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Be a Passionate Realist (Don’t Separate The Two)

There is a heated debate over why passion in a Startup can be detrimental to the cause and that realists are the true winners. The other side argues that without passion that attacks the issues, strict realism will keep Startups from taking that chance that won’t always come around. At the recent SXSW conference the battle continued, but this time with a twist. Maybe picking sides wasn’t really the way to go and a healthy dose of each is the path to success.


The fuel to the fire in this debate was the idea that passion and realism are drastically different, and that a business owner was either one or the other. Picking a side takes away from the other good qualities that can be found on that “opposite” and this is where the argument was flawed.

So What Wins? Passion Or Realism?

The true success stories in entrepreneurship have a blend of these two personas by bringing a intense passion and a humbled mindset on the task that lays before them. Bouncing off both walls keeps them at a grounded level, but with the ability to make big leaps towards success. The understanding of what it will take to accomplish their goals makes it clear what needs to be done. This unfolds into a confidence that can be lost with uncertainty, and that confidence can further boost the enthusiasm towards the project, aka passion.


The argument presented does have its points. Passion can be a dangerous game in a startup by blurring the important factors early on.

Unchecked Passion Can Lead To:
  • Focusing on what you believe the product needs rather than what the customers need
  • Confidence that everyone will love your product and there will be a huge customer base without actually having one
  • Getting over-excited about a few small early sales and not understanding the actual price of what it takes to continue on a realistic scale

A Dash Of Realism Never Hurt Anybody…

When things are under control, start getting things together in a realistic sense. Instead of just “knowing” what the customer wants, really take the time to learn the market and test your idea a little before the big jump. Let them guide you on where your product needs to be and don’t try to force your idea on them. The market will let you know what it wants, so be open to it and don’t stand in your own way.

Being open-minded works in more ways than one. Accept how things work for you, and address the things that don’t. Just because you have flaws doesn’t mean you are doomed to fail. Working on these flaws keeps that realistic mindset prevalent and keeps you focused on improvement.

An Overdose Of Passion May Just Be Fatal…

Being too passionate is always the most dangerous with finances. When a startup gets a little too ambitious and bites off more than they can chew disaster isn’t far off. Startups need to play their cards right and understand that you don’t have to be millionaires in a day. Stay slow and stay simple to keep yourself afloat.



Passion and realism are fundamental for any kind of success, and one without the other seems almost ridiculous. Harness that passion, but don’t ever fear taking the big leaps.

Photo and Video Credits

Danilo Rizzuti /

Nattavut /

TCCLaunch /


Author : Rhys O'Neill

Rhys is a native Texan and a former U.S. Marine. He has always been passionate about writing and never forgoes the opportunity to continue fine-tuning his craft. He began at the age of 7 by starting his own community newspaper and has found many outlets in between from sports journalism to travel blogs, Rhys is rarely without pen in hand.

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