Chapter 1. The Return of the Work-Life Blend

A successful man continues to look for work even after he has found a job.

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Pay to Play in the NBA

You don't have to be a fan of the National Basketball Association (NBA) to appreciate this story about compensation and motivation. . . .

It's a March evening in Dallas, Texas, and the Denver Nuggets have traveled in to play an important basketball game against the Mavericks. The late season NBA game had all the excitement of two big teams fighting for playoff spots, but this game would have special significance for Earl "J.R." Smith, a young Nuggets' player with a knack for landing three-point shots. You see, he knew that on that single night, during that single game, he would earn more money than any other NBA player—a lot more.[1]

It all started when Smith signed a new three-year contract with the Nuggets, which contained a unique clause specifying a performance bonus. If Smith played 2,000 or more minutes in the season, and the Nuggets won 42 or more games, the Nuggets had to pay Smith a very big bonus. At the time of the negotiations, the Nuggets probably thought it was a safe bet. After all, Smith had played less than 1,500 minutes in each of the previous two seasons. But they structured the deal carefully so that he would be both motivated to consistently contribute throughout the year and to value team success as much as his own play time.

Going into this game, Smith had played for a total of 1,991 minutes in the season. Certainly ...

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