April 5, 2001
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Free Agent Nation
Free Agency Nation began its life as a cover story for Fast Company in 1998. Historically, some of the most influential business books have started as articles in such magazines as HBR, Fast Company, and Fortune. These books tend to be extremely well-written because the author is a professional writer cogently about a timely subject, not a consultant who doesnt write very well or presents a subject matter that isnt very interesting no matter how well he/she writes. A recent example of a successful magazine-article-turned-business-bestseller is The Tipping Point, which first appeared in The New Yorker, was very well-received and, thus, expanded into a prominent book. That book has gone on to bestseller-dom and has been used in schools to teach marketing and trend-spotting.
Free Agent Nation follows in the notable footsteps of The Tipping Point, and is one of the most well-written books I have ever read period. Daniel Pink can flatout write, which I guess is a prime job requirement for his previous employment as a speechwriter for VP Al Gore. Pink has a fun, self-deprecating Gen-X Fast Companyesq feel about his writing, and he loads the book with those little factiods that make me go, Yeah, thats right!!! Each chapter ends with a page he calls The Box. Each box contains four points: The Crux;The Factoid; The Quote; and The Word. To give you an example of how the book is written, this is The Box of the chapter: How Did it Happen? The Four Ingredients of Free Agency:
How did free agency happen? Four ingredients were essential: 1) the social contract of workin which employees traded loyalty for securitycrumbled; 2) individuals needed a large company less, because the means of productionthat is, the tools necessary to create wealthwent 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 simply to make money, but also to meaning; 4) the half-life of organizations began shrinking, assuring that most individuals will outlive any organization for which they work.
I love a book that takes something you know aboutfree agencyand gives it life and reason for being. Free Agent Nation postulates that the business world is witnessing a phenomenon where more and more people and businesses are promoting and utilizing non-long-term relationships. Businesses are hiring contract workers, and thus, people are identifying this new opportunity and becoming free agents, much like sports players. Pink explains what this means for you, the employee, and what it means for you, the employer. Daniel Pink has written an important book that is very fun to read.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.