Dan Pink on the Surprising Science of Motivation

There’s a mismatch between what science knows and what business does

And so Dan Pink presents his case as to why we should reconsider the ways in which we run not only our businesses but also in how we motivate people. He begins by arguing that the long-held notion of rewards and punishments – of carrots and sticks – used primarily in workplace motivation is largely outdated, obsolete, and work only in a surprisingly few instances. Rather, this type of motivation is better suited for tasks during the 20th century – tasks which are linear, straightforward, mechanical, and right-brained. However, the problem is that more and more of these tasks are done faster by software and are being outsourced every year. Moreover, the tasks for the 21st century instead require more of the left-brained, creative type of thinking and, in which Dan Pink argues, the traditional notions of motivation are ineffective to. Thus, he proposes a new approach based on intrinsic motivators and in which revolves around three key elements: Autonomy – the urge to direct our own lives Mastery – the desire to get better and better at something that matters Purpose – the yearning to do what we do for the purpose of something greater than ourselves Dan Pink then cites examples to prove this point. It is during Google’s 20 Percent Time – the time in which the employees of Google are given the autonomy to work on and undertake any project they want – that over half of its products in a typical year originate. And also, it is mainly due to writers and contributors being intrinsically motivated which led to the success of the Wikipedia and the spread of its crowdsourced mainframe model. In conclusion, Dan Pink asserts the importance of constantly rethinking the way we do things and the way we handle problems. Because it is when we improve ourselves during these processes by which we, bit by bit, change the world.

Mandarin: Language of the Future

Of the numerous fears which lurk at the back of every Westerner’s mind, perhaps none comes closer to actualization than the eventual dominance of
China and its future role as the dominant global superpower. This notion isn’t too far-fetched if you consider China’s growing population of about 1.3 billion people, its robust and massive workforce, and its rapidly-growing economy. Moreover, the media stereotypically portrays China as superior (or rather, will be superior) compared to its Western peers; posts from sites such as 9gag (Difficulty Level: Asian), exposure given by books like Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (and now, there’s also a Wolf Dad), and even racial discrimination in college admissions tests all point out to the supremacy of China.

I believe one major implication of this change would be of language. English has been the dominant language – the lingua franca for the international community – for the past century but will the rise of China signify the decline of the English language and the spread of the Chinese language (specifically, Mandarin Chinese)? Perhaps not, some would say. Despite the post-war hypergrowth experienced by Japan, use of its language still remains quite confined to its borders and its media. Moreover, others would point out that one of the primary reasons Singapore achieved such a rapid growth was due to its early adoption of the English language; it may not be their native language but this far-sighted decision enabled Singapore to better link with the global economy and improve its own as well.

Despite these varying insights into this issue, I believe the right thing to do would be to prepare for whatever happens. I take classes to learn about the Chinese language because I believe that whether or not Chinese would become the dominant language for the new century, it would nevertheless help me in connecting and networking with an increasingly dominant market.

The Importance of Awareness and Benchmarking

I have this belief that despite the reach of social media and its effect of making us even more aware of the world around us, there are still those who act as if they are ignorant of the world around them. There are now over 7 billion people in the world and we see various bits of their daily lives in the course of a usual internet session. And yet most of us act as if they aren’t there; don’t you feel inspired to form a startup after hearing about the story of Mark Zuckerbergand the founding of Facebook? Or even developed an intense wanderlust after seeing pictures of other countries? And also, why are some people still so alone and ignorant of the world around them when it just got tremendously easier to make a friend / pen pal – although an online one – from another part of the world?

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

I believe what people lack is awareness. In my case, reading Amy Chua’s memoir “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother made me more aware of the world around me. And now I consider myself a bit more knowledgeable about the situation of Chinese immigrants in America – their traditions and customs, beliefs regarding friendship and matrimony, and, in the case of Ms. Chua’s daughters, their study habits. More importantly, in a way, it let me compare myself against my contemporaries around the world in what they are in to and doing right now – a sort of benchmarking.

In the application of this concept, however, I would like to use this scenario: If each of the 7 billion people in the world were to be ranked as if in a leaderboard, one shouldn’t sit and rest on his/her laurels yet even if he/she were considered one of the best in his/her country. Its because given the impact of globalization, people are increasingly being ranked not just according to how they compare against their countrymen but rather on how they compare against their contemparies in the world.

In a way, competition, aside from turning social, just truly became global. And I believe that benchmarking ourselves against others is a good first step in staying competitive in the modern world.

The Power of Siri

Image representing Siri as depicted in CrunchBase

Even after many months have passed and also due to the outstanding success of the iPhone 4S, there still remains a certain hype and wonder associated with the functionality of  its virtual assistant Siri. And I do believe that it has a great justification for doing so and it is because I believe that it has a great potential for disrupting the search business.

For nearly a decade, Google (Search) has been the dominant player in the mobile search business. And in spite of that, it continues to innovate by using increasingly complex algorithms and by being bundled with other features, most notably Google+, all for the goal of giving the users what they need whenever they ask for it. Indisputably, Google reigns in this category and yet Apple’s Siri could have the potential to stand up against its behemoth competitor.

If we really ask ourselves “Why do we Google something?”, then the answer would most probably be like this: Its because we’re after something. And this is where Apple’s Siri shines because it could immediately offer what the users want while bypassing the entire traditional search process; no longer do we have to sift through pages of links looking for a particular website, I bet Siri has enough complexity to reasonably do those functions by herself.

Google’s presence is still dominant and widespread and it would both be unrealistic and foolish to say that it will be replaced overnight. I just marvel on how such a little innovation could creatively disrupt an industry standard. And it is these types of ideas which I am constantly on the lookout for.

The Brand Called You

We have a saying at LinkedIn: Everyone is an entrepreneur.

-Deep Nishar, LinkedIn Senior VP of Product

 

Nowadays, social media has made it possible for people to project an online and digital version of themselves. Whether it be on Facebook, Google+,  Twitter, LinkedIn, or WordPress, almost every person we know has had or currently has a profile on either one of these social media platforms. The ease of access among these sites has made it relatively easy to view and peruse the profiles of others. Thus it is of utter importance that we curate the content in our profiles to promote and present us in the best possible light. It is also because they serve as another means to actively manage an increasingly significant image / brand – the brand called you.

I believe this because these sites are no longer simply used only for social networking or friendly chatter. But rather, they now more often used as an alternative tool for employers and persons with authority (parents, relatives, etc.) to screen out their future employees or prospects; numerous stories online abound of workers being fired just because they uploaded a NSFW picture onto Facebook.

Given the reach of social media and the significance of managing a persona, I believe that we should place a greater emphasis on this. Who knows, in the near future, our profiles on these social networks would serve the same purpose as our resumes today.

 

Networking

I’ve noticed that I haven’t been really active with my blog for a while and so I promise to write more content – not simply content but substantial content – for my readers.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been up to recently:

• E-mailing Sean Parker, founder of Napster and founding president of Facebook
• Connecting with Dale Stephens, founder of the UnCollege Movement
• Chatting with Michael Ellsberg, author of the book Education of Millionaires: It’s Not What
You Think and It’s Not Too Late

Why would I want to link up with such famous and well-connected people such as them?, you might ask. The truth is, as of now, I am still unsure as to why I am doing this. Is it due to pride, or arrogance, or to distinguish myself, or perhaps due to the thirst for success.

But what I am sure of is this: modern technology has changed (and is changing) society to the point that it has made what was once impossible a reality now. The very fact that I am able to send a message to these distinguished men – regardless if they reply or not – is a testament to how technology has been able to creatively disrupt our world. And I also believe that not using this technology – this capability – in the modern world is not anymore ignorance but rather stupidity – plain, outright stupidity.

In my case, I simply used it for networking.

Resolution for 2012

This post should have been posted way back during the first day of January but if anybody is still asking, my resolution for the year 2012 is this:

Do what you say you are going to do, otherwise known as accountability.

Although I got this from Fast Company, nonetheless, I still believe that it is the best (in regards to straightforwardness) resolution one can have and should strive to keep. Its really hard to maintain, I know, but no other resolution brings me to a more direct positive outcome/improvement than this.

Sir Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity

In this video, Sir Ken Robinson presents a thought-provoking case that the current style of education – institutionalized learning – is actually hindering the students of today from developing their creativity. He bases this on the false belief of society that a person’s intelligence is measured by his or her grades or GPA. This bias then leads people who have other types of intellect to be ostracized by society, persons who would otherwise be termed as brilliant, innovative, and nonconformist. Thus, he proposes that we should revolutionize and think of better ways in improving our current educational system lest we suffer the implications of its decline.