This article first appeared on June 4, 2012.
One of the most interesting questions you can ask a person in a job interview is: What are your passions outside work?
You’ve got to be careful how you interpret the answers of course – a person with a passion for horse racing could be a degenerate gambler or a keen student of mathematical theories of probability – but what you are looking for is evidence that this person throws themselves into things and does have some personality.
I always ask the same question of entrepreneurs I meet: What passion do you have outside the business?
Often the entrepreneur looks at me blankly.
“I don’t need anything else in my life,” they say. “My business is everything.”
Wrong answer. In my experience, having a life outside your business makes you happier, healthier and more likely not to find your clothes strewn on the front lawn when your spouse kicks you out.
But there is also a business benefit. People who have a passion outside business tend to have a more interesting story to tell. They are not boring. They tend to stand out more than those who are exclusively focused on their business.
And in a competitive landscape, where we are all looking for that little edge, being memorable counts for plenty.
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