Passion is Bullshit

Editors note: This is a guest post by Greg Davidson, Head of Sales at Artsy.


People are passionate about their families, hobbies, and sometimes their dogs. But the founder that expects their employees to be passionate about their company may miss out on some great hires.

Startup founders and key early employees should be passionate about the company and problem they’re solving. But to expect that every employee as the company grows will feel the same level of dedication is wrong. It’s also unnecessary.

‘Passion” is a Commonly Misused Adjective in the Startup World
Passion is an intense feeling. It drives founding teams to build world-shaking companies. But, it’s not a realistic job requirement.

Instead, focus on excitement.

Passion and excitement are completely different. Look for new employees who perk up when they hear about the challenges you’re facing. Look for people that can barely contain themselves with ideas, tactics, and strategies for your business.

But don’t look for passion. In fact, being passionate about your work can be detrimental.


“Passion and excitement are completely different. Look for new employees who perk up when they hear about the challenges”

What Hiring Managers Should Look For

Instead of trying to find passionate employees, companies should look for people who are excited to take on the challenge of the specific industry or job function — regardless of their prior background. In many instances, it can be more beneficial to hire experts in a certain field than to bring in industry people, no matter their background. Most of the time, outsiders will want to share their insights. They’ll offer a fresh perspective that your company can benefit from.

Ultimately, unless you built the company, or you got involved with one in its early stages, you’d be better off pursuing your passions outside the office. It’s time to stop using passion as a requisite for extending an offer. The most excited, qualified candidates will be the best addition to your team.


How Passion and Excitement Motivate Me

In my own life, I have run sales teams in sports analytics, recruiting/staffing, and I now work in the art industry. I didn’t choose those industries because of passion. Instead, each industry has its own unique challenges, and I am passionate about solving them.

When I do start a business, it will be something I am passionate about. The type of passion that causes you to toss ‘n turn in your bed for hours because your brain is just constantly bursting with new thoughts and ideas. The kind of passion with which you kiss your significant other, or hug your mother. I’m talking euphoria.

What keeps me up right now is leading the best sales team I have ever worked with. I appreciate art, but I don’t have an art background. Even so, I have been offered an incredible opportunity at Artsy. If I (or they) had chosen passion over excitement, I would not have been offered this amazing chapter in my journey!


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Greg Davidson is Head of Sales at Artsy the online resource to discover, learn about and buy the art you’ll love. Prior to Artsy, Greg ran the sales team at YC backed WayUpFollow more of Greg’s thoughts on Medium @GMDavidson




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