16 March 2013

Chris Farley

When was the last time you watched "Saturday Night Live" end-to-end? For me, a couple of decades. I time it for "Weekend Update", and that's it. In fact, I missed the entirety of Farley's tenure. It wasn't until he died, when news feeds showed clips of his bits, that I found out about Matt Foley. I gather the character was intended to be a sarcastic take on motivation, in general.

ESPN had pretty much non-stop programming on NFL free agency Thursday, and I caught Herm Edwards saying (from memory): "Just because you pay a guy millions more dollars, doesn't mean he's going to run faster". Of course, knuckleheads don't get that. And there are a lot of knuckleheads running sports teams. Just as there are running most business.

Whatever one uses to measure accomplishment, becomes the accomplishment. Mammon tends to evict all else. Artists, the real ones, naturally don't view the world quite that way. And building database applications is as much about art (although it's mostly science), aka creative activity, as anything. Sales, especially life insurance, is an activity which is purely about generating cash. There is no real product, just some promise to pay if some bad event befalls. And the insurance company can't manage to weasel out of paying by invoking some very fine print. After all, the profit comes from *not* delivering the goods; so to speak.

Whether coincidence or purposeful, the NY Times has an article today about Google's largess, and contrasts this specifically with Yahoo!'s Marissa's fiat.
That said, [Teresa Amabile, a business administration professor at Harvard Business School and co-author of "The Progress Principle"] added, "...none of this matters unless people feel they have meaningful work and are making progress at it. In over 30 years of research, I've found that people do their most creative work when they're motivated by the work itself."

I don't know whether it's still true, but one of the hallmark's of MicroSoft's allure was a private office for everyone. Google is into the 20-something "social" meme, what with all open concept and games and such. I've never been able to concentrate all that well in the middle of the Grand Central concourse at rush hour. Say what you will about MicroSoft, and I've never had much nice to say, they've produced a far larger number of useful software applications than Google, which remains a glorified advert agency.

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