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The importance of being passionate

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

As a graduate student at the University of Chicago in 1970, Michael Powell opened a used bookstore after borrowing $3,000. He built shelves, started selling and kept increasing inventory, expanding the shop and adding employees. He repaid the loan.

Powell soon found that what he lacked in business experience, he more than made up for in passion for selling books. He loved selling books so much that he opened a store with his father back home in Portland, Ore. Now, Powell’s Books occupies a city block, plus satellite stores and a Web site, and sells more than a million titles.

“At a lot of points, I could have stopped and said this is my comfort level,” Powell says. “But I liked to buy books too much.”

Perhaps that’s what allows Powell to identify so closely with his customers’ tastes ... and to trust them.

 “The [secret] is to keep asking yourself, ‘Am I doing as much as I can to find my audience?’ I’d sell a book to the devil in hope of his reading it.”

Now, that’s putting passion to good use.

— Adapted from “Michael Powell: Why settle for owning the little shop around the corner?” as told to John Brant, Inc.

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