If you are a passionate pursuer of a certain discipline, you probably often find yourself at a crossroads: do you keep on the path that your passion dictates or do you go for the safer solution? Well, I’m not a career advisor, so I wouldn’t really be able to tell you. I can, however, write about people who did go for broke and succeeded while doing what they loved the most. These are six people who lived their dream and made a career with what they are most passionate about.
See Also: Awesome Jobs That End Up Sucking
1. Brandon Stanton
It might be especially true that people who work in high profile, competitive and fast-paced jobs get burnt out the quickest. Jobs in the financial, law and real estate development fields generally have high turnaround rates. In most cases, though, the people who choose to leave their jobs generally decide to stay within the same field, unlike Brandon Stanton.
Stanton was always passionate about photography, even when he was trading bonds on the Chicago Board of Trade. He did it very well for three years, but then the economy suddenly imploded and Stanton found himself without a job. But he’s a man that likes taking risks: when he was a college student, he says he took a $3,000 student loan and bet it on Obama winning the US presidency. After he obviously won, he moved to New York and started taking photos of complete strangers on the streets of the Big Apple. That’s when the very beloved photoblog Humans of New York was born.
In just five years, his 5,000-picture catalog has garnered national attention and scored Stanton two book deals. He isn’t a one-trick pony, though: his stories and photo lens have recently traveled to Iran, documenting, storytelling and destroying preconceptions that the country is imminently deadly to all westerners.
2. Jim Koch
You might be more familiar with Samuel Adams the beer than the early American statesman, and you can blame your ignorance and inebriation on a brewmaster that goes by the name of Jim Koch. Just because he makes beer doesn’t mean he’s a listless lush, though; Jim is a Harvard Business School alumnus and worked for The Boston Consulting Company.
Excessive amounts of money just didn’t fulfill Koch though, so using an Austrian beer recipe that had been in his family for years, he decided to found the Boston Beer Company. Most of the biggest names in brewing had centuries’ worth of brand loyalty, but the quality of Sam Adams beer made it an equal competitor at any bar’s tap offerings. Within 31 years (compared to 160 years of the Miller Brewing Company, which is currently worth $4 billion), the Boston Brewing Company is now worth a whopping $3.4 billion.
3. Jennifer Hyman & Jennifer Fleiss
We’ve all been in the dilemma of wanting something so excessively budget-destroying. It could be the latest piece of consumer tech or a piece of designer clothing. Well, apparently, Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss have also been on the bus “to buy or die” and decided they could offer something the market needs: rental designer clothes.
The business school duo launched Rent the Runway which rents designer clothes to people that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them. Do you have an interview and no suit to wear? Or a gala and you want to look like Sasha Fierce (that’s Beyoncé’s latest nickname for the layman)? Well, the fashion-forward team will get you dressed in the latest runway fashion for a (relatively) small price. The business has expanded exponentially with five brick and mortar locations, and a roster of over 50,000 haute couture offerings.
4. Yvon Chouinard
When you think of corporate shill, your mind usually conjures an image of a clean-cut suit-clad person, not a rugged outdoorsman. Well, as it is my hobby to destroy preconceptions and stereotypes, I would like to present you Yvon Chouinard.
A mountaineer, Chouinard sought to refine mountain climbing equipment that was being used at the time, so he bought a second-hand coal-fired forge and started making his own climbing gear. Eventually, he started selling his improved climbing accessories, giving rise to big wall climbing in the Yosemite National Park. It is also said that he had a hand in helping create the sport of ice wall climbing, with the study and improvement of ice climbing equipment.
To further destroy your preconceptions, Yvon was making 70% of his income from steel pitons but noticed they were damaging the rock surfaces they were being used on. He and his partner decide to advocate a non-damaging form of climbing called clean climbing, developing a new set of equipment to facilitate this idea and minimizing the impact on the environment.
He inadvertently destroyed his source of income to avoid the environment he so enjoyed from being destroyed. Not that he went broke from his endeavor, however: the Patagonia brand of outdoor accessories and equipment is one of the largest market share holders in the outdoors equipment sector.
5. Bill Gates
I know, I know: he’s on every single list of people that pursued their passion and became famous for it. I would like to point out that Gates still does that today. Since becoming the most recognizable computer billionaire geek in the world, Bill has become extremely passionate about bettering the world, with special emphasis on the access of clean water to countries and communities that don’t have access to it. He has to date invested an astounding $33.5 billion for various initiatives.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which oversees Bill’s philanthropic work, has offices all over the world and has assisted underprivileged people (many in third world countries) by providing them with access to clean water, vaccination, and education. So, inadvertently, Gate’s first passion helped him fulfill his other passion (that could even be considered a higher calling).
6. Walt Disney
Stop looking at me so surprised… have you not heard any of the stories surrounding Disneyland? No? Well, listen up then.
In the 1920s, Disney became a moderate success due to his artistic skills, and after a few failed business endeavors, he decided to create an insignificant little animation company with his brother: the Walt Disney Company. Today it has evolved into a massive media conglomerate and is one of the most recognizable names in animation. Not bad for someone that went bankrupt, huh?
Can you think of any other people who pursued their talents, passions and dreams, and ended up smelling like poesies? Let me know in the comments section below.