It's always the simple things

What really motivates everything we do always comes down to the simplest things.

It's always the simple things
Photo by La-Rel Easter / Unsplash

Listening to a few (very different) podcasts and working on Staid over the last couple of weeks got me thinking about why we do what we do. And if you boil it down, it's really not all that complex. See if you agree with me.

First, let's start with one of the best podcast episodes I've heard in years. It's truly insightful and fascinating. My thought process for this post started here, but the episode is so good, it's straight up worth a listen.

I then checked out this Sam Harris / Making Sense episode on social status:

Then I co-hosted this one with BetaKit on the rise and fall of Sidewalk Labs:

... and the thread that connected them all is how, once you shave off all the bluster and noise and complexity, what really motivates everything we do comes down to the simplest, core human "drives".

"Why am I not popular"? "I want to be richer than that person". "It's not fair that they got promoted". It's ego. Jealousy. Spite. Power. And so on. (I suppose one could argue it's all ultimately wrapped up in ego 😂). These atomic forces are at the core of what we do and get layered upon until they are unrecognizable.

Case in point: the BetaKit / Sidewalk episode. When recording the end of the show, we'd asked Josh - the journalist who wrote a new book on the whole Sidewalk Labs affair - what ultimately killed Sidewalk. I'd initially speculated that it was the world waking up to what data big tech companies collect and the unfortunate timing of building a smart city clashing (or at least using that argument as a cudgel). But Josh simply stated that the differences of a municipal, provincial, federal set of governments coupled with the points of view of Dan Doctoroff and Sergey Brin were irreconcilable. A tale as old as time, not a fancy new technology problem.

Or, as Larry David did, you could just start a business out of spite.