This is the Motivation That Helps Your Business Succeed

How He Won Me Over With Kimchi -- This is the motivation it takes to succeed in business

“I make better kimchi than your Korean grandmother.”

That was what his online dating profile said.

I was intrigued.

Not because I have any great love of kimchi but because that was how he chose to describe himself.

After a couple weeks of dating, he dropped off a jar of kimchi and some soup at my apartment. I promptly ate the soup. The kimchi, I put in the cabinet. No freaking way was I going to eat that.

A few months later, going through my cabinets in an attempt to find some movie snacks, he discovered the jar of kimchi. “Um, this wasn’t sealed. It needed to be in the refrigerator.”

What happened next completely shocked this suburban girl who grew up on processed food and the-mall-as-entertainment:

He opened the jar and popped a big bite of fermented cabbage in his mouth.

Then… then… he plucked out a bite for me.

Blinded by love and inspired by his enthusiasm, I ate it.

It was good. Really good.

Fast forward 9 months.

One morning last week, he told me slept poorly because he read too much stimulating information before he went to sleep; The Art of Fermentation was sprawled out on the floor next to the bed. He’d spent restlessface hours considering new ideas for pickled vegetables.

On New Year’s Eve, he dropped off a jar of kimchi to the newest chef in town, a chef who’s been featured in Bon Appetit & Sunset Magazine, among others. New Year’s Day, he told me how he brought in another jar for his coworkers to try. He said, “I just want everyone to know how good this stuff is. I love it and I want them to love it too.”

I’ve told him many times that I think he could easily make a business out of his passion for pickling. But it was that last statement that really sold me on his ability to create something sustainable.

Businesses motivated by the deep desire to get what they create in the hands of others–to solve their problems or delight their senses–succeed. They inspire truly great marketing. They prompt story after story, reaching new prospects all the time.

That’s very different than just starting a business because you love doing your thing. Those kind of businesses generally don’t cause ripple effects of results or person-to-person sharing. They don’t get stories in magazines or mentions on the nightly news. They don’t inspire their teams to do better work.

It’s not the feeling you get when you’ve created something awesome that motivates great business; it’s the feeling you get when someone else experiences that something awesome.

When that is what drives you on a daily basis, you don’t need top 10 lists of promotional tactics. You don’t need Advanced Social Media Marketing. All you need is that core desire to share.

The reason I see potential in my partner’s passion for a sustainable business isn’t just because he loves to pickle things, it’s because he also has a passion for offering it up to others. The delight on his face when someone tries something from one of his jars for the first time is contagious. The energy he derives from seeing yet another skeptic converted to the ways of the fermented is immense.

You must have as much passion for the dissemination of your art as for the creation of it.

You must be willing to break down all your personal fears to pursue the act of plopping what you’ve created in the laps of the people you think should care about it.

You must be motivated by the surprise and the delight those you share your art with will experience.

Anything less than that and you won’t push past all the ways your fear will get block you sharing your art with the world.

Amanda Steinberg has built her publishing empire to over 1 million subscribers not because she loves writing about women & money but because she can’t wait to get smart financial information in the hands of women everywhere. Sarah Peck doesn’t just write because she loves to write but because she has a passion for engaging others about the questions and ideas she’s pondering. Catherine Just isn’t a photographer because she likes to snap pictures but because she’s eager to share the miracles she sees through the viewfinder with as many people as possible.

You might find these distinctions semantic. I don’t.

This very real difference not only predicts success but indicates whether a business owner will push through her fear, tolerate more risk, and do what is necessary to make her vision reality. It indicates whether she’ll have what it takes to trust her own ability to create the tactics that will grow her business instead of relying on the prevailing trends.

As you begin the new year in your business, ask yourself if you’re as passionate about sharing your work with others as you are about creating it. Forget that you might not know the “ins and outs” of marketing and sales. Instead, embrace a burning desire to say, as Seth Godin puts it, “Here, I made this for you.”

The rest you can figure out in time.

The Danger of Searching for Your One True Love

I wandered for years wondering if I would “find my passion.” I often worried that I had found it & then let it slip away.

In college, I drifted through different parts of ministry & academia. After college, I research & compared graduate degree programs of all stripes. Even after I decided to strike out on my own, I kept looking for my one true love.

Finally, an idea that filled a need propelled me to action.

Action was the solution.

The danger of looking for your one true love, your one true passion is that there’s an assumption that there is a single purpose to your life and that that single purpose can be be fulfilled by a single interest.

Your passion is not “an interest.”

You have interests – maybe military history, orchids, or gluten-free vegan cookies – and some of those interests may stick with you your whole life. Others come & go. Sometimes your interests cultivate new skills and sometimes they are new skills.

Your interests may be hobbies or you may have incorporated them into your work or career. They may be solitary or things you enjoy with family or friends. You might be categorized or labelled by your interests.

But in the end, your interests do not define you. They are a channel through which you express yourself. Your interests provide focus and context for what drives you.

Your passion is also not “an opportunity.”

No one is coming to knock at your door with your passion packaged in the form of an opportunity, tied with a bow. It’s not a one-night stand that turns into a long-term relationship. In the end, passion creates opportunities; it isn’t defined by them.

So what needs to be discovered when passion feels lost?

Passion is movement. Action. Momentum.

Passion is life force. It’s drive. Ambition.

When you ask how to find your passion you are asking because you’ve either lost – or never had – the drive, action, and momentum that creates the big things you desire.

I know this feeling. It felt equally like settling down and giving up.

It feels comfortable.

But work & action in the midst of passion feels reckless. It feels dangerous. It hurts so good.

When was the last night you stayed up all night because you were so excited by what you were working on? When was the last time your friends had to tell you they wanted to talk about something other than your next big thing? When was the last time you practically vibrated with the anticipation of your “work?”

That’s passion. The tingling in your fingertips, the fizzling in your brain.

Your passion may spring up out of a multitude of interests. Or there may be one source of this drive. But, don’t confuse passion with the interest itself.

When it comes to harnessing passion in a venture, it’s not your interest that is most important. It’s the drive. Don’t worry so much about discovering what drives you as the drive itself.

Get swept up. Follow the current where it wants to take you.

And stop looking for your one true love.

Stop trying to make money from your passion.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before…

You’re so good at ______________! You really should start a business!

We all have. Because we’re all brilliant, talented, passionate people.

It’s a terrible reason to start a business.

How about this one?

I really love to _____________. I’m going to sell it!

I think at this point, you realize it’s not that easy. Right?

You want to pursue your passion and build a thriving business? Fantastic. I love it. Please do. But understand that you’re missing a step.

You’re missing the most crucial part of developing a business that works for you. You’re missing the thing that makes people take notice. The key to creating viral marketing campaigns. The cornerstone of community building.

When your business is built to make money from your passion, you are constantly struggling to find the model that enables you to do that work. It’s an endless pursuit of the right system, the right tactics, and the right marketplace.

It’s business based on self-interest.

What if, instead of focusing on your own self-interest – impassioned as it may be, you focused on how your passion enables you to serve others? Why are you in business? Why do you what you do?

The answers for to these questions are crucial. As Simon Sinek would say:

People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.

Your widget – no matter how beautiful or how well made – doesn’t open wallets on its own merit. Your service – no matter how well-executed or useful – doesn’t move people to click the “buy now” button.

We live amidst abundance. Every where you look, your widget choices abound. Services are aplenty. Never before has there existed such an accessibility to exactly what you need.

What we need may be utilitarian. What we crave is nuanced, meaningful, experiential.

This is why making money from your passion just isn’t enough. This is why there is a third part to the equation.

Often, when I ask an aspiring passion-driven entrepreneur what their “why” is, the answer is, “Because I just love to [make, create, give advice, write, etc…].”

That answer always falls flat.

The response to “I just love to…” isn’t a transaction, it’s a pat on the back.

Back pats don’t pay the bills.

Of course, your passion – your unceasing desire to do what you do – is key to creating a business that serves you well in the You-Centered Economy. But it’s not an end itself.

Your passion is an opportunity. It’s the inspiration.

Your passion is an opportunity to serve others with clarity & inspiration.

To teach. To advocate. To support. To comfort. To motivate. Click to tweet it!

You don’t make money from your passion. You create the opportunity for commerce around the way your passion inspires you to serve others.

The hipster food truck owner doesn’t only have a passion for selling Mexican-Korean fusion tacos. He is creating an opportunity to educate others about foreign food cultures. He is offering a hub for human connection. He is inspiring others to try new things.

The jewelry designer doesn’t only have a passion for making elegant jewelry from recycled metal. She is empowering women to feel beautiful in their own skin. She is creating opportunities for boyfriends and husbands to delight their girlfriends and wives. She is jumpstarting wardrobes.

The copywriter doesn’t only have a passion for the written word. He is bringing clarity to his clients. He is enabling business owners to see a new side of their business. He is creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to better serve their own customers.

It’s not the passion that triggers the transaction. It’s the service.

You can love what you do – completely – while making others the foundation of everything you do.

Use your passion to inspire the service of others and, in that service, create the opportunity for commerce.

Click to tweet the word!

Ask yourself, What am I teaching and whom am I serving by practicing my passion?

Your business is built from there.

A system of commerce based on the service of others transcends individual passion even as it elevates it and those who feed the system.

what is the future of work? interview with Dr. Susan Bernstein

The only way to do great work is to love what you do.
– Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

What is the future of work? If the Creative Class is not a lie, if the jobs really aren’t coming back, what does it mean to be “employed” now? 5 years from now? 15 years from now?

That’s what I wanted to talk to Dr. Susan Bernstein about. Susan is both an MBA and a PhD. She studies the way we work in relation to the [dis]connection between our minds & our bodies.

She wants your work to not only tickle your brain but to feel good in your body.

In short, Susan believes that it’s not so much about finding the perfect job nor is it about everyone quitting organizational employment to work for themselves (even I agree with that!). Instead, she wants you to discover the skills that turn you on, mentally & physically, and then to match those skills with problems that need to be solved.

Even the playing field between those who want to work and those who need work done.

I love how she talks about skills. I think it relieves the pressure one feels when “trying to find her passion.” It’s not finding the one thing that is your passion – it’s discovering how work can make you feel passionate. See the difference?

Watch the video and then tell me:

What do YOU think is the future of work?

Susan is currently running a HUGE series on discovering & utilizing your own Kick Ass Confidence. Highly recommended.


Disclosure: Susan is my client. But she’s awesome and has a fascinating point of view. You don’t mind, do ya?


I dedicate this post to Steve Jobs. His work changed my work. And my life.
Thank you, Steve.

the many sides of balance, or not tipping the scales isn’t about equal weight

the many sides of balance, or not tipping the scales isn’t about equal weight

Your definition of balance is overrated.

Okay, I don’t know for sure that your definition is overrated.

But if it has anything to do with weighing out equal quantities of gold while a Lady Justice-esque woman looks on unknowingly, it is.

We have been programmed for strive for balance: family/work balance, give/take balance, eat your veggies/have your cake balance. We want to make sure each dangling tray carries the right amount of weight to keep the scale from tipping.


Contentment – nay, passion & joy – is about defying an equal-handed approach.

We indulge in work when we should be resting, we keep on giving when it’s time to take, we sneak a fork full of goey chocolate lava cake for breakfast. And we feel good about it.

We don’t feel off balance. We feel good.

The pursuit of balance makes us juggle. It puts us behind (always behind,) makes us guilty, neglectful, imbalanced. It’s as useful a concept as original sin. You can never get it right.
Danielle LaPorte

Tipping the scales isn’t a matter of too much weight here, to little there. In order to maintain balance, you have to gently hold the focus of your passion, purpose, and values.

  • If being a great mom & raising engaged children is important to you, do you need to fear the joy of working hard at your business?
  • If serving others through your words & actions is your purpose, do you need to fear the need to make a living from what you do?
  • If creating art & expressing yourself visually is your passion, do you need to fear the desire to have others love what you make?

We’ve created these false dichotomies. We’ve manifested dualities where none exist. We’ve set ourselves up for failure.

Your joy is whole. There is no need to balance the weight of what is demanded of you. Instead, honor all that you have to give.

{image via lululemon athletica}