Passion, Money, and Ben & Jerry’s

by Rich DeMatteo on April 28, 2010 · 47 comments

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Phone calls with my boomer bud, Steve Levy, are becoming quite frequent.  When we spoke again yesterday, I walked away with some profound boomer advice, and a new take on my own career destination.  He let me in on a question that he asks folks who might need help  figuring out what they should be doing in their life/careers.  The question is, “If money wasn’t a factor, what is the one thing you would be happy doing for the rest of your life?”

When first hearing the question, most people might respond back and say, “I love computer programming”, or “I just love inside sales”, or “social media is my passion”.  Is that really the burning love in their life?  You’ll find that most people are just simply answering the question wrong.

When Steve asked me the question, my first response was “Hockey and weight lifting”.  Not only have I played and coached hockey, but I’m an NHL addict.  I first thought about how coaching wouldn’t be realistic for me, and Steve and I began looking for careers on NHL.com and discussed other options in the hockey industry.  We then looked up body building supplement companies in the Philadelphia area that would support my love for that industry as well.  In just a 10 minute brainstorm session on the phone, we were able to identify more options in those industries than I thought might even exist.

When thinking about your passion, don’t just target your skill set or the job title you seek, but pay attention to what gives you pure enjoyment in your life.  If you love the industry, already have profound knowledge about the workings of the industry, and could see yourself never wanting to leave a profession in that industry, then it’s worth at least looking into.

  • Maybe you really love music.  Check out places like VH1.
  • Maybe you really enjoy ice cream.  Why not check out Haagen Daz or Ben & Jerry’s?
  • You were your college’s best frisbee player.  Find out who is the leading frisbee manufacturer and work your way in.

I’ve talked about how passion is a buzz word that’s tossed around often, but I still am a huge advocate of it.  It’s not absolutely necessary for it to be present in our careers for us to be completely happy, but having in our professional lives can’t hurt.

Answer Steve’s question:  If money wasn’t an issue, what job would you do for the rest of your life?

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45 comments
Melinda
Melinda

It's an excellent question, but I never know how to answer it... Sometimes i just wonder if I haven't found my passion yet. I do love watching Asian dramas and especially enjoy Japanese related things (I did study abroad there), but I haven't found a way to apply it to a field. Any ideas?

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Melinda - thanks for the comment. Hmm, that may be a tough one. What about international business working with Asian markets? I bet some other people might have tons of better ideas. Maybe toss that up on twitter or a forum an see what people come back with?

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey you never know... check them out and see. Thanks, Marianthe!

Martha
Martha

Rich and Steve, and everyone who wrote today, I cannot begin to detail ME in this little space but I will simply say that I am at a point of trying to step up my income level while providing for my three kids. I have restarted my life from nothing twice, the first time, physically. My passions drive me. They must, since every morning I wake exhausted!! I write, well. I teach, not full time. And I am trying to afford grad school at SJU for special ed. One day, I will have time to write (which I love) and create my dream, actually making money from it. You all inspire and excel. Rich, you are the bomb. Smiles, Martha

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Martha - Great to hear from you, and thanks for leaving your story. Sounds like you've been through a lot, but your drive and passion have lifted you above your challenges. I have no doubt in my mind that you'll create your dream, and I'm pretty sure you KNOW it will happen as well. Keep me posted on the journey to create your dream.

Elisa
Elisa

Passion is a buzz word thrown around cause people use it as some pale excuse for making decisions and doing things without really giving them the thought and planning they deserve. "I up and quit my job with $17 in my checking account to follow my *passion.*" "I decided to leave my wife/husband & kids to pursue my *passion* as a backpacker in Uzbekistan." Etc etc. That being said, I am definitely an advocate of finding work in a place that you get to feel like you are part of something you love. Kudos for investigating stuff that makes you happiest. It's a job path I'm guessing most don't follow...finding something to be passionate about and THEN figuring out how to apply your skills. For me, it would be living in a cabin on a lake somewhere and writing all day long. :)

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hi Elisa - we really need to catch up, it's been forever! So many passion stories, it gets old, but I am certainly an advocate of doing something you enjoy. I mean, who wouldn't be? It's just, well, I believe that it's what you do outside of work that can make or break you. Loving your work is a great thing, but it's not always needed. And yes, living on a cabin and writing all day long sounds like a nice life for yourself. Go for it!

Rayanne Thorn
Rayanne Thorn

Steve- It was great to finally meet you f2f, as well. I feel like we had already met, given our lengthy conversations and dry, mean, similar, crusty attitudes... I think I am a New Jersey girl at heart... Love the "twirling in the grass" sentiment... thank you. Rich- Sometimes, hidden deep inside (probably the same place where that deep laugh resides) is a love we didn't know existed, a skill untapped, something shockingly beautiful and a spark waiting to burst into a flame. All you need is to not be afraid of spontaneously combusting or the dance. I was, I just didn't know it. And yep, what I do makes me dance... and sing!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Rayanne - not sure how I missed this! Love the spontaneous combusting line. Perfect.

Rayanne
Rayanne

Hey there Rich... Well, there you go. Already at it. ;-) This is a great post and do you know why? Because you worked in personal details with sound advice. Great work; Steve is quite experienced at giving "sage" advice. Here's the thing, so are you. The idea of simply stepping back and taking a look at what you like, what you are good at, what drives you, motivates you... all boils down to a question I was asked by a friend two days ago... "At the end of the day, what is it that makes Rayanne happy?" I didn't have an answer immediately - I think mostly because I already do what makes me happy but there are a few things: -Tinkering around new websites or experimenting with new functionality -Reading - well, really it's scanning, not reading -Writing, can't stop -Good theater -My children laughing.., but not that silly, irritating laugh that kids do - I love the deep guttural laugh they first discover as babies when delight pervades their whole being... -talking to people and - love Good thing I have the perfect job. ;-) Keep it up, my friend.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Thanks for your thoughts on this, Rayanne, as well as your compliment. Both you and Steve are great friends to have, and while I've only know you guys a short while (you even shorter than Steve), I've gained valuable insight from the two of you. Hearing people that you care about laugh deeply like you explain is a wonderful feeling. I don't have children, but I can imagine it's powerful to hear. It sure does seem you've built an incredible job for yourself. Deep down you wanted it. Maybe you didn't know, but you did want it, so through your positive thought and desire you created that job for yourself. You took what you knew was yours. That's what I have taken away from talking with you, and it was an important lesson to learn.

Your Parents
Your Parents

I too net Rayanne face-to-face for te first time a few weeks back. What she has is easy to describe... Have you seen little girls dancing on a lawn with their friends, twirling around, hair flying, laughing? That's Rayanne.. Does what you do make you dance?

Frank Zupan
Frank Zupan

The question is, “If money wasn’t a factor, what is the one thing you would be happy doing for the rest of your life?” Is sex a bad answer? #justwondering

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Oh, so many things can be said to that one, Frank

Mean Old Steve Levy
Mean Old Steve Levy

@Rich sometimes all that's needed is a little hip check to get someone's attention @Rachel I like the part about time-spent-on-task - "What would you do for nothing more than the simple reward of doing it? Of all these, which one do you spend the most time engaged in that activity?" Nice... There's nothing nerdy about RPGs; training-wise, they're going to have an increasingly important role in elearning across all industries for quite some time. So many career paths for RPGheads... @Jon Now that you've inventoried your "stuff", what's next? @Lindsey Not fantasies, passion...joy, mirth, can't-wait-to-do-it kind of stuff. We have quite a bit in common - my middle name is Marcel (le nom de mon grand-père) - and you're funny. I'm thinking comedy writer... @Ashlee ok, Rich and I are forcing you to rank order your four interests. But let me ask you - which ones are really passions?? @John Why Gettysburg? FYI, the phone number for the Midwest HR office of the National park Service is (402) 661-1562 ... @Jessica LOL @Eva The concept is not necessarily to work at "supporting" the passion but as an exercise to get you out of your head. Once the wheels start turning, how you drive the car is up to you. You can love something but after working at a crappy company, you might "hate" your job but in reality it's just the company or bosses you hate. @Melissa Darn, now I have to play Devil's Advocate...do you dream of strategic planning? Or do you have a passion like helping raise funds for Alzheimer research? Mean Old Steve thanks Rich for listening while I rambled... Incidentally, I've been lifeguarding at Jones Beach since 1977 - only now I do it on the weekends. I work with guys I knew from age group swimming so some of us have known each other for 40 or so years. I'd do this for nothing - the camaraderie, rescuing people, the energy of all the people. Little kids who were 7 when I started are now back with their own families. Lifeguards have had kids and now these kids are lifeguards. How great is this??? The reason I give back as much as possible is that no one provided guidance to me on my way up. I found my path through lots of trial and error and have learned from every step. Most of the time people are moving along a path but they're wearing blinders and cannot see outside their limited field of view. The passion discussion helps remove these blinders.

Lindsey
Lindsey

Steve, thank you first and foremost for the compliment! I don't think of myself as a quick writer and so what you see on the about me page came to me while I couldn't sleep one night. I don't know that I could take the pressure of TRYING to be funny and making people laugh, but your comment certainly reassured me that what I'm blabbing about might get some laughs. And how cool are you for maybe being part French?? J'adore. :)

Melissa
Melissa

Great post, Rich! One thing I love is strategic planning with a focus on marketing, not at a big corporate level, but for individuals and smaller entities. It's exciting to help someone else cut through the garbage to find a path toward success. I also love to talk to people either one-on-one or in small groups -- getting to know someone else and share ideas is fun!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Melissa - I agree with you on the small groups or one-on-one. Sharing ideas is huge, and helps people understand what maybe they couldn't. Once they understand one small thing, it can snowball into a billion ideas! Thanks for he comment.

Eva
Eva

Interesting. Recently, I actually read just the opposite. The author used the example of someone who works selling golf clubs. And then that passion for golf turned into... just another job he despised except now he also despised his previously beloved hobby.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Eva - sure, you can run this risk, but selling golf clubs retail, and working for the company that makes the clubs, and overseeing product development, design, and customer growth is probably much more exciting. Also, when you work for the manufacturer, you probably get tickets to events, and inside secrets. Thanks for the comment!

John Jorgensen
John Jorgensen

Great post and an excellent question. Mine would be guiding either at the Gettysburg battlefield or in the Wisconsin north woods. (sigh). Didn't know you were a hockey geek. Just discussing with the HRMaven about watching the Blackhawk's game on Friday night of HRevolution. Cold steel on ice.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey John - Very interesting and amazing choice I must say. Leading into battle, awesome! And yes, huge hockey geek. I'll be up for watching hockey, but hopefully I can see my Flyers when I'm out there!

Jessica Miller-Merrell
Jessica Miller-Merrell

Starbucks, social media, & telling people what to do. Sounds like I'm a prime candidate to be a customer. Wait, that's me. Jessica @blogging4jobs

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Jess - haha - those 3 things together are an interesting combo for the answer to the question

Ashlee
Ashlee

Love this post! I'm contemplating the same question and my problem is I have TOO many unrelated interests. If there is a job that includes debating, writing, helping animals, and travel that would be my dream job.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Ashlee - My advice is to not pick a job, pick an industry. So focus on some sort of Animal Cruelty Prevention agency. I'm not sure exactly what that is, or maybe even a zoo. Get a writing or PR job there. Brainstorm this!

Lindsey
Lindsey

Oh god this is such a great yet difficult question. There are so many things I'd do if money weren't an issue. I would read. I would read books, blogs and magazines and comment. Then read some more and comment. I don't want to be a book critic, per se, but I just want to spend my time reading and analyzing. Short of being an editor that only writes from time to time, I don't know what kind of job that would be but we're talking fantasies here :)

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Lindsey - we are talking fantasies, but maybe you can turn that into a reality. We could probably brainstorm some ideas and map things out one day if you'd like to. Who knows what we'll come up with!

Lindsey
Lindsey

We should definitely have a chat about it :)

shennee
shennee

We really need to chat by phone Soon.. Great post. It is all about passion. You are really getting me thinking. BTW.. I really loved meeting Steve Levy. I am looking forward to meeting you in Chicago as well.! Shennee

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Shennee - I'm up for a chat early next week, what do you say? Can't wait for chicago!

Jonathan Hyland
Jonathan Hyland

I've had the pleasure of working with Steve, too, and he went through the same exercise with me. A raid of my cabinets and fridge later, I had a number of food companies I could start to look into, and connect with professionals working there. Passion is certainly important, but it takes creativity to find ways to apply that passion.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Mr. Jonathan - Yes, you are a chef, and you need to be in the food industry. I have a feeling, you will be there one way or another. Hope we can finally catch up on the phone sometime soon!

Rachel Vincent
Rachel Vincent

Rich, love love this post. I had a friend of mine who recently did this (she was teaching high school). And she added this advice in finding what you love to do. She said "Ask yourself what things or activities you spend an unnecessarily long time on?" She realized that when she is making invites or flyers she would spend hour playing around with fonts, spacing, colors, design, etc. She ended up switching completely into graphic design work for movie covers and loves it. Now if I could only think of a job that allows me to spend my life reading fantasy books and playing RPG games....

Jonathan Hyland
Jonathan Hyland

Wow, Rachel, we think alike. I'd love to read and play video games as my career. Maybe we need to get a job at SquareEnix!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

You guys definitely need a video game gig ASAP....

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Wow Rachel, that's a great story about your friend. Really interested by things like that. What kind of RPG games do you play?

Rachel Vincent
Rachel Vincent

Well, currently I'm playing the new Final Fantasy, Dragon Age, and I just got the latest God of War. I also play WoW with my fam. Some of my past favorites: Jade Empire, Fable, anything Zelda, the Ultima series, and the King's Quest series (the last two both when I was growing up). I know, I know. I'm totally a nerd. :) You play at all?

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

It's not nerdy to be awesome! I actually play NHL games. I love the trash talking with 14 year old kids. My online team "The Chupca CaBROS" were ranked in thet op 100 teams of all NHL09 online teams. Total geeks. Right now I'm playing COD Modern Warfare2 but that's a first person shooter, so I believe it's a bit different.

Rachel Vincent
Rachel Vincent

Love it! I've heard Modern Warfare 2 is good. A friend of mine bought it for me on PS3 recently to play, but I haven't been able to try it yet. I don't love first person shooters as much, but I admit I really used to love the DOOM series. :)

Jonathan Hyland
Jonathan Hyland

Wow, FF13, Dragon Age, and Jade Empire - all three very awesome titles. Nevermind that I've played through Jade Empire like... 20 plus times.

HRMargo
HRMargo

Rock solid boomer advice. I affectionately refer to Levy as "yoda" as he is the sage wise man in the recruiting industry. I heart him, and I heart you, my rising star. Hugs! HRMargo

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Margo - He is definitely "yoda". Little taller, but I'll go with it!