Passion Skills: Why Should You Work For Free?

Mike Peluso
10 min readAug 8, 2022

I recently did some spec work on a multimedia project. It wasn’t a little bit of work. In total I probably have about 120 to 180 hours in. At the time of this writing there is a better than average chance I won’t get paid for the work. I knew that was a possibility of course. I also knew that if I don’t get paid I’ll get some negative feedback from my wife, which most married men will tell you, never results in a pleasant evening. This isn’t the first time I’ve done something like this. In another aligned endeavor, I have been doing unpaid DJ and outdoor movie event gigs for a while. Where the commitment with the multimedia project was all about creation, the DJ and other event gigs really cost me more in equipment than they do in time and effort, although they do require a tremendous amount of both. I’ve never really thought about why I do this sort of stuff until the multimedia project fell apart after it was completed. I won’t deny I was a bit disheartened. There was a fair amount of money involved in the project, or I should say, I hoped would be involved with the project. Upon reflection I realized there were some things I would do differently but my actions would be mostly the same. I definitely would have still put in the hours even knowing it was probably going to be unpaid. I realized it was the same for all my other endeavors I don’t get a check for and that there were some common threads among them all.

Even before I start I want to get a couple of things out of the way. As they say in meetings I have some “housekeeping to go over” The first thing is about money. I like money, and when I say I like money, what I mean is that I like the security that money brings. I have several friends and family members who are very motivated by money. They get their high by having the most expensive watch, the nicest car or the biggest boat. They love being surrounded by things that represent their financial wins. That’s not what I think about when I say I like money. I like knowing that if the transmission falls out of the car, I have enough to fix it, or in a worse case scenario, buy a modest new car with cash. My motivation isn’t to have the nicest house, it’s to have a relatively nice house that’s paid for. Why do I share this? It is because of the natural outcome of this thinking. It aligns more to a financially defensive strategy. I think about…

Mike Peluso

Mike Peluso writes is about the collision between the professional world and life. Read more at or listen to the Peluso Presents Podcast