Welcome to our portal to the interesting, informative and inspirational. Stuff’s about to get real. Explore the minds of Motivation Technologies’ leadership team, Dick Estes, Beat Bartlome, and Steve Hoerner.





Motivation Technologies Celebrates 20 Years of Creating Rewarding Training Solutions

For Motivation Technologies, September 27, 2021, marks 20 years of growth and service, delivering industry-leading online training solutions and content with a special emphasis on engagement and rewards.

Coming out of 15 years in the incentive industry, company founder and president Dick Estes saw a real need for technology-based training solutions using incentives and promotions to educate and reward. The company was founded to capitalize on the emerging technologies that would make the Internet the business platform is it today. Leveraging this new online world as a platform, the company set out to deliver rewarding training solutions and build brand advocacy for clients around the globe.

For the last two decades, the company has had the privilege of working with a variety of national and international companies in various industries. Over that time, MoTech has evolved into a full-service agency delivering training programs to challenge audiences using their Learning Experience Platform (LXP) and helping companies achieve their advocacy goals

“Our success and longevity have been driven by outstanding team members, exceptional innovation and incredible client service,” Estes shares. “We treat each client like they are our only client, and work to be the best in all we do…each and every day.”

The company’s relationship with Intel has flourished for more than 15 years, making it MoTech’s longest tenured client. During that time, the partnership has yielded one of the most innovative and comprehensive global training and advocacy programs in the industry, the Intel Retail Edge Program.

The company is currently at work on various, cutting-edge technologies certain to change the landscape of online learning and brand advocacy for both new and established clients. The future is bright at Motivation Technologies!

A Year to Forget / Remember

By Dick Estes

It’s been a little over a year since the first case of COVID-19 was detected. Since then more than 103,000,000 cases and 2,200,000 deaths have been reported globally. The U.S. has had over 26 million cases and 440,000 deaths in a year. Staggering numbers.

I vividly remember meeting with our executive team in early March 2020 and discussing the COVID-19 situation and our strategy around it. I was thinking this would be a short-lived situation and that we “may” close the office for a few weeks, possibly a month--if the government made us-and then return to business as usual sometime in April/May. I was convinced by our executive team that the situation could be serious and to close the office sooner-than-later and get ahead of the rest of the business community. So, we shut down the office in mid-March 2020 and the office is still officially closed today. Closing the office before we were required to was the best decision we could have made. It allowed us to get ahead of the situation and put a work-from-home plan in place before the required government shutdown.

The current plan is to officially reopen the office again once most everyone has had the opportunity to get vaccinated. We are a younger staff, so my best estimate is our office will be reopened in some fashion sometime in the summer of 2021.

A few things I have learned in this past year during the global pandemic…

  • Trust Your Staff – When all this was first going down, I had reservations about the whole WFH situation. As I mentioned, we have a younger staff and I was concerned about how they would handle working from home. What issues would we have? Would productivity fall? Would we be able to serve our clients in the same manner as if we were in the office? I’m happy to say that we didn’t miss a beat. We gave our staff the tools they needed to WFH and they rose to the challenge. We were prepared and we trusted our staff to make it work, and they did.
  • Embrace Long-Term Change – Some of the changes we have put in place due to the global pandemic are here to stay. This situation has made us rethink how we handle certain aspects of our business. Technology will continue to be a key driver for most businesses, even after the pandemic is under control. Our company is technology driven, so we were better prepared than many other companies when this first started. Our company has evolved and will need to continue to evolve for long-term success. Change is here to stay.
  • People Miss Each Other – I never thought I’d miss going into a noisy office full of loud people, all talking over each other at the same time, but I do. I have been the only person going into the office now for a very long time. I’m so over it. Hell, I’m excited to see the plant guy come every other week to water the plants. If someone needs to come by the office to drop something off or pick something up, I want them to stay longer and chat. I may care less about what they have to say, but it’s another human with whom I can talk to “in person.” Using Microsoft Teams/Zoom every day is getting old. I want to be able to travel and see clients in person again. I want to take clients to dinner and talk about a new, exciting project or simply catch up with what’s happening with their family. I’m a people person and I miss that aspect of my job. I want to be able to come back to a full office, if only to complain about how noisy it is!

Bottom line, things have changed in the past year. Some of the changes have been positive and some have not. The key is embracing the positive ones and trying to figure out how to make the negative ones better. 2020 was a year most of us would like to forget, but we shouldn’t. I’m a karma guy. The challenges we faced this past year have happened for a reason. Most of us may not like all that we have been through this past year but I truly believe there is a reason these things have happened. Don’t try to forget this past year, remember it. Reset and learn from 2020.

Halt and Catch Fire

By Beat Bartlome

I recently watched the AMC series “Halt and Catch Fire” on Netflix, a tech drama that takes place somewhere between the first version of Microsoft Word in 1983 and Windows 95 in 1995. Over the course of the series, the characters’ business interests range from building personal computers to videogames, web-based chat, e-commerce startups to antivirus software and finally early search engines for the emerging web. Throughout the show, the talented characters are perpetually successful enough to live comfortably while pursuing their ideas and dreams, but they never quite strike it big, whether that’s because of conflicts between the partners, technological limitation, or, most often, the presence of an enormous corporation capable of choking the market.

While certainly not a show for everyone, it struck a nerve with me and brought back a lot of memories – both good and bad. I got my start in software development during the same time frame, writing my first program, a simple arcade-type space shooter game, using Simon’s Basic on a Commodore 64 sometime in 1983 (damn, 1983! Amazingly, I’m coming up on 40 years in software development and I still enjoy writing code immensely. But I digress). I got my start in PC development using Turbo Pascal around 1988, writing synaptic receptor simulations and 3D rendering of molecules during a stint at a neuroscience research lab in Switzerland. Next up was my first experience with startups, a custom software development shop I started back in Switzerland and later sold when I moved to the US in 1995. I continued my career in the US where I gained industry experience as a software consultant for various companies, experiencing a large array of mostly successful approaches to software development. Frustrated with the lack of flexibility and talent in larger companies, I eventually returned to my true passion of smaller startup environments, first as the Chief Software Architect of web startup Clickgarden and finally here at Motivation Technologies as the VP of Technology, leading a team of talented and dedicated software developers.

Watching “Halt and Catch Fire,” I could not help rooting for the characters and drawing parallels to my own career as they faced an endless and at times frustrating series of late nights and weekends, intractable workplace decisions about integrity, product quality, business logistics and arbitrary client deadlines. The truth is nobody really likes working late nights or weekends. But there are times in your career where working late suddenly doesn’t feel like “work” anymore. Instead, it becomes a personal mission – working late nights to prove that it actually can be done, to hit a crucial deadline, to get that make-or-break product out the door, or to convince investors or clients that your small company is indeed unique, can play with the big boys and will undoubtedly succeed.

Looking back, some of these late nights define the most crucial periods of our careers, and some of the strongest team bonds are created during such efforts. One of my most memorable efforts happened around 2010 here at MoTech. Our company was at a critical junction. We were overdue to deliver a complex worldwide rewrite of a heavily customized web-based training system for Retail Sales Professionals called IREP (Intel® Retail Edge Program) that we maintained for our largest client, Intel Corporation. We already had to delay the launch one time and an official launch announcement to our user base of over 100,000 made another delay impossible. Leading up the launch of the new site, our small team of five or six developers worked many late nights, culminating in the final week, including not one but two all-nighters to get the new site up and running as we successfully hit the deadline.

Only one other developer from that epic effort is still with MoTech today – Scott Prost. Back then, Scott was a junior web developer fresh out of college, but he has since grown into a great developer. Scott’s current job title of Architecture Lead really doesn’t do justice to everything he does for the company. Regardless of the oftentimes excruciating effort, we ended up walking away from this experience feeling like we could accomplish anything, and I’d like to think that this experience also helped Scott over the years. Oh, and there’s one more little thing: Intel is still our largest client and going strong.

That finally brings me around to the main point: How can we bring back and maintain this type of passion in today’s fragmented and hectic world of software development, or any type of work, for that matter? It’s easy to feel like anything that can be accomplished in software development has already been done. But the luxury of looking back on nearly four decades of coding allows me to tell you one thing with certainty: There is a lot of exciting software yet to be developed, and a lot of revolutionary code yet to be written. Just make sure that you are ready when such an opportunity arises! What you are really doing when writing code in the middle of the night is not just working. It’s possibly defining the path for the rest of your career.

I leave you with one nugget of wisdom from “Halt and Catch Fire”: Ideas are what we have. Don’t ever let them go to waste.

COVID-19 Fact Sheet

Intro by Dick

There’s a lot of information going around about the coronavirus and COVID-19. Motivation Technologies developed this insightful resource for our own employees to separate the fact from the fiction and help keep them safe and informed. The article was shared on LinkedIn and between employees and their families. The more we know about this unprecedented situation, the better equipped we’ll be to persevere and meet the demands of our changing social and economic landscape.


Managing in Uncertain Times

By Dick Estes

Uncertainty causes anxiety for everyone. Whether it’s a company reorganization, political unrest or the recent COVID-19 pandemic, employees are concerned about their future. As we navigate through the uncertain times in today’s business environment, it is imperative that management tackle situations head-on and ensure a rational and focused effort to navigate through uncertainty. Below are areas crucial to helping ease employee anxiety and build confidence in management in uncertain times.

Communication – Frequent and open communication is an integral part of any well-run company. During times of uncertainty, communication for all levels of management needs to be amplified. Many employees are being forced to work from home during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Working from home has advantages for some and challenges for others. Managers need to have consistent communication to get a pulse on what’s working and what needs to be modified to ensure employees have a favorable environment to get their work done. It’s human nature to want reassurance that everything will be fine.

Confidence – Employees need to feel comfortable with management and trust in them to make the right decisions for the betterment of the company. Many times, managers will make a knee-jerk reaction to an issue to address it quickly without really thinking it through. Thoroughly analyzing an issue and coming up with the best possible solution will show employees that the company truly does want the best for the organization and will instill confidence within all levels.

Adaptability – Companies MUST be able to adapt to changing environments and business conditions. Those that adapt will survive and those that don’t will perish. It’s that simple. How a company looks today will probably be very different than what it will look like a few years from now. As companies adapt to change, it is imperative employees get on board with the changes being made. Having employees buy in to the changes being made is key to help relieve some of the uneasiness that comes with changes.

Compassion – Treat your employees like you would want to be treated if they were managing you. Sometimes as managers, it’s easy to feel a sense of empowerment over others in the organization. Managers need to feel heightened compassion for others during times of uncertainty. Managers should take a step back and mentally reverse roles with their employees and get a sense of how they would feel with whatever change is occurring.

Trust – Managers must trust employees to do their jobs to the best of their ability. Unwanted employees in an organization will be weeded out. Excellent employees need to be given the freedom to thrive and do their job in whatever business environment a company faces. Micromanagers will cause undue pressure in uncertain times.

Bottom line: Managing in uncertain times is not easy. It requires open communication, confidence, adaptability, compassion and trust. Being able to address these areas will give your company an opportunity for a more positive outcome as uncertainty diminishes.

Why Do Achievements, Trophies, and Badges Work?

Intro by Beat

The reward strategy is in full force at MoTech. We’ve always known what this article explains: that points, credits, badges, leaderboards and recognition go a long way in motivating staff and reinforcing learning.


How to Intentionally Build Break Times into Your Workday

Intro by Dick

It’s indisputable that working from home during a pandemic has created some unique challenges for both employees and business owners. This article helps ease the WFH tension by suggesting scheduling strategic break times into your day as a way of combatting fatigue and mental burnout. Break time just may solve the predicament that is 2020. Check it out.


4 Fundamentals of a Microlearning Strategy

If you haven’t seen how microlearning can push across knowledge in short, fast, well-positioned bursts, you need to check out this short article. MoTech has been perfecting these formats for years.


Miss Being in The Office

Intro by Dick

Special thanks to Brian Baumgartner (Kevin) and Kate Flannery (Meredith) from The Office for taking the time to send a special shout-out to the entire MoTech team. Working from home for 8 weeks now and still going strong. What an awesome team! Miss everyone and I'll see you all soon... in the office.


Training without Limits: Off the Shelf or Custom LMS?

By Beat Bartlome

What’s in it for You?

Tell almost any corporate concern with a staff to train about the values of a customized LMS platform and they’ll eventually reply with “What’s in it for me?”

And rightly so. According to a study by the Brandon Hall Group, nearly 40 percent of U.S. companies that use eLearning are less than satisfied with their Learning Management System. Off-the-shelf LMSs can only go so far to meet the needs of a company. And while some businesses may find their training needs met with one-size-fits-all, out-of-the-box programs, many more require a robustly customized platform that reflects their ideal business process flow.

That’s where Motivation Technologies rides into battle on a thundering stallion, a wind-rippled banner unfurled over the battlefield of staff training solutions. Too dramatic? Probably so. But with years of handcrafting customized learning programs for some of the world’s largest companies, we think we’ve earned the right to a little exaggerated cinematic imagery.

But let’s rein in the horses for a moment and ask a basic question:

Do You Really Need a Custom LMS?

Seriously. Do you need a heavily customized Learning Management System that informs and reinforces your brand ideals and process flow, or are you better off adapting to a prefab product that meets your needs? Is extensive LMS customization necessary? Do you want a right-for-now platform or one that is future-proof and tailored for a long-term, comprehensive fit?

Chances are you want it all. To have access to a program with your name and brand all over it is limitlessly appealing. But deciding on a custom LMS is a big decision. They aren’t just handed out like trick-or-treat candy or Mardi Gras beads. Not everyone should have a custom LMS. It takes a commitment to time and a fair amount of courage to pull it off. And, like anything exclusively designed, the upfront costs are considerably higher than their generic counterparts. It’s always easier to pick an off-the-shelf system. But those nonspecific programs have a higher rate of missing the mark and becoming rapidly obsolete.

So, yeah. You probably really do need a custom LMS.

Think Outside the Generic, Dull, Common, Uninspired Box

For those businesses daring to dream big and take bold chances, the rewards of a custom LMS are plentiful. But thinking big and taking chances are not without their share of considerations.

Ask yourself…

  • Who am I training?
  • How can I expand past the LMS to deliver information to my audience?
  • What are the limitations of my current LMS?
  • Where do I see my ideal LMS in two years? In five years?

Don’t let your requirements be limited by past experiences. Learning systems should adapt to your needs, not the other way around.

Reasons FOR a Custom Solution

Reasons AGAINST a Custom Solution

  • Direct Return on Investment (ROI) impact when training more users
  • Quality of the training experience doesn’t have a direct impact on ROI
  • An audience that is not your own (e.g., training a sales force)
  • Short-term horizon for usage of new system
  • Strong branding or security requirements (e.g., system must be internally hosted; need for a branded app, not a vendor app)
  • Needs are simple and you can get most of what you need from an off-the-shelf system
  • Seamless integration with existing systems (e.g., Field Force Management)
  • Low budget or userbase
  • Many users to be trained (no per-user licenses)
  • Users are primarily taking mandatory trainings and you don’t care about their experience
  • Reporting + Analytics

    The numbers don’t lie. They may bend the truth ever so slightly to prove a point, but for the most part, they can be trusted inherently. Most high-end custom LMS systems require a powerful analytics system that allows for real-time reporting on any kind of activity within the system. Everything is trackable.

    A customized LMS platform offers in-depth reporting and full-spectrum analytics. This includes:

    • Real-time reporting and trend analysis across all program data
    • In-depth use of data analytics to segment effectiveness, activity and demographic patterns
    • Ability for users to modify existing reports or create new ones using Power BI or Tableau enterprise reporting platforms
    • Custom data analysis to support changing business needs
    • KPI dashboards and executive summaries

    The best superheroes know that with great power comes great responsibility. For powerful LMS systems, with higher costs comes a great responsibility to provide profound data and analysis. If you’re not getting this for your money, you need to rethink your choice of superhero.

    The Dark Side of LMS Customization

    Okay. So it’s not all springtime and sunshine in the world of LMS customization. Pitfalls happen. Increased costs without increased benefits can happen. So can vendor lock, that moment when you realize the relationship just isn’t working and you want to see other people but you’ve got this contract binding you together. Over-customization can make your LMS more difficult to manage. Then there’s the dreaded Open Source Factor, that awkward moment when multiple vendors and third-party vendors present an overwhelming glut of homogenous base products, leaving you with a severe case of LMS burnout.

    Why Motivation Technologies? Aren’t They Just Another Vendor?

    Yes! And no! With nearly two decades in the industry and a key client list featuring some of the world’s biggest brands, Motivation Technologies leverages its tight-knit, small company vibe to do gargantuan things. Smaller vendors are better suited to giving clients more of their attention, providing a personalized experience that goes way beyond the project brief. Our small business configuration is large enough to feature seasoned professionals with years of experience in account management, solutions development, creative arts and more.

    What we offer is training without limits, customized solutions that build knowledgeable staffs, as well as brand awareness, identity and advocacy. Now, reread that last sentence, but imagine it with sweeping, emotional end theme music playing over it. And probably a crane shot that pulls back to reveal the daring Motivation Technologies logo as the credit roll beneath. Wow. That was a great movie.