When Passion Turns to Profits

During my years in P&G, we used to have a saying: “Passion is worth +10 index points of growth.” We would see, time and time again, that assuming everything was the same, taking employees from being “just employees” to being “passionate employees” would lead to an extra +10 points of growth. Every time. And without investing in price cuts, more advertising, anything. Just passion. That’s the power of passion.

One can also see the power of passion when we see a business sprout and flourish from a personal passion that becomes commercialized. And nothing is more powerful.

There is no better example of this kind of passion than what we see right here in the Philippines, with a real inspiration and role model, Jaymie Pizarro, also affectionately known as “The Bull Runner.” It’s quite a wonderful story.

It all started when Jaymie was looking for an outlet to get back in shape after having her children. For ease, she turned to running and walking. And found the experience of going farther, and faster, to be exhilarating. So as an outlet for her activity, she started blogging about it. Being a graphic designer by training (and an outstanding one, at that!) she developed the moniker “The Bull Runner” and a distinctive logo, and filled a need — speaking to moms about staying in shape. And talking to average runners about average runner’s problems! After all, we always hear about how the Olympians feel about things, but what about the casual runner? Jaymie filled a void and filled it well.

Her blog was a joy, not a business. She was able to talk of her triumphs and trepidations, and share her story. But it soon grew.

The blog soon became one of the highest-rated blogs in the Philippines, with tens of thousands of visitors each month. With this came advertising on her blog! Soon you could see running shoes and running accessories, all being advertised online!

The blog morphed into a monthly newsletter. Between the two, Jaymie became one of the leading voices of a fast-growing Filipino running community. She was asked to test and endorse products. And this eventually led into her biggest endeavor of all — organizing races, including the marquee event, “The Bull Runner Dream Marathon.”

This race started off as a brainstorming session on my couch in Alabang in the summer of 2009. We wanted to organize a race purely for beginning marathoners. All marathons cater to “fast” runners, but what about the beginners, who are the backbone of the running industry? This means a race designed for beginners. We would lead them every step of the way to meeting their dream. From a simple training plan, to lecture sessions and motivational tips, culminating in a race that takes every factor into account — lots of water and aid stations, support along the way, liberal finishing standards — it would be the only race of its kind in the world. Designed solely for beginners!

This race, of which the fourth edition was just this past weekend, has become an institution in the Philippines. Its nearly 1,000 slots are filled up now within 30 minutes of opening registration! Alumni come back each year to “give back” and help the new batchmates finish. Runner after runner confesses to having a lifetime experience. One runner just wrote to me: “Now I am a different woman. I am stronger, more confident, and I know I can achieve anything I set my mind to.” Wow. This is changing lives.

I might be able to say I am co-founder, but Jaymie made this race happen. She made it great. It was all her passion that took an idea to reality.

In a positive sense, you can say The Bull Runner is an empire of sorts. She has a leading online blog. A magazine. Races under The Bull Runner banner. It’s a thriving business that has turned from passion to profits. And nothing is better deserved.

And like any good business, it goes well beyond profits to improving life. And what a rich legacy Jaymie is leaving. Every year thousands of new runners find health and satisfaction, knowing that they, too, can run. It’s a great source of inspiration and information. When you look at the boom in runners in the Philippines in the past decade, know Jaymie Pizarro is the godmother of this movement!

Follow your passion. You never know where it may take you. But one thing is for sure, you will never be wrong.