Right-Brained People Poised to Take Over the World

Marc Acito
There's a reason why I've published two novels about starving artists turning into con artists. It's the same reason why book three in the series sits in a drawer: art and commerce are two dogs that don't want to mate. And commerce is a bitch.

It's like the old joke: What do you call a musician without a girlfriend? Homeless.But according to author Daniel Pink, there's hope for artsy types of the fartsy variety. His book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, is an essential read for anyone reinventing themselves in this new economy. Economic smarty-pants Thomas L. Friedman, author of The World is Flat, called it "my favorite business book."

For those of you who can't remember the difference between the right and left brains, here's how: if you can't remember the difference, you're right-brained. And probably wondering how you can monetize your hilarious but unknown online comic strip. Or what the word "monetize" means.

When you say you're "of two minds," you're correct. The left brain handles textual minutaie, the right brain deals with big picture context. Or, as Pink puts it: "the right hemisphere is the picture; the left hemisphere is the thousand words."

And Pink believes we're already moving beyond the Information Age to what he calls the Conceptual Age. As evidence, he cites three trends:

1) Abundance

As we endure the Great Recession, it's hard to remember just how wealthy a country we are. But according to business writer Polly LaBarre, "The United States spends more on trash bags than 90 other countries spend on everything. In other words, the receptacles of our waste cost more than all of the goods consumed by nearly half of the world's nations." We have so much stuff, the self-storage industry earns $17 billion dollars, which is even more than the motion picture business, an industry renowned for making lots of junk.

As a result, we're more concerned with items like "cutensils" than ever before. Just a generation ago, the idea of renowned architect Michael Graves designing a toilet brush for Target was literally unthinkable in our left-brain culture.

2) Asia

High-tech, left-brained jobs have gone overseas to college-educated engineers earning a quarter of their American counterparts. So "knowledge workers" must now learn to do what workers abroad can't -- focus on relationship-building, creative solutions and big-picture thinking. In other words, actually putting that liberal arts degree to work.

3) Automation

Those jobs that aren't migrating east have been replaced by computers. "Automation has begun to affect this generation's white collar workers in much the same way way it did last generation's blue-collar workers," Pink writes. But he sees a solution:

To survive in this age, individuals and organizations must examine what they're doing to earn a living and ask themselves three questions:

1) Can someone overseas do it cheaper?
2) Can a computer do it faster?
3) Is what I'm offering in demand in an age of abundance?

From there, Pink gets a little too right-brainy on details, pointing only to nursing as an industry that fits the requirement. But he does give good advice on developing the skills that might help in the future.

Most importantly to artsy types, he paints a big picture where fartsy skills are the ones that matter most.

And that, my friends, is The Upside.
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