Wednesday 22 March 2023
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Adrian Gostick: Job sculpting a career that motivates you!

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Joined today by New York Times best-selling author ADRIAN GOSTICK, who joined us to discuss his latest book, What Motivates Me. Learn more about Adrian by CLICKING HERE!


[Unedited audio transcript below!]

80% of people are not happy with their work, or not engaged in their work, which is why “What Motivates Me” had to be written… How did we get into this situation?

You used surveys from more than one million people to find out what motivates people…how did this work?

Finding alignment between you day-to-day tasks, and what you know motivates you!

Is this a personality or strengths test? And frankly, tests and assessments are important, but how do I actually do ANYTHING with the test results? I want to take meaningful action…

If I discover I’m motivated by something, what do I do about it–especially if I can’t change my role or company?

If I’m a manager, why is it important to know what motivates my people? And what do I do when I actually figure that out?

No matter where you are in your career, you need to “job sculpt” your career, and figure out what motivates you. And just because you are stuck deep into a corporate gig, doesn’t mean you can’t do this.

And… As a manager, you need to help the people under you “job sculpt” their jobs. There will never be a better expenditure of your time…

There are 23 drivers of motivation…how I do ascertain what moves me?


Adrian Gostick is coauthor of the New York Times bestsellers The Carrot Principle, All In, and What Motivates Me. His books have been translated into thirty languages and have sold more than a million copies around the world. Adrian is a regular columnist for Inc. magazine and has been called a “must read for modern-day managers,” by Larry King, “creative and refreshing,” by the New York Times, and “fascinating,” by Fortune. He is a founding partner of The Culture Works, a global consultancy focused on helping organizations build high-performance work cultures. He consults with companies such as General Electric, Rolls Royce, American Express, and California Pizza Kitchen.

Get your hands on Adrian’s latest book here:
What Motivates Me: Put Your Passions to Work



All right let’s do this. We are going live in 5…4…3…

(Intro Music)

TODD: All right good afternoon and welcome back to Intrepid Business. I am your host Todd Schnick. I’m very much looking forward to this conversation. No surprise to many of you, and not to impugn all this great work that I’ve had the pleasure of talking about on this show, but I’ve had a lot of sale books, a lot of marketing books, a lot of authors talking about very common business subjects. I think today’s conversation is one, let me assure you, it’s one that I desperately need. And it’s something that I don’t about enough on this show. And so I’m looking forward to getting into it.

Say hello to my guest. His name is Adrian Gostick. He’s a New York Times bestselling author. Adrian welcome to the show.

ADRIAN: Well thanks Todd, great to be here.

TODD: Well we’re going to talk about motivation today. And you know I think it’s such an important subject. And we’ll get into that in a minute. Before we do that – and real quick thank you for making some time to join us. Appreciate you being a part of this. Inform the audience a bit about you and your background.

ADRIAN: Well my co-author Chester Elton and I, a few years ago we wrote a book called The Carrot Principle and that book has taken us around the world working with great organizations. Couple a years ago we wrote a book called All In which was about culture. And so over the last, oh 20 years or so now, we’ve interviewed almost a million people looking for trends in engagement trends, motivation. We had a chance to work with some amazing companies like Proctor and Gamble, American Express, and Rolls Royce. Worked with some wonderful companies and we’ve had a chance to work with some great leaders too. So, what we found out about motivation I think will be interesting to most of your listeners

TODD: Well I certain remember The Carrot Principle. I have not had the pleasure of reading All In. But the new book is called What Motivates Me. Now let me tell you, there’s a lot of people, particularly those if they are diligently listening to this show, they certainly understand the how and what to do and why to do it. I still think there’s a lot of people that struggle with this idea of getting inspired and getting motivated. And so is that why you had to write this book?

ADRIAN: You know that’s an excellent point. There’s a lot of businesses out there that are focused so much on the how, or the what we do. And look we manufacture this, we sell this, we market this. But why are you doing what you do? Why are you manufacturing, or selling, or marketing? And what the book did, we found a big gaping hole in the science and psychology of leadership. There’s people out there who will tell you what your personality is all about. You know, Myers-Briggs, or DiSC, are all of these wonderful assessments. And they are very good. And there are people who will tell you what your strengths are, and that’s good too. But nobody is really telling you what you love to do. Really should you get into sales if you’re not reward driven? Should you become a leader if you’re not a caregiver or a builder?

And that’s what we try to identify. Is really what drives you and what you love to do. Because it’s one thing to be good at something, or one thing to have a personality that is this way, but if you don’t love to do something you’re not going to be successful at it, or as successful as you could be. So that’s where our work has taken us over the last few years.

TODD: Adrian it’s my contention that – and we’ll get into, as you said you’ve networked with a million people about this idea. And so we’re going to get into that in a minute. But it’s my contention, without having done one survey on this, that a significant majority of people in the world, in business, are not doing something that really motivates them. I mean is that a fair assessment?

ADRIAN: It is. What we found, and this is not our research, but Gallup who has now basically researched everybody in the world, they haven’t, but they say that their representative survey of just about everybody world-wide. That only about 20% of people or so are really engaged in their work, really excited, fully invested in their work. So that leaves 80% of us who are only partly engaged or disengaged at work.

So with that said, we have a lot of people who aren’t doing what they love to do. But what we found in the research is that, especially qualitatively, is we interviewed a lot of people. Those who were happiest didn’t actually quit and find a dream job. In most cases the sculpted the work they were in to make it more rewarding for them. They found things that they could do to do a little less of what frustrated them and a little bit more of what they loved to do. So again the idea that we have to all quit and open up a fruit stand somewhere is nonsense. We can find a little bit more happiness in what we’re doing in most cases.

TODD: Going back to the numbers a minute, four out of five people are not engaged, or not happy with what they’re doing. How is that possible Adrian? How did we get to this point? In the 21st century there’s so much amazing thought leadership. And people such as yourself putting out this content to help us understand how to do things, and why to do things, and all this inspiration, all this art out there that we – and that’s a very broad definition of art, from actually art that inspires you to, I think, the creative work that people do in a work place frankly in my view is art too. We know what to do. But how is it possible? How did we get to this point where 80% of the people are not engaged?

ADRIAN: Well one of the problems is we sort of put everything on sort of the individual. And there’s a lot of movement out there in motivation research, and we’ve read every single book that we could find on motivation. We’ve done research, we’ve talked to the leaders in motivation theory. And a lot of this comes down to simplifying.
So if I’m a leader and I’m trying to motivate people, I think – you know I listened to this author, he tells me there are three things you got to do to motivate people. I listened to another guy, and he’ll say, “No, no, no there are five things you got to do and here’s my five things.” And what we found is that motivation is actually much more specific, too much individual than we ever imagined.

What we found is we dug through these million people that we’ve interviewed, we found that there were 23 drivers of motivation. It could be you might be driven by creativity, and learning, and variety. Where I may be driven by empathy, and fun, and purpose in my work. Somebody else might be driven by pressure, and excelling, and challenge. What we find if that motivation is very individualized.

But it’s been very over simplified. We say that everybody is motivated by this. Or nobody’s motivated by something like money. Well yeah some people are. And so what we found if that as we start to get much more individualized with our understanding of what drives our, whether we are a leader and we have team members, or we’re just looking to figure out what motivates us, that it’s more specific than we’ve ever imagined.

And so unfortunately, again, this whole idea is just much too simplified right now. So what we’re finding, the most motivated people are those that can align what they love to do with their strengths, with their personalities. But they understand from the very beginning really what drives them at work. If that makes sense.

TODD: Adrian it makes all the sense in the world. And it sounds so easy, yet you still have to write this book because there’s 80% of the people are not doing that. I’m hearing you, and it’s very compelling to say, yeah there’s not a book you can buy that says, “Here’s the formula that works for me and so it works for all the other billion people on the planet.” Apart from reading this book, how does someone begin to ascertain what of those 23 driver, or some combination thereof, is what motivates them? Because you said getting into alignment, I think that’s where most people fail this because they don’t know how to do that.

ADRIAN: Oh absolutely. Yeah it’s interesting, in the book, we created an assessment in the book. You’ve seen these with Strengths Finders or emotional intelligence 2.0. There’s a hundred question assessment that’s an online assessment. So in the back of the book you have a code, you go in and you take this. It wasn’t built by us, it was built by psychologist and psychometrician who really understand motivation theory. And we built this with our sort of supervision, we built this assessment. And it puts out, it is the most scientifically valid study ever conducted on motivation. And it pumps out who you are and what you love to do. Now that’s great.

In fact we submitted the book to our publisher with this assessment. It tells you what you do, and all these ideas about the particular personalities that emerge, or identities, and the motivators. And our editor, who’s a brilliant woman, sent it back to us and she said, “Okay great. I now understand who I am. So what. What do I do with this?” And she pushed us to create, in the second half of the book, exercises, like you say, that will help me think about the most empowering, the most energizing parts of my job, from my past. What I love to do. And really push through and think through how we might sculpt our jobs a little bit more. How we might pursue careers. And if we’re early in our career or in college still that might be motivating to us.

So yeah you’re right, it’s this idea of alignment that’s really important. It’s not just figuring out what we love to do, but it’s figuring out how we actually might be able to use that in the real world.

TODD: See that’s where I think, that’s what’s been missing. I’ve mentioned strength when I had Tom Rath on the show before. So this book isn’t necessarily a personality or strengths test. I think it helps you explore that and understand that. But then provides real practical information about what to do with it.

ADRIAN: And that’s the difference that we found in our work. We’ve always tried to be very practical and to give
people some ideas. Now as we say, one thing you’re going to find is that your profile, we’re going to give you your motivators from 1-23, and your chance of having even the top five motivators as somebody else is 1 in 100,000. So you are very different.

And it’s interesting, my co-author Chester and I, we took the test when we were first developing it. I’m really driven by creativity, and learning, and variety. He’s really driven by ideas like friendship, and service, empathy. So he’s the touchy, feely, I’m the guy who likes to be holed up in my office creating the next big idea. But it really helped us really understand each other and have a lot more, sort of, empathy for each other. Because we’re working together and he wants to use the same people over and over again for projects because he’s driven by friendship. Me, I want to use somebody new, and come up with new ideas.

And as we begin to understand each other, and our motivators, we started realizing okay this is why you’re driven the way you are. But also we were a little more empathetic. I realized that if we’re going to send somebody to a conference to build a relationship, we send my partner Chester. If we’re going to, if we want to develop the next big idea, we’re going to give it to me and let me kind of really ruminate on it because that’s going to motivate me and drive me.

And when we do these things, you know, our work becomes a lot more engaging when we can sculpt just a little bit more of what we love to do into it.

TODD: Well you know we’ve all been part of relationships that didn’t work out. And I now understand it’s probably because we didn’t understand what motivated that other person. So that’s critical stuff.
All right, Adrian Gostick will return after this quick break. We’ll be right back.


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TODD: All right we’re back with Adrian Gostick, New York Times bestselling author. So Adrian, I was having a conversation with someone else on this show this morning and talked about leadership. And it was this idea of look, it’s one thing to lead people, to lead an organization. But where most people fall short on leadership is leading themselves.

So thinking about that a bit on the context of what we’re talking about here. Someone goes through this process, this Adrian Gostick process, and understands now what their drivers or their motivation are. And they now have a better understanding of what to do about it. The problem is they’re stuck in an organization that has very firm expectations, very firm roles. How do they deal with that?

ADRIAN: That’s a great question because sometimes you’re thinking, “Oh my gosh, how will I work with my boss? Do I have to leave this company?” What we found in most cases is finding that happiness at work doesn’t really require a major career or job transition.

It’s what we call this is job sculpting. Where people take charge of their careers by putting their fingers on those things that are causing them dissatisfaction. But it’s also a chance to have some positive language to really talk with your manager about the things that could give you greater empowerment, or greater energy in your job.

And every manager really wants their people to really be invested in their work. And so imagine being able to come to your boss and say, “Look, I want to give you my all boss, I know that I am motivated by really being creativity. I’m really motivated by making a big impact and learning. I have a couple of ideas to add some things to my work. And then sculpt a few things, maybe transfer a few thing that might make me even more productive for you.”

Now of course if you’ve been coming in early, staying late, and you’re really valuable, you’re really delivering for your boss, what we find if managers are much more willing to have these sculpting conversations. But of course you might work for [?][14:45] who just doesn’t get it. And “No it’s my way or the highway.” But in most cases what we’ve found is mangers are typically willing if you are armed and you have some information that really can be useful to them. “Look these are things that I know engage me. I took the motivators profile. These are the things that I’m seeing and yeah these feel good to me. Is there any way we can do this more.”

In fact we had one manager, she works at TD Bank, and after her people took the assessment she found one of her guys was really driven by fun, and making a big impact, and purpose, and service. And one of the things he loved to do was make presentations. But he had a very analytical job at the bank. And she said she was able to sculpt just one new activity into his work, where once or twice a month he would go to colleges and make career planning lectures to college students. Well it made the bank look great to these college students. And for him, she said, “His entire energy level just shot through the roof as he realized I cared about his career and wanted to do just a little something that would make him happier.” Well she said “His entire overall performance improved because I cared about what he cared about. Then he cared about what I cared about.”

As leaders when we care about our employees, career growth, and progression, they’re going to care more about what we care about just inevitably.

TODD: Well you know, this idea of job sculpting to me is so relevant. Look we’ve determined that the majority of people are unhappy in their work and disengaged. And so what the typical person in that situation does is read up on some guy who gave it all up and now travels the world and lives out of a backpack, or operates his business through laptop on a hammock on Tahiti and all that. That isn’t realistic right. That’s one in a million if not even a higher percentage than that. Most of us are going to have to sit there and say, “Look I’m in my work, and I’m in a situation because of family obligations, or debt, or whatever. I have to keep working. But I want to get value.”

And so this is so critical, and I’m not necessarily asking you a question here. I’m reminding the audience, and frankly myself, to say look, you’re in a situation, you may ultimately have to make a change, but you have within you the ability to sculpt your current work. And I always like it as Adrian, you talking about you and your co-author, and how different you are, I see us all as creative.

Now some actually sculpt, some actually paint, some might write music. But I think if you’re in a business environment, and you solve problems for your customers, well that’s art. That’s creative work in my opinion. And so that’s got to be the big mindset shift here. Is that you do have the ability to, in your own little world, even within your own little cubicle, to sculpt a situation that can change your life yeah?

ADRIAN: Exactly right. And there are so many people out there who feel powerless. And in fact they feel like, you know, I hate to put this in this analogy, but they feel like slaves at work. They don’t feel like they are the masters of their own destiny. And yet what we’re talking about here is finding some ways to take a little bit more control of your career. To realize that yes you can be creative. Even if you feel like you’re just in a very wrote, very routine kind of job. We have seen people who have found ways to take control of their careers and bring in a little bit more of what they love to do.

So I love what you’re saying there. Absolutely, can we be creative? What we’ve found is the worldwide work force does have this hidden reservoir of energy and ingenuity. But in most places it’s not brought out. And you can’t sit around waiting for your boss to motivate you to do this. We’ve got to do it ourselves. We’ve got to find ways to tack control of our career.

TODD: Well we’re talking from the context of the individual who’s unhappy in their work. Let’s shift that. You touched on this, but let’s go in a little bit more on the management. The people who are leading these teams of people. Because they’re probably in a very similar situation where they’re potential unsatisfied themselves. And that actually should be eye opening to say, “Look my boss who pisses me off is probably dealing with his own struggles.” And so that’s always a good paradigm shift to think, “How can I support him or her become more satisfied in their work.” But that’s not necessarily where I was going with that. But it’s an intriguing idea.

Talk through a manager. How do they shift their mindset and their focus and break free from these corporate rules that say, “You have to be this command and control, and whip people into action.” And how can they make the shift and begin to understand what motivates their people? Which then changes everything in my view.

ADRIAN: Oh absolutely. And in addition to the book What Motivates Me and the assessment, I’ve had a lot of managers say, “I had my team take this and it’s really helpful to understand what drives them.” Because some times, look I’m sitting here and I’m saying one of the ideas is that you job sculpt with your people. And the manager will say, “Look I have 20 people that work for me. I don’t have time to be job sculpting.” And what we do though is suggest is that you put this on the people. And they come to you with one or two ideas that are realistic that they are going to work over maybe a six month to a year process.

And so it’s not something where you’re spending an overwhelming abundance of time on this, but you have to think about this as an investment. They’re going to stay with you a lot longer if you care about their careers. Great quote we found from a Google manager of engineers. He said, “Our engineers here at Google, they hate to be micromanaged except in their careers. There they cannot be managed closely enough.” They want to be closely managed in their careers.

So a couple of things we suggest for managers is first off, you got to think about your people as if they’re partners in the business. They’re not employees, they’re your partners. And now how do you treat a partner? Well you think about what you can do to connect with them. You think about what you can do to help grow their careers. And they’re going to care more about what you care about.

I had a manger, well actually he was a CEO of an organization once, just get like a foot away from my face, spit flying as he screamed at me, “My people are not my partners. They’re my employees. And they need to understand they work for me.” He is actually still at this manufacturing firm four years later. His company has grown at an average rate of less than 1% a year. Nobody’s giving him their best ideas. Nobody’s give him their all. They’re doing just enough to get by.

So what we find is the great managers that we study, really do treat their people like partners. Realize their people really do want their careers to be managed closely. And if you can do that, they’re going to give more for them. And the other idea that we see a lot that we see great mangers doing, is that they cheer for their people. They are their mentors. They are rooting for them to succeed. They’re not threaten by their success. They’re not diminishing their contribution. They really do cheer for their people.

My co-author Chester tells a great story. When he was just feeling beaten down and he sends out an email to his boss saying, “Hey I’m just having a rough day. Can you just tell me I’m great?” The boss responds and says, “Great, Chester you’re not just great. In the pantheon of greatest you’re the greatest.” He says, “You’re not just great, you are Spartacus.” And Chester says, “I printed that out and I stuck it up on my wall. That’s the kind of cheering now and then that we need from our bosses.”

TODD: I might have just gotten the title for this posting. So you made the comment with the manager saying, “I don’t have time to job sculpt for 20 people under me.” I contend that you can’t afford not to do that. That ought to be the first priority if you’re managing people because then once you do that, yeah it might take some time, but that’s so critical to the long-term play yes?

ADRIAN: Oh absolutely, yeah. You uncover these subtle changes that can lead to really big increase, we found in morale, engagement, and results. All of the things you’re looking for by just taking a little more time with your people. I know you’re busy, but these are the kinds of things that really pay you back.

TODD: I mean that’s what a manager is supposed to do, is manage people. And how can you do that without really, deeply understand who they are and what they are about.

Well Adrian, you and I could talk for another three hours on all this stuff. In fact we’ll probably have to have you back on the show down the road a bit. But for now we’re out of time. Before I let you go, how can people get in touch with you, and learn more about your work, and get their hands on all your books?

ADRIAN: Well you can find us at, that’s our company. What Motivates Me is in all fine bookstores. And please if you take the assessment, send me a note. I’m at HYPERLINK “” And love to hear you thoughts and how you’re using it with your team or just by yourself.

TODD: Adrian Gostick, New York Times best-selling author of The Carrot Principle, All In, and the new book, What Motivates Me. Adrian it was a real pleasure to have you. Thank for stopping by and joining me.

ADRIAN: Thanks Todd for the interest and much appreciated.

TODD: All right well that wraps this episode. On behalf of my guest, Adrian Gostick, I’m Todd Schnick, we’ll see you soon on Intrepid Business.

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Co-founder of the intrepidNOW Media Network, Todd Schnick is a media + business strategist and talk show host + producer. He is a former marketing strategist, national political operative, and lobbyist. Todd has published five books, writes a business + lifestyle column, is a distance runner, and lives in Chicago with his wife Stephanie + family.

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