- We think that people are fundamentally selfish. And that’s the value you ought to appeal to if you want to motivate people. And yet, look at all the things that people would never do for themselves that they constantly do for others. Whether it’s something as simple as a boring task where you persist, because you really care about the client who might benefit from it, whether it’s all of the hours you might spend in the car driving your kids from place to place that you just wouldn’t have bothered if it was only for you. Working in a job that’s extremely difficult to sustain, because it’s physically taxing, it’s exhausting, it’s degrading, because you’re trying to provide for your family.
But these are all things that people struggle immensely to do for themselves, but they readily do for others. And when I studied this, it was with fundraising callers who were doing a pretty...unpleasant task.
They’re calling alums of universities and trying to get them to donate their hard-earned money. And when they were told about all the benefits of doing the job for themselves, it didn’t affect their motivation at all. But when they realized that they were actually providing scholarships to help students go to school, their efforts dramatically spiked. So in one case, just hearing from a scholarship student for five minutes about how that scholarship made a difference was enough to boost weekly time on the phone by about 142 percent per caller, and 171 percent weekly revenue. And then we found that could get even bigger — that if you got a scholarship student in who really deeply appreciated the work that the callers were doing, the average caller spiked more than four times greater money raised per week than before.
I quite like Krista Tippet's podcast. She regularly strikes the right balance between meaningful and interesting converstations.