A few years ago I wanted to be like Mark Zuckerberg.

I wanted to be that person that changes the world, that uses technology to improve people’s lives and democratize information. 

Plus, my dad was born and raised in a tiny town in the poorest state of Mexico, wasn’t able to finish secondary school, and then became a successful businessman for some time. If he could do it despite the huge social mobility challenge in Mexico, why shouldn’t I be able to use my privileged middle-class position to change the world?

As I started to build companies, I was like: “Holy shit! Taxes, payroll, clients that don’t pay, etc.” I began to realize that following your passion and changing the world while living in a developing country with a highly corrupt government really isn’t that easy.

Many people talk about capitalism and meritocracy—that if you really follow your passion and work hard, you too can become Mark Zuckerberg. Sure, if you’re a white, straight, male, if you went to Harvard, and if you happened to meet Sean Parker.

 

Every day, we’re increasingly bombarded with: “You’re 26 and you still don’t have 200 million dollars in your bank account? Don’t you lead a social enterprise that’s changing the world? You must be mediocre because you’re obviously not fulfilling your potential.”

Today, success is measured in millions of dollars and magazine covers instead of changing cultures and mindsets, which is what’s actually urgently needed.

 

I wonder if one day a kid woke up and said: “I know what I want to do with my life! Create an app so people can add hipster filters to their photos!” And I guess that became our paradigm for success.

Does it really make sense to only have one passion and dedicate your entire life to the same thing? I doubt it. I think we can be DJs, philosophers, and politicians all at the same time.

I think “Follow Your Passion” is the new rat race.
We went from spending 10 years working for a corporation to save money and then go to India to find ourselves, to running a startup for 10 years to then sell it and go to India to find ourselves… We leave life for later.

I bought into this discourse and created a social enterprise to foster freedom of speech and help people with disabilities earn a higher income. It failed miserably and I lost friends, money, and time. I had to let the dream go. I followed my passion and it didn’t work like the media said it would.

Today, when people ask me “What’s your passion?,” I tell them I have no idea. And it can feel like you’re a failure because you don’t know what you’re on this planet for.

 

Then by pure luck, a project came to my life: Fuckup Nights. With Fuckup Nights, we did everything wrong:

  • we started a project with friends
  • we didn’t have a clear vision or goal
  • we didn’t believe in hard work (nor did we work hard)
  • none of the co-founders joined the project full-time

Despite all this, FUN is now in 250 cities across 79 countries, working with governments and corporations to change public policy and culture based on data from the more than 90% of businesses that fail.

We even appear in magazines now! Even though we do it with more irreverence than others, and with our feet on the ground—or at least we like to think we do.

 

 

We didn’t follow our passion, but we kept it simple. We didn’t have a clear vision, but we stayed humble and listen to our community. We put friendship and fun before income and growth for the sake of growth.

Don’t follow your passion. Follow what feels right at every moment: follow your bliss. You’ll get to know yourself better and might even have more impact.

As a good friend said at a Fuckup Night: “Failure doesn’t exist. Success doesn’t exist either. You exist.” Make yourself happier and you’ll probably find ways to make others happier as well.  

 

Author: Pepe Villatoro
Fuckup Inc CEO
TW: @pepevillatoro