The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Give Me Something To Believe In …

One of the things I’ve found fascinating over the years is how many companies think all they need to do to keep employees happy is cash and perks.

Don’t get me wrong, cash and perks are very nice – and for some people, that’s all they need – however for a certain type of employee, there is another attribute that has equal, if not even greater, appeal.


Pride in what they do.
Pride in how they do it.
Pride in who they do it for.
Pride in who they work with.
Pride in the actions of the past.
Pride in the ambitions for the future.
Pride in the standards the company lives by.
Pride in the companies standing in their field.

Now I get the C-Suite may like to think their employees are proud working for them – probably reinforced by countless questionable ‘monkey surveys’ sent by HR – however more often than not, they are confusing ‘having a job’ with ‘being proud of the job they have’.

Nothing highlights this more than when a company feels morale is down, because that’s the moment the spot-bonuses and/or impromptu office parties begin.

Does it work?

Sure. For a period of time.

However employees are no fools, they know the real reason for these ‘additional benefits’ is to keep them quiet rather than force the C-Suite to open up a set of issues they absolutely don’t want to have to deal with.


Because in the main, the issues are about them.

Specially the work they aspire for the company to make.

Look I get it … no one likes to face their potential failings, so if they can avoid it with spending a bit of cash, why wouldn’t they?

Well I’ll tell you why, because money can’t buy pride.

I say this because I recently saw a video of Steve Jobs talking about standards.

He’s made similar speeches over the years – with his ‘paint behind the fence’ being one of my favourites.

However I love this one because there’s a bit of bite in it.

A clear perspective on what standards he holds Apple too, rather than what the competition hold themselves too.

Sure, to some it could come across as arrogant, but I imagine to the people at Apple at that time, it induced the same feelings I have when I work for a company whose standards and ambitions were at least the same as mine or – hopefully – even higher.

A sense of ‘us against them’.
That feeling you’re part of a place playing a totally different game to the competition. A special place. A place that does things right, even if people don’t quite get it yet. A place that attracts the best to do their best … but not in a way where you then feel ‘you’ve made it’ for being there. Instead, it’s a feeling of responsibility to keep the standards of name moving forwards. An intoxicating mix of expectation, judgement and encouragement all at the same time.

You can’t fake that.

You can’t buy it either.

So when the C-suite hand out promotions, payrises and parties in a bid to boost morale because the claims of doing great work are not convincing anyone … my advice is to save their cash.

Not just because the employees know exactly what they’re doing.

Nor because whatever they end up receiving, it still won’t buy their pride.

But because they could save a ton of cash by simply committing to doing things to the highest standards rather than the lowest … because at the end of the day, these people don’t need certainty, they just want possible and if they have that, morale will fix itself all by itself.

20 Comments so far
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What you are highlighting is companies can have all the purpose they like, if it is not fighting against the established way of behavior and if they don’t actively and consistently prove their belief through their actions, it is being done more for c-suite ego than cause. I love the video with Jobs.

This is a fantastic post Robert. I love it.

Comment by George

Pride proves purpose.
Purpose doesn’t mean pride.

Comment by Rob

People will fight for a cause, rarely for a purpose.

Comment by Bazza

That’s a fantastic way to look at it.

It also highlights how far companies have gone down the wrong path with purpose. Or – to be fair – how purpose has become pointless because companies tend to want to look like they have it without having to prove it.

Comment by Rob

Love that Baz. You are forgiven for your previous commentary sins. LOL.

Comment by Pete

peak planner nerd shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

I still love that speech.

Comment by Bazza

I hadn’t seen it before. It is amazing. I love the way he is focused on expressing his belief while systematically destroying those who try to dismiss what he is doing.

Comment by Pete

“We don’t ship junk” is a brilliant statement. It depositions the competition while setting the standards he expects of his own company. Disarmingly simple and ferociously effective.

Comment by George

This should be read by all c-suite members. The problem is many of the people who occupy these positions got there because of politics rather than a commitment to the cause.

Comment by Pete

if they read it theyd put a hit out on campbells life. oh, now I get it.

Comment by andy@cynic

Excellent piece Robert.

Comment by Lee Hill

Most companies get into trouble for two reasons. Either they become complacent and stop moving forward.
Or they forget the original reason they were founded.
That said, I do think its perfectly valid for some people to show up for work do their job and just go home. If you let your work define you. it ends up pretty hollow.
Also, passion and pride can be dangerous, it can encourage you to make bad decisions because the heart is ignoring the head.

Comment by Northern

when did you become a fucking management consultant accountant?

Comment by andy@cynic

I don’t see a lot of real passion and pride these days. What I see a lot more of is passion designed, then sterilized, by committee meaning it is weaker than a Bud.

Comment by George

I still like you Northern.

Comment by Bazza

Devious use of a gate at the top of a post about Apple.

Comment by John

[…] are like the famous Steve Jobs quote, “paint behind the fence”. … where their standards, values and attitude means they will do things others may not ever know or see, but is important to them as it not only […]

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Some of these companies have such toxic work environment . But i guess that’s bette than getting paid peanuts. But how much better? 🧐

Comment by Srilata

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