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Why one CEO tells young people that 'do what you love' is bad advice

Ben Chestnut
Source: MailChimp
Ben Chestnut

Chances are, you've been told to "do what you love" at one point in your life.

Ben Chestnut, CEO of email marketing service MailChimp, says young people should forget that popular piece of career advice.

"It should be, 'Love what you do,'" the CEO told Adam Bryant of The New York Times. "Take the job, learn to live in the moment and love it, master it, and doors will open for you if you're good at what you do. Turn it into a passion if you can."

It worked for Chestnut, who grew MailChimp from a fun side project into a company with 500 employees and 12 million users.

When the Georgia Tech industrial design major was applying for a web designer position, during the interview he realized his résumé had gone to the wrong person.

"I was talking to the head of the marketing group, and the job was to be a banner-ad designer, not a website designer," he explained.

Chestnut not only landed the job he took it with little hesitation.

"I really needed a job, and I found out it paid $3,000 more than the web design job," he told Bryant. "I said, 'I'll take it.' It wasn't my passion, but I figured I'd learn to love it."

He did just that, and ended up designing nearly 2,000 banner ads over the next two years before eventually launching his email marketing platform, MailChimp, in 2001.