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For your knowledge advantage, we put together the most actionable insights from 24 getAbstract summaries (17 books with a total of 4068 pages, 3 articles, 3 videos and one podcast) on this topic. If you did this work yourself, you would be busy for at least 4872 minutes (about 82 hours). Learn more.

Daniel H. Pink

On the discrepancies between what science knows and what organizations do.

Daniel H. Pink is the author of several provocative, best-selling books about business, work, creativity and behavior. His books include the New York Times bestsellers When and A Whole New Mind — as well as the #1 New York Times bestsellers Drive and To Sell is Human. 

Dan’s books have been translated into 42 languages, and have sold millions of copies around the world.

1. Daniel H. Pink’s Key Findings and Messages

  • A big mismatch exists between what science knows and what business does.
  • Monetary rewards are poor motivational tools. Humans are motivated by their intrinsic desire for autonomy, mastery and purpose.
  • We’re all in sales now – whether you are in a traditional sales job or seek to move others in some other way.
  • Timing is everything when you want to optimize your performance and outcomes.

Traditional notions of management are great if you want compliance. But if you want engagement, self-direction works better.

Daniel H. Pink

2. Why Do They Matter?

An overall theme in Pink’s work is to change the way companies view the modern workplace. He delves deeply into behavioral research to highlight the gap between what science knows and the habitual ways we structure our days and work. Turning conventional wisdom upside down, he offers novel, applicable solutions for enhancing productivity and life satisfaction.

3. To Understand Pink’s Work, Start Here

Daniel H. Pink’s 2017 TED talk, “The Puzzle of Motivation,” explores what motivates people and how company leaders can apply this research to their own organizations. He goes on to explain what social scientists know but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t as effective as we think. Viewed over 28 million times, his talk refocused the conversation around motivation from extrinsic to intrinsic factors.


  • Incentive-based rewards fail to inspire, dull thinking and block creativity.
  • To motivate employees give them autonomy and the opportunity to learn and take on challenges.
  • Above everything else, people want to be involved with something greater than themselves.

[The] new operating system for our businesses revolves around three elements: autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Daniel H. Pink

4. Evaluate the Details: Pink’s Books

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us draws on 50 years of behavioral science to overturn the conventional wisdom about human motivation.

Related Summaries in getAbstract’s Library
Image of: Drive
Video Summary


Surprisingly, money is not the great motivator. Daniel Pink describes powerful alternatives.

Daniel Pink RSA Read Summary
Image of: Drive
Book Summary


Forget the carrot and the stick; it’s time for “Motivation 3.0.”

Daniel H. Pink Riverhead Books Read Summary


  • Motivation 1.0 consists of our basic biological drives, such as seeking food and shelter for survival. Motivation 2.0 is the extrinsic system of rewards and punishments. Motivation 3.0 is powered by our intrinsic desires for autonomy, mastery and purpose.
  • Most business leaders don’t understand human motivation. They mistakenly try to impel their employees with extrinsic rewards or punishments.
  • People naturally want to improve, continuously and progressively, at whatever skill matters to them.
  • People are most content and productive when they are working toward a higher purpose. Aware businesspeople now realize that purpose-driven organizations perform at a higher level.
  • Let employees participate in creating their work goals because people perform better when pursuing targets they helped create.
  • Leaders should offer workers three intrinsic motivations: autonomy, mastery and purpose.

From the moment that human beings first stared into the sky, contemplated their place in the universe, and tried to create something that bettered the world and outlasted their lives, we have been purpose seekers. 

Daniel H. Pink

To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others uses social science to offer a fresh look at the art and science of sales. Pink explains his main concepts on sales and persuasion in this short Masterclass video introduction:


  • Sales is increasingly becoming part of everyone’s job. Whether you’re pitching a new idea to your manager or try to cajole your children to do their homework, you’re already spending large portions of your day trying to move others.
  • The internet has made honesty and transparency vital for sellers – whether you are a car salesman selling used car or a doctor explaining the advantages of a treatment option. Hence, selling has become more about explaining information than pushing a solution onto people.
  • Attunement – the ability to see things from other people’s perspective – is vital for our ability to move others.
  • Subtle mimicry – a physical component of attunement – can help salespeople close a deal.
  • Interrogative self-talk – i.e., asking yourself questions – helps you prepare for and deal with rejection and setbacks.
  • Limiting customers’ options leads to increased sales, as the choice is made easier.
  • Rather than relying on pre-prepared scripts, salespeople should borrow techniques from improvisational theater: listen to others, work with what the other person offers, seek out win-win solutions and respond to your customers’ ideas with “yes, and….”
  • To move people effectively, make your efforts personal and purposeful.

Anytime you’re tempted to upsell someone else, stop what you’re doing and upserve instead.

Daniel H. Pink

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing unlocks the scientific secrets to good timing to help you flourish at work, at school and at home. Pink elaborates on some of the book’s main insights at Talks at Google.

We are smarter, faster, dimmer, slower, more creative, and less creative in some parts of the day than others.

Daniel H. Pink
Image of: Take Advantage of Timing for Peak Performance
Podcast Summary

Take Advantage of Timing for Peak Performance

Use the science of timing to optimize your workday.

Scott Miller and Daniel H. Pink Franklin Covey Company
Read Summary


  • Our mood and cognitive abilities fluctuate over the course of the day in a major way. According to one chronobiologist, our performance at our daily low point is the same as it would be under the influence of alcohol.
  • Our daily performance goes through three stages: a peak, a trough and a rebound. About 75% of the population are at their peak during the morning. Exceptions are evening chronotypes (night owls).
  • We perform best at activities that require a high level of focus and discernment during our peak. However, our creativity is at its highest during the recovery phase when our inhibition is lower.
  • We are more likely to give into our biases when we are not at our peak (usually in the afternoon).
  • Recovery breaks are crucial for optimal performance. It’s best to schedule them in advance.
  • Plan for at least three breaks a day and determine how you will spend them. Rejuvenating activities include moving your body, going outside, socializing or taking a short nap.
  • When you begin a new project or make a fresh start has a significant impact on whether you will follow through. Good start dates are the first day of the year, month or week; your birthday; or the first day back from a vacation.
  • When you’ve reached the midpoint of a project, imagine that you’re behind to spark your motivation.
  • Nearing the end of something (e.g., the end of a project or life chapter) can help us energize. People are much more likely to run their first marathon at age 49 than at age 50, for example.
  • Synchronizing activities with others makes us feel good and causes us to be kinder and more welcoming toward others.

High performers,…research concludes, work for 52 minutes and then break for 17 minutes.

Daniel H. Pink

Pink’s latest book, The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward reframes our negative perception of regret. Rather than holding us back, he explains, regrets can serve as a powerful catalyst for improving your life and that of others. The book offers tools for processing regret in a way that helps us move forward. In a Wall Street Journal article based on the book, he outlines a three-step process for making feelings of regret work for you.

Image of: ‘No Regrets’ Is No Way to Live
Article Summary

‘No Regrets’ Is No Way to Live

Banishing regret from our lives is not just futile, but also, unhelpful.

Daniel H. Pink The Wall Street Journal
Read Summary


  • Feeling regret is not just part of the human experience, it also helps people learn from their mistakes and move forward.
  • Regret has a key place in human evolution: It sharpens people’s thinking and helps them avert future mistakes.
  • The way people deal with feelings of regret determines their ability to turn it into something positive. 
  • Trying to suppress the feelings, or endlessly ruminating over them won’t do much good. 
  • Work through your regrets using a three-step process. Learn more.  

Instead of those unpleasant emotions fluttering around uncontrollably, language helps us capture them in our net, pin them down and begin analyzing them.

Daniel H. Pink

6. Additional Resources by Topic


Related Summaries in getAbstract’s Library
Image of: Incentivize Creative Teams with Meaning, Not Perks
Video Summary

Incentivize Creative Teams with Meaning, Not Perks

The ultimate employee incentive is purpose, not perks.

Audrey Liu 99U Read Summary
Image of: Nudge Management
Book Summary

Nudge Management

Consultant Eric Singler covers employee engagement and performance with top research and references.

Eric Singler, Cass R. Sunstein and Pierre Chandon Pearson France Read Summary
Image of: Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work...and What Does
Book Summary

Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work…and What Does

Using a carrot-or-stick approach to motivate people creates more problems than it solves.

Susan Fowler Berrett-Koehler Publishers Read Summary
Image of: How to Get People to Do Stuff
Book Summary

How to Get People to Do Stuff

To persuade people, use scientifically proven insights from the psychology of motivation.

Susan M. Weinschenk New Riders Read Summary
Image of: No Sweat
Book Summary

No Sweat

To change your behavior – including adding exercise to your routine – set goals based on motives that align with your sense of self.

Michelle Segar AMACOM Read Summary
Image of: Motivational Leadership (Third Edition)
Book Summary

Motivational Leadership (Third Edition)

Combat 10 myths to enhance your leadership potential, and learn to train future leaders wisely.

Mark Oliver LULU Publishing Read Summary
Image of: What Makes Work Meaningful – or Meaningless
Article Summary

What Makes Work Meaningful – or Meaningless

Employees value meaningfulness at work more than almost anything else.

Catherine Bailey and Adrian Madden MIT Sloan Management Review Read Summary
Image of: The Motivation Myth
Book Summary

The Motivation Myth

Motivation grows from small daily successes, not flashes of inspiration.

Jeff Haden Portfolio Read Summary

Sales and Persuasion

  • Sales has much more to do with persuasion than anything else. Learn more about the art and science of moving others in our Persuasion channel. If sales is your profession, you will find additional resources in our Sales channel.
  • Would you like to start applying some of the principles explained in To Sell Is Human? Download the author’s free 14-day workbook.
Related Summaries in getAbstract’s Library
Image of: You’re Invited
Book Summary

You’re Invited

Connecting with influencers of all types is a highly effective strategy for personal advancement.

Jon Levy HarperBusiness Read Summary
Image of: Extraordinary Influence
Book Summary

Extraordinary Influence

“Extraordinary influence” uses positivity to affect others for the better.

Tim Irwin Wiley Read Summary
Image of: How to Change Anyone’s Mind
Article Summary

How to Change Anyone’s Mind

People can be stubborn, so introduce catalysts to prompt them to change.

Jonah Berger The Wall Street Journal Read Summary
Image of: Get People to Do What You Want
Book Summary

Get People to Do What You Want

Use tactics from a former Army interrogator to persuade, question, interpret and understand other people.

Gregory Hartley and Maryann Karinch Career Press Read Summary
Image of: 7 Secrets of Persuasion
Book Summary

7 Secrets of Persuasion

To understand the art of persuasion, ask cognitive science for guidance in dealing with the lizard mind.

James C. Crimmins Career Press Read Summary
Image of: Sales EQ
Book Summary

Sales EQ

What’s your sales emotional intelligence? Make more and better sales by leveraging client emotions.

Jeb Blount Wiley Read Summary


  • What is your chronotype? Take a quiz.
  • Right timing is important for optimal sleep – check out our Sleep channel for more advice on improving sleep quality for optimal performance.
  • Science has a lot to teach us about right timing – so don’t leave time management up to chance. Find out more in our Time Management channel.
Related Summaries in getAbstract’s Library
Image of: Four Thousand Weeks
Video Summary

Four Thousand Weeks

Slow down and scale back to relieve stress and live a more meaningful life.

Oliver Burkeman and Rob Leworthy Talks at Google Read Summary
Image of: The Energy Clock
Book Summary

The Energy Clock

Focus your energy where it really matters.

Molly Fletcher Simple Truths Read Summary
Image of: Time Smart
Book Summary

Time Smart

Ashley Whillans may forever change how you think about time, and make you happier, healthier and more productive.

Ashley Whillans Harvard Business Review Press Read Summary
Image of: Eat That Frog
Book Summary

Eat That Frog

Goethe said, “The things that matter most must never be at the mercy of the things that matter least.” Tracy is less eloquent: Eat that frog.

Brian Tracy Berrett-Koehler Publishers Read Summary
Image of: The Bullet Journal Method
Book Summary

The Bullet Journal Method

The best productivity app is still pen and paper.

Ryder Carroll Portfolio Read Summary
Image of: The Productivity Project
Book Summary

The Productivity Project

Build productivity with time management, energy management and attention management.

Chris Bailey Crown Publishing Group Read Summary

7. Deep Dive: Intrinsic Motivation and the Workplace

Find out more about motivation and the future workplace in our related Journal articles:

About Our Thought Leader Profiles
Biographies can be found on Wikipedia. What you find here are instant practical insights into the thinking of important contemporaries – with handy references to the summaries of their works at getAbstract, of course.

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