Careers

Eddie Huang: Most successful people would do their job for free

We may tend to assume that the most talented people in the world are also the highest-paid. But Eddie Huang says that truly successful people would probably work for free.

"If you meet anyone who's good at what they do," Huang told CNBC Make It at OZY Fest, "they're extremely passionate, they're crazy O.C.D. detailed about it, and they would probably do it for free. They would probably do it even if it wasn't their job."

On the other hand, says Huang, "The people that are bad at something are the ones that do it because it's their job."

Eddie Huang
Maarten de Boer | Getty Images
Eddie Huang

Apple CEO Tim Cook has made similar statements in the past. When receiving an honorary degree from The University of Glasgow, he told students, "My advice to all of you is, don't work for money — it will wear out fast, or you'll never make enough and you will never be happy."

Instead, the tech titan urged students to follow their passions, saying, "You have to find the intersection of doing something you're passionate about and at the same time something that is in the service of other people."

Huang seems to agree, arguing, "I think it's very important to stick to things you genuinely have a passion for and have been working on for a large portion of your life."

Eddie Huang
Melodie Jeng | Getty Images
Eddie Huang

Huang has applied this mentality to his own successful career. He explains that he has never made a professional decision because it was popular or prudent. Instead, he has chosen to follow what he is truly passionate about — and as a writer, restaurateur and television personality, he has a lot of passions.

"Writing was always my hobby and my passion. I always loved it," he says. "I was always cooking. I just loved food."

By remaining devoted to both of these pursuits, Huang has built multiple successful careers at the same time. "As I was cooking I never stopped writing. As I was writing I never stopped cooking," he says.

While being both a talented writer and a skilled chef were key to the success of his television career, Huang says that he didn't choose to write or cook because he wanted fame and fortune.

"I don't do it because someone paid me or someone told me to," he says. "I do it because I love this."

Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook

Don't miss:
Samantha Bee: Want to be more productive? Work less
The mentality that scored James Harden a $228 million extension: 'Just keep going'
Malcolm Gladwell: There are no shortcuts to success—here's what will up your chances