Using Your Whole Mind – Book Review

by Stephen Mills on December 22, 2009

Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future offers an interesting, and I think valid, perspective on what it is going to take to succeed or to continue to succeed in the world in which we currently find ourselves.

The thesis of the book is basically the following:

  • Due to abundance, reasonably priced reasonable quality goods and services are available to most people in the Western world.
  • What differentiates these products and services now are more aesthetic qualities such as design, beauty, and emotion.
  • What brought us the abundance was predominately left-brained thought which is sequential, logical, textual, and detailed.
  • What produces the qualities that are becoming premium in our choices about how to spend our money is predominately right-brained thinking which is simultaneous, contextual, metaphorical, emotional, synthetic, and big picture.
  • Left-brained thinking is much more easily outsourced to Asia and much more easily automated by computers.
  • Therefore those with right-brain thinking styles will be the ones who are going to be most in demand in the future and for whose services a premium price will be paid.

There is nothing mind-blowing about all this, but it is something I had not been really thinking about.  I just really enjoyed the book’s style and content and found the author’s arguments reasonably persuasive.  This book encouraged me to think a little differently and I have taken some actions as a result.  For me personally, that’s a good indication that is was a valuable investment of my time.

One thing I really like about the book in addition to the attraction of it’s central theme is something Pink calls “Portfolios”.  At the end of chapter dealing with one of the six right-brain abilities Pink lists as essential to success in the new world, he places what he calls a portfolio.  These portfolios are filled with tools, exercises, and further reading that you can make use of in sharpening the particular ability you have just read about.  Those  portfolios were of real practical value.

Six Right-Brain Aptitudes for the New Conceptual Age

The following are the six aptitudes Pink thinks are essential for mastering the new “Conceptual Age”.  He devotes one chapter to each followed by a portfolio of ways to work on enhancing each of them.  I found most of these chapters quite interesting, especially the earlier ones.


People are no longer satisfied with products or services that are merely functional.  They want products and services that are beautiful, meaningful, whimsical, or emotionally engaging.

“Good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need, and beauty to produce something that the world didn’t know it was missing.” — Poala Antonelli


With information overload and limited time, just creating left-brain logical arguments is not enough.  The ability to fashion a compelling narrative is critical to persuasion and communication in the new age.

“Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic; they are ideally set up to understand stories.” — Roger C. Schank


Specialization and focus are being outsourced and automated by computers.  What is needed now is the ability to see the big picture and to combine disparate parts into new and exciting wholes.  Synthesis and not just analysis.

“Seeing the big picture is fast becoming a killer app in business.” — Daniel H. Pink


One thing that will distinguish those who thrive will be the ability to understand their fellow human beings, to create relationships, and to care for others.

“Leadership is about empathy.  It is about having the ability to relate and to connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.” — Oprah Winfrey


In addition to seriousness, our well-being even in a professional setting, requires laughter, lightheartedness, games, and humor.

“There is no question that a playfully light attitude is characteristic of creative individuals.” — Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi


The world of abundance has freed much of the Western world from day-to-day struggles and allowed them to pursue more significant lives of purpose and spiritual fulfillment.

“At the very least, we ought to take spirituality seriously because of its demonstrated ability to improve our lives – something that might be even more valuable when so many of us have satisfied (and oversatisfied) our material needs.” – Daniel H. Pink

Obviously his book devotes many pages to each of these aptitudes and if you want the full benefit of Pink’s insights you’ll have to read the book.  A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future is fairly easy to read and can be had from Amazon for $10.  It was easily worth it to me.

What do you think?  Leave a comment and join the conversation.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Steven December 22, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Wow nice review on a very unique book Stephen. And you know what? Because of you, I bought the Happiness Trap by Russ Harris and I’m lovin’ it.

And this book really seems like an interesting read, plus it might just make me feel better about myself (lol jk).

I might get it.

Thanks Stephen.
.-= Steven´s last blog ..Intellectual understanding Vs. Intuitive connection =-.


Jonny December 23, 2009 at 7:07 am
Sami Paju December 24, 2009 at 4:11 am

The ideas of this book, based on how you present them, remind me a lot of what Tara Joyce wrote recently about this whole new “subclass” of Generation Y called the Cultural Creative, characterized by values such as personal authenticity, social activism, idealism, personal growth, consciousness, and environmentalism on a global scale.

Apparently this subclass is also rather large, and I could easily see how simply the existence of them will increase the significance of “right-brain” thinking.

Here’s a link to the original post:


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