A Sit-down with Daniel Pink

Recently, I had the good fortune to spend some time chatting with author Daniel Pink at his home. I connected with Pink through twitter when I shared with him my work on helping start an Innovation Day at my school. Some of the theories behind the Innovation Day were taken from Pink’s work in his book, Drive that delved into with what motivates people. I went into the meeting with him without any agenda or really any idea what to talk about. Honestly, I just wanted to meet him in person because he seemed like someone that would be interesting to spend some time talking with.

Initially, we chatted about education in general and discussed some of our shared frustrations with the current system. Even though he is not an educator, Pink understood some of the very basic problems that I myself see in education. The part of the conversation that I took the most from was when we started discussing why his work, largely written for businessmen, was popular among educators. He openly admitted he is not writing his books for educators and will be the first to say that he is not an expert in that arena. Yet, many teachers and administrators look at Pink’s work and is resonates with them and their work in schools.

As we discussed this, it became very clear to me why his work has the appeal that it does within educational circles. While his work might be geared towards business people, it is the people part that is most important. He is looking at many aspects of the human mind and motivation and it is not simply business people or adults that it applies to. The concept of motivation and the underlying principles within apply to all humans…adults and kids alike. So, it would stand to reason that things that motivate adults would seemingly apply to kids in a school setting.

Towards the end of our conversation, Pink shared with me the outline of his new book and actually asked me for some feedback as to how it would/could apply to educators. He must be getting desperate for feedback because he was actually jotting down some notes based on my thoughts. J Without giving too much away, his book deals with the idea that we are all selling something, regardless of if we are actually in sales. He even laid out some specific traits and skills that make people successful at doing this. One might not think there is a clear connection to education but I see a pretty clear one myself. Teachers are selling ideas and concepts every day and how we do that is through using our own unique traits and set of skills. Administrators are no different as they too are trying to sell their staff and students on new ideas and initiatives. Some of the basic skills and attributes that Pink described to me have strong connections to our work as educators. I encourage you all to pick it up when he finishes it and it is on the bookstore shelves…


Mike LaDew said...

Josh, I coundn't agree with you more on this point. Educators HAVE to be good salesmen. The kids must have a desire to want the teacher's "product" before they will pay for it with their effort and homework.

rborrelli said...

Oh I'm so jealous.

I used one of his TED talks to write a letter to the President on my blog a few months ago.

His books and talks were the impetus for a lot of my on reflection as a teacher, and my research (now in graduate school).

Kudos to you for meeting such neat person.

Bill Ferriter said...

That new book sounds a lot like Made to Stick by the Heath Brothers. If you haven't read it, it's pretty awesome.

Jealous you got to meet Pink. Pretty slick indeed.

Rock on,

Krissy Venosdale said...

I've never thought of us as salesman, but it's so true. We are all working to get buy-in and make change happen... looks like another of Pink's books I'll enjoy reading.

So, you met the President AND Daniel Pink in the same month? How in the world did you prevent your head exploding from the excitement. SOOOO awesome!