Podcast #11: An Interview with Dan Pink

In the last episode of the Growing Leaders Podcast, we interviewed Jason Russell; co-founder of Invisible Children. In today’s episode, we share an interview with Dan Pink, author of A Whole New MindDrive, and To Sell is Human.


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Episode Summary

What was your motivation for writing your latest book, To Sell Is Human?

  • It was in response to my book, Drive, which explains that most of the world uses an “if/then” motivator. If you do this, then you get that. I learned that “if/then” motivators are great for simple, routine tasks, but not as effective for complex, creative tasks, which are the majority of what we do now.
  • In response to that, people asked me, “What about sales?”, where they are paid on commission. If you sell, you get paid. If you don’t sell, you don’t get paid.
  • So, I wanted to write about sales for people who would never read a book about sales.

 What are the big ideas from the book, To Sell Is Human?

  • Like it or not, we are all in sales now. In whatever field we are in, some aspect of our work is convincing, persuading, and influencing people.
  • This podcast is sales!
  • Most of us don’t like sales because our mindset towards sales is that it is bad and manipulative, when that’s not necessarily the case.

What’s the relevance of this topic to educators?

  • I think it’s important for educators to understand that their sales will be primarily motivating the students.
  • One important quote to remember is, “We have to get past this idea that motivation is something one person does to another person and have to recognize that its something that people do for themselves” – Edward Deci
  • Motivation isn’t a matter of flipping on a switch, but rather a teacher creating the conditions where students come up with their own autonomous, intrinsically motivated reasons for agreeing with you or doing something.

What’s one of the most counter-intuitive ideas in the book, To Sell is Human?

  • The idea of self-talk and that we all talk to ourselves. If we are selling a product, going into a meeting, interviewing someone, there is talk going on in our head.
  • We tend to think that our self-talk should be declarative and positive (You can do it!), but research shows that the best form of self talk is interrogative self-talk
  • Instead of saying “you can do it!”, the better self-talk is “can you do it?”
  • This is counter-intuitive because you would think affirming your abilities are better than challenging them, but its not because questions elicit an active response making it more effective.

What would you say to teachers and educators in light of your heartbeat to see the next-generation grow up well?

  • Let’s replace motivation with learning, where learning is something that students do for themselves.
  • Self-direction is the most effective trait of any flourishing human being; so replace carrot/stick motivation with a style that allows the student to have intrinsic reasons to learn.
  • Help students have a growth-mindset instead of a fixed-mindset.
  • Recognize the importance of real rigor and the power of high expectations.
  • Help students develop non-cognitive skills (character)


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What topic would you like for us to address on the next episode of the Growing Leaders Podcast? Leave a comment.


Podcast #11: An Interview with Dan Pink