The Lesson of Convergence (Also known as “How to Change the World”)
The book is out, and I’m on the road!
The launch party in New York was extremely fun. Last night I was in Boston at the Harvard Coop, and tonight I’m heading down to Washington, DC.
We’re hitting a new city almost every day for the next four weeks. Tour dates here.
And by the way … THANKS FOR YOUR HELP! It’s going very well so far, and we hope to keep it going for a long time.
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Over the next month, I’ll be sharing some of the lessons I learned in spending time with all the “unexpected entrepreneurs” profiled in the book. These won’t be promotional posts; I’ll be sharing real lessons and helpful information you can use in your own pursuit of freedom.
One of the first things I looked at was the question of the follow-your-passion model.
Many people talked about building a business based on a hobby or passion. However, others cautioned that “follow your passion” is more complicated than it first appears.
The key is that you can’t be passionate about just anything; instead you need to be passionate about something that other people are willing to spend money on. Here’s how I described it in the book:
As we’ll examine it, convergence represents the intersection between something you especially like to do or are good at doing (preferably both), and what other people are also interested in. The easiest way to understand convergence is: the overlapping space between what you care about and what other people are willing to spend money on.
Not everything that you are passionate about or skilled in is interesting to the rest of the world—and not everything is marketable. I can be very passionate about eating pizza, but no one is going to pay me to do it. Likewise, any particular person won’t be able to provide a solution to every problem or be interesting to everyone. But in the overlap between the two circles, where passion or skill meets usefulness, a microbusiness built on freedom and value can thrive.
The lesson of convergence can be seen in almost every case study in the book, and indeed, in almost every successful business. In Reno, Nevada, Mignon Fogarty created the QD Network, best known for her signature show Grammar Girl. The show was a huge hit almost from the beginning, spawning a line of books, related programs, and non-stop media attention.
But before she was Grammar Girl, Mignon pursued a similar idea in an unsuccessful attempt to build popularity through podcasting. Here’s how she tells the story:
“Before I launched the successful Grammar Girl podcast, I was the host of a science podcast called Absolute Science. I loved doing that show and I was passionate about it. I actually put more effort into promoting that show than I did for the Grammar Girl podcast, and although Absolute Science was well-received, after doing it for nearly a year it was clear that the show was never going to make enough money to make it worth the time required to produce it.”
Mignon changed course, trading science for grammar. The answer wasn’t to abandon her passion altogether, but rather to make sure she connected the right passion with the right audience.
“Absolute Science”: Passion … but not enough audience
“Grammar Girl”: Passion … and a substantial audience
In India, Purna Duggirala found a way to create spreadsheet tools (It’s now a six-figure business).
In Kansas City, Marianne Cascone co-founded Bon Bon Cupcakes, a children’s clothing firm.
In the U.K., Jonathan Pincas founded the Tapas Lunch Company, based on importing food from his partner’s native Spain. They later relocated to Spain and run the business back and forth between the two countries. A love for Spanish food and culture combined with a desire from the marketplace in Britain to get more authentic goods.
The examples go on and on, and the key point is: find convergence! This is the first and most important predictor of success in any business or freedom plan.
The link between passion and value is how you’ll change the world.
Question: Have you found convergence? How are you looking for it?
Finally going down that road Chris, but it sure isn’t as comfortable as I first thought it was going to be.
But that is the whole point right? Getting out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to do something you are passionate about, that can also be a business.
The fact that you care means that other peeps opinions finally matter, which makes you strive for the absolute best.
Congratulations on the new book release by the way. I am a new reader but am loving your articles so far.
Chris, I’m reading your book now on my Kindle and love it. And it’s perfect timing. I’m passionate about MS Paint but why would anyone pay me to draw?? 🙂 So maybe my convergence is t-shirts/greeting cards? We shall see. Wish me luck!
I have found convergence! I have a teaching background so brand consulting has turned out to be a really good fit. My writing background has translated into helping businesses tell their stories in compelling ways. And the most recent convergence has been mobile app development. A friend said it well: “Poetry can take strange forms in the 21st century.” Who knew that making funny iPhone apps could be such a smart business decision?!
The “spreadsheet” guys amaze me – as I read the stories of their crazy success, I couldn’t believe so many people were willing to pay for that!
I’m looking for convergence with:
– My English teaching skills
– My website skills
…creating fun, fast, easily understandable and practical online English lessons (and eventually paid courses) to help the millions of adults studying English as a Second Language.
The site is 4 months old and I’ve made 6 sales (woohoo!) – not exactly a “rocket-launch” takeoff; I have a long way to go before I can quit my day job – but an encouraging start…
Awesome and useful post Chris. Can’t wait to read the book.
Any chance you could add one of those fancy “share” buttons to your posts? I find I often want to spread your words of wisdom and would love to see that be a touch easier.
Thanks! We used to have share buttons but took them off in an attempt to declutter. I’m still grateful for any sharing. 🙂
I agree…and, as a Renaissance Soul/Scanner, I am cautious about how to pick a passion so that I don’t get bored or distracted by another bright and shiny interest 🙂
I love the lines, “The link between passion and value is how you’ll change the world,” and the wisdom of “…the key point is: find convergence! This is the first and most important predictor of success in any business or freedom plan.”
Yes, passion I have, convergence is somewhere on the horizon – between the early morning hours and the homesteading chores of the day. For years I tried searching for it, what can I give back to the world? What do others want from me? But maybe it is more the question of what do I want for myself and what am I going to do (extraordinary) for the world? Time will tell, big changes are on the horizon.
I’ve been reading your email updates for a year or so. You’ve given me some good advice on building a platform and I want to thank you for that. But I have absolutely no idea how to find convergence thru my photography and writing. Maybe you could give constructive steps instead of case study examples, or perhaps have the case study examples talk about how they did it.
GOOD stuff! I’m in the early stages of developing an NPO, and convergence is the scariest part – especially since many times our “customers” won’t be “buying” anything, just giving. Thank you for the insight and it came with perfect timing!
The start up business, is clearly what the future holds in the new economy. Recent grads cannot find full time work. I have been in sales for 9 years, with a solid resume of success. I quit my job in September and traveled to Thailand and the west coast of the U.S. for 3 months. Moved to Denver, have applied for 30 jobs and only 2 jobs have panned out to be real opportunities. One is a very good job, but contact with them fell through the floor after weeks of interviewing with 4 people, 3+ hours of interview, assessment tests, taking the strengthsfinders 2.0 on my own dime and doing all the expected behaviors of a interviewee. The other job is offering me a salary 5 thousand less then what I was paid in 2003. The interview process is more invasive than ever, I have been requested to provide access to my FB & twitter. HR people talk salary on the first call which was never the case, trying to weed u out. If you have a job work on your exit strategy now. Remember you have to pay your own medical, and many expenses your company pays for you have to pay for.
Starting your own thing may be your only option. Need to cut expenses? switch to virgin mobile for cell service, 30 bucks a mo
Great post Chris. The idea of convergence is something I think all aspiring emperors struggle with at some point. Finding that balance, that sweet spot where our personal desires meet the consumer hunger. I am early in my search and am utilizing many of the tools you have created to help alleviate some of the initial growing pains. So far so good! Looking forward to seeing you in Seattle in June!
The idea of convergence was one of the most intriguing ideas of your book. As a long time bohemian artist I had trouble finding an overlap between what I was passionate about (oil painting and woodcut). But on reflection I finally came up with an idea for an action/superhero comic. This would tap into my skills I developed early in life (I paid my way through art school animating suprhero TV shows) yet use the creativity I find so essential to a well lived life. It has the potential to do well. I tell myself not to panic until the project is entirely finished as I feel it won’t receive the attention it deserves until people understand the entire story arc.
Some days it seems crazy but other days it seems completely rational especially in a recession where few are buying fine art. The first of five comics is for sale on the Kindle Fire and will be available on other devices soon. My only reservation is that by the time I will know whether it is going to work or not I will have a year or more invested in the project. It seems that most of the people in your examples knew their projects were going to work much earlier in the process.
One way to look for convergence is to simply ask, “What excites me and excites a lot of other people too?” An adventurous life is my answer.
My convergence is personal development. It brings together my passion for making a positive difference and people who are interested in being more alive, awake, compassionate, creative, happy, peaceful and free. All these qualities and ways of being in the world come from having an expanded mind and an open heart. I am a seeker by nature so I have the opportunity to share as I explore and awaken more fully myself.
Got your book on my Kindle and am just starting to read it like opening a great treat with excitement.
Much success. I hope you have time for self-care along the way. Silence and nature are two simple ways to re-energize as you take your light out into the world.
Thanks, all! I’m off to DC now – hope to see local folks there tonight at George Washington University. On to Virginia and elsewhere tomorrow.
Its an amazingly awesome feeling when the words you are thinking match up with strong emotions and then they fly out the ends of your fingertips and through the keyboard out onto the internet.
The web has made it possible for me to publish and reach thousands of people. it is pretty awesome. Coming from a teaching background really helps me create things I enjoy and share them with people who also feel strongly about the same things I do. 🙂
Heehee…I see I was captured in the photo above. I’m in the process of refining that convergence overlap. I have an idea and have been working on digital products that caters to a specific market. The concept isn’t new but my aim is to offer the product on a “pay-what-you-can-afford” model. I think this aspect in itself will be a key factor in its success.
It was great meeting you Chris! Thanks for the continued inspiration and mentorship :).
I am happy to read your convergence message. I moved from WA to Oregon a couple of weeks ago and am settling into new adventures along the Pacific coast and the challenges of retirement opportunities. Your convergence message is find what works and do it and don’t be afraid to change directions. Great.
Really enjoyed your new book, Chris. I love the real world examples. As a blogger for seven years, I’ve enjoyed different levels of convergence. I remember my first checks from Amazon and Google, but I’ve always had a fear of launching a paid product. It’s nice to see from your book that I’m not alone in this fear. As a personal development guy, I’m always telling everyone else to “Go for It.” Now, I’m going to have to take my own medicine.
One thing that really helped was reading Jeff Goins new book, “You Are a Writer.” After seven years, I’ve finally been able to give myself permission to call myself a “writer”… Now I just need to go write…
Thanks to your research, I now know what is possible… with little more than a $100.
Passion and value equals a cool new product… I can’t wait for convergence…
Convergence is where it’s at! Helping people as they discover their passion is their power is my particular passion. Most don’t have to totally redesign their life and quit their job to get more of their passion in their everyday life. (Although it’s fun to redesign life too!)
@veronicaroth: wedding photography: I know two people who eventually became full time photographers, but they started about two years earlier by hanging around the office where couple had to go to to apply for a marriage license.
Also, Ed Dale of TheChallenge.co mimicked another photographer who published a single portrait photo to his blog every day for one year and landed a gig with Time magazine, I think it was. Ed did something similar, and was approached by a publisher. The important thing was, Ed said , to upload an image every day. And if it’s a blog, you can use your writing skills, too.
Thank you so much for this valuable and vital information..I couldn’t help think of one particular person who has also been a great inspiration (somewhat of a mentor) in making a major life change. This person had a passion for playing hockey since the early age of three. His dream? To be in the NHL. Unfortunately, he was not physically gifted. He was too skinny and weak. Furthermore, he was not a fast enough player. The experts ALL told him he would never make it in the NHL. So, what did he do? Given that hockey was his passion and he did not have what others needed, he developed his unique strength, a value that no one else had. He had the ability to calculate the movement of every player on the ice and know exactly where the puck was going. He created a need, a value to hockey. He not only made in the NHL, he went on to become the best hockey player who ever played! That’s right, that man is Wayne Gretzky! I have learned so much from him, and I always love telling his story:)
Couldn’t help but thinking of that old quote by Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Thanks for the advanced copy Chris, my full review is going up next week. I already bought extra copies and given them to five of my close friends.
I believe I’ve found my convergence in helping people find work that they love and work that gives them “freedom and value”. It’s been awesome in the last two months to finally see things coming together with getting a publishing contract and booking speaking events. What you talk about in the book has really added value to the things I want to do, thank you.
My convergence is helping people with their social media marketing and working towards other people’s dreams. Ever since I was a kid I dreamed about being an Olympic coach not that I had a sport in mind. I think I was drawn to it because coaching someone to excellence is just as satisfying as winning a medal. It’s almost a form of ministry.
If you’re able to help someone achieve success with THEIR passion, then you’re leaving a legacy for yourself. I’m super-excited about diving into this book. Thanks for the copy!
I started my blog to see if I can find convergence. For me it was important to start and to get going. I decided to see where the road may take me. Maybe I have to redirect as the grammar girl did. Anyways I am on my way. That’s important for now.
Love your offerings. Just bought your new book for my kindle and will be sidestepping other obligations to point myself in your direction today. Yippee!
Convergence is a great term to use for this! I had a lightbulb go off at a workshop about six years ago because I finally defined the frame for myself: “What do I love to do, that I’m good at, that there’s a market for?” I can now call it Convergence – a hellluva lot shorter… It’s amazing what a simple concept it is, which is why I now feel like “duh!” when I think of it, yet I didn’t have any way to fram my thoughts about the old question “What should I do with my life?” (really meaning “What should I do to make money?”) until I had that way to frame it.
Currently my Convergence is online accent training for actors. It not only uses my teaching skills and my theatre background, it’s a great way to travel the world, gathering dialect recordings as I go. (I’m on a trip right now getting recordings!)
I’m in the midst of the book, and looking forward to seeing you in Houston next week! As much as I’m pleasantly anticipating hearing you, I’m almost more excited to meet the people who show up to meet you. Having you come to town is a great way to meet others who are doing (or trying to do) what I’m in the midst of, and that’s another great reinforcer that “It can be done!”
Finding that convergence is first and foremost, and it seems most everyone knows it. I wouldn’t worry that people aren’t getting it. I can’t wait to read your book. Very shortly I’ll be reading your book. I’m hearing it’s awesome. I’m trying to get something started and always my first question is, What value can I provide with my writing? What expertise can I share that will be worth money? I know my passion. What I need to know is, what part of it will people pay for — and am I good enough?
Great post! And I would like add one more thing.
Not only is it important to find the convergence of your passion and other people’s wallet, but to check that your convergence does not clash with existing competition. The problem I find is that the Internet has brought in so many competition online (including from millions of low-wage talent from emerging countries) that passion and market is not enough. If there is too much competition, then the business idea wouldn’t work as well.
The Internet has the effect of commoditisng a lot goods and services.
I love your open way of writing and the feelings your lines leak out.
I find convergence sometimes greets you on your journey in life when you least expect it. I often say to people that I could not have designed a better life for myself even if I tried. Let go of what you think your life should look like and allow the process to unfold. Being open and receptive to the forces of life are important qualities.
I found convergence in my heart to pursue creativity, art, and God when a friend said I should paint these 64 oz. glass growlers that people could use in their daily life to meditate and remind themselves of grace, and life, and JOY! These meditation jars took off. I still don’t know what to say about it, it’s something I never would of bought, but 5 months later I’m still painting every day these jars with expressions to help people meditate! Chris your guide called Art and Money helped so much with the practical steps of getting started as an artist! Thx! (http://www.unconventionalguides.com/art.htm)
Just finished The Art of Non Conformity and am now reading The 100 Start up. Looking through your posts and am so inspired, motivated and excited. Just found out you’re coming to Sydney, Australia. I am really looking forward to coming to this event!
This post should have more comments on it. I’ve read $100 Startup (one of my favorite books) and I think this idea is something that people ought to think about more closely before really starting out.
Chris frames this point extremely well in my view. It’s helped in my own project and I hope more people are able to come across this post even though it’s about six months old.
This is a really interesting approach. I love gardening both food and flowers. I will think more on this idea of convergence. Combining my passion (gardening) with something someone will want to pay for… It is difficult though, for the record.
I really like the AONC blog! Very inspiring! 🙂
I recently just began a podcast for myself as I have been traveling asking people what it is that they are passionate about. I am finding that what people are passionate about are not necessarily what they are doing for their day jobs. However, I do believe that there can be a convergence that comes about where what people love will intersect with what they get paid. I mean we have this one life to live, why waste it just to make money? Why not live to create the human life that we have?
Incredible points. Outstanding arguments. Keep
up the amazing spirit.
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