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Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind introduces the Conceptual Age

Daniel H. Pink’s New York Times and Business Week bestseller, A Whole New Mind, conveys new ideologies of the 21st century worker in a clear and  digestible narrative that is fun and easy to read. Pink argues that man has evolved from an agriculture age (farmers) to the Industrial age (factory workers) to the Information age (knowledge workers) according to an increase in affluence, technology, and globalization. Pink’s major focus lies in the transition from the Information age to what he calls the conceptual age of the 21st century.

The conceptual age focuses on two macro components: high concept and high touch. Pink reveals that drivers like automation, Asia knowledge workers, and over abundance of market demands increase a need for right-brain thinkers that demonstrate skills of empathy and innovation. He articulates these specific skills of success for the conceptual age worker as design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning.

Design: In this section, Pink discusses the importance of design, aesthetic appeal, and emotive qualities of products, experiences, and services in an environment that is over saturated with abundance.

Story: Here, Pink evaluates the importance of context and narrative verse facts. He suggests that memory and personal identification to story is much stronger and long-lasting than statistical information. See my previous blog here about some of my thoughts on storytelling.

Symphony: In this chapter, Pink recognizes the importance of multiple facets that create big picture elements. He mentions the importance of metaphors and talks about cross analyzing solutions to create new innovations. Pink uses drawing, music, and other right brained skills as examples of symphonic activities.

Empathy: Empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that are being experienced by another person. Pink encourages caregiver professions in the conceptual age as well as a high-touch approach to client / business relationships.

Play: This means exactly what it implies… play. The conceptual age is no longer composed of serious personalities only, not to say that seriousness has its role in some cases. However, things like sense of humor and laughter are all important components to balance the psyche.

Meaning: In this section, Pink offers a glimpse into the new workers personal goals and motivations. No longer do people solely work to make money and put food on the table, but instead people believe and want to be a part of something that is bigger than they are. People want to work for something that they believe in and people want to work with other people that that have similar values.

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The Importance of Storytelling in today’s business Environment

Starting a business has been a learning experience to say the least. There are many things to think about in the beginning stages of business planning such as business formations, mission statements, brand positioning, market research, financial planning and so many other elements to consider.  Even with all of this, I believe one of the first things to think about when planning a new business is one’s ability to be a storyteller. I suggest taking some time to think about one’s own story. Where have you been? What are you doing now? What do you want to do in the future (i.e., your new business)? In so doing this, I believe that this will help clear up some confusion when you dig into business plan writing and marketing planning.

My first “building a business” lesson:
Be a good storyteller. Empathize with your audience.

It is important to understand what your audience needs (or wants). If all stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end, how can you translate this information into a well-rounded story that resonates with your audience?

Some tips to think about before preparing your story. Consider practicing your storytelling skills outloud and imagine a particular audience. Is your audience a potential client or a networking buddy?

  • Think about a good starting point that each person in the audience can relate to. How does each person in the group know each other and what are some commonalities of the group?
  • Think about a good ending point that each person in the audience can relate to. Why are you here today?
  • Make eye contact and watch body language to read interest (or lack of interest) while speaking.