Passion – What Successful Careers Are Made Of

I love playing video games. I play most days and I’m quite competitive online in some of them. But they’re not my passion. I’m never going to make a successful career out of them. That’s because I don’t spend every waking hour thinking about videogames, trying to develop them, watching online videos in an effort to improve my play and hanging around videogame retailers with like-minded people. Yes, I love videogames, but they’re not my passion.

Passion is an obsession. When you’re passionate about something, you’ll spend an unprecedented amount of time practicing it in order to excel at it. Passion is what successful careers are made of.

The Passion in Bill Gates

Take Bill Gates. Before he was the man behind Microsoft with an income greater than most entire companies, he was a 13-year-old kid with a passion for computers. When his school purchased a teletype terminal for students to use, Gates’ obsession escalated and he spent all his free time on the terminal. He programmed his first game, a tic-tac-toe program, while at school. He and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen released Traf-o-Data, a program that monitored traffic patterns in Seattle, at ages 15 and 17 respectively, which netted the teens a cool $20,000. While enrolled at Harvard, Gates spent most of his time at the computers and his grades suffered, disappointing his parents. When they saw what Microsoft became, I’m sure they stopped complaining.

Nowadays, a look at Bill Gates’ blog reveals precious little related to computers. Gates is now passionate about changing the world for the better, whether through energy innovation, improving current education systems, or plans to completely eliminate malaria. And given how passionate he is about it all, he’ll probably succeed.

While Gates has stepped down from the executive level and now plays an advisory role at Microsoft, the company’s revenue was last reported as almost 87 billion US dollars, and it all comes back to Bill Gates’ passion as a 13 year old computer nerd.

The Passion in Heston Blumenthal

Michelin-starred chef and television personality Heston Blumenthal became obsessed with cooking as a teenager while dining at an acclaimed restaurant in Provence, France. From age 16 to 26, he worked a variety of jobs by day – photocopier salesman, debt collector, credit controller – but these just got in the way of his passion for cooking. By night, he would cook the same dishes over and over until they were perfect. He would spend every summer crossing the channel to France, visiting restaurants, suppliers and wineries to learn about culinary techniques and procedures involved in both the front and back end of restaurants. When he opened his restaurant in 1995, he would work 20 hour shifts, occasionally catching 15-minute power naps. This workload would discourage most mortals, but not Blumenthal. A 20 hour cooking shift? That’s just 20 hours doing what he’s passionate about. Easy.

Today his passion is demonstrated through the genius and madness of his dishes, which continue to receive critical acclaim despite how outlandish they are. His incredible platings and flavour combinations are the product of his imagination, which is fuelled by constantly reading historical recipes and researching the science behind how flavours mingle. This is why you’ll find salmon and liquorice on the same plate when you dine at his flagship restaurant.

Blumenthal appears to have the ability to be in several places at once: on the bookshelf, in the kitchen, on the small screen and on stage at an event. No doubt he has to endure long flights and sleepless nights as well as the hard yards in the kitchen, but it’s his passion that gets him through it.

And how much is Heston’s passion worth? In 2013, he pocketed 13 million pounds.

More Passionate People

You don’t have to look too hard to find more examples of passionate entrepreneurs. Chef Jamie Oliver was helping out in kitchens before he finished school and dropped out to attend catering college. Footballer Lionel Messi has lived with a hormone deficiency that stunted his growth, but he persisted due to his passion for the game, played with his older brothers, and defied the odds to become arguably the greatest of all time. Steve Jobs and his father Paul tinkered with electronics in his garage as a child. He later dropped out of college and instead dropped in on creative calligraphy classes, fusing his passions for electronics and design to found the most design-conscious tech company in the world, Apple.

Maybe you take a lot of photos. Maybe you paint every day. Or maybe you love writing about everything and anything. If you’re passionate about something, chances are, with a little luck and a lot of hard work, there might be some money in it.

– Magnus

Customer Service Hangover

I just returned from a long weekend in Bali, Indonesia. The place is a tropical paradise – it’s devastatingly beautiful there, and the people, equally so. I spent just four days and three nights there and during my brief sojourn I was blown away by the level of customer service I experienced.

From the moment I stepped foot off the plane and into Ngurah Rai airport I was greeted by smiling friendly faces directing me where to go. Upon leaving the airport, I was met by my hotel driver, Jumbo. He welcomed me to his beautiful country, put a lei around my neck and cracked a few jokes. He showed genuine interest in where I was from, what I wanted to do while in Bali and offered a myriad of suggestions of things to do during my stay.hotel-staff

He noted that my hotel room would not be ready until 2pm – two hours from when I arrived. Rather than leaving me to languish in the lobby, he offered to drive me around Bali and show me some of the sights. The most notable venue was the home of Luwak Coffee – a coffee that has been eaten and excreted by the Asian palm civet. For the record, it’s very smooth and delicious. Take a moment to pause and think: when was the last time you received this level of service in Australia?

Another customer service triumph was in a local restaurant. The waitress had just finished serving another patron when I caught her attention. She walked over and I asked her if I could place an order. She said “Certainly, just let me grab my order pad”. Now in Australia, I probably wouldn’t see the waitress for another 10-15 minutes. Before I could roll my eyes, she had returned ready to take my order. It sounds small, but this kind of on-the-ball service is a rarity.

Finally, the pièce de résistance: my hotel’s ‘breakfast box’. Staying in Santi Mandala in Ubud, I was a good hour away from the airport. My departing flight to Perth was due to leave at 7am, so I had to be up and out the door at 5am. One of the reception staff noticed this when I checked in and arranged a small box filled with breakfast goods for me to eat on my way to the airport as the restaurant would not be open this early. I was blown away. I didn’t have to ask for it or even hint at it. It was simply provided. Needless to say, it left a lasting impression and here I am telling you about it.

Bali is a beautiful place and it’s made more beautiful by its kind, giving people. They’re always smiling and always so happy to have you in their country. The pride they have in their country, their work and their culture is what lifts the experience into the upper echelons of customer service mastery. They give more but with so much less, which begs the question: what can you do to bring this sort of attentive service into your business?

– Lachy