The Motivating Factor

A reflection on Chapter 1 of Drive by Daniel Pink

It is hard to find *that* job that does not have some hygeine factors. This is actually may main problem with Pink’s thesis. We still need to to find work that helps to pay the bills. I liken it to the recent spate of instances where people in the creative sector are asked to do work for “exposure”. This is code for “free” with the idea that it will lead to paid work. As Will Wheaton has aptly put, you can’t pay bill’s with exposure. Even as an artist, I need to make sure that I can keep the lights on. Yes, I will do pro bono work, but I keep a tight reign over the free work as it tends to cost me more.

As an aside, people and organizations that I do pro bono or free work for tend to be more demanding and needy than those that pay. Those that pay are often more relaxed about timing, amenable to changes in schedules and rates, collaborative, and all around “nice clients.” The Free clients, are rude, ungrateful, super controlling, and expect me to be on call 24-7.

One Foot in Front of the Other

I do need to preface that I am self-employed. I run a digital marketing creative agency called TikiKitchen, Inc specializing in visual design, UI/UX, front end development, and brand and marketing collateral (I say this because you wouldn’t believe how many calls I get needing a kitchen redesigned). I am my own boss, but not really. I am still the subject of those that hire me.

I have been able to create my own career. In that sense it is a combination of the two factors. I need to make sure I make enough money to keep the lights on, but I also get to pick projects that get my creative juices flowing. I especially love projects that are problems that need to be solved – the “How do I {x} when I can only {y}?” So in a sense, my job is 50% hygiene (I need to pay the bills), and 50% taking on projects that I enjoy.

This means that not all projects or clients are going to be ideal. I just need to make sure I manage the two sides so that 1) I am able to pay the bills, and 2) I get to keep learning and progressing in my field. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it’s a blast. Most of the time I like what I do. Other times I want to move into a van down by the river.

Droppin’ the Processes on Your Algorithms … Heuristically Speaking of Course

Given that my field is in the digital realm, I will say that the majority of my work is a combination of both algorithmic and heuristic processes (heuristic processes sounds way too oxymoronic to me, but it is in its own way a process). For each client I have a checklist of what I need to follow. How often I need to meet, what credentials need to be used, what items need to be accomplished, and the timeline that all pieces need to be done.

Because my work depends on the clients needs, I often move between unrelated projects on the fly and quickly adapt to the new requirements. This could be busting out a logo or a landing page template without any information, or having to make an edit to existing collateral, or even completely rewriting database scripting (not fun). This can vary from product to product.

However if the project is something like an animated video, I make it clear that I need to have a finalized script to work from and that storyboards are approved before I even go into the recording booth to do produce the voiceover, select music beds, and start animating or shooting the video. I can quickly make changes as needed, but if I don’t have a process in place than I take the risk of spinning my wheels and costing the client more money.

Last Word

At times the balance of Hygiene factors and personal motivation factors, as well as algorithmic and heuristic processes, can be hard to maintain. It’s a scale that keeps moving, and being able to adapt is the key. It causes depression, anxiety, and be emotionally taxing, but it can also be enriching, uplifting, and confidence building. It really is dependent on the project and what I want out of it. I am getting better at figuring those parts out. I think someday I’ll get it right. Until then…

Moo Do Jung Shin and Mahalo Nui Loa!

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