Runnin' Down A Dream: How to Succeed and Thrive in a Career You Love by Bill Gurley

Full video here.

  • I was inspired by three people who were heroes of mine. I noticed a pattern amongst them. That is what I am here to talk about.

  • A dream job is a career where you have immense passion. Life is a use it or lose it proposition. Most humans take one career path. If you only have one shot, why not do what makes you most happy?

  • I want to tell you three stories of luminaries. And then five guidelines I’ve learned from what they did.

  • The first story is about Bobby Knight.

  • What ended up making Bobby successful isn’t what happened in the gym. It is what he did outside. In the first five years of his coaching career, he befriended five of the top basketball minds.

  • The second story is about Bob Dylan. He was in love with Folk music. He studied every Folk album he possibly could. He didn’t have money. He would spend hours in record stores, listening to the records for free.

  • Bob Dylan took one of the most ambitious actions that anyone has taken to pursue their dream job. He hitchhiked from Minneapolis to New York City. That is 1,200 miles. He had a guitar, a suitcase, and $10.

  • He went to New York to find Woody Guthrie. He loved the way Woody played and wanted to know everything about it. Bob was studying, studying, studying.

  • The third story is about Danny Meyer. His mom made him journal and take notes. He went back and looked at his notes. He noticed all of them were about food. He loved food.

  • One night he was out to eat with his family. He told them he was going to take the LSAT the next day. His uncle said why would you do that? You love food. Why don’t you open a restaurant?

  • Danny was making $125k a year as a salesman. He quit to work at a restaurant for $12,500. He chose the restaurant because he wanted to be around the chef, who he admired.

  • He did something really interesting. He made a list of 12 people doing innovative things in the restaurant industry. He started studying them.

  • He traveled to Europe to work in a restaurant. He had to pay $500 a month to work there.

  • What he does is what you think he would do. He studies. He is watching the chef. He is watching the recipes. He goes on the sourcing trips to see how they pick food at the market. He takes tons of notes.

  • He goes back to New York. He spends six months searching one hundred locations to find the very best place to launch his first restaurant. He is 27 years old when he opens Union Square Cafe.

  • A quote Bill loves: “I spent nearly two years doing the best work ever as a student.” –Danny Meyer. He is most proud of the studying he did on his own. Not the studying he did in college.

  • Danny went on to build sixteen high-end restaurants in New York City, and founded Shake Shack.

  • The first Shake Shack makes more in profit than any of his high-end restaurants.

  • I noticed that there was a similar strain running through each of these stories.

  • 1) Pick a profession about which you have immense passion. A deep personal interest. Nothing will make you more successful than if you love doing what you. You will work harder than anyone else because it will feel like fun.

  • This should be your personal passion. Not your parents. Not what is expected of you.

  • Everybody has the will to win. People don’t have the will to practice. –Bobby Knight.

  • I think this is the test of whether or not you are pursuing your dream job. The part of your job that would be considered studying or practice - do you enjoy that part?

  • 2) Be obsessive about learning in your field. Hone your craft. Constantly. Understand everything you possibly can about your craft. Consider it an obligation. Hold yourself accountable. Keep learning over time. Study the history. Know the pioneers.

  • Strive to know more than anyone else about your particular craft. You should be the most knowledgable person. It is possible to gather more information than someone else.

  • An interesting story from Bobby Knights biography. The second time he meets Pete Newell, Bobby walks into the room with 74 plays diagrammed on index cards. He asks Pete to go through the plays with him. He got the number one winner he could find, and made him go through all the plays.

  • These quotes really drive home the point I am trying to make to you: Bob Dylan calls himself a musical expeditionary. A sponge. There’s a ruthlessness in the way Mr. Dylan finds sources, uses them and moves on: the ruthlessness of an artist’s best instincts.

  • An example of the level of detail Danny Meyer thinks about food. Here is Danny describing his process before opening a BBQ restaurant. This is from his book Setting the Table: During one 36 hour road trip through North Carolina I tasted 14 different variations of chopped pork. Each defined by a subtle difference in texture, the degree and type of smoke used, the amount of tomato or vinegar in the sauce, how much heat was applied to the meat, how much or how little crackling got chopped up and tossed in.

  • The good news: If you are going to research something, this is your lucky day. Information is freely available on the Internet. The bad news: You have zero excuse for not being the most knowledgeable person in any subject you want. The information is right there at your fingertips.

  • 3) Develop mentors in your field. Take every chance you can to find somebody to teach you about the field you want to excel in. Document what you hear. Share it with others.

  • I had the remarkable fortune to meet Stan Druckenmiller and Howard Marks. I read everything they write. I listen every time they speak. I got to talk to them for a few hours about investing. The things they said changed some of the actions I am taking in my work.

  • 4) Embrace peers in your field. Have discussions with them. This is how you learn. This is a way to hone ideas.

  • Always share best practices. Don’t worry about proprietary advantage. It is not a zero-sum game.

  • Celebrate their accomplishments as if they are your own. Send them notes. That will come back to you in spades.

  • Twitter is the most amazing networking and learning network every built. For someone pursuing their dream job, or chasing a group of mentors or peers, it is remarkable. In any given field, 50% to 80% of the experts in that field are on Twitter sharing ideas.

  • 5) Always be gracious and pay it forward. Give the majority of credit to other people that helped you. It is the right thing to do. It will keep you from being an asshole.

  • I am convinced that you get what you give, and you get more by giving more. Generosity of spirit and a gracious approach to problem solving are, with few exceptions, the most effective way to earn lasting goodwill for your business. –Danny Meyer

  • When someone asked Tom Petty what advice he would give, he said: Do something you really like and hopefully it pays the rent. As far as I am concerned that is success.”

  • In his book, [Setting The Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business] Danny uses the phrase Professional Research constantly. I think it is an interesting phrase. Do you go home at night and study for yourself? To improve your own skillset? Most people don’t do that. [I read Danny’s book last year. I discussed what I learned on Founders Podcast #20. You can listen to it here.]