In the 19th and early 20th centuries, 234 of New York City’s 241 clothing factories were owned by Jews with production worth $55 million annually. By 1900, the industry grossed over $100 million a year and employed 45,000 people. By 1913, there were over 16,000 small-size factories, most with 10 or fewer sewing machines, and over 300,000 employees.
One estimate is that 85% of garment industry workers were Jewish immigrants from Germany and eastern Europe. The repetitive cutting and sewing did not require education or a new language. This became the primary income source for Jewish immigrants.
Among all the garment manufacturers in New York, the story of one Jewish immigrant stood out. This man, who had come to the U.S. with nothing but his bare hands, established a new line which in 20 years developed into a significant industry.
It’s crucial to have a good level of authority and a clear amount of responsibility for your work. Forcing yourself or your employees to work harder will never work if there is no freedom provided for you or them to own the work. That’s why the current model of extrinsic motivation in the workforce failed miserably. This is the tendency to force people to work with a sweeter carrot or a sharper knife.
If the deal is to do nothing for five years for a million dollars, most people will go insane before they get their hands on the money. Overly simple and easy work will break us just like overly difficult work. For us to consider our work as something that matters, it has to come with the right balance of complexity. It needs to make us feel challenged and engaged at the same time.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EFFORT & REWARD
This part is easily understood by most people. The connection between the input—time, energy, money—and the reward—money, reputation, recognition—has to be clear and at least predictable. No one wants to spend their entire life working on something that neither makes them money or makes them feel good.
When we see our work as something meaningful, it becomes effortless for us to feel motivated and to want to hustle harder for it. Hard work is a prison sentence only if the work has no meaning to you. Once it does, it becomes a thing that drives you forward without you noticing.