Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Untold Value of Focused Interests

Today, as I watched a "Leading Women" story on CNN, I was reminded about how rewarding it is to have an interest or hobby that you focus on for years.

In college, it was a requirement to read and subscribe to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Financial Times, etc if you were a business major like I was.  So at 19, I begrudgingly spent part of my spending money and signed up at the student subscription rate to the WSJ, Fortune and Forbes.

I have known since I was very young that I had a passion for business.  I literally breathe, eat and observe business news like it's candy.  And even though I did not like my internal auditing path in corporate, I stayed longer than I wanted because it was one of the only professions that allowed me the opportunity to know what goes on in the bowels of a publicly traded company from the janitor to the board room...from compliance, to the financials to operations.

Untold Value
When people normally talk about having a passion for an interest or career, it is normally in the vein of an athlete that practices for years before competing in the Olympics (like what Geoff Colvin chronicled in "Talent is Overrated") or it is someone who is a professional motivator who's life calling is motivating the masses.

My example is connected to my 20 year passion reading, following and observing business...trends, highlights, lows, stock crashes, new inventions, game changers, etc.

The value in my business knowledge is that I get the pleasure of seeing the many cycles of how our world is impacted by business....not as just a casual reader, but as someone who studies and practices it as an obsession.

L'Oreal Acquisition and CNN's Leading Ladies
Carol's Daughter 200x200Yesterday a friend tagged me on a Facebook post about L'Oreal's acquisition of Carol's Daughter.  I couldn't be more happier for Founder Lisa Price.  The reason I'm so happy is that I literally remember a small blurb in Essence magazine about a new women's hair care line debuting amongst stiff competition. I have kept up with her over the years through celebrity endorsements, near bankruptcy and yesterday we get the pleasure of seeing the fruit of her 21 years (since she mixed potions in her kitchen) of building and believing.  I am so pleased to say I remember and utilize her story in connecting my own dots as an entrepreneur.

CNN has a 15 minute show on their international channel called "Leading Women".  I love it because it highlights women leaders from all over the world who are normally pioneers and who exhibit great character in leading at such a global level.

Today I saw the recorded story of Jo Malone.  This is another great business story I can say I've had the pleasure of seeing their great evolution.  Jo Malone, as she says, didn't decide to become an entrepreneur.  She didn't have a choice.  It was either create something (especially something where her dyslexia wouldn't be a hinderance) or literally not eat.  She started creating great perfumes in the United Kingdom and after years of selling to luxury boutique retailers, she was able to generate a global following for her perfumes and candles.  Her company was sold to the Estee Lauder companies in 2011.

Focused Interests and the Pleasure of Seeing It Evolve
One of the greatest pleasures of having a focused interest is you not only get to do it and contribute to the dialogue when you become great at it, but you also get to connect the dots that a novice will never be able to do.  I do believe we live in times where it is "normal" to have many interests and participate in activities where you get to use multiple giftings.  But there is something uniquely special about following the thread of an interest that is 20, 30, 40 years in the making.

I really believe that when you see and observe a connective thread over years, it creates a deep sense and satisfaction that makes you feel like you are "touching God".  It's truly indescribable.

I think Jo Malone's husband said it best when she was in the process of making the decision to start a new company, Jo Loves:

  Find the track you run fastest on and run it!

Be great and be obsessed and find your interest...your greatness at it has the potential to change the world.


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