What drives you?


Some people are motivated by money. Others are motivated by fame. Some of us find passion for our ideas that keeps us going no matter what. What drives you? What keeps you going through failure, late nights, and setbacks?


asked Oct 12 '09 at 09:01
50 points
  • What's the option? Work for a big company and be one more? nahhh... – Tiago 14 years ago

10 Answers


Having a big picture game plan or as HBR put it years ago, a "big hairy audacious goal". This way, things that go wrong don't derail you, but rather help you chart out an even better route to your end-goal.

At the end of the day I figure that we don't really have much time in life and this is a big consideration. Money is definitely a driver, but not enough on its own. Other things that motivate me:

1) Being part of such an incredible, transformative technology and being able to help others understand and shift the way they work, communicate and even view the world.

2) Stories of other entrepreneurs who experienced and overcame extreme difficulties ... like Edison who tested thousands of materials before he found one that would work as a filament. It helps to know that you're not alone when things are not working well.

3) Like Dlynton, seeing an idea or invention take shape and form and provide value to others.

One last thought: to stay motivated I've learned to recognize and deflect what I'll call emotional vampires. These are the very rare people who are never satisfied, who bring in less than 20% of your revenues but can take up to 80% of your time and emotional resources if you're not careful.

I remember when I suddenly realized one particular person was an emotional vampire. She was making life very difficult for a flash developer I was helping. In chatting with her she was gloating about getting $3K in free repairs on her used car because - in her words - she could be so annoying that it was easier for the business just to do the work for free rather than deal with her persistent, negative arguments.

This person applied the "vampire" attitude everywhere she went, and businesses with integrity felt compelled to go "above and beyond" because she challenged their integrity. The best solution for clients like these is to politely part ways and definitely don't let them derail you from helping the 99% of clients who are happy with the work you are doing for them.

(Here's a nicely done video that shows common "vampire" scenarios small businesses have to deal with.)

answered Oct 12 '09 at 10:11
Julie King
871 points


If you are looking for fame or money, there are much easier ways of getting that then being an entrepreneur. A good steady job will get you more money, and a funny video in youtube will get you more fame.

Being an entrepreneur is not something you choose to be, it is something you are. Research shows that 10% of the general population is more inclined to being entrepreneurs, and 90% are not. It does not mean that the entrepreneurs are smarter/dumber, more/less talented, taller/shorter or anything. Some people are more comfortable being their own boss and setting their own path, and some find the thought terrifying and would rather have a steady job and a boss that leads the way. Neither path promises success or fame. There are very successful CEOs of huge companies that like the fact that they are not the main shareholders and that they have directors with them to choose the path for the company, while there are entrepreneurs that start a restaurant and barely make ends meet.

The motivation either way comes from doing what feels right. If you are more comfortable in your own business then in working for someone else, despite the inherent risk, then that is all the motivation you need. What can be more motivating then doing what makes you feel good and making a living out of it?

If you can afford to do what you want, then you are living the dream.

answered Oct 12 '09 at 17:20
Ron Ga
2,181 points


It was money, until I made it selling my company, now it's equal money and fulfillment and doing something good in the world.

The purpose of a company is to make money, so it helps to focus on that.

answered Oct 12 '09 at 09:04
16,231 points


Let's take money as a given for the moment. There are lots of things I'd like to do, but if they're not remunerative, I don't really have the luxury of doing them.

Anything I do has to enable me to:

  1. Be creative.
  2. Surround myself with people who are smarter than I am, but just as much fun. :)
  3. Find the upside. I've had great jobs with no upside potential -- after a few years, I'm bored. "Upside" could mean compensation, promotion, or some other type of fulfilling experience.

Good question.


answered Oct 12 '09 at 09:09
784 points


Yes, making money is a given and it is my primary goal. Finding the most profitable projects and opportunities. Other than that...

  1. Making a customer happy / solving their problems. I am a people pleaser so this is a big one for me.
  2. Combining the talents of individuals to create something that previously only existed in my head (adding to Scott's mention of creativity)
  3. Getting recognition for our work - like fame but on a smaller scale. I produce the best possible work so that a happy customer praises us to others, and I have a healthy ecosystem of business when most of my customers are coming from a fanbase.
answered Oct 12 '09 at 09:19
1,057 points


I am still trying..not tired of trying. I learned a lot from my failures. I am still motivated because I believe Entrepreneurship is the only way I will get work satisfaction and that’s the only way I will feel like I achieved something in life.

And hopefully money will be by product on my Entrepreneurship route. "Anyone can do day job but only few can take a risk and if things goes well then they can give employments to other. "

answered Oct 12 '09 at 09:54
Web Thinker
430 points


Yes money - so that I can do the things I want (i.e. Live the dream and innovate - sit around thinking of cool stuff to do).

However, the main drive for me would have to be wanting to prove to myself I can do it. If you have good ideas and enthusiasm you'll find the other pieces you need to make it happen eventually.

Plus I don't want to just pick up where someone else has left off (probably for a major company or something like that) - whats the point?

answered Oct 12 '09 at 17:25
470 points


I thoroughly enjoy competing. It doesn't matter whether it is a sport, an exam or running a business. I put myself side by side with the best and do whatever I can in my ability to outrun, outthink and outplay the competition. That is what keeps me up at night and wakes me up at the crack of dawn.

answered Oct 12 '09 at 17:37
Usman Sheikh
1,728 points


Freedom, money, learning, challenge, flexibility, and the voices in my head.

answered Oct 12 '09 at 23:34
422 points


Some might call it freedom, but I call it creative control. When I worked as an employee, I took my marching orders from senior management. It meant that if I had a different sense of priorities or a different vision for the product or service, I had to put my ideas aside and focus on company objectives.

Now I can follow my own ideas and intuition. I find that very motivational and fulfilling.

(And a little scary at times.)

answered Oct 13 '09 at 00:28
D Thrasher
894 points

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