Finding Your Career Passion: Lessons From Jodie Fox

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Reboot" by Jodie Fox. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How can you find a career passion? Why is it important to find a career you’re passionate about?

In her book Reboot, Jodie Fox describes following her career passion, which led her to create Shoes of Prey, a global shoe business. Even though the process was complicated and stressful, she still believes in finding and following your career passion.

Read on to learn how to choose a career you’re passionate about, according to Fox’s advice.

Why Career Passion Is Important

Reboot explores the rise and fall of Jodie Fox’s global shoe business, Shoes of Prey—an innovative start-up that allowed customers to design their own shoes. Fox offers a vulnerable, honest look into her successes and failures as an entrepreneur, proving that there’s always value in the process of following your career passion or owning a business, even if your business doesn’t work out. She also provides advice on dealing with many of the situations you’ll encounter should you build a global business. 

Fox combined her professional background in law, international business, and marketing with her interest in fashion to found Shoes of Prey in 2009. She built it into a profitable, award-winning company alongside co-founders Michael Fox and Mike Knapp. By the time the business collapsed in 2018 after failing to scale effectively, she’d taken on the role of creative director, COO, and CEO, staying with the company to the end.

One of the first lessons Fox learned as a young professional was the importance of following your passion in a career. If you’re genuinely interested in what you do, you’ll work harder and spend more time finding innovative solutions to problems that arise. Additionally, you’ll receive opportunities and experience success because people—whether they’re supervisors, customers, or investors—want to invest time and money in individuals who are passionate about their work. 

(Shortform note: As Fox states, seeking job opportunities that involve work you care about can be a great path to fulfillment in a career. However, passions can be short-lived. You might be interested in cooking for a few months, then decide that you’d rather make a career in fashion. Instead of following passion alone, look for opportunities that will help you grow as a professional and advance your career. These jobs may not be exactly what you want right now, but they can give you chances to refine your interests, develop your skills, and discover things you didn’t know you were good at. These experiences will allow you to explore a wider range of opportunities later.)

The alternative to following your passion—doing work you dislike or feel uninspired by—can leave you feeling trapped and depressed. You won’t perform at your highest level in a career if you’re not interested in the work.

(Shortform note: Though doing work you’re passionate about is the ideal, it’s more common in the United States to do work you dislike or are uninspired by. Research shows that 53% of U.S. workers are disengaged, meaning they don’t really care about their work, while 13% are actively disengaged, meaning their work makes them miserable. That said, the number of people doing work that does engage them is rising.)

How to Choose a Passion to Follow

Fox learned the importance of following your passion after several career changes. She started off in the law profession but soon found that the work didn’t challenge or inspire her, so she moved to a marketing company.

(Shortform note: Because of her existing educational background in business, Fox was able to smoothly transition from law to marketing (and, later, to running Shoes of Prey). However, sometimes, after identifying the career you want, you need additional education to pursue it. Luckily, there are many options for continuing education: You can go to night school or online classes to earn a new degree or certification. You can also attend workshops and webinars to gain specific skills. Finally, consider professional development opportunities like conferences and courses that will improve your knowledge of industry topics.)

To find a career she’d enjoy and be passionate about, Fox used the following exercise: 

Ask people you know about their jobs. Do they enjoy their work? What’s the breakdown of a typical day at work for them? What tasks are involved in their everyday work? What’s the culture of their industry like? This will give you an idea of what options are available.

Make a list of things you want out of a career. This will help you narrow down your interests and priorities. For example, maybe you want to make a lot of money, work on creative projects, or have a flexible schedule.

Compare what you want out of a career with what you’ve learned about other people’s jobs. The intersections you find may point you in the right direction. For example, after speaking to a friend who’s a freelance writer, you might realize that their independence and flexible schedule would also work for you—it would allow you to travel as you’ve always wanted to.

Tips for Expanding Fox’s Exercise

Fox’s method of finding a new career path worked for her circumstances, but you may need a little more structure to execute her advice depending on the size of your social network and how conscious you are of your needs and wants in a job. If you need a little extra guidance, here are a few tips to expand on her exercise:

If you don’t know a lot of professionals or the jobs of your friends don’t appeal to you, you can gather information about potential careers from people outside of your existing network. Make a list of jobs and employers you might be interested in, and reach out to people who work in these roles and companies. Ask them if they’re willing to speak to you for a short time about their line of work. Additionally, look for job shadowing opportunities so you can get hands-on experience in a career alongside professionals.

If you’re not sure what to put on your list of things you want out of a career, you can start by taking assessments online that measure your skills, personality type, interests, and values. Skills assessments help you determine what you’re good at, interest assessments help you figure out what kind of work you’re passionate about, and personality and values assessments show what someone of your temperament and preferences needs to be happy and engaged at work. 

When comparing what you want from a career to the jobs you’ve researched, don’t worry if you can’t find a perfect match. According to Cal Newport in So Good They Can’t Ignore You, research shows that people naturally develop passion for their career over time, no matter what that career is. Even if a career only fulfills one or two of your passions at first, over time, you’ll probably find the job more satisfying than you predicted.
Finding Your Career Passion: Lessons From Jodie Fox

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Jodie Fox's "Reboot" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Reboot summary:

  • A look at the rise and fall of Jodie Fox’s global business, Shoes of Prey
  • An honest look into the successes and failures entrepreneurs face
  • How to deal with mental health struggles as a business owner

Emily Kitazawa

Emily found her love of reading and writing at a young age, learning to enjoy these activities thanks to being taught them by her mom—Goodnight Moon will forever be a favorite. As a young adult, Emily graduated with her English degree, specializing in Creative Writing and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), from the University of Central Florida. She later earned her master’s degree in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University. Emily loves reading fiction, especially modern Japanese, historical, crime, and philosophical fiction. Her personal writing is inspired by observations of people and nature.

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