Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us by Daniel Pink

I listened to this audiobook over the course of a weekend. It is a very compelling listen and is a read-a-like for anyone who likes the Freakonomics series and Malcolm Gladwell books.

The best motivadrive_book_pagetion is intrinsic and offering rewards can dampen the enjoyment and interest in an activity. School children who liked to draw were offered a reward. When the reward was removed the children dramatically curtailed their drawing to levels far below what they were doing prior to the experiment. The children who were offered no reward continued to draw for pleasure.

Rewards do have their place. They are effective when the task is rote and tedious- such as stuffing envelopes. The extrinsic reward is effective because a person would probably not choose this activity as a hobby or for pleasure.

The real motivators for people are a sense of autonomy, mastery, and purpose. In the case of stuffing envelopes, in the place of a reward, a supervisor could motive the employee to work faster by explaining the purpose of the mailing and allowing the employee the autonomy to determine how they would like to accomplish the task.

Another great book by Daniel Pink is To Sell is Human. It is also a good book to listen to.

The Imitation Game

imgresThe Imitation Game is a solid Hollywood biopic of Alan Turing who during World War II worked in secret to build a machine that could break Nazi codes. The movie follows all the typical markers of the story of the misfit who saves the day (or shortens the war by 2 years in this case). Turing is the misfit. There is a young woman who challenges conventions about women’s abilities to understand math. There is a good-looking nemesis who turns out to be an important ally at just the right moment. There are really no surprises but it is well executed. The writing and plot build suspense and the actors deliver wonderful performances. I thought the actor who played a young Turing was a stand out.

I liked it more than Birdman or Boyhood, although I concede that Birdman is more imaginative storytelling. From the reviews I’ve read the movie is broadly accurate but it is not faithful to history in the details; but few movies are.

DVD Review My Old Lady

imgresIn the movie My Old Lady Kevin Kline and Kristin Scott Thomas play unloved children who grow up to be unlovable adults. The premise of the movie is ripe for a romantic comedy: a 57 year old American man who is down on his luck inherits a beautiful apartment in the center of Paris but the apartment comes with an old lady (Maggie Smith) who may legally occupy the residency until she dies. Unfortunately the story is weighed down by a seriousness that is just uninteresting. Even Paris manages to look drab. The acting is excellent I just wished the story was a little lighter.

Women, Food, and Desire by Alexandrea Jamieson

imgresThis is a non-fiction book by “transformational health expert” Alexandra Jamieson. Jamieson is probably best know as Morgan Spurlock’s vegan girlfriend in the documentary, Supersize Me. This book is definitely directed at women only. The main point of the book is that we must get in touch with our true desires. Otherwise we will fill that need with food or other unhealthy substances. Jamieson backs up her dialog with scientific studies and nothing in the book is controversial. It is also surprisingly thin on details. Don’t look here for recipes or dietary guidelines.

If you liked Eat, Pray, Love you may like this book, although Elizabeth Gilbert is a more talented writer.

Holy Cow by David Duchovny


Yes, that David Duchovny from X-files and Californication.

This was a fun book and a quick read. Elsie Bovary is a heifer on a dairy farm who learns the horrible truth about humans’ relationship to farm animals. She doesn’t take it lightly and devises a plan with the help of Tom Turkey and Shalom the pig to escape to India where she will be safe from the food chain. Before they reach India they pass through Turkey and Israel learning many lessons along the way. It would be a good read for teens, especially vegetarians.