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Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Whole New Mind

A Whole New Mind By Dan Pink (Riverhead Books, 2006)
Reviewed by Steve Gladis June 2010

Just as Picasso was in his “blue period,” I think I’m in my “pink period”…Dan Pink that is. I just read A Whole New Mind, which I should have read years before, and which I think describes me better than my mother would have. In fact, I think Pink and I may have come from the same mother ;). Cherished for years and oft repeated in whole or part: “The truth is, a great mind must be androgynous” (Samuel Taylor Coleridge). In this book, Pink helped me understand once and for all why as a poet masquerading as an FBI agent, I always felt “weird.” A right-brainer living in a world of alpha left-brainers. Perhaps that’s why Dan (a lawyer by education) ended up as a speechwriter for Al Gore, and I ended up writing speeches for several directors of the FBI. Could we have been twins separated at birth?

He argues convincingly that we’re moving from an Information Age to a Conceptual (creative/inventive) Age, because of: Abundance (we’re living at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs), Asia (left-brained work is outsourced there because it’s been commoditized, and thus cheaper), and Automation (things that are solved by a strict set of rules—heuristics—are better crunched by microchips). He argues that in the coming age those with more inventive minds will be more valued. And he argues these points well—remember Dan’s a lawyer—at least, a recovering one.

In the rest of the book, Dan describes what he calls the “Six Senses .” 1) Design—making things not only functional but engaging by design; 2) Story—developing a compelling narrative from the data; 3) Symphony—seeing the big picture and gathering seemingly desperate parts into a harmonious whole; 4) Empathy—fostering caring relationships with our family, friends and colleagues at work; 5) Play—the need to have fun at whatever you do; 6) Meaning—seeking purpose and the greater good seems to define us uniquely as humans.

Over the next week, I’ll be reviewing Dan’s book in some depth. I recommend you buy a copy and underline the hell out of it as I did. There’s a ton of useful, important information that I won’t have the space to mention. Thanks to Dan for writing this classic.

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