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Review and Thoughts on “Whole New Mind” by Daniel Pink

August 25, 2010

Steve Fawthrop

Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future

by Daniel H. Pink

Recommended (from my review)

Comment: “This book got a lot of attention a few years ago. I just got around to reading it on a recommendation.

The elements of the book for learning the lessons can be of interest on their own, but Pink very much positions the book out of individual and societal self-interest. He leads with the point that much of the basic intelligent functional roles–like accounting–are being replaced just like basic manufacturing has been replaced. The identified reasons:

1) Abundance–As a society we pretty much have what we need.

2) Automation–It has moved from blue collar, to pink collar to white collar jobs. Things can be done easier and cheaper without as much direct human involvement.

3) Asia.–What does need humans can often be done at a lower cost by labor in Asia and thanks to cheap telecommunications and digital movement of information that significantly reduces time and distance as a cost.

Thus, the distinctive value provided in the future will be done by those who reflect a unique, creative approach that cannot be easily or cheaply replicated. In other words, if you are going to have a unique selling proposition (USP) then you better be truly unique. Think of the late Steve Jobs as the poster child for this movement.

Pink focuses on the “softer” areas of human development as a way to be more productive and more distinctive. He has chapters on:

Design–The ability to produce with both form and function that is different.

Story–The ability to create emotion and distinction through story telling as a way to relate and motivate others. Author Seth Godin is a great example.

Symphony–The ability to recognize various styles in people and movement within a company (or in society) and to productively synthesize and coordinate what is going on around you like the conductor of a symphony.


Play–Creative thinking. This is actually the largest chapter.

Meaning–The ability to move to a higher plane of existence and action in your life. Among some of the books he recommends is “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl. I read that in my freshman religion class in high school. It is on the shelf (one my kids read it for school) so maybe it is due for a re-read after 30+ years.

Each chapter has recommendations and resources to turn to for each theme to help stretch your capabilities and give you a fresh take on things.

All are practical taken alone but, like all things in life, tough to do. For example, he talks about reading different magazines to get different takes on life. As someone who is a big reader I think I open myself up to interesting information on a general basis through newspapers and magazines. In contrast, I find more people surfing the web and some people feeling overwhelmed by articles that run more than 200 words.

I hope you get my point. Working on the various skills takes time and effort.

So my basic advice is:

1) Read the book to open your mind
2) Kill your television. We all have some guilty pleasures, but you know if you are spending too much time with Jerry Springer or cage boxing.
3) Stay healthy by eating right, exercising and getting sleep.
4)Give as much time as you can to your spouse, kids or significant other as possible.
5) Have a project going for personal development. It can be from elements Pink identified or in other ways to keep the mind active. Don’t make it so complicated you give up. Work through one area at a time. Activity naturally opens up other opportunities for learning and growth.

These do not guarantee success but you probably will get a lot further down the road then some of the terrific folks who are guests on Springer.

Pink finishes by saying, “This new age fairly glitters with opportunity, but it is as unkind to the slow of foot as it is to the rigid of mind.”

Time to get moving.


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