For young people facing a competitive economy, it’s tempting to learn a skill and build a career around a “safe” job, rather than following their passion. But the “safe” route may actually be the risky one, according to a new book by Larry SmithNo Fears, No Excuses: What You Need to Do to Have a Great Career.

Smith is an adjunct associate professor with the Department of Economics and with the Conrad Centre at the University of Waterloo, whose Tedx Talk - Why you will fail to have a great career - has more than 4.8 million views. In his new book, Smith argues that young people who choose what they perceive as a safe career path, risk losing their job because they can’t compete with people who are passionately engaged in the field.

“I have not encountered a single student who had great skill who did not also have passion for the field of battle. Not one. And I say that after teaching 23,000 students.

“Passion’s link to innovative skill is clear. Passion brings an intensity of focus that effort, discipline, and persistence cannot match,” writes Smith in the book launched in April.

University of Waterloo economics professor and author Larry SmithWatch sold-out Larry Smith event LIVE

On May 17th, the University of Waterloo is hosting a special event celebrating Smith's successful TEDx Talk, and book release and the accomplishments of Waterloo’s graduates. The event is sold out but you can watch it on Facebook LIVE beginning at 4 pm. It will include a candid conversation between Smith and University of Waterloo President and Vice-Chancellor Feridun Hamdullahpur.

Smith’s book is already receiving 5-star reviews on where it is being called “A provocative new approach to discovering your true calling in life and achieving not just a good career, but a great one.”

In his chapter on pursuing useful skills and “safe” jobs, Smith highlights the four arguments, often shared by well-meaning parents, that put young people at risk of pursuing mediocre jobs:

  1. Every passionate career needs a back plan.
  2. The current market demands high skills, not passion!
  3. You’re wasting your time looking for passion when you should just be doing something!
  4. If you develop great skill, then your passion will follow.

On the contrary, Smith argues that while skill matters . . . “it is not the starting place for the best use of talent. Passion is, and passion makes the highest skills possible.”