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Ramit Sethi Shares the Absolute Worst Career Advice He’s Ever Heard

by Lauren Hoffman
money & life

In his many years as an entrepreneur and personal finance advisor, Ramit Sethi has heard a lot of terrible career advice.

So, we sat down with Ramit recently in our San Francisco studios to get his take on some of the worst career advice and business tips that are floating around right now. “A lot of the career advice I see out there is advice that experts give, and no one ever takes it,” Ramit candidly explains in our interview. “Ever.”

A prime example of more worthless career advice? “You definitely need business cards to find your dream job,” Ramit expounds. Common advice about online networking is just as unhelpful. One egregious example: “You need to get on Twitter! Just tweet, and somehow hiring managers will find you!”

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But, the business advice Ramit singles out as being the least helpful is surprising.

It’s not about the business cards.

Or the over-tweeting.

According to Ramit, the worst advice you could give a fledgling entrepreneur or job seeker is, “Follow your passion.

However, that doesn’t mean Ramit is suggesting you ignore passion altogether.

“All of us want to find what we love, and then get paid for it. It’s just we’ve been sold a bill of goods that we should wait for our passion to fall down out of the sky, instead of actively pursuing it. Rather than the passive approach of following passion or waiting for it to strike, Ramit suggests a much more active, incisive approach to finding the work — and the life — you’ve always wanted.

“Oftentimes,” Ramit points out, “We do something, we get really good at it, and then we become passionate about it. It’s a totally different approach than waiting for your passion for decades, without knowing whether it’s something you can succeed at or make a living from.”

The bottom line: don’t wait around, expecting your passions to bubble up to magically reveal themselves. You need to take an active role in trying new things and giving yourself the opportunities you need, in order to discover your true passions and turn them into a profitable business idea.

Ramit recommends starting by studying what it means to be a top performer at the jobs and companies that excite you most. Once you’ve targeted those companies and roles, it’s time to narrow the field. “A lot of us get paralyzed by having too many options. We keep a ton of doors open thinking that, for example, you don’t want to get stuck in your current job forever.”

That’s where thinking strategically — almost like an experimental psychologist — comes in. You can do that by meeting people who work at the company, asking what a typical day looks like, getting a sense for the corporate culture, and understanding their salary ranges. When you work through those options early on — before you’re even looking for a job — you can either decide that, yes, this is an option you’d like to keep open for the future, or that no, this role or company wouldn’t work for you.

Ramit is also quick to point out your dream job and the pursuit of your passion may not always go hand-in-hand. But when asked if it’s better to be passionate about your day job or to have a passion project on the side, his answer is, “Yes!” He goes on to explain, “We work at our jobs so many hours a day. Of course we should find a dream job. Work is more time than we spend with our partner or with a bed… But I’m all for having a passion project on the side.”

For much more, check out How to Make Money and Grow Your Business with Ramit Sethi, right here on CreativeLive.

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Lauren Hoffman

Lauren Hoffman lives and writes in Seattle, Washington. By day, she's a freelance writer and editor; by night, she's at work completing a book-length non-fiction project, Up High Down Low.