Fast Company

Drive, Dan Pink's New Book

The short review: buy this book now, read it, talk about it with others, and pass it on. Get it here, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.

The longer version: I have known Dan Pink just over seven years. In 2002 we were both designated by the Center for Association Leadership as Visionaries. As a result, we spent a little time together addressing executives and met for coffee a couple of times. It has been a pleasure to watch him take the world stage through his writing and speaking. It's been a win-win-win: his audience enjoys it, he deserves it, and the world needs it.

His first best-seller, Free Agent Nation: the Future of Working for Yourself, alerted us to the decline of the Organization Man and brought us face-to-face with the replacement model: people of all stripes striking out on their own, forging their destiny along with their income. He spotted this trend years ago, wrote about it in 2002. It remains relevant and an excellent read.

In 2006 he gave us, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the World. This runaway best seller (WSJ, NYT, Washington Post, BusinessWeek) describes the new world that is rising up around us along with the core traits of the creative personalities who are today's most successful activists, entrepreneurs, economists, trend spotters, and provocateurs.

Just a few days ago he released the next in his series of culture-changing books. It is another jewel. In Drive he has taken on the essence of human nature and pointed us toward what really works, which is not what is mostly put into widespread practice. Further, if we pay attention to what Pink has found and relayed, we may just have a shot at the creativity and motivation necessary to address the world's toughest problems.

Here is what is remarkable about Pink: he does his homework impeccably and then writes about what he discovers in ways that have the power to transform how we act. Most important, he does this in entertaining and provocative ways. This means he actually has a good chance of reaching many people and changing the way things are done, improving widespread results. Pink is a social activist par excellence. Drive does not disappoint.

As I write this, I am literally sitting in an aisle of Politics & Prose in Washington, DC, where Dan is speaking to a standing room only crowd. It is the local stop on his ambitious book tour. The crowd is sprinkled with Washington movers and shakers, some of our regional intellectual treasures. Jeneanne Rae, standing next to me, raises her hand and asks Dan, "How many people in the world today are living in work systems or relationship systems that are in healthily motivating systems, where they are fostering their bliss?"

He answers, "It's hard to say, but data recently came out that says 55% of people are dissatisfied at work. One of the things we know is that traditional management is very good at getting compliance, but terrible at getting engagement. It is interesting to note that while we see engagement plummeting in the workplace, we see that it is rising elsewhere, for example, in volunteer activities."

As he fields questions, one example after another tumbles out of his mouth. Each is both startling in its simplicity, yet powerful in impact. He is ripe, ready to share his discoveries.

Pink says tonight, "There is this notion out there that human beings are essentially lumps, that if we didn't have carrots and sticks, we would sit around doing nothing. I don't believe that. That is not human nature. We are active and curious right out of the box.

"If we go back to our nature, we will do more extraordinary things - if we could tap this at work, we could fill our lives and our world with exceptional achievement. More and more successful companies are not only profit maximizers, they are purpose maximizers! This is the kind of thing that can make this world better."

Pink is right. That is what will happen... after everyone reads his book. So, what are you waiting for?

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Seth Kahan has consulted for leaders in over 50 world-class organizations that include Shell, World Bank, Peace Corps, Marriott, Prudential, Project Management Institute, and NASA. His next book, Getting Change Right: How Leaders Transform Organizations from the Inside Out, will be published in May 2010. Visit his other blogs, GettingChangeRight.com, helping leaders with change, and FreelanceFortune.com for techniques on how to succeed as a free agent. Read him in the Washington Post On Success. Follow Seth on Twitter and learn more about Seth's consulting at VisionaryLeadership.com.

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1 Comments

  • Adam Krasowski

    The most important lesson from Dan's books in my opinion is that we have to start thinking about why (meaning, intention) we are doing what we are doing.
    To start doing only what we love - and learning how to make it fun.

    Adam Krasowski
    www.adamkrasowski.com