Why Following Your Passion is Terrible Advice for New Entrepreneurs with Josh Cantwell – EP 353

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If you’ve watched successful entrepreneurs, founders, or investors on YouTube, TED Talks, or social media, you’ve likely heard one piece of advice a million times: follow your passion. People who’ve “made it” love to tell those who haven’t that all they need to do is follow their passion, and the pieces will fall into place.

Not only do I think it’s terrible advice, I think it’s a total crock if I’m being honest.

So today, I wanted to share a very candid solocast about why my career hasn’t just been about “following my passion.” I’ll also share what I think is a much more valuable piece of advice–and one that can help you find true happiness and joy in whatever you do as you achieve greater success.

Key Takeaways with Josh Cantwell

  • Why it’s so much more important to find out what you’re good at than to follow your passion.
  • Why using our superpowers makes us happier and helps us find joy in our work.
  • The difference between joy and happiness.
  • The importance of being able to say “I’m not good at that”–and the value of having great people around you to help fill in those gaps.

Josh Cantwell Tweetables

“Success is not really about your passion, happiness, or joy. It's about taking something that you're already good at and making it your superpower.”

“Over time, you'll go from good to great and from great to elite. Operating at an elite level will produce financial freedom, financial independence, time freedom, the reputation of being successful. All of that will come.”


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Josh Cantwell: So, hey, guys. Listen, hey, it’s Josh. Welcome back to Accelerated Investor. And today I want to talk about the difference between your passion, happiness, and joy. Here we go.


Josh Cantwell: So, guys, listen, I’ve been thinking so many people on YouTube and in these TED Talks that I watch and it’s so many different people that are invited to speak on the popular news, seems like they’re really successful and they’re either successful or they’re really successful and they’re billionaires or they happen to be on TV. Maybe they’re a TV personality, they’re on Shark Tank, or something like that. And they all seem to talk about these different concepts of happiness, joy, and your passion. And what I think a lot of people say is, “Hey, follow your passion. You know, follow your passion.” And I think that’s such a crock of sh*t, frankly. I think that’s just absolute garbage advice, your passion. Because let’s talk about passion first, and then we’ll get into happiness and then we’ll get into joy. When I think about my journey over the last 25 years as an entrepreneur, what I primarily think about is hard work. What I primarily think about is that I look at the skill that I’ve built or the skills that I have, the things that I’m good at. And when I look at advice that I can give other investors, other active investors, passive investors, other new entrepreneurs, and experienced entrepreneurs, I would never say, “Follow your passion.”

What I would really say is, “Find out what you’re good at.” And then when you know what you’re good at and you like that because you’re good at it because it gives you a sense of pleasure, it gives you a sense of confidence because you’re already good at it. All of us are naturally gifted at things. We’re naturally good at things. You know, my son is pretty good at basketball and football. He’s in fifth grade. He’s not a pro-NFL player but he’s also not really good at music. He’s also not really like a super-fast reader, so he already has some skill around something that he’s already good at. So, I would ask you a question. If you’re in real estate or you’re in entrepreneurship and you’re looking to build a business, what are you good at? So, before we talk about passion, happiness, and joy, my first thing I would ask you to evaluate, the first thing I would ask you to really think through is, “What are you good at already?” Because for me, when I look at what I’m good at, I’m not good at construction. I’m not good at really asset management, property management. I was never really good at knowing how things get fixed, rehab costs, rehab labor costs, rehab material costs. But I’ve always been super good at understanding money.

I’ve always been super interested and good at financial planning and looking at different investment strategies, investment options. I’ve always been interested in reading books around investments and rates of return, in total rates of return, annualized rate of return, compound interest. I’m already good at that. I was good at that in high school. I was good at math in grade school. So, when I think back about success, the first thing that I think about is not follow your passion. My passion is vacationing in Cancun, in Florida, in Europe, South America. My passion is traveling to Sedona, Arizona. That’s what I’m passionate for. But what am I good at? What are you good at? Okay. Think about it. Take some time right now. Go ahead and pause this recording if you need to. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and write down. What do you think you’re good at? Because here’s what I would say. Success is not really about your passion, happiness, or joy. It’s about taking something that you’re already good at, your superpower, if you’re just good at it, making it your superpower. See, for me, being around money, being around finance, being around investors, being around compound interest, being around recruiting capital, and underwriting deals, which has a lot to do with the financials, the P&Ls, and the balance sheets, I like that like I’m good at that.

And so, if I want to be great at it, now, I just need to do it more often. I need to turn the screws. I need to get better and better and better and better and better at it. And so, I go from good to great and then from great to elite. But I start with something that I’m already good at. And then instead of making it a passion, like raising capital is not a passion for me. Like, I don’t wake up and be like, “Oh, my God, I can’t wait to raise money. I can’t wait to underwrite a deal.” I don’t say that. That’s not naturally what’s in my head when I wake up. It doesn’t work that way. And so, when I think about that type of behavior, a passion would be like helping underprivileged kids. A passion would be like teach people how to defend themselves through jujitsu or maybe how to properly own and store a firearm. That’s a passion. Well, you start with what you’re good at. Because when you think about what you’re good at, and then when you’re doing something that you’re good at, ultimately to me, that equals joy. To me, joy is that like when I do get on the phone with an investor, when I do have a new call and I probably talk to well over a hundred of our investors just in the past 60 days. We’re keeping a lot of powder dry. We’re getting ready for some of these apartment buildings to implode, and we’re ready when sellers are in distress to pounce on those, to be able to buy them or assume the loans, get new debt, raise the money, and absolutely jump on those.

We got a property recently. We made an offer. We’re actually awarded a deal at 12 million. Talked to the broker recently. He said, “Hey, would you guys buy this for 11 million?” And I’m waiting for the day when we get the call that says, “Hey, how about 10.5 million? How about 10?” because the prices are definitely going to go down. And so, I’m excited. I have a lot of joy when I meet with an investor. And this joy is something that is kind of a fleeting moment. It’s a fleeting feeling. It’s a moment of euphoria where I’m like, “That was a great call. That guy’s going to invest $250,000. Add them to the short list of investors.” And so, I feel like when you’re doing something that you’re good at and you’re trying to be great at it, that equals when you’re really great at it and you almost become elite at it and you’re executing on that, that’s joy, right? That equals joy. It’s this happiness, this joy that I feel for a fleeting moment. Now, when I think about happiness like happiness is something that’s the opposite of anger or sadness. And so, to me, happiness is something that you feel for longer periods of time. Well, if you go to a funeral, you’re sad for maybe a couple of hours or even a couple of days or even a week.

You know, when my father passed away, I was sad for months but also when I go to my mom’s house and I spend time with my mother, I spend time with my aunts and uncles, I get to spend time with them for four, five, six, seven hours, that’s really true happiness. Like, it’s happiness that sticks. It lasts. It’s there for a longer period of time. And so, when you get to the point where you’re doing something you’re really good at, you’ve moved into doing it really, really well and great, and then you hold that skill for years, and now you’re elite at it, it produces joy, that fleeting moment. Now, the question is if you have a lot of financial assets, income, some stability, and a fair amount of personal freedom, time freedom, financial freedom, now you could spend more time doing things that truly make you happy, right? Things like maybe helping your kid do some project. It could take days or weeks to execute. And ultimately, a passion to me is something that you are now to the point where you’re well off, time freedom, financial freedom. And now you can pour your efforts into something that does have zero financial reciprocity. It doesn’t pay you anything. It could be speaking to college and high school kids about entrepreneurship. Like, that’s a passion project when you are financially independent.

But these interviews that I see on TV, these interviews I see on Facebook and Instagram Reels, YouTube, TEDx Talks, and popular television, when an entrepreneur that has some significant independence, financial freedom, and time freedom and they say, “Yeah. Go follow your passion,” that’s such a crock. What they should say is, “Go do what you’re good at. Go do what you’re good at.” And so, when I think about some of the scale and some of the success that I’ve had and some of my buddies have had and some of our other investors and some of the other operators that I know, the guys that are doing really well, that have stable portfolios, stable families, great marriages, stable relationships with their children, they’re doing what they’re good at and the people around them understand and know what they’re good at. That also means that they’re willing to say what they’re not good at. They say, “I’m not good at this, so don’t ask me to do it. Somebody else is going to need to fill in and do things that I’m not good at.” And if you’re in a really, really good scenario, then you have business partners that will help you in business that you have something that you’re good at that’s different and opposite of what they’re good at and they’re filling in your holes and you’re filling in theirs.

And same thing with the marriage. What are the things that you’re good at that your spouse might not be good at and respecting each other and respecting each other in a way mutual respect to know? It’s okay if he or she is not good at you name it. Look, like in my family, in my house with my wife like I’m the planner. I’m the one that plans our vacations and looks for trips and flights and places to go and places to stay, hotels, resorts, houses that we rent. I enjoy that. I’m good at it. I look at the schedule and I’m really good at looking at the calendar and finding out when we can go and where we can go and how does it impact the kids’ school. I’m good at it. So, it gives me what I’m doing. It gives me this fleeting joy of being able to do that for my family. It’s not a passion for me. I’m not passionate about still sifting through flights and hotels and resorts and things like that. So, if you really want to be successful in business with apartments or entrepreneurship, I would tell you to really reflect today on what you’re good at and even reflect today on what you’re not. Focus on what you’re good at. Over time, you’ll go from good to great and from great to elite. An elite will produce financial freedom, financial independence, time freedom, the reputation of being successful. All of that will come.

You’ll also know what you’re not good at and then be able to project to the world what you’re not good at, which causes frustration for you. But maybe it’s something what somebody else is really good at and that becomes a perfect relationship, partnership, with mutual respect about the fact that, “Hey, I’m not good at these things but you are,” and, “Hey, I’m really good at these couple of things. I’ve got this covered. I’ve got this swim lane absolutely covered.” Do that and at the end of the day, the financial independence, the time freedom, then you could focus on your passion, your passion projects, and the fun. Focus on what you’re good at. That’s what I’m here to tell you about today.


Josh Cantwell: Guys, listen, if you enjoyed this episode, this solocast, please rate review, like, and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and videos. Again, I’m always so grateful for that for you guys to share that, give me some feedback, and thank you for that in advance. Secondly, two things for you. One is our mastermind, the Forever Passive Income Maverick Mastermind, which is a mastermind coaching and partnering program for intermediate to advanced investors. You can apply for that at JoshCantwellCoaching.com. You have to qualify through an interview process and once you’re in that group, then you get to share best practices, share deals, partner with us on properties. It’s fantastic stuff. And then secondly, if that’s not yet for you, but you want to learn about multifamily investing, commercial multifamily, and building a major portfolio that will help you with financial independence and time freedom, grab a ticket for our next live event. There are virtual live events you can attend from home. You can attend from your cell phone, frankly. You can get a ticket and very inexpensive, a couple of hundred bucks, at ForeverPassiveIncome.com. I hope you enjoy the show. We’ll talk to you next time.

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