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Ryan’s Journal: What Motivates Us?

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017


I touched on this a bit last week with regards to what motivates people. It’s different for all of us of course, but there is something that drives us.

Whenever I am particularly candid with myself, I find that fear of disappointing others is always high on my list. But I also have a drive to be unique.

Sometimes I look at lists that show how only a few people have achieved something and I make it my goal to join that group.

A bucket list item of mine is to climb the seven summits. These are the highest peaks on each continent. Very few have done it as it requires an immense amount of time and money. I figure if I can accomplish that then I have done something right in other areas if my life. Enough about me though.

What motivates others?

I had a conversation today with a fellow sales rep. She has been successful in the past couple of years and has accomplished some life goals. One was paying off debt. That’s a big one. She also had her eye on a few personal objects, one being a Rolex.

Last year she said she had the ability to finally buy one and not feel guilty. I realize most out there probably have other priorities, but this was hers.

As she began her search for a Rolex that would fit her tastes she was surprised to learn that her company had went ahead and purchased one for her as a gift.

Her boss had overheard her saying how she wanted one and decided to reward her hard work by giving the Rolex as a gift. My friend said this was the most meaningful item she had ever received in her career.

When I asked why she said it wasn’t because of the watch. It was the fact that someone took the time to listen to her, remember what she said and care.

Her boss didn’t have to give the gift, but they understood that we are all motivated in different ways. For my friend that motivation was to feel validated.

As I go about my week I am going to take the time to see what motivates those around me.

What motivates you?

Image credit: hypo-physe

If the Shoe Fits: When is “Startup” and “Innovative Culture” an Oxymoron?

Friday, March 7th, 2014

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here


Two questions:

  1. Are you working to build a culture of innovation in your startup?
  2. Do you live the startup mindset of 100 hour weeks, all night hackathons, 24/7 availability and no time for vacations?

If you answered ‘yes’ to both you’re in trouble, because a yes to the second sooner or later will nullify the first.

According to Marc Barros, co-founder and former CEO of Contour, there are five actions you can take to avoid killing off your golden egg, i.e., your culture of innovation.

Here they are, with my caveats (follow the link to read the originals).

  1. Offer Unlimited Vacation: while this isn’t always possible, and may not even work, making sure your people, including founders, take real vacations, which means no email, texts or emergencies. They should last a minimum of three days, but a week is much better. And if having you/them gone for that time will really crash and burn the company you have bigger problems than you realize.
  2. Let Employees Work Remotely: in addition to working remotely physically whenever possible be sure to provide an environment that promotes mental remoteness. In other words, they don’t have to think/work/act like you to achieve the desired results.
  3. Ditch the Meetings: make sure that those you do have are short and productive.
  4. Nix Department Goals: goals at all levels—department, team, personal, should always focus on what needs to happen to achieve specific, major, annual company goals (never more than three).
  5. Give Plenty of Feedback: just don’t make giving constant feedback an excuse or cover for micromanaging.

One of the biggest actions that Barros doesn’t mention, but is implicit in what he does, is trust.

If bosses don’t believe that their people really do care that the company succeeds and trusts them to make it happen then they will be unable to implement any of this.

In the comments section, Mick Thornton, who worked at Safeco Insurance (definitely large and definitely old-line), talks about the success of the team he was on.

The biggest keys to success for our team was a manager that understood broad goals saying things like “Here’s what we want the end to look like, now go figure it out. Let me know if things start to slide or go south, otherwise work how you want to meet the deliverable.”

Image credit: HikingArtist

Ducks In A Row: Everybody Has A Vision

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Every time I hear a pundit ask a (positional) leader about her vision or Wall Street condemns someone for not having a vision that they consider viable I find myself wanting to bop the questioner.

I’m not into visions.

Visions are what Sherlock Holmes had when he was smoking opium; they’re what dance in kids heads before Christmas; they’re what the religious see on slices of bread and potato chips.

There’s an old saying that the difference between a dream and a goal is a plan.

I equate visions to dreams until there’s an executable plan and management with the moxie to implement it. (That’s why I don’t believe we’ll see universal healthcare any time soon—lots of visions, lots of rhetoric, little management and less moxie.)

Of course, you have to use the lingua franca of the day when communicating and that means calling your goal a vision, which is fine—as long as you really understand what’s required to make it a reality.

Your comments—priceless

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