“I make better kimchi than your Korean grandmother.”
That was what his online dating profile said.
I was intrigued.
Not because I have any great love of kimchi but because that was how he chose to describe himself.
After a couple weeks of dating, he dropped off a jar of kimchi and some soup at my apartment. I promptly ate the soup. The kimchi, I put in the cabinet. No freaking way was I going to eat that.
A few months later, going through my cabinets in an attempt to find some movie snacks, he discovered the jar of kimchi. “Um, this wasn’t sealed. It needed to be in the refrigerator.”
What happened next completely shocked this suburban girl who grew up on processed food and the-mall-as-entertainment:
He opened the jar and popped a big bite of fermented cabbage in his mouth.
Then… then… he plucked out a bite for me.
Blinded by love and inspired by his enthusiasm, I ate it.
It was good. Really good.
Fast forward 9 months.
One morning last week, he told me slept poorly because he read too much stimulating information before he went to sleep; The Art of Fermentation was sprawled out on the floor next to the bed. He’d spent restlessface hours considering new ideas for pickled vegetables.
On New Year’s Eve, he dropped off a jar of kimchi to the newest chef in town, a chef who’s been featured in Bon Appetit & Sunset Magazine, among others. New Year’s Day, he told me how he brought in another jar for his coworkers to try. He said, “I just want everyone to know how good this stuff is. I love it and I want them to love it too.”
I’ve told him many times that I think he could easily make a business out of his passion for pickling. But it was that last statement that really sold me on his ability to create something sustainable.
Businesses motivated by the deep desire to get what they create in the hands of others–to solve their problems or delight their senses–succeed. They inspire truly great marketing. They prompt story after story, reaching new prospects all the time.
That’s very different than just starting a business because you love doing your thing. Those kind of businesses generally don’t cause ripple effects of results or person-to-person sharing. They don’t get stories in magazines or mentions on the nightly news. They don’t inspire their teams to do better work.
It’s not the feeling you get when you’ve created something awesome that motivates great business; it’s the feeling you get when someone else experiences that something awesome.
When that is what drives you on a daily basis, you don’t need top 10 lists of promotional tactics. You don’t need Advanced Social Media Marketing. All you need is that core desire to share.
The reason I see potential in my partner’s passion for a sustainable business isn’t just because he loves to pickle things, it’s because he also has a passion for offering it up to others. The delight on his face when someone tries something from one of his jars for the first time is contagious. The energy he derives from seeing yet another skeptic converted to the ways of the fermented is immense.
You must have as much passion for the dissemination of your art as for the creation of it.
You must be willing to break down all your personal fears to pursue the act of plopping what you’ve created in the laps of the people you think should care about it.
You must be motivated by the surprise and the delight those you share your art with will experience.
Anything less than that and you won’t push past all the ways your fear will get block you sharing your art with the world.
Amanda Steinberg has built her publishing empire to over 600,000 subscribers not because she loves writing about women & money but because she can’t wait to get smart financial information in the hands of women everywhere. Sarah Peck–who’s writing workshop starts on January 13–doesn’t just write because she loves to write but because she has a passion for engaging others about the questions and ideas she’s pondering. Catherine Just isn’t a photographer because she likes to snap pictures but because she’s eager to share the miracles she sees through the viewfinder with as many people as possible.
You might find these distinctions semantic. I don’t.
This very real difference not only predicts success but indicates whether a business owner will push through her fear, tolerate more risk, and do what is necessary to make her vision reality. It indicates whether she’ll have what it takes to trust her own ability to create the tactics that will grow her business instead of relying on the prevailing trends.
As you begin the new year in your business, ask yourself if you’re as passionate about sharing your work with others as you are about creating it. Forget that you might not know the “ins and outs” of marketing and sales. Instead, embrace a burning desire to say, as Seth Godin puts it, “Here, I made this for you.”
The rest you can figure out in time.