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The Avenger You've Never Heard Of: Notch Persson

May 11, 2012 -- Scottsdale, AZ -- My friend Chris Dobyns (long time WorldatWork member, prolific community participant, and HR leader in the Washington DC-area) recently pointed me toward an article about Markus 'Notch' Persson, the CEO of a company called Mojang.

This may be old news to you because it was first published back in March, but the article on HuffPo was refreshing to see, especially in this day and age of many people decrying "excessive compensation." (Sidebar: I have a Tweetdeck column that collects Twitter mentions of "compensation." In my estimation, 3 out of 5 posts that mention the word "compensation" in the Twittersphere are related to a CEO getting allegedly too much money for performing his or her job.)

Mr. Persson's company is the creator of an online game called Minecraft. Earlier this year, Persson decided to do something that, well, doesn't occur very often. In his own words (from Huffington Post): "Before tax, my dividends from Mojang for 2011 was about three million dollars. I chose to distribute that to the other employees." Like a true 21st century CEO, he made the announcement on Twitter. His generosity was allegedly greeted with joy and even tears from employees. How many CEOs have pulled $3 million dollars out of their own pocket an handed it to employees lately?

I know it's an old saw, but why is it that so-called good news stories don't get nearly the traction that negative news stories do? I can see that in the two months since this story was published that 265 people have "shared" it with others. Compare that to a story about the growth CEO pay which has been "shared" 1,500 times in the single week since it was posted.

In the 2011 book Switch by Dan and Chip Heath (recently finished it and highly recommend it, by the way), the authors claim that the English speaking world is hard wired toward the negative. Academic studies of both emotion words and published articles have shown a "positive-negative asymmetry" in the English-speaking world toward negativity more frequently. In my mind, it seems to be very strong on the subject of compensation and executive compensation.

Somewhat related: on the subject of social media and "sharing," I'm looking forward to Orlando week after next at WorldatWork 2012. People will be blogging, Tweeting and doing all sorts of other sharing. If you're going to be there, you will want to be aware of all of the ways to participate in the conversation that will be occuring on-site.

- the Twitter hashtag for the event is #wawlive. People have been using it for a few weeks already and things are ramping up rapidly.

- You might want to follow @WorldatWork or @WorldatWork_DC, or both.

- And fnally, there is a WorldatWork Online Community Group for Conference attendees that can be found here.

If you're not going to be in Orlando, you might want to stay tuned to WorldatWork Live, a page that we've been working on in the last few years (it gets better every year) that captures a lot of the highlights of the conference, live, as it is happening. This year, even more social media and social media users will be contributing to the page. It's not quite like being in Orlando, but probably the next best thing.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of WorldatWork.

Reader Comments
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Fri May 11, 2012 1:30 PM (edited 5/11/2012) Report Abuse
E Brennan
Senior Associate
Member Since: 4/19/1979
Comments: 590

Guess I should add that to my Brennan's Laws somewhere.  I occasionally show up chirping @Jim_Brennan but don't tweet much.  Hope my phrases earn you more than they did me, but I still appreciate attribution.

Sorry, too, but don't expect to make it to Orlando.  I'm at the opposite corner, content to eschew (don't you just LOVE that never-spoken word?) long flights.

Fri May 11, 2012 11:21 AM (edited 5/11/2012) Report Abuse
Ryan Johnson (Staff)
Comments: 462

Well said, Jim.

In fact, the line: "We are an aspiring species, doomed to perpetual ambition" might be my all-time favorite in WorldatWork blog comments.

See you in Orlando.

Hey Jim - have you joined the Twitter bandwagon? I would love to follow your Tweets if you are.

Fri May 11, 2012 11:21 AMReport Abuse
Andrea Ozias (Staff)
Comments: 462

Love your line, Jim, that "we are an aspiring species, doomed to perpetual ambition." May steal it for my Great American Novel.

Fri May 11, 2012 10:53 AMReport Abuse
E Brennan
Senior Associate
Member Since: 4/19/1979
Comments: 590

Satisfaction doesn't incite the emotions like anger, resentment, envy or jealousy.  How many people feel they are paid fairly?  How many don't think they deserve much more?  Instead of comparing themselves as better off than those earning less, folks tend to look to the missing residual "they deserve" and what better inspiration than a fat cat making multimillions from the sweat of the working class?  Get used to it, because this is the political season and sound bites will fill the air. 

Secondly, bad news activates more attention and excitement than good news, as any reporter knows.  Cries for the need of improvement always trumps self-contratulatory statements of perfection achieved.  We are an aspiring species, doomed to perpetual ambition.