Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose

Ben Kay is a copywriter at Lunar BBDO. He has a blog with a great name–If This Is A Blog Then What’s Christmas?
In his latest post, he discusses how money isn’t the primary motivator for creative people. Picking up on a TED talk by Dan Pink, Kay says what matters to creatives is “Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.”

Occasionally, people ask why I bother to write this blog. Up until I saw this lecture I didn’t really know. Even though I happily do it every day, there has been little or no concrete or financial benefit.
Well, it provides me with all three of those things in spades.
I can write pretty much whatever I want, I can get better at it and I can believe, however misguidedly, that it makes a miniscule positive difference to some people’s days.

That’s well put. Many times over the past five years, I’ve paused to give thanks for AdPulp. It’s the one part of my day-to-day existence in the ad world that I can count on, that makes sense to me and that I have some measure of control over (I realize control is an illusion, but there is no better word for the idea).
I’ve also been very fortunate in my work. Scott Seymour and Kevin Meany at BFG Communications allowed me a great deal of autonomy and the chance to master my craft as their Content Director. Our purposes may not have been 100% aligned at all times but there was enough common ground there, that we managed quite well. Prior to that Steve Stith at The Integer Group cleared the way for me to launch KTIG, an Internet radio station in 2002. We also dabbled in an internal Wiki for all the people at the agency working on Coors.
If you’re a manager seeking passionate people who will innovate on your behalf, congrats, you’re half way there. To go all the way, put autonomy, mastery and purpose at the forefront of your operation.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.