It’s not just a new year, folks. 2020 is finally . . . finally . . . finally over! While most of us were perfectly happy to see it in with a whimper instead of the usual bang, we’re all looking forward to the day when murder hornets, Tiger King, and (“gestures wildly in the air”) all the rest have faded from the headlines and start popping up on Jeopardy. (“I’ll take Dystopian Nightmares for $200” — but no “Alex,” because . . . 2020.)
Have we ever needed a fresher start? This particular January is an especially promising time to look towards future goals. If you’re like most people, you’ve got a stack of resolutions staring you in the face. Eat less, check. Exercise more, check. And would it kill you to call your mom more often? But what if you’re really looking to make 2021 count? Career success? Fame and fortune? How can you make the leap to accomplishing those lofty goals?
Scott Galloway is a tech entrepreneur, author, and business school professor who’s spent much of the past few years making himself as ubiquitous as possible through books, podcasts, and social media. There’s a YouTube clip making the rounds (taken from a longer 2019 interview with MSNBC’s Stephanie Rule) where Galloway tells you how to succeed in 2021. And it’s the complete opposite of what you might expect: “Don’t follow your passion.”
Galloway starts by dismissing that advice as fragrant barnyard waste before stating flat out: “If someone tells you to follow your passion, it means they’re already rich. And typically, the guy onstage telling you to follow your passion made his billions in iron ore smelting.” Galloway, by contrast, recommends a much more practical route: “Find something you’re good at, and then spend the thousands of hours . . . to become great at it.” Because once you’re great at it, he continues, the rewards of being great will kick in “and make you passionate about whatever it is.”
So, what does Galloway offer as his ultimate example of turning boring expertise into passion? Where do you go if the doors to the glamorous smelting world are closed? Taxes, of course. “Nobody grows up thinking, ‘I’m passionate about tax law.’ But the best tax lawyers in this nation fly private and have a much broader selection of mates than they deserve. And they get to do interesting things which, by the way, makes them passionate about tax law.”
Galloway finishes his rant by acknowledging that, yeah, following your passion sometimes works. He’s just saying don’t count on it. “Jay-Z followed his passion and became a billionaire. Assume that you are not Jay-Z.” Where does that leave boring tax and finance pros like us? We’re doing just fine, thank you. We do fascinating things every day. We get to help clients just like you to plan for the brightest possible future. We secure comfortable retirements. We put children and grandchildren through college. We solve complicated business and financial challenges. We may never get our face on magazine covers or bubblegum cards. But that doesn’t mean we don’t get to help you live your dreams — and maybe even get your face on those covers.
We’re not entirely out of the woods. 2021 will bring a different set of challenges, hopefully with fewer murder hornets. But we’re looking forward to being here for you whatever the year brings!