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Will work for passion

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006



My somewhat younger, more tender self was sitting across the desk from the formidable editor of the daily newspaper I was working for, trying to convince her to start a new feature section.

Truth: She scared the wits out of me. No missing fact would go unnoticed by this editor, whose ability to filet a story and the hapless team that put it at her feet was legendary. I was armed with numbers, facts, readership surveys, cost analysis, a fully designed prototype. I was in a sweat.

As I was nervously chattering, she sat quietly, listening (always the danger sign; she was an alligator that went completely still before striking its prey). Then she wrote a note on a piece of paper, folded the paper and slipped it across to me. I gingerly opened it, expecting, "You’re fired," or at the very least, "Exactly why did we hire you, anyway?"

On the paper was scrawled one word: passion.

She knew I was passionate about my idea, even rooted for me to succeed, but I had buried the most important element in my arguments: how much I believed in, desired, longed for, loved the project I was pushing. Without that, no one, including her, was going to buy it, even if it was terrific.

I’ve kept her note in my mind for eight years. It’s been a good reminder to do the things I care about and to ditch the rest, because a life lived without deep feeling and commitment is really not a life, just time spent. The same is true for my work, on which I spend much of that life.

Which leads me to our February issue. It wasn’t meant to be the Passion Issue. You’ll find no tips to unleash your inner frenzy here (buy Cosmo for that kind of thing; we’re a respectable business magazine). But it happened anyway. February being the month of St. Valentine, perhaps it was inevitable.

Dagoba CEO Frederick Schilling certainly comes from a passionate place when he describes what chocolate means to him. Schilling is our debut ViP interview, a new feature that anchors the last page. First Person writer Greg Netzer (chocolate again) tells a funny family business tale of helping his wife fulfill her passion. There’s Home Comfort Zones’ John Ott in the Small Business Roundtable talking of love (hey, for his work), which makes the long hours and fights with his own alligators more than worth it. And only some kind of crazy passion must keep Hoodoo’s Chuck Shepard battling the fickle snow gods when he could have his feet up in front of the fire.

It wasn’t meant to be the Passion Issue, but here it is. Forget all those attempts out there to get you to buy a book or video (you know, the ones with titles such as How to Turn Your Passion into Profit, Making Passion Your Profession, The Passion Profit Pit!) Consider this issue, with its many renderings of human joy, struggle and triumph, a note slipped across your desk to remind you to stay true to the thing you believe in, desire, long for, love.

If a significant other finds it, please be discreet.

Robin Doussard, editor
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