Are you inspired or are you bored? What makes the difference?

I remember when my kids were growing up around their nut of a Father and I’d say “It doesn’t matter if you are passionate about the things I am…just make sure you are passionate about things!” Not having cool things to be fascinated with seems like a path to being bored; unfortunately, this might also mean “boring”, and it’s hard to get ahead that way. Some great geek examples include:

– My friend who is reading all the Pulitzer Prize winning novels…
– Traveling with my buddies to Miami & Atlanta to visit two more Major League ballparks (my 35th and 36th), to Daytona Beach where Jackie Robinson first played as a pro, and to Birmingham for a game at the oldest ballpark in the country where my Dad sold concessions in the 1930’s…
– My friend who has painstakingly catalogued forty years of amateur music “jam” recordings he has made with his best friends…
– The OC non-profit youth theater Producer sitting in the audience to see her former prodigy student starring in Wicked on Broadway…
-Spending six hours with three other geeks listening intently to each of our carefully selected rock/pop/R&B/jazz/folk songs from the 60’s and 70’s – and discussing and/or laughing about each one…
-My history-teacher daughter who zooms off to Washington D.C. on her Spring Break because she “needs” to see all the American history sights…

Not all necessarily important…but also not boring. I’m sure you have your own examples.

However, this concept applies to business as well. A favorite client of mine, Panda Restaurant Group, puts a ton of importance on curiosity and lifelong learning as critical characteristics for people on their team. I believe this fascination with new ideas and insights is closely aligned with people’s tendency to be passionate and fanatical about their interests. The concept of “can’t get enough” is what comes to my mind in both cases.

Another way that our passions can really matter is reflected in the “real” contributions of many successful people by volunteering with non-profit and charitable causes. It’s easy to write a check, but sharing your time and insight with a cause calls for true passion.

I feel fortunate, through my roles on the Board of Directors of the YMCA of Orange County ( and through my involvement with the Ethical Edge (, to be around many inspired contributors who are professionally successful and also devote time and energy to making a difference. Both of these groups welcome new volunteers – just let me know if you’re interested.

The “passion effect” of being involved in a cause is powerful, but for me, the impact is even greater because of the shared energy of being around other passionate people. Try it if you don’t know what I mean.

Perhaps, like me, you’re among the lucky ones who are truly passionate about the work they do. Even if that’s not true for you here’s to each of us getting to spend time doing things we really love – we’ll surely be better at our day jobs when we also get to feed our passions. Do it for fun, and do it to make a difference too, and perhaps some of our “have-tos” can start to feel more like “get-tos”.
Thanks for sharing time with me; as always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback and please feel free to pass this message along to others who may find value.

Jeff Black
Partner, McDermott & Bull Executive Search
Cell: (714) 356-1949 Office: (949) 753-1700 ext. 310
2 Venture, Suite 100 Irvine, CA 92618