It's a mystery that more folks, especially Worthwhile Magazine, haven't read the BzzAgents New York Times piece for its meaningful work and entrepreneurial lessons and out of sheer curiousity as to why people are intrinsically motivated to be BzzAgents. Dave Balter has built a very large volunteer corps and has one of the best recent examples of employing the concept of leverage in business.
BalterIM: The volunteers cite the feeling of being 'on the inside', like sharing opinions with others, and enjoy feeling altruistic. Has Madison Avenue figured out what open source developers knew all along? - a blogged internal IM conversation referencing a Slashdot post
Yes, you heard me right. I said curiousity. Where's the ROI in curiousity? Yes, marketers and business people live, eat, breathe curiousity about our own and other people's underlying motivations and desires. That's how you recognize opportunity, unmet needs and untapped markets.
[T]he craving need to make meaning is part of the human condition. And again, if you don't satisfy a craving need with a commercial answer, you should be thrown into the business hall of infamy. - The Culting of Brands, by Douglas Atkin
I'd re-read the NYT piece looking for the WHYs - for instance, why do agents drawn to do this? It goes beyond wanting to appear to be influential and in-the-know - i.e. be blessed as one of the Influentials, or the Magic People the article refers to. Although that's one of the more easily surfaced and obvious motivators.
When she signed up for her first BzzAgent campaign -- ''The Frog King,'' in fact -- she was working with a pharmaceutical researcher, mostly doing paperwork, and thinking about finding a more fulfilling way to spend her days.... So participating is both a chance to weigh in and be heard, and also something close to an act of altruism. - NYT
Reader Mike Rhodes mentioned to me that Ben Saunders set out from Cape Arktichevsky in Northern Siberia in an attempt to be the first person in the world to make a complete crossing of the frozen Arctic Ocean in a 1,240-mile journey ending in Canada, solo and unsupported. He says that part of the reason that he did so was to demonstrate human potential; he felt we use only 5% of our potential as humans. If you ask me, we're not even tapping that much of our potential.
Over the past five years, organizations have paid more attention to creativity and innovation than at any other time in my career. But I believe most people aren't anywhere near to realizing their creative potential, in part because they're laboring in environments that impede intrinsic motivation. The anecdotal evidence suggests many companies still have a long way to go to remove the barriers to creativity. - The Six Myths of Creativity, Fast Company
I think the other thing I read in the piece was that perhaps we're all Magic People. We're all Magic People when our intrinsic worth and potential is recognized and called forth. I think ultimately that people want to make a difference with their lives and are seeking opportunities to do so.
Under some circumstances, we will expend more effort for social rewards than we will for monetary rewards. This suggests that the agents may do more to spread word of mouth precisely because they are not being paid...
Crucial to the BzzAgent system is the small team of young people in Boston who read and answer every single Bzz report. They offer encouragement, tips on how to improve word-of-mouth strategies. Every report is rated and every agent ranked according to a complicated formula, one that is constantly being tweaked, taking into account everything from how often the agent reports to how many people they tend to buzz to the quality of their summaries -- plus intangibles like originality....[Hence in next paragraph we're told the reports are full of personality and creativity.] - NYT
The Rich Dad Poor Dad series by Robert Kiyosaki advocates that individuals join MLM programs not so much for the income opportunity but for the leadership, sales, business and personal development training that comes along with them.
Desjardins is ranked the 45th most effective BzzAgent, out of 60,000 nationwide, and proud of it. He has learned to influence.
Throughout the story, I continued to read that people aren't motivated by their jobs, aren't continuous learning in their jobs, aren't connecting with others in their jobs, aren't able to fully utilize and see their talents expressed within their jobs, aren't challenged by their jobs, and aren't feeling a sense of making an individual difference to the success of the organization.
This might be the most peculiar thing about BzzAgent: not only are its volunteer agents willing to become shock troops in the marketing revolution, but many of them are flat-out excited about it. At his apartment, Desjardins told me about another book he had read because of BzzAgent. Called ''Join Me,'' it's about a guy who decides he wants to start some sort of voluntary group -- a commune, a cult, whatever you want to call it. He puts an ad in the paper that just says, ''Join me,'' and to his surprise, people are interested. They didn't know what they were joining, or why, but they joined anyway. The guy, whose name is Danny Wallace, decided to turn his followers into a good-deeds army, basically on the ''Pay It Forward'' method. The book is nonfiction. - NYT
Because things are so crazy out there, people like to find out if they see the world the same way as other people. People will believe anything - from a chocolate bar to a political view - if it makes them feel that they belong to something bigger than themselves. - Charlene, loyal Snapple drinker, from The Culting of Brands
After all, some people are lucky enough to find meaning and fulfillment through their work, family or spirituality. But many people don't. Many people have boring jobs and indifferent bosses. They feel ignored by politicians. They send e-mail to customer service and no one responds. They get no feedback. It's easy to feel helpless, uncounted, disconnected. Do you think, I asked Desjardins, that there's some element of that going on with BzzAgent?
''I think for some people it probably is,'' he answered. ''For me, it's being part of something big. I think it's such a big thing that's going to shape marketing. To actually be one of the people involved in shaping that is, to me, big.'' That made sense to me too. After all, there is one thing that is even more powerful than the upper hand, more seductive than persuading: believing. - NYT
Re-read the last sentence slowly. There is one thing that is even more powerful than the upper hand, more seductive than persuading: believing. And being part of something bigger than ourselves that's engaging ourselves and the world.
When somebody asked Einstein what question he would ask God if he could ask one, he replied, "How did the universe start? Because everything after that is just math."
And after thinking for a while, he changed his mind. He said, "Instead I would ask, 'Why was the universe created?' Because then I would know the meaning of my own life." - The 8th Habit, Stephen Covey