Finding Your Passion By Throwing Pasta

The following is a guest post from Future Buzz community member Molly Ford.

I write Smart Pretty and Awkward, which is a blog with three pieces of advice in each post: How to be Smarter, How to be Prettier, and How to be (less) Awkward. One of the benefits of having an online outlet is that readers reach out to you asking for your advice. A topic that comes up a lot in emails I get from readers is “how do I find out what I’m passionate about? how did you get lucky with your Smart Pretty and Awkward idea?”

What I generally say to this question is an explanation of the concept of spaghetti throwing. It’s a phrase used in business to mean testing out a lot of different ideas by throwing them against the wall and seeing what sticks. This is also an age-old method of seeing if pasta is done by throwing it against the wall to see if it will stick. If it sticks, it’s done cooking.

Smart Pretty and Awkward is not the first piece of spaghetti I’ve thrown again the wall.

Prior to the blog, throughout college, I tried various online and offline businesses. The two funniest involved a very expensive pin-making machine and an eBay business that only resold plus-size clothing. The pin business was called Pinnacle Pins, and the idea was that I would make buttons for campus organizations or local small businesses promoting sales, events or their business in general. (Johnny Cupcakes, if anyone is familiar, had just burst onto Newbury Street in Boston and their pins were fairly popular among the Boston hipster scene). This idea actually could have worked, because I did get some interest when I did very low-level advertising, if it wasn’t for how bad I was at operating the pin-making machine I had bought online. It would take me, like, 10 minutes a pin, and I was averaging 1 out of 2 being total mess-ups.

The second, an eBay business was called Raspberry Milk (why I chose that name is a mystery to me now, I think Strawberry Milk, my first choice, was taken). This was built around the idea that it was generally the larger sizes of clothes left on sale racks, so if I bought the larger items on sale, I could resell them with the tags still on for near full-price on eBay, profiting the difference between the sale price and the original price. The eBay business crashed and burned when I realized I hated: 1. shopping for clothes that weren’t meant for me to wear; 2. taking pictures of the clothes (I’m not a big photography person and I had the world’s worst digital camera); and 3. going to the post office to mail the items, which is pretty much the three main steps associated with the business model.

So, in any case, when people ask how I got “lucky” thinking up SP&A, I think back to the Friday night my (very cool) roommate was coming home from the bar and brought a group of people home with her, and I was sitting at our kitchen table at 2am operating this massive (it was comically large) pin machine because I had an order of 50 buttons due for this local business.

I didn’t really get lucky, I just tried throwing a million different strands of pasta against the wall, and the blogging strand was the one that stuck. One day I got the idea to start a blog, just like I had gotten ideas for the other two businesses above, I started writing down post ideas that night, and got the domain name a week later. I honestly thought the blog would just be a flash in the pan, just something else I would try, but after a month or so I realized how much I was liking it and just kept writing. That was in 2008, and here I am, still at it.

You never know what idea could end up being your passion. And the only way to really figure out which one of your ideas is a keeper is to throw a lot of spaghetti against the wall. Explore every single little idea that crosses you mind is a strand waiting for you to throw. Now go out there and see what sticks!

Molly Ford is a 26-year-old New Yorker who works in corporate online marketing. She writes the blog Smart, Pretty and Awkward, and can also be found on Twitter.

image credit: Shutterstock