Daniel Pink and the magic chopsticks

Have I mentioned lately that I’m a fan of Daniel Pink, bestselling author (A Whole New Mind and Free Agent Nation), public speaker, and all around smart guy? His latest foray into writing is not a book in the usual sense, rather it’s The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, which is created in the popular Japanese manga mode—a comic book for adults sort of thing. Pink has attached “the last career guide you’ll ever need” to the title and, in fact, he could be right. You can watch the trailer here.

johnny-bunko-book1I met Dan in December 2007 when he spoke to a large group of company managers. His message, that if we want to attract and retain a new generation of employees we’ll have to think more like they do and less like we do, resonated with me.

But what really intrigued me was on his MacBook: the not-yet-printed version of Johnny Bunko. I think I said something like, “Pink, this is either going to be a major success or a huge flop.” He looked at me and said, “Yes, you’re right.”

Turns out, it’s a success! It’s also pretty cool career guide that challenges conventional wisdom, puts Marcus Buckingham’s “strengths movement” in a useful context, and pokes fun at itself along the way.

Johnny, it seems, is a pretty typical guy who is trapped in a job that requires him to do what he doesn’t like to do or isn’t good at doing—not unlike many of us. Through a strange set of happenings, he’s introduced to Diana who magically shows up to help him anytime he snaps some chopsticks apart. (Yeah, it’s a bit out there, but stick with it.) From Diana, he learns six “lessons” that will help him redirect his career, life and fortune.

The six lessons Johnny learns are not your usual career advice–at least the kind you got from the parents. The first, for example, suggests that it’s not possible to create some sort of “master plan” to get us from here to there–there are just too many variables. This will certainly provoke some lively dinner table discussion. But the broader message in the book is that when we do things that intrinsically motivate us, we’re happier, more successful and make a more meaningful contribution in the world.

Good advice, Daniel Pink!

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