What Motivates Conan O’Brien?

Everyone has a different sense of humor. I’m a combination of witty and silly. Well Conan O’Brien is that. He often makes fun of himself in a novel way and it is both fun to laugh at him and endearing.

Yesterday I posted a review of the book Drive by Dan Pink. Pink wants people to understand that as work becomes more demanding of the mind, such as being creative, the motivation to do that work changes and becomes more intrinsic based. As an example of that is Conan O’Brien. Despite the repudiation he has million$ of reasons to stay at NBC, but what motivates him is the personal sense of what the comedian’s job is in the role of The Tonight Show host. It gives him Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

Here’s an excerpt from his commencement speech to the Harvard class of 2000 (he graduated from Harvard):

I left the cocoon of Harvard, I left the cocoon of Saturday Night Live, I left the cocoon of The Simpsons. And each time it was bruising and tumultuous. And yet, every failure was freeing, and today I’m as nostalgic for the bad as I am for the good.

So, that’s what I wish for all of you: the bad as well as the good.Fall down, make a mess, break something occasionally. And remember that the story is never over. If it’s all right, I’d like to read a little something from just this year: “Somehow, Conan O’Brien has transformed himself into the brightest star in the Late Night firmament. His comedy is the gold standard and Conan himself is not only the quickest and most inventive wit of his generation, but quite possible the greatest host ever.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, Class of 2000, I wrote that this morning, as proof that, when all else fails, there’s always delusion.

I’ll go now, to make bigger mistakes and to embarrass this fine institution even more. But let me leave you with one last thought: If you can laugh at yourself loud and hard every time you fall, people will think you’re drunk.

Thank you.


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