The book is out, and I’m on the road!
The launch party in New York was extremely fun. Last night I was in Boston at the Harvard Coop, and tonight I’m heading down to Washington, DC.
We’re hitting a new city almost every day for the next four weeks. Tour dates here.
And by the way… THANKS FOR YOUR HELP! It’s going very well so far, and we hope to keep it going for a long time.
Over the next month, I’ll be sharing some of the lessons I learned in spending time with all the “unexpected entrepreneurs” profiled in the book. These won’t be promotional posts; I’ll be sharing real lessons and helpful information you can use in your own pursuit of freedom.
One of the first things I looked at was the question of the follow-your-passion model.
Many people talked about building a business based on a hobby or passion. However, others cautioned that “follow your passion” is more complicated than it first appears.
The key is that you can’t be passionate about just anything; instead you need to be passionate about something that other people are willing to spend money on. Here’s how I described it in the book:
As we’ll examine it, convergence represents the intersection between something you especially like to do or are good at doing (preferably both), and what other people are also interested in. The easiest way to understand convergence is: the overlapping space between what you care about and what other people are willing to spend money on.
Not everything that you are passionate about or skilled in is interesting to the rest of the world—and not everything is marketable. I can be very passionate about eating pizza, but no one is going to pay me to do it. Likewise, any particular person won’t be able to provide a solution to every problem or be interesting to everyone. But in the overlap between the two circles, where passion or skill meets usefulness, a microbusiness built on freedom and value can thrive.
The lesson of convergence can be seen in almost every case study in the book, and indeed, in almost every successful business. In Reno, Nevada, Mignon Fogarty created the QD Network, best known for her signature show Grammar Girl. The show was a huge hit almost from the beginning, spawning a line of books, related programs, and non-stop media attention.
But before she was Grammar Girl, Mignon pursued a similar idea in an unsuccessful attempt to build popularity through podcasting. Here’s how she tells the story:
“Before I launched the successful Grammar Girl podcast, I was the host of a science podcast called Absolute Science. I loved doing that show and I was passionate about it. I actually put more effort into promoting that show than I did for the Grammar Girl podcast, and although Absolute Science was well-received, after doing it for nearly a year it was clear that the show was never going to make enough money to make it worth the time required to produce it.”
Mignon changed course, trading science for grammar. The answer wasn’t to abandon her passion altogether, but rather to make sure she connected the right passion with the right audience.
“Absolute Science”: Passion… but not enough audience
“Grammar Girl”: Passion… and a substantial audience
In India, Purna Duggirala found a way to create spreadsheet tools (It’s now a six-figure business).
In Kansas City, Marianne Cascone co-founded Bon Bon Cupcakes, a children’s clothing firm.
In the U.K., Jonathan Pincas founded the Tapas Lunch Company, based on importing food from his partner’s native Spain. They later relocated to Spain and run the business back and forth between the two countries. A love for Spanish food and culture combined with a desire from the marketplace in Britain to get more authentic goods.
The examples go on and on, and the key point is: find convergence! This is the first and most important predictor of success in any business or freedom plan.
The link between passion and value is how you’ll change the world.
Question: Have you found convergence? How are you looking for it?