Len Riggio, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and the successful independent proprietors, whatever their other business virtues and flaws, really have a deep attachment to books and the people who read them. But when Borders expanded, they brought in executives from supermarkets and department stores (all of whom insisted they were readers), and the result was a shuffle of titles.
From What Went Wrong at Borders by Peter Osnos (written before Borders closed its doors)
I have a theory. There are people who have jobs; and there are people who have a calling.
People who have a job can be very good workers. But, you can just tell that when someone has a calling, they are more than just workers; much more…
We see this everywhere. Football coaches who love coaching. (Think Pete Carroll). Speakers who genuinely love to speak. (I think I may be one of those).
When someone has this sense of calling, this deep love of what they do, there is something different, almost magical at times, about what they accomplish. (no personal claims here).
I started this post with a quote about Borders. But it also included the idea that Jeff Bezos of Amazon, who created first the bookstore on the web, and now the Everything Store on the web, has a deep attachment to books. Jeff Bezos loves books. And, if you read much about him, you learn that he has marked up, highlighted, worn out copies of favorite books. The sign of a book lover! That love of books played such a key role in his creation of the “bookstore on the web.”
I think back to the recent tornado night here in the Dallas area. I was glued to the television, as were so many others. My station is CBS11, and so I watched their team of meteorologists, led by Larry Mowry. Larry Mowry was in front of the radar maps, holding a tablet velcroed to his hand, looking up, looking down, tracking each tiny move of the moving danger. I don’t know if he, and, yes, I assume the other meteorologists on other local stations, were responsible for saving lives. But, if I had to guess, I would say yes.
I don’t know much about Larry Mowry, except that he loves these two things with something akin to obsession: the weather, and Star Wars.
When I started out as a TV news watcher, one of my first weather guys was Pat Sajak, on a local station in Los Angeles. Maybe he was good at weather; I don’t remember. But I have no memory of him being obsessed with weather. And, after checking, he was not trained as someone like Larry Mowry is trained. (And, as you know, Mr. Sajak moved away from weather to Wheel of Fortune).
I would be shocked if Larry Mowry’s ambition is to become a game show host. (Although, if someone developed a game show based on Star Wars…). He’s not a “celebrity;” he’s a weather forecaster/educator, and he clearly loves what he does.
And, if there is weather danger, I want a true weather lover like Larry Mowry keeping me up to the minute on the moving danger…
So, Larry Mowry loves weather, just like in his heart of hearts, Jeff Bezos loves books. The lesson is pretty simple. To be really good at your job, you have to be trained; you have to love doing it; and you have to do it enough, long enough, to develop deep expertise.
And the more deep expertise you develop, the more you become a genuine help to others through the work that you do.