PASMAG Tuning Insider Build It and They Will Come Adam Zillin PAS-CRV-4
Written by Adam Zillin | Photos by Adam Zillin

Not long ago, I watched with great interest, Dan Pink’s motivational talk at a TED conference back in 2009. In it, he asked us to consider whether or not we are motivated by intrinsic or extrinsic influences. Are we motivated by money, benefits or bonuses (extrinsic) or are we motivated by change, vision and being autonomous (intrinsic)? That sort of thing – look it up on YouTube, it’s a great watch. The conclusion was that those motivated by intrinsic values often produced better quality results; and that led me to a really interesting thought.

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When one builds, tunes or develops a car, who are they doing it for? Themselves or others? I suppose it depends on your perspective. If you’re an actual tuner or developer, then of course you’re creating a product or service for consumption. It’s your job to grow the carrots. If you’re a guy building his car, those services and products are available daily, and can be bought and built according to your desires or your budget. You’re the one buying the carrots. The big question is though: who are you doing it for?

I think a great number of people are acting extrinsically in the sense that they build to appeal to others. They build because there’s a carrot hanging at the end of a stick. They build for social appeal. They build to be accepted. They build to fit in. They aren’t then, building for themselves. They aren’t building for speed or times or function.

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There’s plenty of evidence in social media to suggest this. Day after day, on multiple pages, I see countless people harboring resentment and grudges because their car wasn’t “liked” on Facebook and received negative feedback. Why do they care? Because they want what they build to appeal to others. I’m not talking about form or function here, but something psychological.

The opinions of others have begun to matter so much to people in automotive circles that any negative opinion is taken directly to heart, considered insulting and results in furious defense from not only the owner but also his or her friends. The whole, “I love my haters” counterculture has sprung directly from this.

PASMAG Tuning Insider Build It and They Will Come Adam Zillin PAS-CRV-3

But what gets me is that it isn’t necessarily hate. It’s disagreement. It’s debate. I don’t like “Stance” or even the notion of it. You can disagree with me and tell me that to my face, but don’t confuse my opinion with my right to express it, whether you agree or not. What I find most amazing is that this “hater” counterculture has even been given breath to exist. Movements have popped up around it. Insecurity is rife and is being fostered in the mainstream. So, how has this happened?

It’s the carrots. When enthusiasts stop chasing them and start realizing that the carrot doesn’t really matter at all, then they’ll start spending more time at the track, in the hills or in the shed, instead of worrying about the opinions (onions?) of others.

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If people get so upset over opinions, then why do they ask for them? If people say opinions matter so little to them, then why do they get so upset when someone expresses a negative one? To an enthusiast, being intrinsically-minded means to build that car for yourself and not for others.

And that brings me around to Japan. This is the main reason behind why Japanese tuning circles continue to amaze us. Haven’t you ever wondered why or how Japanese cars, vans and trucks can somehow blow your mind? Or, the Japanese themselves for that matter?

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It’s because Japanese enthusiasts build for themselves. They take the approach that they are going to do whatever they like to a car and to hell with what anyone else thinks about that. That explains why the cars they create are so wild and unexpected. Diversity rules and differences are tolerated. Everybody wins.

Sure there are also differences of opinion here, but the way they are handled is different, too. There’s respect even when opinions differ. Instead of a direct approach where someone from a Western culture would say, “This sucks,” the Japanese will instead qualify their difference of opinion in an indirect manner, preferring to say something like, “I’m not sure I like this approach because...”

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Back at the HKS Premium day a couple of months ago, I came across an insane-looking CR-V with a turbocharged B18C and R34 GT-R front end conversion. It is all-wheel drive, makes 500 horsepower and is totally bonkers. Now, while I don’t even understand how someone gets an idea like this – it literally made me scratch my head in amazement – when I posted on the car later that day in 7Tune, you should have seen the comments fly.

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Some were outraged, many were intrigued, everyone was stunned. And while it made for some comical banter, the overriding point was not lost on me. The owner doesn’t really care about the comments either way; he was proud of what he built and that was the end of the story. Would I do something like this? Not a chance, but I respect the time and effort that has gone into it despite my reservations.

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The point is the owner stopped thinking extrinsically and started acting intrinsically. There’s a lesson in that for all of us. We should all be building for ourselves and not for others. We need to stop caring about what other people say about that and above all else we shouldn’t be taking opinions of negative nature to heart.

There’s a famous negotiator called Herb Cohen who once wrote a book called “Negotiate This!” In it, he extolled the virtue that we should “...care, but not that much.” The Japanese don’t and neither should you. #pasmag

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