Susan Slaughter

The Truth About What Motivates Us

In Detritus, Everything, Sacramento Valley SAS Users Group, SAS, SAS Global Forum, Western Users of SAS Software on June 2, 2010 at 8:40 am

What motivates you? When I was a kid, I used to play a board game called Careers.  In this game players moved around the board collecting points in three areas: fame , $ fortune, and happiness. The first player to achieve his chosen combination of points won the game.  It was a fun game, but I used to scratch my head at the idea that success in life could be reduced to a linear formula consisting of fame, fortune, and happiness.  (Yes, even as a ten-year-old, this seemed to me a pretty vacant idea of what life was about.)

When I was in graduate school, I heard about research showing that money can have a seemingly paradoxical effect on people.  Paying people lots of money can actually reduce their motivation rather than increase it.  What I didn’t know is that research on this topic has been ongoing.  Then my son (Elliott Slaughter, Computer Sci. and Eng. major at UCSD and open source developer) sent me the link to a fascinating talk by writer Dan Pink.  His talk is cleverly illustrated by RSA Animate.

So what does this have to do with SAS? Have you ever thought how amazing it is that we have local, regional, and international SAS user group meetings organized and executed primarily by volunteers?  Why are so many people willing to work hundreds of hours without being paid a cent year after year after year?  Pink explains why money is such a poor motivator, and what people really want.  He uses open source software as his example, but you could easily substitute SAS users groups.

Take 10 min. to watch Pink’s video Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.  I think you’ll be glad you did.

  1. You were right. That was excellent. They kind of glossed over the point though that you did need to pay people enough so they don’t have to worry. I’ve always tried to find the best people, or find people who developed into the best people, and then pay them much better than the going rate so they had an incentive to stay and be the best people for US. I think that is a mistake some companies make. They think we provide these great opportunities to do fun stuff and learn a lot so we don’t need to pay much. That’s only true if you’re the only company with those opportunities. If another company offers the same AND more money than you might just move on down the road.

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