I am very passionate. About a lot of things. It is basically my „conditio sine qua non“, something I cannot live without. Passion is my personal basis for motivation, enthusiasm and success. If I am not passionate about something I will not be very good at it. Neither try particularly hard. And people will notice that it is something I have to do rather than something I love doing.

So when I got the invitation to speak at the Hasso Plattner Forum last week about passion I passionately said „yes“!

I was running through the Volkspark Friedrichshain a few days before the Forum and started thinking about my speech and what passion actually means to me in business life. And what the ingredients of passion are. I came up with 7 things that drive and show my passion. Their first letters make up the word „passion“. So here we go:

Seven principles of passion

People – You might say this is a no-brainer. Or something everybody would say. But seriously, if you think about passion it is almost naturally linked to the people around you. In my eyes you can only be passionate about something if you are surrounded by the right people. And with that I don´t only mean team members, but also customers, investors, the press, your peer group and your family. We are a tech company and could easily hide behind our computers and devices. So it is absolutely vital that we experience real moments with real people. And that we show and receive human reactions to our products. I am most passionate about our company and the Apps we develop when I experience kids or their parents playing our Apps. That is our purpose of existing as a company. It makes us passionate that we create Apps and games that add fun, colour, laughter and entertainment to peoples lives.

Authenticity – You have to love what you do. And you have to identify with your company and your products to be authentic. I can only be passionate about something I really see a value in. And products I would really use. You can see the difference in attitude and charisma if I am not authentic and pretending to be passionate. It doesn´t work.

Stop Doing – You can´t be passionate about everything. Once in a while you have to get rid of routines and tasks that prevent you from being passionate. Obviously there will always be things that you won´t enjoy doing, but that have to be done. But there are also a lot of things that are unnecessary, things we have loaded on our desks over time, which prevent us from being passionate and which we should stop doing straight away.

Success – To stay passionate everybody needs small signs of success. I don´t mean big exits and cover stories. What I mean are little success stories along the way that show us that we are moving into the right direction. You can fail with something you are passionate about. But you can´t succeed with something you don´t like doing. At least inside it will always feel wrong.


Innovation – I am most passionate when we are creating something new. Of course you can earn a lot of money or fame by successfully copying somebody else. And it is definitely less risky. But it will never feel like you are really making a difference. Because it will always be „same same“ of something that is already there. Yes, innovation is a big word and we can definitely not claim this for our company if we are talking about real game-changing, ground-breaking innovation. But we are innovative enough in the way we run our business and create our products to feel passionate about what we do.

Opportunity – What I mean by opportunity is that the field and market we are playing in has to be big enough to allow us to think big. You need this feeling that you could continue building and developing your company for years as there are so many ideas and opportunities you want to bring to life. If you feel that you have put everything into a company you can think of and see no further opportunities of adding new products or going new ways it is very difficult to stay passionate.

No Plan B – This is the most important point for me. If you are really passionate about something you do not have a Plan B. You go full risk, make no compromises and either fail or succeed. But nothing in between. If you already have one hand on the telephone to call the headhunter in case plans don´t work out or hop from one job to the other because the next one offers you more salary or a better title then you can definitely have a lot of drive, ambition, energy and enthusiasm, but you are not passionate about what you do. Which doesn´t matter. You can still be happy.

But in the end I believe in what Friedrich Hegel said: „Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion“.

One Comment

  • Gustav sagt:

    This is a very good piece about what passion entails and requires. The impressive thing is that although you write from the vantage point of a tech company CEO, your analysis also works for an academic like me. Passion with respect to building and steering a company is apparently not so different from passion with respect to planning and conducting a research programme. I therefore think your analysis of passion will also resonate with people in other walks of life. I was also impressed by the energetic delivery of your talk at http://www.tele-task.de/archive/lecture/overview/….

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