Newengland's Reviews > Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Drive by Daniel H. Pink
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Feb 06, 11

bookshelves: contemporary, finished-in-2011, nonfiction
Read from February 05 to 06, 2011

Why am I writing this review on Goodreads, anyway? I'm not getting paid for it. There are plenty of other things I should be doing. And it's not like I have a coterie of devoted followers waiting with bated breath for my next review (in fact, the vast majority of reviews I write here get zero comments and zero "likes"). So why, then?

DRIVE has the answer. I do it for me. I do it for intrinsic reasons and thumb my nose at the world of extrinsic ones. I do it because I derive personal pleasure from it, because it challenges me to summarize and critique succinctly, because I am free to be funny, irreverent, scholarly, deadpan, conventional, or wacky. Now THAT'S incentive!

And you don't even have to read this whole book to get Daniel Pink's message. For one, he sums up each chapter in a pecan shell at the end of the book, so you can read that instead next time you're at Barnes & Noble. Or you can visit the TED website and watch Pink sum up his message in a speech for free. But if you want the dirty details, read the book. It's fast, it's easy, it's enlightening.

The book is chiefly geared toward the business community, but has ramifications for all of us and, in my case, for the education community (where I first saw it recommended). It debunks the myth of the carrot and stick, that rewards get results and sticks get results -- always. No, no, no. Science, Pink says, proves otherwise. And he parades one case study after another to make his point.

Perhaps the most salient is the encyclopedia example. Back in 1995, Microsoft paid writers big bucks to write Encarta, an encyclopedia it sold on CD and as software. Only, around 10 years later, Bill Gates' boys had to wave the white flag and fold up camp, vanquished and defeated by a competitor that paid no one -- not a bloody dime -- and offered its encyclopedia for free. That competitor? Wikipedia. Written by everyday Joes and Josephines the world over. For nothing.

Then there was the Swedish blood bank. Its administrators decided to cash in by switching from a donation model to a pay-to-bleed model. What happened? Blood donations plummeted. Why? Swedes preferred to give blood for humane reasons, not for blood money. They did it for intrinsic reasons, not extrinsic ones.

So what does this mean to businesses? It means the old ways of dictatorial managers overseeing not-to-be-trusted worker bees are over. If, Pink says, you give workers THREE gifts -- autonomy, mastery, and purpose -- they will work like hell for you (because it's as much for THEM). In many ways it makes sense. Given the choice, humans will work for less money if a company offers them more leeway, creative outlets, flexibility, challenges with long-term goals, camaraderie, and raison d'être's (so to speak).

Pink points to our childhoods. We're all born with a built-in hunger to learn, to challenge ourselves, to WORK, but schools (and then workplaces) beat it out of us with monotony and inanity, dullness and repetition. What if you got a "FedEx Friday" every week -- a day to work on any project toward the company's cause you wished, as long as you presented your results to co-workers and admins the following Monday? That's how Post-It notes were invented by a guy at 3M. The company gave its workers time to manage and challenge themselves. Voila!

In education, it amounts to adding relevancy to the classroom. What's the point? How does this connect to the world and how can it be used in the student's future? Can we give students choice, provide the tools, and turn them loose while serving as mentors? Oddly, many teachers cannot and will not because they feel like they will be ceding control AND because they will no longer be doing their job the way they have always done it and/or the way THEIR teachers always did it to THEM (oh, sins of the fathers!).

So, yeah. If you don't know the lessons of DRIVE, you should jump on the Autobahn and get up to speed. Really. It's not just for work -- it's for you, too. Motivate yourself. Check it out.
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02/05/2011 page 137
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Comments (showing 1-22 of 22) (22 new)

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Newengland Hmn. Maybe so, as this book -- pubbed in 2009 -- might be "old" by "next wave in corporate-think America" standards. Or maybe your company is just cutting edge.

Certainly my school isn't there, though we talk a good game.(less)


message 2: by Tuck (new)

Tuck dorkismo's thesis too is intrinsic vs extrinsic, nerds, geeks, and dorks are cool cutting edge because they work for the intrinsic, http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/65...
that siad, i could sure use a raise:)


message 3: by Newengland (last edited Feb 06, 2011 03:12PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Newengland Tuck -- Pink DOES advocate that these cutting-edge companies pay better than average (so money is not an issue with the employees). He claims, in the long run, it saves the company money to pay better.

Elizabeth -- Right. Walking the walk is always harder than talking the talk.


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Awesome review! Which, btw, has more "likes" than any other review of the book here on good reads. :)


Newengland Shucks thanks, Jeanette. I always worry that a good review will result in people reading it and then holding their noses -- especially with a book like this, which is a "niche" book, let's face it. Cue Doris Day and Que sera, sera....


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" I'm planning to read it, if only to learn why I write reviews nobody reads. ;-) I promise I won't pinch my nose. I usually find some tidbits of value in "niche" books, even if I don't find them rave-worthy.


message 7: by Kirsten (new) - added it

Kirsten Thank you for this review - I was inspired to read his book as I did see the autonomy, mastery, and purpose video. Thanks for sharing this review.


Stella I agree with Newengland except for one thing. I believe most teachers, including me, would love to facilitate learners to explore what seems relevant to them. Teachers try to make the curriculum more relevant, but we are so restricted these days with time and performance pressure because of No Child Left Behind and Standardized Testing!


Ryan Agrimson Your review on this book is spot on. I chuckled while reading the beginning. Thanks for taking the time to write.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Mahatma Ghandi said: Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.


Lowell In my review, I am referencing my friends to your review as a summary of why I appreciate this book. Thank you!


Newengland Thanks too all of you who found the review worth your time to read....


message 13: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah D I LOVE how this review is parallel to the book! You wanna get a feel of "Drive" before reading it? Read this review!


Yotam Gutman love yor review man!


message 15: by Chris (new)

Chris Walton Well said! Thanks for taking the time to write this review. The preamble to your review makes me think of a video by Derek Sivers http://youtu.be/xcmI5SSQLmE.


Corey A. Jones great review !


Salah Eddine Ghamri best review


message 18: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Great review. I do object to your dismissal of teachers. Today's teachers have fewer and fewer choices to make in how to teach. I've retired, but my colleagues tell me that they are discouraged from assigning whole books and even whole plays. Years ago,a chairman of the English Dept. suggested that I show the movie instead of discussing the plot, themes, character development , etc. He said it would be easier for everyone. In fact novels are being taken out of the curriculum and being replaced by science abstracts, social history abstracts, even literary abstracts. Teachers are being graded and paid by how their students do on short answer tests made by anonymous test writers.
Talk about responsibility for sterile, boring education. Right answers do not inspire creativity. Teachers know this. They also want to keep their jobs.
I agree with you that many of us like to write our reviews because we can and we don't have to. If we were paid, it would be work. We wouldn't want to shine, just...get it done.
This is a great review, Newengland. I don't know who you are or what else you've reviewed . I'm going to check out your other reviews. You may have some other good suggestions for me. Thank you.


message 19: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Sparagis Your review has context, thanks,


message 20: by Jane (new)

Jane Campbell Powell I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on Drive. My brother William Powell rated this book, and that's how it came to my notice. Unfortunately, I tend to fall asleep when I read hard copy, (and films)so it's unlikely I'll ever become a fully-fledged member of Goodread. I have recently become embroiled in Facebook, and Bill has many considerate friends who post interesting articles. I like to share some of those thoughts with my son and daughter and therefore their friends. My daughter has already commented that her page is 10x more interesting now.
It is because of (all) this that I ask if it ok to share your succinct and lively review of a valuable and innovative book

thanking you, in anticipation.


message 21: by Renea (new) - added it

Renea Hanks Perhaps best review across every medium I have ever read. Excellent read. Will purchase book.


Newengland Thanks. Aw, shucks. And for those who bring up the teacher part of the review, I am one myself and know full well that many of us DO try to apply the rules of DRIVE. Many others don't... (sigh).


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