Motivating Geeks

For this week’s blog, I decided to compare myself to each of the things that the book says does not work to motivate geeks. The first statement the book makes is that geeks are not motivated by cash bonuses. At first I thought this was a totally inaccurate way to describe me, but then I read the paragraph about it and it made more sense. The book says that geeks like money, but are not motivated to actually do a good job because of it, but just get motivated to get money in general. I cannot say that I fully relate to this because I have never received any kind of raise or cash bonus, but I believe that the book is probably right on this one.

Next, the book talks about geeks not wanting unqualified appreciation. In a nutshell, this means that geeks would prefer to only be complimented by people that actually know what they are talking about. For example, if someone were to tell a geek that he did a great job coding something, but had no idea how to read or write code in the slightest, rather than the geek taking the compliment he will probably just think you are a moron that is sucking up for computer help. If another programmer were to compliment him, it would be a different story. Maybe we are just terrible at accepting compliments. It is hard for me to decide whether I fit with the book on this one or not. On one hand, I really like being acknowledged for the things I do, but I also hate when people act like they know what they are talking about and are utterly clueless. I suppose I probably fit the book again.



Next is parties, but I think I am going to skip that part. I never get invited to parties..

After talking about geeks not enjoying parties, the book moves on to talk about geeks disapproving formal awards. Of course geeks like appreciation, but they do not want to stand in front of a large group of people to receive some reward for something they were probably expected to do anyway. Most geeks are at least a little introverted. Being the smallest bit introverted will just be magnified if forced to stand in front of a crowd. It is awkward to have to go fake a smile and shake someone’s hand when you would much rather be in your own little space working on a project. For me, even talking in a large class of people I do not know make me feel incredibly awkward. Standing in front of an entire company would almost kill me.

The final thing that the book says will not properly motivate a geek is threats. The show, House M.D., gives us a great example of threats not working to motivate a geek. The elevator scene from the following video shows Dr. House getting threatened by a paitent’s mobster brother. Rather than get scared or motivated, House just gets angry and sarcastic.

If you continue to watch the episode, eventually rather than threatening House, Bill Arnello decides to buy House a Corvette instead. I do not think that this actually  made House more motivated to work on Joey Arnello, but he definitely appreciated the car. I know that I agree with the book about threats. I do not react to threats the same way as House, but I do not take them well. I usually get really upset if someone starts yelling at me for something, then I will probably cry. I am just a softy I guess.

Just as with everything in life, everyone is different when it comes to motivation. These guidelines may not be accurate for every geek that you work with, but they should always be kept in mind when trying to find ways to motivate someone. To finish, I will leave you with a quote by Dwight D. Eisenhower. “Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.”


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