I recently put myself up to learn more about motivation. Motivated myself by the great TED-Talk by Dan Pink on Motivation questioning the incentive driven approach as the best motivator for modern, creative tasks. As a person, who never got much motivation by material incentives at all, I was intrigued and decided to look further on what motives us, what is the drive. And found an interesting case in exactly what all the investors tell you all the time.

In Drive, the book he published the same year he made the TED talk, Dan Pink goes to the bottom of this by describing two kinds of motivators: the ones that come out of yourself and those that are run by external drives. The classic reward or material incentive system is a typical case of external motivator. As said, those ones almost never worked for me, I am a classic case of those being almost only motivated by internal motivators, like the pleasure of doing it, the feeling of having accomplished something great or see my work in action and change peoples lifes. As you could expect, especially for creative tasks, this kind of motivation outperforms the external reward system by far - to the point the reward system actual inhibits getting the task done at all.

This exact motivation, the internal one, is the one we can get passionate about. Because this is not about something unimportant like money, this is what we really want. That is the passion investors talk about, when they say, they are looking for teams with passion. What that means is, that you have in internal urge to do this and you’ll stick through long dips to get this accomplished. And no money-offer on the table is really going to change that. But it goes even beyond that. Not only in the case of internal motivation, what is it that actually gets us going? What is it that lets us pick up the pen and get started?

And again, there are essentially two main get-goers for us humans: carrot and stick - pain and pleasure. Though known for centuries, we abolished the stick at some point (good, that we did this). But the picture is the same, I either get my hands dirty because what I am expecting is giving me pleasure (either the task itself or the result of the task) or - and here is what I think is under-estimated - because the pain is just getting to big to stand. And that is a really big motivator, because once started we do not stop, until the pain is gone.

As an entrepreneur I am about fixing problems I see in the world. And though sometimes, it just makes me happy to see my service help my customers, which is super rewarding, the reason why I get started is because I can’t stand looking at it any more. Looking at the world spending more money on printer ink than on gold, makes you sick to the stomach and you can’t stand people do that to themselves, that is why you won’t give up until you find a way around the patents and get your customers they same quality ink for a tenth the price.

That is the passion, investors are looking for. Because if that is - from a market perspective - a profitable thing, you are a safe bet. So find the problem that - still unfixed - drives you crazy, mad or makes you sick, check the market and get started fixing it. Then investors money ain’t any of your concerns.