Recognition, Responsibility, and then Money, for a World Made up of Teams – Insight from Ken May, CEO, Topgolf

Ken May
Ken May

“work and play well with others – the world is made up of teams.”
Ken May, CEO, Topgolf


This is what it boils down to – who do you have on your team? Every other question seems to come after this one.

Ken May, CEO of Topgolf, spoke at Success North Dallas this morning. He gave a little history, some leadership counsel, and added some good career advice. I liked the themes he emphasized: the importance of servant leadership (the leader works FOR the people he/she serves, said Mr. May), learn all you can (he went back to school to earn his MBA. He said he never would have made it out of middle management if he had not gone back to school); admit your mistakes. Really good counsel and advice.

But, back to the centrality of teams. He talked about how to motivate the people on his team(s). He said that there were really only three things that motivate people:


Recognize every person for every job done well. Recognize them in big ways after a big win, or after an extra effort – especially in a moment of crisis (an all hands on deck moment).

Responsibility – give people responsibility. When it is a person’s job to be responsible for a specific area/task, that can be very motivating.

Get these two right, and your team members won’t be motivated solely by money. In fact, Mr. May believes that money is the poorest motivator of the three.

And he was especially high on recognition. He told good stories about how we each cherish “recognition” at any level – beginning in our earliest years.

snd-logoSuccess North Dallas has good speakers, and great networking – good and talented and smart people show up. Thanks to Bill Wallace and his team for a consistently helpful and valuable experience. Ken May certainly provided a terrific “I’m glad I heard him speak” morning session.


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