Richard, you bring up a good point so I’d like to take a moment to respond. Apologies for the length.

I’ve referred to this topic at least twice in other blogs so I will quote myself here to clarify any misconceptions.

First, a quote from (including the relevant Steve Jobs quote):

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” — Steve Jobs. Stanford University Commencement Speech. June 12, 2005.

When it comes time to work, don’t settle for a paycheck. Follow your passion. I know that sounds like a cliche but it’s an important lesson that, given its long term implications, you often don’t get a second chance at in life. If you are passionate about something, you will be good at it. I promise. And if you’re good at something, people will pay you good money to do what you enjoy doing in the first place.

If, instead, you settle for a career based on how much you get compensated, I bet you will hate the experience, you will be bad at it and resent being forced to do it, and you will make mediocre money because you can’t compete effectively with those who are passionate about it. That’s a guaranteed minimum “thirty years to life” sentence of misery. Life’s too short for that.

Here is another quote, this time from a different blog (

My advice, simplistic as it may seem, is to echo Steve Jobs and tell you to do what you are passionate about and not to worry too much about the financial aspects of the decision. We all make mistakes in life but I, for one, would rather look back fondly at all the lessons learned while trying out new experiences than remorsefully at the opportunities missed.

Every job comes with a dose of daily frustrations. Don’t run away from those problems. Run towards something you feel passionate about.

If you are aligned with the company strategy, believe in what you are delivering to the customer, have a strong team of collaborators around you, and can’t wait to get up in the morning to go to work — then, by all means, stick around. In all likelihood, the grass is not greener on the other side. Another 10% or 20% annual compensation will not change your life. And I bet the other company has as many, if not more, problems than your present employer.

If, on the other hand, you feel miserable every day when you go to work, if you feel you’re stuck in a rut and are not learning anything new, if you disagree with the strategic direction of the company, if you see key decisions being made for political reasons — then I guess you know what to do. Go find something you can be passionate about again.

Note that in both cases here (as well as in the case of the current blog which you commented on), I’m talking about picking a job from several choices once you’ve decided which career is the right one for you. I’m trying to say: don’t change jobs for a paycheck, don’t run away from problems at one job (you’re likely to find similar problems in a different job). If and when you have a choice, pick the one that you’re more passionate about, not the one that pays more.

Your comments are at a higher level: Should I solve world hunger or work on Artificial Intelligence (to pick two random topics)? My comment was never intended to answer that broader question. If you’re passionate about solving world hunger, by all means, please go solve world hunger. But if you’re passionate about Artificial Intelligence, don’t switch jobs from Company A to Company B because they give you a 10% raise. That’s all I was trying to say. Perhaps I should have included all the additional verbiage to make it absolutely clear.

The one place I disagree with you is that we should force ourselves to feel passionate about (say) world hunger because it’s an important problem to solve. I’m afraid that’s a noble thought that won’t work in real life. You can’t force people to feel passionate about a noble or important cause simply because it’s important.

There are plenty of people who are passionate about AI — and there’s nothing wrong with that. Who knows… perhaps they’ll use AI algorithms to solve world hunger.

Former CTO of VMware, former VP at Microsoft, recovering long distance runner, avid cyclist, newly minted grandpa.

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