Never trust anyone who is passionate about their work

Narrative IndustriesStrategy, Thoughts

[ edit – 02 June 2016 : I stumbled across Google says “Passionate People Don’t Use The P-Word… which summarises parts of Erick Schmidt’s book, How Google Works, suggesting that Google share many of the same concerns as I do about people who claim to passionate. ]

If I had a penny for every time someone told me they were passionate about one-aspect-of-their-job-or-another, I’d probably have enough to buy a round of artisan beers in a Shoreditch micro-brewery.

Earlier in my career I used to claim to be passionate about my work and congregated towards others who proudly stated passion amongst their USPs but I’m older and wiser now. Passion is like a Ferrari; exciting, powerful and impressive but totally impractical for popping to Tesco or dropping the kids at school.

Let me be clear, I respect, admire & deeply enjoy passion. Passion is a fabulously intense sensation that overwhelms your senses. It creates a light-headed feeling and removes your inhibitions similar to be being drunk or high on drugs, which is precisely why people get drunk or high on drugs (and sometimes both). In the throes of passion, your body releases dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Dopamine and norepinephrine are natural stimulants. Serotonin is the body’s natural anti-worry chemical (it is the one increased by taking Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil). Passion makes you feel incredible, euphoric, care-free, impulsive and, like many drugs, it’s addictive. Passion makes you say things you may not really mean and put your tongue in strange places.

Passion is fantastic and fun… in the right circumstances, but do you really want the person designing your customers’ experience, optimising your conversion funnels, crafting your calls to action and generally giving shape to your organisation’s online presence to be off-their-head at the time? Wouldn’t it be better to keep passion where it belongs and use calm pragmatism and evidence-based reason for these things?

Now, some might argue that the use of the word “passion” to describe being fond of your work is  not meant to be taken literally and it is merely a figurative misuse, but that doesn’t ring true. They obviously want you to believe that they will derive intense pleasure from working with you and, as a potential client, that should make you uncomfortable. A person who is driven by a desire for intense sensations is going to be thinking of their own gratification, not your satisfaction or, more importantly, your customers’ satisfaction. They’ll do what they want, rather than what is best and the moment your briefs stop giving them a thrill, they’ll be off chasing something more exciting.

Even if we give the passionate people some leeway over their poor vocabulary, they are still saying they want to get their rocks-off on your budget, and you shouldn’t let that person near anything mission-critical, like your customer-facing communications, until they’ve taken a cold shower and regained their senses.

We are not passionate about digital. We’re focussed & analytical, persistent and committed – which is what you need.
We get excited about things, of course, and we love our work but, for us, it’s a family love, full of care, commitment, responsibility and pride. We don’t lust after it. Some of us at Narrative have been working in digital for over 20 years and it’s a long-term relationship.

We are not ninjas or mavericks.
Ninjas are sneaky and Maverick got Goose killed in Top Gun.

We are focussed on people… people like your customers.
Narrative take a human-centred approach to digital strategy. We put the audience first, drawing from decades of creative & technical experience to integrate the needs of the people who will use your organisation (your customers, clients, suppliers), with the possibilities that technology brings and we marry them with the requirements for business success. We believe our approach, honed from more than two decades of experience in digital, is why we consistently get the better results that our clients want.


Maverick Got Goose Killed