"People say endlessly that one wants to be a heavy hitter because one wants prestige and perks but I disagree utterly with these vapid souls; it is about what one is happy doing."
Of course a little recognition and prestige is nice, but really it is very little or nothing during any particular day or month. The perks are mostly getting to do more of what you're already doing. You do research, and the reward is another research grant or just time off to do more of the same. But the work is there every day with its own rewards.