Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I'm not going to add a big preface to this video, except to say that it's one of my favorite TED talks (if you aren't familiar with TED, go get a week's worth of food and water and click that link, and don't forget to remind your loved ones you're still alive). This is the author Dan Pink talking about what motivates people, particularly in the workplace.

I haven't read Mr. Pink's book related to this video, Drive, but as someone who is pretty dialed into his career and loves learning, I really identify with the message he delivers in this talk. One of my uber-managers, about four levels above me, gives a talk occasionally about performance. He puts a big emphasis on thinking about and understanding what you really want out of your career, whether it's money, respect, recognition, whatever. Especially for someone like me, "autonomy, mastery and purpose" is a tough list to beat. "The freedom to become better at doing things that make a difference."

I really like finding the right words to convey an idea, and those three in particular really shine on their own. What's interesting to me is that they work so well together, but the way one achieves each of those items in the workplace is different. With some exceptions, autonomy is something granted to you based on where you work and who you work for (not to say you don't have any control over that). Mastery is something you have to earn through study, practice and introspection. Purpose is something you have to find - you can't ever really have purpose given to you, only suggested. It doesn't become your purpose until you internalize and embrace it.

If I was in charge of a large corporation, I would not only be interested in granting my employees these three things, but I would be looking to hire people that truly desired them. Mr. Pink says that most everybody wants these things, but I have a feeling that the people who want them the most are the ones you want working for you.

Thanks to Lessons of Failure for reminding me about this video. Great post too!