Last spring I read a book I just couldn't put down: A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future,
by business and technology writer Daniel Pink. Daniel, a former chief speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore, presents a convincing argument that our country is entering a new era—the so-called conceptual age—during which right-brained skills such as design and storytelling will become far more crucial than traditionally left-brained skills such as accounting and computer programming. While the latter skills are readily outsourced, transformative abilities such as empathy and creativity are crucial in a new age "animated by a different form of thinking and a new approach to life," he writes.
Because I've always been a right-brain kind of person—more of an inventive and empathetic storyteller than a linear, logical number cruncher—this book really spoke to me. Now, you know what happens when something new excites me: I want to share it with as many people as I can.
Last June I was invited to Stanford University to give the commencement address (my goddaughter Kirby was among the graduates). After finishing Daniel's book, I ordered 4,500 copies, one for each student in Stanford's class of 2008. I wanted to present them (along with another of my favorites, Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth
) as graduation presents. For four days straight, a team of people tied ribbons around the books, which were waiting on their chairs.
I recently interviewed Daniel for my Soul Series show on Sirius XM Radio.
When we sat down in the studio in Chicago, I told him the story of my ribbon assembly line. "That's the kind of work we typically try to outsource!" Daniel joked. In A Whole New Mind
, he explains that one of the trademarks of the Conceptual Age is the outsourcing of traditional white-collar jobs such as law, accounting, and engineering to less-expensive overseas workers, particularly in Asia. But as he points out, you can't outsource creativity.
Feel left out? Fear not, Daniel says: He has identified six right-brain-associated aptitudes that he believes anyone can develop, and tells us how we can use these skills not only to stay competitive in the workplace but to improve our lives and our world.