Speaker, musician, writer and author of Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion David Zweig will be speaking at the L2 Forum on November 10 at The Morgan Library. Inspired by his experience as a fact-checker at Condé Nast magazines, Zweig began to explore the relationship between recognition and work. At Condé Nast, Zweig realized the better he did his job, the more he disappeared. (Readers only remember fact-checkers when an error makes it to the paper.) Yet, he felt an odd satisfaction at the end of each day. He interviewed some of the most invisible critical professionals at the top of their fields (a U.N. translator, a structural engineer for skyscrapers, an anesthesiologist, a guitar technician for Radiohead) to find out what motivates them, and what others can learn from them.
We interviewed David Zweig about the characteristics of these invisible yet successful people. Here are a few takeaways:
– Everyone can learn from Invisibles. What separates Invisibles from others is their source of motivation. In a Salon article, Zweig notes that these people embody the ancient Greek principle of udaimonia, which is about recognizing the best rewards come from within. Instead of seeking recognition, they take pride in a job well done. For example, visibility is essential to Zweig’s success because he is a writer, but he can embody his interviewees’ characteristics and alter his motivations to become more fulfilled.
– Choosing an Invisible profession is not synonymous with settling. Invisibles are well-paid professionals and highly esteemed in their professional communities, Zweig says. They simply work behind the scenes, and they have found success going against the common notion that self-promotion is the key to success. Furthermore, having a personality type that doesn’t crave the limelight is the very thing that led to their success.
– Invisibles are every organization’s most valuable employees. Because they aren’t focused on themselves, they can think about the big picture. Finding proper ways to reward these people is a task for organizations, because these workers often don’t want the accolade. Still, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be compensated fairly or have their contributions recognized.
For more on how organizations can recognize and reward Invisibles, stay tuned for the Forum.