Maslow, Again

Joshua McKenna, Executive Director of the Knoxville, Iowa Chamber wrote an interesting article about addressing your basic needs.  He has graciously allowed me to share it!

Director’s Desk


Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a concept that I very much have a love-hate relationship with. I love how this concept plays into so many different decisions and fields. I also love the simplicity of it and truth in it. I hate how many times I had this concept drilled into my head by professors in nearly every course I’ve taken. However, I think it is worth sharing with our membership.

As you can see from the attached diagram, there are five different levels to Maslow’s Hierarchy. The levels are Physical Needs, Safety Needs, Social Needs, Esteem Needs, and Self-Actualization. The idea is that you can not move up the diagram until the base levels are satisfied. My military experience has given me a unique perspective on this. Most have heard the phrase the military uses, “tearing you down to build you over again.” What they really do is take you down to the very basic physical needs. I guarantee you that the last thing on my mind while I was going through the gas chamber was how many Facebook likes I had received on my latest selfie that day–although Drill Sergeants made sure to take some good ones as we were walking out! The only thing you can think about when deprived of air, food, or water is often just how to get what you need to survive. For me, it was, ‘Why hasn’t Private Smith kicked that dang door through so we can get out of here yet?’

Once your base physical needs have been met, you start searching for your safety needs. These include shelter from the elements, security and stability. This helps you to maintain your basic physical needs. Sticking with the military example, this is why we have a military in the first place. When is the last time you were worried about a foreign invader attacking your home? It never crosses most of our minds, allowing us to move on to fulfilling our other needs. Pray for our soldiers!

Having accomplished the very first levels, we can then move on to our social needs. Belonging to a group helps us to gain greater fulfillment in our lives as well as maintain our physical and safety needs. Survival is easier in group because of division of labor. Social media has had some interesting effects in its attempts to satisfy this need.

The next step is to build a reputation and report with the group in order to influence decisions made. This level is the esteem needs. This is often the highest level most achieve. The next level is where you start to break the rules and forego other needs in order for personal growth and fulfillment. An extreme example is a martyr who gives up life itself for some higher calling.

This understanding of what makes us tick as humans is essential to many aspects of business. In sales and marketing, you know that people are not giving you their full attention if their base needs are not being satisfied. For example, if your client is hungry, they are going to wrap up a meeting more quickly than they would otherwise. So for the Annual Banquet we will be feeding our members before we talk business!

This concept relates to the Chamber in many ways. As a membership organization, collectively we try to influence our external environment in such a way to create security and stability for each other to prosper. Another way to say this would be “foster a vibrant business community.” We also help to fulfill our members’ social needs by presenting them with opportunities to connect with peers who face similar challenges as themselves. Finally, the Chamber also satisfies esteem needs. By getting involved with the Chamber Councils or the Board, you will be trusted with responsibility as a sign of respect and confidence from your peers.

Recognizing the importance of the needs of our members will be important in our focus of making the Chamber “Your Chamber” this year.