Motivation, incentives, perfectionism, fear

November 12th, 2010

So this Daniel Pink Ted talk has been under my skin for awhile.  he talks about the “Puzzle of Motivation”  But what he said didn’t resonate with me.

Also had a discussion W Aza Raskin awhile back about how to rewards Open Source Programmers and Incentives.  Mozilla offered a bounty for programmers which had adverse results.  I had seen this personally happen repeatedly with NPOs when I was on the board of  Money did not match the motivation levels needed.  It was improper feedback.

And then finally after having multiple discussions with my housemate about childrearing…

Where the first chapter is about not telling Children they are simply smart.  But instead always pointing to specific actions as being clever or smart or good.  This again feeds back to yesterday’s post about gamification.  And correctly targeting the feedback.  If you tell a child they are smart it actually hurts them.  Kinda also explains my basic dislike of people telling me I’m smart or I’m pretty – those have nothing to do with my actions.  Yet I enjoy it when someone says I loved “such and such idea.”

I think our real purpose is to encourage/reward actions.  If this is true then we should focus on those actions we desire.  Since they are specific we can do more feedback directly.

So this all reflects on my own issues in regards perfectionism and procrastination.  I believe I over commit so that I have an excuse for things not being perfect.  If I don’t I tend to suffer from procrastination.  See I was often told how smart I was rather than specific actions.  This those expectations means fear of obtaining perfection sets in and that is the stubborn seed of procrastination.  It’s a difficult one to remove (i think my whole work ethic got wrapped up in there too somewhere.)

I also believe that fear kills creativity by sending people into their Lizard Brain.  See if it isn’t MY project, I have tons of suggestions and can see all… But if it is mine, I become too set and myopic.  That is why I now prefer to “midwife” other people’s ideas.  I have prerequisites that is true in regards to my goals but for the most part it must be someone else’s baby.  Then I can be most effective.  At least until I solve this perfectionism issue…  And can close this stupid Bad feedback loop.

I have noticed that other Big Corporations (cough MS cough) often tend to suffer from the same issues of broken expectations and feedback.  Since they measure their employees in such constrained and artificially constructed manners they have a very negative impact on creativity and performance.   The goal becomes the broken metric and not the motivation.  I wish more people read The 5th Discipline. I believe this type of process is essential for fixing metrics and finding more meaning in measurement by addressing issues in perspective and motivation.

Personally, I think for me and my ideas… I need to create more small doable tasks.  Creating bullet style lists and figure a way for me to obtain the praise and criticism I desire.  You know that action specific kind I was just talking about…

Once I have all my concepts ironed out I can start with more solid concepts than I had before and perhaps with the proper feedback I can leave the fears of perfectionism and rigidity behind and retrain my brain so it doesn’t go all Lizard on me.

And @ItCHe (corrected) thanks for the reminder to finish this languishing post with your link yesterday.



November 12th, 2010

Evidently the word “Gamification” is becoming a bit of a bad word. I suppose it is because too often it is being used in a Tom Chatfield sense and not in a Jane McGonigal sense.

Tom stresses much in regards to the game play rewards system. Having worked in the industry and watching games like Farmville and such arise. He is not wrong. Those are all crucial elements of addictive game play. What he says isn’t new. In the gaming industry, we talk often about the circle of addiction.  Things like the importance of immediate feedback w representative rewards, multiple goals of varying length, element of surprise, and interactions w peers.

Jane talks much of making the world a better place.  Of the importance of choosing important goals and of fostering motivation.

I love the concepts of Jane’s games.  I have signed up multiple times.  But I never end up playing them.  I think often her games are missing an important aspect – the addictive factor.  The feedback is rarely as immediate as I need.  And even though she talks about the freedom to fail – making those immediate posts… is actually asking for a rather large commitment.

I think both could learn much from each other.  What I would like to argue esp in regards to Tom’s presentation is that Real Metrics are motivational ONLY if people can see the correlation.  That is why money typically fails as a motivator. (Well that and fear – money makes a game real.)  And I believe this lack of correlation is why “Gamification” is becoming a dirty word – a word marketing people use. (duh duh duh DUM!)

Jane – you really have to control the fear aspect in regards to asking people to be creative.  Doing blog posts, posting videos etc are acts only a certain generation of extroverts can accomplish.  I, the gal that dances everywhere, have a truly hard time posting a video of myself dancing online.  I mean first I have to get someone to help me make the video.  Secondly I have to get over looking like a dork and realize – I am not as hot of a dancer as I thought I was…. So my need for perfectionism- means I internally don’t feel free to fail :-(

I guess I need those tiny steps complete w rewards to get there… And those haven’t worked for me in the design of your virtual games I have played so far.  I believe that is why only 8000 played superstruct.  I wanted to like it.  I really did.  But oof that first step was a doosy.  But I do have to say your peer pressure tactics work great in Real Life (as evidenced at my participation at foocamp :-)) Maybe if there was a better way to pressure Real life communities?

Honestly though, I do believe the world can learn much from good games…

Constant relevant feedback

Meaningful metrics

Valid reward systems

That certain element of surprise…

and yea people – remember the whole essential ingredient of the whole Web 2.0 explosion…


Project management and the scientific method

September 28th, 2010

So many fervent discussions on different project management styles baffle me…

I was raised to be a scientist.  One of my earliest memories is being about 5-6 yr old and mom sitting me down in front on a set of 6 test tubes and a lab book where she had written numbers on the top of each page.  Explained to me the scientific process, how to test w the 5 senses (told me that taste was okay THIS time but not normally) She also gave me Ph indicator strips cause they are fun to play with and easy to practice measuring and recording.  She then left me to figure out what the 6 substances were and keep track in my lab book.

Hypothesis, testing, record data, evaluate hypothesis, repeat

Really this isn’t very different from most project management…

After all aren’t most creations in their own way experiments?

You have an idea, you create it, you test it, you evaluate how it did and you evolve…

All the other parts to be are just frosting… Agile means you fail faster; Waterfall is when you can’t afford to fail.  So deciding which time frame to use just means do some risk evaluations beforehand.

I find it interesting that people get so religious on these discussions.  For me, if you can do real risk analysis because any failure cost is high then I spend more on design time.  If it is a get it done situation where expectations aren’t so rigid esp in the case of experimentation because it hasn’t been done before, then less design and more experimentation is the order of the day.

I guess in the true spirit of Feynman – I just believe in constantly challenging all assumptions and designs :-)


A reminder to myself…

September 27th, 2010

Never get demotivated by the people that don’t care… or that don’t see a point… or think  you shouldn’t waste your time… or say consistently what you are doing wrong but rarely what you are doing right…

We are working on making the world a better place.  And yes we may make the world a better place for those people as well as everyone else.   Those difficult people are no different from the rocks on the path that also benefit.  Many of them later will rewrite history – say they were actually on that path and helped your feet rise.  It doesn’t matter. They still gave you something to walk on – even if they were sometimes sharp they made your feet tougher – so they did contribute 😉 and that’s okay…

Because you do this for the ones you love… and sometimes they can be the difficult ones too.


SXSW Booth babes and Burlesque

April 26th, 2010

So yea, I am kinda out there.  It doesn’t take a very sophisticated search to find some very odd pictures of me on those interwebs.

I love performing and costumes and burningman.  So last year at SXSW, I threw a party with some friends called “Pastries and Pasties. ”  I wanted to do cupcakes; he wanted to do Burlesque.   Seems like an awesome mashup… Except for the fact I couldn’t get sponsors to save my life.  Evidently there are people out there afraid of boobies (except the French! Vive la France!)

I do not view our event as sexist.  In fact it is the opposite.  We typically also have male performers as well and much of it is vaudeville esque.  It does not feel like a strip club.  Strip clubs have this exclusion and separation factor that I find to be creepy.  This event was about art.  Sexy art some times but also funny art and political art and it was very inclusive entertainment.

My favorite story of the night was getting trapped in the bathroom with a group of British gals that thought the party was about cupcakes and meat pies (evidently pasties are meat pies in the UK – should have got some of them to sponsor ;-).)  So they were talking about “hmm should we be insulted?  We wanted meat pies and there are gals doing burlesque instead…”  but they had an open minds decided to watch the show and were pleasantly surprised.  They found the variety of performers and the level of art and skill to be empowering instead of sexist.

In contrast this was the first year to me that SXSW felt too big.  And it seems to have gotten the plague that most larger conferences get.  I am talking about “booth babes.”  Ok I have been a booth babe in regards to the fact I have purposely been the person working the booth at the conference because I am an attractive female that is well spoken.  I know the attractiveness makes it easier I am not naive. But I like to think the difference is that I am very knowledgeable person to be working the booth (heck sometimes I was a founder.)  What annoys me is using a pure sexual attraction factor – I view it as exploitation or insincere advertising.  I mean what is the point of having unknowledgeable people at your booth?  To me that seems sexist.

And yet booth babes are more acceptable than burlesque?  Prudish Americans are illogical.


You’re doing it wrong!

March 3rd, 2010

“You’re doing it wrong.”  I believe is one of the most counterproductive statements a person can make.

First of all – that statement gets little accomplished.  Typically it makes the person that is “doing it wrong” dig deeper to defend their work.  Why – well they are WORKING CREATING ACCOMPLISHING.  Something is vested and so therefore I must defend that time and effort on my part that I have vested.  It is a natural and some what justifiable human response.

And it be honest, “You’re doing it wrong” is typically an inaccurate statement.  Instead it should be “I think that you are not creating what I think I want.” Or perhaps instead “you are not doing what I would do.”  And sometimes “you are not doing what 99% of the rest of the world would do.”  That doesn’t actually make it wrong…  I mean Feynman talks about science being that constant challenging of norms and experimentation.  When is something actually 100% wrong?

I strive in life to be the person that helps people figure out that instead of them both fighting over the orange.  One person wants the peel while the other needs the juice.

So I am working on this citability codeathon.  It is interesting to me that many view me as dictating a standard that is incompatible with whatever they are doing and therefore my project must be competition.  This reminds me when I was at the National NonProfit Congress and I had to facilitate a discussion between two Nonprofits that were angry that the other was “stealing their poor people.”  I view this as losing sight of the cause or the reason we do what we do.

Our mutual goal is to make data citable and therefore more accessible to the people.  There are many paths there.

For the codeathon, I have several groups that will be attending.  At first glance, it might seem we are at odds.  For example everyone assumes that Joe Carmel’s must conflict w Citability.  He and I talked for several hours.  They don’t.  Actually citability may make his job easier.  We both know we could never get all the govt sites to adopt citability and that makes his tool quite necessary.

Also the Coins and URN:LEX crowd, those datamarkup standards can easily be added to the citability markups.  URN:LEX isn’t for everyone since it must be created and maintained by a governmental body but there is no reason why we can’t add a special parser to citability to add those fields when they are available.  Same with the semantic web.  Citability only requires 3 things: A unique location, datestimestamp and granularity.   There is so much more to be added.  When it was created, we KNEW it wasn’t perfect.

I suppose when you start a project from a point of view where you know what you are doing is not the complete answer, it makes it easier to see adaptive solutions.

I consider what we are doing with citability to be a baby step.  I don’t consider it to be right and other ways wrong.  I typically find that if we can sit down and talk there are easily ways to make things interoperable.  I believe that citability is right for a small part of what we are trying to accomplish.  I don’t think it is perfect.  Far from it.  I think eventually we will have some fascinating structures to build folksonomies, taxonomies and ontologies on top of this esp where we can specialize for different documents etc.

I know that Tim Berners-Lee is doing a huge project in the UK with Linkeddata.  I think that is awesome.  But I’m not sure about that project being available for the City of Austin anytime soon.  I am working within some very limited constraints.  I really want him to succeed. It would make many things easier if he does.  But this doesn’t mean I stop doing what I am trying to do.  It doesn’t mean our way of doing things is wrong. Life is evolution.  We use HTML 5 and XML now :-)

But for now, I am trying to do what I believe is right for now.  Doesn’t mean I think what you are doing is wrong.  Just maybe wrong for me.  But there are so few of us creating in this space… I find it sad to argue over someone stealing their poor people…  Instead, let’s talk and see if maybe you just want juice while I am eying that orange peel.  And yes you are INVITED to the codeathon to work on your project as well just make sure it is Open Source :-)


Now this is how to spread happiness

January 18th, 2010

My friend decided that what makes her happy is doing affirmations for others she knows… and Man oh man is she good at it.  The one she did for me made me tear up.

This is the best example of spreading happiness that I have found that iis also deeply meaningful.  I like this even more than the #30daysofhappiness meme.  It is what I was looking for when I started this intellectual exploration of happiness!  It makes her happy and allows her to spread such meaningful happiness.  Beyond a quick fix – this helps people create better perceptions of self and encourages them to strive further in the right directions.

Earlier I did a post on Criticism and how I don’t want to ever use it as a form of communication unless you know it is a dangerous situation. (Yes I know I’m mess up on this occasionally but it is a goal…)  This post/action of her is the perfect counterpoint!  And can be used to illustrated Affirmation as a leadership style.

Hey Girl! You hit the top of the Mazlow’s hierarchy with this one! Gold star Michelle – Gold star!


Are you my “Friend”?

January 17th, 2010

I’m watching more and more people every day getting mad at twitter and facebook. These poor misguided folk unfortunately take it out too often on associates, acquaintance, people they know or “Friends.”

Defriending is such a sad word… it implies such drama. And in the end creates more drama than is necessary.

I rarely Unfollow on twitter anymore. I used to typically unfollow out of hurt feelings for those that weren’t following me back. But I realized that relationships are often inequitable.  And that I don’t care,  I’ll follow who I think is interesting.  And I’ll friend on facebook people I have met and want to continue to connect with.

Now it is mainly a spam issue – you direct message me with spam- I will definitely unfollow you. if you spam your feed enough that I notice. I will also unfollow.  If I don’t like you or don’t remember you- I defriend you.  It’s kinda rare.

but that is about it.

So much of this defriending and unfollowing has more to do with information overload.  The overload makes us feel a need to disconnected.  So ironically to connect, we cull our lists and disconnect.  We raise the status of those we feel more connected to.  We threaten just to see who is listening. (Guilty right here I bet I can find at least 3-5 LJ entries along those lines.) We close lines of communication to others based on random rules. (I have mine I just listed one in this post.)

But before you do that… realize the reason why you are doing it.  Typically bad communication interfaces or bad privacy implementations created by software.  Not the people.  Do you really dislike me because I tweet too much about stuff you don’t understand?  See at a party – you wouldn’t care.  You would walk away and check in later.  You would be ready to talk to me when I said something interesting esp if I called your name.

I have found that currently – my biggest vector of happiness is relationships.  So many of y’all are mainly virtual these days.  But that doesn’t diminish my feelings for you.  Distance and lack of time weakens the ties sometimes that is true.  But that is just lack of communication aspects that I understand and don’t take personally.  Doesn’t mean I don’t love you (or like you my dear casual acquaintances.)

But I leave you on the list… Because I do want to leave that channel of communication open.  I followed/friended you in the first place for a reason.  To open a door.  Just because I am not listening doesn’t mean you can’t contact me directly.  I will try to respond… even if you are in my inbox for a year (sorry dave karpf.)

Unfollow me sure but realize then I can’t DM you.  Unfriend me – but then realize might be harder to invite you to a party or find your contact info.  I’ll try to not take it personally – if you do the same…


high 5’s for happiness

January 12th, 2010

Considering my earlier post about smiles and positive emotions being viral! I think this is a good plan!

I also think of it as the American version of the free hug campaign this fellow did. wow up to 54 million views! I cried the first time I saw that video.

The high five one is safer. It does make me smile – so that works for me…

I did a Princess and Frog rampage during the Disney movie. My girlfriends and I dressed up like princesses. You know just cause. It was big fun. I bought wee plastic tiaras and frog stickers. Asked the wee ones attending if they were a frog or a princess and gave them the appropriate gift.

It was one little gal’s b-day. Her mom said my friends and I making her feel special like that was a gift from god. Interestingly, there was one mom w 3 older girls (11-13) that was actually upset by the gifts since I didn’t work for the theatre or Disney. She made them give the wee gifts back. I thought that was sad that she lives her life in that much fear.

But I did make 30+ other little girls day esp the birthday girl.

What Random Act of Happiness have you thought of doing?


WOW! PBS could you have better timing?

January 5th, 2010

It looks to be an amazing new series on emotion and happiness on PBS

thank you @gumption !

Watching episode 1 now…