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Success Finds Hard Work, Talent & Passion

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I spent the last few days in sunny Las Vegas to attend Affiliate Summit West 2009. It’s a conference for affiliate marketing in which I was able to meet with some of the companies I’ve been working with, put some names to faces, and find new opportunities. All in all the trip was a very successful one from a business development perspective but one of the selling points of the conference was really the person keynoting it, Gary Vaynerchuck. Gary Vaynerchuk, whom I’ve mentioned before (How to Buy Wine, How I Prepared to be a Problogger), is most known for his Wine Library TV show but has also done a lot of speaking engagements. Well, his ASW09 speech was no different (video below after the jump) and I’ll be looking forward to meeting him at Elite Retreat next month. After the speech, one fellow attended remarked, having not known who Gary was, that he probably could get a janitor pumped up about cleaning up puke at a preschool!

Gary Vaynerchuk at Affiliate Summit West 2009

The point of all this is that while I was sitting there, texting JD as he watched the keynote at home, I realized something my dad had been telling me for years. When I was younger, my dad always said that there were two crucial parts to success – hard work and talent. You were born with whatever talent you had and there isn’t much you can do to change that. However, hard work is something you can change and it’s the one weapon you have against people who are more talented than you are. The best examples are athletes. Across all sports, most drafted players won’t last in their respective leagues for more than a few years – and they’re the lucky ones. It’s because they could rely on talent to excel in high school and college. If you want to be a Michael Jordan or a Jerry Rice, you have to work harder than the next guy and then rely on your talent to give you the edge because there are only twenty four hours in a day. It was yet another lesson my dad tried to teach me as a kid that I didn’t appreciate until later (I discover more and more of these each year!).

However, the lesson was incomplete. If hard work is the engine of success and talent is the driver, then the fuel has to be passion. Passion pushes you to keep working when you want to stop because your muscles ache or because you’re tired. In his keynote, Gary talked about how he put out a show every single day for years before it became popular. He sacrificed growth in his wine business because he believed in what he was doing. He was able to keep at it because he was passionate about wine and helping people learn about it without the presumptuousness often associated with wine. The man’s got the talent, just watch his show and you can tell he knows his stuff, and he certainly can work his tail off, but I’m certain it’s his passion for his craft that pushes him to keep doing it whenever he wants to quit. That’s why he is successful, he’s got all three ingredients.

People have often asked me, what’s the secret to success in blogging about personal finance? I feel bad telling them that there is no secret. It’s day after day after day of interacting with your readers. It’s putting out two posts every weekday with no breaks even if the only people reading are your girlfriend and your mom. It’s putting out two posts every weekday with no breaks even if it’s making a pittance. It’s putting two posts every weekday with no breaks even if you’re on your two week honeymoon to Hawaii (don’t worry, I wrote them ahead of time!). And it’s trying to do all that while learning how to interact with people on Twitter or instant messenger. Yes, it’s a grind. Yes, it’s easy to say all you need to do it kill it every single day, but that’s only possible if you’re passionate.

Don’t do something if you don’t love it, it’ll never be as good as what you could do if your heart is in the work. Do what you love, work hard, and success will find you.

Keynote after the jump (jump to 10 minutes to skip some conference related announcements):

(Photo: Affiliate)

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12 Responses to “Success Finds Hard Work, Talent & Passion”

  1. David says:

    Amen Jim. Too often people think it happens overnight, but it takes years to start seeing good results – and that’s only if you stick with it for that long.

    Readers sometimes leave nasty comments saying that we don’t work because we happen to be able to do this from home; however, I can say I have not worked this much or this many hours at any “real” job I ever had. Great post.

  2. mbhunter says:

    Very good post Jim.

  3. MoneyNing says:

    Great post! It’s always easy to assume that people who are successful got “lucky” but it’s amazing how much hard work the “lucky” ones put into what they truly love.

    Cheers for passion, talent and hard work!

  4. Patrick says:

    Very true, Jim. Hard work and skill can be learned, but passion is something you can’t teach – you either have it or you don’t.

    I admire anyone who goes out there and chases his or her dream. It takes dedication to do that.

  5. Fred says:

    You’ve definitely been inspirational. Congrats on another year blogging.

  6. Julie says:

    Your sister reads them too…=)

  7. Angela says:

    Great article! A lot of the “overnight” successes didn’t happen overnight. There was a lot of hard work & sacrifice involved. Thank you for the inspiration. I subscribed.

  8. James Jose says:

    First time maybe ur are lucky but to repeat sucess u need much more than that…am sure a lot more will be added by the esteemed readers….

    Wonderful points!!!

  9. Nacie Carson says:

    Hi Jim,

    Your post is right on, and something I’ve been considering myself a lot lately. I’ve been thinking about how it is important to focus on improving your natural talents to truly reach success, but your absolutely right: the key to this equation isn’t hard work or talent, it is passion.

    If you have any, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on how you can accurately identify your strengths or “talents”?

    • Jim says:

      I don’t have any special way to identify your strengths other than to live your life and find out. Think back to the things you enjoy doing and are able to do well, figure out why, and that should go a long way to identifying what you’re good at. I don’t think it’s possible ahead of time.


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