Review of Daniel Pink’s “Drive”

Drive by Daniel PinkOver the last couple of weeks I’ve been reading and enjoying Daniel Pink’s latest book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.” I received a review copy of “Drive.” But this is a book I would have purchased on my own because I like Daniel Pink for his insight, trend-watching and quality of writing.

Normally, book reviews are straightforward and relatively easy to write. But this book is so full of critical information for small business that I’ve been struggling with how to share it all with you in a way that will inspire you to manage differently with better results and happier employees.

Your Motivation “Operating System” Needs an Upgrade

What drives any of us to perform at our best? Is it money, fear of punishment, reward or is it something more than that? I can’t say that I had really thought too much about motivation unless it had to do with getting my son to clean his room and his bathroom. But once I started reading “Drive”, I realized that Pink was right. It was time to upgrade my “Operating System” from one that has been too narrowly focused on reward and punishment to one that appealed to something bigger inside all of us; our intrinsic need for autonomy, mastery and purpose.

How to Get the Most Out of Drive

I would recommend that you start your reading experience by taking in the table of contents. Instead of just chapters and pages, each chapter has a short description of what’s included and will whet your appetite for what’s to come.

Next, read the introduction because this is where Pink skillfully lays the framework within which he weaves his story and argument for changing how we work and manage.

The introduction also explains the meaning behind the title “Drive.” The first drive is biological. It is the most basic and primitive and includes the need for food, drink, shelter and basic survival. The second drive is more external; reward and punishment. This is where psychologists, managers and parents have spent most of their time. But then, when a group of monkeys started playing with puzzles with enjoyment and focus, scientists realized that there might be another drive in all of us. This third drive is focused on the pure joy of performing the task. Pink explores all the different ways that this third drive expresses itself and the results both people and organizations achieved when they opened themselves up to this third drive.

The book is divided into three parts:

  • Part I : A New Operating System: This section gives context and perspective. It will prepare you for the information that is yet to come.
  • Part II: The Three Elements: Now that you understand the need for an upgrade, the second section goes into a great bit of detail, supported by studies and real-life examples, of how autonomy, mastery and purpose can drive performance, fulfillment and profits way up.
  • Part III: The Type I Toolkit: This is where you get the opportunity to put all your learning into action. This section includes: Strategies for Awakening Motivation, Paying People the Type I way, a reading list of 15 Essential Books, and 4 Tips for Getting and Staying Motivated to Exercise (for those of you who have set a fitness goal in the new year).

Drive is Worth Savoring

I loved reading “Drive”. It was like walking into a buffet where I nibbled on stories, case studies and examples from business, economics, psychology, sociology and science about what drives us to perform at our best. If you’re looking for a creative way to drive your performance up while the rest of the economy is down, “Drive “ will deliver on both ideas, inspiration and insight.

[Editor’s Note:  This book’s publisher is a recent advertiser here at Small Business Trends.  However, the reviewer has zero input into advertising decisions.]


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."

12 Reactions
  1. Ivana: Have you read more books by Daniel Pink?

    Regarding Editor’s Note:

    “[Editor’s Note: This book’s publisher is a recent advertiser here at Small Business Trends. However, the reviewer has zero input into advertising decisions.]”

    I have seen the ad for the book, so I have been looking forward to read more about it for some time. 🙂

  2. @Martin – I have read “A Whole New Mind” and reviewed it here. He’s also written “Johnny Bunko”, but I’ve not read that one. In “Whole New Mind” Daniel explored the trend of more right brained thinking skills that are part of the new economy. In “Drive” he’s exploring the idea that the motivation to master and work independently and with purpose is perhaps greater in the new economy. This is what I love about those two books – his observation of a trend and ability to weave stories together that not only show you the scientific evidence that support the trend, but give you ideas as to how to make it real for yourself.

  3. As to the Editor’s note about advertising — it’s absolutely true, I had no idea they were even advertising 🙂 This is honestly a book I would have bought on my own had the review copy not shown up.

    • Ivana,

      I’m not even sure the ad is still running, but wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. You’ve done so many of these reviews, that by now I know readers trust you. Given your past history of writing so many reviews — and the hours you put into them for the community’s sake — I doubt that anyone would have questioned your motives for writing the review. But just in case, I didn’t want anything bad coming down on your head! Thanks for another excellent review!

      – Anita

  4. @Anita – Thanks for your kind words. Truth is, I get so engrossed in the book or topic I think I would find it hard to review something I didn’t get excited about just because they advertised. On the editorial side — thanks for looking out for those of us in your community of experts!

  5. This is an invitation to join an online conversation with Dan on Feb. 16 at 6:00 pm Pacific time. For details you can view the PPT at The images and links are all live.

  6. Love your review of Drive. It is a good book. I first learned of him from an interview on

    I look forward to learning more from Daniel Pink in the future.

  7. Pink tells us that the keys to great corporate culture are Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. With only the third one of these apsirations a social concept, we are ultimately offered a highly individualised account of superior corporate culture. Thus I feel Pink falls away too much towards the popular genre of personal boosterism to have anything new or significant to day about building great companies.

  8. This book has some great content, with a new wrapper for a modern and scientific world. That said, there is a great deal of overlap between his modern observations and established findings. Case in point, Drive 1 deals with Maslow;s discoveries in his hierarchy of needs. Quite honestly, Drives 2 and 3 are the basic drives within 3 of the 4 Jungian personality types. (These have been replicated/expounded upon over and over and over since discovered.) Despite smart writing and good stories, much of these “findings” have already been found. BUT, I do like content like this so this is not a negative post. 🙂 Just citing sources…

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