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  • Writer's pictureWarren Bobinski

It's NOT THE MONEY! Why I turned down $1M

"Integrity is choosing your thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gain."

My daughters Sarah and Brittany!

My first child, Sarah, was born when I was 19. Mom was 16.

Brittany was born a few years later in the midst of a tumultuous relationship that ended shortly after her birth...

I worked in a family dental supply business - an upstart. Trying to provide shelter and food for a young family with minimal resources. My motivation wasn't to make money- it was to pay rent. Buy food. Get milk for my babies. Find a new and supportive partner that would help me and not beat me.

I have struggled many times in my life to provide even the basics...but the rent has always been paid. Heat and electricity have never been shut off. Milk for the babies once meant collecting and cashing in pop bottles...but it was done.

Daniel Pink wrote about MOTIVATION 1.0 in his book "DRIVE" that the most basic human motivation is to find food, procreate and avoid dying. It's the basic motivation for all animal species, isn't it? The blessing of living in a country with an adequate supply of food, dating services and health care seems to have helped most of us move to the more recent motivations..

(and why this method is quickly becoming outdated)

For the next 16 years, motivation 1.0 pretty much drove me. In a family business, paying my own expenses. Trying to compete against the HUGE dental supply company. Paying legal fees. Splitting the small, but highly valued assets in a divorce (mostly to lawyers!). Paying support for MY girls and their mom while trying to pay my own way as well....

My father had merged with Sinclair Dental, and eventually sold to a new owner (who had his own business agenda and gutted the entire family business...except for me!)

At this point of my career, I was making about $40,000 a year and paying over half to spousal support. I had to share my home with my single Dad who was learning to become a real estate salesman after having been in the dental supply business most of his adult life! My wages were garnisheed, leaving me "not enough" to pay my rent....or fix my broken car with 400,000 km and a dead mega debt and on the verge of bankruptcy.

To add insult to injury - the company that now "owned" me, and had fired my whole family and closed the doors to our business now hired a competitor that I DID NOT like, respect, or want to be associated with.

So I had two issues. Two motivations. Neither of them monetary.

Why I gave up a Million dollar offer.

"It's not the money, it's the principle"

In DRIVE, Daniel Pink discusses how management seems to believe that either a carrot or stick is the most appropriate way to manage people. They will give you MORE money or benefits so you will do the job they tell you to do, or they will TAKE AWAY money or benefits.

In the CARROT money, mo money, mo money....

For a sales guy, that might mean a "spiff" to sell something. An associate filling every small hole and finding tons of work no matter what. For a service department, it might mean a bonus and next years raise for the amount of service revenue you generate. A hygienist billing more. For a manager, a much more PROFIT you generate this quarter and year end before your contract is up....

I was offered $1,000,000 to go back to the company I quit and did not trust. I ABSOLUTELY DID quit over money. It wasn't just money. It was destroying my family business. My dreams. It was finding out that a person I did not respect was getting compensated twice as much.

This offer came from the same person who FIRED my family. CLOSED the doors on my dream of becoming a dental supply business owner!

The offer came because once I left, my motivation was no longer about 1.0 (food, shelter, love)...and especially not about 2.0 (carrot and stick) was about taking care of the people I LOVE and WORK for. The business I am passionate about. It was about helping my customers achieve their goals. I could not fathom working for a company that wasn't aligned with my personal values.

Most of my customers felt the same, and still do. I appreciate that! It took many years for "that guys" business to recover. A little vindication for me and my family.


Is money really the BEST way to motivate people? Who does this really work for? This may be a good SHORT TERM solution, but what about the next time. The goal gets reached. It has to get bigger and bigger and ultimately will fail.

It will fail because if the motivation for the sales guy is to get paid to sell may not necessarily be the RIGHT SOLUTION for the customer. Its only the right solution for them at that moment. For a service department, they MAY BE ABLE to generate a lot of revenue by taking a little longer to fix. By billing for things that never got billed before. Perhaps they "lower" the rate to look attractive to customers - but take longer to fix the problem. The manager cuts expenses and quality of product decreases. The CEO lays people off. Makes sure to push sales for a quarter or two....

At whose expense?

Can you READ or SEE your own business in the above CARROT examples?

The stick....

For a salesman it may be meeting an unrealistic quota. You used to get paid to reach that quota. This year, if you don't, you get less. A stick actually.

For a services oriented wage, without that PERFORMANCE you will not expect to get a raise. You are paid by the hour - every hour BETTER be producing DIRECT revenue or we can't afford a raise next year beyond the cost of living.

The CEO and MANAGER invested heavily in the future instead of the next quarter. As a matter of fact they invested in new services that will help the sales team become more efficient (and have more time to enjoy life). They recognized the SERVICE oriented people for the customer service they provided that helped create loyalty to the company and brand and drove more sales of high end products and services. The CEO and MANAGER INVESTED in themselves and TEAM...for a LONG TERM gain. To create an environment that motivated the team. Listened to what the team said.

They got punished for this insight. The quarter looked horrible. The profit was down.

Out comes the stick. Which for CEO and MANAGER can mean you are sent back to the trenches or looking for a new job.

Lets create these scenarios in a DENTAL OFFICE and discuss Motivation 3.0

Why we all quit!

When you hire people who are motivated solely by money - you will soon find a team that has a common goal.


Everyone competing for a share of the money. A business owner trying to cut expenses to keep a share, or to increase production at any cost. An associate that is paid a commission trying to crank out the work regardless of possible quality. The "by the hour employee" making sure to bill for every single minute they are on the clock...and adjusting the clock to suit their own personal monetary goals.

Where is the satisfaction of a job well done?

What if you hire people with a common goal. Aligned with your SINCERE intentions of providing the BEST of what they can personally do? The dentist that continues to increase their skill level by attending challenging CE courses. That HELPS patients and sometimes takes a little extra time, stays late or works the weekends...not for the money but because that is the level of care best suited for their patients. The dentist that learns new techniques to make the patient more comfortable, and invests in technology that provides a superior experience. NOT because they will make mo money, mo money, mo money - but because the patients will APPRECIATE and BENEFIT from the care....

Then you have a receptionist that UNDERSTANDS and APPRECIATES the dentist. They can accommodate the patient requests and book for maximum value. The patient is in and out on the schedule they wanted - one appointment instead of two or three. The ability to stay within the practice and not have to be referred out. The ability to offer treatment like affordable, clear aligners and replacing the tooth. The ability to help cure and prevent decay and perio...

The hygienist that has a HUGE SCREEN at the foot of the chair with images of the patients oral cavity blown up 65"! Taking the time to explain, during an UNBILLABLE portion of time on what they could do to help that patient meet their goals! They aren't concerned that the time it takes to take the picture isn't billable. They aren't concerned about whether they will get paid for the panoramic xray, or the caries finder.

They are concerned that the patient has the HIGHEST LEVEL of care!

The Assistant, who attended most every available course an assistant can possibly attend. All paid by the company as they realize the BENEFIT of a person that WANTS to become the BEST at what they do. This aligns well with the principles of the clinic and the team. The CE is absolutely paid! Respect given to the opinion that the sterilization area would be more efficient with an instrument washer (to replace the MUNDANE task of hand cleaning or ultrasonic). This assistant knows every procedure and has not only laid everything out for efficiency and fully explained to the patient - they can't even stand to work at a clinic that DOESN'T offer these challenging treatments. They LOVE the challenge and opportunity to shine and show their skills.

They are respected.

MOTIVATION 3.0 is about integrity. Sincerity. Motivation 3.0 IS NOT about being a schemer and trying to find a way to offer a false carrot only to try to pump up your greedy bottom line. SINCERITY with INTENT!

Give your people that chance to shine! Appreciate their insight at the job they do - show that appreciation with plenty of appropriate carrots, ZERO sticks. Let them on the bus, and share the common goal of becoming the GOLD STANDARD of patient care.

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