Back to Work!
Posted: January 6, 2009 | 4:40 ET

Welcome back!

So how did you spend you winter vacation? Your humble blogger spent much of hers trying to find things that might inspire you for the coming year.

Then I came across this. It's Inspiration vs. Motivation, a recent entry in Rob Walker's blog.

Don't know Walker? He writes the Consumed column in the New York Times* and published the acclaimed book Buying In this past year.

Walker's blog entry makes ideal new year/new resolutions reading. In it, he quotes noted psychologist and Scranton professor John Norcross, who said in a Science Friday podcast:

"'Inspiration is short-lived. Itís typically emulating other people, and it'll push us for a week or two. But inspiration begins to extinguish quite quickly. And as Henry Ford once said, after that it's 90 percent hard work. Inspiration may get us started, but it never keeps us going. And that's where motivation works.

"'And motivation doesnít come in a bottle. Motivation is, scientifically speaking, a series of small behaviors.'"

Walker discusses the podcast, not because he plans to quit smoking or lose weight this year (although that's not to say he's not planning to do either of these things). Instead, he writes, "...I think thereís an awful lot of emphasis on 'inspiration' in the marketing/design world of ideas. When I hear talks (more often via some online venue than in person) from this or that guru (and this includes people who call themselves 'motivational' speakers, actually), their point always seems to be to inspire the audience. People are always asking me about inspiration, and conferences seem to revolve around inspiration, and basically inspiration seems to be a venerated concept."

I liked his post because, while we're being met at every news outlet with reports of economic doom and gloom, maybe this is good time to re-think some of the marketing world's sacred cows.

Don't get me wrong: I believe that inspiration is essential to our business. Good ideas, good creative and good strategy will be the currency of survival for marketers for the next little while. But Walker reminds us all that inspiration without some bona fide motivation, ideas are just ideas. We'll have to think smarter, but we'll also have to roll up our sleeves for some good old-fashioned execution.

* As always, if you're asked to log in to the NYT site and don't want to, try clearing your browser's cache and cookies before clicking on the link.

Tags: Creative

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