A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future

A Whole New Mind by Daniel PinkI’ve always considered myself a sort of outcast in the industrial and engineering circles I ran and worked in. For example, I once remember being told that I couldn’t be the director of marketing because I didn’t have an engineering degree — even though I already had an MBA! But now, thanks to Daniel Pink’s “A Whole New Mind,” I feel vindicated. Finally! We right-brained, creative types will be appreciated for our way of looking at the world!

I picked “A Whole New Mind” on a recent summer reading binge at the book store. It was the cover that grabbed me with its cut-out of someone’s head. The subtitle of “Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future” made my inner voice say something like “Right-Brainer?! That’s me! And there’s even a chance that someone like me can actually rule the future? Count me in.”

Without even realizing it, I’ve picked yet another book where the author gets his brain scanned using Magnetic Resonance Imaging. I swear I didn’t intend to, but because I’m so focused on buyer behavior, differentiation, positioning and trends, it makes sense that the authors I choose are going to be applying this technology to their area of expertise.

Consider Daniel Pink to be a sort of oracle of the new world of work. You might remember him from his last book “Free Agent Nation” where he correctly outlined the freelance phenomenon that is a standard way of doing business today. This time, he’s picked up on the potential answer to the question we’ve been asking ourselves since Friedman came out with “The World is Flat”: How can we differentiate ourselves in a world where just about any job could be outsourced?

Pink points out three basic questions:

1. Can someone overseas do it cheaper?
2. Can a computer do it faster?
3. Am I offering something that satisfies the nonmaterial, transcendent desires of an abundant age?

While each business is unique by definition, Pink urges you to be a lot more honest and realistic with yourself. This book basically points out that anything that is repetitive, procedural and inherently left-brain centered, can be outsourced or programmed into a computer; leaving behind the uniquely human ability to perceive pattern and meaning using the right-brain.

The book is broken out into two parts. Part one is The Conceptual Age. Part two is The Six Senses.

In part one, Pink lays the groundwork with a basic primer on what the differences are between left and right brains. He describes his experience in the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and describes some basics about how are brains work.

Part two, called The Six Senses, is where the really good stuff is. Pink has outlined six basic elements that will be critical to implement a more right-brained strategy:

  • Design
  • Story
  • Symphony
  • Empathy
  • Play
  • Meaning

In each chapter he actually goes out and has these experiences and reports back on what he learned. For example, in the chapter on Symphony, where the key element is taking in everything around you as a whole, he takes an art class where he learns to do a self-portrait. You get to see the before and after self-portrait by Pink. I’d show it here but it would ruin the surprise.

Then, at the end of each of the six chapters he gives you a truly wonderful and resourceful notebook area that gives you exercises to do, resources to explore on the web and books to read so that you can take advantage of this right-brained trend. This has to be one of the BEST end of chapter DIY guides I have ever come across. The exercises are fun and insightful, the web sites and books are filled with more info.  There are several other elements I’m going to be “borrowing” in my client work and brainstorming sessions.

If you’ve been wondering how you’re going to compete in this new economy, this is a must-read for you. If you’re a disenfranchised right-brainer working in a left-brained industry, this book will not only make you feel more special and appreciated, it will help you really hone those skills that set you apart. And. if you’re one of those left-brainers who might be feeling a little left out in this conversation – don’t. This book will help you take your skills and expand them to make you even more successful.

This book is not only a great read, it’s a great way to build your brain and your business. Snap it up.

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Ivana Taylor About the Author: Ivana Taylor is CEO of Third Force, a strategic firm that helps small businesses get and keep their ideal customer.  She’s the co-author of the book “Excel for Marketing Managers” and proprietor of DIYMarketers, a site for in-house marketers.  Her blog is Strategy Stew.


Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."

13 Reactions
  1. Ivana,

    I have to learn more about “Magnetic Resonance Imaging”. Do know what cognitive therapy professionals are saying about the “right-brainers”?

  2. Will check this out. How our brain works is really a wonder.

  3. This is a great book. Pink is definitely a forward-thinker. I really like his style of writing as well. I’ve actually worked with Rita Charon & Columbia University, which is featured in the book. They practice Narrative Medicine, which is the incorporation of stories and sharing to help treat patients.

    I created a squidoo lens on Daniel Pink. It lists his books, blog, and information about the author. Check it out here: http://www.squidoo.com/Daniel-Pink



  4. So in summary, we need to be more creative and innovative.

  5. Ryan Taft,

    I am interested to learn more about how to create and use Squidoo lenses. I am thinking of creating some lenses for the good things in life, e.g., tea, wine, chocolate, chile pepper.

    I will definitively have a Squidoo page for my forthcoming e-pamphlet / e-book.

    I listened to a podcast on Squidoo sometime ago, and it was fascinating to hear about a guy with several hundreds lenses.

  6. Thank you for the tip. I’ve heard several other people talk about this book. I guess it’s time to pick it up.

  7. Curt, you’re right. The bottomline is creativity. I know all of us can be creative in our simple ways. All we just have to do is develop more this skill.

  8. @Martin – No, I don’t know what cognitive therapy professionals say about right-brained people…do you? I’d love to hear it. I hope it’s good, otherwise, my right-brain will be hurt.

    @Curt – more than just creative and innovative, it seems that we have to re-train our brains on many different levels.

  9. Ivana,

    I don’t know that. I have try to investigate it. Take care of both the parts of your brain (left & right)! 🙂 Talking about right thinking, I recommend you to check out “Thinking on Paper” by Jean Moroney of Thinking Directions. You could find out more about her ideas and other “brainy” stuff in my post, Start of Weekly Workflow Review. (Click on “Martin Lindeskog” Says:)

    I have to put this book on my reading list. Right now I am reading Groundswell and Riches in Niches.

  10. RedHotFranchises

    The brain will definitely continue to evolve in the future especially with the advanced technology’s coming, which will greatly shape the future, and will be comprised of more Intellectuals than ever before.
    The Mind is very powerful.

  11. I hope someone can help me out with this.

    I have a very left brained dad who wants me to do do accounting.
    I started out university thinking that engineering was where I should be. Heck math and science seemed to be my strong subjects!!! But realizing very quickly I didn’t like engineering, I quickly dropped out only after 2 mounths.
    I’m now in business school and my dad (whose a CA)… keeps telling me to be an accountant! I find accounting very boring, but I know I can do it.

    Let me paint a quick picture for you before I ask for honst feedback: “I finally arrived back at school after a 4 hour ride… It was long… I was tired… and had a little too much to drink with the good friends from back home the night before.

    I could barely sleep thinking about the couple chapters I had read the day before from… |A Whole New Mind”… SO wouldn’t ya guess what I did first thing back… rearranged my room. I feel way better in it, its bigger, more exciting,,, I look out the window from my desk,,,, I even had room to fit my snowboard comfortably around me and out of the way.””

    So my problem is, which angel do I listen to?
    My dad and his L-directed thinking… Or follow what I feel I know nothing about and see where it takes me???????????