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The Business of “Do What You Love”by Bryan Li on May 5, 2021
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This week’s guest editorial in “The Business of Creativity” is from Bryan Li, part-owner of the Charlotte restaurant, Open Rice.]
“If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
That’s an inspiring quote we’ve all heard many times.
It feels good to hear it, and if you’ve been fortunate enough, it feels good to say it. It speaks to the passion and the creativity we all wish to have in this capitalistic world of ours. We admire the idea of “Do What You Love” so much, we’ve printed that mantra on just about anything you can buy at HomeGoods for $11.99.
Do you know who said it?
Among many other people, Marc Anthony. J.Lo’s ex has a net worth north of $80 million. It turns out, it really helps you to “do what you love” if what you love doing is lucrative. We often don’t think of a creative endeavor as a business, despite the fact that the evidence is all around us:
- Every mural you’ve seen cost energy to paint.
- Every song you’ve heard cost time to record.
- Every show you’ve watched cost money to produce.
Commerce and creativity go hand in hand, even if we don’t often recognize it.
I’ve been in the restaurant business my whole life (other than that one time I worked at Hollister for two weeks … I know, I know). I started working as a busboy when I was 14, opened my first restaurant when I was 23 and 12 years later, we are still in the game.
The restaurant industry is a very unforgiving business. If something isn’t providing income, you better get rid of it before it gets rid of you. It’s merciless, but it has taught me how to create and survive, while making something I love. It also allows me to pursue my other creative passions, like comedy and improv.
Money does not buy us happiness. (If it did, cookies should cost more.) But, money does buy us resources and opportunities, which then allow us to sustain our creativity.
As creatives, we often put “the money part” behind “the creative part.” It’s something we have to do to keep doing the work we love.
I’m inviting you to hold the business end of your creativity a little closer. Don’t set it aside. Don’t dread it. Embrace it.
Sustainability (and that includes financial sustainability) is the key to the “Do What You Love” mantra. It is the greatest challenge in the business of creativity. Sustainability is the difference between a hobby and a career. It is what keeps the idea alive so it can become reality. It’s what keeps you creating.
My fellow creatives, if you truly love what you do, make it sustainable. When you’re sustainable, you can produce more. You can share more. Your reach increases and your creativity can make your community a happier place.
Contrary to what Marc Anthony, Mark Twain and many others have said, when you love what you do, it’s still work. But it’s not drudgery. It’s what sustains and fulfills you.
Maybe one day a quote of yours will make it onto the shelf of a HomeGoods too.