The Ideas Behind Daniel Pink’s Books

Daniel Pink is a best-selling author. This is how the first four books were born:

Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself (Warner Books, 2001): “I left a job to go out on my own, and I know there’s a lot of other people who are doing it. I realized that no one had really done anything to help people understand this huge group of people who were making the same decisions I did.”

The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need (Riverhead Books, 2008): “I had been to Japan, [where I] noticed that comics had a universal appeal, that they were produced for adults with a whole range of topics, from business to politics to religion. I figured that that could be done in the United States as well. At the same time, I realized that most young people were getting their career information online and a book with tactical career information no longer made sense—but a book produced in the comic format [known as manga] with broad strategic information might last a while. I just married the two.”

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future (Penguin Group, 2006): “Several things came together here. I started noticing that a lot of really smart businesspeople I had encountered had a background in the arts, even if they were in another field—management consultants who studied ceramics as an undergrad, and so on. When I was working on Free Agent Nation, I noticed that a lot of the people called their offices studios even if they were accountants or management consultants. I also had always had a deep fascination with India—I actually dropped out of law school to go to India for a while when I was young. I wrote about outsourcing very early in the game. All these nuggets came together slowly over time that led me to ask, ‘What’s the connection between India, these people with arts degrees, and these management consultants who said they worked out of a studio?’ ”

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Riverhead Books, 2009): “That was a combination of knowing a little bit about the academic literature and then realizing that there was kind of a footbridge for A Whole New Mind to a new project. I had encountered so much academic research about how poorly some incentives work, and I was getting questions from readers of A Whole New Mind wanting to know, ‘If we’re going to do more right-brain work, then how do you motivate people to do it?’ and realizing I didn’t have a good answer.”

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