Career Advice

The Passion of the Entrepreneur

Collyer’s mother: Beware of passion Hester. It always leads to something ugly.

Hester Collyer: What would you replace it with?

Collyer’s mother: A guarded enthusiasm. It’s safer.”

Classic lines from The Deep Blue Sea, and the sentiment of the England I grew up in. Passion, while interesting in poets, was a sign of weak character. One should always maintain an even keel, and in times of trial, a stiff upper lip.

But when you’re building a company, or developing a new product, or growing a team, passion is essential. It’s at the essence of what you’re doing.

Bringing a new idea or product to market takes a level of conviction that, until you’ve done it, you cannot imagine. Everything sensible tells you you’re going to fail. Good friends question your judgement, your parents question the risk, your bank account gets annoyed with you, your children complain when you’re not around, even your spouse may have days when they wonder if you’re Don Quixote.

But passion carries you through. The desire to see your vision come to life, the thrill of winning a market and customers, the intensity of seeing your product finally perform magic, the agony of losing a deal, the excitement of getting profitable, the frenzy of a liquidity event (selling your company or doing an IPO). The synonyms for passion are the every day experiences of entrepreneurs.

If you don’t enjoy the heights of heaven and the depths of hell don’t become an entrepreneur. Or a CEO. Or a fast climbing, ambitious executive. Because the intensity it takes to create something from nothing, or break the glass ceiling, or change the trajectory of a company takes passion, and with it the boil of your blood, or the chill of your bones that comes with the roller coaster ride.

For the true entrepreneur there is no choice. It’s a drive they cannot resist. A vision they have no choice but to pursue. And if you feel that drive you are one of the lucky ones. There is nothing like it. Except maybe passion.

The Deep Blue Sea stars Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston and is a gorgeous, sensuous and heartbreaking film about self destructive passion. Pour yourself a great glass of wine, settle into your favorite chair, hold your breath and immerse yourself.