Saturday, March 21, 2009

Calling All Righties

I am a righty...always have been. I'm right-handed and right-footed, I have right-wing values, and like that we drive on the right side of the road. As hard as I've tried to take more Louie's in life, I am a bonified Ralphie. I've tried to write left handed - failed. I claimed to have a left foot in soccer - failed. And I've worked hard to convince myself that I am a left-brained analytic - failed.

All through my undergraduate business classes and even this year through my MBA courses, I have had to strain to get the left-side of my brain to cooperate with me. I beg, plead, and hope that someday soon derivatives and the time value of money will click and become crystal clear, but alas, I am a righty. I think more creatively and in colors as opposed to black and white. In high school I used to have to dress up like my math teacher to make studying for a test easier...what lefty needs a costume to do math?

So I got really excited and relieved when I was listening to Oprah on XM radio a few weeks ago and she was interviewing the author, Daniel Pink, who wrote the book A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future. Pink says that as we have moved through decades and different ages in our world (the Agriculture age, Industrial Revolution, Information Age, etc) we have increasingly relied on analytical skills to further us along with progress and innovation. But as technology has beocme so advanced and jobs are more easily automated and outsourced, Pink suggests a new age may be upon us in the near future - The Conceptual Age.

Although Left Brainers have thrived in the Information Age and much of the past, The Conceptual Age, according to Pink, will be dominated by the Righties. He suggests that this new Age for Right Brainers will come as a result of the three A's - Automation, Asia, and Abundance. My counterparts, the Left Brainers, have worked hard to boost technology so we can produce in mass consumption, do it faster and better, and Asia. With so many jobs and tasks being outsourced, those who will succeed will be the people who can apply emotion to logic, and design, stories, and empathy to now easy to copy jobs.

He also suggests that in this new time, the new MBA is the MFA...kind of like red may become the new orange in fashion. While I must disagree with this statement (now weeks away from my MBA graduation...thanks Pink) I do agree with his theory. In this turbulent time of lay-offs, recessions, outsourcing, and budget cuts people are asking themselves what they can do to remain valuable in their jobs.

Pink's advice - get to know the artsy, fluffy, space cadet side of your brain and figure out how to apply your creativity to your job. So you make toilet brushes for a living, eh? Well who wants an ugly brush by their toilet anymore? Make it pretty! Get creative and apply designs to a basic product. You say you only think in numbers, efficiency graphs, and dollar signs? Pink says to keep a design notebook with you wherever you go and record all the design elements in life that are good and bad. Learn about what works well and what doesn't to ultimately make your business more efficient and more profitable.

This is exciting news for us calculus drop-outs! Now more than ever artistic design, writing, thinking, and colorful business theories may just be more appreciated than the cut and dry number crunching skills...after all...can't someone in Asia make an automated spreadsheet?

Pull out your crayons and paint brushes Righties, and curl up with this intriguing, easy read by Daniel Pink. You never know, a whole new world may be looking for your whole new mind!

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