Don’t follow your heart…

…because you’ve seen the stats.

That most people fail miserably when they start something.  That people go bankrupt and the only thing they have to show for it are war stories.   That they will never live down the embarrassment.

Akio Morita was one such failure.  The guy started off by inventing a rice cooker that didn’t cook rice very well.  But he persisted and today we have Sony.  What if he talked himself out of continuing?

Sony Rice Cooker (

Another such failure was a lady named Joanne.   Somehow she got it in her head that she was a writer.  Broke, not published, and with a kid in tow,  she continued to write.  Today you know her as J.K. Rowling.  What if she had talked herself out of continuing?

What if Stephen King said “Screw it!  I’m just going to find a job instead.”  The guy’s first novel, Carrie was rejected 30 times.

How many times have you been rejected?  How many times have you even tried?

Watch this.

The biggest factor in career dissatisfaction has nothing to do with the job you’re in or the product you’re selling.  It’s the nagging knowledge that somehow things can be better.  And the truth is, it absolutely can be better.  Companies spend billions of dollars on consultants and billions of dollars hiring the best HR people to make things better.

So why don’t companies look within more often for ideas to improve?  The suggestion box has been around forever.  The reason why most suggestion boxes sit empty by Friday afternoon is because 1) Most people simply don’t care.  2) The ones who really care, talk themselves out of it.

Why do we talk ourselves out of things?

My good friend Nick, started his career with me at RBC Investments.  Back then, we were clearing trades with pen and paper.  He designed an automated system using Excel and a database program.  He increased efficiency so much for the bank, they sent him on a cruise.  He saved the bank much more money than what the cruise cost.

It wasn’t his job to do so.  He did it on his own time, often at home.  He spent months.  He must have wondered at some point “Why the hell am I doing this? or “What if they think it’s stupid?”  To put this in perspective,  RBC is Canada’s largest bank, with tens of thousands of employees right here in Toronto and thousands more around the world.

He didn’t talk himself out of it.   He built it.  He built it when people said “The bank will just take it.”  The bank did just take it.  But he built it anyway.

Today, he’s charged with looking after the well-being of our country’s national pension plan.

Following your heart does not mean you have to quit your job to start a company.  For many of us, that’s just not an option.  Following your heart means trusting your intuition about how to make things better for the situation you’re in right now.  And not talking yourself out of something before you’ve given it a try.

But most important, following your heart is having the courage to tell somebody else about it.