Steve Martin, motivation and the long game
Welcome to the MoneyNeverSleeps newsletter! Thanks to the 228 new fans who signed up for the newsletter this week.
If you’re reading this but haven’t subscribed, now’s the time to join!
‘And then they say it happened for me overnight, shit, yeah, I guess
I guess it took ten years for me to be an overnight success’
- ‘Dark Sky (Skyscrapers)’ by Big Sean
My youngest daughters are aged 5 and 8. They are like chalk and cheese in terms of personalities, hair colour, build, everything!
My 5-year-old has been learning to read and this week she finished her first book from start to finish and it was an early reader version of ‘Goldilocks’.
My 8-year-old absolutely loves to watch movies with me on the couch, especially family comedies, and two of her all-time favourites are ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’ and ‘Father of The Bride’ both starring Steve Martin.
So, this week seemed like a good time to write about Steve Martin, Goldilocks and habits.
I have always been a big fan of Steve Martin’s particular style of comedy and he wrote a fascinating book on his early years as a comedian (link down below).
In 1955, Disneyland had just opened in California, and ten-year-old Steve applied for and landed a job selling guidebooks.
After a year, he had transitioned to the onsite magic shop. He experimented with jokes and tried out simple magic routines on visitors. Soon he discovered that what he loved was not performing magic but performing in general. Steve’s mind was made up…he was going to become a comedian.
As a teenager, he started performing in small clubs around Los Angeles. He had a short routine and was rarely on stage for more than five minutes.
It wasn’t glamorous work, but over time, there was no doubt he was getting better. When he started, his first routines would only last one or two minutes. By high school, his act had expanded to a ten-minute show. By nineteen, he was performing weekly for twenty minutes at a time.
Steve spent another decade experimenting, adjusting, and practicing. He took a job as a television writer and, over time, he was able to land his own appearances on talk shows.
By the mid-1970s, he had worked his way into being a regular guest on The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live.
After nearly fifteen years of work, Steve had made it. He catapulted to the top of his genre and has become one of the most successful comedians of his time.
Why Should You Care?
Steve Martin’s story provides a really interesting view on what it takes to stick with habits for the long run.
Comedy is not an easy job. It is hard to imagine a worse situation than performing alone on stage and failing to get a single laugh. And yet Steve Martin faced this fear every week for eighteen years.
In his words, “10 years spent learning, 4 years spent refining, and 4 years as a wild success.”
Why is it that some people stick with their habits while most of us struggle to stay motivated? How do we design habits that pull us in rather than ones that fade away?
Scientists have been studying this question for many years. While there are no perfect answers, one of the most common findings is that the way to maintain motivation and achieve peak levels of desire is to work on tasks of “just manageable difficulty.”
Here comes the Goldilocks reference….
The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Just like in the story, tasks that are not too hard, not too easy…. Just right.
The human brain loves a challenge, but only if it is within a certain level of difficulty.
I really enjoy tennis and if I try to play a serious match against my 5-year-old, I get bored quickly. It’s too easy and I win most of the points!
However, if I had to play a match tomorrow against Rafa Nadal, I will quickly lose motivation because the match will be too difficult.
If I play a game against someone who is my equal down at the club, I find myself fully invested in the game. I have a good chance of winning, but only if I really try.
This type of challenge of just manageable difficulty is a prime example of the Goldilocks Rule.
Steve Martin’s comedy career is an excellent example of the Goldilocks Rule in practice. Each year, he expanded his comedy routine and was always adding new material, and he also kept a few jokes that were guaranteed to get laughs.
There were just enough victories to keep him motivated and just enough mistakes to keep him working hard.
If you want to learn how to stay motivated for the long-term…
Stick to The Goldilocks Rule and work on tasks of just manageable difficulty.
Tell me why I’m wrong…
How do I describe ‘Left Field’? It’s a place to put the content (newsletters/articles, etc) that we have amassed over recent weeks or previous years that really make us think or change our thinking on a particular topic. All the content will offer an alternative view of some topic in financial services, technology or sport (or a combination of all three!)
Roblox Queen MeganPlays Is Making Millions With a Blocky Digital Empire
We have discussed the potential of Roblox before on the podcast but this article from Bloomberg last month was fascinating as my kids love Roblox and are big fans of MeganPlays.
I had been oblivious to the opportunity to monetize content from gaming so this was pretty eye-opening when you look at the numbers involved.
Anyway, I won’t give away too much. Enjoy the article and feel free to get in touch to discuss more!
MoneyNeverSleeps podcast episode from this week:
Achia Nila, Founder & CEO of Women in Digital, joins the show to share her story on Women in Digital, an all-star team of female technologists dedicated to bringing more Bangladeshi women into the digital economy. In this chat, we get into Nila’s earliest inspirations, proving herself and becoming a CTO before becoming an entrepreneur, the founding principles of Women in Digital, and how she has been able to train 10,000 women in 8 years.
Book Recommendation: I highly recommend the book ‘Born Standing Up’, the legendary comedian and actor Steve Martin's memoir of his early years in showbusiness
This newsletter has been written by Eoin Fitzgerald and Pete Townsend
Want more MoneyNeverSleeps?
Check out the MoneyNeverSleeps Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all major podcast platforms.