Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Passionate Message

This past week I was lucky enough to hear a speaker who truly inspired me. How often does that happen? In business school, I often am exposed to knowledgeable professors and insightful guest speakers. Their topics challenge my way of thinking. Sometimes, they make me feel both smarter for having listened but also more lost than I was before I heard the lecture.

But it is rare that I walk out of a class feeling that the stars finally aligned, that I am given a piece of information that I can embrace and use as a guide. And this guy did it. He told me to be passionate.

How cliché is that? Be passionate. Actually, he didn't technically say "Be passionate." In fact, this wasn't a feel good inspirational lecture at all. He talked about his companies, his role in them, his ideas, etc. But there was something about him that made me realize that passion would be critical to my life and career decisions.

Maybe it was his enthusiastic emails prior to the lecture when I started warming up to him. Maybe it was the way he spoke. Maybe it was the eagerness of his delivery, in his description of his work. Maybe it was the business-with-a-healthy-dose-of-creative vibe he gave out, which is more my comfort zone. Whatever it was, I finally saw the light. I want to be passionate about what I do. And I don’t want to be embarrassed by that passion.

[For the record, this speaker’s name was Mark Ballard, Vice President of Client Experience at Ann Taylor, and co-founder of Sugardaddy’s Sumptuous Sweeties ( And really, how can you not like a guy who brings the whole class brownies that retail for $4.50 each and are to die for delicious. Though never ask how many calories are in them.]