Sunday, August 07, 2005

Not-so-empty Numbers

In Guy Kawasaki's Art of the Start, the author urges entrepreneurs to "make meaning" as they make money. His suggestion is that we all work harder and are happier when we are working on a project that brings us deep and abiding satisfaction. Once we have found meaning in what we do, we can dedicate ourselves completely and financial success will soon follow.

I have found meaning in what I do because I know that my company's success stimulates the economy, provides jobs/healthcare for the people it employs, and help entrepreneurs finance their dreams. I truly feel like I am part of something that makes the world a better place.

But what about other employees who perform much more monotonous tasks than I do? What is deep and meaningful about selling advertising on a website? Where is the meaning in updating the news section of the website? Perhaps they (the employees) see the big picture -- More sales = more revenue = increased ability to help others succeed = meaning. -- but I don't think that is what gets them through their day.

I think the key to finding meaning in the monotonous is recognizing it as an opportunity for self-mastery and self-improvement.

Keeping regular statistics helps employees find meaning in what appears to be insignificant work.

When salesmen use stats, they know that an unsuccessful call only means that they are seven unsuccessful calls away from a sale. And, more importantly, they know that if they make a sale in less than seven calls, they have improved and overcome their natural tendencies that prevent sales. That's intrinsically meaningful.

When website copy editors can see how many conversions their page has generated since they worked on it, rearranging the wording of a paragraph becomes a contest between how they have achieved in the past, and how well they know they can perform. When stats imporove and we outperform ourselves, we come one step closer to reaching our potential and we achieve meaning.

I'm going to do a better job at helping everyone at FundingUniverse.com find meaning in self-mastery and self-improvement by creating better, more meaningful statistics for every position that I am responsible for, including mine.

Note: Check out The Game of Work for more on how keeping statistics creates meaning.

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