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25 Daniel Pink Quotes About Motivation & Leadership

Daniel Pink is an author whose books have already sold more than 2,000,000 copies worldwide and translated into over 30+ languages.

He has also been the host and co-executive producer of “Crowd Control,” a television series about human behavior on National Geographic.

Before that, Dan has been a business columnist, an advisor, and even a speech writer to then U.S. Vice President, Al Gore.

Two of his best known works are Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us and To Sell is Human. To Sell is Human examines survey research, social science, and insightful stories to bring new information into the discussion about sales and the science of persuasion.

Drive teaches us some of the major breakthroughs in behavioral science over the last five decades. This is to re-evaluate conventional wisdom regarding motivation, peak performance, and extrinsic rewards. This book was also featured in the New York TimesWall Street JournalWashington Post, and Boston Globe bestseller lists.

Other famous works by Daniel Pink include: A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need, and Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself.

Learn to be driven through these motivational Daniel Pink quotes.

Motivational Daniel Pink Quotes

Thought-provoking Daniel Pink quotes about motivation

1. “Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.” – Daniel Pink

Everyday Application: Empathy is an important life skill. It can help strengthen your relationships with others and build social connections. It is vital to our well-being and affects many aspects of our lives.

2. “Typically, if you reward something, you get more of it. You punish something, you get less of it. And our businesses have been built for the last 150 years very much on that kind of motivational scheme.” – Daniel Pink

Everyday Application: All choices have consequences. Sometimes those consequences are natural, like being cold when choosing not to wear a coat outside. Other times they show up in the form of punishments or rewards. Improving your decision making skills can help you make healthier choices that have good consequences.

3. “You know, I’m not a huge fan of the concept of ‘passion’ when it comes to careers. Instead of trying to answer the daunting question of ‘What’s your passion?’, it’s better simply to watch what you do when you’ve got time of your own and nobody’s looking.” – Daniel Pink

Everyday Application: Are you struggling to find your purpose or passion in life? This is an excellent way of looking at this. Where do you invest your time and energy when you are not trying to please anyone else?

4. “I think the more important task for a young person than developing a personal brand is figuring out what she’s great at, what she loves to do, and how she can use that to leave an imprint in the world. Those are tough questions, but essential ones. Answer those – and the personal brand follows.” – Daniel Pink

 Everyday Application: This sounds a lot like creating a mission statement and vision for yourself. All of these questions are necessary to figuring out who you are. Having this level of self-awareness will help move your life forward.

5. “In large organizations there are discrete functions. I do this; you do that. I swim in my lane; you swim in your lane. That can be very effective for certain processes and in certain stable conditions. But it doesn’t work in unstable conditions.” – Daniel Pink

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Everyday Applications: Try a more collaborative and teamwork based approach. The ideas will be fresh, people will work hard, build connections, and be invested in doing their best work.

6. “Questions are often more effective than statements in moving others. Or to put it more appropriately, since the research shows that when the facts are on your side, questions are more persuasive than statements, don’t you think you should be pitching more with questions?” – Daniel Pink

Everyday Application: There is no such thing as a stupid question, but just how does asking questions help us? Asking questions obviously helps us understand different perspectives and learn new things. However, it can also help us be more persuasive. One way asking questions can help you be better at sales (or persuading others) is because your questions show others that you care about them and their needs. 

7. “I happen to be extremely left-brained; my instinct is to draw a chart rather than a picture. I’m trying to get my right-brain muscles into shape. I actually think this shift toward right-brain abilities has the potential to make us both better off and better in a deeper sense.” – Daniel Pink

Everyday Application: While some us may be more naturally left or right brained, that doesn’t mean that we should ignore the “weaker” hemisphere of our brains. You can achieve a balance between the two! Doing some brain exercises will help you attain a ‘left-right equilibrium.’ Here are a few examples: use your less dominant hand to do things, do word puzzles or other brain teaser, and learn a new skill.

8. “Most of what we know about sales comes from a world of information asymmetry, where for a very long time sellers had more information than buyers. That meant sellers could hoodwink buyers, especially if buyers did not have a lot of choices or a way to talk back.” – Daniel Pink

Everyday Application: Be as prepared as possible for anything that you do! It doesn’t matter if it is consumer related or not. If you are buying a car, then learn the basics about the kind of car you want, the upkeep required, and the financial options available to you. If you are working on a project, then make sure you have the skills and information you need.

9. “My generation’s parents told their children, ‘Become an accountant, a lawyer, or an engineer; that will give you a solid foothold in the middle class.’ But these jobs are now being sent overseas. So in order to make it today, you have to do work that’s hard to outsource, hard to automate.” – Daniel Pink

Everyday Application: It is becoming increasingly harder to find anything that is ‘hard to automate’ in some way. However, more and more jobs are able to be done remotely. Focus on learning the skills necessary, and on what makes you unique. Many people might be able to do a type of job, but there is only one you, and you bring unique things to the table! 

10. “Human beings are natural mimickers. The more you’re conscious of the other side’s posture, mannerisms, and word choices – and the more you subtly reflect those back – the more accurate you’ll be at taking their perspective.” – Daniel Pink

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Everyday Application: If you have any doubts that humans are natural mimickers, just think about how babies learn. Verbal and non-verbal customs and cues matter. When you take the time to be conscious of others you will better understand their perspective, which increases your empathy for others.

Inspirational Daniel Pink quotes about bring driven

11. “I don’t think it’s a Western thing to really talk about intrinsic motivation and the drive for autonomy, mastery, and purpose. You have to not be struggling for survival. For people who don’t know where their next meal is coming, notions of finding inner motivation are comical.” – Daniel Pink

Everyday Application: Learning more about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs will put this quote into perspective. Maslow posited that there are five human needs, which he illustrated in a pyramid. At the bottom of the pyramid are a person’s physiological needs (food, water, etc.). At the very top, is self-actualization (intrinsic motivation and being the best you can be). However, if the basic needs are not met, you can not move up the pyramid.

12. “Especially for fostering creative, conceptual work, the best way to use money as a motivator is to take the issue of money off the table so people concentrate on the work.” – Daniel Pink

Everyday Application: Money is a necessary evil in today’s world. We all need it to live, and it seems like many do not have enough of it. This can make it hard for people to feed their creative passions (i.e. the starving artist or actor) and concentrate on the work. While not everyone might end up as Brad Pitt, Stephen King, or Thomas Kincaid, you can actually make money using your creativity. Check out this article if you looking for some ways to make money writing! 

13. “A lot of times when you have very short-term goals with a high payoff, nasty things can happen. In particular, a lot of people will take the low road there. They’ll become myopic. They’ll crowd out the longer-term interests of the organization or even of themselves.” – Daniel Pink

14. “A lot of white-collar work requires less of the routine, rule-based, what we might call algorithmic set of capabilities, and more of the harder-to-outsource, harder-to-automate, non-routine, creative, juristic – as the scholars call it – abilities.” – Daniel Pink

15. “I think people get satisfaction from living for a cause that’s greater than themselves. They want to leave an imprint. By writing books, I’m trying to do that in a modest way.” – Daniel Pink

Everyday Application: Do you think that everyone has a desire to leave some kind of legacy? Whether it is through your work, your family, or supporting a cause, each of us is looking for our lives to have meaning. Check out this article about leaving a legacy you can be proud of.

16. “If you understand the independent worker, the self-employed professional, the freelancer, the e-lancer, the temp, you understand how work and business in the U.S. operate today.” – Daniel Pink

17. “In economic terms, we’ve always thought of work as a disutility – as something you do to get something else. Now it’s increasingly a utility – something that’s valuable and worthy in its own right.” – Daniel Pink

Everyday Application: In the past, work was thought of as a means to an end. We work to get money so we can eat, live in a safe place, and maybe do the things we enjoy. However, we spend a good deal of our life at work, and it has become important to many that their work, in itself, aligns with their values and purpose. Check out this article for finding a career that gives you more than money!

18. “In many professions, what used to matter most were abilities associated with the left side of the brain: linear, sequential, spreadsheet kind of faculties. Those still matter, but they’re not enough.” – Daniel Pink

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Everyday Application: There are a host of ‘soft-skills‘ that employers are recognizing the importance of. These include things like communication, empathy, listening, and trustworthiness. Sure, it is still important that you have the skills required to do the job, but if you have those, coupled with some strong soft skills, you will be unstoppable!

19. “Large companies are not going to disappear. Multinational companies with tens of thousands of employees are not going to disappear. In fact, many of them are getting larger because they can benefit from economies of scale.” – Daniel Pink

20. “Now it’s easy for someone to set up a storefront and reach the entire world in very modest ways. So these technologies that we thought would dis-intermediate traditional sellers gave more people the tools to be sellers. It also changed the balance of power between sellers and buyers.” – Daniel Pink

More Daniel Pink quotes on success

21. “One of the best predictors of ultimate success in either sales or non-sales selling isn’t natural talent or even industry expertise, but how you explain your failures and rejections.” – Daniel Pink

22. “The ability to take another perspective has become one of the keys to both sales and non-sales selling. And the social science research on perspective-taking yields some important lessons for all of us.” – Daniel Pink

23. “The billable hours are a classic case of restricted autonomy. I mean, you’re working on – I mean, sometimes on these six-minute increments. So you’re not focused on doing a good job. You’re focused on hitting your numbers. It’s one reason why lawyers typically are so unhappy. And I want a world of happy lawyers.” – Daniel Pink

24. “What’s important now are the characteristics of the brain’s right hemisphere: artistry, empathy, inventiveness, big-picture thinking. These skills have become first among equals in a whole range of business fields.” – Daniel Pink

25. “We have this myth that extroverts are better salespeople. As a result, extroverts are more likely to enter sales; extroverts are more likely to get promoted in sales jobs. But if you look at the correlation between extroversion and actual sales performance – that is, how many times the cash register actually rings – the correlation’s almost zero.” – Daniel Pink

Which of these Daniel Pink quotes was your favorite?

Don’t just read the books; try to practice the lessons in them. Take notes, write your own thoughts on the margins, talk to a mentor – do anything that would help you on your way to success. Also, remember your favorite Daniel Pink quotes. Tack them on your bulletin board, keep a copy in your wallet, or share them with your friends on social media.

Who knows, maybe you could even help someone stay driven today.

Norbert Juma, Lead Editor
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