Why “Following Your Heart” Is The Worst Advice — The Business Of Expertise, David C Baker

Bookmark’s Journal
4 min readJun 14, 2023

“John was just like any other person who had a deep passion for something. He loved music, specifically playing the guitar, and had been doing so since he was a teenager. He spent hours practicing every day, and dreamed of making a living out of his music someday. John was convinced that if he worked hard enough, he would succeed.

However, John’s passion for music blinded him to some of the harsh realities of the music industry. He failed to do the necessary research and planning that could have helped him succeed. If he had taken the time to learn about the business side of the industry, he might have been able to avoid some of the pitfalls that he encountered.

As John faced setbacks in his music career, he was forced to take a job as a waiter to make ends meet. This was a difficult time for him, but it also gave him the opportunity to reflect on his journey so far. He realized that he needed to think more strategically about his music career, and that he needed to start treating it like a business.

John started to take a more pragmatic approach to his music. He began to research the industry and learn about marketing and finance. He also started to network with other musicians and industry professionals. With this newfound knowledge and support system, John was able to start making progress towards his goals.

John’s story is a reminder that passion alone is not enough to succeed. If he had taken the time to plan and prepare for the challenges he would face, he might have been able to avoid some of the setbacks that he encountered. However, John’s determination and willingness to learn from his mistakes ultimately led him to success in the music industry.”

John’s story is a typical example of what I’ve been hearing, especially from those who are super ambitious and passionate about their careers. I can relate, as I remember how I was willing to sacrifice whatever I had in life just to work in a game company and hopefully get noticed by people.

In one of David C. Baker’s books, “The Business of Expertise,” he argues that the phrase “follow your heart” can be misleading. Doing what you love without making any money doesn’t benefit anyone. The excuse “At least he was following his heart” is often used when things fall apart.

Here’s my journal:

The Problems with “Following Your Heart”

Firstly, many people who are “following their heart” struggle to make a living. Even if you follow a franchise system, you might still fail. Some franchises have a 60% failure rate.

Secondly, just because you’re good at something and enjoy it, doesn’t mean you can make money from it. For example, let’s say you love riding bicycles and talk about it all the time. What does that have to do with starting a bicycle shop? You might be good at ordering inventory and talking to customers, but that doesn’t mean you’re good at managing money, marketing, or employees. Plus, running a business can leave you with little time to actually ride bicycles.

Thirdly, this viewpoint ignores the role of luck in steering a business towards success or failure. Success is a combination of intelligence, discipline, and luck. Being in the right place at the right time played a significant part in my success, and I will never underestimate its contribution. We’re all just a few careless mistakes away from financial ruin and the unfortunate reality of pushing a cart of our possessions around some unknown city.

Finally, this approach disenfranchises 84.6% of the world’s population (those not living in developed nations, according to the World Bank) who have no choice but to work in jobs where job satisfaction is not a realistic part of the equation. Are we so selfish as to turn an amazing benefit into a demand? We need to think about this.

Why This Matters

It matters because of our expectations and source of fulfillment. Your expertise business exists for three reasons, in this order:

  1. To Make Money
  2. To Move the Needle on Behalf of the Clients
  3. To Create a Culture Where People Can Thrive

By following this approach, you can find success and fulfillment without relying on a phrase that can be misleading and ultimately harmful.

The idea that you should follow your heart and that success will find you is a fool’s errand. We could rewrite it, though.

How would you apply the better approach in your career?

Please comment below on your thoughts!

Baker, D. C. (2017). The business of expertise: How entrepreneurial experts convert insight to impact + wealth . RockBench Publishing. (pp. 72–77)

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Bookmark’s Journal

To allow individuals to direct their financial future by authoring their own purpose, so that they can increase their income and choose their lifestyle