The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Narrated by: Daniel H. Pink
Length: 5 hrs and 53 mins
Categories: Business, Leadership
4.5 out of 5 stars (5,961 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Forget everything you thought you knew about how to motivate people--at work, at school, at home. It's wrong. As Daniel H. Pink explains in his new and paradigm-shattering book, the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today's world is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does - and how that affects every aspect of our lives. He demonstrates that while the old-fashioned carrot-and-stick approach worked successfully in the 20th century, it's precisely the wrong way to motivate people for today's challenges. In Drive, he reveals the three elements of true motivation:

  • Autonomy - the desire to direct our own lives
  • Mastery - the urge to get better and better at something that matters
  • Purpose- the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves
  • Along the way, he takes us to companies that are enlisting new approaches to motivation and introduces us to the scientists and entrepreneurs who are pointing a bold way forward.

    Drive is bursting with big ideas-- the rare book that will change how you think and transform how you live.

    ©2009 Daniel H. Pink (P)2009 Penguin

    Critic Reviews

    "Pink's analysis - and new model - of motivation offers tremendous insight into our deepest nature." ( Publishers Weekly)
    "Drive is the rare book that will get you to think and inspire you to act. Pink makes a strong, science-based case for rethinking motivation--and then provides the tools you need to transform your life." (Dr. Mehmet Oz, co-author of YOU: The Owners Manual)

    Featured Article: 20 Best Motivational Audiobooks for Jump-Starting Your Life

    For most of us, motivation tends to ebb and flow; sometimes, even the act of staying motivated feels like something we need to inspire ourselves to do. When you hit a rut, there’s no shame in calling in reinforcements, and luckily, our catalog has a vast selection of them. We’ve compiled this list of the 20 best motivational audiobooks for all the times when you need a boost to get going.

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    • Overall
      3 out of 5 stars

    Not as good as A Whole New Mind

    I usually love Daniel Pink's work, but this was tired and repetitive. I find he is insightful and typically puts an original twist on common wisdom. He missed the mark on this one. He used the same formula of his past successes but this one felt like a 50-100 page concept stretched out into a 200 pager to keep publishers happy. I would put the concepts in A Whole New Mind on par with the best works of Malcom Gladwell, Steven Levitt and Nassim Nicholas Taleb. This is recycled, repetitive and doesn't come close to his best.

    82 people found this helpful

    • Overall
      3 out of 5 stars

    OK, but could have been a lot better

    Daniel Pink makes a reasonable case for a more humane business environment. The keystone of his approach is Autonomy: people need autonomy (the ability to choose what they do, when they do it, how they do it, and who they do it with); and the more they have, the more productive they can be. More importantly, the usual approach of giving bonuses and other rewards for meeting prescribed goals can actually undermine autonomy, and thus productivity, over the long term. Pink cites a number of ingenious experiments that have demonstrated the negative effect of rewards in many situations.

    It's not all about autonomy, though. According to Pink, people also need Mastery and Purpose. In other words, they like to get better at doing something that matters. Much of Pink's book is an exploration of ways that people have re-engineered work environments to make those needs easier to meet.

    He closes the book with a long chapter on recommendations for change; but as in most books of this type, they are more pep talk than blueprint. Pink describes management in general as being an outmoded technology, but the successes he describes only happened because management gave the new approach their full support.

    One aspect of the book I found particularly puzzling. Much of his argument is based on the work of psychologists Edward Deci and Robert Ryan, who propose three basic human needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Mastery is a bit like competence; but what happened to relatedness? It seems to me that could have as big an impact on productivity as anything else.

    69 people found this helpful

    • Overall
      3 out of 5 stars


    Like many books with a good idea or message, they are relatively simple. This, like many other books, repeats the main points ad nauseum. If you are in charge of a creative group of people, this is required information. If not, it's interesting for the first hour or two.

    39 people found this helpful

    • Overall
      4 out of 5 stars

    Thought provoking

    The author divides motivation into 3 versions... 1.0 is physical (food & sex), 2.0 is extrinsic Pavlov and money stuff, and 3.0 is the top of Maslow's triangle and a heaping helping from the book Flow. I thought the book read well, and put a fresh coat of paint on some older info that we shouldn't ignore.

    13 people found this helpful

    • Overall
      4 out of 5 stars

    Very interesting topic

    This is an interesting topic and a well written synopsis of the science of motivation. If you are a leader in a working company who has had to motivate people in the past, this book will mostly confirm what you already know. Monetary and other extrensic incentives don't work and they can be very detrimental. That in itself makes it valuable as a work of literature. There are a lot of people in high levels of leadership who may actually need a book like this to tell them what they should already know by looking at the effects of the systems they have created.

    I wouldn't call this book a must read or a game changer however. It is saying what a LOT of literature in the business world is currently saying. What it does do is organize what is very good science behind ideas that are being propogated in many other books. There are a few other books I would recommend ahead of this one but if you are well read in business and leadership texts, this is definitely not one you want to skip.

    9 people found this helpful

    • Overall
      5 out of 5 stars
    • Performance
      5 out of 5 stars
    • Story
      5 out of 5 stars

    Highly Recommended!!!

    If you could sum up Drive in three words, what would they be?

    This book filters down all the empirical reseach into a very readable format.

    What did you like best about this story?

    I like how Pink proves that Corporate America is missing the point when it comes to motivating employees.

    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Every Manager/Leader needs to listen to this book before they draft a compensation plan that makes them look good, in the eyes of their management, but defeats the overall purpose of motivating their staff.

    3 people found this helpful

    • Overall
      3 out of 5 stars

    Many valid ideas

    Mr Pink's criticisms of traditional methods of motivation are entertaining and valid. Many of the ideas put forward are interesting and worthy of consideration.
    However, while he advocates allowing employees more autonomy and freedom to decide things for themselves, he allows the reader less and less. He repeats fairly interesting ideas over and over, lecturing us about their value until one gets sick of them, particularly generalizing techniques that might work well for software developers, but few other businesses.
    Instead of allowing the reader the decide for himself and ponder how he or she might incorporate some part of these ideas into his or her own business, he ends up hectoring us over and over about "FedEx days", "Flow" and "I-type" people.
    It is ironic that, just as he insists we must abandon our rigid 9 to 5 mentality, he is shoe-horning everything into the constraining format of a book with a strong thesis he thinks he can sell.
    It's a pity he doesn't have the courage to follow his own advice.

    22 people found this helpful

    • Overall
      5 out of 5 stars

    great book

    This book started out fairly slowly, but then it was fantastic with the thoughts and ideas it presented and the research that backs them up. It confirmed what I saw as a Recognition Coordinator for a major corporation. The carrot approach can create a lot of problems if not done correctly. I saw cheating, people being demotivated when there wasn't a contest on, etc. What I like most about this book were the ideas on how to encourage "Drive". I am going to buy the physical book for this to keep as a reference.

    21 people found this helpful

    • Overall
      2 out of 5 stars

    Nothing New in this book

    If you have never read a self development book then you will enjoy this one.

    BUT if that is not you then this book is border line plagiarism.

    35 people found this helpful

    • Overall
      5 out of 5 stars

    The Surprising Truth About Drive

    A thoroughly enjoyable read. The themes were repeated in such away that I could absorbed them even in the audio format. I've been encouraging others to read the book by listing the three factors of drive. This tells me that the material was presented to that I could actually benefit from it. In some ways the book was too long in there there wasn't new material added when the existing topics were covered. I wholeheartedly recommend the book to managers, even parents!

    5 people found this helpful