In 2014, shortly after I\u2019d accepted the Executive Vice President of Worldwide Engineering at Polycom, a man came to see me in my San Jose office. He was in my org chart but didn\u2019t report to me directly. Thankfully, the handlebar mustache and half-frame circular glasses betrayed what would have otherwise been an anonymous face.\nHis name is Jeff Rodman, Polycom\u2019s co-founder. And he had come to find out if I was worthy. Jeff was not overt or confrontational about it. I am not even sure he was aware of it, but from the tenor of our conversation, I could tell he was measuring me, trying to discern if I was worthy of something so close to him.\nAt the time, Polycom was 24 years old and \u2014 prior to my arrival \u2014 they had had many senior executives that weren\u2019t audio people. Naturally, those leaders had been engineers, but they were not unified-communications people. They were not voice-over-IP people or voice-over-frame people or voice-over-ATM people. They had not been building real time communication technology throughout their careers.\nThey did not love phones \u2026 and that\u2019s what Jeff was looking for.\nAn impromptu visit might sound like an odd anecdote to celebrate something like Polycom\u2019s 25th anniversary. Yet it encapsulates a spirit that has undergirded the company\u2019s success.\nMore than that, it captures a theme central to longer term success that today\u2019s tech culture \u2014 with its relentless focus on exits \u2014 can easily snuff out.\nA new calling\nOver the last half century, technology has reshaped our lives and our work. For digital natives, awash in more ways to connect than they can keep up with, it\u2019s easy to forget what it was like before.\nIn 1992, I was working at Nortel where we made millions of phones a year. However, the idea of a speakerphone that could naturally facilitate multi-directional communication was little more than a dream. It was simply too expensive to develop, nobody would pay for it, and who knew if it could even be done.\nThat same year, Polycom debuted the iconic SoundStation with a $1,400 price tag. As is often the case with innovation, disruption came from outside the establishment. Inspired by a lifelong love of music and human connections \u2014 along with a 99 cent book from RadioShack \u2014 Jeff Rodman and Brian Hinman had founded Polycom two years earlier.\nTheir hope was to bring to life what Nortel and every other communication company thought was impossible: a phone that would let multiple people in multiple locations talk and collaborate naturally. This meant moving from the industry standard half-duplex system to a full-duplex setup where sound could travel in multiple directions.\nThe SoundStation was the first incarnation of that dream and, by the mid-90s, Nortel had one in every conference room. That kind of irony \u2014 an real time communications company outfitting their offices with a competitor\u2019s product \u2014 only comes from the immense business value that true full duplex sound creates.\nThe rest of the story \u2014- from growing into a multi-billion-dollar company and becoming a boardroom staple everywhere from Silicon Valley to the Pentagon to The Simpsons \u2014 is history.\nBehind the business value and technical advancement stood something even more foundational: the desire to connect people across distances and free them from the barriers that inhibit collaborative experiences. It was a love that sustained Jeff for 25 years.\nAnd one you might feel slipping away \u2026\nYour own calling\nThe prevailing mindset among today\u2019s tech leaders is \u201cbuild it and flip it.\u201d\nFor VC-funded and investor-focused founders, having an exit strategy is now a part of every startup\u2019s initial business plan. On the heels of, \u201cHow are you going to sell your product?\u201d follows the far more lucrative question, \u201cHow are you going to sell your company?\u201d\nThere\u2019s nothing wrong with that mentality. We all have to make a living, and if you can put a Ferrari in the garage along with food on the table, that\u2019s perfectly fine.\nBut for people like Jeff \u2014 people for whom developing tech is not just about building a company \u2014 that kind of thinking is more than short sighted. It\u2019s empty. Maybe you feel the same way.\nThe advice to \u201cfollow your passion,\u201d to find what you love and do it, borders on clich\u00e9. Commencement speeches and self-help books teem with well-worn mantras. Still, that does not make them any less true.\nSteve Jobs devoted his life to a single company and a single idea: making technology simple. For others, their calling has led them from the private sector to the public, from business to academics, or from big players to their own startups.\nAfter all, it\u2019s not staying in the same company that matters. Even less is it thinking of money or being as good as what else is on the market. Improving upon what exists and relentlessly pushing beyond what\u2019s \u201cpossible,\u201d that is where real disruptive success comes from. Long-term success comes from following your calling, from taking the next logical step in the larger development.\nIf you are working on something, the question can\u2019t be, \u201cHow can we sell this product or company?\u201d but instead, \u201cHow can we make things better?\u201d\nToday, Jeff\u2019s love continues to have an impact on Polycom as with the release of Trio 8500. In his case, it was a love of the piano, of music, of sound, and of people that led to the creation of a phone capable of picking up every syllable from every speaker. For me, it was and still is a love of unified communications. I love technology in general and while I have done other things, like security and long-haul optical, phones and real time communication\u2014 and the extension of how people communicate and collaborate \u2014 have always been what I come back to.\nWhatever it is you choose to do with your work, you must love it because you may be doing it 12\u201318 hours a day, not because you have to but because you want to. And the truth is, the pressure to \u201cexit\u201d doesn\u2019t really exist. When you have a calling, when you believe in what you're doing, you find a way to stay in. In fact, you can\u2019t help it.