Passion is an integral part of an organization's success.
Passion isn’t an everyday word in my world. I’m not around to watch daytime television, which I’m told involves a lot of passion. I’m not a reader of romance novels, which must involve passion if their cover images accurately reflect their content. And passion just isn’t a word that’s casually tossed around among co-workers.
Webster’s Dictionary defines passion as "intense driving or overmastering feeling or conviction, a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object or concept."
Pretty powerful stuff passion.
I bring this up because five times in the last three weeks I’ve encountered the word passion in the most corporate of settings.
The first jolt was at 30,000 feet. It was a Sunday afternoon and I was in a plane somewhere over Nebraska. The battery on my computer had run out, my briefcase was in the overhead, I was in a middle seat and the guy on the aisle was out cold. I’m not very good at doing nothing, which left American Way magazine as my only diversion. A quote that went something like this caught my eye:
"Passion is what separates managers from entrepreneurs." While I no longer remember the source, I can’t forget the implication: that the skills required to manage an organization are very different than the skillsthe passion—required to create one.
Passion surfaced again at our company’s recent executive management meeting. Arol Wolford, founder of CMD Group, described a recent study of Americans who had lived 100 years or more. The subjects were all over the human map; the only thing that united this group of centenarians is, you guessed it, passion. To a person, each one intensely cared about something bigger and beyond their daily existence.
Hard on the heels of Arol was our CEO, Marc Teren. Ten months into the job, Marc told of his conviction that Cahners, PB’s parent company and the leading business-to-business information provider in North America, will always be the best source of informed content in the markets we serve. What makes him so certain is a belief that empowering individuals closest to our clients results in the best information being delivered the way the market wants it.
Dean Horowitz, my mentor, my boss and my friend, demonstrates passion every day and now he is talking about it too. At Professional Builder, we regularly review our mission statement, vision and values. We’re always tweaking the exact wording (we are editors after all!) to make sure it reflects who we are and how we want to serve our market and each other. In describing our culture and the people we want to be part of our team, Dean said it best: "Only zealots need apply." Check Webster’s: zeal is the first synonym for passion.
Then there is Steve Olson, founder and chairman of The Olson Company, our Builder of the Year. A quiet, intense man, Steve has through word and example created a passionate company with a mission that is bigger than just the bottom line.
To a person, associates at the Seal Beach, Calif.-based builder commit themselves to creating public/private partnerships that benefit both city clients and consumers. City clients get in The Olson Company a trusted partner and proven supplier in rebuilding the residential base of their communities. The Olson Company’s new-home communities offer consumers an opportunity to improve more than just their home; they are able to improve their quality of life as well. In-town housing means Olson’s customers spend less time driving Southern California highways and thus have more time for family and personal pursuits.
It is interesting and totally appropriate that in creating a culture and a company that desires, above all else, to make life better for its clients, The Olson Company has built a business—and a bottom line—worthy of Builder of the Year.
I’m beginning to rethink my views on passion. It is a part of my everyday world, for passion is all about believing and caring enough to act. The examples and inspiration are all around.