I was traveling a lot. Meeting lots of people, asking thousand questions, trying new things. I lived in few communities. I had serious background in construction and carpentery. This is where the story starts.

When i was living in communities there was always something to fix, or to build something new. There is allways many new people coming and going, things gets exploited very quickly. Most of this people are usualy colorful hippies, usualy not very experienced and skillful people but very motivated to try new things. There is usually very small budget. And at the beggining my english also wasn’t very good either. And man, it was tough. Challenging.

I was living in this small comunity 20-70 people, in the mountains, at the end of the world. At the beggining nobody gived a f* about me and what i was doing. it was in mountains, all stairs long time gone, people mostly sitting in chilout area doing nothing. i figured lets fix all the stairs, there is to much of a hustle for the people to move around. after stairs were fixed indeed there was more movement in the village. it gave me nothing except motivation from confirmation of theory. so i started to look for the next thing to improve.

After a while people start noticing what i was doing and coming to me saying something like “I see you have this ability to have things done. Look, i think this and that is not working, maybe you can figure out how to make it happend” i started collecting list of this things. list soon start having aroud 50 positions! immense. And nobody wanted to help me when i asked for help.

After a while some more motivated soul tried to came and look at what i was doing and even to do something by themselfs. I started asking people by myself, what in their opinion would be 1 simple thing that would bring value to the life of community. when they seen me adding their notes to the notebook they were impressed of the size of the list. soon my reputation started growing and people started bringing me some drink while i worked. that was nice. it is propably worth of mentioning i was working around 12 hours a day at that time. 12 of expected 4.

soon after i was managing single projects with help of 3-4 people. i didnt know how to explain them things, how to motivate them, it was as frustrating, as when nobody gived f* at the begining. I thought about solution. i experimented a lot. First i started visualise in my mind day before, the whole process, screw by screw, literaly i builded whole thing in my mind, with as many details as i could imagine. sudenly i was able to explain what tools and materials we gonna need, where to get them from. What we gonna do, and in which order. things went much smoother from now on, people wanted to work with me becouse this smoothnes motivated them. If something goes well you want to do it more. When you become efficient, you want it more.

Soon after i was managing few projects at the same time, 10-15 people divided into few teams. i was running between locations every second, working like devil to pump their motivation, i started cooperation with manager of kithen team to supply us with coffee and cold drinks, to motivate team even more. Village went through a serious transformation at that time, we fixed everything, started bringing new ideas to life. People were starting their projects by theirs own.
People suddenly started making decisions of staying ther for months, not weeks.

I was exhausted, start feeling burned out. i needed change. i couldn’t be everywhere, do everything. enought with micromanagement. looking for new system took me a while, loot of experimentation, lot of thinkering. lot of negotiations. i didnt know the term “project manager” even then. I was just passionate about achieving succeses on the way. Experimentation brought lot of crashes, sometimes i seriously pissed somebody off. once they acused me of forcing my own vision of the village, it was good to have this notebook with me. I was quite lucky the people in communities changes a lot. all mistakes forgoten.

I met this guy, great respect to the man, Israeli genious programmer who came there after he was done working for google. Great powerful spirit, fantastic negotiator, extremely inteligent man. We started managing things together. We discussed lot of strategic planing, economy, lot of social and technological elements. He put a lot of structure to it. He get rid of bugs in the system. Then i met this girl, a cheerleader from US. she didnt know much about doing stuff, but she was insanely talented about igniting peoples passion. things started living their life by their own, i could rest a bit. enjoy life a little bit more.

And do you know, nobody pays them all? Noone there get paid. they live in caravans, yurts, simple tents, they get food, 3 meals a day, someone of them cooks for them all. from time to time they make some party. for the beer in the bar they have to pay themselfes. They do things from their own will and passion, not because they have to or because they get any financial gratification from it. So how do you motivate your team?

I remember a memorable picture. One russian girl took her friends and with very heavy hammers and unhappy faces tries to level the area to build the house. The american girl took massive portable loadspeaker 1KW of power, and 20 people, and she made party over there, everybody jump, everybody happy, everything done in 10 minuts.

So, if you cannot pay them, make them dance.

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Arkadiusz Zefirski
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