Friday, May 21, 2010

A Whole New Mind

Yesterday while waiting in Penn station I bought a book from Craig at Penn Station books. I love the way a small company can compete with a large seller by simply having the right location. And in this case also from the personal touch.

I went into the store and asked if he had a few specific books, and not only did he walk me to the shelf and try to look for them, he called his wife to see if they had a copy upstairs.

Another thing that impressed me was when I asked if he had a business card and he didn't have one with him, he actually ran to the back of the store to get one. I asked him if he was the owner because he clearly was acting like one, and sure enough he was. One of my goals in life has been to try and hire people who act like they are owners.

The book I bought was by Daniel Pink called "A Whole New Mind:Why Right-Brainers will Rule The Future". As the title suggests, the whole theses of the book is that our society, which was once valued a strong back and hands and then moved on to valuing left-brained and MBA-type thinking, is going to be moving to creative, design-type thinkers.

The book has a section on how the brain works, which ties in with some of the other books I have read on the brain.

One reason given for the right brain people becoming the new ruling class is that left brain activities can be globalized. So programming, tax return preparation, legal work, etc., which were all expensive, well-paid jobs in the left brain society can be moved offshore where people can complete the tasks less expensively.

This reminds me of John Naisbitt's book, Megatrends, where he talked about the increase in computerization and mechanization, but there is still a need for a human touch.

"High touch involves the ability to empathize with others, to understand the subtleties of human interaction, to find joy in one's self and to elicit it in others, and to stretch beyond he quotidian in pursuit of purpose and meaning".

At the end of every chapter is a section on things to do to increase right brain thinking and to help gain an appreciation for right-brained things like visiting a design museum or going to an art museum, listening to classical music, etc.

I am likely more right-brained and creative than much of my left brain success would indicate. I know that because of what I have done I tends to be unconventional and more on the creative end than the logical end.

It is interesting that this book was referred to me by a member of Goldenseeds, which is a group that invests in women entrepreneurs (so of course most of the people in the group are women), and it seems to me that more women are more dominant right brained than left brained. I have always thought that women were already the ruling class, as a matter of fact, the Queen of England is visiting RIM.

When you think of traditional right brained activities you think of things like painting, music and all the creative tasks which I don't generally consider myself to be very good at. As a matter of fact, because of my focus on business through the years I have spent almost no time on any of the "artsy" type things because I figured there were lots of people who could do it better and cheaper then I could. So why would I bother to waste my time on it, so to speak.

I was relieved to find out that right brain activity not only refers to that type of creativity but also refers to the type of creativity that I have used in entrepreneurial situations which has helped me with my business's success and much of what is pointed to is that design helps develop products that are easier to use. The example they use is the voting machines that were so confusing (poor design) to use that people spoiled their ballots.

Although the book over-advocates that the right brained people will be the winners, I think it had to do that to make the point. In reality, my opinion is that we need a healthy balance between the right and left portions of our brains.


At 12:32 AM, Blogger Beyond Horizons said...

Hi Jim,
A very insightful post!
The value of the 'right-brain' is definitely going up. And I liked how you have gone on to clarify that the right-brained activities include more than just 'artsy' activities, which is a common misconception. The right brain is involved in the sort of thinking that requires 'presence of mind', something that doesn't just 'follow a set of rules'.
It is essential to start encouraging this kind of thinking and approach in the new workforce.
- Sindoora (


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