Today’s guest post is written by Erika Napoletano

No, this post isn’t about a crappy pickup line or some other awkward online dating experience.

In all honesty, it’s the result of a pretty awesome dating experience (at least one that doesn’t involve a guy showing up at my house drunk with a gun – but I digress – and yes, that actually happened).

Still digressing.

Over assorted plates of sushi and sake, a date and I were debating about The Number – the dollar amount – that it would take to divert you from doing something you love to something you didn’t necessarily want to do.

A brief yet lively discourse resulted in a split decision: He believed everyone has a number while I did not.

So, I got to thinking – why was I so steadfast in this belief, that not everyone has The Number?

I boiled it down to three situations I’ve consistently found myself in when I’ve thought that money could take precedent over passion.

  1. Bad Decisions

    From a consultancy and agency standpoint, numbers make us take on work that we should never have taken on in the first place. Maybe we suck at it, maybe we have no idea how the hell we’re going to get it done. If you’re not a web designer, don’t decide to become one because you need the cash. Find a web designer to partner with who can deliver a superior product to your client at a reasonable* rate (*definition will vary) and spend your time doing what you’re good at instead of doing something because the money was too good to pass up. While there are many possible outcomes to taking work because of The Number, the most probable one is a client (or series of clients) who gets the shaft.

  2. Self-Loathing

    Holy $%^&*ing %^&*. If I never see this project again, it’s going to be too soon. Paris Hilton will pass calculus before I ever take another %&^*&@# _______________ project again!

    Sound familiar? We generally know from square one if something is a bad decision. I don’t know about you, but The Number tends to blur my judgment and make me turn down the volume knob on my gut. I mean, for all that’s holy – my gut is the one thing telling me not to eat the brown acid and do stupid things, and here I am ready to throw it under the bus for a little extra cash? Those are the days where I’ve hated owning and running a business the most, because the situation I’ve put myself in was 100% avoidable, much like buying tickets to the next Rocky sequel because I was convinced it couldn’t suck as bad as the last one. Self-loathing is an inevitable by-product of The Number, as we should be using our businesses to buy our passions a playground, not to sell our souls.

  3. Time Lost

    Be honest – how much time have you spent screwing around with something in your business that could have been spent on (cough) more rewarding and productive tasks? The Number puts us in a position where we inevitably look back and realize we wasted precious time that could have been spent pursuing what we love instead of what we accepted money to do. The Number can’t buy you time that you pissed away – and if nothing else about The Number pisses you off, that alone should. Coincidentally, I’ve never met anyone who’s built a business that specializes in screwing around (insert hooker jokes).

The bottom line? The date was lovely and he still hasn’t shown up at my door drunk with a gun and it got my brain rattling about some practices in my own businesses I’ve seen come and go. And it got me to admit that I see practices that are “number” based being made by others and made me discover why they piss me off so much. I’d love to hear from your side – praise and piss-me-offs alike – as if this is rattling around in my head, surely it’s something that’s rattled around in someone else’s…unlike that whole dream I had where a friend of mine had this lovely orange cruiser bike and was carrying a monkey in her bike basket.

But again, I digress.


Erika Napoletano is the head redhead at RedheadWriting, a Denver-based digital strategies consultancy (which is really just a fancy way of saying that she makes her living by keeping companies from looking like a-holes online). She’s a regular columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine and the author of two forthcoming books due out in 2012, including The Power of Unpopular, which makes its debut at SXSW Interactive. You can read her ripe and randy blog, and catch up with her community on Facebook. She closed her MySpace account when she realized no one really wanted to pay her $5,000 a night to “party.”