Primal Management

Primal Management

Review in the Journal of Personnel Psychology:  

"The book is clearly written, strongly and convincingly argued, insightful, provocative, stimulating, and interesting to read."



screen shot of dashboard high quality

Here is a screen shot of The Horsepower System's™ leadership dashboard.  It gives every manager a quick diagnostic readout of the current survey scores for their department.  They can tell, at a glance, if the motivational engine is functioning optimally, or malfunctioning. 

Motivation is the master metric that drives everything else.  It therefore deserves a prominent position front-and-center on an organization's management dashboard. 

Learn more >

Paul's Blog

Are decisions really 80% emotional?
As some of you know, I'm a graduate of the University of Chicago, a very rational place where, according to legend, "Fun goes to die."  I expect to be tarred and feathered at the next U of C management conference  for this provocative and contrarian post.  
Advertisers, like Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi, claim that the buying decision is 80% emotional and 20% rational.  According to Roberts, "Reason leads to conclusions.  Emotion leads to action."  What about other decisions, like the decision on the part of our employees to work hard?  Is this also 80% emotional?  What is going on here?  If emotions are so important in decision making, why was the word never uttered in any of my econ classes?
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Saturday, 27 December 2008 23:00

Dear Blog Visitor,

Feel free to post any sort of workplace-related people-probem on my blog.  I will then analyze it using my social-appetite theory.  Here’s how the game works:


  1. Insert problem,
  2. Turn the crank (analyze according to Paul’s social-appetite theory),
  3. Solution pops out the other end.

I’ve spent 30 years trying to understand nature’s deep motivational architecture–particularly the emotional forces that move us.  I’ve developed a general-purpose theory of motivation that should be able to deal with anything we throw at it.  Let’s put this theory to the test–see if it can convincingly solve real-world problems.  Are you ready to play, “Stump Paul’s theory”?


Paul Herr (Author of Primal Management)


avatar Donna Bailey
What if you work with a toxic manager or a toxic environment that hasn’t changed for over 16 years? Is it time to look for another job or is there really something the typical worker can do?
avatar Paul Herr
Dear Donna,

This is an easy one. Life is short, especially in comparison with the age of the 4.5 billion-year-ol d planet we live on. As you may have guessed, one of my degrees is in geology. I am holding, as we speak, an iron ore sample that is more than a billion years old. In comparison to this rock, you and I only exist for a microsecond--a snap of the fingers. Do you want to waste your microsecond in a job you hate? I had a job situation like the one you describe during the late 80s, and it nearly killed me. My toxic boss disliked me and I disliked him. Whatever I did for him, it wasn't good enough. The best compliment he ever gave me was, "The client liked your report, but I didn't." I jumped at a chance to work for another manager who asked for my help. This guy was great, almost like a second father. He mentored me, complimented my work, and made me feel alive again.

This is a long shot, but you might try to reform your dysfunctional, toxic workplace by giving copies of Primal Management to the key decision makers. My book basically proves that people and motivation matter and that it is unbusinesslike to ignore the horsepower of the motivational engine. Imagine the joy you could bring to your co-workers if you could pull this off!

If you are not excited about reforming your toxic workplace, here is a more practical suggestion. Many municipalities have "best places to work" contests. Since these contests are based largely on employee surveys, you can be assured that the winners know how to create a human-friendly work environment. Why don't you research and then approach one of these companies for a job. Not only will they treat you better, but they will also be more successful because they know how to bring out the best in people.

Does that help?


avatar Michelle
what is the best kind of work environment for an employee who is extremely talented but does not work well with set daily schedules.
avatar Paul Herr
Hi Michelle,

There are some enlightened employers out there who provide flexible scheduling. If I were in your shoes, I'd work for one of the companies on Fortune Magazine's "100 Best Places to Work For" list. These companies are voted onto the list by their employees, so the must be doing something right. If the current employees are happy, there is a very good chance that you will be too. There are also local "best places to work" lists in most major metropolitan areas. Look for a list like this in your area, and then see which of these companies offers flexible scheduling.

I hope this helps.

Paul Herr
Author of Primal Management
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