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Dan Pink – creativity and empathy presentation summary

Dan Pink (author of ‘A Whole New Mind’) took to the stage with gusto on the final day of the n-PODs conference. What a simple message, delivered in an entertaining and enthusiastic way.

Here is the crux of the message; “The world is moving from an analytical world to a world driven by creativity and empathy”

There are three primary pressures on business as we know it, he explained:


  • The level of middle-class wealth is staggering. In the US there is more than one car per licensed person.
  • The self-storage industry in both the US and Australia is one of the fastest growing industries. There is currently 2 million square metres of self-storage in Australia. We are storing lots of stuff!
  • Basic commodities have turned into objects of desire We now even have designer toilet brushes and fly swats.
  • Any item has a utility but it is the significance that we attach to that item that creates margins.
  • We are liberated by this prosperity but people in the US are no more fulfilled than they were in our grandparents’ generation.
  • According to The Economist 2005, measuring prosperity over a 30 year period.
    • The US is ranked #2 in GDP, Australia ranked #14
    • However the US is ranked #13 for a quality of life, Australia ranked #6 (we beat them there).
    • The difference in rank is the US down 11 Australia up 8. Basically, Australians are getting more satisfaction for the dollar than those in the US.


  • India has more than 1 billion people. If 15% are highly educated, that equates to 150 million people. The working population of the US is only 146 million.
  • Does communication cost nothing? data and voice are free on any PC via an internet connection.
  • Any work that is ROUTINE is disappearing. Routine white-collar work can be done at 20% of the cost in India. And there are more English speakers in India than the US.


    • Software is doing what the left side of the brain used to do. Anything that requires processing based on a number of variables can be automated and delivered online cheaply. (In the US you can do your tax assessment online, divorce online, diagnose online – nothing is sacred) Anything which is calling on variables and data can be automated. It is ROUTINE.The questions therefore for business is:
    • Can someone overseas do this cheaper?
    • Can a computer do it faster?
    • Can you deliver significance rather than utility?But what is our ability for high contact and high touch? This cannot be made routine.It is not all doom and gloom from Dan, in fact quite the contrary. We now have the opportunity to do lots more fun stuff. I’ll share that with you tomorrow.

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