The best examples of things that motivate others over the short-term almost always involve surprise and delight. Of course, long-term motivation is internally driven and is all about commitment to the cause. Nevertheless, a million years ago I heard this story from Mike Vance about his boss at the time, Walt Disney. Walt told Mike, “My brother won’t give me money to make movies. Can you help get more money out of the park (Disneyland)?”
Mike pulled together a team of seven people. One of the women on the team put up a calendar of what happened in the park day by day. At that time, the park was open Wednesday through Sunday.
“Let’s open the park on Mondays and Tuesdays,” she suggested.
“No one will come.”
“We’ll form a “Magic Kingdom Club” and let corporate members give their employees discounted admissions on those days.”
The plan worked beyond expectations as the families that got discounted tickets spent more in the park on toys for their children.
Christmas day the doorbell rang at the homes of each of the seven team members. They each opened their door to find Mickey Mouse standing there with an envelope. Inside it were 100 shares of Disney stock, 25 $1,000 bills and a hand-written note from Walt: “It’s fantastic. You’re fantastic. Do it again.”
That afternoon, Christmas afternoon, all seven were back in the office.
This time the same lady put up a clock with what was going on in the park at different hours. There was always something happening in the park 24 hours a day since all the heavy maintenance was done when there were no guests present.