Money at 30: “The Passion Economy” Book Review

Have you ever stopped to think about how many people today are doing jobs that didn’t exist a decade ago? Or have you talked to someone at a cocktail party, asked about their job, and thought, “How do you make money with that?” If so, then you may have found yourself taking an interest in “the passion economy.” Now (well, as of last year), there’s a book on this very topic. Coming from author Adam Davidson of Planet Money fame, The Passion Economy: The New Rules for Thriving in the Twenty-First Century is an intriguing read that highlights a subtle but substantial shift in how many of today’s businesses make money.

First, what is “the passion economy” exactly? Some of the themes include an emphasis on value instead of price, focusing on niches instead of massive markets, and, of course, being passionate instead of passive about your work and offerings. As Davidson explains, these tenants diverge from the “widget economy” that’s traditionally ruled, which saw brands striving to make their products at a faster clip for less money in order to maximize profits. Ironically, though, some passion economy converts have been able to grow their revenue by narrowing their focus — as the book documents.

On that note, Davidson’s book isn’t exactly a how-to on turning what you love into a business nor is it an opinion-based musing on the shift in climate. Instead, the book is mostly made up of case studies that demonstrate different elements of this passion economy. Oftentimes, the businesses profiled are then contrasted against a widget economy brand to highlight the differences.

Since The Passion Economy covers several different brands and provides at least a bit of background (but often much more) on all those involved, it can occasionally feel as though you’re going from tangent to tangent — perhaps losing the thread if you’re not paying attention. To my shame, there were times when I needed to rewind the audiobook a bit to connect the dots. That said, I do suspect that the printed version of the book would alleviate this confusion thanks to formatting. It’s also totally possible that I needed to either slow down or listen harder in order to better catch these switches in topic.

While I enjoyed the book on the whole, some of my favorite parts came in the latter half. Among them, I found the section involving the Amish to be fascinating on multiple levels both related and unrelated to the core topics of this book. I also found myself especially invested in the story of OCHO, which featured mention CircleUp — a FinTech that helps brands find funding.

I’ll admit that The Passion Economy: The New Rules for Thriving in the Twenty-First Century wasn’t quite what I was expecting when I downloaded it sans much prior research. That’s not a good or a bad thing as I found the book to be engaging nonetheless. The actual aim of the book also makes more sense than whatever I was envisioning given Davidson’s past work and the fact that many pages of this would feel at home as a Planet Money segment. Meanwhile, although the teachings of The Passion Economy may not be as explicit as they might be in other works, there are still plenty of lessons and nuggets that entrepreneurs will take away with them. For those reasons, if this style of book sounds up your alley, I think you’ll enjoy this one overall.


Also published on Medium.

Author

Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site LaughingPlace.com and has recently starting publsihing his own personal finance blog at https://moneyat30.com/

Other Articles by Kyle Burbank

Money at 30: Good (and Bad) Habits I've Gained Since Getting a Dog

It's now been six weeks since my wife and I brought home our dog, Rigby. With this being the first pet either of us has had in our adult lives, I'm sure you can understand that this addition of a dog to our family has brought about a number of changes — which is why I've already penned a number of articles on the topic (including chronicling some of the...

Lemonade Pet Insurance Review: Policy Options & What's Covered

Pets have always been an important part of many American families. Yet, I don’t think I’d ever really considered the idea of purchasing insurance for a dog or cat until I learned that Lemonade was adding such an option. Cut to a mere month ago when my wife and I added a dog (we named her Rigby) to our family and now I’ve had a chance to take a closer...

Money at 30: Why We Continue to Subscribe to a Meal Kit Service

It's officially been over a year since my wife and I decided to sign up for a meal kit delivery service. At the time, I figured I'd take advantage of the free meals being offered as part of their intro deal, add a few recipes to our collection for future use, and (of course) get a review out of the whole thing. Yet, here we are months later and we're...