater stage managers, 5 a.m. San Francisco Bay rowers and aspiring screenplay writers.

No matter how our employees’ creative juices manifest, these are people who will “get” our customers. They understand how intense the creative process is, how much it means and how special it is when the outcome is even better than imagined. At our core, that’s the promise of Blurb. Employees who understand this will create great experiences for our customers–whether in software, on our site, in the quality of book they receive or the service they get along the way.

Our folks’ natural curiosity will cause them to discover new opportunities, not because it’s their job, but because it’s their DNA.

Read full article at the Forbes site.