In his revolutionary TED Talk, The Puzzle of Motivation, Dan Pink contends with the traditional approach to human motivation. Pink debunks the myth of carrot rewards and asserts the three guiding principles for intrinsically motivated individuals: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
Earlier this year, the 97th Floor Book Club read Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. It was an insightful read with topics that contributed to a stirring discussion among the Book Club participants. As I read and discussed with my coworkers, I realized that I hadn’t fully refined my purpose for doing what I do at 97th Floor. Don’t get me wrong, I had purpose, but it became clear that I hadn’t formalized that purpose.
As someone who has long-term plans for employment with 97th Floor, I was a little embarrassed to not have a defined reason for what keeps me here. After weeks of refinement, I defined my purpose for working at 97th Floor.
My purpose is twofold: 1) elevate the digital marketing industry, and 2) invite remarkable people into 97th Floor’s work culture.
These may not sound like conventional pillars to an employee’s purpose, so allow me to elaborate.
1) Elevate the Digital Marketing Industry
Everyone’s path to digital marketing is unique. At 97th Floor we have former web designers, business analysts, students of psychology, public relations practitioners, and journalists that now call themselves digital marketers. I believe that there’s something about the level of grit and innovation that intrigues and retains remarkable individuals in our field.
As I look back on my journey to joining the ranks, I didn’t get here by accident. I was in my senior year of college, taking a communications course on new media when I caught the bug. I realized that using the Internet to drive business wasn’t just a cool idea, it was my career.
A degree and a few jobs later, I joined the ranks at 97th Floor and found myself literally surrounded with intelligent and passionate digital marketers. I soaked everything in, we all do here. Years later, I look back at how much fun I’ve had learning, refining, and scaling. It’s an evolving trade, and with that comes a steep learning curve.
Unfortunately, not everyone shares my same views on our industry. Have you ever told someone that you do SEO and they look at you like you’re a recently deposed prince with a once in a lifetime pyramid scheme business opportunity? I have.
For some reason, there’s a looming cloud over our field that makes our profession feel seedy and sordid. While there were certainly dark days of SEO, for the most part, that era has passed. Thanks to Google’s ever-evolving algorithm, black-hat SEO tactics are easy to identify and penalize. We know that, but the rest of the business world is still figuring that out.
Digital marketers today require more than a few tricks; we require a unique blend of characteristics not found anywhere else. We need to be creative yet analytical, skilled but always learning, data-driven but still willing to take risks. In short, we require grit and passion for our craft.
I take pride in calling myself a digital marketer. I feel satisfied knowing the work I produce at 97th Floor elevates the industry I’m proud to be a part of.
2) Invite Remarkable People into 97th Floor’s Work Culture
Maybe I’m biased, but I’m part of the greatest work culture my generation has ever known. You might think I sound pretentious, but that’s cool with me.
You may ask why. Many perks come to mind, but the obvious one is our ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) culture. We have a detailed blog post on what it means to be a ROWE, but it’s summed up so well with the simple slogan, “Work wherever you want, whenever you want, as long as the work gets done.”
It’s not about a flexible work schedule or work/life balance, it’s about being treated like an adult. From day one each full-time 97th Floor employee has full autonomy over their schedule and how they work. And the knowledge that my boss trusts me enough to give me this kind of autonomy is empowering to a level I hadn’t known before. Though we’ve been a ROWE company for just over a year, I can hardly imagine working any other way.
Add the long list of other benefits 97th Floor offers employees, and it’s easy to understand why I’m so happy here. I’m constantly reminded of my value, not as an employee, but as a person. Sounds cheesy right? Maybe a little, but there’s something to be said about this level of autonomy that empowers me beyond a professional level -- it’s at a human level.
Remember how I said that I can’t imagine working in a non-ROWE anymore? I want more talented people to share in the level of confidence and empowerment I feel at work. As 97th Floor grows, we seek talented people and invite them into a culture where professionals are treated like actual people.
I believe this is how people should be treated by their company. I’m able to contribute to the growth of 97th Floor, and this allows us to invite more talented people into our culture. If there’s a way for more people feeling, or even understanding, the level of appreciation and trust I feel from my company, I’m motivated to see that out.
At the end of the day I’m not saving penguins like Dove or giving shoes to the needy with TOMS. But I can say that I am actively engaged in causes I care about.
Dan Pink believes that autonomy, mastery, and purpose are the three pillars for motivated people. I’m glad I took the time to define my purpose. In doing so I discovered that spreading feelings of autonomy and mastery to others like me is my purpose.