“…The end-goal is nothing more than achieving $200K-$2M personal income…”

“…The end-goal is nothing more than achieving $200K-$2M personal income…” post image

“The goal is not to do business with people who want what you have; the goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.” – Simon Sinek

I love to talk with talented people are serious about wanting to get a business off the ground.

It often goes like this…

We’ll discuss their marketable skills, combine them with what’s going on in the marketplace, and figure a relatively clear path to significant cash flow within 3-6 months. After stepping back and taking a look, their response is often: “yeah, I see that, but I don’t really want to do that.” 

I have a hard time relating to this attitude. Maybe I am just kidding myself. I imagine myself cutting the conversation short and running home.

The good news is I’ve had many many conversations that went the opposite way. Here’s two examples: Case Study #1, Case Study #2.  

I suspect the intent of “I don’t really want to do that” in these cases is to preserve options and to wait for something that’s a better fit. The irony is, it’s those who go out and commit to serving the marketplace who generally end up having more options.

*  *  *

I was thinking of these issues this week, wondering, is this related to the issue of passion in business? Is passion the same thing as “something you want to do” and so on, when an interesting comment came through on our recent episode on the topic (emphasis mine): 

…the takeaway from this particular interview will be counterproductive to most of your audience members, and I sincerely hope that most people don’t take the message from this particular episode too seriously.

…for most of the “ALBOs” (Aspiring Lifestyle Business Owners, aka your audience), the basic goal is to develop/build the business so they can enjoy the lifestyle/travel/family/free time/occasional luxury toys and not be trapped in their business.

It’s really not about awakening and/or finding some great inner purpose or all-mighty entrepreneurial spirit.

To put it in practical terms, for most ALBOs, the end-goal is nothing more than achieving $200K-$2M personal after-tax annual income from a business that they generally enjoy and that requires little work (or alternatively, a sizeable exit that guarantees similar levels of income for years to come)… [full text here]

Which inspired me to ask the question…

Does “follow your passion” advice affect different groups of people differently?

Almost without exception, the people who achieve the type of outcome that the comment outlines do have a passion– for enterprise, systems thinking, leadership, money, and commerce.

I decided to create 2 groups (along with “ALBOs”) to try and see if the passion message might have different impact on different

1. PABIGs – People who are “Passionate About Business in General.”

Mark Mason, as he describes himself when he was just getting started, was a PABIG. He does everything— his writing, his speaking, his consulting— in an enterprising way. He is confident. He is a leader. He is willing to ship and to make mistakes. He is willing to do painful things for long periods of time for future benefit (that critical part of the enterprising spirit). His is willing to put a price tag on it.

PABIGs embody the entrepreneurial spirit– they find what they are passionate about in the world and ask the enterprising question: how can what I care about benefit others?

A non-PABIG follows their passion to travel the world and writes a “follow me on the road!” blog, whereas the PABIG hits the road and writes a “watch me interview bank managers around the world to help you set up accounts” blog.

Non-PABIGS tend to prefer “yummy” work. What do I want to do right now!

It doesn’t look like it on the surface, but I bet the aspiring online publisher (okay, blogger) who decides to write the bank blog ends up, in the long run, having more “fun.”

For PABIGs, follow your passion advice has a lot of upside potential.

2. ALBOs – “Aspiring Lifestyle Business Owners.” Are you not so hot on cutting deals with reality (and with clients), and business stuff in general?

Is Mark’s message harmful to this group of people? Probably not. Most often these people 1) lack the will and courage 2) lack the ability to focus or 3) have an invasive problem area elsewhere in their life (or other concerns that get priority). 4) Don’t really like being enterprising or doing business (and that’s okay!)

ALBOs are in love with the benefits but aren’t willing to do the work.

I can see how passion advice gets blamed for leading these individuals astray. I’m not sure it’s the case, however. Perhaps in lieu of the enterprising spirit, the passion approach is a way to get people moving.

Should we be spending any more time ministering to this crowd of people who see the insane benefits but aren’t willing to pick up the phone and make a cold call? Maybe we should send them to Cal’s blog.

I don’t believe ALBOs are really our audience (although maybe I’m just getting cute with the definitions). We are trying to network with people who have skin in the game. Ya know, people who are willing to knock on some doors.

If we provide some kind of inspiration to ALBOs, that’s a nice side benefit.

3. HABA – “Has a Business Already.”

For this group, I think Mark’s message is extremely useful. People value a broad range of things, and I think it makes sense to create a business that’s like an Iron Man suit. It ought to extend your reach and ability to impact the things you most care about.

The entrepreneurs who I know who only serve their business, rather than the other way around, tend to be more miserable and do less interesting work. My sense is that creating a business you are passionate has a strategic significance that’s difficult to quantify. To get some case studies, I’d check this out.

I’m not sure I addressed your concern but appreciate the opportunity to think about this stuff further, would love your thoughts as always.





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Published on 09.14.13
  • This is a great perspective. It’s a big struggle too, trying to find that balance.

    I think I’m somewhere between a PABIG and an ALBO.

    That’s certainly not a way I ever expected to describe myself.

  • Hm, I think the reasons for the “I don’t want to do that” statement are relevant to the results. Specifically:

    There’s something else to factor into the process, one that would
    affect people in both of your silos: where the person that left a
    traditional business environment and is not looking to build on those
    same skills. E.g. Many of the lawyers I know who quit the law know that
    they could build a lucrative and flexible business around a freelance
    legal practice — but are unwilling to do so. It isn’t because they are
    not passionate about business, and it’s not because they want to coast
    with a minimum viability / break even model. It’s because they left to
    try something different, because the law wasn’t terribly exciting. They
    don’t want to be led back to the source of their disenchantment. Doing
    the same work in a different, more fulfilling context, isn’t necessarily
    the answer for them.

    As Mr. Newport says, if we all followed our
    passions, most of Canada would be studying hockey. So, while people may
    eschew the trendy “find your passion! Do what you lurve!” model, they
    might want to enjoy the actual work, instead of the business of building
    “as” the part to enjoy. Neither right nor wrong, just a different lens.
    As you note, applying a passion for learning to other areas of life can
    be more ultimately fulfilling than setting out to “be passionate about
    x”. But it might not work for everyone.

    2. It would be a mistake
    to discount confidence as a factor. (That is, I think there is also a
    gray area of people who are PABIG and who don’t want to be an ALBO
    statistic, but they’re on unsure footing.) Many people are socialised to
    fear failure, and it’s not always an easy trait to unlearn. You might
    argue that if you’re truly passionate about biz you should let go of
    that fear of failure, but it’s harder for some people vs others, and I
    often see people not going for it because of optics, not because they
    aren’t truly interested in business.

    3. Not sure all bloggers who
    write “follow me” blogs during their travels can be lumped into a
    non-PABIG space. While some do quit to travel and think they can make $
    on a travel blog (short term model, in my eyes), many just started a
    blog to keep friends and family updated on their lives. You’re right
    that if people thought about it in a macro context — first, what value
    to provide, then second, touching on travel in the process, they’d have
    more foundational space for success. But I’d argue that another model
    might be those who started without a plan to monetize, then pivoted
    successfully because they are PABIGs — they just didn’t see the
    opportunities when they set out. (I’m not talking about me here, I’m
    still in the figuring shit out stage/trying to maximize stuffing my face
    with food space. I meant more of watching others in the travel sphere.)
    Perhaps it comes down to a myopic view vs not? Those that are thinking
    of short term income vs. longtail building? Regardless of how they
    started, that attitude will govern part their future success, no?

    Thanks for a post that got me thinking.

  • Matt Bailey

    Great points. Loved both from Dan and from Jodi.

    As I write a post on the concept of Retirement, I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I don’t think all people who are in love with business (for example, I sincerely have a passion for entrepreneurship) are only in it for tons of money. I would never need 200K+ yearly to live the life I want. Not even close. If I have it, sweet…I can invest, save or donate. But if it requires 10x the work, I’d rather relax and enjoy life because I simply don’t need that much cash.

    Likewise, I know many people who truly are social entrepreneurs. They have the means to start an “information-business” that makes money for them but would rather develop money-making businesses that actually contribute something to the world.

    Most “lifestyle” businesses online are all about building lifestyle businesses, finding passions, life-coaching and what not. Nothing wrong with it but it’s usually far overpriced and not that valuable.

    I feel I might digress from the main point of the article so I’ll stop here :)
    But great post. Great insights from you too Jodi

  • I’ve often wondered why I decided to focus on a core niche (email marketing) instead of go broad (or just never get around to doing the work).

    I used to think it was a conscious, well-thought out decision, but not anymore. I think we’re all wired differently… for different things. Every psychological trait lends itself well to specific tasks, including entrepreneurship, hustle and focus. I couldn’t go back to a job and enjoy myself, any more than a typical employee could drop their job (and benefits) and become an entrepreneur.

    In some ways, it’s inevitable that some people will have jobs and others will become entrepreneurs. No one is special. They’re just wired differently.

    The benefits of “doing the work” are obvious and clear. Does that mean ALBOs will do the work? No. But some people will. Some people will turn on Focus At Will and get sh*t done. But most won’t. Not because they’re lazy IMO. But because they’re wired differently.

    I like to win. A lot of successful people like to win. But not everyone cares about winning. I used to think that I was right and they were wrong. But now I look at the idea simply as a matter of different choices. Winning isn’t objectively better than losing. It’s just a different outcome, a different path and a different choice.

  • “I like to win. A lot of successful people like to win. But not everyone cares about winning. I used to think that I was right and they were wrong. But now I look at the idea simply as a matter of different choices. Winning isn’t objectively better than losing. It’s just a different outcome, a different path and a different choice.”

    Very well said. I’ve learned the same thing. It’s not about right/wrong — but different choices and outcomes.

    Thanks for putting a thought provoking post out there..

  • dylanized


  • Should be “affect” not “effect” in the first header.

    (Sorry! I’m an English teacher, I can’t help it :-p)

    Fantastic comment by Jodi.

    One thing I find very illustrative is waching peoples’ reactions to potential problems and difficulties. ALBOs often say, “But that won’t work because…” and then end up letting the “What ifs?” stop them from taking action.

    PABIGs and HABAs tend to come up with (and start implementing) various pivots or creative ways around the obstacle. Of course there will be failures and missteps in there, but they are taking action. They say “How can I make it work?” instead of “That won’t work.”

  • Cristina C. Ansbjerg

    It’s very interesting what you say about people who are socialized to fear failure, because every time I read that one of the reasons why people fail at business is that they’re afraid of success, I think that in many cases it’s exactly the opposite: they fail because they’re afraid of failure. They boycott themselves somehow.

    I’ve been there at some point in my life. I come from a society (I’m Spanish) where -in business- you are allowed to fail once. Starting a second business after failing the first time is terribly hard and financially almost impossible.

    Btw, I’m a former lawyer. I relate to your first point.

  • Cristina C. Ansbjerg

    Great distinction Shayna: “How can I make it work?” vs “That won’t work.”

  • Dan


  • Dan

    i like the idea that there’s lots of different wirings… it does seem to be the case, that’s part of what i see as a challenge is that there are so many yet-to-be-discovered concepts or “ways in” for people who would like the benefits of entrepreneurship, but haven’t yet seen a gateway concept that resonates with their particular wiring.

    for me, i think a lot like you, i just felt like i needed to make it happen, and i didn’t really lack confidence that i knew what i was doing when it came to business…

    it’s weird because the biggest part of winning, and you seem to share this, is not caring if you lose. because winners lose all the time etc….

    guess it feels better for many to hang in the middle.

  • Dan

    Shayna I very much appreciate the language help! anything to make me look marginally less like a dummy

    That’s an interesting heuristic there… I recently received an email from a reader who said something like “the dream that my company sold me on they didn’t deliver on” etc and it struck me as a similar distinction, like somebody with an entrepreneurial mindset would more likely have blamed themselves and figured out how to improve / change the deal.

  • Dan

    “Hi, my name is Tim, and I’m a PABIG.”

  • Dan

    Totally agree… in fact focusing on just money can put businesses behind the ball…

    I also consider lifestyle quite a bit in my business strategies, and i think it’s more challenging and interesting than just figuring out how to grow.

    i guess i just don’t vibe that much with people who are ONLY doing it for the money… what’s the point bro? ya know :)

  • Dan

    Great stuff… Regarding point #1 it’s a very interesting issue… one thing that I learned by building a business around the very skillset that caused me pain in a previous life (running a manufacturing company) was that owning a company is much different experience that being an employee, so whereas the skillset of the lawyer might be lawyering, the skillset of the owner of a lawfirm would be entrepreneurship (lawfirms might be a bad example there…). So most people who walk away from their most lucrative skillset might just be missing an opportunity to more-quickly scale a cash flow that you can then walk away from…

    this was the case with my product company, we were able to install somebody to start running the thing around the 1 year mark, so then we were able to be entrepreneurs… for lawyers that might mean developing a product like 557$ patent searches! and then automating themselves out of the cash flow… so to walk away from a lucratic knowledge set is different from walking away from a type of work… i’m just tossing this out there..

    #2 i agree, this is also related to something i’m seeing tie the thoughts together which is the issue of urgency… same deal with #3…

    for people with a type of runway– either in cash, or even emotional (they don’t really need to make it happen NOW) they can take slower paths into PABIGness.

    these categories don’t really work though, which is also an important thrust of your comment :) THINK ON!

    By putting this out there, I think i hope some might recognize a sort of overcoming that I’ve seen many do… the benefits of being an entrepreneur and all that really can be astounding so finding ways to “hack” yourself into overcoming confidence issues or 6 months of work-toil often have really positive results

  • Dan

    this seems particularly relevant in our day and age… there’s just so many resources at our disposal…. these things time and time again seem to boil down to mindset.

  • I’ve honestly never understood how people can be “afraid of success.” I’m with you, Cristina – I think fear of failure is far more common.

    I can feel it myself – my biggest, deepest entrepreneurial fear is: “What if I give this ALL I’VE GOT… I go all out in terms of effort and time invested… and it STILL fails? What would be left for me then?”

    So then I hold back on the hustle because if things don’t work, I can say “well it’s because I’m not really trying 100%.” It is indeed a weird mental block.

    Of course the answer to this is that it’s better to go all out and fail quickly – and then bounce back and try a different business venture – than to languish in the kinda-sorta-making-an-effort-but-not-really-sure-if-biz-is-viable zone for years.

  • Dan

    When people bring up the “scared of success” point it’s so clever I want to think it’s true… but yeah I’m not sure if it’s been explained to me in a way I fully buy it. “Socialized to failure” though is something a little easier for me to understand.

  • I agree that fear of failure plays a much larger role than fear of success, but I can see it playing a role from time to time for some people. It makes sense when you combine it with the common sense notion that today’s successful businesses are all overnight successes. Sort of like winning the lottery. And what have we heard about people who literally won the lottery? Right, they change, they lose all their friends and family, blow they money out the window in a few yours and have a miserable existence ever after. It’s the fear of incompetence, the lack of ability to handle suddenly available and immense amounts of money that supposedly comes with an overnight-successful business, that drives fear of failure.

  • I salute your recent introduction of the word “yummy” into your vocab,

  • Jenna

    Even if you start out as a ALBO but have the attitude of making it work, I bet you can transform into one of the other two. We all have to start somewhere. We all have to overcome doubts and less-than-helpful mindsets.

    And if you don’t like owning a business, then don’t be a business owner. Be an employee and have the life of an employee. That’s a perfectly valid path.

    I appreciate the idea of not being obsessed about a passion. But I also can’t see ignoring what you are interested in and staying in something you dislike just because you’ve been doing it for a while and you’ve built up skills. So take action… and pivot. Don’t drop everything and go open up a yoga studio. Pivot instead. Try your current skills out in the marketplace and see if you can get one step closer to the life you want.

    But whatever you do, don’t just sit around and wonder about your passion in a room by yourself. Do stuff. Get new skills on the side. Then let those new skills mixed with your existing skills take you to new places.

  • Munly Leong

    I’ve always been more like a PABIG mainly because I’m more than happy to chat up other business owners and learn about as many businesses and industries as possible. Skipped business school and went software engineering/CS because I figured it would be easier to learn business on my own as part of my natural nature and might a well go to school for a trade instead. While someone would say focusing on what you’re naturally best at is the way to go (espec for career workers), I’d say being more well rounded is a better way to go for entrepreneurship. My problem is more lack of funding/time/immigration issues than inability to execute.

    Also the other way I’ve always phrased something PABIG like is to say that “an entprereneur’s job is create value, whatever it may be from their knowledge and experiences”.

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