On Passion & Going with Your Gut

Each day we face what seems like a never-ending amount of decisions, right from what to wear all the way to what we’re actually going to do with our lives. We’re told to choose the safe the route, reserving our passion for a side project (if anything). But what if we had a way of knowing which option we really wanted. We do. It’s called going with your gut.

Back in 1977, Magnus Walker had his first ever encounter with a Porsche when his father took him to a local motor show. Now while many kids have undoubtedly shared a similar moment, Walker took this further by writing to the company to express his interest in becoming a designer (at ten, remember).

However, with no real hope of driving a Porsche where he was from, Walker soon put the dream on ice and resigned to watching motor racing on television.

Five years later, he dropped out of school at the age of 15 with no dreams for the future. After doing odd jobs to get by, Walker would often be met with the same response: “Cut your hair and get a real job.” He spent two years resisting this before deciding that perhaps it was time to listen (to the job part, at least).

At 17, he attended college where he came across Camp America, a working holiday opportunity where candidates operate as summer camp leaders for American youth. With visions of his own American Dream and a good feeling in his gut, he moved to the United States from England at the age of 19.

THE AMERICAN “DREAM”

After sleeping on park benches after the conclusion of the camp, Walker quickly found his feet and over the next few years, made some money by working in a few odd jobs.

Things soon took a big turn, however. Having spotted a pair of PVC snakeskin pants on sale, he bought a pair but noticed that they didn’t fit very well. Rather than returning them, he bought a sewing kit and tailored them to fit.

That same day, Walker was asked where he got his pants. Having to think fast, he explained that he’d bought them in England and jokingly asked if the person wanted to buy them. He sold 8 pairs right there and had suddenly made more in one hour than he had in an entire week doing construction in England.

Fast forward a few years and Walker had established a full-on clothing business selling items at the popular Venice Beach, outfitting rock stars like Alice Cooper and Madonna in the process.

When asked how he’s grown his business to the degree he has, Walker’s reply is simple: “I followed my gut feeling.”

UNEXPECTED TWISTS

In the year 2000, Walker bought his own building as the business had outgrown its old home. This new location subsequently became a popular set for music videos, TV shows and magazine shoots.

Making money from his clothing and new film location business enabled Walker to fulfill his childhood dream of buying himself a Porsche and he began racing in the Porsche league. His racing successes then led to an interest in restoration, depsite no mechanical background.

Walker decided to start a blog to document what he was doing with his restorations. As a result, he was invitated to work on a documentary in which he would drive around in his favorite Porsches for 4 days. The documentary was a huge hit and got picked up by the likes of Top Gear, Jay Leno and some major film festivals.

Shortly thereafter, Walker decided to sell the clothing label. While the business had enjoyed good success, he felt like there was something better in store (without knowing what that was). Again, it was all gut feel.

This allowed him the time to do more interviews related to his work with cars. In a bizarre turn of events, Porsche picked up on this and contacted him to get involved in several workshops and events.

He had suddenly realized his childhood dream of working with Porsche.

LESSONS LEARNED

Since moving to the US all those years ago, Walker has built a successful clothing company, a film location business and a Porsche restoration business, as well as consulting for some of the biggest brands in the world.

As random as these career paths may seem, they all had one one thing in common: Walker had no formal education or training in any of them. He never really knew where he was going, but simply followed his passions, did what he enjoyed and went with his gut feeling.

Walker gave a TED talk on his story which you can see here.

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Originally published at bryanteare.com on February 22, 2016.