The Passion Economy: Summary and Review

The Passion Economy

The Passion Economy: The New Rules for Thriving in the Twenty-First Century by Adam Davidson

See all 300+ book summaries and reviews

The Passion Economy


This book argues that economic trends are opening up an opportunity for “passion” jobs that don’t involve the drudgery of mass production.

I don’t fully agree with the author’s thesis because he doesn’t address why these jobs are robust against automation. Jobs like Influencer, YouTuber, woodcrafting artesan are Below the API and hence there are strong market forces pushing in the direction of whittling away your salary.

His best defence is that a “passion” job’s moat is to create authentic connections with your audience, but I don’t think think this is a moat because it isn’t a rare trait—anyone can “be authentic” and you aren’t irreplaceable just by having a unique personality. The author also doesn’t define what “passion” is precisely, to his detriment.

I would rather recommend So Good They Can’t Ignore You, which in some ways argues the opposite thesis to this book, that you should pursue skills and not “passion”, mainly because people confuse “passion” with job satisfaction, and the aspects of a job that lead to good job satisfaction are well-researched and can be purchased with career capital. I think when most people say they want to be “passionate” about their work what they really mean is they want autonomy, control, and a feeling that their work is serving an important purpose in the world, and these things are more available to you if you pursue regular market-facing jobs.


Rule #1 Pursue intimacy at scale.

This title is misnamed, the author is actually advocating that you don’t pursue intimacy at scale, and basically you should Do Things that Don’t Scale.

Rule #2 Only create value that can’t be easily copied.

I disagree with Rule #2 because you should be looking for businesses that can scale easily. The author suggests that you should stop working on your business once it becomes successful(!) because it will be too hard to fend off competitors. But I think if you have a strong enough flywheel, competition should not be a problem as you scale.

Rule #3 The price you charge should match the value you provide.

Skip this chapter and instead read Pricing on Purpose.

Rule #4 Fewer passionate customers are better than a lot of indifferent ones.

Skip this chapter and instead read 1,000 True Fans.

Rule #5 Your passion is your story. And it better be a true one.

Skip this chapter and instead read All Marketers Are Liars.

Rule #6 Technology should always support your business, not drive it.

I disagree with this because technology is one of the biggest levers you have available, so you should try to use it as much as you can. See Pick a Business Model with Leverage.

Rule #7 Know what business you are in… it’s probably not what you think.

The author argues that you should focus on value creation instead of value capture, but I disagree with this because “A business creates X dollars of value and captures Y% of X. X and Y are independent variables”: Competition is For Losers.

Rule #8 Never be in the commodity business. Even if you sell what other people consider a commodity.

The author suggests that highlighting how you are different is how you can avoid being seen as a commodity, but I disagree with this because I think this just creates false differentiation, as it’s a sleight-of-hand that just reduces your addressable market rather than forging any real difference. See the monopoly idea under “Competition is For Losers” in Zero to One.

← Back to Bookshelf