‘Turn up’ and ‘Give a damn’

I have had the pleasure of working across multiple sectors including manufacturing, banking, catering, media and more recently, consulting. Business has always been a topic that has intrigued me, particularly the questions of what makes one person (or business) succeed while others fails. Does the answer lie in:

  • A good idea versus a bad one?
  • Angel investors versus self-funding?
  • No competitors versus very strong ones?
  • Subject matter experts versus “opportunists” who see a gap in the market?
  • Market research versus luck?
  • Talent versus persistence?

The list could go on. There are hundreds of books, web pages and training courses geared toward supplying all the answers to all of the questions but for me it boils down to one ingredient, Passion.

In an age when everyone is looking for the next big idea, App, loom band business, social media trend or cloud technology, there are still a million copycat businesses out there that see an existing business and say “I could do that better, cheaper, faster”. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to get into business and be successful. It has pretty much all been done before. The question is “What do you want to do?” If you know the answer to that question, the only remaining question of any consequence is “Do you have the passion to carry it through?”. Once you have answered both, you will see that there is no shortage of advice, mentors and even funding for business startups and entrepreneurs.

My father once told me that in order to hold down a job, all you had to do was two things:

  1. Turn up
  2. Give a damn

Sound advice considering that we all work (or have worked) with people who satisfy number 1 occasionally and number 2 rarely. Turning up sounds simple but it implies much more. It is about reliability, integrity, dependability and trust. It’s about following through on your commitment, staying the course and remaining persistent.

Giving a damn about what you do can be the difference between arriving at a job you could care less about, being a slave to the pay check and counting the days until your next vacation (or sick day),


arriving at a place where you get to learn, collaborate, inspire, lead, follow, design, create, challenge and change the future for yourself and those around you. Oh I forget to mention, you get paid for doing this too.

The qualities that underpin turning up and giving a damn could be the cornerstone of what we now call ‘personal branding’. We talk about transferrable skills and core competencies when truly the most important transferrable skill for me, is attitude. 30 years ago it was just called being reliable and hard working.

We have all heard the saying ‘find something you love doing and you’ll never work a day in your life’. In order to do this you must find your passion or as I asked earlier “What do you want to do?”. Successful businessmen and women who are driven with passion, find a way around obstacles and problems. They forge ahead and inspire all those around them to do the same. They will not take no for an answer and are not afraid to fail or make mistakes because they know that they will learn from both.

I have met dozens of business owners who never went to college, never studied business and some who never even finished school. What they did learn, however, was that the person who wants it more, normally gets it. Does the best singer always get the recording deal, the best golf swing win the Masters, the best writer get the film deal? No, but the person who turns up and gives a damn, with passion, at the recording studio door, the golf practice range and the scrip writers office EVERY SINGLE DAY has a much better chance of succeeding.

My father started by saying ‘Turn up and give a damn’ and finished by saying ‘or someone else will’. That someone else is the one with the passion.

Will that someone be you?