Passion” is the most overrated attribute to look for in an entrepreneur. Phew, it feels good to finally say that out loud.

I am tired of hearing about passion being the reason certain people and companies succeed while others fail. Passion has very little to do with it.

Call me a cynic, but whenever someone answers a question by espousing their passion for their work or as the motivation to their life, I immediately become skeptical.

Invoking the “p” word has become the catch-all, the “E. All of the Above” answer for people that do not know how to answer what should be some straightforward questions:

  • “Why are you going to succeed?”
  • “What keeps you going?”
  • “Why do you want to do this?”
  • “What makes you different?”

Passion, by definition, is a “strong and barely controllable emotion.” You cannot possess passion any more than you can possess happy or sad or annoyance, though you can certainly feel them.

Next time you are tempted to tell someone how much passion you have, try instead to directly answer their questions. Here are a few things I care about far more than your passion.

I Care About Your Integrity.

I don’t care about your passion. I care about your integrity, morality, and character. I want you to tell me about how much you value your customers and employees and investors, and, shockingly, I want you to mean it. I want to hear glowing references from your past colleagues and teammates.

Most of all, I need you to be honest. Once you have a reputation of being a liar or cheater or thief, I never want to deal with you again.

I Care About Your Attitude.

I don’t care about your passion. I care about how you’ve reacted to failure in the past and about what drives you out of bed in the morning. Be specific. Be critical. Be sincere.

I want to know about how you react under pressure and when you’re behind schedule. Tell me you want to learn, to grow, to be better, stronger, faster, and smarter. Make sure I understand you’re willing to do whatever it takes.

I Care About Your Results.

This isn’t a recreational soccer game; I care about results. Just showing up isn’t good enough. Tell me about how loyal your customers are to you as a result of you being loyal to them. Explain to me, in explicit detail, what value that you’ve been able to create and deliver.

I want to hear about how you’re going to build off of past successes. Tell me your plans and goals. Convince me you’re not a fluke, a flash in the pan, a one-hit wonder.

Tell me all of these things, just don’t tell me about how passionate you are.


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