8 Motivational Posters Inspired By A 1921 Treatise On Human Engineering


Spare a thought for the manager's motivational maxim. Now considered the epitome of lame and ineffectual sincerity, these buzz words of encouragement had humble beginnings.

Long before audio affirmations or SkyMall-sold "Successories," motivating workers was a fairly new idea. 1921's Human Engineering: A Study of the Management of Human Forces in Industry was an early attempt to lay ground rules for the art of managing workers in an industrial society. Written by Eugene Wera, the book is full of motivational tricks and advice, many of which wouldn't sound too peculiar in a modern M.B.A. textbook. It also was written largely in response to the rise of socialism, so there's plenty of passion in there, too.

When not assailing Marxism, Wera illustrates some motivational techniques that would eventually bloom into those oft-lampooned posters found in SkyMall. “Sentimental incentives are very powerful and can succeed occasionally without the accompaniment of financial reward," writes Wera about motivational posters, or "bulletins," he recommended displaying on factory floors.

"Concrete words suggest powerful mental images, but figurative language is still more powerful." Can't you imagine someone saying that about this poster?

In honor of the prescient Mr. Wera and his motivational advice, here are eight posters—each in the style of "Successories"—that use his words of encouragement for the modern worker. All quotes are taken directly from Human Engineering: A Study of the Management of Human Forces in Industry, and the encouragement you feel after reading them will be 100% authentic.

1. Instruction

"Men must be instructed, drilled, and trained in their respective performances until their activity becomes automatic."

2. Happiness

"The emotion of struggle and victory is the essence of happiness."

3. Luxury

"The sight of luxury can incite jealousy, anger, and revenge."

4. Pleasure

"The way to stimulate men in terms of sensuous pleasure is to provide pleasant working conditions."

5. Bolshevism

"Bolshevism is a system…How shall we guard against it? By incessantly proclaiming what is our idea of democracy, fair and equal opportunity for all, no abuse of the weak by the strong, and no unjust crippling of the strong by the weak."

6. Optimism

"Social parties, festivities, dances, club meetings, moving pictures, uplifting lectures, inspiring readings, chorus singing, bands of music, etc., are all suggestive means of attaining an optimistic attitude."

7. Machines

"A light, clear machine-room will suggest a careful maintenance of the machines."

8. Assimilation

"The proper assimilation of workers is more important that the selection of qualified workers."

All photos via iStock, except the portrait of Lenin, which is from Wikimedia Commons.

Looking for a New Career? Airlines Will Need 637,000 More Pilots Before 2035

If you're looking for a career path with plenty of job prospects, you could do worse than earning a pilot's license. As Bloomberg reports, Boeing—one of the biggest plane manufacturers in the world—estimates that in order to keep up with travel demand, the world will need to get 637,000 more pilots in the air over the next 20 years.

Across the world, more people than ever before are traveling by plane, with the number of passengers increasing 7 percent between 2015 and 2016, as the International Air Transport Association reported last year. Those numbers are expected to keep growing, and the organization estimates that by 2035, there will be 7.2 billion air passengers per year traveling across the world, thanks to a combination of rising salary trends and decreasing ticket costs.

That doesn't necessarily mean a huge influx of travelers hitting U.S. airports. Much of this increase will likely come from China, India, and other countries across Asia with expanding air travel industries. And as a result of needing more planes and routes to transport the growing demand for flights, airlines are going to need to hire more pilots (and other staff) to keep their planes in the air. That's why North America and Europe will need 117,000 and 106,000 more pilots by 2035, respectively, compared to the Asia-Pacific region's 253,000.

In short, the career prospects of pilots are looking pretty promising, especially if you speak Mandarin. You might want to look into flying lessons.

[h/t Bloomberg]

Live Smarter
Why the Soundtracks to Games Like 'Mario' or 'The Sims' Can Help You Work

When I sat down to write this article, I was feeling a little distracted. My desk salad was calling me. I had new emails in my inbox to read. I had three different articles on my to-do list, and I couldn't decide which to start first. And then, I jumped over to Spotify and hit play on the theme to The Sims. As I listened to the upbeat, fast-paced, wordless music, my writing became faster and more fluid. I felt more “in the zone,” so to speak, than I had all morning. There's a perfectly good explanation: Video games provide the ideal productivity soundtrack. At Popular Science, Sara Chodosh explains why video game music can get you motivated and keep you focused while you work, especially if you're doing relatively menial tasks. It's baked into their composition.

There are several reasons to choose video game music over your favorite pop album. For one, they tend not to have lyrics. A 2012 study of more than 100 people found that playing background music with lyrics tended to distract participants while studying. The research suggested that lyric-less music would be more conducive to attention and performance in the workplace. Another study conducted in open-plan offices in Finland found that people were better at proofreading if there was some kind of continuous, speechless noise going on in the background. Video game music would fit that bill.

Plus, video game music is specifically made not to distract from the task at hand. The songs are meant to be listened to over and over again, fading into the background as you navigate Mario through the Mushroom Kingdom or help Link save Zelda. My friend Josie Brechner, a composer who has scored the music for video games like the recently released Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King, says that game music is definitely written with this in mind.

"Basically, successful video game music straddles the balance between being engaging and exciting, but also not wanting to make you tear your ears off after the 10th or 100th listen," Brechner says. Game music often has a lot of repetition, along with variation on musical themes, to keep the player engaged but still focused on what they're playing, "and that translates well to doing other work that requires focus and concentration."

If you're a particularly high-strung worker, you might want to tune into some relaxing classical music or turn on a song specifically designed to calm you. But if you want to finish those expense reports on a Monday morning, you're better off choosing a fast-tempo ditty designed for seemingly pointless activities like making your Sims eat and go to the toilet regularly. (It can help you with more exciting work responsibilities, too: Other research has found that moderate background noise can increase performance on creative tasks.)

These types of songs work so well that there are entire playlists online devoted just to songs from video game soundtracks that work well for studying. One, for instance, includes songs written for The Legend of Zelda, Skyrim, Super Smash Bros., and other popular games.

The effect of certain theme songs on your productivity may, however, depend on your particular preferences. A 2010 study of elementary school students found that while calming music could improve performance on math and memory tests, music perceived as aggressive or unpleasant distracted them. I was distracted by the deep-voiced chanting of the "Dragonborn Theme" from Skyrim, but felt charged up by the theme from Street Fighter II. There's plenty of variety in video game scores—after all, a battle scene doesn't call for the same type of music as a puzzle game. Not all of them are going to work for you, but by their nature, you probably don't need a lot of variation in your work music if you're using video game soundtracks. If you can play a game for days on end, you can surely listen to the same game soundtrack over and over again.

[h/t Popular Science]


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