2/17/13

For a variety of reasons, both personal and professional, I've recently given a great deal of thought to the concept of motivation.

A friend of mine recently proclaimed his belief that what best motivates people are incentives. Money, power, title, and various other perks. He argued that, at their heart, people are most motivated by tangible outcomes, with financial compensation being the most effective.

While this sounds fairly obvious on its face, I'm not sure that I agree. Yes, money and power are fantastic motivators. But, I'd argue that there is an even more powerful motivating force. One that, when properly channeled, can push you much further than money or the promise of a promotion. What is that motivating force?

Adversity.

Adversity comes in a variety of forms. You could face adversity in the form of a rough upbringing. Rising from poverty to accomplish something. Be it a job in finance or another lucrative profession, the challenge of a difficult past can drive people to greatness.

Knowing what it feels like to be at the bottom can serve as a stark motivator. Look at someone like Jay Z, "from Marcy to Madison Square," the projects to the Boardroom.

Or someone like Carl Icahn, who didn't necessarily grow up dirt poor, but nevertheless rose from a relatively obscure and common upbringing to become a titan of finance. Look around...there aren't a whole lot of hedge fund kingpins who grew up with a silver spoon in their mouths.

I think of my beloved New York Giants, who twice in five years channeled adversity to make Super Bowl runs. In 2007 in particular, they ran the "nobody believes in us" train straight through the Super Bowl to defeat the previously unbeaten Patriots and win an incredibly improbable championship.

Adversity comes in many forms. It can be as daunting and obvious as growing up in a rough neighborhood to as personal and specific as a rejection email from your dream company. At some point or another, we all face some form of adversity. What's important is how you channel it. Do you let it put you down or do you use it to drive you forward.

Personally, my motivations have changed a great deal over time. When I was younger, I was primarily driven by money. I assumed, foolishly, that making good money was of paramount importance. No doubt money still plays a role in my motivations, and a reasonably significant one at that, but it's not the most important factor. As I've gained professional experience and spent some time in real world, I've become more motivated by the idea of spending time doing things that I really enjoy doing. Again, money plays a role, but I'd gladly do something I enjoy for a little less money than something I despise. Given how little time we actually have, we ought to at least spend it doing things we like doing, right?

Yes...to a degree. I'd argue that following this thought process will go a long way towards making you a happy person in your professional life. But, if you're a truly ambitious person, you're going to need something more. If you want to achieve some level of greatness in whatever tasks you've set out to accomplish, you will need something more powerful to drive you. You will need some sort of adversity.

In my younger days I would have denied this. I believed that cash compensation was the end-all, be-all. But, after getting a few decent paychecks and working in technically prestigious roles, you can find yourself to be content quite quickly. Decent sized paychecks can quell the desire to rake in the big bucks and deter you from pursuing alternate fulfilling routes. Without some sort of adversity, some force telling you that you can't accomplish something, you'll be hard pressed to do the work required to go above and beyond your goals.

While accomplishing your goals, doing interesting and lucrative work, and enjoying the ride are all important and wonderful things. They're all made a bit sweeter and you'll likely go a lot further when you do so in the face of adversity.

Or, to put it more succinctly...

_______________________________________________________

What motivates you? How have your motivations shifted over time? Do you agree with my thesis on adversity? Let me know in the comments.

Comments (150)

1/29/13

Originally I wanted to rule the world. This hasn't changed much, though now I see finance as the way to rule the world, where as before I had seen the military as the best route to world domination.

"...all truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

  • Schopenhauer
2/23/13

Finance only to get the guided missile to send through someone's mailbox.

1/29/13

TheKing:
there aren't a whole lot of hedge fund kingpins who grew up with a silver spoon in their mouths.

How do you define silver spoon? Is a silver spoon simply having objectively wealthy parents or someone that provided you all of your basic needs?

Either way, I'm still going to say money. Here is my thought experiment: if I took away all of your money, how would your life be?

You could make the argument you could make it all back. I'm willing to bet though every second of every day, you would be thinking about money - nothing else. By that simple case, money is in fact the driving force of everything I (most people) do.

1/29/13

target for life:
TheKing:
there aren't a whole lot of hedge fund kingpins who grew up with a silver spoon in their mouths.

How do you define silver spoon? Is a silver spoon simply having objectively wealthy parents or someone that provided you all of your basic needs?

Either way, I'm still going to say money. Here is my thought experiment: if I took away all of your money, how would your life be?

You could make the argument you could make it all back. I'm willing to bet though every second of every day, you would be thinking about money - nothing else. By that simple case, money is in fact the driving force of everything I (most people) do.

I mostly agree with this statement, but I think something that needs to be determined first is:

Why do we want money?

I mean basic security is fine and is probably pretty easy to procure in life, but why do we as society always seem to be so conceited as to believe that we always deserve more?

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

1/29/13

streetwannabe:
target for life:
TheKing:
there aren't a whole lot of hedge fund kingpins who grew up with a silver spoon in their mouths.

How do you define silver spoon? Is a silver spoon simply having objectively wealthy parents or someone that provided you all of your basic needs?

Either way, I'm still going to say money. Here is my thought experiment: if I took away all of your money, how would your life be?

You could make the argument you could make it all back. I'm willing to bet though every second of every day, you would be thinking about money - nothing else. By that simple case, money is in fact the driving force of everything I (most people) do.

I mostly agree with this statement, but I think something that needs to be determined first is:

Why do we want money?

I mean basic security is fine and is probably pretty easy to procure in life, but why do we as society always seem to be so conceited as to believe that we always deserve more?

This is all the biggest smoke up a skirt I have seen. Hedge fund managers are most certainly in the business of making money -- that is a given. But, where I differ in opinion, is how they view the act of "making money".

If you are a successful HF manager, what is another million in your bank account? Does it really matter? Simply, no. Every penny these guys are squeezing out of the markets, comes from one desire at their inner core -- relative performance.

While the extra million in their bank account may make them feel good for a hot five seconds, it is what that extra million bucks signifies that is important. Another million in a bonus can be traced back to a successful year, whether that is earning another percentage point annually, or beating out the next closest guy by a basis point. Each and every move these guys make is based off of beating their peers. Pure and simple.

It's not about money. If Ackman and Paulson were earning 100k a year and I was earning 105k, I'll tell you what, I'd be happy. In the end, everything in finance is a dick measuring contest.

1/29/13

TableTopper:
streetwannabe:
target for life:
TheKing:
there aren't a whole lot of hedge fund kingpins who grew up with a silver spoon in their mouths.

How do you define silver spoon? Is a silver spoon simply having objectively wealthy parents or someone that provided you all of your basic needs?

Either way, I'm still going to say money. Here is my thought experiment: if I took away all of your money, how would your life be?

You could make the argument you could make it all back. I'm willing to bet though every second of every day, you would be thinking about money - nothing else. By that simple case, money is in fact the driving force of everything I (most people) do.

I mostly agree with this statement, but I think something that needs to be determined first is:

Why do we want money?

I mean basic security is fine and is probably pretty easy to procure in life, but why do we as society always seem to be so conceited as to believe that we always deserve more?

This is all the biggest smoke up a skirt I have seen. Hedge fund managers are most certainly in the business of making money -- that is a given. But, where I differ in opinion, is how they view the act of "making money".

If you are a successful HF manager, what is another million in your bank account? Does it really matter? Simply, no. Every penny these guys are squeezing out of the markets, comes from one desire at their inner core -- relative performance.

While the extra million in their bank account may make them feel good for a hot five seconds, it is what that extra million bucks signifies that is important. Another million in a bonus can be traced back to a successful year, whether that is earning another percentage point annually, or beating out the next closest guy by a basis point. Each and every move these guys make is based off of beating their peers. Pure and simple.

It's not about money. If Ackman and Paulson were earning 100k a year and I was earning 105k, I'll tell you what, I'd be happy. In the end, everything in finance is a dick measuring contest.

I totally understand the performance and self fulfilling amounts of ego that comes in beating the industry and your peers. However what I'm speculating on is this;

Why do people measure their success in money the way we do? It's an honest question that may seem to divert the purpose of this thread, but it seems to me that many people dismiss it as just an inevitability of society.

I understand that the best in finance are their to compete; but were they always like that? I mean I am going into the job force hopefully soon and would consider working at a HF someday given the chance. I want to do well, but do I want to rule the world? No.

Also, if the HF guys really don't care after they have amassed their millions, then why do they continue to take such large cuts of their profits? The pay discrepancies between the PMs and the lowly analysts is pretty large I would think.

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

1/29/13

target for life:
TheKing:
there aren't a whole lot of hedge fund kingpins who grew up with a silver spoon in their mouths.

How do you define silver spoon? Is a silver spoon simply having objectively wealthy parents or someone that provided you all of your basic needs?

Either way, I'm still going to say money. Here is my thought experiment: if I took away all of your money, how would your life be?

You could make the argument you could make it all back. I'm willing to bet though every second of every day, you would be thinking about money - nothing else. By that simple case, money is in fact the driving force of everything I (most people) do.

I feel as though you may have missed my point. Perhaps I wasn't as clear as I needed to be. But, what I was getting at is that money alone will only get you so far. While there may be a small sliver of the population that is driven to extremes by the promise of 7-figure paychecks alone, I believe that to truly achieve things that far surpass your wildest expectations, you need something more.

I don't know if you've spent any time in the work force or in banking or if you're a student, so it's hard for me to gauge where you're at. But, I can tell you from personal experience and from knowing a ton of people in and out of the industry, that once you start making decent money, the drive to earn more and more subsides. As I recall, studies have shown that one's personal happiness on account of money is maximized at $70,000 per year. Making more than that won't necessarily make you a happier person. And once you've built up a decent savings that lets you live reasonably comfortably, you'll start to focus on different things and will get comfortable.

Again, I want to be clear, money is most certainly an important motivating factor. I'm arguing that money alone often can only drive you to a certain point. Your response is somewhat of a straw man because I never implied that people would be just as happy with or without money. No one would argue that at all. I'm arguing that going to the next level of success requires something deeper.

And when I speak of adversity, you must recognize that it comes in many forms. It's all relative and is often extremely subjective.

1/29/13

TheKing:
target for life:
TheKing:
there aren't a whole lot of hedge fund kingpins who grew up with a silver spoon in their mouths.

How do you define silver spoon? Is a silver spoon simply having objectively wealthy parents or someone that provided you all of your basic needs?

Either way, I'm still going to say money. Here is my thought experiment: if I took away all of your money, how would your life be?

You could make the argument you could make it all back. I'm willing to bet though every second of every day, you would be thinking about money - nothing else. By that simple case, money is in fact the driving force of everything I (most people) do.

I feel as though you may have missed my point. Perhaps I wasn't as clear as I needed to be. But, what I was getting at is that money alone will only get you so far. While there may be a small sliver of the population that is driven to extremes by the promise of 7-figure paychecks alone, I believe that to truly achieve things that far surpass your wildest expectations, you need something more.

I don't know if you've spent any time in the work force or in banking or if you're a student, so it's hard for me to gauge where you're at. But, I can tell you from personal experience and from knowing a ton of people in and out of the industry, that once you start making decent money, the drive to earn more and more subsides. As I recall, studies have shown that one's personal happiness on account of money is maximized at $70,000 per year. Making more than that won't necessarily make you a happier person. And once you've built up a decent savings that lets you live reasonably comfortably, you'll start to focus on different things and will get comfortable.

Again, I want to be clear, money is most certainly an important motivating factor. I'm arguing that money alone often can only drive you to a certain point. Your response is somewhat of a straw man because I never implied that people would be just as happy with or without money. No one would argue that at all. I'm arguing that going to the next level of success requires something deeper.

And when I speak of adversity, you must recognize that it comes in many forms. It's all relative and is often extremely subjective.

It's funny. I know whenever I read or hear about some entrepreneur who struck it big and had an idea and business just explode it followed a period when they were right at the edge of solvency or down to their last few leads etc. I've noticed that passion and fear of failure, when paired with some type of adversity, seems to really separate the winners and losers. Very few have the sheer will to succeed followed up with the love of whatever it is their doing to really strike it big. I know plenty of people who make great money doing things they aren't passionate about, but I've never really met anyone who isn't passionate about what they do who struck it truly rich. I think it's pretty obvious that success and comfort breeds complacency, something we as America is dealing with right now (although we are actually just punting and calling it a scoring drive).

2/21/13

I agree with many points of this post - money and extrinsic motivators are not the end all be all. Social science tells us this (read Daniel Pink's "Drive" for more on this, and autonomy, mastery, and purpose). At the end of the day, I believe intrinsic motivation is what will cause us to do more and go higher. It's the drive within - because we are connected to a higher purpose and want to contribute to it - that will push us.

However, I am also starting to resonate with the point about adversity as well. Why? I have four children - our two oldest sons play basketball. Our oldest absolutely needs to be facing adversity to play his best. If his team is winning by quite a bit, I can literally see him turn things off. But if the game is within 4 points and close the entire time, he has it all turned on to the highest possible level. He needs that to play at his best. Our second oldest son doesn't need it. He will play at the highest possible level whether his team is down by 20 or up by 40. He has one level and that's it.

Great post - and great comments...

1/29/13

Making sure my son has food to eat.

1/29/13

This is so true. Well said.

1/29/13

I didn't even read what you wrote, but gave you a +1 SB for the clip. Ok, time to actually read your post.

EDIT: So I've read your post and you still deserve the SB. You should consider adding "Let me tell you of the days of high adventure!" to the beginning of your post in bold.

1/29/13

Your peers, whether friends, neighbors or schoolmates. A lot of your inner-drive is your fear of not falling to the back of the pack. Ever been in a long line at the grocery store and then they open a new checkout lane? It's that feeling when the people behind you in line run up in front of you to get ahead of you.

1/29/13

Super Bowl 42 was truly the most magnificent sporting event I have ever witnessed, and many still refuse to accept it. Even when we did it all again 4 years later, nothing else compares. I still watch the commemorative DVD for a pick-me-up, and I maintain that the Giants must have listened to Al Pacino's speech from Any Given Sunday before gametime that night.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

1/29/13

First off, if someone hasn't encountered adversity, they haven't achieved anything. If some guy's Dad already works on the Street, can get him an interview with a quick phone call, and this kid just spits out answers to technical questions that he already knew about in advance because of social networks that he was born into... this isn't achievement... this is inheritance. The kid in said circumstance has no real agency in this said process; indeed, when you factor in social pressure, the inherently insular nature of the bubbles that most rich people live in that would prevent one from discovering what else is out there... I would actually argue that it would be harder for the kid NOT to get a job in investment banking than the other way around.

To address the spirit of your post, I think if you're looking for some greater, transcendental element that will spice up life and really push you to the next level... find a cause. Everyone from obscure Chinese philosophers to Teddy Roosevelt to David Brooks have agreed that living a virtuous and meaningful live really just entails submerging oneself in greater goal or purpose that they believe in. I would start a website that arbitrarily tells people what causes they should believe in, but Obama's campaign really has me beat.

If you have to make a concerted effort to find some adversity in your life, you're either delusional or stagnating.

1/29/13

I think money motivates me the best, but from a competitive standpoint than a greed or "rich status" motivation. If I worked my ass of and got a great bonus from my firm, then I have a tangible realization of working my ass off and outperforming my peers.

1/29/13

I've had to climb up the shit hill numerous times in life, but I'm convinced that adversity is not necessary or even beneficial towards being ambitious. In fact, I'd argue that lack of adversity is far more constructive, all else being equal. I would say the greatest contributor of aspiration is none other than inspiration. When you're surrounded by people who have achieved some extraordinary things in their lifetime, but aren't the slightest bit smarter than you are, you begin to internalize that there's so much more within your realm of possibility and you break down all mental barriers that you might have. I must admit, I wasn't the least bit ambitious until I had a chance to engage in meaningful set of conversations conversations with some prominent political and business figures about half a decade ago- that truly changed my life far more than my relatively disadvantaged background.

1/29/13

Macro Arbitrage:
I've had to climb up the shit hill numerous times in life, but I'm convinced that adversity is not necessary or even beneficial towards being ambitious. In fact, I'd argue that lack of adversity is far more constructive, all else being equal. .

I agree completely. It allows you to be productive and effecient at what your good at. This applies more for younger people though IMO. It's easier to be a great student in high school for example when you don't have to work half the week to support yourself or its easier to concentrate on anything mentally when you don't have shitty parents screaming & bitching all the time.

During several thanksgiving and Christmas days I used to volunteer at a local soup kitchen in NYC. A few times I would see people that had kids maybe 7 or younger, occasional teens. I couldn't help wondering why don't you just kill yourself at that point. That amount of adversity basically ruins all life goals/potential.

In the long run though, money is the only objective benchmark to measure success. If you work your ass off, you need a barometer of success - that's money.

1/29/13

I 100% agree. Once you can buy everything in the mall, you end up going to the mall less. Money is the only motivation people who don't have any/enough. Leaving a 250K job where you enjoy your work and like your coworkers/boss for a 300K job wouldn't necessarily be worth the risk. The 50K alone would not make you happy if you end up hating your new coworkers/boss and not enjoying your work. Another factor would have to come into play for you to take the risk of changing positions. It could be any number of things: new or different responsibilities, more control over something (or someone for the power hungry types), better lifestyle (more or less travel, work from home capability, etc.), or maybe a change a simple of pace. Some people just get bored with their work.

*Footnote - The money amount is marginally relative. Everyone would leave a 50K job for 100K. But not everyone would leave a 50K job for a 60K job.

It's Economics 101, your marginal value of something decreases as amounts increase.

Make opportunities. Not excuses.

1/29/13

WSRenaissanceMan:
But not everyone would leave a 50K job for a 60K job. .

I could see the point your making but I don't think this is remotely true. The marginal value of a dollar falls as income increases and increases as it falls. 50K objectively isn't comfortable unless you live in Kansas or somewhere down south. 10K at that low of an income level is meaningful and huge for most people. I agree with the 250K to 300K comment though at that point objectively you will be comfortable no matter where you live (assuming you live within your means of course)

1/29/13

target for life:
WSRenaissanceMan:
But not everyone would leave a 50K job for a 60K job. .

I could see the point your making but I don't think this is remotely true. The marginal value of a dollar falls as income increases and increases as it falls. 50K objectively isn't comfortable unless you live in Kansas or somewhere down south. 10K at that low of an income level is meaningful and huge for most people. I agree with the 250K to 300K comment though at that point objectively you will be comfortable no matter where you live (assuming you live within your means of course)


I may not have used the best #s to illustrate the point. You got the idea though. 100K to 105K is splitting hairs.

Make opportunities. Not excuses.

1/29/13

Long term motivation:
I'd say it is to let my future kids have a better starting position in life than I had and to be better off than my parents generation.

Short term:
Become the best trader around me by keeping sales and clients happy with my performance.

CNBC sucks

"This financial crisis is worse than a divorce. I've lost all my money, but the wife is still here." - Client after getting blown up

1/29/13

To crush pussy.

1/29/13

Fear

'Before you enter... be willing to pay the price'

1/29/13

My motivation is being the best. If the guy next to you does this, do that only +100. If he steps it up, adapt and find a new way to win. Success, power, and money are just by-products of winning.

#WINNING!!!!!!!

1/29/13

While obviously money is a large motivating factor in most people's decision to enter finance, I think that it becomes less of a motivator as you get older. Don't get me wrong, I think we all want to be making millions when we are older. But if I'm comfortably making $400-500K and doing well in my career and have a good family and life at age 40 it's not like I'm gonna mope around and wonder where in life I took the wrong turn on my way to being a billionaire.

I think for me my primary source of motivation is knowing that there is someone out there who is better at my job than I am. Just knowing that is enough of a kick to make me want to show up to work, bust my ass and make myself better every day. As long as there is someone in front of me I will constantly strive to get to their level and surpass them. There is always work to be done, and there is always something new you can learn.

Besides, I feel like if you have this mindset for your whole career, you'll end up making more than enough money than you will need to have a great life.

I would agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

1/29/13

The CEO of AIG, Bob Benmosche, spoke to my class last week, which was awesome considering I go to a non-target. There was an alum on the board I believe. Anyways, he came from adversity. His dad passed when he was young and his family was $250,000 in debt. He said he decided then and there that, "I wanted to make a lot of money. Plain and simple. I wanted to make so much money that I would never have to worry about anything."

My family is well off but we are constantly struggling to pay for college, mortgage ect. So that is part of what motivates me, but not the major component. I just enjoy a challenge and love the feeling of accomplishing something that others never thought I could or couldn't achieve themselves. Producing good work motivates me and so does working with others to propel them further as well. But most of my motivation comes from the thrill of a challenge and a competitive drive. So since I love finance, I believe IBD is the perfect place for me.

"If it were easy, everyone would do it"

1/29/13

It seems odd to say this, but the ideal backdrop for success is probably a mixture of opportunity and adversity. Enough adversity that you are hungry, but not so much that you break. There are a lot of angles here. Some types of motivation wear off as you become more successful. The ones who truly accomplish something big are those that never stop being motivated, even after they have already made it.

I have given this much thought over the years. I always wondered why some people are really determined and some are not. Growing up, it always seemed that I was so much more motivated than anyone else around me. I could never really understand why. Some of my friends were richer than me, some were poorer. I have had some tough times in my life, but there are certainly many that have drawn a worse hand. There are no real answers here. Genetics, family values, experiences, desires, passions, insecurities - they all come together in a mysterious way. Often there seems to be a specific triggering event. For me, money itself has never been a big motivator. It was always more of a general sense that I had to do something big. It didn't matter what it was, just had to be something I enjoyed, and significant in scale.

1/29/13

Human beings are motivated by avoiding pain or gaining pleasure, this is the bottom line. what ever reasons or factors you come up with, it will eventually come down to these two.

It's not about the money. It's about the game between people.

1/30/13

Ichan:
Human beings are motivated by avoiding pain or gaining pleasure, this is the bottom line. what ever reasons or factors you come up with, it will eventually come down to these two.

This. and if you really need a goal or something to do...how bout this: "To be a better human being-improve yourself" maybe be less arrogant, have less ego...goes for people especially on this site.
so many basic human traits that we teach elementary school kids, that most adults lack

1/29/13

My two cents here - money as motivation is a driving force to get to a point where you are satisfied with life that it is no longer the #1 priority (preferably a few down that list). Everyone has their own version of financial freedom; a point where you no longer have to really worry about money and can focus on more tangible or important facets of life. Unfortunately, many people never really achieve this stage and always focus on the grass being greener on the other side to think that, if they just do one or two more things, everything will fall into place. Does that make your personal earnings less important? Not really but sort of, up to a point. What's the magic number to attain the self-actualization level of personal satisfaction? Different for every person I'm sure. Keep driving ahead everyone and hopefully one day each of us will have our own version of our success story to pass along. Good post and look forward to hearing more responses from the cohorts on this site.

My personal gauge is that achieving my version of financial freedom will open doors that I never knew existed to experience life on a level most can only dream of.

1/29/13

I grew up a filthily disobedient child. My motivation; to repay my parents and give them all the luxuries in the world that they never had.

1/29/13

There could be someone (or group: coworkers, classmates, teammates, etc.) out there who is up a little higher than me now (i.e. better starting point in life, "smarter" than me, higher job title than me) but i'll be damned if i don't prove everyone wrong and show that i'll come out ahead through a combination of intelligence and insane work ethic. I take it one battle at a time and not about the money at all.

BossMode

1/29/13

Disclaimer for the Kids: Any forward-looking statements are solely for informational purposes and cannot be taken as investment advice. Consult your moms before deciding where to invest.

1/29/13

Adversity is definitely a motivational factor. I want to be successful and know that even though I faced setbacks, I still came up on top. Its about achievement and knowing what you are truly made of and growing. Also, the fact that life is short and that I want to have the best time I can.

1/30/13

Chip on the Shoulder Theory
Somethingtoproveitis Majoris

Everyone I know well who is successful, has a chip on the shoulder. Usually, it's to prove that they are worthy enough to hang with (or are above the fray from) the top parts of society (however they define it).

The reasons could be that they grew up poor (but they're worthy now), they grew up in rural area (but they can hang with the urban sophisticates), they grew up wealthy (and want to prove their own worth), etc. There are thousands of reasons why you might have a chip on your shoulder. The most effective chips are big and heavy.

Whatever the background, this usually equates to an unhealthy obsession with winning. You want to win things that have no material impact on your life....for example, a billionaire who wants to get paid more than his peer. He couldn't even spend the money if he tried. But, that's usually irrelevant when you just want to beat your peers.

Money and titles and equivalent are all motivators, but usually, they are only motivating because they show you're winning. I feel like I can speak with authority on this topic, because I have several very large chips on my shoulder (they never go away, at least not yet). I have kept striving, despite hitting virtually every imaginable goal I could think of when I started my career and I know that hitting each of these goals does nothing to change your life in any meaningful way. But, I still push forward anyway.

Maybe if I fail to hit the goals, my life will be impacted negatively in ways I can't understand now. But, I'm not a psychiatrist, so, what the fuck do I know?

@TheKing -- fantastic post, as always.

1/30/13

SirTradesaLot:
Chip on the Shoulder Theory
Somethingtoproveitis Majoris

Everyone I know well who is successful, has a chip on the shoulder. Usually, it's to prove that they are worthy enough to hang with (or are above the fray from) the top parts of society (however they define it).

The reasons could be that they grew up poor (but they're worthy now), they grew up in rural area (but they can hang with the urban sophisticates), they grew up wealthy (and want to prove their own worth), etc. There are thousands of reasons why you might have a chip on your shoulder. The most effective chips are big and heavy.

Whatever the background, this usually equates to an unhealthy obsession with winning. You want to win things that have no material impact on your life....for example, a billionaire who wants to get paid more than his peer. He couldn't even spend the money if he tried. But, that's usually irrelevant when you just want to beat your peers.

Money and titles and equivalent are all motivators, but usually, they are only motivating because they show you're winning. I feel like I can speak with authority on this topic, because I have several very large chips on my shoulder (they never go away, at least not yet). I have kept striving, despite hitting virtually every imaginable goal I could think of when I started my career and I know that hitting each of these goals does nothing to change your life in any meaningful way. But, I still push forward anyway.

Maybe if I fail to hit the goals, my life will be impacted negatively in ways I can't understand now. But, I'm not a psychiatrist, so, what the fuck do I know?

@TheKing -- fantastic post, as always.

Awesome post. The chip on one's shoulder is a huge motivating tool. I think a lot of people think that adversity has to mean coming up in really difficult circumstances. That's just one form of adversity. I personally get the most motivation from people that doubt my abilities to do something or from people who tell me I can't or won't do something. You've got to take all the doubts and put-downs that get thrown in your way and use them as fuel for your fire.

And obviously everyone is different. I just feel that in order to truly go above and beyond and to keep pushing oneself after already doing reasonably well, you need more.

Thanks for the solid reply.

2/17/13

SirTradesaLot:
Chip on the Shoulder Theory
Somethingtoproveitis Majoris

I agree with this, although my chip is a bit smaller.
1/30/13

"Why Do The Mega Rich Continue To Work?"
http://www.forbes.com/sites/larissafaw/2013/01/29/...

Make opportunities. Not excuses.

1/30/13

Great article, thanks for the post

1/30/13

OP,

u sound very middle class

How big is yours?

1/30/13

Where's prestige pete?

2/17/13

I'm motivated by my dream of being the first non-target to be offered a C suite at GS, only to turn it down to pursue [fill in the blank].

"They are all former investment bankers that were laid off in the economic collapse that Nancy Pelosi caused. They have no marketable skills, but by God they work hard."

2/17/13

If I'm being honest, what motivates me is half the chip on my shoulder, half the confidence that better days are always ahead.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

2/17/13

Passion for the industry, and the future!

2/18/13

Fantastic post. Loved it.

I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature. -John D. Rockefeller

2/19/13

While finding motivation is important to overcome adversity, it is more important to be able to stay optimistic after continuous rejection and defeat. It's about being persistent and relentless.

2/20/13

owning

2/23/13

What separates success from the average schmuck that talks too much? Money. We've all dealt with the big mouth with all the theories and can debate all day and yet hasn't accomplished anything in life. You argue with him you are no different. If you are rich, then you end the debate by just calling this guy a fuckin loser, who hasn't done anything in life and never will, and you move on.

2/23/13

Vaginas motivate me

2/23/13

CanadianPositiveCarry:
Vaginas motivate me

Would you say you are self-motivated?
2/23/13

SirTradesaLot:
CanadianPositiveCarry:
Vaginas motivate me

Would you say you are self-motivated?

haha, nice

2/23/13

I look at my biceps for motivation

mbavsmfin:

I don't wear watches bro. Because it's always MBA BALLER time!

Best Response
2/23/13

The people who doubted me.

2/23/13

My family's financial situation

2/23/13

I get bored if I'm not working towards something.

2/23/13

opsdude1:

I get bored if I'm not working towards something.


Ditto. Nothing worse than not learning, but need to have a distinct goal.

"After you work on Wall Street it's a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side." - David Tepper

2/23/13

opsdude1:
I get bored if I'm not working towards something.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, post threads about how to do it on WSO.

2/23/13

My dad did well for himself, but my moms side of the family is royally screwed up. He has paid for my grandparents, two uncles, and aunts living expenses for over a decade and now he still has enough to retire, but not enough to see his dreams come true (live in a large ranch with a multiple garages to store his cars + have a house in Florida). Luckily the family tension hasn't rippled into my parents relationship, but regardless by the time I'm 40 I want to make sure his decades of hardwork of building up a successful regional business wasn't useless because of my stupid fucking moms side of the fucking family who are beyond fucking dense.

2/23/13

This is literally me + the people who doubted me.

Absolute truths don't exist... celebrated opinions do.

2/23/13

To be honest, I like helping others. In order to do that, I feel like I have to become the best.

2/23/13

Couldn't agree more. If you're just doing it for yourself you'll be miserable.

Great quote: "If you get to the top alone, you'll probably jump off".

2/23/13

The desire to achieve the freedom that every night is Friday night and every day is Saturday.

Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.

2/23/13

I like the idea of being able to look back and appreciate how much I've accomplished since we all play life on hard mode at times.

2/23/13

Being the best or die trying. Nothing else is acceptable. Simple as that. Learn as much as possible, use that to get as far as possible.

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."

2/23/13

Chillin'. What do you mean by what motivates you? What motivates you to do what?

Me: What motivates me generally? My internal clockwork. What I believe in, what makes me happy, the need to be able to afford food and shelter.

2/23/13

The desire to create a life from which I don't need a vacation and to have a great amount of freedom, hence my work in entrepreneurship. I'm not really interested in beating others, nor am I interested in prestige, which is clearly coveted by many on this forum, for the ideal man doesn't care for the opinions of others but rather only desires to see his own individual potential.

2/23/13

Would you say that people who are not interested in the things others covet would not be taking the time to point out what others covet?

2/23/13

My ex girlfriend. I want that bitch to regret it for the rest of her life.

2/23/13

takenotes08:

My ex girlfriend. I want that bitch to regret it for the rest of her life.


Trruuuuuth.
2/23/13

lol

2/23/13
takenotes08:

My ex girlfriend. I want that bitch to regret it for the rest of her life.

Zweihander:

Chicks, Cash, Cristal.

This and this!!!

2/23/13

Money

2/23/13

Pushing boundaries and trying to constantly keep raising that bar higher and higher so you give others after you something to work towards.

Another thing that motivates me are people who say "you cant do that" or "I wish this...wish that, etc". Just fucking watch me!

2/23/13

for someone who was in chronic depression for about 4 years, learning motivates me.
i get really depressed if i am not working towards something and then comes the flashback of all the things I fucked up.
only way is to keep moving forward

Let me live so when I die the reaper cries..

2/23/13

my dad...don't wanna end up like him

2/23/13

amen to that

2/23/13

Chicks, Cash, Cristal

You know you've been working too hard when you stop dreaming about bottles of champagne and hordes of naked women, and start dreaming about conditional formatting and circular references.

2/23/13

The desire for massive success.

2/23/13

I want to be laying in my death bed knowing I built an Empire and left a legacy. To be able to do that I have to do my best in school and work. Nothing less then excellence is acceptable, I want my kids to know that as well so that they can know they are capable of doing just as much if not more than I did in my lifetime. I dont plan on making a mark in history, but I do plan on making a mark in my family history.

2/23/13

Anyone and everyone who has ever doubted me... and pussy

2/23/13

To be able to someday listen to "Once in a Lifetime" by the Talking Heads, preferably at my 40 or 50th birthday blow out, and yell "This IS my beautiful house, this IS my beautiful wife!" and then proceed to f her brains out...later that night after the party of course.

2/23/13

Family!

Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum

2/23/13

Proving to myself that all of the hard work I put in when my deadbeat friends were out smoking weed and partying was worth it.

2/23/13

I want to have a big family, like 4 or 5 kids. I want to be able to support my family comfortably and give my children the upbringing and opportunities to do what they want in life. I want to teach my children through example what it means to succeed in life. It doesn't hurt that finance/business is interesting as hell to me.

That's the wholesome side of my motivation. The darker side is that I want to dominate others. I want to work harder, and work smarter, and make more money than everyone that I know. I want to work my way into the upper-echelon of society. One day I want to converse with leaders of industry and heads of state as one of their peers.

2/23/13

The nagging wife I don't have yet or the mortgage I'm yet to take out to afford a cubicle that I'll call my home in London.

2/23/13

The freedom that money provides. Having the resources to experience the world through travel. Eventually, providing for my family so that they can enjoy a life of privilege.

2/23/13

Not being like either of my parents who are broke and miserable. Everyone who told me I couldn't, which is most everyone. Freedom. Fuck you money. Satisfaction of succeeding where others have failed. Satisfaction resulting from pushing myself to the absolute limit. Reaching the highest level.

2/23/13

Being able to provide for my family one day.

Also, coming from a smaller city where it seems like no one goes off to do anything, I want to be proud of what I've accomplished when I come back and talk to everyone who will still be doing the same old.

2/23/13

In a nutshell: the desire to build a better life for myself, and for my family, one day, than that which I was born into. Coming from a very middle-class family, from a very small and economically-impoverished country, I've already taken the first few steps towards leading such a life; finished my undergraduate degree at a regional best, graduating soon with a postgraduate degree at a UK top 5, and have a job at a BB waiting for me starting early next year.

My parents' support has been key to my accomplishments and, to my own surprise, it has been strangely gratifying to express this in writing. So, thank you, OP.

2/23/13

Pursuing the life I want: family, friends and one love.

2/23/13

That's what I've been thinking about. I came from a small village to an international mega city. Didn't graduate from a target school tho but finally got into the IB industry. Everyone from work talk about their overseas study & working experience while I really have nothing to share with. I would say as for now, such experience motivate me.

Who dares, wins

2/23/13

The desire to do work that I actually enjoy, solve problems and get paid a solid wage with high potential ...and of course to have financial freedom at a relatively young age

2/23/13

Knowing that there is so much to learn yet and so much to do. Can never have enough of knowledge. I'd earn only to be able to afford all that travelling.

And yes, also my family. They could never accept me not being like them.

2/23/13

The very idea that I can make a better life for myself, my family, and my future family through
a) Hardwork
b) Doing something I like

2/23/13

I want a challenge.

Be pushed and never stop short of my potential. Nothing worse than throwing out a bag of chips with half the chips in it.

"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller.

"Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL

2/23/13

Having nothing or no one else to fall back on.

2/23/13

Your mom.

2/23/13

I hate mediocrity

2/23/13

I think what motivates me the most is wanting to provide a life for my family, the way my parents did. They always supported me and did whatever it took to make sure our lives were as good as they possibly could be, and that's my motivation to work hard. I think that's my greatest motivation.

Also, the challenge the finance, and particularly IB, presents is attractive to me. I want to challenge myself early on and learn to develop the strong work ethic that will pay off in the long run.

"My name's Ralph Cox, and I'm from where ever's not gonna get me hit"

2/23/13

Pulling up to the scene with my ceiling missing

2/23/13
chobani:

Pulling up to the scene with my ceiling missing

I hear ya loud and clear!

Want to Lose the body fat, keep the muscles, I can help.

2/23/13

being happy...helping out my family and friends, not having to worry about checking my bank accounts after a long weekend of dates and whatnots lol...and being only 26 and owning my first supercar Audi r8...which I effing love.

2/23/13

Never having to deny myself or my family something because of money.

2/23/13

Competing, looking to the guys to the left and right of you, looking them in the eye and saying, "I'm gonna crush you, I'm gonna f*cking destroy you..."

2/23/13

I wish I wasn't so easily impressed, but I care a lot more about getting thanked/noticed/promoted/etc. than I do about money. A raise is nice, don't get me wrong, but the President of the company telling me good job or telling other people that I did well is the kicker.

Freud would have a field day.

2/23/13

Like most of the users on this site, I desire to be the best in whatever I do. Not only that, I want to know that I used all of my talents and abilities to the absolute fullest and when I die I want to know that my tank is on empty.

"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." Mayer Amschel Rothschild

Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.-John D. Rockefeller

2/23/13

Seeing poor people at wal-mart and knowing I make more in a day than they do in a week

2/23/13

I love to learn so anything that I find intriguing motivates me, getting a career in finance motivates me, it almost like a whole new world to me, since my background is different, learning about different types of securities etc.

Want to Lose the body fat, keep the muscles, I can help.

2/23/13

One day (back in the day) I was talking with my CO, and he said something to the effect of: "Man, that other ship was looking pretty rough..." He was referring to rust and general cleanliness, the military has an obsession over things like that, and he continued with: "It made me feel a lot better about our ship. We can't do that. We don't compare ourselves to others; we only compare ourselves to awesome." An ideal, so to be the best, you just have to keep beating yourself. Keep track of your mistakes; learn from the successes and failures of the people around you. Move your goal posts and keep the ball rolling downfield. It's improving, not comparing, that makes you really good.

What motivates me? I genuinely want to do better! I want to make fewer mistakes and find out better ways to do things. No matter where you work, you can be passionate about self-improvement, and if you work in a field you like being passionate comes easy.

2/23/13

A retirement of endless travel. Where I can be gone months at a time without financial or time constraints.

2/23/13

While it's not the only thing that motivates me, I've found that donating to charity helps me convince myself that the work I'm doing is having an impact on the world. Like someone mentioned above, if you're only doing it for yourself you'll be miserable.

2/23/13

Get leverage on myself.

2/23/13

this guy (see picture right) > ....the rest is history, regards.....pre insider trading.

its one way or the other: hate me or admire.

2/23/13

2/23/13

Money...

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

2/23/13

This article right here: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/24/business/24hedge...
A kid across the hall had the NYT opened to that article and I remember thinking $1.7B was a ridiculous amount of money and that I could never do that kind of stuff. A few months later while I was interning for a local government agency I realized those hedge fund guys must be on to something.

2/23/13

Believe it or not the financial crisis and the now semmingly endless tirade of books that are being published focusing on it greatly influences our innocent young people of society. The media has managed to show that bankers live glorious, affluent, sexy lives when the shit is NOT hitting the fan. This image sells papers and it creates an easily targeted enemy, especially during a time of immense and ubiquitious unemployment. However, The smart kids see this and think to themselves "Look at these guys, vilifed by the media but yet still continuing to live thier wealthy lives filled with traveling, models, and bottles.......... I can work on excel!"

Also, Dont forget about our lovable Patrick Bateman from American Psycho.

2/23/13

Take a wild guess ... seriously

2/23/13

insanity obviously

2/23/13

It's all about the prestige.

2/23/13

Not Patrick Bateman. Dude doesn't have a fucking heartbeat. But Gekko on the other hand...

"The problem with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples money"

  • Margaret Thatcher
2/23/13
whitecollarandsuspenders:

Not Patrick Bateman. Dude doesn't have a fucking heartbeat. But Gekko on the other hand...

Yeah Gordon Gekko def. did it for me haha.

Alot of overachieving kids end up in finance cause thats the thing to do for hard working overachieving kids right now. There are others (consulting, law medicine) but nothings as hyped as finance right now. Plus medicine has lost lots of appeal compared with 30-40 years ago, law is a shrinking industry and consultants dont become hedge fund billionaires, which as well know is the ultimate goal in life.

The problem is once all of your smart overachieving friends go into finance you will want to do the same. I mean which smart kid wants to go into F500 and be surrounded by morons?

2/23/13

What motivated me was sheer insecurity with girls. If I couldn't get a girl with looks or charm, I was going to do it with money!

2/23/13
KenUDiggit:

What motivated me was sheer insecurity with girls. If I couldn't get a girl with looks or charm, I was going to do it with money!

worst reasoning ever.

2/23/13

Haha I was being sarcastic

2/23/13

MONEY & the POWER

2/23/13

My motivation stems from the movie "Wall Street"(not the insider trading part). I think it's the American dream to drive nice cars, home, and beautiful women. In the scheme of things, It's a poor rendition of what sucess actually is. It's understood we all want to go to collge for the opportunity to have a career and make a decent income. if you enjoy money and dealing with it, finace would be the natural route. Finace is broad and deep, if you stick with it and find your niche you can command a nice salary.

2/23/13
2/23/13

i would say it is more of money factor. like any other job that may not be so good, but youth seems to be diverted towards it...only for money

2/23/13

There is nothing like a DCF model! :)

Honestly, I really enjoy working with money & markets. I think in the end of the day if you don't go into finance because you like it, you will gonna live a sad life...

absolutearbitrageur.blogspot.com

2/23/13

To live the life of a Frat Star forever and ever

Work hard play hard --> Money, Sex, Power

2/23/13

Simple answer, Money. No matter how much people hate on wall street guys and their lives, they envy the money they end up making down the road. Plus movies like Wall Street certainly help.

I think- therefore I fuck

2/23/13

Winning. I'm only a junior, but I want to work at a value, fundamental driven hedge fund in the long run. I want the money, but more as a tangible result of my 'winning.'

2/23/13

The money, money and the cars, cars and the clothes, the hoes...

Seriously though I want to work in a challenging environment where I have the chance to work and compete with people who are intelligent and hardworking. I never want to be bored with my job and from all I've heard banking is anything but boring. I love the idea of a bonus awarded based on performance and also the idea of am industry where the sky is the limit (if you're lucky) on comp. Bottom line it's all about money and being able to use my quantitative skills to the fullest.

2/23/13

i have a very small you-know-what, so i have to compensate by having lots of money.

2/23/13

When you get to the higher levels a lot of it has to do with relationships/networking. It can be pretty cool bringing together two of your friends/contacts to make something better than what they have.

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
"Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

2/23/13

Why finance? Because it's competitive, because of prestige. I think lots of money is a necessary but not sufficient reason for most of us. Also, I'm South Asian and the majority of my friends/family go into medicine or law, and I wanna do something different.

2/23/13

I want to work in a challenging environment where I can help save the environment

2/23/13

Did someone seriously want to be like Ben Affleck growing up? Nobody deserves a fate that cruel.

I hate victims who respect their executioners

2/23/13
2/23/13

Currently: clinical psychologist (in training)
Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)

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