There is a great guy named Merlin Mann whose work I have been appreciating for years. He is pretty much a time and productivity guru, although I am not sure you’d be able to catch him using the word “guru” to describe himself in any way. He invented the Hipster PDA and Inbox Zero. Earlier in the year he gave a talk at Rutgers about time and attention and I got to listen to the podcast of that talk. A lot of the session revolved around the cartoon animals of the Richard Scarry books. I used to love those books as a kid! Back in the day, it was pretty easy to illustrate jobs in a book for children. Give a dog a red hat or a pig a big knife and you instantly knew they were a fireman or a (ironically or otherwise) butcher. Information workers these days are less easy to make into caricatures. A cat sitting at a desk with a computer under a florescent light could be a secretary or a web designer or an author or an illustrator or an embedded systems engineer or some dude spending all day running a pretend farm on Facebook. I don’t know that I could explain my job to an 8 year old.
Although most of the talk was about jobs and maintaining attention and sanity with regard to email overload and too many meetings, a certain bit about 10 minutes in really resonated with me more than any other part of the talk. That part is as follows (emphasis mine):
“If I’m going to spend ten hours a day here, I need to like you guys a lot, and we’re going to need a culture here that works. Money is the reason people say they leave a job, but culture is the reason that money became an issue. If somebody loves their job intensely and feels very keyed into the culture of their work, they’ll find ways to make the money work a lot of the time, or at least longer than you’d think.”
I have kept this quote with me since first hearing it many, many months ago. It is a very simple statement, but there are some enormous truths lurking behind it. If you are an information worker, I highly recommend listening to or watching Merlin’s Rutgers talk or his Inbox Zero talk at Google. Or heck — buy his book when it’s available.