So I’ve got a question for you. If some one told you that they would give you $40 million if you just spent 12 months doing very little work at a job that had no future, would you do it?
I’m pretty sure you’d say, “Hell, yes! Where do I sign up?” I’m with you. How does anyone walk away from $40 million?
Well, I’m currently reading Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com. And Tony walked away.
Granted he had just sold his first start-up, LinkExchange, to Microsoft in 1998 for $265 million, so money wasn’t the driving factor, but I still couldn’t imagine walking away.
Here’s how Tony puts it,
“I thought about how I enjoyed creating, building, and doing stuff that I was passionate about. And there was so much opportunity to create and build stuff, especially with the Internet still exploding, and not enough time to pursue every idea out there. And yet here I was, wasting my time, wasting my life, so that I could make more money even though I had all the money I ever needed for the rest of my life…The world was about to change in a dramatic way, and I was about to miss out on it so that I could make even more money…
…There would never be another 1999…In that moment, I had chosen to be true to myself and walk away from all the money that was keeping me at Microsoft.”
Creating? Building? You can create and build later! You’re only 25!!
Here’s the thing you need to know about Tony. He’s a man who likes making money, but he likes passion for his work even more. It’s a theme that comes through whether or not he’s got money in the bank or not. If he’s not feeling it, even as a recent college graduate he doesn’t stick around.
The flip-side is that he’s willing to spend every last dime he has to see his passion for a business become reality.
He tells the story of how Zappos.com struggled to make it through the dot.com bubble. He believed in the company so much, that he sold nearly everything he had to raise the money to make payroll and pay vendors. (So much for “all the money I ever needed for the rest of my life.”) Reading his words, I couldn’t help but think, “If only you had that $40 million.”
But if he had stuck it out at Microsoft, he would have missed the Zappos opportunity.
He would have the money, but miss out on his passion business.
So many of us are afraid to walk away from a sure thing. We’re afraid to go all in on a dream.
Not Tony. He may have sold off nearly everything he owned to ensure Zappos survived, but it paid off. It’s estimated that he made $214 million when Amazon.com bought the company in 2009.
Do you show up to your office every day because of your passion for the work or simply for the paycheck?
Right now, I’m certainly not heading into my office every day for the paycheck. And I don’t have Tony’s millions in the bank.
I started reading this book as part of my study of great customer service. The lessons I am taking away go far beyond that. I left the practice of law behind because I had lost my passion for it. Right now, I’m investing far more than I’m making into Lawducate. While that is scary, I love the work I’m doing now. And like Tony, there’s something in my heart telling me that it’s right, that it’s going to work so I need to keep investing in the business and myself.
I hope that you’re sitting at your desk today doing the work that you love, and if you’re lucky, making money too.