web analytics

Poor, Hungry, and Driven

Many companies, executives, and books discuss that when it comes to hiring or promoting workers, in general they have success in hiring someone who is “poor” (see how we define it below), hungry and driven, also known as PHD. In general, the drive from these individuals will motivate them to prove themselves each and every day. However it is hard to identify those with that drive/fire, as too many do not have it or they put out false impressions…the lack of drive is but one of the causes of the cycle of stagnation and/or poverty.  The concept of PHD also applies to starting a business, going for promotions at work, and other career tasks. This approach, of hiring the underdog, could apply to many of the people who seek assistance on the needhelppayingbills.com website, as they may be driven to improve the life of their family.

Executives such as Mario Gabelli, who runs an investment firm, Jack Welch (formerly of General Electric), and Jim Collins in his book Good to Great talk about how important it is to get the “right people on the bus”. Even if the person is maybe not an exact match or have the exact skillset for the role they are in with the company, if they are driven to make a difference, prove themselves from their background or a previous letdown, and improve their financial situation, they will more often than not find a way to succeed.

What is a “poor” and “hungry” hire?

This does not necessarily mean low income or “cash poor”, though it could mean that. It can really mean anything that lights a fire in someone’s belly, and you can see (and even “feel” their intensity) that they want to prove themselves. It is hiring or promoting the underdog, and giving them a chance.

“Poor” may be someone with a degree from a state school or community college and not some Ivy League college, and the state person came from humble backgrounds, worked throughout their life, received scholarships, exceeded in the “mid or low level” school, etc. They key is they worked and are driven. But maybe they were passed over for a position because they did not have a “prestigious degree”. They may have that fire that motivates them and drives to succeed. Jim Collins talked heavily about this and education levels.

It can also mean someone who was fired from a previous job, or maybe they missed their promotion. But the person was honest and resilient, and used that experience to motivate them for their next opportunity. Jack Welch, and the GE model, used some of this to test employees. Maybe a person was not promoted, and the company wanted to “test” them to see how they responded if/when another opportunity came up. Were they resilient, driven to still succeed? Or was the wind taking from their sail and they gave up?

Hungry, poor, and driven can really mean anything. Someone who was a child from a single teenage mom (ever hear of Jeff Bezos from Amazon story…the richest person in the world or Steve Jobs who was adopted), a kid from an inner city, an immigrant to the country, a person who was adopted, individual whose parent(s) walked out on them. The individual living check to check who is just trying to pay the rent and keep a roof over their head. The kid who was abused, or abandoned by their parent(s). It is anything. The person gets up everyday, driven, motivated to succeed, and does what it takes. They are focused, use their time wisely, avoid mindless distractions like TV, video games, social networks or phones, and are committed.

Identifying, and hiring these PHD individuals can help improve a chance of a company becoming more successful. Those types of backgrounds can also lead to other success, such as starting a business, helping the poor or less fortunate (volunteering), coming up with an invention, etc. As many people with a hunger in them, who are poor and driven, have gone on to create businesses, including successful ones.

Jim Collins as well as Gabelli, and others, talk about it really being the underdog. The PHD person who wants to prove themselves each and every day, whether on their own or in a corporation. Whether it is to show those Ivy League grads that a costly degree does not prove anything, showing that old boss they made a mistake if not promoting them, or whether their motivation is to exit poverty, the concept of poor, hungry, and driven includes all of that and more.


Jon McNamara is the CEO of needhelppayingbills.com, a company that he started in 2008 and that specializes in helping low income families as well as those who are in a financial hardship. He also found NHPB LLC, a company committed to helping the less fortunate. Jon and his team also provide free financial advice to help people learn about as well as manage their money. Every piece of content on this website has been reviewed by him before publishing and many of the articles he has personally written. Jon is the leading author for needhelppayingbils.

2 thoughts on “Poor, Hungry, and Driven

  • February 4, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    I think many poor are not driven; that is why they are poor. They do not want to work; are not motivated,; want government welfare; want to take easy route. Some few poor want better life but good luck finding them.

  • June 24, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    I was a college student who was struggling. There were many times when there was a week or two when I felt like given up. I didn’t have food in my apartment nor the money to get some I was so poor. I probably should have told someone how much I was in a bad shape since I knew lots of people who would gladly help. But I did have drive. I took a second job to pay the bills. I graduated, got a good paying job, now those days are way behind me. That time in college made me who I am….I was poor but motivated/driven and I never want to go back to that.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *