My friend Murray Rothbard was a great economist. He did not do it for money. He did his greatest work when he was a teacher at a school that did not pay him well, and which offered no economics major: Brooklyn Polytechnic. It put food on his table. He created a movement in his spare time. His disciples were not paying students.
The same was true of Rothbard’s mentor, Ludwig von Mises. He was an unpaid “visiting” professor at New York University. Donors raised all of his salary. Mises was not in it for the money. He taught Rothbard, who was not a paying student. Rothbard sat in Mises’ graduate seminar as an auditor. Mises had taught a generation of disciples this way, in the 1920’s, in an unpaid seminar in Vienna. He did it in his spare time.
For things that matter most, a large salary is rarely the motivating factor. The sense of accomplishment is.
There is your job. It puts food on your table. Then there is your calling: the most important thing you can do in which you would be most difficult to replace. Your calling is more important than your job. I hope you have identified it. I hope you are working on it daily.
Here is a TED lecture by Dan Pink on motivation. It shows that bonuses don’t work. The management guru W. Edwards Deming had discovered this a generation earlier, but Pink does not mention this.
When companies find ways to fuse a person’s job and calling, they become highly profitable. It’s not based on bonuses.
Creativity is unpredictable. This was Mises’ insight on entrepreneurship. Better to pay a salary for predictable work, and offer a share of ownership for breakthroughs. Pay with salary; reward with equity. The lecturer ignored this two-part strategy. But it’s still a good lecture.