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How Passionate and Excited Are You?

I met the most passionate man in my life in the carpet district of Manhattan, Bergi Andonian of Renaissance Carpets

New Media on Ulitzer

Every staff meeting we hold, I open the meeting either with my "passion speech" or end it with the importance of passion and excitement toward one's job.

The colleagues whom I've been working with for longer than 10 years must have listened to my 'broken record' speech hundreds of times. My heart goes out to them.

When I was a student at Zurich University in Switzerland 25 years ago, I studied German that first year before I started taking my regular classes.

During my first summer vacation in Switzerland, and partly because I did not speak the local language, the best summer job I could find was to replace a full-time factory worker at TERLINDEN Textilpflege AG (a carpet cleaning factory), outside Zurich.


Bergi Andonian of Renaissance Carpets & Tapestries, New York City - Photo by Fuat Kircaali

That summer I got up at 4 a.m., took the train from Zug to Zurich, then from the Zurich hauptbahnhoff to the factory to punch in at 6:30 a.m. every day for three months.

I earned good money, sufficient to pay part of my winter semester expenses. But, more important, I was proud of my accomplishments in that summer job as a carpet cleaner who specialized in urine behandlung (removing dog and cat urine from carpets).

In the beginning there were close to 40 student workers who filled in. Among all the student workers I was the last one to be let go, as the full-time workers returned to work one by one. The reason for that, I am guessing, was that I just did not wait for the next carpet with urine stains to arrive. I cleaned the factory floors, helped empty the trucks, pulled rugs from the chemical pools, etc. I just never sat down and waited for my supervisor to hand me the next job.

During another staff meeting, as I told the story of the two frogs that fell into the milk bucket (the lazy one drowned in minutes but the hard-working frog created a layer of cream to climb on and saved its life), one of the new staff members raised his hand and said at his previous job they took the hard-working frogs and threw them in other milk buckets to produce more cream for the company. I think that answer was a poor excuse for laziness. In these tough economic conditions, this young man lost his job several more times I heard, after his very short career with our company.

I have other examples too that support my views on passion and excitement in the workplace.

Fourteen years ago we had an ad running in local papers looking for a junior web designer. After several interviews we identified several potential candidates. The department manager, Jim, told me he wanted to make an offer to a bright young man, but he was not sure if the kid was old enough to work. We called the high school and confirmed that our summer intern was 16 years old.

Robert Diamond graduated from high school a few years later, went to Syracuse University, and surprisingly never quit his summer intern job. After college he returned to SYS-CON as a full-time employee.

He has been a part of my "passion" and "excitement" staff meetings for 10 years. Four years ago, one Monday morning, he came to my office and said, "Boss, I have a problem. I am spending 90% of my time at my day job but earning 90% of my income at my passionate startup."

I told Robert a short story I heard from Tom Jones who said he never worked a single day in his life because his job has been his hobby since the day he started singing. If you are excited and passionate about your job, you never work; all you do is spend time at your hobby.

I congratulated Robert, we had a farewell luncheon for him, and shortly after he was able to focus 100% on his very successful startup BroadwayWorld.com.

A few years ago I met the most passionate man in my life in the carpet district of Manhattan, Bergi Andonian of Renaissance Carpets. Before I left his store, I told Bergi, "I thought I was a very passionate person until I met you."

His answer was "well if you are not passionate about your job, then go collect tolls on the parkway. If you want to be the best in your field, you can only accomplish your dreams with your passion and excitement."

I never forgot his words.

Yesterday though while driving from JFK to the office, I met the most passionate toll collector at the Tappan Zee Bridge. This woman had the exact change for my $10 bill and a receipt ready. She also wished me a Happy New Year! She said she wishes a happy and healthy New Year to all her customers until the end of January.

More Stories By Fuat Kircaali

Fuat Kircaali is the founder and chairman of SYS-CON Media, CloudEXPO, Inc. and DXWorldEXPO, Inc.

Kircaali came to the United States from Zurich University, Switzerland in 1984 while studying for his PhD, to design computer systems for SH-2G submarine hunter helicopters for the U.S. Navy. He later worked at IBM's IS&CG Headquarters as a market research analyst under Mike Armstrong's leadership, an IBM executive who later ran IBM Europe and AT&T; and Fuat was the Director of Information Systems for UWCC, reporting to CEO Steve Silk (later Hebrew National CEO), one of the top marketing geniuses of the past two decades.

Kircaali founded SYS-CON Media in 1994, a privately held tech media company with sales exceeding $200 million. SYS-CON Media was listed three years in a row by Inc 500 and Deloitte and Touche among the fastest-growing private companies in America. Kircaali launched DXWorldEXPO LLC, a Lighthouse Point, FL-based "digital transformation" events company in March 2017.

Fuat completed Bogazici University (ranked among the top 100 universities in the world) Business Administration program in 1982 with a Bachelor's Degree in Istanbul, Turkey. He was one of 50 students accepted to the program out of over 1 million high school graduates.

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Most Recent Comments
bowkomor 03/04/10 04:01:00 AM EST

OK, fair enough, you're a CEO, it's (part of) your job to motivate people.

Motivated employees work harder, more efficiently, thus bring in more money.

Passionate people need not (or at least, less) to be motivated. Easy job!

Understandable, but let me explain the reverse side of the passionate developer.

The passionate developer cares about the software he creates. It's his baby!

They rarely care about how much money you make with it, neither do they care to how many clients you sell it.

They make it a personal honor to deliver the highest quality (bug free, easily maintainable, well tested, well documented...) software they can.

That's what their care about: making the most beautiful software they can!

Than, the manager comes along and urges the developer to develop faster, deliver quicker (or he just tightens the deadlines), forcing the developer to give in on quality.

One of my favorites is: "Refactoring?... Why the hell would you work on a program without adding new features (read: bringing in new money?)"

As time goes by, the quality of the software is going down, the frustration of the developer is going up.

Eventually the developer will change companies, hoping that he can live his passion there.

Or, maybe he'll start/join an open source project to live his passion, initially after working hours, but soon probably also during working hours.

Managers might be passionate about their job, they're certainly not about yours!

Their passion is about money and personal success. More money! More success!

No hard feelings, but please do not bull me about passion. I wish I had lost my passion years ago!