Why Passion Economy is the next big thing

When it comes to work, a person today is faced with a bewildering array of choices. It was easier 20 or 30 years ago, when the world was simpler. If you were ambitious and came from a middle-class family, you had to be an engineer, doctor, scientist, teacher, or civil servant. Today, success can take infinitely more forms. With the rise of an array of new platforms, you can do anything from anywhere if you can find a way to make a living from it; you can be a math tutor, comedian, writer, bitcoin trader, or entrepreneur. Unfortunately, there are few tips to help people find their way through this thicket of choices. This is what leads to anxiety, confusion and even despair.

The challenge or the trick is to find the convergence or intersection of what you love to do, what you are good at, what the world needs and what you can get paid for. The Japanese have a term for it – ‘Ikigai’ or your reason for living. It is believed to be the key to satisfaction and longevity and it turns out to be a useful way to think about what you should be doing in a world of many confusing possibilities. Today, this age-old concept manifests itself in what is known as the “passion economy,” which is an economy run by people who find a way to build small businesses around what they do well and what they like to do. In a book of the same name, Adam Davidson shows that there are unprecedented new opportunities to earn a living while doing what you love. It’s no longer a choice between being rich and miserable doing something you don’t like, or being happy but poor.

Adam gives many examples of everyday people who might see an opportunity for a small business that perfectly matches their talent and interests right under their noses. It goes on to provide a set of success principles for these businesses. A good example of a passionate entrepreneur we work with at GAME is Sumedha Mahajan, a young woman from Amritsar who runs India’s first sportswear brand specifically designed for women. Sumedha is an endurance runner and on a 1,500 kilometer run from Delhi to Mumbai, she experienced firsthand the challenges female runners face with their equipment. This inspired her to start Brakefree; its mission is to ensure that women don’t have to adapt to men’s sportswear. Brakefree is on a tear.

Kuldeep Dantewadia is another passionate entrepreneur. After graduating with an MBA in 2009, Kuldeep boarded the Jagriti Yatra, a train journey that transports aspiring and accomplished Indian innovators across the country. The experience confirmed his determination to do something for the environment. Driven by enthusiasm and without a big plan, Dantewadia, along with a few friends, started picking up trash and spent six months understanding the economics of trash. In 2011, Dantewadia and two of her friends formed Reap Benefit with two key goals: to find role models for behavior change and to develop affordable ways to live more sustainably. They went beyond waste and looked at water, energy and green habitats. In 2021, they successfully engaged 34,000 young leaders who diverted 665,000 tons of waste from landfills, saved 1.7 megawatt hours of energy and 46 million liters of water. And they’re just getting started.

The passion economy may sound similar to the gig economy, but to me it is fundamentally different. The gig economy seems to put the platform (like Uber, DoorDash or Swiggy) at the center and people are simply the necessary hands doing tasks, for which they are paid a nominal amount. Most of the value created is appropriated by platform owners and customers. In the economy of passion, the individual is at the center. The individual sees an opportunity to create a product, service, or experience that reflects who they are – what they like, what they appreciate, and what they excel at – and to find a segment that is willing to pay for it. that. They leverage the platforms as needed, but do not serve the platform or be operated by it. Andreessen Horowitz, one of the world’s top venture capitalists, sees the passion economy as the future of work and gives examples of teachers earning thousands of dollars every month teaching virtual classes on a variety of platforms, the highest earning writer on newsletter platform Substack earns over $500,000 a year from reader subscriptions and the top content creator on Podia, a video course platform, earns over $100,000 per month.

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I find the idea of ​​the passion economy very empowering and optimistic at a time when there is so much darkness about the future of jobs and work. However, if this idea is to take off, it will require many catalytic interventions to turn it into a movement. The idea needs to catch on and become more ambitious by showcasing many passionate successful entrepreneurs. People will need training to spot opportunities around them and will need to learn the basics of trading, know what platforms exist, learn from peers, understand how to access capital, etc. This is the mission of GAME (Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship), the organization I founded to create an entrepreneurial movement.

This excerpt from What the Heck Do I Do with My Life? by Ravi Venkatesan. How to Flourish in Our Turbulent Times was published with permission from Rupa Publications.

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