Libro 27/52: Drive by Dan Pink


During the glory days of homebuilding, I was promoted to Project Manager (PM) at the tender & clueless age of 25.


I knew a little bit about homebuilding.

I knew less about managing and leading employees.


One employee on my team was Mike.

He was 42 and had a lot of experience.

He was hired with the expectation he’d be a PM within 6 months.


But I had concerns with his work.


Lots of loose ends.

Not very detail-oriented.

Blamed others.


In short order, we had him on “a Plan.”

This meant we were gathering CYA documentation while he was looking for another job.


One day my boss called me out to meet with Mike on-site.

Mike was quitting.


More specifically, Mike was quitting because of me.


I nodded quietly, expressionless, as my boss relayed what Mike had told him.

My boss interrupted himself. “Why aren’t you saying anything? This isn’t good.”


I was candid & emotionless.



I disagree. This is good. Mike found a better fit elsewhere. Let’s wish him luck. We’re all aware we had him on “a Plan” because he wasn’t meeting expectations here. Let’s move on.


My boss said nothing.

And then Mike said something that has stayed with me.

You know, Bradley…. you have a lot of potential. But you’ve got a lot to learn too. You’ll experience more in the industry and your perspective will change. You’re gonna get married and your perspective will change. You’ll have kids and you’ll see the world in a new way. As you get older, you’ll look back on the way you manage and lead now and think about it differently.




Good luck.


Years later, Mike was 100% right.

I wish I had considered other methods to improve how we all worked together.

I wish I had considered other methods to improve how I worked with Mike.


In short, I wish I had read Drive by Dan Pink back then.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us examines the best and worst of how businesses attempt to motivate people to do their best work.

Pink digs into the scientific research on motivation and consistently reveals the head-butting between “what science knows and what business does.”

Carrots and sticks, year-end bonuses, sales commissions, and sitting behind a desk from 8 am – 5 pm everyday… Pink helps us dig into thinking about these ubiquitous business elements more intelligently.


For example…



R.O.W.E. stands for Results-Only Work Environments.

Pink identifies several R.O.W.E companies and shares insights on how it works.

R.O.W.E’s are all about results. If you can get the job done and be available for communication, work wherever you want and however you want. The How is less important than the What.

Too often workers are required to punch the clock for 8 hours each day. Their physical presence behind a desk is apparently a calming influence, regardless of how little work is getting done.


If Tammie can do her job well while chillin’ in bed or sitting poolside in Miami… who cares? 


Offices can be smaller (saving overhead dollars) and employees will be happier, but this freaks micro-managers out, especially with employees they don’t trust.


What if no one comes to work? 

Who will I, as boss, boss around?   

How will I keep track of them?

How do I know they’re not just chillin’ in bed all day?


Regardless of whether or not it works for you, it’s a great thought exercise.




How often are you so focused at work that all time passes away.

You enter “The Zone.”


No interruptions.

Just the right amount of challenge.

You are in the moment.


Then you snap to….

You look at the clock and say, “Whoa! I’ve been doing this for 4 hours?


This is known as the state of Flow and its presence is an indicator you’re doing what you should be doing. If you have no idea what I’m talking about… you’re not in the right job.

I'm in Flow right now...

I’m in Flow right now…



Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. 

These are the 3 elements required to motivate well. Money is surely a motivator, but only up to a point and in certain conditions. Allowing employees to pursue the work in their own manner, pushing for true expertise, and establishing a clear purpose for daily work are all required for effective motivation.



Fed Ex Days

Block out an entire day for your team to work on anything they want. Give them everything they need (Swedish Fish, Red Bull, attention and encouragement) and get out of the way.

The Catch? 


At the end of the day, something must be shipped.

People must deliver something – a new idea, a prototype of a product, a better internal process – the following day.




Rewards narrow our focus.

Other important things are ignored as the Reward becomes the focal point of our effort.

Everyone these days seems to be juggling several different tasks. Reward with the right intent in the wrong way and all the balls except one – the Reward – will clatter to the ground.

Pink offers some great guidelines to walking the Reward tightrope.



Back to Mike…

I recently learned Mike now works with a friend of mine.

Really? Tell Mike I said hi…. Better yet, the 3 of us ought to grab a beer sometime. I often think back to something he said to me. Knowing what I do now, I’d certainly handle our relationship differently.” I said.


Uhh, I don’t think so.” my friend said.


Oh. You guys really busy?”

No. It’s not that. Mike really hates you.


“Oh.” I said.


I was caught off-guard by this.

I felt bad.


OK. Just tell him he was right….


Bottom Line: Drive should be mandatory reading for any manager and leader. Buy this book now and read it once a year. Have round-table discussion on this. Try out the R.O.W.E. There’s a reason Dilbert is a million-dollar cartoon… unfortunately it’s spot-on for millions of workers.



Bradley Hartmann is El Presidente at Red Angle ( He’s trying to read 52 books this year. So far he’s behind, but he is very intrinsically motivated…

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LIBRO 52 Challenge YTD

1. Kennedy/Nixon by Chris Matthews

2. Poke the Box by Seth Godin

3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

NA. Buy-In by John Kotter and Lorne Whitehead

4. Education of an Accidental CEO by David Novak

5. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

6. Blood, Brains and Beer by David Ogilvy

7. Lyndon Johnson :: Master of the Senate by Robert Caro

8. 1776 by David McCullough

9. To Sell Is Human by Dan Pink

NA. Profiles In Courage by JFK*

10. Write It When I’m Gone by Tom DeFrank

11. FDR by Jean Edward Smith

12. The Cluetrain Manifesto by Locke, Searls, Weinberger + Levine

13. One Click by Richard Brandt

14. Persuasive Presentations by Nancy Duarte

NA. James K. Polk by Walter Borneman

15. The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw

16. The Illustrious Dead by Stephan Talty

17. The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

18. Adventures of Johnny Bunko by Dan Pink

19. Thunderstruck by Erik Larson

20. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

21. Ctrl Alt Delete by Mitch Joel

22. Down & Dirty Pictures by Peter Biskind

23. Makers by Chris Anderson

24. Tales from Q School by John Feinstein

25. The Business of Belief by Tom Asacker

26. 18 Minutes by Peter Bregman

27. Drive by Dan Pink

Categories: Libro 52 Challenge

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13 replies


  1. Libro 28/52 :: Enough by John Bogle « the red angle
  2. Libro 29/52 :: Contagious by Jonah Berger « the red angle
  3. Libro 30/52 :: Lexicon by Max Barry « the red angle
  4. Libro 31 + 32/52 :: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman + A Very Short Tour of the Mind by Michael Corballis « the red angle
  5. Libro 33/52 :: The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton « the red angle
  6. Libro 34 + 35/52 :: Choose Yourself by James Altucher + The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzwieg. « the red angle
  7. Libro 36/52 :: Inside The Box by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg. « the red angle
  8. Engaged Workers = Less BS for You: 3 Ways to Encourage Engagement. « the red angle
  9. Libro 37 + 38/52 :: The Power of Less by Leo Babauta + Wild by Cheryl Strayed « the red angle
  10. Libro 39/52 :: Big Data by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier. « the red angle
  11. Libro 42/52 :: Black Irish by Stephan Talty « the red angle
  12. Libro 43/52 :: The Firm by Duff McDonald « the red angle
  13. Libros 44-50 :: The final chapter of the Libro 52* Challenge. « the red angle

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