Process. Product. Passion.

Ok, this is one of those “way out there” entries, but stick with me. It’s good stuff.

My friend Rob and I didn’t start getting to know each other until about 3 weeks before he graduated, and it’s a shame, because I love talking to him. Besides being incredibly cool and having “success” written all over him, Rob asks questions in a way that makes me think very critically. I’m always humbled by it, and maybe one day he will write a book about how to ask questions.

He’s currently hanging out, not too worried about a job, and just enjoying himself. Good, says I – find your passion before you find your process. Wait wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

You see, Rob realized recently that there is a difference between a “businessman” and an “entrepreneur”. He had traditionally thought that the two were synonyms, and it fascinated me to explore the difference. The question that we pondered together is “how attached and passionate does an entrepreneur have to be about his product?” Good heavens, what a good, complicated question.

I think that “businessmen,” in the traditional sense, are all about Process – “P” numero uno. Inspiration? Nah… they get their kicks by analyzing cash flow statements and executing their goals. They’re important people – they make the world run on time – but they are not all entrepreneurs.

So there are some entrepreneurs who are into Product – “P” nombre deux. They are married to their products, their business plans, etc… these are, let’s say, junior entrepreneurs. They are not yet confident enough in their own abilities to detach from their products when the market calls for it. But they can get an idea off the ground when the rest of us are saying nay.

Then, there are the entrepreneurs who are Passionate – the third echelon. For them, the product, and the company, are not important unless they satisfy a market need. These entrepreneurs are not all about defining themselves by their product. They have faith in themselves; and what do they bring to their customers? Adaptability. A product that does what the customers demand. A process that is profit-oriented. Their company is not a company unless it represents them and their passion for satisfying their customers and shareholders. The product and the process are just by-products of their passion. There’s a little bit of ego here, so some say. But without their egos, could Caesar have grown Rome, Napoleon have conquered Europe, Richard Branson have built Virgin?

It is not just ego – it is belief in self.

Between 1946 and 1955, Sony spent a bunch of time trying to build electronics measuring equipment. But they were passionate and adaptable, and in August of 1955, they released Japan’s first transistor radio, ushering in a culture of consumer electronics innovation that is today manifest in the alarmingly powerful Playstation 3.

I really want a Playstation 3. But more than that, I want Rob to find find his passion and to believe in himself. I want every “Rob” to realize their passion and believe in themselves. What’s your passion? What beliefs will it take for you to realize it?

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