Category Archives: Motivation

Compilation of Motivational Posts from 2011 to 2015

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Here are some of our more popular motivational posts from all time.

Positively reinforcing good worker behavior and negatively reinforcing bad

Best Motivational Quotes

Motivating workers with competition

In China, hot girls were hired to motivate programmers

Now is the perfect moment

How to sell like a pro, what exactly do they do?

Are bonuses really the best incentive?

How do you inspire people who do boring BPO jobs?

Will power vs. decisive will power: what’s the difference?

Motivating workers with bonuses or shortages, which is better?

It is fun to do the impossible

Zen and the art of pep talks


Do or Die! Don’t get distracted in business…

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Sounds more like a movie title than a blog article about business. People who do business are busy and distracted. It is generally hard for bosses to find assistant managers who really make sure things get done in the long run. Business is hard and always a constant struggle. So, it is important to have the right attitude. The James Bond attitude! Do or Die!

If you picture your business career more as an action movie where most people end up dead, you might do better. You need the right level of enthusiasm and spirit to get through all of the endless problems that face businesses.

Imagine a day where you schedule too much on purpose just to make it like an action movie. You jump to your lunch meeting only to jump in a cab headed to the airport to meet a client and then interview some help back at the office. Yes, the day might not go as planned, but you would feel a lot more like James Bond than if you had tried to be “reasonable.” Doing business is just not the same when you don’t have your mojo. So, you need to have all types of ways of building that mojo within you. I hope that reading my bizarre articles is one of those ways!

Do you get more done by trying to do less? Koreans vs. Norwegians.

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The irony of today’s work world is that the people who try to achieve too much actually get less done. I have seen countless blog articles on the topic, but let’s look at the issue in an international way to make it more interesting.

In business, the more you get done, the more money you make, right?
The modern consensus is that business people are trying to do too much, which causes them to lose track of priorities. An hour spent on a priority during your peak hours of focus might get you a lot more long term revenue for your business than an hour spent doing busy-work. The solution is to make an itemized list of all the tasks you do daily and figure out which ones not to do, and which other tasks you can do in a more efficient way. I am constantly redefining my work routing and getting better at it all the time.

The Asian consensus defies current reasoning
In Asia, the culture demands that you are busy and look busy. Busy is good, not busy is lazy. Taking time off is bad, and having no time to enjoy yourself is a sign of success even though it is accompanied with misery. The country in Asia that puts in the most hours is Korea. However, Korean productivity is horrible. Why is this? They spend too many hours at work without doing much to refresh themselves. They have not enough time for friends and family, meditation, long walks, prayer, or other activities which refresh the mind, soul, and body. The one social activity which they do too much of is going out with the boss and co-workers and having a wild night of drinking which is socially required. The next day they come to work hung over and cannot function properly. Although Koreans put in a lot of hours, they are typically burned out, hung over, and they have been pushed far too hard since age eight to over study, overwork, and have no life. On a brighter note, the Korean government is seeing that over studying and overworking is bad for quality of life and have been creating laws to moderate this culturally detrimental behavior.

Norwegians work the least yet get the most done
In Norway, they work an average of 33 hours per week and have at least 21 vacation days compared to Koreans who work around 43 hours per week and only get 15 paid vacation days per week. Some Koreans do 52 to 68 hours per week too. However, it has been found that the value of an hour of work done by a Norwegian is the most valuable compared to any hour done by an average person in any other country. Somehow the Norwegians know how to make those 33 hours count while the rest of us are just shifting papers around.

So, what are the secrets of these folks in Norway?
I read a bit about Norway and found they eat out less, and have smaller portion sizes. They eat a lot of fish, berries, meat and potatoes. Fish and berries are extremely light and healthy. I’m not so sure about the meat and potatoes though. People in Norway also are more happy to walk to work or ride a bike while the rest of the world gets stuck in a traffic jam breathing in toxic fumes. There is not much pollution in Norway either as they are not that populated, and have a good public transportation system. So, in addition to the high IQ’s that Norway merits, their healthy lifestyle might help their brains be prone to higher productivity. On a more comical note, people are less friendly in Norway, so they probably spend more time actually working instead of gossiping with co-workers or browsing posts on Facebook.

So, how can you get more work done in less time?
It pays to plan your work-time better instead of letting it happen. If you schedule your week or month ahead of time and figure out exactly what needs to be done and how to do it, that will help. Taking walks, breaks, meditating regularly and spending time with friends and family help too. If you maintain your health properly, you’ll be more efficient as well, so don’t drink too much or eat too much heavy foods that slow you down!

Is it better to motivate workers, or to inspire those already motivated?

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It is not so easy to motivate people. Motivation comes and goes. You are safer hiring people who are already motivated and then inspiring them to greatness. But, how to you spot greatness?

Most employees don’t care about their job and want to do the minimum — at least with lower level jobs. The secret is to see who will do extra. In the long run, if an employee is going to last and do amazing work, if they are not willing to do a little extra, they won’t be worth much. But, how can you test people out?

1. Ask people to come on the weekend
Especially if you ask people at the last minute. Most people value their weekend time. See if they come. See if they complain about coming or hold a grudge after.

2. Ask people to meet a deadline earlier than necessary
If people are cooperative about meeting an early deadline, that is excellent. Of course in the long run it is about consistency, not one time performance. But, if you get a good first perfomance, you might get a second and a third.

3. Email
See how fast people respond to emails when they are off duty. My experience is that those who answer business emails on the weekend will be better workers. Maybe not super stars, but better.

4. Calls
Ask them to call you when they are done with something. Most people you’ll never hear from. They wait for you to call them. Initiative means they call you.

5. Dropping the Ball
Most employees specialize in dropping the ball and not taking responsibility. Find a way for another employee to spot the employee that dropped the ball and pick up the ball. This means when an employee flakes on a particular responsibility, find that other employee who will spot what happened fast and correct the situation. Otherwise you are the one who has to solve all of the problems at your company.

6. Study Requirements
Ask employees to study something on their own on the weekend. See who actually does it. Tell them it’s not required. Most people won’t do what is not required. But, those who do are special.

7. Spy on Them
If not asked to clock in, see who takes an extra long lunch break. See who is on Facebook when they are supposed to be working. See who is gossiping instead of getting work done. If you are observing people without them noticing, you’ll learn a lot.

Basically, your job as boss and manager is to accumulate a small army of people who are super loyal and super responsible to run your company in your absense. Then you can concentrate on growing the company. Those high quality people should get paid more, should get respect, and should be given harder responsibilties so they know that you take them seriously. People who are just fooling around do not merit a good salary, especially without having paid any dues by sticking around at your company. Judge salaries by longevity at your company and track record — not number of years in the field or test results (although those are factors.)

Here is a remedy for sluggishness you’ve never heard before

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I feel sluggish all the time. But, I need to be an over-achiever to run my business. So, I find remedies for my sluggishness. I actually have many remedies.

I love a good hike. Of course, if you over do it, hiking can drain your qi energy and leave you feeling depleted. But, a good hike in a natural place can help your body absorb the good energies from nature which along with physical exertion can help you feel recharged. I try to hike once or twice a week. I often go into the desert to Joshua tree to hike even when it is 100 degrees!

Now, here’s one you’ve never heard of before unless you’re Chinese. Gua-Sha or suction cupping is a way to open up clogged blood vessels. If your blood circulation is not good, you will lack energy. I do cupping once a month or so, and often feel very recharged after doing it. It leaves bizarre looking purple looking marks on my skin which go away in a few days. If you are not stagnated, you probably don’t need cupping. As always, consult your medical professional before doing any cupping.

Fruits & Vegetables
Yes, having too much meats and breads leaves me feeling fatigued. But, having bananas, apples, dates, veggies, and freshly squeezed juices helps a lot.

Going to the Financial District
Why is this on the list? My surprise finding of the year is that going downtown for a few hours actually helps me get my energy up. I live in Los Angeles which is a big city. We have a financial district with a lot of really tall buildings. People in those buildings work and work and work. Most of their activiites are on repetitive tasks and there is not much creativity unless you go east to the artists district where there is a little too much creativity. I noticed that I feel recharged for about four days after visiting our financial district. I’m not sure that the same effect would be felt in other cities. But, it is worth trying it out. I am actively involved in feng-shui. Many people think that feng-shui is about arranging your furniture which is the tip of the iceberg. Feng-shui is about understanding qi energy and how it affects the people around. Downtown has some fast moving qi, and my sedentary lifestyle needs some fast qi to get me moving. Many people put up with long commutes and expensive parking just to have their office downtown. Perhaps they work more efficiently downtown, or just do it to fit in. Or maybe the feng-shui nourishes them in some way that allows them to stay in business while business that operate elsewhere are more likely to perish. Hmm. It’s the old chicken and the egg syndrome — did they move downtown to do well, or did they do well because they moved downtown?

How do you inspire people who do boring BPO jobs?

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This must be the world’s oldest question besides the whole chicken and the egg paradigm. How do you inspire people to do boring jobs? In the real world, not all of us can do interesting jobs. We can not all be doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs. In fact, most Indian chiefs got out of the market when the business went South a few decades ago. Many of us have to do repetitive phone calls, data entry, check lists, and other boring back office work. So, what is the secret to making it tolerable or even fun.

Many of the larger call centers have mastered this art by having regular competitions, fun activities, and excursions. But, we can’t all do excursions all the time, especially when we are tied down by families.

Keeping the work place fun and positive is a good start. Even if your job is boring, if the job environment is pleasant or fun, that makes it all the better. Contests and competitions make things interesting too. Having group meals can give a sense of belonging as well. Seeing an opportunity for long term career advancement should also be on the horizon. People want to know that they can move ahead in the world. Another motivation technique is to let people know the bigger picture of how important their work is, who it affects and how. Many workers simply have no clue as to how their work affects the world until they screw up and get blamed for inconveniencing 10,000 people in some huge way! It is better to let them know in a positive way before they screw up!

On the other hand, the simple act of appreciation goes a long way. A simple, “nice job!” or other act of recognition goes a long way. A pat on the back (don’t try this in India with the females.) Just don’t get too carried away with the pats or you might go from having unmotivated employees to having sexual harassment lawsuits! Good God!

Best Motivational Quotes

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“Do what you’ve always done and you’ll get what you have always got.” — Sue Knight

“Winners don’t do different things; They do things differently” — Anonymous

“A journey of a thousand li begins with a single step.” — Lao Tze

“A journey to attain 1000 social media followers begins with a single stumble” — disgruntled Stumbleupon member

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it” — Henry David Thoreau

“If you are willing to do more than you are paid to do, eventually you will be paid to do more than you do.” — Anonymous

“Don’t hate the playa, hate the game” — Unknown Rap Artist (sorry, had to add that one)

“Whenever you see a successful person, you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them.” — Vaibhav Shah

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” — Charles Darwin

“The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success.” — Bruce Feirstein

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out” — Robert Collier

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do.” — Jim Rohn

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” — Thomas Edison

“Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential” — John Maxwell.

“I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself” — Robert E Lee.

“There is a difference between being a leader and being a boss. Both are based on authority. A boss demands blind obedience; a leader earns his authority through understanding and trust” — Klaus Balkenhol.

“It is often the case that the person with the most authority in an organization speaks the least” — Myself

“He who conquers others achieves some success; But, he who conquers himself achieves the highest level of success” — Myself

The difference between a successful person and a very successful person is that a very successful person says no a higher percentage of the time — Concept from Warren Buffet

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” — Albert Einstein

“Leadership is an action, not a position” — Donald McGannon

“Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar” — Orrin Woodward.

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” — Peter F. Drucker.

You become what you meditate upon. If you meditate on wealth, you’ll attain it. If you meditate on God, you’ll attain God. But, if you practice levitation instead of meditation, you’ll be in danger of being reincarnated as a bird! — Concept from spiritual Masters in India.

“Peace comes from within” — said by many Gurus in India

In China, hot girls were hired to motivate programmers

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How do you motivate a stubborn programmer?
My experience with programmers is that very few of them care even slightly about the experience of the people who will one day use their programs. The commenting in the code for other programmers to read is not even that clear in many instances. Most programmers just want to be left alone to do their work the way they want, how they want and when they want. Deadlines are almost never honored, and instructions are almost always taken lightly. Very few programmers were even motivated by money. I offered large amounts of money to many programming companies who politely declined stating that I was, “Not a good fit.” I told them that I am giving you money to do programming work and you are a programming company — how am I not a good fit? The managers at programming companies are as impossible to motivate as the programmers. So, what is the secret?

The Chinese are masters of innovation.
The Chinese have always been an innovative people from thousands of years ago. When they had a problem with the Mongols, they built the longest wall in human history. They even innovated a way to deal with all of the dead bodies of the workers by burying them in the wall! The Chinese created gun powder, many forms of martial arts, gardening, and even new aspects of semantic internet searches. A few years ago I predicted that if anyone could master the art of dominating the computer programming industry, it would be the Chinese. I was right, but not in a way that I expected.

Hiring beautiful cheerleaders to motivate programmers works!
Specialists who understand the importance of building a healthy corporate culture understand that you need positive upbeat people to build a motivated and fun work environment. Cliffbar, Google and Starbucks actively embrace this principle. A few years ago, I had the thought that call centers in Manila and Central America should hire good looking girls to interact with their workers to add a good feeling to their day. Call centers are apparently very stubborn about improving the grueling conditions of their work. But, the Chinese are not. It is commonplace in Chinese companies (and restaurants) for the workers to all get together and share a meal. Eating is an integral part of the Chinese culture, and communal eating is just as much. Eating together makes people feel good and feel more connected. But, I am happy that the Chinese implemented “my” idea of having lovely ladies improve the grueling conditions of the work day. Why not look forward to coming to work? Your wife might not like it, but at least you’ll show up for work and give it your all.

Productivity is up
The programmers in China, India and other countries are mostly male and very anti-social. Programming is a bit like mechanics intellectually. Guys like fixing things while women just want to be listened to which is why guys dominate programming. But, having these ladies around seems to get the guys to produce better. Men tend to be more motivated in general if there is a woman who is appreciative of what they do according to “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. It seems that the Chinese managers must have read that book or have an understanding of the concept. The easiest way to get a guy to stop trying is to have a woman who doesn’t give him any appreciation.

What do these ladies actually do?
The programming cheerleaders buy breakfast for the programmers so they have the energy to do a long day of work. They also chat with the programmers which is very valuable since most of the programmers lack the ability to interact with the opposite gender, or even with their own gender, and probably also with dogs and cats as well (insufficient data for the last claim.) The ladies must be talented and smooth (and probably patient) at interacting with the socially handicapped. In a sense, they are like therapists or psychiatrists in a very pedantic way.

What do the wives of the programmers think about this?
I can imagine that someone’s wife might not want their husband regularly hanging around with beautiful women at work. It is bad enough that your husband works with women, but beautiful women who give them a ton of attention? But, maybe this is what men need. I go through my day getting absolutely no attention from women other than my housemates. Imagine how much better I would feel if I was paid some positive attention by someone in their twenties or thirties who was female and voluptuous. This problem is my fault for living in Los Angeles. Women here are relentlessly unfriendly. But, the minute I cross the border into New Mexico, I get tons of positive attention from everyone! Maybe I should be living there!

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Top viral images and how they spread

I didn’t get retweeted, but that’s okay

Are you a thinker or a doer?

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Many of us talk more than we do, and others do more than we talk. Others think a lot and do very little. Others do, but do without much though which leads to ineffective results. Some people have a job that requires talking, so for them talking is doing. But, the secret to success is the successful combination of thinking and doing.

If you have a great idea, but great idea is seldom of any value unless it is refined and implemented. 99% of the battle is the perspiration that comes after the inspiration. But, what about tweaking and adjusting the idea to be optimal? Many of us just think that someone thinks of an idea, and gets rich just like that. It is the adjustment of the idea to real conditions that matters more than the idea itself.

In real life, I find my business career consisting of a lot of smaller decisions for the most part. I find new ways to make my regular business processes a little more refined. Perhaps I find a better person to do the job, or a faster or better way of doing the job. I decide which processes can be skipped, and how often to do each process. There are many decisions which are more like adjustments than anything else. Many business people don’t think of fine-tuning the tasks they do every day. But, sometimes success comes from exactly that.

So, if you are neither a thinker or a doer, you are doomed. But, if you do both, find the right combination and find new success!

Business: Will power vs. decisive will power: what’s the difference?

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When you are involved in a business, you will be acutely aware that certain problems are hard to solve. Some people just don’t cooperate, and some nuts are just hard to crack. What I have found in life is that will power simply isn’t enough. You need to unleash the power of decisive thinking. I remember meeting an Israeli guy twenty years ago. He was playing a game of ping-pong. His words were, “We gonna win and that’s final!” I’m not sure if he won or not, but when your back is to the sea, you fight good… or well (if you use correct grammar which Israelis generally don’t. Israel would be wiped off the face of the planet if they didn’t decide that they were going to survive and prosper. They don’t hope they will survive, they decide they will survive even if it is against all odds. So, why should you be any different in your business.

I had a non-business type of a problem in my apartment. There was a faint noise of a stereo playing techno. It sounded far away, but the boom boom boom of the subwoofer and the bass were audible when I was very quiet. I called security several times. They looked around, but couldn’t find the noise. They didn’t bother knocking on doors until I asked them to. The long and short of it was that I had to supervise each step of the process because they couldn’t do their job on their own. I am a manager, but why do I have to manage other people’s business? In any case, it took me seven calls to security to resolve the issue. They couldn’t stop the noise unless they knew where it was coming from, but the one thing I had a lot of trouble getting them to do was to invest a little time to do detective work to find out where the noise was coming from. After security talked to the guys above me, he learned that they also heard exactly the same noise, but neither of them knew where it was coming from. I went to all 12 floors of my building to try to find the noise.

The problem finally got solved when I stopped monkeying around and decided that I would get the problem solved that day. I would harass the hell out of security until they did what they were supposed to. I had to call them during the day, and again in the early evening. Finally, they got the noise stopped.

The sad part of the story is that this noise got so into my head that I started going crazy. I had trouble sleeping because of the noise even with ear plugs. The minute I woke up in the morning, I heard the noise all over again. I went so crazy that even when I was blocks away, I still heard the techno melody. I thought the sound might be coming from far away, but my brain had gone haywire in the meantime. It took three days for the noise in my head to completely go away.

The moral of the story is that when I was decisive about stopping the noise and decided to stop it no matter what, it finally went away! Maybe you should find issues in your business that require serious will power to fix as well.

Taking a genuine interest in your employee’s career path

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Some bosses try to motivate with money. Others use another approach which you could call being there for someone. It reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Elaine says, “I just want you to know that I’m there for you.” Being there for someone who doesn’t care doesn’t do any good. On the other hand, giving financial incentives to someone who doesn’t give a damn doesn’t help either. So, to motivate an employee, you need to start with good material, namely, someone who is motivatable!

But, what if you were like an uncle-boss, or an avuncular boss (same meaning.) What if you were always there to explain things to your employee. What if you were there to offer one on one training to them? What if you were always teaching them new things that would help them move up the totem-pole? Many employees would value this because other companies simply don’t care, don’t help, and leave you in the ditch — and then complain if you goofed in any way. Most employee goofs are because their managers didn’t train them (or select them well.)

Giving coaching on what courses to take, and giving them tips for moving up the corporate ladder can also be very helpful. Of course if someone moves up the ladder, they might not be in your department for long, but at least they will send positive thoughts in your direction and put in a good word. You get good work-karma in any case from doing good deeds. Cats get good kitty-karma when they don’t scratch their friends (or hiss) and bosses get good boss-karma by doing good deeds for their employees.

Being nice, fair, and not losing your temper are important in the work place. Good work is synonymous to good faith. If people trust you and like you they will work for you better and longer. There are certain behavioral basics you need to know. You need to praise people when they deserve it, remind them of what they are exceptional at and be generally personable. But, putting general good behavior aside, taking an interest in really being helpful to your underlings will make all the difference in having loyal employees!

Building your drive is the single most critical factor for your success.

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After talking to numerous business mentors, one thought stuck in my head. The difference between a company that does well and one that doesn’t has more to do with drive than skills, although you need both. I once compared my friend’s business to a delivery truck with a rick shaw engine. With such a small engine, you just can’t grow — and his company doesn’t. The question is, how do you hire people with drive? How do you even find them?

But, as an individual, whether you work for yourself or someone else, one of the most important aspects of your success has to do with your drive. There are people who are in the habit of sitting around. Some sit around and complain while others just sit around and gossip or watch television. To be successful you need to have a sense of purpose and drive. If you decide to manage your time in such a way that you work less hours, that is okay if you do it for a strategic reason. But, laziness is never an acceptable reason.

I was talking to a friend who just got his MBA. He wanted to start an HR agency, and also wanted to sell apps. He had a technical background, but I wasn’t sure what his specialty was in. He was waiting on a visa to start working in America. I told him not to waste time and to start creating apps right away. Then, I found out his background was in networking, and not in programming. But, the fact remains that he was frittering his time away instead of building something and building himself. Even if what he built was useless, he would have maintained and developed his drive.

The same goes for hiring people. If you aren’t sure which person to hire, see which one is willing to stay overtime and which one sticks with something until they get it right. Lazy people will drag your company down. You need someone who pulls you forward!