Putting Dan Pink’s Mastery, Autonomy & Purpose into practice — Interview with Jeremiah Smith

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Today’s interview is with Jeremiah Smith, who is the President and CEO of SimpleTiger, a boutique digital marketing agency that specializes in SEO for entrepreneurs and software as a service firms. Jeremiah joins me today to talk about management styles, SimpleTiger’s discovery of Dan Pink’s three elements of motivation (autonomy, mastery, and purpose) and how they have developed a management system/approach that puts these three into practice.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – Customer success needs to be the responsibility of the entire organisation – Interview with Fred Shilmover – and is number 253 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Highlights from my conversation with Jeremiah:

  • SimpleTiger’s management approach is built on the three principles of mastery, autonomy and purpose.
  • These originate with Daniel Pink and his book: Drive.
  • There is an accompanying TED Talk: The Puzzle Of Motivation By Daniel Pink
  • Everything starts with purpose. Every organization has a single intended purpose. And, within that organization each person has a single intended purpose.
  • Once you’re clear about that it makes it very easy to understand what your job ought to be, what it ought to do and it sets a nice elegant path forward for where you are going.
  • Autonomy is all about giving people the room and the trust to solve a problem. There are so many different ways to solve a problem.
  • Mastery is the vested interest the organization takes in the skill development, education and overall performance improvement of the members of that organization.
  • Dan Pink in his book highlighted that the financial incentive model for problem solving actually yielded worse results. And the larger the financial incentive the worse the results were.
  • We see a lot of different management ideas floating around but it’s seldom that we actually hear of stories of when people have taken them and turned them into a working practice or model.
  • Purpose gives people the clarity to understand their work and what’s expected of them in a way that nothing else can.
  • Jeremiah tells a story of Caitlyn and their content work. Previously, the strategic and tactical elements were not done by the same people so they were a bit disconnected – i.e. the person who was developing the strategy didn’t know what it was like to implement that content on the ground. Initially, Caitlyn was more involved at a tactical level. But, they consolidated both strategic and tactical elements and gave Caitlyn overall responsibility for the whole content piece.
  • Moreover, rather than telling Caitlyn what to do they offered her some advice from their experience and set her on her way.
  • The first content strategy she produced was one of the most heavy hitting content strategy pieces that they have ever produced for a client.
  • They have found that switching over to this way of working is best done in a wholesale way as it’s hard to do this with just a few members of a company or with people at a certain level.
  • SimpleTiger support this through their constitution (rule book) and culture that supports open and honest communication.
  • One of the biggest challenges to adopting this type of approach is breaking the habit of how things are.
  • Jeremiah has discovered that his team’s overall happiness is his single biggest purpose. If he can make everyone within the organization happy and keep them happy with their job, work life etc then that’s his single purpose. If he invest in that it takes care of his clients.
  • Benefits include: employee happiness, customer happiness and employee retention.
  • If you are interested in exploring this type of style/approach for yourself, here are some resources to check out and start with:
  • However, in terms of implementation, Jeremiah found it useful to start with establishing your ‘Why’ (inspired by Simon Sinek’s TED How great leaders inspire action).
  • Big credit to the development of this approach goes to Thomas Honeyman – a previous employee of SimpleTiger who was instrumental in the development, implementation and optimisation of the MAP model.
  • Check out SimpleTiger, particularly if you are a software as a service company or entrepreneur.

About Jeremiah

Jeremiah SmithJeremiah Smith is the President and CEO of SimpleTiger, a boutique digital marketing agency that specializes in SEO for entrepreneurs. For 11 years, Jeremiah has helped companies like Segment.com, Shopify, NBC, MTV, E*Trade, LG, and Sports Illustrated see significant gains in their search results, organic traffic, and revenue. During his time growing SimpleTiger, Jeremiah has seen firsthand how clients have been unnecessarily burned by other agencies in the past or confused by misleading SEO strategies.

The SEO industry is plagued with a lot of smoke and mirrors, black hat techniques, and a lack of transparency. Jeremiah’s mission is to open up about what many other SEO marketers and agencies won’t share – the practices and frameworks that actually work. Why share this? Because transparency is much needed in an industry where sharing is typically frowned upon.

As a fully distributed team, SimpleTiger has helped venture backed startups with everything to lose all the way up to the largest companies in the world get on the first page of Google. There is no one-size fits all approach to SEO like some would have you believe, but there is a simple, effective, and right way to do it.

Check out SimpleTiger, particularly if you are a software as a service company or entrepreneur, say Hi to Jeremiah and the folks at SimpleTiger on Twitter @jeremiahcsmith and @simpletiger and connect with Jeremiah on LinkedIn here.

Thanks to Denise Krebs for the image.

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