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The Main Event: Do What You Love
Posted Mar 28, 2006 Print Version     Page 1of 1

A few years back, I saw a book in the self-improvement section of my local bookstore called Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow by Marsha Sinetar. I've encountered this idea since then, most recently in an essay by Paul Graham (no relation to me). You can find that one at www.paulgraham.com/love.html.

The basic premise is that most people, when choosing a career, look for jobs that will pay well, and then very often find themselves unhappy with their work. Instead, say Sinetar and Graham, we should look for work that we love. Because we love it, we'll be happier, work harder, and ultimately become more successful . . . or at least, successful enough.

Some more cynical (or perhaps, realistic) folks disagree. They point to all the people out there who would love to be, for example, movie stars or rock musicians . . . and how few of them actually make a living at what they love to do.

Of course, one must have talent. I might "love" to be the next Albert Einstein, but I'm not going to get very far in physics unless I have the required aptitude for higher mathematics, and the peculiar mindset that lets physicists play with math and the real world and find connections. So to some extent, the realists have a point. On the other hand, if you happen to be good at something, it's likely that it will also be something that you enjoy doing. Having a talent for something, and loving it, are often two sides of the same coin.

Over the years, I've seen "do what you love" prove itself in many cases. Take my wife Judy, for example. When the last of our kids was set to graduate from high school, Judy was looking to return to the job market, but couldn't decide just what she should do. She loves to look at houses . . . different decorating schemes, different room layouts; her washroom reading library includes several books of home plans, and HGTV is her favorite television channel. She also likes to help people; she has a BA in psychology, and a master's in rehabilitation counseling. People open up to her because she's completely open with them. So I suggested that she combine her two interests and get into real estate. She was a little uncertain at first, and there were a few times during the first year or two when she thought that the business just wasn't going to succeed financially, despite all the time she was putting into it. But by the third year, her income started to soar; if it keeps on the way it's been going, she's soon going to be the primary breadwinner in the family. Judy is doing something she loves . . . and the money is, indeed, following.

It's working for me, too, although on a much smaller scale. I love making videos, and I love writing about making videos even more. It started when I joined a Compuserve forum. As I learned more about video, I began passing that information on in the forums, and pretty soon I was such a frequent poster that a couple of forum hosts (VideoUniversity.com's Hal Landen and CreativeCow.net's Ron Lindeboom) asked me if I would like to help moderate. In turn, that brought me to the attention of EventDV's editor, who asked me if I'd like to write for EventDV. Whaddaya know? I'm getting paid for doing something I love!

Of course, "doing what you love" doesn't mean that it's going to be sunshine and roses all the time. There will be times when the clients seem to dry up, or an editing backlog looms ahead, or you come home exhausted and sore from a long shooting day. But on the whole, I think that we have to love what we do, even through the rough spots.

Take one of my colleagues from Texas. He's a good ol' boy who seems to be just squeaking by financially, and he's always complaining about the long hours, the unappreciative brides, the pushy photographers, and the low income that he's forced to put up with. But every now and then, he'll slip up and admit that he loves this work, and the freedom that comes with it. Freedom to set his own hours, freedom to be his own boss, freedom to create. He's doing what he loves, and if he keeps at it I'm sure, given the quality of his work, that the money will follow.

I can think of one thing, though, that can keep the "money from following," and that's concentrating exclusively on the creative parts of the video business and neglecting the business parts. We love what we do, and that means, in many cases, that we'd do it even if there weren't any money to be made. As small business owners, we need to keep one eye on the books while the other eye is on the viewfinder. Requests will come our way to do free projects for family, friends, or for various worthy causes. These have to be evaluated based on practical criteria: how much income will this project, and that project, keep me from earning? Am I willing to contribute that much of my valuable time and talent? Clients will ask for discounts or free extras, and we have to know where to draw the line and tell them, "I'm sorry, but I can't do that." We have to market, sell, and network.

If you find that the "business" side of your business is something you detest, then maybe it's time to find a partner who loves that side of it. Then you'll both be doing what you love, and the money will follow.

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