“Do you think you’re lucky?”

As I sat in the dark conference room with the vice president of the company, I was caught off guard. I had expected “Tell me about yourself” and “What’s your greatest weakness?”

But not this question. This wasn’t on the handout from the Career Services office.

I was finishing my junior year of college and seeking my second internship. At a professional development event, a Central Michigan University professor introduced me to an alumna. The woman, who had graduated from CMU a few years before me, brought me in to meet the CEO and president to discuss the possibility of spending my summer as their intern.

The harsh overhead lighting and our stiff suits made this interview feel more like an FBI interrogation rather than an internship interview. I paused, thinking about the question.

“No,” I said. “I don’t think it’s luck.”

When I was 13, I worked all summer to save enough to buy my first computer. As a first-generation college student, I’d navigated my way to and through college on my own. I balanced a part-time job on campus while taking up to 18 credits each semester. In addition, I sought every opportunity to gain hands-on experience, including writing for the student newspaper, working for the student-run PR firm and joining PRSSA committees. 

I started a blog. I volunteered my budding PR skills to nonprofits, writing brochures and creating websites. I even spent nearly a year working up to 70 hours a week as a carriage driver through 90 degree heat, pouring rain and snowstorms to help pay for college.

To get to that conference room interview, I had worked hard, made sacrifices and raised my hand for every opportunity. I refused to give up or give in, and embraced experimenting, learning and rejection.

“The harder I work, the more luck I have,” I added as the president nodded encouragingly.

The best interview questions catch you a bit off guard. They make you sweat a bit and you have to choose if you’ll bravely tell the truth or if you’ll water down your answer to what’s expected. Your honest, raw response is what the interviewer wants to see. And, if they don’t like your answer, you have to question whether or not it’s a place you’d want to work. 

As I reflect on this moment 12 years ago, I realize one thing has stayed the same:

I’ve worked hard to get to where I am and where I’m headed. And I’m not waiting for luck to pave the way.


Discovering What Drives Your Best Work | Todd Henry and The Motivation Code

Discovering What Drives Your Best Work with Todd Henry

Todd Henry is the author of The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice, Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day, Louder than Words: Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice, and — most recently — The Motivation Code: Discover the Hidden Forces That Drive Your Best Work

The Motivation Code assessment helps you learn about your top motivational themes. Understanding what drives is critical to making better decisions about your career path and performing better at your current job.

Listen to the episode to hear Todd’s insights and get a preview into the book: 

Find out your motivational themes

The Motivation Code assessment helps you learn about what truly drives you at work and how you can ensure your career is more fulfilling.

You can take the full assessment at There’s also a free version of the assessment that gives you your top three themes at

A reflection on my own motivations

I took the Motivation Code assessment at the end of October and then read the book. I learned both about myself and what drives me, as well as what likely drives my colleagues. Sometimes when reading about the book, I would think “I know exactly who fits this theme!”

My top three were: 

  1. Experience the Ideal
  2. Develop
  3. Achieve Potential

By far, my highest score was “Experience the Ideal.” This theme is all about the process of transforming intangible, abstract concepts into a concrete expression. The theme truly fits my motivations and how the communications field has been a great fit for me. I thrive when given the challenge of making abstract, ambiguous information flow into a strategic, effective product.  

“Develop” and “Achieve Potential” were close behind.

“Develop” is described as satisfaction coming from “seeing how the finished product or result reflects all the steps, techniques, and procedures that brought it to its final form.” This can be with a project or even the development of talent — which is strongly reflected in my mentorship of students and your professionals. One of my favorite things is working with a talented young professional and helping them grow their skills. (Shout out to my former interns!)

I’ve always been a high-achiever, and I wasn’t surprised to see “Achieve Potential” at the top of my results. However, this theme goes so much deeper than personal achievement. In the description of the theme, this motivation code says, “Hidden, undeveloped, or unnoticed resources or possibilities are what interest you.” I always love investigating possibilities, whether I’m finding new stories to tell or trying out new tools. 

The Motivation Code nailed my top themes and the report provided valuable insights I plan to apply, including an understanding of the “shadow side” of my top motivators. 

Why low scores aren’t weaknesses or failures

It was fascinating to look at the themes that ranked at the bottom of my Motivation Code. If you haven’t listened to the episode yet, these are NOT weaknesses.

My initial response at my bottom two — “Collaborate” and “Serve” — was to feel inadequate. Does this make me a horrible coworker? Am I selfish? 

In talking to Todd and reading the book, I know that is not the case. The scores on the 27 themes measure what motivates me, not who I am or where I’m deficient.

For example, I scored very low on “Collaborate.” I’ve never been motivated by group projects (as my former professors can attest to), but I don’t mind collaborating on projects. It’s just not as exciting to me as the opportunity to develop new projects and processes or discover new ways to transform ideas or help. Looking back, I’ve previously found ways to incorporate my motivational themes in collaborative projects by facilitating brainstorming sessions or offering to take the lead on organizing ideas and plans. 

Bravely sharing my personal results

It’s a bit scary to lay it all out there for everyone to see, but I wanted to share a screenshot of my personal Motivation Code results below. 

Motivation Code Ranking

Listen to Venturesome for more conversations like this 

And because this is a new podcast, please take a moment to leave a review after this episode or leave a comment on this blog post about your thoughts about The Motivation Code. 


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