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A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future (2006)

by Daniel H. Pink

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,398743,654 (3.97)32
Uses the two sides of the human brain as a metaphor for understanding how the information age came about throughout the course of the past generation, counseling readers on how to survive and find a place in the information society.

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» See also 32 mentions

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There's hope for touchy-feely folk like me, according to Pink and his analysis of work in the 21st century. No more apologizing for my right-brained leanings or feeling confused by the learned left-brain survival tactics that have kept me "respectable" as an academic. Now, all I need to do is figure out how the left and right come together for me in a better professional iteration and my whole new mind. ( )
  rebwaring | Aug 14, 2023 |
This book helped clear up a few things about what makes me tick. It has also provided several threads that I want to explore in more detail ( )
  docsmith16 | Jan 16, 2023 |
I came to this book because a teacher of mine talked about it several times and even gave us a bit of an overview one day in class. If someone mentions a book to me more than once, I almost always check it out.

After a short wait I was able to download the audio edition from my library. The author reads the book himself and I love it when that happens with nonfiction. The writer is able to bring subtle nuances to the reading that enhances the content in a way that most actors cannot. I've listened to a few audio books where the reader is annoyingly chipper or they read in a way where everything is emphasized to the point that the content feels like its been over-exposed like a bleached out picture. There is little contrast and so the listener is left without hooks on which to hang the ideas presented. But I digress.

Pink's reading is engaging and personable, almost conversational. Although he was easy to follow, he made so many interesting recommendations (books, music, websites, ideas) that I quit trying to jot down notes (not an easy or wise thing to do when driving) and just listened with pleasure, knowing that I could easily get my hands on the print edition for those recommendations.

The book is divided into two parts, The Conceptual Age and The Six Senses. The Conceptual Age discusses how and why America's workforce is changing. We're moving out of the Information Age of knowledge workers and into the Conceptual Age where the demand is for creators and sympathizers. The Information Age put more emphasis on and therefore gave more privileged to left-brained ways of thinking and working. The left brain understands information that is sequential, textual, and that lends itself to computer-like analysis. The Conceptual Age, on the other hand, is fueled by right brain modes of thinking which rely on context, relationships and sees the big picture. The two sides of the human brain work together, not in isolation. The point Pink is making is that privileging left-brain-style thinking is no longer adequate to compete and thrive in the Conceptual Age. We need to nurture the right-brain-styles of thinking that have been scorned in the past and combine it with left-brain-styles. Hence the idea of a WHOLE new mind.

Most traditionally left-brain dominated fields such as accounting, programming, and even some legal and medical specialties are easily outsourced. People choosing careers would be wise to look for jobs that cannot be automated and instead look towards professions that call for high concept and high touch (those that emphasis compassion and inspiration). In short: the MFA is the new MBA.

Part Two looks at each of Pink's Six Senses in detail. These are right brain directed aptitudes that will grow in importance in the Conceptual Age:
1. Not just function but also DESIGN
2. Not just argument but also STORY
3. Not just focus but also SYMPHONY
4. Not just logic but also EMPATHY
5. Not just serious but also PLAY
6. Not just accumulation but also MEANING

Each aptitude has it own chapter full of stories about people, professionals, pop culture and ends with a section of recommendations, exercises, and questions/concepts to ponder. I really enjoy these end sections because they challenge me to think about things I may have never thought about and to think about old things in new ways. Even if you don't agree with Pink's ideas on the reasons why and the ways how our Age is being transformed, these recommendations will probably be a refreshing opportunity to work your brain in new ways and enhance the way you see, understand, and live in the world.

One funny anecdote regarding DESIGN: the paperback version of A Whole New Mind has a cutout outline of a head's silhouette on the front cover. It looks cool, but its also right where people hold the book to open it. The result? Many of the copies at the bookstore where I work are torn and now not in sell-able condition. The designer had a great idea--it looks cool--but it isn't practical. The utility of the design is faulty.

I recommend this book to seekers: people who are contemplating their first career, to those pondering new careers, and to folks who like to challenge themselves and who think about how they think as well as how the world turns.

Pink has a new book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, which came out in late 2009. ( )
  Chris.Wolak | Oct 13, 2022 |
This was a and gentle introduction to a lot of what positive psychology, brain science, and the movement to value people as people rather than parts have been saying for about 15 years now: We can't just rely on rationality or intelligence, nor can we just rely on intuition and empathy. We need to integrate all of our skills into what Pink calls a whole new mind.

Although this book takes the left brain / right brain analogy further than is really warranted, it does emphasize that the key to success -- in life and happiness as well as professionally -- is the trade-off between the parts of our lives that we have kept strictly divided for the past couple hundred years, analytic and holistic thinking.

That said, many of the concepts discussed in this book -- the importance of design, story, symphony (seeing the big picture), empathy, play, and meaning -- have become somewhat commonplace, especially over the last decade. I feel like more recent books on the mind do a better job of presenting these. In that sense, this book is somewhat like Emotional Intelligence: classic, but because of that, not necessarily the best choice out of the books available today. ( )
  eri_kars | Jul 10, 2022 |
I'm guessing right-brainers won't "rule the future", "whole"-brainers (left and right sides used) will. This book reminds me of "How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci" by Gelb. The "symphony" concept resonates with me - not analysis but synthesis - and reminds me of some aspects of systems thinking. The "meaning" concept I agree with, but it doesn't seem to fit as well with the rest of the concepts. For this transition to be successful (toward more right-brain thinking), it will require an increased respect for this kind of thinking - but historically left-brain skills have been better recognized and rewarded ( )
  MarkLacy | May 29, 2022 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Daniel H. Pinkprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ashing, Karinsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bais, Karoliensecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Daniel H. PinkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fraisse, FrédériqueTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marinho, AlcindaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I have known strong minds, with imposing, undoubting, Cobbett-like manners; but I have never met a great mind of this sort. The truth is, a great mind must be androgynous.
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge
In memory of Mollie Lavin
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The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind—computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers.
The result: as the scut work gets off-loaded, engineers and programmers will have to master different aptitudes, relying more on creativity than competence, more on tacit knowledge than technical manuals, and more on fashioning the big picture than sweating the details.
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Uses the two sides of the human brain as a metaphor for understanding how the information age came about throughout the course of the past generation, counseling readers on how to survive and find a place in the information society.

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