Category Archives: Motivation

The man who thought small

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He thought about pennies & ended up with pennies
I once knew a man who thought small. He is quite intelligent, more than most with a technical degree and excellent mathematical skills. He was very strong in certain types of thinking, but had a serious imbalance as he couldn’t function with other types of thinking which were less “logical.” He thought about calculating everything in a world where nothing is certain. He thought about pennies when he should have been thinking about dollars.

He lost his fortune
Despite a successful lifelong career in hi-tech, this person retired with pennies. After he sold his house, he had a fair amount of money. But, the money was spent on living expenses and post-career educational expenses which in my mind is not a good investment. Education can be the most worthwhile pursuit as it is a key to a good career if you do well in school. However, the expense of school doesn’t make sense if you are at the end of your career.

What you think about you get
This person watched pennies his entire life, and then blew a lot of his fortune at the end of his life. The moral of the story is that he thought about pennies and ended up with pennies. Most gurus in India will tell you that what you think about you become. I thing about business all day long and have since childhood. I became a business person with a lively business. Others think about girls all day long and end up with multiple girlfriends.

Your brain is limited
In this world, our minds can only accommodate a finite amount of thoughts which we can successfully act upon. Some people can get more done in a 24 hour period than others. If you are penny foolish, you might lose a lot of money which you can’t afford. So, if you are broke, then spend a certain amount of time thinking about pennies so you stay afloat, but don’t spent all of your time thinking small. Devote a percentage of your brain cells to thinking bigger, otherwise you are guaranteed to end up with only pennies.

Even successful people can get dragged down into thinking small.
I have done well with my business and have good savings. But, when I get a chargeback I get upset. In the long run the charge back is not going to hurt me. It is a small amount of money. But, I feel cheated which is what ticks me off. Additionally, I hate paying for parking. I will spend $50 on dinner without flinching. But, paying $8 parking seems like a rip off. In this respect I think very small. I would rather walk ten blocks and get my shoes dirty than pay a valet.

Don’t be penny or pound foolish. I just got an email from someone who wanted to tell me I owed $81.47 instead of $84. He sent me ten emails on the topic. I told him that I appreciate his contributions, but I don’t have time for this nonsense. I have other things to take care of. Sure, I care about $2, but the ten minutes I lost looking at all of his nitpicky emails cost me $10 in lost production not to mention a headache which I can’t stand. If you never see the big picture, you will never become part of the big picture. Count your pennies, but mind your dollars first!

Positively reinforcing good worker behavior and negatively reinforcing bad

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As a manager, you do more than coordinate. You are like a football coach (disregard the pot-belly.) Your job is to motivate the troops, keep conflicts moderated, and keep life organized. Many managers are simply overwhelmed and have too much to do. They don’t have time to give feedback and are not masterful in doing so.

Many employees are sensitive. You can’t just criticize them or tear them apart. You have to be very diplomatic and cautious. You have to understand which types of mistakes are small ones and which indicate character flaws and a bad attitude. There is a lot of skill involved in being a manager.

As a manager, you need to first of all build up a foundation of trust and good vibes. You need to give realistic positive feedback on a regular basis (don’t over-do this.) Also, you need to establish a social rapport. This is not always possible with anti-social types, but some relationship building is a lot better than none. People will do better work for you and stick around longer if you are personally connected to them in a small (or large) way. The minute that relationship goes sour, so does the work in almost all cases.

Part of the reason you need that individual connection is to gauge their work based on how they interact with you. Even if you rarely check their work, you can quickly know there is a problem if they are evasive, unfriendly, or just plain hostile. Interaction is a measuring stick you can use to quickly know how a work relationship will go. In my experience it is 95% reliable although results can vary widely depending on the individual.

Knowing how much to dwell on the nit-picky positive or negative aspects of the employees work is a skill. Overdoing it can make people get a headache fast, and not giving any input can allow people to go on costly tangents. Balance is the key in business feedback!

Negative feedback is tough. Sometimes it is smart to disguise a criticism as a request.
“Could you do it this way next time? I prefer it that way. The way you did it is not bad, I just prefer it this way.”
Smart, you got the employee to do it right without hurting their feelings. Hurt a person’s feelings one too many times and you might have a huge bill to pay to HR to find you another when they quit prematurely.

How often to give negative feedback.
If someone really did something bad and you need to harp on them, make sure you have built up trust enough so they will be able to absorb your negativity and work with it positively. Relationships that last are those where 80%+ of assessments are positive and less than 20% are negative. That includes work and personal relationships. If you are a girl who always harps on every little thing your boyfriend does, you should just break up — it won’t last! Save your harping for when you need to harp because it does relationship damage. Look for good things to comment on when you are not thinking about positive commentary. You need a bank account of past positive comments to merit a negative poking session!

In any case. Your work is terrible!
You’re fired!
Just kidding!

(1) As a manager, you do more than coordinate. You are like a football coach (disregard the pot-belly.)
(2) As a manager, you do more than coordinate. Your job is to motivate the troops, keep conflicts moderated, and keep life organized.
(3) Many employees are sensitive. You can’t just criticize them or tear them apart. You have to be very diplomatic and cautious.
(4) How often do you give negative feedback? Do it too much & ur looking at a divorce!

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Are bonuses really the best incentive?

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Are bonuses really the best incentive?

The subject of motivation is a troubling one for me. I have a lot of it, but can’t seem to find ways to motivate others. Others do what they feel like. They are often not motivated by money no matter how desperately they need cash. They are not motivated even by success. Bonuses and commissions motivate people to a point, but they are also complicated. If your industry is slow for a month, your salesperson might lose their bonus when it is not their fault. Sales quotas are not a really good measuring stick of someone’s achievement. The other problem with bonuses is that they can create an unhealthy attitude towards competition which might not be good for the collaborative future of your company’s work culture. Sometimes it makes more sense to give real feedback to the employees. Tell them what customers felt. Talk to them about how meaningful their work is for the company. Share your vision for the future of the company. If they don’t share the vision, it is not always so easy to get them to share your dream.

I just was reading an article about motivating workers by making them aware of the larger impact of their work. But, how do you use this strategy to get them to subscribe to your larger vision for your company? Most workers just don’t care that much about long term visions. It is about them making money, and/or being a hero in the work-world. These are selfish goals and have nothing to do with the company’s long term contribution to society.

I have learned that selling your vision to visionless people is not so easy. But, you can use psychological buttons to do this. You can put them in the position of the consumer or society. Ask them how they would feel if they did business with a company who not only gave good service, but did a lot of extra meaningful things as well verses one who merely got the job done. If they can feel the meaningfulness of the vision, they are more likely to subscribe. Remember, there is reason, and there is emotion. Emotion sells a whole lot better than reason with 99% of the people!

(1) re workers motivated by bonuses or by being told of their positive impact on society?
(2) I have learned that selling your vision to visionless people is not so easy.

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Motivating workers with competition

Motivating workers with bonuses or shortages, which is better?

Categories: Motivation, Semi-Popular | Tagged | Leave a comment

If you are an employer, you need to know more than just how business functions. You need to understand psychology. Many people are what you might call psychologically demented. They do not respond to reason. However, they do respond to particular stimuli. As a company boss, you need to understand that what a textbook says about motivating workers might be true in general, you need to understand the particular psychological makeup of EACH of your workers and subcontractors if you want to have an optimal working relationship. So, how do you go about this?

The shortage type
Some people are motivated by money. Others are motivated by laziness. A few like flexible work schedules, while many like a good quality of life. What I learned from reading and also from real life is that there is a set of people who are motivated by shortages. There is a particular mindset of some individuals where they are never satisfied. If you give them more, they respect you less — or at least not more. If you give them enough, they take it for granted. You can not motivate these types of people to do more unless they are afraid that they will not have enough. This type of people don’t save money, because they don’t plan for tomorrow. They only want enough to get by.

There was a car manufacturer that moved its operations to Mexico. They paid top dollar to have good workers. As soon as the workers had enough money in their pocket, they stopped coming to work. Yes — it was very short sighted to stop work like that. It is hard to get a good job at a good company. But, many people, particularly in the third world countries, do not think about tomorrow. The only way you get them to work is if they are hungry. Unfortunately, the strategy with this demented type is to keep them a little bit hungry. Not too hungry. Just hungry enough so that they don’t skip work.

Identifying the shortage type
To identify someone who is motivated by shortages is not hard. Offer them a bonus for good performance. See if they respond well. If they slack off after you give them a bonus. Try talking to them — try reasoning. If they still don’t respond. Try one last bonus after a few months if they did something to merit it. If there is still no good response, then you have identified that your employee is definately not the bonus type — the type who is motivated by bonuses (or who gets bonuses as the two go hand in hand). Step two, is to reduce the job responsibilities and payment for this individual to just below their comfort level. Knowing their comfort level might require some study and guesswork. Giving them 5% below what they think they should be making might be a good place to start. It is not low enough to panic, but low enough to get off their rear and start performing!

If they don’t respond to bonuses, maybe they respond to shortages. Use shortages as a way to motivate workers who don’t respond to bonuses and see what the results are. In some cases, your workers might not respond to any stimuli in which case you might have to phase them out! Good luck!

(1) If they don’t respond to bonuses, maybe they respond to shortages. #motivating workers
(2) Use shortages as a way to motivate workers who don’t respond to bonuses & see what the results are.
(3) If you are an employer, you need to understand business & psychology. R ur workers motivated by bonuses?

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Motivating workers with competition

Categories: Motivation, Semi-Popular | Tagged , | Leave a comment

There are various techniques for motivating workers with competition. Many workers don’t like competition, because that will show them up if they are underperforming. Other workers who are more confident and capable welcome competition since they know they can beat out any competition. What I have learned is that people always perform better under two circumstances: (1) When they are being watched (or think they are) and (2) When they are competing against someone else.

Competition is a more than just a business concept; it is very emotionally involving as well. People’s pride and dignity are involved when they are being compared to someone else. Can you imagine how a seasoned worker will feel when competing against someone new? What if the new person is more motivated and outperforms them? Imagine the shame that the more experienced worker would feel!

Personally, I like to compare people as well as companies. I like to see who is good at what and how they are overall. There are many components to a particular individuals skill sets. They might be good at work, but be slow. Or, perhaps they are great at communication, but make lots of mistakes. What if they are fast, but sloppy. It is hard to find people who are perfect, so we have to compare apples and oranges, since no two workers have the same attributes.

If you can track the weekly sales of a salesperson — it is easy to compare them to another salesperson. One made $4000 sales in that week, while the other made $3000. Or, perhaps one made more “hard sells”, while the other made more “easy sells”. Some sales are hard to compare. In manufacturing people might make widgets, and one worker might make double the widgets that the fellow next to him might make. It is sometimes really hard to track the performance of one worker against another worker, especially if they are doing different tasks.

The main thing to remember is — even if two individuals are doing different, but related tasks, the fact that they are being compared puts a sort of psychological pressure on them that can lead to better performance. I just put my main saleslady against a newer salesperson and in competition with myself as well. At first I was afraid that there wouldn’t be enough sales to go around. To my very happy surprise, I learned that both ladies were getting plenty of sales, and I made a generous helping of sales myself in record breaking time. As a matter of fact, the next happy surprise was that my main saleslady became BETTER at selling courses after I told her there was competition and that she was being compared. She went from selling a few courses per month to selling a few courses per week. Such a huge improvement. This salesperson complained bitterly about how it was not fair to compare her to someone else, and how loyal she was to the company, etc. Talk is cheap. But, her new and improved performance is proof that competition motivates workers!

(1) Workers perform better when they are being watched (or think they are)
(2) Workers often perform better when they’re competing against someone else.
(3) Competition is a more than just a business concept; it is very emotionally involving as well
(4) People’s pride and dignity are involved when they are being compared to someone else
(5) Can you imagine how a seasoned worker will feel when competing against someone new?

(6) Imagine if a new worker outperforms a seasoned worker… imagine the resentment!
(7) A seasoned worker will be put in their place when a new worker outperforms them.
(8) Being measured against others puts a sort of psychological pressure on you to perform better.
(9) Salespeople might bitterly complain about the unfairness in being compared to others.

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It is fun to do the impossible

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Most people think that they can not do the impossible. But, we have seen sales of particular products skyrocket recently. I hired a new salesperson with a new approach and things are selling like hotcakes. Things that we sold one per year are selling three per day! Wow!

So, after I saw those new sales coming in for several consistant days, I started to believe that the impossible was possible. Yes, it is fun to do the impossible. But, once you do one impossible thing, then you start to believe that other impossible things are possible. It is just that there needs to be a shift somewhere. You could change how you think, or change your approach — which basically boils down to a change in thought that precedes the action.

But, since business is up this year, I wonder how much business could go up next year. So, now I am beginning to believe that my site stats could double in a year. This year we have 25% more unique visitors than last year. So, perhaps we could double next year if we find the critical piece of information which could be responsible for the increase. An increase in quality could make the difference.

I used to think that I was near the maximum potential of what I could achieve. Now, I am beginning to think that there is no end in site. Limitations can really limit your success. And the limitations start upstairs — thats right — in your brain and your consciousness.

So, I look forward to that magical time in the future — whether it is this year, next year, or next month, when we make a breakthrough, figure out how to double our stats, and do the impossible.

What can you think of doing that is impossible?

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Now is the perfect moment

Categories: Motivation | Tagged | Leave a comment

Unfortunately in business, we are not in control of the daily functioning of our business. Critical employees get sick, quit, or don’t do what they are supposed to do. We have subcontractors who have pipelines for when they get things done as well. Your computer project might take three months to finish if they are on schedule which rarely happens. So, doing things now is not always possible.

I find that I am doing too many things now. I am good at optimizing my work, to do the most critical task now. It keeps me busy all the time, because there is always something critical to do.

But, what about those things that are of vital imporance that you should be doing now, that you just don’t do? You should do them now!

Let’s forget about doing things, and get geared up for higher consciousness. In the mundane world we always talk about doing, doing, and doing. Do things now. Be successful. Successful people do things now. I say, pick the most important thing that you can do, and do that now. In life, we have limited hours, and can not do everything. your ability to pick the most important tasks and do them first will be a rewarding skill. But, what else can we do now besides active things? Conditioning our subconscious for success. Do that now too!

Conditioning your subconscious is not something that you do. It is a non-activity. It is actively passive, or passively active. Maybe that is how the gurus would describe it. Are you afraid to do something that you need to do? Are you limiting yourself mentally by some thought patterns that you have? Do you have limiting thoughts that prevent you from reaching your true potential? While your subcontractors are dragging their heels getting your work done — work on your consciousness — now!

By evolving your consciousness, you can rise to that next level in business much more quickly than from overworking yourself into a coma. Remember, if you are a head of an organization, you are not the arm. Someone else should be your arm and leg. They should do the doing, and you should do the visioning. Condition your thinking to rising to that next level — I think that is what you should do now.

Getting back to spirituality — now is the only moment that exists — so spiritually there is no difference between doing something, and doing it now. Doing something later = not doing it. On the other hand deciding that you are going to do something, and deciding when you are going to do something is like doing something now, without actually doing the action now. The decision which overcomes the inertia happens now, and hence starts the process. Kabbalistically, once that decision is made — it is already done.

To quote one of the programmers that I fired last year — “It is done”

I heard those words only to discover that my suspicion that nothing had been done was correct. This happened partly because that programmer was a liar, and partly because he didn’t — “Do it now!”

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Penalizing people for following the rules

Categories: India, Motivation | Tagged | Leave a comment

India is a country that penalizes many for following rules.
It seems that the minute you leave Mumbai, no rick shaw driver will follow any rules. Meters are systematically broken or tampered with, prices never reflect the real amount of labor involved. Drivers claim that there is no return trip when in fact there might be a trip going partially in the direction back to wherever he wants to go, etc. Why does this problem exist?

Forcing people into poverty
It seems that the local governments in India want to force rick shaw drivers into such a state of poverty that they wouldn’t even be able to afford any type of food or gas. The published rates for rick shaw fares are pathetically low in many parts of India (Chennai especially a few years ago at rps6 per km). The governments don’t seem to understand that the price of labor and petrol are not going down as a general rule. Fares need to be a lot higher, otherwise people will be forced to break the rules.

The result of this oppression
The result of this unfair system is that the local governments who set rick shaw fares are never fair to the drivers. And the drivers seem to cheat about what they charge more than half the time just to make a living. This creates a greater problem to society. People feel they need to cheat to get ahead, due to the system — and this can effect people in all industries.

The police are also underpaid
The situation is the same with the police who are paid some miserable salary. They get most of their income from bribes, rather than from the government. Police do as much of their job as they like, and effective people will not want to be police, since they get paid only pennies. Police are forced to cheat, just to survive. Once again, this forcing people to cheat just to eat custom causes horrific damage to the culture and society. People should be rewarded for being honest and fair.

The damage has creeped its way into outsourcing as well.
There are many in outsourcing who just lie and cheat. In the long run those get fired, and the useful people get ahead. But, in a society that penalizes people for being honest and following rules, what do you expect?

India should tax more & pay better salaries
I suggest that India tax their citizens more, and pay top dollar to the police, government workers, and other public employees. However, I also suggest that they get rid of any type of JOB SECURITY. People in India like government jobs because they feel they have financial security for life, even if they laze around. I suggest that people get paid for what they accomplish, and that they get paid well. That way, the best and brightest in India will be competing for government jobs, and the country would by default function much more smoothly as a result.

Smart kids go into tech, not government
The reality in India is that the smart young people almost always go into the tech industry, and many produce economic miracles. You will see multi-million dollar buildings, and then the roads immediately in front of them will be falling apart before your very eyes, and traffic jams due to a lack of effective government planning, will prevent these millionaires from driving to their homes. If the genious millionares in Banjara Hills were offered more money to work for the government than they are to do programming, then they would figure out a way for India to not have any more traffic jams, and then we would all be happy!

The solution = more competition for government jobs
The solution — more taxes, higher salaries for government jobs, and more competition for state jobs, and jobs awarded to people who have a good track record, and seniority and political connections should count for nothing… I’m not being realistic, but my ideas will produce results!

Zen and the art of pep talks

Categories: Motivation, Outsourcing Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

Zen and the Art of Pep Talks

Being a manager is more than just about showing up for work and assigning work to your various employees and subcontractors. It is more than just checking up on people, and more than just about shaking hands.  Psychology is a huge factor in being a manager, that can not be overlooked.

Working at a large company or tiny company doesn’t always make sense in terms of who does what and why.  In an entrepreneurship, the sole proprieter does all tasks in the business, unless they require some technical expertise in which case he hires an IT firm to help him. In a larger outfit, workers graduate to be managers if they are any good.  In a way this makes sense, because you need to be an expert on the work you do before you can supervise it. But, supervising is a completely different skill set, and they don’t teach this in school.

At school, if you studied business, you might study marketing theory, management techniques, and accounting. But, try out your skills in the real world with real people, and you will quickly realize that you are up against much more than what the text book said. You need to not only manage the actual work people do, but manage their attitudes as well.  What you might not realize, is that if a particular someone has the wrong attitude, your whole department could be doomed!

There are different types of attitude challanges that an employee might have and as a manager, you need to be able to quickly identify what type of psychological roadblocks the employee has, so that you can give them a pep talk that teaches them not only how to get through their roadblock, but how critical it is that they do.  Many employees don’t realize how serious an attitude problem could be.  It can kill a work relationship, and is contagious as well in many cases.

Imagine that in a room, there is one employee who doesn’t like being there and gives dirty looks to everyone.  Let’s assume that the others are not so pleased to be there either. The negativity spreads and circulates around the room — you can’t have that.  The manager can try to give regular pep talks to the most negative employee to get them to be more cheerful.  You could focus on how well that employee is doing, or how exciting the next project down the line is going to be.  Focus on positive things, and the positivity will spread — by definition. If the negative employee is incurable, or too high maintenance (pep talks don’t come cheap these days), then maybe it is time to say good bye.

What if you have a customer service rep who feels helpless even though they are an expert in their field?  This happens all the time!  I have a phone rep who is amazing, but lets customers walk all over him. Then, he gets all bent out of shape after they walked all over him.  I had a long time with him today and explained that he is the king. He has the knowledge, skill and experience, and these other people who are bothering him can barely tie their shoes. I said, “They should treat you with respect otherwise you shouldn’t even waste a nanosecond with them”.  I asked him if a professor, police man, border control agent, or other authority would let a civilian talk to them like customers talk to him — and he thought about it and said, “I guess not”.  Then, I said, “So why do you get upset when these ignorant types start antagonizing you?”.  I told this guy that HE was the authority, and that he sets the terms, and other people have to conform to his standards — or the discussion is over.  After this pep talk (which actually took over an hour in its entirety), my rep had a completely different perspective, and felt 200% better — just like that.

You might have a third type of situation where a good employee is just not giving 100%.  You could compliment this person on what their achievements have been, and what you think they can do next month.  Let them know that a little more effort could change their whole life — and that this is big.  It could mean promotions, more respect, and a completely different life in the future, and all it takes is another perspective, and a little extra effort.  The main ingredients here are enthusiasm, and the fact that the change you are asking for could have such huge results, that people’s whole lives could be permanently changed as a result.

Pep talks are life and death for a manager. If you don’t know how to do this, you need to study this like you study for a mid-term.  In a sense, giving good pep talks is sales work.  You are convincing someone to do something that they wouldn’t otherwise do, and giving them earth-shaking reasons why it is so important to do that thing you are proposing.

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