Local author delves into what motivates people
November 28, 2014
Adrian Gostick never expected to hit it big.
Before his photo lined the jackets of books that cracked New York Times’ best sellers lists, and before achieving something like celebrity status in the world of business consulting, there were no ambitions of grandeur.
In the beginning, Gostick and Chester Elton, a work associate who eventually became his writing partner, were employed at OC Tanner, a Salt Lake City-based consulting company that develops employee recognition strategies. Writing a book, they supposed, might lend them some additional credibility when meeting with clients.
"(Elton) just thought, ‘This is better than a business card,’" said Gostick, who works in an office in Kamas and lives nearby. "We were in business as consultants, and we thought this would just be something to hand to people, showing them our philosophy. We had no idea it would take off like it has."
Eight books later, Gostick has left OC Tanner behind. After their books were met with success, he and Elton started their own company, New Jersey-based The Culture Works, which trains companies how to build cultures conducive to getting the best possible results. Along the way, they have become industry leaders in workplace strategies and recently released their latest book, "What Motivates Me," which attempts to show business managers that the key to getting the most out of employees is to understand their motivations.
The acclaim and attention he has received caught Gostick off guard. As he tells it, his life changed overnight. After writing their first few books, Gostick and Elton had received little fanfare domestically, but were catching on overseas, where they would travel and speak to crowds of more than 1,000 people.
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Elton was speaking at one such event in China, and a New York Times writer happened to be in the audience. Gostick and Elton were featured in the newspaper’s pages the next day and got a call from prestigious New York City publishing company Simon and Schuster shortly after. Like that, the boom began and best seller lists followed.
For Gostick, the acclaim has meant one thing: He can earn a living doing what he loves.
"We’ve been around the world now, preaching this message to whoever will listen to it," he said. "It’s kind of silly, but we talk about changing the world. And in our little way, we want to. We make managers better managers. So when we hear back from companies and hear things are better, it makes us feel great about making a little contribution in the world."
The journey hasn’t always been easy. The challenge of writing a book — much less eight of them — is daunting, and though he loves what comes from writing, Gostick is quick to share his disdain for the difficulty of the actual act of it, something that was amplified after signing with Simon and Schuster.
"I send my editor my manuscripts, and they come back looking like they’ve been through some sort of massacre," he said. "There’s red everywhere and huge sections missing. It’s like being pecked to death by ducks."
Always, though, Gostick said, the finished product is worth the struggle. He is particularly proud of his latest effort. Released about two months ago, "What Motivates Me" is unique compared to the other books, he said, as it features an online assessment to help readers understand how they are motivated. It has earned a positive reception from places Gostick didn’t necessarily expect, such as from a middle school basketball coach who used it to unite her team.
But it also has personal meaning to Gostick. In writing books and consulting with companies, he has found a way to combine his motivation — the desire to make an impact — with his skills to create a successful career. Doing that is what the book is all about.
"That’s where the magic happens," he said.
More information about Gostick and his books can be found on his website, adriangostick.com.