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5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Insights for Free Agents AND Employers, October 26, 2001
This review is from: Free Agent Nation: How America's New Independent Workers Are Transforming the Way We Live (Hardcover)
Reading this book was irritating! I've developed a habit of turning down the corners of pages when something on that page is particularly interesting to me. I discovered that I was turning down practically every page of Free Agent Nation! Daniel Pink has accomplished what most readers of non-fiction books desire: he's put solid value on almost every page. Your thoughts will be constantly stimulated as you move through this book.
Our lives have changed substantially since William Whyte wrote The Organization Man in 1956. The work environment experienced by today's generation-and tomorrow's-is radically different. Instead of being captives of the organizational mode, income-earners are now free agents, including some 30 million freelancers, temps, and microbusiness owners. The lifestyles and philosophies of this growing group will impact the labor pool, retirement, education, real estate, and politics. Daniel Pink's name will go down in literary history for Free Agent Nation because he has so effectively covered the underlying philosophy of a generation.
Free Agent Nation, an engaging, smooth read, is organized into five parts. The first part introduces us to what Free Agent Nation is all about. Chapter 2 gets right into "Numbers and Nuances" to give the reader a deep understanding. Chapter 3 explains how free agency happened. "Four ingredients were essential: 1) the social contract of work-in which employees traded loyalty for security-crumbled; 2) individuals needed a large company less, because the means of production-that is, the tools necessary to create wealth-went from expensive, huge, and difficult for one person to operate to cheap, houseable, and easy for one person to operate; 3) widespread, long-term prosperity allowed people to think of work as a way not only to make money, but also to make meaning; 4) the half-life of organizations began shrinking, assuring that most individuals will outlive any organization for which they work."
Part Two explores The Free Agent Way, the new relationship between worker and employer. Part Three gets into How (and Why) Free Agency Works. Pink explains how people get connected-with work opportunities and with each other. While many free agents work alone, they are not alone. There is a growing community of mutually-supportive independent members in an evolving new design of society. But, all is not rosy in Free Agent Nation; this is not Camelot. Part Four examines the problems that arise from laws, taxes, and insurance. An interesting chapter (13) on Temp Slaves, Permatemps, and the Rise of Self-Organized Labor reveals the seedier side of this picture. Pay careful attention, and you can almost feel the changes that are coming.
Part Five engages The Free Agent Future. Chapter 14 addresses E-tirement, confirming that older members of our society will be playing much different roles than in previous generations. The chapter on Education gives some initial insight into some different approaches to lifelong learning. Educators take note: your lives will be changing . . . are you ready? Concluding chapters explore free agent finance, politics, and how free agency will influence commerce, careers, and community in the years ahead.
With all that said, let's take a look at who the author is and how this book was put together. Daniel Pink is a former White House speech writer and Contributing Editor to Fast Company magazine. To research this topic, he invested more than a year on the road conducting face-to-face interviews with several hundred citizens of the Free Agent Nation. He met with real people, who are quoted and cited by name in most cases. The text comes alive with the insightful stories of people who are living-and often loving-their free agent status. These case studies are beautifully interwoven, producing a delightful fabric for the reader to caress. Warning: you'll find your mind leaving the page and floating into day dreams and contemplations numerous times.
To bring readers back to the reality of the core of his treatise, Pink concludes each chapter with what he calls "The Box." Included in this one-page-per-chapter feature are the key information and arguments of the chapter. The four components of this summary box are "The Crux," a summary of 150 words or less; "The Factoid," a particularly revealing statistic from the chapter; "The Quote," which pulls one representative quotation from the chapter; and "The Word," a novel term or phrase from the new vocabulary of free agency. As the author explains, "Read only "The Box" and you'll miss the chapter's narrative and nuance-but not, I hope, it's point."
An appendix on the free agent census and a good index complete this book. If you're ready to learn about the evolution and revolution in the world of work, this book will be a treasure for you.
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Initial post: Mar 16, 2013 11:46:55 AM PDT
Excellent review. Thanks.
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