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

May 20, 2011

Steve Fawthrop

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

by Daniel H. Pink 

Recommended (from my review last  year. Updated with additional resource information).

Comment: “This book got a lot of attention when first published in 2006. It got back on my radar to read due to a recent 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 and back office support jobs have been replaced. The identified reasons:

1) Abundance-As a society we pretty much have what we need and it is of good quality. This makes it  harder to grow consumer sales without being a distinguishing  product or service.

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. This stunts job and wage growth while still increasing productivity.

3) Asia. What does need humans can often be done at a lower cost by labor in Asia thanks to cheap telecommunications and digital movement of information that removes time and distance as a cost. Pink’s book came on the heels of tremendous attention garnered by “The Earth is Flat”  (Thomas Friedman) which focused on the effect of global outsourcing.

Thus, Pink’s key point is that 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 then you better be truly unique. Think of Steve Jobs as the poster child for this movement or an inspired story-teller like Seth Godin.

While New Mind

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.

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


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 of  my kids read it for school) so maybe it is due for a re-read in a whole new context.

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

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 open myself up to interesting information on a general basis through newspapers,  magazines and books. The kind of advice Pink gives, especially related to readings on positive psychology and life outlook takes some time and reflection. In contrast, I find more people surfing the web and some people feeling overwhelmed by articles that run more than 200 words. This is the conflict that Stephen Covey identifies so elegantly in the “Seven Habits” when we are doing the urgent vs. the important.

I think 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 other things 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 to stimulate interest, learn and grow.

This does 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.


Additional information:

Six minute video with Pink to give you background on his philosophy and approach:

Eight page book summary:  

Book summary done in a mind map format. Different perspective as a good exercise for visualizing the main points of the book:

Book summary as Slideshare presentation for reinforcement.  93 slides but a lot are teasers so more visual than content heavy but hits on the key points:

More in-depth discussion in a thirty minute interview with Oprah. She was a big fan of the book:


Steve Fawthrop

714-876-7062, cell



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