May 15, 2008

Right Side vs. Left Side (part 2)

Filed under: Book Reviews, Personal Branding — Robert John Ed @ 3:18 pm

I finished A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink a few days ago. It was a very good read. Probably the best book I’ve read throughout 2008. I love reading books like this because they give a new perspective and a ton of things to think about.

This particular idea is centered around the fact that the last generation was raised to use their left brain more than the right. The left brain is the side of the brain that puts together sequences of process, or step by step problems and solutions. A good way to think of this is chess (Kasparov was an example of the book) where every move has a consequential effect on ensuing moves; so humans who excel at thinking in advanced fashion logically do well. As usual, I’m thinking of this in terms of business. Business over the last generation was ran by good and great left brain thinkers (with some exceptions).

The problem with this is that three factors are altering the potency of left brain thinkers here: Asia, for outsourcing our once necessary left brain thinkers; Automation, for computers doing much of our work today that years ago needed humans; and abundance which points that products and consumer choice is at an all time high.

The Asia component strikes me as particularly telling toward working in America. Extreme amounts of our college graduate work are being outsourced. CSRs are the obvious example, but more and more positions and necessities of large corporations are being shopped. The analytical positions can be outsourced for literally 1/4th-1/3rd of the cost. Nothing to sneeze at. This is happening today. This is one situation where we marketers are actually in a better boat than many others, as our practice often doesn’t hinge on protocols or following preconceived plans (not the good stuff at least). Plus there’s the added value of needing to understand the culture to market well. But nothing is sacred. Moo.

So to condense the situation, left brain thinking is still very important but it can be shopped. In comes right brain. Right brain sits alone at lunch and makes life size replicas of the velvet underground in flames. It’s different. The right brain sees things holistically and makes connections that are beyond the left brain (which is why they are such a good team). Humor is found in the right brain because it can make connections that are seemingly nonsensical and pull them together to make a cohesive idea. I can’t do justice to a real description about why the right brain is so important, but it fills in the gaps that logic can’t; yet to label them gaps is wrong because the right brain sees things that are larger and just as important as step by step logic.

Pink posits that the next generation’s workers will exceed with advanced right brain thinking and emotional intelligence (reading this right now) to overcome the three situational forces listed above. He also lists of six different virtues of right brain thinking; personally I thought some were good and some superfluous though they are all apt in terms of understanding the differential between either kind of thinking.

So is it true? Will right brainers rule the world? Well…at first when I started to read this, it seemed like a load of BS that someone with specialized skills in more artistic thinking was trying to get across. Soon thereafter, I read a few chapters and noticed that what he was saying was essentially true on many fronts and it wasn’t an anomaly, the trends were only going to increase. Truthfully, I think I’m more of a right brain thinker at heart (ed. note: what?) than anything. Yet my formal training is to be a left brain thinker; almost everyone in this age is similar.

Moving forward, I believe that the majority of US workers will still be trained similarly to that of the last generation; but more and more we’ll see a tendency of people that value both sides of the equation and exude abilities in both right and left brain thinking. Not one or the other. Both. This is important to note because it would be drastic leap to think that the corporations of the world would be looking more for people who have no formal business training; more likely they’ll need people who can handle it all.

Anyway, this was a GREAT book. It really opened my eyes on some of the recent rifts in consumer spending and some important aspects of business I took for granted. Definitely worth reading. If anyone wants to borrow it from me, please let me know.



  1. Thanks for the very nice words about A WHOLE NEW MIND. Glad you enjoyed the book.
    Dan Pink

    Comment by Dan Pink — May 17, 2008 @ 9:13 pm

  2. […] to conduct yourself and treat others is very important, but many of the books I’ve read like A Whole New Mind and Emotional Intelligence are leading me to do more intrinsic research. Basically, it seems that […]

    Pingback by Man’s Search For Meaning « Redmarketer — June 20, 2008 @ 2:32 pm

  3. Great review, and great intro to an intriguing concept. Yes, I think accessing the right brain, and getting the whole brain working together is the next phase of our evolution! I even believe that this ‘economic crisis’ and a whole continent of people realizing they actually DO have to be more creative, not just say that.. is a bonus one wouldn’t normally expect from a challenging economy.
    Now off I go to purchase the book. Thanks.
    Janet Whitehead

    Comment by musingsandmud — November 24, 2008 @ 2:51 am

  4. Your book and this link automatically showed up on my blog after I posted a message about the importance of Non-Linear Thinking. I had no idea about your book, but thanks to the magic of WordPress I’m going to pick it up immediately and read. Thanks for writing it! Cheers

    Comment by rickbakas — January 4, 2009 @ 7:01 pm

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