Belief vs. Passion

The difference that could be the key to your success.

I graduated fresh as a Product Management student from the General Assembly DC 10 week immersive course. Changed. My. Life. If I could change one thing about a person, I’d get rid of their fear of failure. This is what GA did for me and if I can pay anything forward, it would be that. Completely liberating and taught me to be bold!

Here’s what they didn’t and could’t teach me because I had to learn it for myself:

Immediately, I was picked up by an up and coming tech startup and I was so thrilled about the opportunity. Got to wear different hats and learned a lot. So many invaluable lessons that I be will carrying to my future work. But the greatest lesson I learned fast and hard from working there, was that there was a fundamental difference between believing in a product and being passionate about it. I made the mistake of thinking they were one and the same; that if I believe in something, it is synonymous to saying I’m passionate about it as well. You can believe a product works and will be successful, but are you passionate about the subject? I believed this startup is well on it’s way to a major success. It was solving a critical painpoint in the cloud IT infrastructure world, but I wasn’t necessarily passionate about the subject matter. Cloud IT infrastructure…not exactly a topic that keeps me up at night. Sounds like something I would read about to put me to sleep. Could you blame me?

We’ve all heard that passion trumps everything else and now I understand why.

The company culture and people were amazing, I understood that this product was solving a very unique painpoint in a growing industry that very few understood and had a solution for, and the opportunity to learn about this unique niche could open opportunities in the future. Taking on this role, I knew the learning curve was steep, and I mean steep. These people I was working with, were experts; some were already working in the industry when cloud computing came into existence. But I wasn’t afraid to dive into the unknown and I was committed to staying there 2+ years!

There was a lot to learn and sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. Sometimes you don’t know what the right questions to ask are. And this is where passion becomes very important. I believed viability of the product, but I didn’t look up from the grind to ask am I passionate about this product as they were?

This team “eat, breathe, sleep”ed cloud computing and IT infrastructure because they loved it. I didn’t.

No regrets on working at the tech startup. Definitely a milestone in my career journey. Went into the cloud IT infrastructure industry without any previous knowledge… a complete novice, and now I can speak more intelligently to the subject matter and at least follow along without completely being lost. Encourage anyone to work at a startup that they are passionate about.

In the end, it made me do some soul searching… really dig deep and it all comes down to finding out about yourself: what you naturally gravitate to and do. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know… about yourself. All you can do is just adjust from the newly realized info and iterate. Like a poster from Startup Vitamins says,

sometimes you gotta “F*ck It, Ship It.”

What I learned about myself was that I want to be passionate about what I do. My passion is in design and the creative industry. I’ve always avoided of my passion, as if I had to do something much harder to validate that I was qualified or worthy enough to do it. Passion drives determination and persistence which is a key to your own success. I’m still figuring it all out, but I know I’m much closer to figuring out what I’m passionate about. Gravitating to media, entertainment, or digital technology. Anyone who has advice in getting my foot in the door to any of those industries or can relate to this post, please feel free to drop questions, share feedback, advice, or insights. Always nice to know that I’m not talking to just myself.