The Lesson of Doing Things You Like

Someone asked me what is the most interesting thing blogging taught me. Easy. That it is important to do things that you enjoy. Many of the things I have failed at, both on and off the web, were things I didn't particularly enjoy. I can't write a blog about cars, no matter how much potential money is in it, because I'm not a car person.

This blog kept going because every single day I read a ton of business news and information. I love it. Every Saturday in the mail I get The Economist and Businessweek, and I am usually done with them by Monday. When other magazines come (I have a few complimentary subscriptions as part of this blog), it's the same thing. I read them in a day or two. And my favorite part of every morning is reading the Wall Street Journal. (Yes. I still get the paper version. This will sound crazy, but I find it's more efficient than reading it online. Spreading it out on the kitchen table gives me a large field of view.)

The point is that I love business news… reading it, talking about it, thinking about it. I frequently have conversations with Mrs. Businesspundit that go like this.

Mrs. Businesspundit (responding to my blank stare out the car window): What are you thinking about?

Me: (knowing that my answer will disappoint her) I was thinking about Eddie Lampert's new strategy, and whether or not he regrets his decision to get into retailing.

Mrs. Businesspundit: Who is Eddie Lampert?

I would usually rather read a business periodical, business book, or annual report than I would watch tv, or do most other social activities. Yes, I am well aware that this is weird. But the point is that it enables me to blog every day about business without getting burnout, and that is how I kept this blog going.

Now, the truth is, I have gotten burnt out lately, but only with writing, not with reading/thinking about business. And I haven't really grown tired of writing, I just don't have the time to write every day, so I've been stretching to just post something so that I meet the post requirement I've had with Creative Weblogging.

But back to loving what you do…. I'm not saying you should go out and make sculptures of trees because you love art and you love tree sculptures and income be damned. I'm saying that, within reason, and choosing from a pool of things that can actually make money, you will be more successful doing something you enjoy. If you are in a startup, it's even that much more important that you are really interested in the underlying problem you are trying to solve. We have a tendency to follow the crowd. I've done it too. You see someone else being successful at some task, and you think you can go make money that way too. But the biggest lesson I've learned is that time and attention are sacred. Focus them on the things you enjoy.

  • I have very similar conversations with my wife…

    You’re absolutely right, if you’re not passionate about what you do it’s time to do something else. If you’re going to start a business it’d better be something you’re passionate about if you want it to succeed.

  • Rob,

    Yes, this is what life is about – finding your place of flow.

    The reason why you have been successful is not only do you enjoy reading about business, but you must have some natural capability and interest in writing as well. Otherwise, I contend that you would not have been able to maintain yourself this long.

    I’m an organizational engineering geek, endlessly interested in designing organizations to tap each employees’ full potential. I have strong opinions, and I love writing. Blogging has been the perfect storm of my interests, talents, and temperament.

    I’m amazed at how many people have jumped on the blogging bandwagon because “social media is a must” these days, but then post less than once a month. I’d love to see the statistics on this – active blogs versus inactive blogs.

    I’m with you – if it’s not enjoyable – it’s not sustainable.


    Michelle Malay Carter

  • Rob,

    Your post gave me great fuel for my soul. I agree with John that you have to be passionate about what you are doing as a business, otherwise it will be tough to continue.

    All the Best,

    Martin Lindeskog – American in Spirit.
    Gothenburg, Sweden.