by Ben Perreira

We all find motivation from different things. Some people look inside of themselves for a sense of satisfaction in doing something well. Others look to those around them as benchmarks above which they must rise.

I submit that the former is far superior to the latter, which is why this image makes me cringe. It reflects the self-justification required to do some of the shady things “entrepreneurs” (i.e. not creators, but schemers) do. The gentleman is appropriately faceless.


The problem with extrinsic motivation is that it is a moving target. If my motivation is to buy a 2013 BMW M5 so my former high school colleagues see that I’m successful, and I manage to buy one, what happens in 2016 when a new body style comes out? 

Maybe money is their motivation. Look at anyone who is rich AND happy and you will find someone who is not motivated by money. They are driven by a passion to do something really, really well. Steve Jobs is a convenient example of this. He was worth $4 billion when he died and he remained obsessive about anything that bore the Apple brand. You can be sure he would have been doing the same thing if Apple was showing zero returns (see: 2002).

Brands can learn from this as well. If a brand defines itself vis-a-vis its competition it will always be one step behind. Every brand has a story, or at least the ability to create one, that reflects its core identity. This core identity is what allows the brand to seamlessly pivot when competition changes.

Look at GE, one of the largest and most diversified brands in the world. It continues to be successful because buyers know when they buy GE products, they are getting a history of quality. It doesn’t matter is this is a light bulb or their massive stake in NBC.

The desire to do things well versus just do things is a defining characteristic of the intrinsically motivated. They have long term outlooks and sleep well at night knowing they are developing sustainable narratives.