Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Whole New Mind

About Daniel H. Pink

Daniel H. Pink is the author of the New York Times bestseller A Whole New Mind.

Pink's articles on business and technology have appeared in The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company and Wired. Pink worked previously as Vice President Al Gore’s chief speechwriter from 1995-97.

Conceptual Age

Pink outlines four major 'ages':

  • Agriculture Age (farmers)
  • Industrial Age (factory workers)
  • Information Age (knowledge workers)
  • Conceptual Age (creators and empathizers)

Three Trends

Pink references three trends pointing towards the future of business and the economy:

  1. Abundance (consumers have too many choices, nothing is scarce)
  2. Asia (everything that can be outsourced)
  3. Automation (computerization, robots, technology, processes).


  • People buy more than they need.
  • Self-storage has become a $17 billion annual industry in the U.S.
  • Americans spend more on trash bags than 90 other countries spend on everything.


Knowledge workers overseas can do it just as well for less money. American computer programmers earn $70,000 a year. Indian high-tech workers earn up to $15,000 a year. Each year, India s colleges and universities produce about 350,000 engineering graduates.


Computers can do many tasks faster and cheaper.

In 1989, Garry Kasparov, the youngest ever World Chess Champion in 1985, boasted that no computer can ever beat him. In May 1997, an updated version of Deep Blue, the chess-playing computer built by IBM, defeated Kasparov. In 2003, Kasparov was convinced that in few years computers will win every match.

Three Questions

These are three crucial questions for the success of any business:

1. Can someone overseas do it cheaper?

2. Can a computer do it faster?

3. Is what I’m offering in demand in an age of abundance?

If you answer YES to questions 1 & 2 and NO to question 3 – then your business is in trouble.

Six Essential Senses

Pink outlines six essential senses:

Design - Moving beyond function to engage the sense.

Story - Narrative added to products and services - not just argument. Best of the six senses.

Symphony - Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus).

Empathy - Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition.

Play - Bringing humor and light-heartedness to business and products.

Meaning - Immaterial feelings and values of products.

Design -- Not just Function but also Design

It’s no longer sufficient to create a product, service, an experience or a lifestyle that is

merely functional. It’s economically crucial and personally rewarding to create

something that is also beautiful, whimsical or emotionally engaging.


CHAD– The Charter High School for Architecture and Design.

Target -- selling designer products at low prices.

Best Buy -- creatively designing their stores.

Apple -- outrageous success of their iPod and other well-designed products.

Portfolio -- Design

Keep a design notebook.

Think of something that annoys you, and send the manufacturer of that product a well-thought-out solution to the problem.

Read design magazines:

Dwell — http://www.dwellmag.com/

How — http://www.howdesign.com/

iD — http://www.idonline.com/

Metropolis — http://www.metropolismag.com/

Visit Karim Rashid’s webite — http://www.karimrashid.com/

Design Something: Your own Nike shoe, your own Vans shoe, or your own handwriting font.

Go to a Design Museum

Evaluate objects in your life for the emotions you have associated with them. See Design Continuum.

Select things because they delight you not because they impress others, but never let things be more important than people. See Animatrix.

Story -- Not just Argument but also Story

When our lives are brimming with information and data, its not enough to master an effective argument. It’s important to learn how to tell stories.

Good stories instantly connect with people on a heart level and last in both our conscious mind and our subconscious for far longer than pure facts and figures ever will. We think in stories, we live in stories, and we love stories.

Example: narrative medicine – all second year Columbia students take this course. Instead of computerlike diagnostic questions, they learn to ask: “Tell me where it hurts. Tell me about your life.”

Portfolio -- Story

Write a mini-saga, a very short story of exactly 50 words. Some examples can be found here.

Preserve someone’s story through StoryCorps.

Interview someone about his or her life and record the conversation.

Visit a storytelling festival: National Storytelling Festival.

Subscribe to One Story, a magazine that delivers one good story to your house a little more often than once a month.

Learn Digital Storytelling — Center for Digital Storytelling.

Symphony -- Not just Focus but also Symphony.

The skill of symphony is in seeing the whole as a whole, seeing pieces in relationship to each other, and not seeing the pieces all by themselves.

Betty Edwards in her book Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain claims that we tend to see the world through symbols, and this is especially evident when we attempt to draw anything.

Negative Space

Negative space, in art, is the space around and between the subject(s) of an image. Negative space may be most evident when the space around a subject, and not the subject itself, forms an interesting or artistically relevant shape, and such space is occasionally used to artistic effect as the "real" subject of an image. The use of negative space is a key element of artistic composition. Read more http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_space

Portfolio: Symphony

Listen to great symphonies: Beethoven’s 9th, Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 Mahler’s 4th Symphony in G Major, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (with real cannons and church bells).

Visit a newsstand and grab 10 publications that you would otherwise never read. Skim them and look for connections with your own life.

Learn how to draw — http://www.drawright.com/

Keep a Metaphor Log (write down metaphors you encounter throughout your day)

Create an Inspiration Board: “When you’re working on a project, empty your bulletin board and turn it into an inspiration board. Each time you see something that you find compelling… tack it to the board.”

Look for Negative Spaces in logos, designs and all around you.

Empathy -- Not just Logic but also Empathy

Empathy is basically the skill of being able to stand in another person’s skin and experience the world from their perspective. It is the part of us that wants to yawn when we see another person yawn.

Empathy is necessary in this new “Conceptual Age” because people are looking for products and services that truly connect with them, and that means businesses must be able to experience life from the perspective of their customers (empathy) in order to provide the products and services those customers are looking for.

Portfolio: Empathy

Take an empathy test E-IQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient) prepared by Daniel Goleman of Emotional Intelligence fame.

Spot the Fake Smile to see if you can spot the difference between a fake smile and a real one..

Study Paul Ekman — http://www.paulekman.com/ Emotions Revealed, Telling Lies

Take an Acting Class

Get the Mind Reading CD-ROM training materials.

Volunteer and serve someone.

Play -- Not just Seriousness but also Play

Ample evidence points to enormous health and professional benefits of laughter, games and humor. Serious is good but too much sobriety can stall a career and harm your health. In the Conceptual Age, in work and in life, we all need to play.

Laughter Club

The Laughter Yoga method was created by Dr. Madan Kataria, a family physician from Mumbai, India who started the first laughter club in 1995. He has been the catalyst for the creation of over 5,000 Laughter Clubs in 40 countries, mostly free and public. http://www.laughteryoga.com/


Play is more than a tool to be used to increase productivity. Instead, play itself is a primary industry. Games of all sorts are a major business, and the Army has turned to using video games as a recruitment tool – America’s Army.

Portfolio: Play

Playfulness, humor, and joyfulness are the cornerstones of a creative life. To develop the skill of play in your own life, Pink recommends these things:

Join a Laughter Club — http://www.laughteryoga.com/

Play the Cartoon Captions Game. Find a bunch of cartoons from publications like the New Yorker, remove the captions or punch lines, and then come up with some of your own. Preferably, do this with friends.

Test your humor on the Humor Scale.

Check out the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling “Invention at Play” exhibit — http://www.inventionatplay.org/.

Learn about video games and play some.

Meaning -- not just Accumulation but also Meaning

Viktor Frankl wrote his work, Man’s Search for Meaning after being released from a Nazi concentration camp where he saw people survive against incredible odds because they had a strong sense of meaning and purpose. Pink addresses the significance of having meaning in our lives, whether by religion or otherwise. More than that, he talks about how we need to look at life from the perspective of a higher meaning and how to do so enriches our lives including extending our actual lifespan.

Portfolio: Meaning

Write a gratitude letter or go on a gratitude visit or find some other way to develop a habit of gratitude.

Take the 20-10 test. If you had $20 million in the bank or only 10 more years to live, would you continue doing what you do now?

Measure your spirit with tests. Spiritual Transcendence Test, or the Index of Core Spiritual Experience.

Visit a labyrinth (a maze-like pathway for meditation purposes).

The Worldwide Labyrinth Locator

Picture yourself at 90. Imagine yourself as a ninety-year-old you. What has your life been like?

The Conceptual Age is dawning and those who hope to survive must master the fundamental human attributes – Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning.


Pink, D. H. (2006). A Whole New Mind. Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. New York: Riverhead Books.





No comments: