Vince Spinnato: World-Class Cosmetic Chemist

Vince Spinnato

Who is Vince Spinnato? While he might not be a household name, many of us who enjoy the finer things in life will easily recognize him. One of the most renowned cosmetic chemists in the world, Spinnato has created beauty products like color cosmetics, perfumes, and colognes for celebrity clients all over the world, including people like Jessica Simpson and Michael Jordan. Spinnato maintains his own lines of skin-care products and other cosmetics but also lends his expertise to big-name private-label cosmetic companies. Soon, Spinnato’s magnum opus – the Judy Garland fragrance – will be hitting the market. In short, even if you haven’t heard of Vince Spinnato, chances are you’ve worn or smelled his work.

With more than two decades of industry experience under his belt, Spinnato is one of the world’s foremost experts on cosmetic chemistry. He is a “certified nose,” which means that his nose – his ability to discern fragrances and understand them in a way most of us can only dream about – is literally certified and protected. His expertise has even allowed him to work with a colorectal surgeon to develop a hemorrhoid product that has spared countless people from having to undergo painful and unpleasant surgery. It has also given him the opportunity to contribute to publications such as Vanity Fair and Esquire; he has even written a book about his career and his life’s journey. But while he is a massively successful entrepreneur, Spinnato’s success isn’t an overnight story. He’s worked hard and overcome mountains of adversity to get where he is today.

June 2022 Cover of MP featuring Vince Spinnato
Vince Spinnato on the cover of MP Issue 6: Monetization

Young, Restless, and Driven: Vince Spinnato’s Early Years

Some people achieve their fame or fortune through birthright or inheritance. Others seem to fall into their success. But like the rest of us, Spinnato wasn’t born into fame and fortune or placed on a gilded path to success. His story begins on the Jersey Shore, where he was born into an ordinary middle-class family. From the beginning, Spinnato was wired a little differently from his peers. While other kids were out roughhousing or playing games, Spinnato was inside watching classic soap operas like “The Young & The Restless” and “Dynasty” with his grandmother. The high-class, glamorous lifestyles portrayed on these shows were deeply appealing to Spinnato, who says he always felt that his destiny belonged on the soaps, not in an ordinary Jersey Shore household. It might seem like such an epiphany could cause a sense of resentment to develop, but Spinnato’s desire for a different lifestyle wasn’t based on a feeling of entitlement. He understood that the shows were fiction and bore little resemblance to reality and he felt no bitterness about the life he was given. Spinnato enjoyed a mutually loving relationship with his family – even when his mother accidentally taped over the “Dynasty” season finale. 

Spinnato’s appreciation for the finer things in life may have been accelerated by his mother’s business. While other moms on the Jersey Shore stayed home with the kids or worked ordinary jobs, Spinnato’s mother ran her own company, a wedding-planning business. This provided Spinnato with an interesting cross-sectional view of life: his day-to-day family life was perfectly ordinary, but his mother’s business brought the family into frequent close contact with the formal wear, intense planning, and the attention to beauty and detail associated with the wedding industry. As time went on, Spinnato’s mother grew her business to include catering, florists, and even a limo service. Since the family couldn’t afford a superfluous luxury vehicle, his mom traded her daily driver for the limo. This meant that Spinnato got to ride the limousine to and from school and other events, which let him experience some of the trappings of the lifestyle he desired while remaining firmly grounded in reality.

Modern Professional
Photo courtesy of Vince Spinnato

Passion Over Practicality

Despite knowing that his aspirations were not practical, Spinnato was driven to make the impractical world of the soap-opera tycoon into his own lifestyle. Just because something isn’t practical doesn’t mean it is devoid of value. Life doesn’t have to be practical all the time. A $20 Timex tells time just as well as a $10,000 Breitling, yet luxury watchmakers are doing just fine. As time wound on and he grew out of his school years, Spinnato faced a choice. Should he follow the crowd, forget his passion, and live an ordinary life in the cubicle farms of Manhattan or the retail shops of the Jersey Shore? Or should he set his sights on his passion and follow wherever it led him?

While the vast masses of men are content to sacrifice their dreams for a little comfort, Spinnato knew that he had to follow his passion. If he couldn’t be a captain of industry in cosmetics, he would die trying. In his mind, there was no second-best option, no backup plan, no fail-safe. Working in some random office job or compromising on his passion was not compatible with his vision. Most people are willing to make compromises in the name of practicality. How many of us let go of our dreams for practical reasons? How many of us decided that that career in music or art or geology just wasn’t going to pay the bills, and closed the door on our dreams to afford the comforts of a normal life? Look around you and ask yourself how many people are really living a life driven by passion. The disgruntled IT guy, the machiavellian middle-manager, the salty front-line customer service rep…most of us are living lives of compromise, idly imagining our dreams while absent-mindedly building lives that will never allow us to realize them. Spinnato had zero interest in living that kind of life. To this day, he maintains that he’d rather go destitute than settle.

So how do you follow your passion and actualize those dreams? How can one escape from the prison of compromises that modern existence has become? A brief web search will bring you to dozens of self-styled gurus, advice-givers, and inspirational speakers whose panaceas often require the purchase of books, classes, or other materials – which definitely helps fund their lifestyle, but may prove less useful when it comes to your own. Spinnato dispenses with the complex guru-isms and provides a simpler answer: you’re either born with a willingness to take the risks and chase the rewards, or you’re not.

In the age of empowerment and self-realization, it might seem absurd to say something like that. We as a society dislike the idea of predestination because of the philosophical implications, but what Spinnato says is valid. Entrepreneurship, building a life around your passion, requires a willingness to take massive risks. Whether you’re founding a landscaping company, a tech firm, or a niche legal services company, starting up a new enterprise requires you to take risks that ordinary people might not be willing to take. You’re not going to get a guaranteed paycheck with benefits every two weeks when you start a new company. You’re going to have to figure a lot of things out, and if you don’t, you risk failure. But if you want to get paid to follow your passion, Spinnato says, you have to roll the dice. The fact is that not everybody can stomach the long odds of entrepreneurial success.

This hesitancy to take a risk is just part of human nature. Humans are wired with something that scientists call “negativity bias.” This is our tendency to put more weight on a possible negative outcome than a possible positive outcome when we are making decisions. This cognitive mechanism is likely a survival instinct from the dawn of time. After all, from an evolutionary biology standpoint, an organism that rolls the dice and loses does not pass the dice-rolling genes to another generation. In the context of entrepreneurship, a massive percentage of startups fail. For most people, the risk of chasing their dreams is simply too great.

Modern Professional
Photo courtesy of Vince Spinnato

If You Want Extraordinary Results, You Must Do Extraordinary Things

In Spinnato’s mind, the risks of not following his passion were much higher than the risks of diving in. We all dream of living a plush lifestyle, but if you want extraordinary results, you can’t just do ordinary things. Most of us follow one prescribed path or another: we go to a generic four-year college and get a generic job, we go to trade school, or we go to work for someone else. These are all perfectly valid pathways, and if you’re not the kind of person who has a serious passion for something, they can probably be quite fulfilling. But when you are consumed by passion, when you have a deeply-rooted internal desire to achieve a specific outcome or do a specific thing, the ordinary workaday life is not going to be good enough for you. A passionate person trying to thrive in the soul-sucking world of the modern workplace is going to wither and die on the vine.

Vince Spinnato faced real struggles in the pursuit of his passion. He didn’t get a legacy scholarship to an Ivy League school; he didn’t get to work at daddy’s company. His success was not handed to him. Spinnato has faced struggles and challenges beyond those most of us can imagine. He has a variety of learning disabilities that he has struggled with for his entire life. He did not ace the SATs or show huge promise as a student. And yet, when it came time to choose his path after high school, he set his sights on Dickinson, a highly-selecting junior-Ivy college. Pursuing his education at Dickinson seemed, to Spinnato, like an excellent way to begin his journey to fame and fortune.

Unfortunately for him, Dickinson did not agree. The college rejected his application multiple times, but Spinnato – driven by passion – was persistent. No, it seemed to him, was an answer that would derail his plans, and he was not going to go down without a fight. Since the ordinary channels were not working for him, he decided to do something extraordinary. After multiple rejections from his dream school, Spinnato hopped in his car and drove to the college, where he simply walked into the college president’s office. There, he spoke to the president at length about why he should be admitted to Dickinson. The president, either awed by Spinnato’s passion or worn down by his stubbornness, eventually agreed to accept Spinnato at the college, although not without reservations. For whatever reason, the president made it a point to inform Spinnato that his was the lowest SAT score ever accepted by Dickinson.

Regardless, once he was on campus, Spinnato thrived. While not working on his studies, he would drive into New York City and cold-call cosmetics companies, talking to whoever would give him an audience. His hustle and passion got him noticed by his peers, and Spinnato ended up becoming his class president, and later, student body president. For a time, it seemed that Spinnato was on a solid trajectory at Dickinson. Unfortunately, however, not everyone at Dickinson was happy to see Spinnato – a gay man – enjoying success and flourishing socially. In his second year at Dickinson, Spinnato was brutally assaulted by homophobic students in an attack so vicious it put him in the hospital. This incident was an inflection point for Spinnato. After being released from the hospital, he decided not to return to Dickinson. He got into his car and pointed the nose west, eventually landing in Phoenix.

Starting Over

With no real plan and dwindling resources, Spinnato was at a crossroads. He had been battered and traumatized after working for years to get where he was. His plans of graduating from Dickinson and moving up in the world had been shattered. He was in a strange place and unsure of his next move. For many of us, a situation like Spinnato’s would be disorienting, perhaps crushing. Drill instructors and others who instill resilience into people often say that when everything has completely fallen apart, your plans have been wrecked, and your world is upside down and chaotic, you really learn who you are. Some of us would wither away in the face of such circumstances, fading into a passable but inauthentic life. Others would give up entirely, adrift on the cruel winds of the world. But Vince Spinnato, driven by his passion and his deep, authentic vision, persisted. While in Phoenix, he picked up a copy of “Harper’s Bazaar”and read a story about a rising cosmetics company in Los Angeles called Kitchen Cosmetics. In a flash of inspiration, he called Kitchen Cosmetics from Phoenix and informed them that he was an aspiring cosmetic chemist and that he’d be reporting for duty Monday morning. The company demurred, insisting that they weren’t hiring and didn’t need him. When Spinnato showed up the following Monday, they were absolutely not expecting to see him again: when he knocked on the door, the company’s owner said “You’re really here?”

As it turned out, Kitchen Cosmetics did not have a paid position available for Spinnato, a problem that he solved by working for free. “I worked for free for her for two years, which is where the debt comes from,” Spinnato explains. With his passion for cosmetic chemistry driving him ever onward, he worked hard and proved his value, but at a steep financial cost. To finance his lifestyle while working for free, he lived off his credit cards, a decision that led him deep into debt. And even though he was living on credit, he didn’t live a simple life of rice and beans. Spinnato drove a BMW, lived in a chic apartment, and treated himself well. “At that time, I was still very young. I thought I had to have all the showy stuff,” he explains. It’s easy to understand where this idea comes from: people say to dress for success, and it would then follow that if you want to be a tycoon, you should live like a tycoon. Hindsight, however, reveals that his obsession with a certain lavish lifestyle was perhaps not the right choice. “You couldn’t be any unhealthier if you tried,” he says of his early materialism.

When things began to get bad, Spinnato sought paid work, any work that would bring in some income. But he struggled with the confining nature of modern corporate expectations, where people enjoy less free time than the average medieval peasant. When interviewers told him work began at 8, he would patiently explain to them that nine was better. Dress codes? A tie? Spinnato did not understand why any forward-thinking modern business would create such a claustrophobic lifestyle for their workers. He simply refused to comply with the absurd expectations of his bosses. This, he tells us, is an ingrained trait: “I’m just so insubordinate. I’ve always been that way, and I’m really good at it.”

Vince Spinnato
Photo courtesy of Vince Spinnato

The Power of Insubordination

The term “insubordination” has a negative connotation, but let’s re-frame the concept. Sure, insubordination can be a direct action like refusing to follow orders or refusing to comply with a policy, and this kind of insubordination generally has predictable results: you’ll be disciplined or fired for daring not to submit to authority. In today’s world where knowledge and power are considered more democratic, insubordination might be better framed as the act of challenging authority. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many workers learned that – contrary to what they had been told for years – their jobs could be done, and done effectively, online. We learned that many workers can do their jobs just as well in their underpants and a t-shirt as in a suit and tie. Tech companies have long challenged these realities, letting employees do things like bring dogs to work or take naps on the clock. But for most office workers, companies have continued to mandate the same, tired, 1950s-style nonsense about being at your desk, in a specific outfit, at a specific time, regardless of the actual need for those trappings. When the pandemic came and overturned reality, people learned that many of the assumptions we take for granted are, in fact, deeply flawed and not in touch with the real world. Spinnato, who declined to participate in the shared delusions of the traditional workforce, was simply ahead of his time.

More than surface-level assumptions, some modern philosophers and thinkers believe that large swathes of the business world are running on shared delusions and are little more than tiny, suit-and-tie-wearing fiefdoms. David Graeber, author of the fabulously titled book “Bullshit Jobs: A Theory,” hypothesizes that many modern jobs have little or no real purpose or meaning to them and exist solely to pad the roster of self-important middle managers who feel threatened by technology. In many cases, these jobs exist solely to produce a product or service for internal customers who do not want or need the product or service. Many of us have likely encountered people whose entire jobs can be automated out of existence or simply discontinued with little to no real impact on anything meaningful. We’ve all been in long meetings that seemed to serve no real purpose other than letting one person of dubious value ramble on for an hour about topics of little interest. When you are a person driven by a passion, a person who wants to find personal meaning and satisfaction in your work, you will not thrive in the wasteland of the absurd that is the modern office. Arguably, Vince Spinnato is not insubordinate as much as he is a visionary with a clear idea of how things should be. When you frame your work life around a purpose and ask how specific policies and ideas serve that purpose, managers and flunkies feel threatened because you are questioning the fabric of their version of reality.

This is not to say that you should march into your boss’ office wearing a Hawaiian shirt and explain that your new hours are 10-2 on alternating weekdays. But there is value in questioning assumptions and pushing back on the status quo. Is it strictly necessary for everyone to be in the office all the time? Is mandating a suit and tie really adding any value to the business? Is that daily production report actually valuable? Is the boss’ idea a good one?

Questions like these are especially valuable for passion-driven entrepreneurs. When you are building your empire and starting your business, do you want to build an enterprise that is focused on meaningful business goals? Or do you want to build a stodgy, old-fashioned firm that wastes time and money on pointless tasks that make your middle managers feel good? When you’re pouring your heart and soul into your business, when you’re following your purpose wherever it takes you, don’t be distracted by the bullshit that modern businesses love to propagate.

To be fair, there are administrative, legal, and business tasks that need to be done to operate in any modern economy. Before he had any assets, clients, or resources, Spinnato incorporated his first company, which he named Turnkey after his mother’s wedding-planning business. While he is willing to eschew the silly frivolities of corporate life, he understands that businesses have to operate in a very real legal and economic environment that requires certain business structures to be in place. Crucially, Spinnato understands that customers are savvy to this reality as well. If you’re starting your own business and following your passion, you will need to establish a business on paper to be seen as legitimate. “Don’t lie or be deceitful, but you do have to make it real first before you can bring anything in,” Spinnato says.

Attention to real-world details like incorporation is crucial, but don’t get sucked down the rabbit hole of business-speak and self-important faux-meaningful tasks that define so many workplaces. Focus on what adds value to the business and the customer. Focus on your purpose. Sometimes, bullshit makes the flowers grow, but sometimes it’s just a steaming pile of dung. Being able to discern the difference between the two is critical. Spending eight hours a day in a cube was not going to fertilize any of Spinnato’s flowers.

Get Weird

Challenging the status quo and practicing a little bit of healthy insubordination are essential practices for any modern entrepreneur. But if you really want to chase your passion, to take things to the next level, you have to be willing to get a little weird. You have to be willing to push boundaries, negotiate hard, and do things that normal people might find a little suspicious. Spinnato, for example, once crashed a funeral. While he was still working for free, the actor Jimmy Stewart passed away. On his lunch break, Spinnato snuck into the funeral parlor through the back door and mingled with the Old Hollywood elite. He met people like Bob Hope and Ann Miller, who evidently never questioned him about why he was there or how he got in. To be clear, Spinnato was respectful – when we say he crashed a funeral, he didn’t charge in like a bull and make a scene as much as sneak in to participate. But this risky (some might say weird) maneuver allowed him to cultivate new contacts. While he was leaving, the famed actress Lauren Bacall tapped him on the shoulder and asked what scent he was wearing. This soon evolved into the two agreeing to meet for lunch; Spinnato, still living on credit, took the bus to The Ivy and dined at a five-star establishment with a Hollywood celebrity – all while working for free and making sacrifices to build his name and his business. Spinnato’s willingness to get a little weird helped him network and build remarkable life experiences.

To be clear, we’re not encouraging you to crash a celebrity funeral. But cultivating a willingness to push the limits and get a little weird will help you follow your passion. Talk to people. Start conversations, be inquisitive. Talk your way into meetings with business partners, lenders, or investors. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and own your ideas. Be open about your passion and what you’re hoping to achieve. Too often, we let ourselves be governed by the invisible pressures of social norms and expectations, but the very concept of entrepreneurship is to break free from the shackles of other people’s ideas and do your own thing.

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

Hunter S. Thompson

A Passion, Realized

Living on credit and working for free was a risky choice, but without risk, there is no reward. Entrepreneurship and passion are inherently risky. Unless you are willing to fail forward and take chances, you’re never going to actualize your dreams. Spinnato’s early days at Kitchen Cosmetics were a huge gamble – and one that left him with significant debt – but they eventually paid off. His networking got him into a party, where he made the acquaintance of Beverly Sassoon. This chance contact led to his first celebrity collaboration. The two launched a hair-care product together, and just like that, Spinnato’s career as a cosmetic chemist took off. Word of mouth spreads fast in Hollywood, and before long, Spinnato was working with prominent celebrities to produce custom fragrances and self-care products. After years of sacrifice and hard work, Spinnato went from working for free and living on debt to working with people like Jennifer Lopez, Michael Jordan, and Victoria Beckham.

Spinnato’s ability to cultivate celebrity clients isn’t due to slick marketing, social campaigns, or influencing. Spinnato’s celebrity clientele heard about him through word of mouth. Unlike many people, he was not out to try and make a quick buck or leverage celebrity attention for personal gain: he was doing what he loved. Spinnato does not half-ass his work. He does not phone it in. He does everything in an earnest and sincere manner and holds himself to a very high standard. When you love what you do and do the best you possibly can at it, people notice. Passion shows, and it is impossible to fake it. Spinnato’s passion for cosmetic chemistry has brought him fame and fortune because he followed it with a ruthless, single-minded determination. He did not compromise, he did not look back, and he did not give up: he followed his passion even when it led him in unexpected directions. His willingness to live an authentic life, a life true to his desires, has made him the man he is.

Vince Spinnato
Photo courtesy of Vince Spinnato

Certified Nose: Advanced Olfactory Discernment

As Spinnato’s fame and prominence as a cosmetic chemist grew, so too did the need to protect one of his most valuable assets: his nose. Spinnato is not just randomly combining essential oils and aromas like some mad scientist. His work is guided by an in-depth understanding of hard sciences like organic chemistry and by a lifetime of practice and training. The process of becoming a certified nose is, says Spinnato, very much like that of becoming a sommelier. Instead of training his palate to taste wine, he trained his olfactory organs to detect scents. Anybody can smell a perfume, but most of us can’t pick apart the individual delicate fragrances that make a specific smell what it is. There are dozens of complex notes that define a fragrance, and each of those specific notes comes from a different source. Further complicating things, the way that source chemicals interact can affect the way that a product is received by the nose. Anyone can buy some essential oils and try to put together a nice cologne or aftershave, but there is a difference between a basic smell and the complex, well-defined fragrances that comprise high-end cosmetics, much like the difference between gas-station wine and a 2016 Chateau Pape Clement Pessac-Leognan.

Most of us will never become a Certified Nose like Spinnato, but anybody can develop their palate. Spinnato says that those who wish to understand fragrances and perfumery better should begin by smelling things attentively. Find a fragrance, smell it, and smell it again. Think about what you are perceiving: what are the different notes? What does it remind you of? Dissect the scents and consider them again and again. Like any organ, your nose thrives on use; the more you use it to attentively smell things, the better it will become. Spinnato’s understanding of how smells work together is not something that can be shared through a book or an article; you can distill the lovely smell of a hibiscus flower or the peppery aroma of a petit shiraz into words on a page, but the true essence of an aroma must be perceived by the nose to be understood. This is true in any business: the more you do something, the better you get at it. Be willing to learn and grow. Smell that new scent, think about it, and smell it again. How can you make it better, what should you add or take away?

Honoring a Legacy: Vince Spinnato and Judy Garland

Vince Spinnato has worked with countless celebrities and cosmetics firms to produce everything from perfume to dog products, and he’s not done yet. His most recent project is a fragrance in honor of the legendary actress Judy Garland. This is a high-stakes project for Spinnato. Garland’s family approached Spinnato instead of other cosmetic chemists because of his reputation. Spinnato’s famous nose is only part of his recipe for success: clients come to him because he takes his work seriously in a way that major firms often don’t. People who work with Spinnato don’t just get a new fragrance in a generic bottle, but rather, a thoughtfully designed custom product that is produced to evoke specific emotions. His reputation for excellence and his refusal to compromise his integrity make him an ideal cosmetic chemist for people who want to guard their legacy.

It was for those reasons that the Garland estate approached Vince Spinnato. With Ms. Garland’s 100th birthday rapidly approaching, they wanted to produce a perfume that would honor her memory. And while there is no shortage of cosmetics firms who would love to have access to Judy Garland’s name, her estate wanted to work with a chemist who would produce something that was custom-tailored to what Ms. Garland would have wanted to wear. They didn’t want to work with a multinational conglomerate that would make the fragrance by committee: they wanted to work with a person who would treat the project with the gravitas and personal touches it deserves. They wanted someone who was passionate about their own work as well as the work of Judy Garland, and Vince Spinnato is the perfect fit. Throughout the design process, he has taken pains to include the family, meeting with them frequently to update them on progress and gather feedback on their ideas.

Pressure and Doubt: Can I Do This?

Working with celebrity clients is always somewhat stressful. Big-name people have worked hard to achieve the level of recognition and fame that they enjoy, and as such, it is imperative that their names not be tarnished by suboptimal products. Even if your business doesn’t touch celebrities or big-name clients, the average entrepreneur wants to make their business as close to perfect as possible, which naturally leads to high standards, high pressure, and often, self-doubt. Spinnato, who is working with the family of one of the biggest celebrities of the 20th century, acknowledges that despite his drive and passion, he sometimes worries. In fact, any entrepreneur who isn’t at least a little bit worried about what they’re doing should probably check themselves. Spinnato says, “If you’re not scared or having doubts then you’re being too ballsy.” This is sound advice for two reasons.

First, if you’re not having any doubt or uncertainty at all, you’re probably a little bit stagnant. If you want to grow your business and turn that passion into profit, you need to be pushing the limits at least a little bit. But is your business really at maturity? Is it where you want it to be deep down inside? If the answer is no, you’re not done yet. Keep pushing and keep growing.

Second, the absence of doubt is not the same as the absence of problems. Plenty of people have marched confidently into bankruptcy or failure because they didn’t take a realistic approach. Even if you’re confident in your business acumen, you should constantly be questioning and re-evaluating what it is that you do. Is there a new technology that provides a better way to achieve your tasks? Are there changes or trends in the market that you need to watch? Pilots (good pilots, anyway) often say that complacency kills. When you stop running checklists, stop paying attention, and get too cocky, you’re providing an opportunity for fate to catch you with your pants down. A little bit of self-doubt can be a valuable self-preservation mechanism.

While a little bit of doubt is valuable, a lot of doubt can be paralyzing. How can you balance the need for rational reflection against the danger of “analysis paralysis?” Spinnato says that the answer is to acknowledge the risk and then take it. Roll the dice. Maybe you’ll win and maybe you’ll lose, but ask yourself: what do I really have to lose? A pedestrian office job? A commute? A steady paycheck? The entrepreneurial journey is fraught with risk, but if you can’t accept that following your passion is risky, you’re consigning yourself to a lifetime of Sisyphean work. For some people, that’s okay. Others prefer to set their own destiny regardless of the odds. You’re going to struggle; you might fail. The alternative is to not try – but that kind of failure is far more bitter than the kind you earn.

Overcoming Adversity

Despite the hard-charging advice to just dive in and do it, it’s important to acknowledge that there are often real-life struggles that will affect your pursuit of passion. We all come from different backgrounds and have different struggles. Spinnato is no stranger to overcoming adversity. Indeed, between the attack he suffered in college, his years of free labor, and his lifelong struggles with learning disabilities, he has faced real-world challenges that many of us will never have to endure. One of Spinnato’s challenges has been his struggle with trichotillomania, a rare, stress-induced condition that causes people to pull out their hair, which can be distressing for many reasons. With treatment, conditions like trichotillomania, ADHD, and depression can be removed from your path to let you continue, but the first step to conquering any problem is to admit that you need help. Just as there’s no shame in hiring professionals to help with your accounting or legal needs, there’s no shame in hiring professionals to help you with mental health struggles or physical challenges. A good therapist can help you and your startup thrive.

Five Tips to Monetizing Your Passion

We can’t all be Vince Spinnato. His unique combination of a burning passion for his work, tenacity, and brainpower have led him to great success. But we can all find a way to monetize our passion, to do what we love and find a way to make money doing it. While everybody is going to have a different path, there are five key steps we can all follow to take our passion to the next level and live our dreams.

Acknowledge It

Before you can engage with your passion, you have to acknowledge it. We are all victims of the constraints of society. It’s easy to set aside your passion out of a fear that others won’t understand you. But the truth is, most people won’t understand you anyway. Unless your passion is something like serial murder, acknowledge it, even if you only acknowledge it to yourself.

Follow It

Taking even the smallest steps toward following your passion will put you on the right path. Spinnato incorporated his company when he was 20 years old and had no assets, but that simple action laid the framework for him to succeed later. If you’re passionate about planes, go take that flying lesson. Passionate about medicine? Go take that biology class. Whatever your passion is, take meaningful steps to follow it.

Own It

To own your passion is to discard all shame around your passion. Do not be reluctant about it. Just go all-in. Passionate football fans decorate their homes or their dens in team colors, with regalia and banners and apparel on the walls. Passionate aquarists display 50-gallon tanks on their living room walls. Owning your passion is displaying it for the world to see. In an entrepreneurial context, it is showing your partners and customers that you love what you do – and people love to see that.

Honor It

Don’t lose sight of what you’re doing, and more importantly, why you’re doing it. Spinnato isn’t a cosmetic chemist because he gets good benefits or has a nice paycheck. He is a cosmetic chemist because that is what he loves to do. And while he does make a profit at his work, he’s not working just for profit. His passion is what has allowed him to build an empire that any of us should be envious of. Honor your passion and remember why you do what you do.

Never Give Up

It is not going to be an easy journey. You’re going to make mistakes, have difficult clients or partners, and struggle through hard times. Your passion might not take you on a predictable path. Chances are you won’t end up doing things exactly where, when, or how you thought. But persistence is key. Vince Spinnato could have given up on his journey anywhere along the line and settled for a conventional life. He could have been anything or anyone, but instead of just falling into a random profession and getting comfortable in the suburbs, he followed his passion – and it led him to the life of his dreams. So take the risk. Draw up the papers. Crash the funeral. Do what you have to do. You, like Vince Spinnato, can find a way to bring your passion to life.