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Personal Investment

Quick… you were just promoted manager and now standing in front of a team of brand new employees in an overly fluorescent-bright conference room. The last manager was ‘reassigned’ due to the lack of performance by his employees. What is the main thing you do to make a difference? …

Everyone probably knows the answer to this question in some form or another whether you were able to quickly vocalize it or not. The best way to get anyone to do anything more than the bare bones minimum is to give them a reason to. Make it so they have a personal investment. This works in more than just a business setting as well… it actually works in all aspects of life. If you take any scenario, and think the selfish thought… what am I getting out of this? Or rather, what can I possibly get out of this?

What am I trying to say? Well these thoughts were brought up last night when watching the second season premiere of Heroes on NBC. I really enjoy the show. I think the concept is amazing and the tangled web of plots is so complex that it drives my interest. But right there is also in my eyes a key problem… the plot and the desire for the web to unravel is the only thing that keeps me watching. What I am saying is… where is my personal investment to this show? Do I enjoy the plot? Of course I do! Do I enjoy the characters? Of course I do! But… Do I feel personally invested in any one character? That I don’t.

Pardon my extremely strange comparison, but where is Ross? I love the show Friends. This is definitely not because it is like real life… cause let’s face it… no one’s life is like the six of theirs. If it were… you would be disease infested, poor beyond belief, and even though you have some pretty sweet friends, you wouldn’t be all too happy I don’t think. The show takes the extremes of events… as it should, because it is a TV show that provides entertainment to an extremely broad audience. Anyway, I digress… I hold some sort of personal investment emotionally in each of the characters on Friends. If during its 10 years of broadcasting, any one of the 6 friends was killed off, I (among so many others) wouldn’t have taken it lightly.

When watching Heroes, it might have something to do with the extreme size of the cast and minimal time spent on each character, but nearly any of the characters could be killed off and I wouldn’t do much more than give a… harumph.

So how can we relate the lack of personal investment in any character in Heroes to real-life? Well let me tell you…

You know how people say, don’t take it personal? Well I’m going to go out on a limb and ask, why? Why can’t something be personal? A certain movie quote from You’ve Got Mail comes to mind. Joe Fox has just put Kathleen Kelly’s bookstore out of business…

Joe Fox: It wasn’t… personal.
Kathleen Kelly: What is that supposed to mean? I am so sick of that. All that means is that it wasn’t personal to you. But it was personal to me. It’s *personal* to a lot of people. And what’s so wrong with being personal, anyway?
Joe Fox: Uh, nothing.
Kathleen Kelly: Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.

If everyone took things a little more personal, I bet the place would be a little bit of a better place. Would you rather have a teacher that stands at the board and regurgitates information… or would you rather have a teacher that takes your personal interest in mind and works to make it his/her own personal goal to help you learn. If you were the manager of a team, would you rather have an employee who does their job just as asked or a person who desires personal success and makes the success of your product personal?

We live in a time right now where everything is being pushed towards automation. If you call a company’s support line, I can almost guarantee they’ll do everything in their power to answer your question through prompts so that you don’t have to talk to a single person. I am not saying that is wrong at all. It is a good business move, saves on operating costs. But if we are losing the personal in areas like that, shouldn’t we be adding personal into other areas.

Walk into the Apple store. I rest my case.

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