Pursue the Passion

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Money is the root of all good

December 20, 2007 | by brett | Permalink

Francisco d’Anconia, a wealthy industrialist and fictional character in Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged, dispels the phrase “money is the root of all evil” over a lengthy narrative. Although it is hard to narrow down my favorite excerpt, I found this paragraph to have enough of an entertaining, stand alone meaning to share.

“Money is your means of survival. The verdict you pronounce upon the source of your livelihood is the verdict you pronounce upon your life. If the source is corrupt, you have damned your own existence. Did you get your money by fraud? By pandering to men’s vices or men’s stupidity? By catering to fools, in hope of getting more than your ability deserves? By lowering your standards? By doing work you despise for purchasers you scorn? If so, then your money will not give you a moment’s or a penny’s worth of joy. Then all the things you buy will become, not a tribute to you, but a reproach; not an achievement, but a reminder of shame. Then you’ll scream that money is evil. Evil, because it would not pinch-hit for your self-respect? Evil, because it would not let you enjoy your depravity? Is this the root of your hatred for money?”

Ayn Rand’s book, Atlas Shrugged, would make a great last second X-Mas gift.


Finding “good” where you least expect it

September 7, 2007 | by brett | Permalink

Going to the mechanic is like going to the dentist. Or paying taxes. It’s just something you don’t want to do, but have to.

So yesterday when our serpentine belt snapped and we had to make an emergency pit stop at Mark’s Service Center in a small town called Central Square, NY, I was dreading it. Especially when we had to sleep in the parking lot so we could be the first customer in the shop…with outside hopes of being the first one out.

At 8am the RV was moved from parking spot to parking garage. A mechanic looked at the engine, made a judgment, and called in for a part. The diagnosis was that we would be there for awhile. A long while.

I called to cancel the lunch I had planned with an entrepreneur named Sean, and then cancelled the campus event at Syracuse University. The day was blocked off to getting this problem resolved.

What transpired during the remainder of the day was a true bonding between mechanics and PTP. We hung out with these guys, remembered their names, even made their weekly college football picks. They barbequed and fed us delicious pork chops and mechanic salad. They opened up their break room allowed us to use it as our home office. Not once did we ask when the RV was going to be ready to hit the road.

Come 4:30pm it was time to write a check for the damage. We had quite a day. We made a radio appearance that a few customers had heard in the early morning, where we gave shots out to Mark’s Service Center and asked the radio audience where the nearest shower was. We interviewed the owner of Mark’s in front of a Post-Standard reporter, and had our pictures taken for tomorrow’s Syracuse newspaper. But the moment had come that I feared most.

It was time to get a tooth pulled. It was time to write the check to the IRS. It was time to pay.

But something happened during the day. We had a good time. We carried a positive attitude. And we had given Mark’s Service Center a feeling of importance with media appearances. It was a special experience.

The bill was astronomical. But it could have worse. Mark, the owner, who had taken us in like his own employees, had given us a discount. A significant discount. He had charged us $10 in labor, and fair value for the parts.

There is still good in this world, even at the auto repair shop.

Singing the American Glues

August 23, 2007 | by brett | Permalink

After CBS big leagued us, and our lunch date cancelled, Pursue the Passion did what it does best. Improvised.

Right now, as I write this, I am in the Metrodome in Minneapolis, stealing wireless internet from the Minnesota Vikings while watching the Twins thump the Mariners. It is 12:55 CT, 10:55 PT on a Wednesday afternoon, and we have a couple hours to kill before our next interviews with a 83 year old boxing trainer and the only female to solely own and operate a boxing gym in America.

I’m not too interested in the ballgame. I’m more interested in who the hell has time for a baseball game on a Wednesday afternoon. It is, after all, the official hump in hump day.

So who is here? Lots of screaming camper kids adorned in the brightest t-shirts you’ve ever seen. Hot Orange, Lime Green, Bright Blue, you name it. They’re having fun. There is not too many business executives here; just the ones trying to close a sale with a client. And a handful of dedicated dads with company logo collared shirts.

Twins Game

The imbalance makes me wonder…if America can’t break away every once in awhile for an afternoon baseball game, what can they break away for?

We were talking last night with our host Christian, a passionate public defender, and discussed his recent vacation to Thailand. We talked about how he had to beg and plead for a two week vacation.

On his vacation he met people from all over the world that were on similar adventures.
But the difference was that the other Aussie and German travelers he met weren’t on a two week getaway, they were on a two-three month vacation.

Here in America, we call that a leave of absence.

These two thoughts came together to make me think, “Are we too caught up in the workplace? Are we so engulfed in our work that we can’t break away for an afternoon ballgame with peanuts and cracker jacks? (Hell, they have wi-fi at the game, you can even check your email while you’re there!) And are we so indispensable that two weeks vacation is an unreasonable request?”

This may sound like an infomercial America. But it’s not. This is reality.

What do you got for me in response?

Separating a Good Idea from a Bad One

August 15, 2007 | by brett | Permalink

What separates a good idea from a bad one? I have focused on this question over the course of my travels, and this post is based on the conversations I’ve had with many entrepreneurs who’ve had their fair share of ideas. It’s meant to give you some questions to ponder in hope that you will be able to separate the good ideas from the bad.

1) Where is the idea coming from?

Matt Flannery, founder of Kiva.org, came up with ten business ideas during a quarter-life crisis. He flirted with a number of odd plans, ranging from DVD vending machines to an online luxury clothing rental company to creating robots that connected to the internet for video content.

The problem with these ideas, Matt said, “was that these ideas were negative reactions against my current state. They weren’t proactive movements towards something I love.”

2) What are your interests?

One night I took pen to paper and wrote down all of my interests. Travel. Learning. Writing. Having meaningful conversations. Baseball…

I took these interests and applied it to a question, “what the hell should I do after graduation?”

I was able to unify these interests into a simple idea called Pursue the Passion.

Pursue the Passion Ideas

3) What makes your idea special?

“Brett, people come up with these ideas every year. There’s always someone traveling around getting guidance, or wisdom, or whatever. The point is, your idea is not new. It’s not special. There has to be something more than the idea, and that’s the person behind it. They have to be passionate about what they are doing to make the idea special.”

These are the words of Aaron Matos, CEO of Jobing.com when I first met him to discuss possible sponsorship of Pursue the Passion.

4) Feedback

“A good idea will receive more negative feedback than a bad idea,” said Matt Flannery, the entrepreneur discussed in paragraph one. “Groundbreaking ideas have a contrarian nature, they contradict common wisdom and common sense. That’s why no one else is doing it. No one else thinks it’s feasible. If it’s a great idea, a lot of people won’t think it’s feasible. And that will make it a good idea.”

It’s important to get feedback on your ideas because it will give you a feel for how good the idea really is. Just remember to keep the quote above in mind.

5) How deep do I really care?

I believe this is the last question you need to ask yourself before investing time and money to an idea. It’s a tough question to ask. But a necessary one.

For me, the quote that I have on my home page is “half of the American work force is not satisfied with their job.” Every time I read this quote I think back to when I was an auditor, working in this beaten down building with thousands of employees that had the same beaten down look the building had.

So when I start to doubt my idea, I think back to that scene. And then I remember why I do this.

Brett Farmiloe’s Autobiography

August 9, 2007 | by brett | Permalink

Yesterday I came across Whitney Johnson’s “Dare to Dream” blog. She had an interesting point on one of her posts that said, “for all your readers know, you may be daring them to dream, without having dreamt yourself.”

This quote frightened me. I’m scared that you, the reader, think that I, the author, am just some 22 year old kid telling you to follow your dreams. I am going to share with you how, and why, I am pursuing the passion so you do not get the wrong impression of this site.

My Story:

I chose accounting when I was deciding what my major should be in college. My step dad told me that accountants made the most money and had the most opportunity out of school, and since I was insecure and money driven at that point, I chose accounting.

I never planned on being accountant, but that was the path I was led down by default. All of my classmates either were continuing their accounting education by obtaining their masters degree, or were accepting offers at Big 4 firms for fifty thousand dollar salaries in the fall semester of 2005. I was stuck in the middle. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.

I had twenty interviews with potential employers that fall semester, and one thing became apparent. Not everyone had it figured out.

But that damn question of “what should I do with my life” lingered over the heads of everyone I talked to in the interview waiting rooms. Even after I accepted an offer with an accounting firm that fall, that question still remained on my mind.

In my very last interview, I got this funny feeling. I was overcome with fear that this would be my last interview. As I watched my interviewer ramble on and on about how much she loved her job, I realized that I liked interviews. I discovered that I liked interviews because I liked people. And what I enjoyed most about people was talking with them about their passion.

I went home that night and thought about what I would do during the summer between graduation day and my official start date in Corporate America. I got out a pen and paper and jotted down the things I wanted to do. I wanted to travel. I wanted to be close to sports. I wanted to better myself. Most of all, I wanted to continue having the feeling I had when I talked with people about their passion.

Desk of Thought

These desires that I wrote down is what you now see with Pursue the Passion. The RV came as a necessity because we had nowhere to stay, and I actually thought that when I bought Maggie Miracles (the first RV), that I was making a sound investment. Three hours into the first trip, broken down with green liquid spewing from the engine, I quickly realized that it had not been such a financial savvy decision.

Maggie Miracles Broken Down in the Desert

That summer I interviewed 75 amazing people. I traveled 10,000 miles by RV, my mom’s 4Runner, plane, and train for 2 months. I went to places like Nike, Microsoft, Playboy, many sports stadiums, the homes of welcoming strangers, and cities I had only read about. It was the time of my life.

Our first interview ever, with Lute Olson, Hall of Fame Basketball Coach at the University of Arizona.  Being Wildcats ourselves, this was huge.

The summer also had an inadvertent effect on my Corporate America experience. It completely soured it before I even stepped in the door. I knew, that after being exposed to all different occupations and possibilities, that I had made the wrong choice to go into accounting. I was selling out by going into a secure, stable, well-paid position because it just wasn’t me. But because I was contractually obligated to show up on September 4th, I was going to show up on September 4th.

On August 23rd, two weeks before my anticipated start date, I reported to a “real job.” The corporate lifestyle benefits came throughout the week, ranging from extravagant lunches to all types of corporate goodies. I temporarily forgot about all that I had gained and gleaned during the summer.

It's 5am, and I am off to my first day in Corporate America.  I remember this day well.  I woke up, went to the airport, and ran into a good friend from school.  He was flying to Las Vegas for business...his business.  He was so free.  It was a moment I would not forget.

But as the months passed, I began to revisit the advice that was given to me. I began to write a book about the pursuit of a passion, despite not working with a passion myself. This was troublesome to me, and even more so as I continued to receive emails from people around the world who were inspired by this site.

I felt not only like a corporate sellout, but also a hypocrite. I thought to myself, “how can I have a site that says to pursue your passion when I’m not pursuing it myself?”

I guess that was my “aha” moment where I said to hell with this. I started to get by on a PB & J diet, sacrificed Saturday nights, and saved up so I could go on a second PTP tour. I sent out over twenty carefully crafted sponsorship proposals to corporations, schools, and small businesses to see if they’d be interested in sponsoring the tour. No luck.

One day I received an email from the boss saying that she wanted to see me. I made the decision that it was now or never for me. It was time to quit the job I despised.

I walked into the office belonging to my boss at the scheduled time on the scheduled date with my heart pounding and my roommate’s co-worker’s resume. My boss was seated on the other side of the desk with two envelopes. Much like a classic western gunfight, I drew first. I quit. BAM!

I left the two envelopes on the table, one containing a raise, the other a bonus, and said goodbye to steady paychecks and corporate security.

Brett Farmiloe on his last day as an accountant, first day as an entrepreneur.

With no paycheck, I scrambled to get by. I hired my friend Jay, who graduated in December with a college degree and is now on the tour, and paid him minimum wage to help me get things in line with the Pursue the Passion tour. He crashed on my couch, and we ate free Hot Pockets and Stouffer’s products, given to us by Nestle, until we couldn’t take the taste anymore.

Jay's Sleeping Area.  As you can see, he had a long commute to work.

Every day I would rise at 5am, wake Jay up at 8am, and we’d work until 9pm or 10pm. Then we’d bounce back the next day, looking for sponsors, passionate people to interview, and couches to crash on.

It wasn’t until I focused all my time on Pursue the Passion did I start to see results. After all those hours of writing sponsorship proposals, we found a sponsor in Jobing.com right in our own backyard. We went from having four people visit the site a day to an average of two hundred people per day. We made a pact not to eat Hot Pockets again.

Things started to click and hit full stride come July 1st, the official start of the second Pursue the Passion tour.

The Pursue the Passion Team.  Jay is at left, Brett, Zach, who quit his accounting job to come on the tour, and Noah, our writer, on the ladder.

We’ve been on the road for over a month now, pursuing our passion, and the question that I frequently receive is “so, are you any closer to finding out what you want to do yet? What you going to do after this?”

People don’t realize that I am a passion pursuer and a crazy entrepreneur that will not stop until the bank account says zero. My goal is to turn this website into a resource that will help people who are in the same situations I found myself in as a student, and in the working world.

I am whole heartedly and no longer hypocritically pursuing my passion, and I invite you to join the journey as well.

Join the Journey...you know you want to.

Guest Post- Passion vs. Paycheck

June 12, 2007 | by brett | Permalink

Whether you’re choosing a college major, debating between two job offers, or contemplating a career change, chances are at one time or another you’ll have to choose between your passion and your paycheck. That’s not to say you can’t do what you love and get paid well for it, but there’s a reason why so many people drive home from the office in their Mercedes completely stressed out while I go home in my Hyundai with a smile on my face, eager to log on to my laptop later that night. The bottom line is finding a career you love–or at least remotely like–and transforming the way you approach your job. After all, wouldn’t it be better to live to work rather than work to live?!

Read the full interview »

It’s not about money. It’s about lifestyle.

May 24, 2007 | by brett | Permalink

Over the past few weeks I’ve sought explanations from friends, forums, and family to answer to my question of “What is preventing people from pursuing their passion?” The result?

“Money is the fundamental reason of why people are not pursuing their passion.”

No big surprise, right? But as I started to analyze these answers, I began to identify the one common theme that stood out.

It’s not about money. It’s about lifestyle.

Read the full interview »