Daniel Pink starts out this session by saying that he’s giving the whole audience a copy of his new book A Whole New Mind. The publisher won’t let him sell copies ‘til next week, but he can give them away…and he wants the buzz that SXSW attendees can generate. Very smart!
Says that brevity, levity, and repetition are key to good talks. (And my snap judgment here? He’s an entertaining and interesting speaker.)
His key thesis is that the future no longer belongs to analytical professionals—the linear, logical knowledge people (the “SAT people,” he calls them, pointing to his article in today’s USA Today on the SATs). It belongs instead to creators and empathizers.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a metaphor can be worth a thousand pictures. Talks about the hemispheres of the brain—left vs right hemisphere. The future belongs to the right hemisphere—wholistic, empathic, big picture.
Why? Three A’s…abundance, Asia, and automation.
This is an astonishingly wealthy country, deep into the middle class. Shows us examples of designer-created fly swatters and toilet brushes. Much laughter. But, he points out, this is an example of how abundance tilts us towards right-brain attributes. We can spend $11 for a beautiful Philippe Starck flyswatter.
Outsourcing is moving our financial and programming (left brain) work to India.
Quotes Tom Peters “Software is a forklift for the mind,” and then tells the story of John Henry, comparing him to Gary Kasparov.
All these things are tilting the scales away from the dominance of left-brainers.
Shows what he calls “a room-emptying chart” that shows progression from the agricultural age/farmers (18th c) to industrial age/factory workers (19th c) to the information age/knowledge workers (20th c) to today: the 21st centure Conceptual Age (creators and empathizers).
The shifts to a “right brain rendering” that shows evolution from monkey to farmer to factory worker to office worker to artist with palette. (An interesting side discussion ensues about the gender issues with this image.)
Getting ahead today requires not high tech, but high concept and high touch. Even the chairman of GM says about succeeding “It’s more a right brain thing…I see us in the art business.”
He took a course on how to draw on the right side of the brain. Shows a self-portrait from the first day of the class. Then spent five days learning how to see—quieting the left side of his brain. Shows the “after” self-portrait, and it’s stunningly better. The point? We all have the capacity to develop these right-brain attributes. We have to exercise our creativity, literally, to develop it.
Quotes the book “Got Game” about the resilience of gamers, because they have to fail literally thousands of times to succeed, so they know how to transcend failure.
All in all, this was a great session. Pink is an excellent, entertaining and engaging speaker, and I’m looking forward to reading his book on the way home tomorrow night.