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Finding Your Passion

Call it passion, enthusiasm or fire in the belly--it's what energizes successful entrepreneurs. Here's how to unlock yours.

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This story appears in the March 2001 issue of HomeOfficeMag.com.

Marianne Szymanski discovered her passion as a young girl. "I've always loved children and believed in helping others," says Szymanski, the president of Toy Tips Inc., a consumer-focused international consulting firm in Milwaukee that tests toys based on appropriate age and skill development. "As a pre-teen, I enjoyed holding MDA [Muscular Dystrophy Association] carnivals in my backyard. I would donate my old toys as prizes and have games and go-cart rides set up to raise money for MDA. Sometimes I would raise [only] $32, but I was so proud to turn it in because that was the outcome of my little carnival."

Szymanski has since parlayed her passion into a thriving venture. The idea for Toy Tips came when she worked as a sales rep for LEGO, her first employer after graduating from college in 1989. Her job was to sell the LEGO line to toy store managers, but often when she would visit a store on a sales call, the customers would think she worked there and ask for advice in search of the best birthday or holiday gifts for their kids. "I'd usually try to sell them LEGOs or direct them to a store employee, but all those questions [from parents about what to look for in toys] piqued my interest," Szymanski recalls. "I was 23 and had a lot of determination and a Visa card, so I was willing to take the risk."

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