March 14, 2014 by Speakers' Spotlight
Passion–Not Money–Should Drive Your Business
Award-Winning Entrepreneur and Creativity Expert Josh Linkner is on a mission to make the world more creative. Named the “Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year” and as a “President Barack Obama Champion of Change” award recipient, Linkner both inspires and entertains: in speeches and workshops alike, he provides powerful and practical techniques to jumpstart creativity, getting people thinking out of the box in business and at home. Josh writes about the value in being passionate about your business for Forbes, below:
I’m always leery when an entrepreneur comes into my office for a big pitch and announces that his business is a surefire billion-dollar idea. Especially before he tells me why he’s passionate about it. Yes, there is a chance that entrepreneurship can lead to great financial gain – and by investing in these startups there is financial opportunity in venture capital, of course. However, people who chase only money seldom find it. A much more productive approach (not to mention a better, more humane one) is to use passion as your North Star and let financial gain become the byproduct of doing what you love. Simon Sinek challenges us to “start with why,” and I couldn’t agree more.
The good news is that everyone’s passionate about different things, setting up a course for natural diversification of the marketplace, both for companies and for consumers. For me, it’s two-fold: helping others become more creative and helping entrepreneurs build great companies. As such, I became a venture capitalist with a hands-on approach. Every day, I work with entrepreneurs to help them grow as leaders, and in turn, help them win in the marketplace. Alongside this role, I write and am a keynote speaker, where I can spread the message of creativity and innovation to help others reach their own full potential. I even have the opportunity to incorporate lessons learned from my other passion as a jazz guitarist and how that translates into business.
For example, the founder of KIND bars was inspired by his late father’s lessons in giving back. Why was his ancestry so generous? Well, he was a Holocaust survivor, perhaps in part due to the kindness of an unlikely stranger. While he was in a Nazi camp, a German soldier threw a potato at him in secret; not only was this dangerous for the soldier, it was unheard of – and yet, that man couldn’t stand to see that child suffer and took it upon himself to do something kind. Ever since that moment, the man (as he grew to adulthood) was dedicated to the importance of giving back, and he instilled this value in his offspring.
Today, the KIND Company gives back and deems itself “not only for profit.” By focusing their vision on this value of giving back, along with their dedication to real ingredients (avoiding any weird chemical ingredients you can’t pronounce), KIND has had a tremendous success. Now, they are realizing the financial gains of this – but that is secondary in their growth trajectory, which allows for its longevity.
So what’s your spark? What makes you kick the sheets off the bed in the morning ready to get to work? What do you find yourself doing whenever you have a spare moment? What do you draw upon when you’re having a bad day? What do you want to incorporate as your lasting legacy? Whatever your answer to any of these questions, that’s where you should start looking to determine your “why.” I know for a fact it’s not monetary gain for its own sake – so figure out what it actually is that gets you going, and the money will follow. You’ll be most effective to leave your mark on the world with whatever gets you riled up, and whatever truly makes your heart sing; with that in mind, you’ll be able to help others through your own passionate vision.
Now, if only jazz clubs paid a little more for gigs…