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Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself Paperback – May 1, 2002
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Not all "free agents" are highly paid athletes whose main skills are dunking a basketball or hitting a baseball. In fact, as Pink (contributing editor, Fast Company) reveals, over 25 million Americans are now self-employed, and fewer than one in ten works for a Fortune 500 company. This excellent work synthesizes the seismic shift in attitudes about and patterns of work in the economy from the early 1950s era of William Whyte's The Organization Man to today's independent worker, the free agent. Pink astutely summarizes what this major shift in the definition of employment now means to millions of Americans and explains the various types of free agents (including soloists, temps, and those involved in their own microbusiness). Other chapters cover examples of how self-sufficiency works so well for numerous life situations, while in many cases free-agency employment does not work well at all. This work may not be rooted in empirical research, but Pink's thorough review of the literature and his extensive roadwork interviewing hundreds of independent workers successfully merges psychosocial data with pragmatic reality. This major contribution to better understanding the trend toward independent contract work is highly recommended for all university libraries and larger public libraries. Dale Farris, Groves, TX
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
With Manpower, Inc., the temporary agency, the nation's largest private employer and one-quarter to one-third of American workers operating as "free agents," this author offers analysis of this "new economy" and advice on how to succeed in it. The Fast Company cover story that Pink, a former Gore chief speechwriter, wrote on the growth of "free agency" produced so much feedback that he traveled across the country with his young family to interview "America's new independent workers" for this book. Pink examines facts and figures, explores the roots of increasing free agency, and considers the new work ethic, employment contract, and time clock it generates. He outlines the structure of free-agent work and major disruptions (especially for involuntary free agents) and offers some predictions about how this new paradigm will affect institutional arrangements, including education, "e-tirement," real estate, finance, and politics. Pink understands how busy free agents are; each chapter closes with "The Box," which punchily summarizes the chapter's key points. Mary Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
We are no longer in the "new economy" of 2002 and the playing field has changed a bit. Is this book still worth reading? In the reviewer's opinion, it remains relevant for three reasons. First, even in a challenging, then recovering economy, there are many opportunities for "nanocorps" that can offer quick, flexible service to corporations that don't want to bring those services inside. Second, the recent economic pressures have spurred many to pursue after-hours work in a second job that supplements their daytime paycheck. Much of the author's advice is relevant to members of this second-shift workforce who don't have to entirely support themselves as free agents.
The third and best reason to read this book applies to those working for large companies as well as free agents, second-shifters, and other independents. Even if you are in a seemingly secure job, you should take a large measure of responsibility for your own career, thinking like a free agent or as someone who may become one with very little notice. This includes taking initiative to develop new skills, even funding training out of your own pocket. It may include purchasing your own computer equipment, reference materials and business cards when your employer will not. This book encourages all of us to prepare for portability to another organization--or to no organization. We are more occupationally and financially secure if we listen to this advice.
A final thought. As we move into an era of increased government regulation, what will happen to free agents? It is unlikely all will be absorbed into large organizations, even if the regulatory environment becomes unfriendly to small businesses. Some, perhaps many, will go underground to become economic partisans, fighting their own low-profile war for survival. I wonder if a new version of the book will be released as "Black Market Nation?"
This book is recommended. The author's latest thinking about the workforce can be found on the "Fast Company" web site and in his latest book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.
Personally, I found reading this book often resembled looking into a mirror of the life I plan to enter shortly.
To be sure, Dan doesn't just show you the mountain tops of Free Agent Nation, you get to see both the valleys and slums. Yet, there is an overall hopefull tone to this geography of the new nation state. There is a life outside of Corporate America and that place isn't the desert nor the slums that we often equate with going solo.
Just visit your local Starbucks, Kinkos, or Mail Boxes,etc on any given day and you will meet the varried citizens of Free Agent Nation. This is their infrastructure and this is where they are to be seen and observed (in their natural habitat). These folks are not universally anything other than independent people making a living by blending their family and work lives. (Nope, it isn't a balancing act, it is a process of blending the two.)
If you've ever given a thought to becoming a Free Agent this is the first map of the territory. You will read about the heights and depths of this emerging nation state.
Note: In reading this, I found more than a few holes in The Free Agent Nation that could be filled by an enterprising Free Agent. For starters, sombody who knows the intracacies of health insurance who would setup a cooperative where free agents could purchase health insurance at group rates. There are even more, but I'll leave those to the enterprising readers.
Pink also explores the rationale to redesign health care and pension benefits so they are atttached to individuals - NOT employers because we are now in a more fluid economy where we move from employer to employer and many times, with a break between work so we need health plans that stay with us and don't lapse bewteen assignments...
Read this book if you are still in the job market, or buy it for a student just graduating...It will help them prep for our new economic model..."