The Secret To How To Motivate Others- And Yourself

dog_2I flew to New Zealand recently. A colleague flew likewise an hour after me. “Hey- I watched “Blue Velvet” on the flight- what a movie!” he told me. And then there’s me. You see, embarrassingly, this is what I did for those three hours. But please- don’t tell anyone. Shhhhh.

I spent the flight to NZ searching for my blibula spot.

Are you brave enough to truthfully identify and share what your ‘blibula’ spot is? Huh? What’s that? Calm down. Relax. This is what it is. “It’s a spot on a dog’s stomach which when rubbed, causes his leg to rotate wildly.” The Brand Guy told me about it.

When I fly on business, on the way to my destination, I always try to work – non-stop. I used that NZ flight to source material for a new workshop on ‘Brand You’ I am presenting to one of our companies in a month…. three hours reading an awesome book- “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There- How Successful People Become Even More Successful,” written by Marshall Goldsmith. And here’s the key to what it told me.

For humans, our most important hot button- our blibula spot- is quite simply, self-interest.

Self-interest is what drives us, in life and in business. I know that feels kind of ‘Hey- that’s not me- I’m bigger than that!’ And you might be right, if you’re a Buddhist monk that is. But if you are anything like me, then you are, at your very core, driven by self-interest. End of story.

The trick is working out exactly what that self-interest hot button is for you at this stage of your life. Here’s a way to do it. And I am borrowing heavily from Marshall Goldsmith’s book here in sharing this insight.

People will do something- including changing their behavior- only if it can be demonstrated that doing so is in their own best interests as defined by their own values.

The key is being able to find out what someone’s hot button is… to find out what OUR hot buttons are. For ambitious, ‘driven’ people, the motives behind their self-interest (particularly as they are working their way ‘up’ towards their goals) usually boils down to four items:

Money… eg through pay increases

Power… eg through promotions

Status… eg for a bigger title and office

Popularity… eg by a burning desire to be liked by everyone

So- think about this. Why do you turn up to work every day? What motivates you- today? Is it any of the big four- money, power, status, popularity- or something more profound- something deeper.

I can honestly say I have never been motivated by money- though more of it has always been welcomed. In the early days, my thirst was for status and popularity… then I yearned – no, ached- for the power and influence… and then, once I had achieved certain goals, all of that kind of faded away. Now, as Goldsmith so perfectly surmises, my motivation is driven by self-interest of ‘something deeper and more subtle that has developed over time…’, of ‘leaving a legacy, being an inspiring role model, creating a great company.’ His words, not mine…but somewhere in all that lies my motivation at this stage of my career. Maybe it is a burning desire to be remembered well. Finally- ‘popularity’ rules again?

It wasn’t always that way- all about ‘more subtle’ motivations. Oh no. It was a hard core chase for status, power, popularity…and money did come with it in time. I can still taste the chase now- and I loved it, and don’t regret it. It’s simply what happened to me. And enabled me to do what I do today- which is having a blast every day (well- most days).

What about you? If you know what matters to you TODAY- what drives your self-interest- it’s easier to commit to change. And remember- people only change their ways when what they truly matter is threatened.

So- what truly matters to you- what genuinely motivates you to come to work every day and achieve? What is your blibula spot?

And do you have the courage to share it with me, now?


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14 Responses to The Secret To How To Motivate Others- And Yourself

  1. Paul Alexander April 16, 2014 at 10:05 am #


    • Chris Savage April 16, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

      Thanks Paul!

  2. Hannah April 16, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    Love this post – aloso really like the new design of your blog!

    • Chris Savage April 16, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

      Thanks Hannah!

  3. MC Hammer April 16, 2014 at 11:30 am #

    Does that mean I dont have to rub your tummy any more?

    • Chris Savage April 16, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

      It’s the only tummy you get to rub MC, so be grateful.

  4. JOC April 16, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    Knowing you have the brains to win.

  5. Tony April 16, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    Great post Chris!

    When I first entered the industry over 25 years ago I was fortunate to join an agency where I was surrounded by mentors. Each of them had enjoyed fabulous careers and shone light on the seemingly impossible. They guided, encouraged, pulled you back from the edge and even gave a helpful kick in the butt when needed. They came in and out of the agency a few days a week and made a huge difference to so many people. At the time I didn’t fully appreciate the value they added as I was too busy striving for money, power, status and popularity. Looking back, me and many others have them to thank for our careers.
    I still genuinely enjoy the industry. Each day I continue to be motivated in my search for opportunities to give back to the industry and now understand the motivation of my mentors.
    In an industry driven by bright new shiny things, it is however exceedingly difficult to maintain this motivation when many like me with current skills and solid experience are actively encouraged to simply go away and do something else.

    Whilst many have given up, the recent words of one of my mentors (who is now in his 80’s) keep on niggling at me: “Besides selling a ton of stuff, what have you really done that has made a difference?”

  6. Tony Spencer-Smith April 16, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    Personally I prefer to be bibulous on planes than to look for my blibula spot. And I hope the flight attendants were not too perturbed when your legs began to kick uncontrollably.

    But seriously, you do raise a good point. I wonder just how many of us are motivated by more than power and money etc. I hope for the sake of us all lots.

  7. Caro April 17, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    Great post Chris, as always, but this one has hit a particular soft spot I think.
    Thinking back to my uni days and first few years in the industry, I ‘knew’ I was going to have my own agency. I don’t think it was power and money I wanted, but popularity, recognition, being looked up to, a sense of achieving what I thought would be the ultimate goal.
    Somewhere at some point in time that changed, the people I worked for or looked up to were suddenly too busy, too stressed, too money driven and even too lonely and I think I lost the drive to be like them. At times it made me question being in this industry.
    Nowadays I think it is still about popularity and recognition, but in a different sort of way, I truly love making a difference in the work I do, I love being praised by clients and peers, having my juniors thank me for what I’ve been able to teach them.
    It’s not making me a lot of money to be honest but I am less stressed and less frustrated and I’m happy when I go home and feel like a better person to encourage my son to be happy to, no matter what he does.

  8. Vera April 17, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    personally, problem solving what driven me most of the day, I wonder if it’s actually go down to popularity and I’m actually craving for attention to be the Hero of the day 🙂 since most of my colleagues or friends seems to contact me if they have a problem that need to be solved.

  9. Dee April 22, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    Having the opportunity to work with talented individuals to achieve shared goals for both the organisation and it’s employees…keeping in mind the broader goals of continued progress and improvement of our society, our century and our species…. in a nutshell! I am an an idealist and this does not always necessitate in the real world, but in the back of mind that dream is always there.

  10. Kathy April 22, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    Sheryl Sandberg talks about “the tiara syndrome” in her book Lean In. I have spoken to many of my female colleagues about this and most agree. It’s not about power, status, or money – we just want someone to come up to us at the end of the day and give us a Tiara. Yep, thats it. If not a Tiara – then a heartfelt Thank You. So is that appreciation? Wanting to be loved? Maybe it’s popularity – but I think its different to popularity – it’s about being recognised, being seen and being valued. Maybe it’s just a girl thing…?

  11. Mei-ling April 27, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    Great blog post. For me it is problem solving, finding new ways to improve results for my agency, my team or my clients. Another thing is mentoring, I really value great mentors in my life and strive to share with those around me and help guide them to achieve their goals.

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