The first episode of Kevin Kruse’s excellent new leadership podcast, LeadX, featured Daniel Pink. Pink talks about how he optimizes his life for productivity while working from home, how to pursue passion without giving up your day job (yet), why he gives out his email address freely (and responds to everyone who emails him), and balancing work and life effectively.
After listening to this podcast, I went on a mission to to learn more about Pink and his work (with the help of the archives on Actionable Books), and learned some amazing lessons along the way. Pink’s work reflects a lot of the ideas we discuss at Actionable everyday—the world of work is changing, traditional organizational hierarchies and the educational structures that are supposed to be supporting them are broken and ineffective at creating employees who will thrive in this new order. If you’re like me, and catching up on Pink’s excellent work, or are a long-time fan in need of a refresher, this post will be a great introduction.
This great interview with Actionable founder Chris Taylor discusses Pink’s work (to date, when recorded in 2010). They talk about each of the books below, and Pink’s perspective on how the world of work is changing. The internet has rendered the ability to retrieve and recall facts nearly obsolete—the valuable skill is now compiling those facts and creating meaning (or context) from them.
Many of us think of salespeople as sleazy—I personally think of cheap suits and used-car salesman, people who care about nothing but their commission. That trope is both tired and dangerous—whether we like it or not, almost all of us are in a sales position of some kind. The internet has also shifted the power dynamic inherent in sales—customers now have access to as much information as salespeople. Pink articulates the new ABCs of selling: Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity. Attunement is the ability to bring your actions and outlook into harmony with other people and the context you’re in. Buoyancy is the ability to stay afloat, mentally and emotionally, through an ocean of rejection. Clarity is the capacity to help others see their situations in fresh and more revealing ways and to identify problems they didn’t realize they had.
I love this summary about the value of pursuing passion in a career. At Actionable, we think a lot about how the world of work is changing. We now have the understanding that life is not a linear path—gone are the days of a 30 year career path that move from graduation to employment to promotion to retirement (if such a path ever existed). The rules have changed. Globalization and the incredible range of options we now enjoy have come with their own set of challenges and learning opportunities; opportunities that are, traditionally, not explored in our traditional education system. The book argues that it’s time to abandon the idea that our work is separate from our lives, and begin to live with a holistic approach that allows us to pursue our passions.
This summary is a great introduction and/or refresher on the idea of right brain vs. left brain thinking. As technology and automation become more and more prevalent in the workplace, process thinking becomes less important, while contextual analysis and creative thinking are becoming more and more essential. Unfortunately, our education system is lagging behind, focusing on process based thinking (think standardized tests), instead of collaboration and creative problem solving. As the world of work continues to evolve, we need to focus on developing the “soft skills”—empathy, collaboration, problem solving, emotional intelligence, etc.—to thrive in this new landscape.
What drives you? Is it money, prestige, or material goods? Or is it the intrinsic motivation to do great work? Pink argues that we need three things to be able to find our drive: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. In other words, you need some freedom in how you complete a task, you need to be working on tasks that consistently challenge you, and you need to believe that the work you’re doing is making a difference in the world. We don’t need carrots or sticks; we need the freedom, the challenge and the purpose to give our all.
The world of work is changing at a rapid pace, and thought leaders like Daniel Pink are helping to shine a light on these changes, and providing a roadmap for how we can adapt and thrive in this new world order. I will be following Pink online, and reading his books in the weeks and months to come, to help me continue to learn, grow, and go more great work that matters. I hope that you’ll join me.