I had the good fortune to sit at the master’s feet recently. It was a lovely seat at the bar of genius mixologist Todd Maul. If you don’t know Todd, next time you find yourself in Boston make a reservation at Café Art Science in Cambridge. Phenomenal cuisine, mind stimulating cocktails. Todd’s approach to the cocktail arts is grounded in a passion to explore, to learn, to innovate. The bar itself is custom designed by Todd to flow like a haute cuisine kitchen. There are the hibachis to smoke herbs and exotic woods to capture their magic in the glass just before the pour of a luscious libation. There is the minus 40 ice which the mixologist smashes with a hammer breaking it into unique dimensions for every cocktail. Why -40 degree ice? Less melting to disrupt the perfectly balanced liquid elements. But then there’s the Thermo Scientific™ Sorvall™ centrifuge.

Yeah you read it right – a centrifuge. Why? Because Todd is always in search of new flavors, new ways to use them. He centrifuges spent wine and uses the separated paste to paint the inside of a cocktail glass before pouring a cocktail specifically designed to be enhanced by it. He clarifies lime juice to make the most pristine essence of lime for the ultimate gin gimlet. He takes ordinary ingredients and extracts flavors you taste for the first time, ever. Sure Todd could cruise through life being a good craft mixologist, but that isn’t Todd. It’s passion that drives him and propels me to his doorstep every chance I get.

So with the enhancement to the enjoyment of a craft and the resulting natural attraction that draws people in, why is passion such a rarity? You know the difference. The guys who show up, put in their time and do the job but aren’t interested in the pursuit of the new. No late nights or weekends experimenting, pushing themselves to learn, creating an innovative riff. There’s no love affair with the unexplored, a new approach, a different point of view. And that lack of love hurts the creative, planning and implementation process on whatever strategic marketing, advertising or learning project is being worked on.

If you’re one who hires teams, agencies or freelancers, hire for passion first. In my experience, passion is the key differentiator that makes a project rock and makes the team better in the process. If you find yourself without passion for what you do, find it and follow it. Life is a blink.