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Posted: March 27, 2009

The truth about passion

For successful entrepreneurs, passion is the foundation of fulfillment and lasting success

Brian Schwartz

Entrepreneurs: If someone offered you a million dollars to quit pursuing your passion, would you take the money? If your answer is yes, then you haven’t found your true calling yet.

This is among the lessons I learned in writing my book, "50 Interviews." Through the process of interviewing 50 entrepreneurs, many truths emerged as to why some people act and others don’t.


Successful entrepreneurs are driven by a consuming passion, and money can't trump that. To blaze your own trail and create something from nothing, you need to have a compelling reason to get you through the greatest tests of your willpower.

The experiences of the entrepreneurs I interviewed – including mix1's Greg Stroh, Odell Brewing Company's Doug Odell and Genesis Homes' Miles Grant – taught me that failure is the pathway to success, a burning passion is an essential fuel and having a purpose bigger than ourselves leads to true fulfillment. There was only one criteria for those featured in the book. They didn’t take a paycheck from an employer – they created their own and, in turn, provided employment for others.

When I began this project, I had nearly given up on finding fulfillment in work.  For nearly 15 years, it had eluded me. I’d enjoy a new job for a period of time and had enthusiasm for the work.  When everything was fresh and new, it didn’t feel like work. But it would never last.

Since graduating from college, I’ve worked for six companies and had over a dozen different managers. Everywhere I looked, I saw others dissatisfied and looking for fulfillment outside of their work. But before I quit my last job and went out of my own, I promised my wife I would talk to 50 entrepreneurs first to discover whether that's really what I wanted to do. That is how my book – and later my publishing company – was born. 

What I found amazed me. I saw fulfillment in every entrepreneur I interviewed – and I learned the truth about passion. A consuming passion is that which you think about before you go to bed at night and the first thing you think about when you wake up.  It feels like an addiction, and if someone told you to stop, it would be impossible for you to give it up.  hose who have uncovered their passion feel a need to pursue it whether or not they are getting paid to do it. They have also given their passion fuel to grow. Passion needs to expand, and the surest way to do that is to share it with others.

Spend more time with others who share your passion. Spend less time with those who do not. Just like a plant needs water, passion needs to be nurtured a little bit every day in order for it to grow to the point where it becomes obvious to you and the rest of the world.  Try to avoid the weeds that distract you from full expressing your passion. Passion is at the foundation of lasting success and more importantly, true fulfillment.

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Brian Schwartz is the author of "50 Interviews: Entrepreneurs." Click here to learn more about Schwartz and his project.

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