Passionate About Conversation

Here at Siouxland Magazine, we are passionate about conversation, action, and inspiration. Each issue, we strive to bring you stories that elevate you, prompt you to talk to others, act, and make an impact on the world around us. This year, we begin having a regular “Inspire Conversation” centered around the issue’s theme. The conversation will include responses from two Siouxlanders. If you or someone you know would like to be part of the conversation, reach out to us! 

This month, our conversation involves AJ Delfs and Erik Marto. AJ is Market Center Administrator for KW Siouxland and Erik is the owner of Marto Brewing. Both agreed to share their thoughts on passion.

Siouxland Magazine (SM): In your opinion, is there a difference between doing something as a hobby, having skill in a task, and having a passion for something? Why or why not?

AJ Delfs (AJ): I think there is certainly a difference between these things. For example, it may turn out that I’m skilled at, let’s say, hanging wallpaper, but if I don’t like doing it and have no desire to do it then that skill serves me no purpose. In this scenario I would probably also keep that skill to myself for fear that if other people knew about it, they’d ask me to do it – then I’m stuck between feeling bad for declining to help and agreeing to help but resenting it. In terms of hobby vs. passion, I think the two can coexist but aren’t necessarily exclusive. Hobbies are often associated with things that people do for fun, to fill time, or to create some extra income on the side, whereas passion I think infers an inner drive that compels a person to do something.

Erick Marto (EM): For me, they all played together. I started out doing something as a hobby, it turned into a passion and eventually evolved into a skill as I keep working on it and improving as much as I could. I saw the potential of learning more and wanting to be the best at it. Literally every second I had available, I was listening to podcasts and audiobooks to learn more. I would be mowing the lawn learning about brewing. It had evolved from a hobby to something I wanted to build a skill in doing because I was passionate about it.

SM: How have you discovered what you are passionate about?

EM: It just started with doing some home brewing for family and friends. Then I got interested in learning about different growing techniques, different recipes, and sharing that product with friends. It evolved as I started to enter competitions and eventually, I wrote a business plan, and it has become the center of my life. 

AJ: I think finding what you are passionate about is something that happens naturally over the course of your life. I try to experience new things that pique my interest, and the ones that I find joy or satisfaction in usually stick around while the others fall to the side. In my case, I have found, through trial and error, that I enjoy creating things – whether it be cooking, arts and crafts, furniture building, sewing, etc. However, over time I’ve realized my passion isn’t so much about the activity itself but the sense of satisfaction I get from creating something beautiful and the pride I get when I share it with others and it brings them joy.

SM: Describe how it feels to be engaged in your passion?

AJ: In a broad sense I feel my passion is making other people happy. So, while I enjoy the process of sewing – creating a beautiful 3D garment from flat raw materials – it is the act of sharing it with others that drives me to do it. If I were creating them and just stashing them in a closet, I think I would quickly lose my drive to do it. It is an admittedly selfish pursuit in that I do it for the happiness I get from seeing how excited others get over the finished product.

EM: It is good. Sometimes I get stressed about it, I’m a tough critic of my product. The potential of having an awesome product and wowing people is big. It is a balance between being nervous and knowing you can do it. The opportunity to keep trying new things is what keeps me most passionate. The variety and doing something new along with the tried and true. 

SM: I sometimes hear people say, I love to do X, but I don’t want to make it my career because I’m afraid I’ll lose the love of it. How do you respond to that?

EM: That’s something I still think about too. I knew there was market potential for a craft beer, and I just decided I didn’t want to look back with regret for not pursuing it when I saw it there. The things that you are worried about hurting your passion when you turn it into a business are the things that you’re not good at. It takes a lot of different skills to run a business. Find other people to do the things you aren’t good at. Build a good team with a good balance of checks and balances. For example – I’m not a chef, so I hired one to do the kitchen. Find people to compliment you and complete your team and you can keep your passion focused on the area you are good at.

AJ: This is a tricky one – I think when people say that it is often in reference to starting their own company in order to do this thing that they love, and I think that is where the fear stems from – and it’s a legitimate concern. If people are passionate about what they do I don’t think they lose their love for doing it; however, I think that love is often overshadowed by the additional work that goes into starting up and running a successful and profitable business. I don’t think that should be a deterrent for anyone looking to turn a hobby into a career. It’s just a reality that has to be taken into consideration.

SM: What advice do you have for people who do not know what their passion is?

AJ: Passion looks different for everyone and you get to define what it is for you. Often it is more abstract than people want it to be which is what I think makes it so hard to define. So, my best advice is to just keep trying new things and when you find it you’ll know it.

EM: Think about what you do, or try out new things at home or with friends. If you enjoy it, keep putting time into it. It does not have to turn into a business. It’s ok to keep doing something as a hobby. Just look for what you like to do, what do you want to learn more about, what gives you energy.  

Thank you to AJ and Erik for sharing their thoughts.  As you can see from the conversation, there is no one way to find and pursue your passion. 

I hope you are inspired to find your passion, pursue your passion, and share your passion. You can enjoy AJ’s passion through costumes at several high school madrigals and Sioux City Community Theatre productions, as well as his involvement in various non-profit activities. Erik’s passion for brewing can be shared by visiting Marto Brewing at 930 4th Street in Sioux City.

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