Coffee Talk

It looks like I will have a rare (for me, anyway) opportunity to have an hour or two of face time with Dan Pink tomorrow in downtown Chicago along with what I assume is 3-4 other people. This has been “brewing” (har har) over the past several days, so in addition to re-reading his books, I’ve been also scouring the internets for other writings (and speeches he wrote for Al Gore, but I’m having trouble finding attributions). I know we’ll be talking about his current book. I’m hopeful he’s going to talk about ideas for a next book. If I have the opportunity to ask him open questions, I want to ask questions that either challenge his views or open up something new.

I’ve been compiling them over the past couple of days, but if you have a question, PLEASE leave it as a comment on this thread or twitter me (mrch0mp3rs) today.

Here’s some of my questions:

  • A bedrock of the arguments presented in Free Agent Nation and A Whole New Mind seems to be an enabling force in Johnny Bunko: that as a nation “…we create greater wealth, deliver more and better goods and services, and positively kick butt on innovation.” (Reason Magazine, 2001) I think there are lot of people who would agree with that statement.But in the context of a large disparity of wealth so large that by just one measure, “top executives averaged $10.8 million in total compensation, over 364 times the pay of the average American worker, a calculation based on data from an Associated Press survey of 386 Fortune 500 companies…” (Fair Economy, 2007), can that same wealth generated by the US as a nation also be disabling for US workers? If so, how can American workers (knowledge workers or otherwise) mitigate or reconcile the lessons from Johnny Bunko?
  • The lessons expressed (and certainly the story) in Johnny Bunko focuses mainly on knowledge workers. There are a lot of “blue collar” workers in the GenX/GenY/Millenial audience that Johnny Bunko is written for. For people working a retail, manufacturing job, how can these lessons be actualized? And if these aren’t the lessons for hands-on or front-line workers, then what lessons should these people adopt?
  • Your books all address the GenX/GenY/Millenial audience as they are entering or already are in the workforce. The secondary audience seems to be everyone else, which in the corporate but non-tech company world, is a demographic that Millenials by and large reports to. There is a wealth of information about how GenX/GenY prefers to work, what they value, etc. There is little information for my managers on how to manage me. If Johnny Bunko can teach me about how to approach my career, what can managers learn about how to manage me?
  • Online learning has opened the doors to a broader population of students, but the business of online education is in decline, as stock prices for American Intercontinental University and University of Phoenix are in steep decline and have been for the past year or two. Where online universities are booming are in the traditional brick and mortar universities which establish online programs, such as Pepperdine’s doctoral programs in Education. At the same time that the knowledge is being released for free, like MIT, Berkeley and Harvard classes shared via iTunes; the college textbook industry is consolidating, concentrating in print which runs up the cost of college texts while at the same time placing DRM on the online “courses” they publish for the online portals of institutions. Do you think there is a danger to innovation by the concentration of “official” media and by the restriction of its use?

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