Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us (youtube.com)
293 points by zacharyvoase 2097 days ago | past | web | 41 comments



The "Back to the Future" bit at 7:05 or so was very funny.

I was kind of skeptical to watch a video with content I had already seen as a TED talk and nearly clicked back before it started. Once it started, I was immediately engaged, and reading parts of the talk satisfied a certain part of my brain.

-----


Yeah-- I was just thinking that if every lecture in school was this way, how could I not stay engaged and absorb it?

-----


Because if every lecture was that way, then that style would be the norm, and therefore almost by definition you probably wouldn't be engaged, just as you aren't engaged to the norm now, and seek out unique and interesting—novel things.

-----


For you to say that, you probably didn't share the same experience I did.

Surely there's some aspect that is norm versus unique, but that's not what kept me watching it to the very end. If that's all it was, I would have stopped watching halfway through (as the uniqueness wore off).

No-- instead, the presentation style held my attention the entire time. And this is for a talk that I had already heard previously. It was stronger than one of those unfortunately placed TVs at a restaurant playing something colorful, this drew my attention and held it even though I would have typically moved on much sooner.

Perhaps no one else had the same reaction to it as I did, but I don't think I'd easily tire of lectures being presented with this kind of quality. Just my $.02.

-----


When I was a teacher I learned about different learning styles: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc. It turns out most people are visual. Seeing the presentation is easier for most people to absorb than simply hearing it.

-----


Sal Khan gave an interesting hypothesis about why his lectures were more engaging (he uses a blackboard) than a traditional one with a person in the front. I recommend watching the video, but his point is that we tend to focus on the person, the movement of the hands. When you remove the person, you're sort of left with a voice inside your head explaining stuff.

http://vimeo.com/11731351

-----


Every reason he described there is pertinent to this video. Thanks so much for posting this, I don't know why I skipped it when it made its rounds the other day.

-----


Thank you for posting this! I went on his youtube channel to see what it's all about and I ended up watching the first 7 lessons in Biology... and I had 3 or 4 "gotchas" that I never got in school... man this is fun. I'm sure to continue watching this stuff. I want to watch it all!

-----


That's ridiculous -- there are plenty of aspects of my life that are in some sense "the norm" that I still find very engaging. Novelty is a component of interestingness, sure, but it's far from the only one.

This presentation is more compelling to me than a traditional lecture in many ways; its novelty really plays a fairly minor role in the difference. (YMMV, of course, but don't put words in my [or the GP's] mouth.)

-----


Perhaps the reason most economic approaches fail to predict this kind of behaviour is because they forget that money by itself is not a motivator—it’s only ever a means to an end for all who use it.

Money gives you the freedom to make choices and spend time doing other things—the autonomy and mastery that Dan Pink was talking about. However, earning more money but being stuck in the same job renders this increase in salary effectively useless, because you don’t stand to gain any satisfaction simply by having the money.

-----


It’s worth mentioning that the underlying concept is Marginal Utility: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marginal_utility

-----


It would be interesting to see if in the companies that have a "culture of quitting", money is an additional motivator. $20k worth of crap isn't that exciting, but a year's runway is.

This might shed light on whether this is about a mistaken identification of money with value, or if people value the present that much more than the future. The latter would be more profound.

Unfortunately, those companies either already basically pay enough (e.g. Google), or they're startups where giving employees more money than necessary is almost certainly the wrong thing to do.

-----


I'm pretty sure I disagree with the moral. Does anyone really contribute to Wikipedia for the sense of mastery it gives them? Do you think the NSA releases their Linux kernel patches to increase the agency's autonomy? Do you think that most open source and free culture advocates are altruists motivated by a drive to give their stuff away to other people? No, they do it because it improves the world they live in - for them. Enlightened self-interest is still self-interest.

Also, the dissing on economists just rubs me the wrong way.

-----


I believe he was referring to those who built and those who currently maintain Wikipedia. It is likely that those individuals set out not motivated by money but for some ideology, a "dent" in the universe.

I would assume the NSA releases their Linux kernel because the license compels them to. I could be wrong. Maybe it is a trap.

Most open source and free culture advocates are _self_ motivated by a drive to give their stuff away to other people. The entire talk is about self interest, completely the other side of the planet from altruism. It sounds like you actually agree with what he is saying but are entangling entangling money and self-interest in precisely the common way this talk seeks to dismiss.

-----


Quite so. It's sometimes easy to forget that making the world a better place can still be a very selfish act. Consider the man living in a world he hates, with all the money in the world, vs. a man living in a world he enjoys, with comparatively less individual wealth. In a very real sense the 2nd man is better off. A lot of this has become baked into the cultural DNA of the west. Cooperation pays dividends. Today's J. Average Middle-class Everyman living in the 1st world is much, much better off than very nearly every king, despot, prince, and emperor throughout history.

-----


> making the world a better place can still be a very selfish act

You sound like such selfness is actually concious. I don't think so. We're not Machiavellian machines, gauging the consequences of each of our deeds. For example, I bet most Wikipedia contributors don't especially want to help building the world's most comprehensive encyclopaedia, but just want to share a bit of their knowledge, or just don't like to see spelling errors.

-----


> It's sometimes easy to forget that making the world a better place can still be a very selfish act.

If only those people would not try to impose their morality on other people, that would truly make the world a better place. Unfortunately some things we never learn.

> Cooperation pays dividends

Only if you're collaborating with the right people. On the other hand you can get screwed pretty badly ... by people who either steal your work, claiming it as their own, or by people that don't appreciate you (which is a problem when willfully collaborating because that's when you have an inflated ego).

-----


This is one of the best books I've read. As an entrepreneur, it will get you to think differently on how you motivate people. Before, I use to think that if I pay a person to do a task that should be sufficient. Now, I encourage purpose and deliver a vision. You would be amazed at how easy it is to 'rally the troops' by doing this.

Read this book now.

-----


Strongly agree. The book is a quick read and has broad implications. I worked with the author (Daniel Pink) to create a mobile app based on the book. Daniel is a great guy who lives what he writes.

Plug: the app is free and called "Dan the Motivation Roo" currently on Android only

-----


I have had this book on my shelf for a few months now, yet I had never read it, nor really planned on it.

That's different now, I will try to start tonight.

-----


I apologize for sounding ignorant, but what is the book?

Edit: Got it. Thanks.

-----


Aww, man. I wanted it to pan out and show the whole mural at the end.

-----


Hmm, well, someone could make one by taking screenshots at the appropriate times and then stitching them together.

-----


I wonder if the whole would make sense or just be a big haphazard mess with only local coherence?...

-----


Beautiful presentation of a presentation! If you are like me and usually just scan the comments of HN, don't miss this one!

-----


The lecture sounded really familiar - from here: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_pink_on_motivation.htm...

-----


I thought I had seen this before. I remembered some candle/tacks/box task. I believe it was this TED video.

-----


What a great way to watch a lecture

-----


Does anybody have any idea which software was used to create the RSA animated series?

-----


It seems plausible that it was done by hand and then sped up to match the speed of the talk.

-----


At the end of the video it says images were done by "cognitive media". Here's a link to that company: http://www.cognitivemedia.co.uk/

-----


Somewhat related video from Paul Solman at PBS Newshour, on motivation and money: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGyhaZnPtC4

(An interview with Dan Pink, author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future)

-----


I wish they had ended it with a shot of the whole board at once - Or maybe even just zoomed slowly out...

-----


Dan Ariely's book, Predictably Irrational, presents research that speaks to this issue from another angle: that we perform better at tasks framed in social norms (help a friend) vs tasks (even the same task!) done simply for money.

-----


Money is overrated. Time is undervalued. However, not everyone wants to make a contribution. And high incentives can improve the perfomance of people who wants a collateral reward of money like social status.

-----


"And high incentives can improve the perfomance of people who wants a collateral reward of money like social status."

Do you have any science to back that up?

-----


great video, almost makes one stressed looking to see if that hand will keep up with the talk though...

-----


If what he says is true, then that means Diaspora will fail, because of the huge amount of funding they got.

-----


No, for a simple reason: they already got the money. If this money would be delivered only upon some milestone of the project, I would have agreed.

The fact is, once the funding round is finished, once they actually start to work, they will receive naught. On the contrary, money had been put out of the equation, at least for a time. And their very first motivation wasn't money. It was Eben Moglen's talk[1]. Pure idealism.

Four geeks in their proverbial garage set out do destroy an evil corporation is exactly the right kind of incentive. They have independence, they probably seek mastery, and they have a purpose. Sure, they could become greedy and just want to get rich like an americally dreamt start-up founder, but I think this is unlikely.

Failure will come from another factors, if at all.

[1]: http://www.softwarefreedom.org/news/2010/feb/01/freedom-clou...

-----


> And their very first motivation wasn't money. It was Eben Moglen's talk[1]. Pure idealism.

If you believe in pure idealism, then you must also believe in Santa Claus.

> Four geeks in their proverbial garage set out do destroy an evil corporation is exactly the right kind of incentive

Even in the open-source world, people don't brag about their pet projects until they've got at least a preliminary design to show.

I like developers that deliver ... like Linus, when he was criticized for Bitkeeper, he came out of nowhere with Git.

-----


You will note that you didn't contradict me at all. Let me repeat: the Diaspora founders have independence (the proverbial garage and the financial relief). They also probably seek mastery (they are techno-geeks). Finally, they have a purpose (destroying the busness model of Facebook, as advocated by Eben Moglen).

Now, on to your points:

> Even in the open-source world, people don't brag about their pet projects until they've got at least a preliminary design to show. I like developers that deliver

I actually agree with that. This is of course a major point against Diaspora. That said, I doubt they expected such a buzz. Don't forget my primary point: their incentives increases the odds of success. I didn't talk about the initial odds.

> If you believe in pure idealism, then you must also believe in Santa Claus.

I'm not sure I get your meaning. I just said that their primary motivation was a purely idealistic one. As told in the submitted video, idealism is one of the most efficient incentives. The thing is, he called that "purpose", which cleverly avoids the negative connotation of "idealism".

The negative connotation of "idealism" worries me, because we need idealism. For instance, you surely know that exponential growth, continued exploitation of the south, systematic destruction of the soil just can't go one forever. They will stop, one way or another. To put it bluntly, our civilization as we know it won't last.

Now, I see two ways our civilization could change:

(1) We continue to prefer short term maximization over long term planning. We rush to deplete the remaining resources. We continue to over-exploit and destroy our soil. A major biologic crisis ensues (that one has already started, by the way). Humanity starves and go back to a pre-feudal state, or falls prey to an oligarchy and eat Soylent Green.

(2) We think long term. We cooperate. We use the remaining oil to bootstrap renewable energies. We take care of our soil. The biologic crisis is mitigated. Humanity mostly lives in the countryside, and eats organic crops.

I'm probably wrong about the details, but the main point remain: our civilization will eventually change drastically. We could make the transition smooth and painless, or we can let it be sudden and nasty. Our choice.

-----




Applications are open for YC Summer 2016

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: