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Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Co-Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

Screw Money, Do Passion

There's one thing that you should know about me: money (and more of it) has always been a really bad motivator for me. I just can't get up in the morning and do anything if the pursuit is purely for money.

Sure, I've done (financially) well for myself with WooThemes, that is today a multimillion dollar company of which I own a third. And maybe you regard my comments above as me being on a high horse of some kind.

The reality is that money itself has never made me happy and I never wanted to be an entrepreneur for the pot of gold that potentially awaited me on the other side of the rainbow. Thinking back, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, because I enjoyed the activities around it.

Mostly though I just wanted to avoid a professional career that required me to report to a boss. (If I'm serious, this fear probably drove me to work harder at being a successful entrepreneur.)


About 2 years ago, I came across this thread on Quora: What does it feel like to be a self-made millionaire under the age of 25?.

I was 26 at the time and on paper I was a millionaire, so I supposedly had the world at my feet. That experiences that those entrepreneurs and millionaires shared though, scared me shitless.

I didn't want to be either unhappy, ungrateful or complacent later in life. I believe that whilst I've worked hard, I've also been very lucky and blessed (along with being in the right place, at the right time).

What it also emphasised for me is that the only sustainable route I can take in my journey as an entrepreneur, was to work on something that I was incredibly passionate about. Subconsciously my mind kept that realisation mulling over and a couple of months later I almost skipped out on WooThemes to join another startup.

Whilst that move didn't materialise, I knew that I wouldn't be able to ever do a 180 degree turn on that realisation. The pursuit of money would never be able to be the determining factor in any of my decisions.


10 weeks ago I quit my (cushy, well-paid) job as CEO of WooThemes, because my work there had become mostly about money.

I'm a creator and a starter; and I don't have much interest in growing things. I enjoyed the first couple of years of WooThemes immensely, because it was a major challenge to create something out of nothing and establish a very successful that has a global reach. Today Woo is a behemoth that is run by an incredibly talented management team, who represents the same drive that I had when I released Woo's very first product on 2 November 2007.

For me, it was about acknowledging that my heart was elsewhere and that the company was best left in the hands of individuals that felt like I did in 2007.

I also knew what my heart needed... It craved passion and harboured the desire to make a dent in the universe. I also wanted a blank canvas, where I could make new mistakes, which would fuel a new learning & growth spurt for me. I wanted to build something that could help other entrepreneurs and contribute (directly or indirectly) to do the social good of society.

And at the very end of that list, I had written down another "requirement": I needed to be able to build a sustainable business pursuing these things.


Introducing PublicBeta

This journey and pursuit of my ultimate passion has culminated with today's V1 launch of PublicBeta. To a large extent, this is a dream come true for me and I struggle to put all of the emotion that I feel into coherent words.

The thing about today's launch of PublicBeta is that it's not without its own imperfections and risks. For starters, $100k is a shitload of money and I've had to invest that from personal savings. I still have financial debt and I'm still only a millionaire on paper. So if I fail with PublicBeta, it has massive financial repercussions for me and my family.

And it's not like I'm not scared shitless most of the time. I am.

But here's the thing about choosing to pursuit passion instead of money: I know that all of me (my talents, my skills, my willingness to work hard and hustle etc.) is aligned in the pursuit of that passion and the goals I've attached to that. It's like a primal instinct to survive (and not fail).

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.

Passion is the thing that will drive me and PublicBeta forward. Passion will be the source of the great work we do at PublicBeta. Our ability to stay true to that passion will likely be the key to whether we're successful or not.

So screw money, let's do passion.

PS. If you're a passionate individual and this post resonated even somewhat for you, then you will benefit greatly from the community of like-minded entrepreneurs that I'm building at PublicBeta. Come join us in the pursuit of our passions, ambitions and goals.

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