Noel Wax | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Noel Wax


GroundSwell Group is a cause marketing consulting firm based in Los Angeles that works with nonprofits and corporations to build publicity and increase consumer engagement.

The Mistake:

I had spent about 15 years doing sales at CBS Radio, and I loved the excitement and prestige of being around the professional sports players and the constant access to sporting events. I didn’t have the skills to be an athlete, so I was fortunate to be able to make a name for myself doing something I really loved while also being involved in sports.

I was learning about a loss leader product involving a lot of sports rights that wasn’t profitable for the company, and I had some concerns about long-term plans around the division.

At that time, my son was 2 and my daughter had just been born, and I was presented with an opportunity that moved me out of the sports environment and into a pure revenue role.

Pretty soon after accepting that role, I realized it wasn’t a passion for me. I knew if I continued to chase that opportunity and put passion into it that it would work out, but I wasn’t inspired by the role. I had accepted a job that was safe, but I didn’t feel passion for it.

If you do something that you are truly passionate about, the money will come.

The Lesson:

Soon after moving out of sports sales, I walked away from my corporate career. I didn’t have another job lined up, but I opted away from being cautious. I had less concern about job stability and more concern with doing something big and special, and really having an impact.

I started thinking, “How can I make this all meaningful and more fulfilling?”’ That’s when I made the move to be an entrepreneur with GroundSwell.

For those who can swing it, I recommend foregoing a couple of extra bucks in order to get the great experience. But, I also firmly believe that if you do something that you are truly passionate about, the money will come.

For example, early in my career, I didn’t have extraordinary skills, so I had to be persistent in pursuing what I wanted to achieve. I didn’t want to follow a traditional path to become a doctor or lawyer. I really wanted to be successful doing something that I loved.

So, I took a big risk and packed up all my things and moved to a different city to pursue a career in sports media. I sent out resume after resume and knocked on door after door, until I finally landed my first job in the industry. Staying focused on my passion paid off then, and it continues to do so today.

There has been a lot of hard work involved, but ultimately, I’ve been able to create my own channel…my own vision of what I wanted to accomplish. That’s what’s made it so much fun along the way. But, it only happened during the times that I was following my passion.

Follow Noel Wax on Twitter at @iamnwax.

Pictured: Noel Wax. | Photo courtesy of GroundSwell Group.

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