Mind Map: 5.5 Books for Unorthodox Thinking and Working
August 12, 2012
— 4-hour workweek, A Whole New Mind, Carve Your Own Road, daniel pink, Different, Drive, Four Hour Work Week, Imagine, Mind Map, youngme moom
Creating my first mind map proved more interesting than another boring list of entrepreneurial thinking books. A textual “Top # List” tends to be easy, but also linear and one-dimensional. Employing a mind map hopefully shows a relational map of how one book fuels another book, which links to another book, for a richer connection. Mind maps transform the intellectual straight line into a full, 3-D amble. A mind map can be used as another visual thinking tool that can reveal previously disconnected or subconscious thoughts.
I’ve distilled each book’s main point for a one-page “Summary Map” (clickable for an enlarged version):
1. “A Whole New Mind” – Daniel Pink (Riverhead Trade, 2006)
This foundational book sets the reading hike’s trail head because Pink’s thesis is well argued, fresh and left a memorable impression in 2008. Although Pink received his J.D. from Yale Law School, this author never practiced as an attorney. Perhaps it’s Pinks lawyer training help shaped his writing style: a thesis followed by “evidence.” Pink contends that we’re now in a Conceptual Age (after the Information Age) where most jobs can be automated, completed more cheaply overseas, or its demand waned due to an over abundance of options. It’s not enough to only be the analytical, detail-driven left brainer. The creative right brain must also synthesize the emotion and play for humanity’s nuanced, more compelling picture. A “Whole New Mind” was the first book where I unlearned years of the logic-driven norms, reinforced by broader societal values. This book also differed in that the end of each section offers resources to apply the concept, but not like the typical self-help manual.
2. “Carve Your Own Road” – Jennifer & Joe Remling (Career Press, 2009)
The path veers left to this do-your-own-thing in about 200 pages by a husband and wife team (an architect & former human resources executive). The Remlings accomplished their ever hip project of traveling around the U.S. in a sponsored, pimped out new Airstream interviewing how different people generated entrepreneurship within their companies or built heir own business. Po Bronson finished a similar feat earlier in a stripped own, solo version in his “What Should I do With My Life” published in 2005. Ms. Remling accomplished her goal by building a career bridge from a full time HR employee, to HR Consultant, to this self-funded project. I took away the concept of writing a Belief Plan: an essay of one’s values and priorities for a business. It’s not a bad book recommendation from a television segment.
3. “The 4-Hour Workweek” – Timothy Ferriss (Crown Publishers, 2007)
Finishing “Carve Your Own Road” led me to a more extreme DIY version via “The Four-Hour Workweek.” Mr. Ferriss sets his tenets, explains how he created his liberating work model, and offers resources for readers to replicate the methodology. Although the Princeton graduate figured out the revenue game by devising his own “New Rich” rules, it’s anyone’s guess if achieving his goal brings sustained happiness and meaning. Ferriss does make it clear that his book’s objective is not to find meaningful work; rather, it’s to reap the biggest yield from the least effort. Reader-submitted videos on his blog show that a minority group accomplished a similar feat, but readers may feel like the book is like buying an infomercial product without the warranty. Taking away the book’s “lifestyle design” concept did help fuel my autonomous work style.
4. “Drive”: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – Daniel Pink (Riverhead Trade, 2009)
After two books saturated about working, I wondered about the entire point of working at all. An Internet browse revealed that Daniel Pink released a new book 3 years later about what motivates most people to work. Pink employs his usual method, yet this case proved just alright, not as resounding as “A Whole New Mind.” My favorite passage graphically compares mastery to an asymptote, implying that one can never reach 100% mastery (“a straight line that a curve approaches, but never quiet reaches”).
5. “Different”: Escaping the Competitive Herd – Youngme Moon (Crown Business, 2010)
About this time, Ms. Moon’s writes “Different,” whose one-word title simply stands out. As a marketing professor at Harvard, Ms. Moon quickly eschews linear thinking in the Introduction, and offers “sideway connections” in her book instead. One of the pillars of all businesses is to offer something unique from competitors, and “Different” creates a collage of some things that make companies different. Ms. Moon never offers a direct recipe; she only brings out a display and describes each dish. I did pick up word nuggets like “meaningful grooves of separation”, “breakaway positioning strategy”, and “consumption posture.” After years of conformity, some readers may almost want to tattoo “Be different” on their upper arm.
5.5 “Imagine”: How Creativity Works- Jonah Lehrer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012)
“Imagine” is another one-word title book by an East Coast Ivy Leaguer. It was an up and coming book published in March weaving the brain’s physiology (gamma waves) to outstanding individuals (Bob Dylan), and to different companies (3M and Pixar). However, the trail ends 4 months later because Mr. Lehrer confessed to making up quotes by Bob Dylan in his book’s first chapter. This 31 year-old former Rhodes scholar resigned his prestigious writer role at the New Yorker at the end of July 2012. Although the publisher pulled the physical books, halted ebooks, and is offering refunds, I’m keeping my hardcover copy as a reminder of poetic justice. Coincidentally, Time and CNN suspended omnipresent writer and show host, Fareed Zakaria, around August 10th due to plagiarism (he received PhD from Harvard).
My beta mind map turned out more like a constellation map, but that’s part of the fun. Embrace the different! Use your entire brain to build your own autonomous, meaningful work, and don’t make up quotes by popular dead people whose hardcore fans will double-check your work.