Phil Di Bella: Passion is the one thing experience can’t teach

Phil Di Bella: Passion is the one thing experience can’t teach

Published 30 September 2013 11:44, Updated 30 September 2013 12:57

Phil Di Bella


Phillip Di Bella says, ‘Identify your passion, and see if you can build a business around it.’Photo: Glenn Hunt

I spoke at a conference for Banana Growers not long ago. Now, I know you’re thinking, what does Phillip Di Bella know about growing bananas? Nothing! So why did they ask me to speak? What could I share that would inspire farmers? The answer is: passion. Or more specifically, my own passion for my work, and my mission to inspire it in others, whatever their ambition. I think it’s a message that we all need to be reminded of from time to time.If you are thinking about whether passion has anything to do with business, then perhaps you are in the wrong business. Passion is the key motivator for achieving any great dream. It’s the common factor of many successful people and it is something that can’t be taught. In the words of Muhammad Ali: “Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision.”

Passion has everything to do with business. These days, customers don’t just want the “what”, they want the “why”. Yes they want to buy, but they also want to “buy in” to the brand you are creating, they want to feel a part of something and they want inspiration. So ask yourself: Why would customers choose your business?

Starting a business for the right reason is the first step to success. Identify your passion, and see if you can build a business around it, rather than focusing on the business part first. Owning your own business is not a passion – it’s a vehicle. Your enthusiasm will drive your business.

Building a business around something you are passionate about will not only make you stand out, but allow you to better endure the challenges and potential hardships, and provide the commitment and energy needed to get your business off the ground and keep it going.

If your work is already driven by your passion then congratulations – you’re living the dream. The key now is to continue pursuing what you love, without it being smothered by work pressures. Here are some tips for keeping it alive in your work.

• Employ people with the same excitement about what they do. Enthusiastic employees mean great customer service, a strong work ethic, and a happy workplace.

• Don’t let your passion become your sole focus. Only caring about one part of your business will allow weaknesses to develop in others. Invest that commitment in all your business decisions – no matter how insignificant they seem – as these decisions will filter through to your customers in one way or another.

• Outsource. It can seem like a dirty word to business owners, but if you aren’t passionate about something, doing it might be killing your buzz for your business. Find someone who can give it the attention it deserves, and you can focus on the parts that you do best.

How can you identify passion in yourself or others?

Passionate people bounce out of bed. They attack each day to be better than yesterday and ensure that they are focused and determined to achieve. They arrive early to work and work to completion always.

They never make excuses, but accept responsibility for the good, and more importantly for what goes wrong. They challenge themselves to learn more, get better and deliver more. Their benchmark is often themselves rather than what others are doing or achieving.

Business skills can be taught, finance can be lent – but passion can’t.

Make sure you are investing as much of it in your business as you are time and money, and people will start to take notice.

Phillip Di Bella is the founder of Di Bella Coffee and a Young Rich member


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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