Daniel Pink, NYT Bestselling Author


Cool Tools Show 158: Daniel Pink

Our guest this week is Daniel Pink. Daniel is the author of four New York Times bestsellers on work, business, and psychology. His books have won multiple awards and have been translated into 39 languages. Dan was also host and co-executive producer of “Crowd Control,” a National Geographic TV series about human behavior. His latest book is When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.

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Show notes:

3M E-A-Rsoft Yellow Ear Plugs
“I’m a big fan of ear plugs because I find that I work a lot better if I just block out sound. And a lot of times, what’ll happen if you have expensive noise canceling headphones, the battery will run out, or you’ll forget them, or I will actually always worry about losing them. And so, I buy this box of ear plugs. They come in these small, individually wrapped pairs, and I use them for everything. There’s something, to me, that when you put in ear plugs, it just blocks out the rest of the world and signals that you’re in it. … I basically keep a fist full of them in my back pack. They’re very good in hotels, too. Because a lot of times in hotels, it’s like, ‘Oh, I have the room next to the clanging ice machine. Oh, I have the room next to the elevator and there are 3000 Kiwanis from Buffalo, drinking all night and coming in late at night.’ And so, anyway. All of which is to say that I don’t have many friends, but I have a lot of ear plugs.”

Faber Castell Jumbo Grip Pencils
“Over time, I’m not sure how it happened, I really like using pencils. As a writer, as a note taker, I still find, maybe it’s delusional, but I find that I think better if there’s some tactile element to what I’m doing. I almost never take notes by computer on my laptop. I prefer to take notes by hand. And there’s actually some evidence that that aids in retention. I just did it because I liked the tactileness of it, and I love pencils. I love the sound of pencil on a paper, the scraping that it makes. I like the way that it looks. I tend to doodle and sketch a fair bit, and so it’s much better than pens for that, because pens often have that little dollop of ink sometimes that will gum on there. And as I’ve experimented with pencils … the ones that I settled on were these things called Jumbo Grip Faber-Castell pencils. And what they are is that the barrel is thicker than a typical kind of number two pencil. That’s one thing about it. The other thing about it is that the barrel isn’t really a barrel. It’s not in the shape of a cylinder, as most pencils are. It’s actually in the shape of sort of a rounded triangle. And it also has these things, and I don’t know what to call them. … There’s like a line of small raised plastic dots that are akin to braille in their texture, and what they do is they allow actually a firmer grip. And it turns out, that they’re often used in elementary schools, for like first graders, second grades, especially boys, who struggle a little bit with fine motor skills, because it gives them a little bit more grip. I ordered these pencils by the case, and I sharpen them, and I grind them. I’m literally holding one right now. So, I love these pencils. And they’re totally cheap.”

“Masterclass is a set of classes conducted by like the best people in the world at what they do. So, if you look at basketball skills, they have Steph Curry. If you look at screenwriting, they have Aaron Sorkin. You look at acting they have Helen Mirren. They have a lot of writers, comedy they have Steve Martin. … it’s very, very well produced. And so, what they are, is it’s a series of classes, but the classes are more like interviews. They’re not as purely didactic as somebody standing in front of a class and telling you precisely how to do something. At least, the ones that I’ve watched and enjoyed. But you get to see people who are really, really great at something explain how they do it. And as I said, it’s very well produced, and they’re divided into videos … They vary in length, but the videos can be anywhere from three minutes to sometimes 20 minutes, and they’re divided into certain sections based on what the person is trying to teach. Helen Mirren has a very short video about how to walk onto a stage. Something that you wouldn’t think about, but that you’re like, ‘Whoa, that’s actually a big thing. Like how do you walk onto a stage if you’re an actor?’ … Margaret Atwood has one about novel writing that was fantastic. … But what I think is interesting, like in the class on wine with James Suckling is things like how do you hold a glass to examine the color of a wine. And it turns out, anytime I did do it, I was doing it completely wrong. …. So, I think it’s a great investment. I think it’d make a super cool gift, too.”

Hell’s Handle Fish Spatula
“I’m not much of a cooker. But if it involves cooking outside, that’s my domain. And so, we’ve ended grilling a lot of fish, because we have three people in my house who don’t eat meat. And fish is actually really hard to grill, because it’s very different in consistency from a beef steak … And a lot of times the fish, particularly when you cook it on the skin side, it sticks. And I was always frustrated, and some how, I think it was my wife found this spatula that is the greatest spatula I’ve ever seen. And I’m not exaggerating. I mean, it is so great. And so, all the sudden, I’m able to up my grill game significantly because of this spatula … It sort of has this beveled edge to it, and it has this handle, and it’s like exactly the right level of flexibility. And so, you can get underneath the fish in a way you can’t with a regular spatula, and it has some give, so you can actually, with fair amount of confidence, say take a hamburger or something like that, and literally like flip it in the air. This is the first time in my life I’ve been excited by a kitchen tool. So, if you grill fish at all, this is perfect. I mean, it’s just a great, great product. And the brand name is kind of cool, too. It’s called Hell’s Handle by Mercer.”

Also mentioned:

WHEN: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

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