A social scientist of sort’s perspective on what motivates people

Truth be told: I am a social scientist of sorts. While that may sound odd for someone who offers us consulting services for business and organization leaders, and for someone with my particular background, I’ve come to realize that it describes both the particulars of my professional experience and the perspective I’ve developed over the years on how to most effectively examine the merits of particular business, organizational and public policies. Why? Because these venues involve people and how they work together.

With that overall notion, here is a brief summary of my experience and education, in chronological order, related to these venues:

  1. Door-to-door seed salesperson in elementary school.
  2. Paper boy during early middle school.
  3. Class president in later middle school.
  4. Laborer at a recycling plant.
  5. Dishwasher for a large steakhouse chain.
  6. Sales clerk for a large retail chain.
  7. Sales clerk/delivery person for a small furniture store chain.
  8. Door-to-door book salesperson.
  9. Short order cook on a commissary truck.
  10. Dishwasher at a family-owned steakhouse.
  11. Groundskeeper at an apartment complex.
  12. Sales clerk at a jewelry store.
  13. Business/Finance graduate at a notable state university.
  14. Financial analyst at an investment syndication firm.
  15. Computer systems manager/programmer at a small business.
  16. Finance doctoral student at notable private graduate business school.
  17. Part-time research associate at that graduate business school.
  18. Part-time instructor at that graduate business school.
  19. Finance M.B.A graduate at that graduate business school.
  20. Senior financial analyst at a regional telecommunications firm.
  21. Finance doctoral student at a notable public business school.
  22. Teaching and research assistant, and part-time instructor at that notable public business school.
  23. Doctoral degree recipient from that notable public school, specializing in testing for evidence of rational versus behavioral market activity.
  24. College finance instructor at several universities.
  25. Publisher of scholarly research on econometrics and government policy for financial markets.
  26. Contract IT consultant with a super regional bank.
  27. Semi-professional poker player.

Yes. That’s right. Despite that my career arc had lead me towards the refined, privileged and comfortable world of academic pursuits, I gave it up because, at its core, something was critically missing for me. And it was this: I was not getting enough satisfaction out of the struggle that was necessary to be successful in that career. And my frustration led me to try something completely different from the path I had taken up to that point.

And that something different was to throw myself completely into trying to play poker for a living. Against all of the odds of doing so, against all those others who were much more capable, by the nature of their personalities and experience, of doing so. I can’t say that I did so with the noble purpose of advancing my knowledge of human nature, or myself, but I believe that the experience has provided me a sharpness to my understanding of human nature that complements my formal professional development and experiences to date.

And one particular thing that I learned from that experience is this: I order to maximize our ability effectively work with others, we must be slavishly committed to learning about what makes people tick, commonly as human beings, and individually based on our preferences. It may come from experiences at a poker table or a lecture on scientific research on the matter. Like this one:


But almost never from a stylized model that narrowly defines the scope of human mechanics, such as those typically used in economic modeling.

With those notions in mind, I would challenge you to reexamine the models you use to try to make the most out of the opportunities you have to work with others towards a common mission.

With that said, I will leave you with more more tidbit about my career path that may altogether surprise you: I am currently working as a long-haul over-the-road truck driver.

The good folks at Trucking Truth helped me decide on starting a career in trucking.

The good folks at Trucking Truth helped me decide on starting a career in trucking.

Yup. A truck driver. A Ph.D. carrying, higher educationally experienced, but now humble and eager to learn — and serve — truck driver. Why I have taken this path is a story all in itself. Which I will probably share in a future post.

In the meantime, be safe!

The Tightwire Guy

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