Aimed primarily at recent (and impending) college grads, Bunko is a graphical story told in illustrated panels. Pink says it is the first US business book rendered in the Japanese “Manga” style – an entertaining, fanciful yet unintimidating way to assimilate information.
Pink’s hero is stuck in a dead-end job. One night, as if in a fairytale, a hot looking (give or take her pointy ears) career adviser named Diana shows up at his office offering to show him the way to a better life. Bunko summons his mentor by rubbing chopsticks. (Don’t over-think that one.)
Diana badgers him a bit, but Bunko needs both a push and encouragement.
Pink, who authored A Whole New Mind and Free-Agent Nation, is a gifted writer and perceptive thinker (well known to FC readers). Unlike old-school business gurus, Pink doesn’t do all of the thinking for you – he leaves some room for you to flesh out his ideas. The corporation isn’t the center of gravity in his writing – it’s what’s best for the reader.
Along the way, our everyman hero discovers key lessons of a successful career:
- There is no plan
- Think strengths, not weaknesses
- Persistence trumps talent
- It’s not about you
- Make excellent mistakes
- Leave an imprint
One of the most perceptive observations in the book is that where you work is almost more important than what you do there – at least to begin with.
“The most successful people … take a job or join a company because it will let them do interesting work in a cool place – even if they don’t know exactly where it will lead,” advises Diana.
Pink draws a distinction between taking a job for “instrumental” reasons – “because you think it’s going to lead to something else”, versus “fundamental” reasons – “because you think it’s inherently valuable, regardless of what it may or may not lead to.”
And he adds (through Diana’s voice) that, “The Dirty Little Secret is that instrumental reasons usually don’t work. You never know what’s going to happen so you end up stuck.”
Less clear is how Bunko or the rest of us will “leave an imprint” in this world. I hope that blogging qualifies as an imprint. Rob Ten Pas’ Manga story illustrations in “Johnny Bunko” are hip and fun.