Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself

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The Organization Man is history. Taking his place is America's new economic icon: the "free agent"--the job-hopping, tech-savvy, fulfillment-seeking, self-reliant, independent worker. Already 30 million strong, these new "dis-organization" men and women are transforming America in ways both profound and exhilarating.

Are you ready for . . .
* The Peter-Out Principle: Successor to the famous "Peter Principle," this new rule decrees that when the fun peters out, the talented walk out.
* Unschooling: Individual-centered learning like homeschooling and apprenticeships will threaten Ivy League colleges and end high school as we know it.
* Individual Public Offerings: The upper echelon of free agents will issue these new "IPOs," or stock . . . in themselves.
* E-tirement: When Americans reach age sixty-five, more will enter a new stage of life. Working as full-time, part-time, and anytime free agents, they'll be finding and executing work over the Internet.
* Just-in-time Politics: This political version of just-in-time manufacturing will challenge the present two-party system.
* The Feminine Century: Women are free agency's early adopters. Many analysts estimate that by the year 2005, half of all businesses will be run by women.

In this landmark book, Daniel H. Pink offers the definitive account of this revolution in work. He shows who these free agents are--from the marketing consultant down the street to the home-based "mompreneur" to the footloose technology contractor--and why they've forged a new path. His entertaining and provocative account of the new frontier of work reveals how free agents are shaking up all of our institutions--from politics to education to the family.

Customer Reviews:

  • Kudos From a Free Agent
    I read Dan Pink's original article three years ago on free agency in Fast Company magazine. It was an integral part of why I decided to become a free agent. So, I was most anxious to read his book on the subject. I wasn't disappointed!

    Dan's writing style is easy and his subject is thoroughly researched. He does a good job of describing the impetus behind why folks decide to become free agents, and also the pitfalls involved in striking out on your own, i.e. high self-employment taxes and large health insurance costs to name a few. His theses presented in each chapter are thought provoking, and should create oppportunities for creative dialogue not only on the future of free agency, but the need for change in many of our ingrained institutions such as education and politics.

    Free Agent Nation is an interesting read. I highly recommend it to those who are thinking about becoming free agents, those who already are free agents, and anyone who is interested in how work will look in the future....more info

  • This is My Life!!!
    I didn't know there was a name for what I did until I read Free Agent Nation. Pink talks to a variety of Free Agents across the country to discover how they work. He also talks about the other industries that are springing up because of Free Agents, such as Matchmakers, Agents and Coaches (of which I'm one} Just knowing there are many others out there that are living my life and it's growing is comforting. I recommend this book to my clients' who are looking to create the life they want....more info
  • Corporate leaders beware!
    This is a fantastic read. For those of us who've accelerated up the career curve in traditional organizations and found a big pile of emptiness at the end of the track... this book offers great insights around the current state of the free agent nation and future trends and opportunities. It also acknowleges the fact that it's NOT CRAZY to feel dissatisfied with a big title, corner office and steady paycheck!

    This is a must read for any corporate leader who is struggling with the challenge of keeping his or her best and brightest engaged. Unless organizations heed the warnings that Dan Pink is raising, they risk losing their high performers and being left with a workforce filled with mediocrity. Appealing to the motivational needs of the free agent workforce is something that corporations MUST address to win the war for talent longterm....more info

  • My yellow marker went dry!
    Wow, I loved this book. If you have any interest in knowing more about the most significant professional, personal and financial trend of this decade and beyond, you must read this book. You may discover that you are, or will eventually be, an active member of this growing movement.

    I discovered that 2 decades ago I was an early settler in the Free Agent Nation. Back then others advised me to "get a real job". Today, there's no other way of life for me, and 30+ million others. I also appreciate all the research, patience and passion it took to prepare such a comprehensive analysis of the independent workers that are transforming the American lifestyle.

    BTW, "The Box" (a brief summary) at the end of each chapter made it so easy to read that I read them all first, and then sat back and enjoyed the entire book. Tom Peters said Free Agent Nation was so original and comprehensive that he "grew exhausted from underlining". Well, my yellow marker went dry. Enough said....more info

  • Excellent analysis of the new nature of work
    As someone who has been a free agent for 12 years and also struggled with what Pink and others (most notably Charles Handy) call a "(con)federation" of free agents, I found Pink's analysis accurate, deep, thorough and insightful. I found myself nodding "yep that fits" a lot and also gained some very useful insights I didn't have before. His work goes much further than that of Charles Handy which, up to now, was the best analaysis I had found.

    A very useful roadmap for anyone who is, or is contemplating becoming, a free agent. I wish he had written it 10 years ago - it would have saved me a lot of angst!

    Rhett Sampson
    Sydney, Australia...more info

  • The Optimistic Jew
    By varying accounts there are 25-30 million free agents at present in the United States. Most of these work from home. Add millions of micro-businesses and one comes to the conclusion that the 20th century will be known as the first and last century in which most working people were salaried. Up until the 20th century most working people were small farmers, merchants and independent professionals. If present trends continue - and there is every reason to believe they will - then by the middle of the 21st century most working people will be self-employed in one form or another. This will have revolutionary impact on politics, tax and social policy and the economic balance of power. Cultural attitudes that encourage innovation and risk-taking will have tremendous advantages in this emerging reality. This is why I claim that: "No people on earth (referring to the Jews) are better prepared by virtue of education, temperament and historical adaptability to embrace the challenges of the 21st century". This book provided me with much of the information that enabled me to open my own book "The Optimistic Jew" with the above lines.
    ...more info
    I am so thrilled that someone of Pink's reputation and expertise has put the free agent's role in our economy front and center. This is great news for Renaissance Souls: people who prefer variety and combination to concentrating on just one thing. Why? Because, as Pink shows so well, being a free agent is very different from sitting in one cubicle doing one thing as you (theoretically) climb the (now almost falling down) corporate ladder. Free agents have to know their material, of course, but they also have to enjoy applying what they know to a variety of different situations. In addition, free agents need to be comfortable wearing several different hats. Who is going to spread the word about what they have to offer if they don't? Who is going to be sure that the finances are in order if they don't? Even if they hire accountants or p.r. folks, they still are the one, and only one, making the final decisions and being sure what needs doing has actually been done. As a coach specializing in life design for people with too many passions to pick just one (read Renaissance Souls,) I have already been recommending Dr. Barbara Reinhold's book, FREE TO SUCCEED: Designing the Life You Want In the New Free Agent Economy. Now I will add Daniel Pinks new contribution as well....more info
  • A how-it-is, not a how-to
    What this book isn't: (1) a guide to how to succeed as a free agent, (2) an objective, scientific study of self-employed workers, or (3) a statistical analysis of social trends.

    Dan Pink simply did what he set out to do: interview lots of people who work as "free agents," find out how and why they chose this way of working (or how it chose them) and how it's played out for them, and draw some general conclusions. He remarked, at a booksigning I attended, that he found his informal survey "inspiring" because he met so many enterprising and creative self-employed people, and his enthusiasm comes through strongly. But this isn't a simplistic, rah-rah book; he's frank about the pitfalls and drawbacks of self-employment, and his chapter on temp workers, while brief, is a good overview of their dubious situation.

    I don't agree with all of his opinions, but I think that his main point is dead on: The "organization man" world of paternalistic corporations and loyal drones is dead. In fact, we all work for ourselves; while this insight may be unsettling to some, not only does "free agency" offer greater opportunities for meaningful work, but it's closer to the way "work" has historically been performed.

    Having been a free agent myself for most of my working life, I strongly agree that the infrastructure needs to adapt. Although there have been great improvements in the tax code, the insurance business, and individual retirement plans in the past 20 years, they're still tailored to either (1) full-time employees who are paid a fixed salary with benefits, or (2) those who work on commission. So I applaud this book for bringing these issues more into public awareness, and thus helping to stimulate further change....more info
  • The Other Side of the Coin
    Having been a member of the "free agent nation" since 1987, I read Daniel Pink's book with interest. There is no question that the American work force is undergoing what may be its most significant transformation since the migration from the farm to the factory one century ago.

    The author spent a year traveling the country talking with hundreds of these workers. The portrait that emerges is the death of what William H. Whyte, Jr. named "the organizational man" in his 1956 book of the same name. Replacing him or her is the free agent, the home-based business, temp, freelancer or independent contractor. The lure of freedom, authenticity, accountability and self-defined success are luring workers from their cubical farms, stock options and regular paychecks into a life, the author dubs, "of meaning."

    There is another side to this migration. Changes in three areas will be required before this migration becomes a powerful demographic influencing the economy and the nation:

    1. Tax Changes
    2. Access to Capital Markets
    3. Attitudes

    First, amend tax codes have to give the free agent the same status as the business he or she left. Benefits need full deductibility and ease of implementation. If the country benefits from independents building businesses, the capital gains tax needs to stop being a political football. It makes no sense to sacrifice to build a business unless there is a carrot at the end of the trail. A reduced or no capital gains tax is a powerful inducement.

    State tax departments need to stop looking at independents as training grounds for their new agents. I have better things to do with my time than wet-nurse agents-in-training on a fishing expedition.

    Second, open capital markets to the free agent. Capital, if available, is expensive for the individual businessperson. Bank loan officers do not or will not understand the difference between pre-tax and after-tax income. Finders access outrageous fees for equity capital.

    Pink cites David Bowie's raising $55 million in 1997 collateralized by his song publishing and album royalties as an example of new financing opportunities available to free agents. For those of us who are not as successful David Bowie, this market place is closed. Democratic financial markets to finance startups, expansions and improvements are a necessity if the move to a free agent nation is to become a serious alternative to the bedrock of American work - the large corporation.

    Lastly, social attitudes need to change. For a free agent nation to work concepts of the workday and workweek need to change. The free agent works when there is work. Vacations represent an opportunity cost.

    Being a free agent is not an easy life, but one I will never leave....more info

  • GREAT book!
    This informative and witty book has become the "cornerstone" of my base of knowledge on the new Free Agent economy. Laden with statistical information, first-hand interviews, and hilarious anecdotes and analogies, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in becoming a free agent....more info
  • A new geography
    Early on in this book, Dan Pink notes that he is not only reporting on, but lives as a citizen of his "Free Agent Nation." He has managed to map the landscape and boundaries of this new internal nation state.

    Personally, I found reading this book often resembled looking into a mirror of the life I plan to enter shortly.

    To be sure, Dan doesn't just show you the mountain tops of Free Agent Nation, you get to see both the valleys and slums. Yet, there is an overall hopefull tone to this geography of the new nation state. There is a life outside of Corporate America and that place isn't the desert nor the slums that we often equate with going solo.

    Just visit your local Starbucks, Kinkos, or Mail Boxes,etc on any given day and you will meet the varried citizens of Free Agent Nation. This is their infrastructure and this is where they are to be seen and observed (in their natural habitat). These folks are not universally anything other than independent people making a living by blending their family and work lives. (Nope, it isn't a balancing act, it is a process of blending the two.)

    If you've ever given a thought to becoming a Free Agent this is the first map of the territory. You will read about the heights and depths of this emerging nation state.

    Note: In reading this, I found more than a few holes in The Free Agent Nation that could be filled by an enterprising Free Agent. For starters, sombody who knows the intracacies of health insurance who would setup a cooperative where free agents could purchase health insurance at group rates. There are even more, but I'll leave those to the enterprising readers....more info

  • A Few Gems
    This book by Daniel H. Pink contains a few gems for the person headed down the road of free agency, however, you'll have to read a lot of either useless or obvious material to find them. Over all, this book contains about 25 to 50 pages that have been puffed-up into 315 pages. Speed readers who can skim over the extraneous will benefit from reading Free Agent Nation....more info
  • As good as The Tipping Point
    Daniel Pink's book reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. Both are great books for businesspeople. But they're not written by consultants or professors. They're written by real writers. And both Daniel Pink and Malcolm Gladwell are great writers.

    Free Agent Nation is an extremely engaging, masterfully crafted book. It's actually a better read than The Tipping Point and a bit more relevant to every day business.

    I didn't agree with everything in it. Some of the author's ideas (such as individuals going public) seem far-fetched. Otherwise, Free Agent Nation is the most intersting book I've read this year, and also one of the most enjoyable....more info

  • A Great Insight into the Changing Economy
    Over the past few months I have been developing the idea of what I call the "new entrepreneur". This is someone who starts their own business, not because they have the entrepreneurial drive to start businesses, but rather because they provide a service and they prefer to work in an independent capacity. Some of them might not even have a choice, as corporations downsize and contract out much of their work.

    Upon hearing about my idea, my friend Betsy recommended that I pick up Daniel Pink's Free Agent Nation. Daniel had examined the process of more and more people leaving the employ of large corporations and going out on their own. He calls these individuals "free agents" because they are free to work on their own terms, and their experiences can vary from a temp working as a secretary to a graphic designer running their own media company. Many of these individuals fall into my description of the new entrepreneur.

    Daniel points out 4 factors that have helped shift many people into free agency during the end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first century:

    1. The social contract of work (security for loyalty) crumbled .
    2. The means of production were democratized (cf. The Long Tail).
    3. Prosperity allowed people to work for meaning, not just money.
    4. The half-life of organizations shrunk.

    What this has really done is changed many work relationships from vertical (working in a hierarchical corporation) to horizontal (working with equal partners to accomplish specific objectives). And with the continuing changes in the American economy, I think that this pattern will become more prevalent in the near future.

    One thing that stood out strongly was the free agent org chart. It's something that I've been seeing in my business and my clients' businesses over the past few years. It involves a revolving set of business relationships that coalesce over individual projects. It reinforces that one of the most important components to success as a free agent is the strength of a person's network. The network creates opportunities for referral business, but more importantly it creates connections to the "partners" that can help the free agent complete a project.

    Daniel makes me feel good about my career choice by pointing out the importance of coaches in a work/life structure that's very fluid and exposes individuals to a lot more risk (no more hiding behind a veil of corporate security). As he says: "In a sense, coaches are shrinks without the couches, management consultants without the flow charts, and sympathetic bartenders without the shot glasses" (pg 181).

    Did you know that the American system of tying health insurance to your job is an historical accident, and doesn't have logical precedent (the US is the only Western country that does this)? It keeps a lot of people tied to jobs they're not happy with and are unproductive in. Another reason for health care reform!

    The idea of blending vs. balancing is very powerful and gives me a great way to talk to my clients about how to manage their time when they are working on their own. I've seen it a lot already, where a person will work in spurts throughout the day to include family responsibilities. For example, they create their work schedule so they can take their kids to school and pick them up in the afternoon. I think that looking at the process as blending is a lot less stressful than trying to create balance. The idea of creating balance seems to stress people out more because they think they have to work at it (and their afraid they'll fall out of balance).

    I think this is a fun read for someone who is a free agent, or for someone in corporate HR who is wondering how to work with the ever-increasing population of free agents. Daniel does a bit of predicting, which even in the 5 years since Free Agent Nation was written has been pretty off. Besides that, though, he provides a great snapshot of the dynamic process of economic evolution in the U.S. in the last twenty years....more info
  • This book gave my life new meaning
    I thought I was an outcast, a weirdo, the odd person who didn't fit in. I never did well with the "career path" of building a resume of employement with large corporations.

    Pink gave us the term "Free Agent Nation" and over the last few years, I've used it often to describe the more alive, happy, and productive people I work with who would think that turning your life over to a company is an insane way to live.

    Thank you Dan Pink. I may still be an oddball, but I've learned there are millions of people like me....more info
  • reading this book changed my companies business model
    About halfway through this incredible book, Dan had very compellingly convinced me that our companies direction needed to change: we would no longer be serving vast fortune 500 companies, but armies of free agents, microbusinesses and other micropreneurs.

    This book, in a very impactful, convincing and entertaining way, describes the future of work, and most likely, your future customer. Everyone who does business today should run out, buy this book, read it cover to cover, and re-adjust who they think their customers will be or even are today......more info

  • Dan Pink has gone where no man has gone before!
    Dan Pink has gone into the heart and soul of the Free Agent Nation. And he proves resoundingly, we are not alone! His time and effort to capture the spirit of fellow free agents, supports this micro-business owner on days when Free Agent Nation passion exceeds pocket-book reality. If you are a Free Agent, thinking about becoming a Free Agent, or want to know just what a Free Agent is, you must read this book....more info
  • A Brave New World
    Free Agent Nation is the story of a brave new world, a world of infinite hope and fascinating challenges. I call it "brave" because it is the courageous who are already venturing into free agent lives, while the rest of America's workers will (at some point in our lives and careers) be swept there by the winds of it or not.

    Dan's book is a funny, optimistic yet factual wake-up call to job-holders and organizations everywhere. He aptly describes the trends of capitalism, technology and demography that are now convening into a new constellation of work/life. If most of us lack fulfillment in our work and balance in our lives, perhaps as this book suggests, it is because we are trying to navigate by old stars that have become black holes.

    The real power in Dan's book is that he is surfacing and helping to develop a new paradigm of work -- and reminding us that we still have CHOICE. Our jobs and our lives don't "have" to be a certain way; we can create the world we want, not just accept the one we've been given. But to do so, we must develop a new way of thinking and a different set of capabilities than those we learned in the era of the "organization man". We must become the leaders of our own lives.

    More than just a source of income (wealth), our work can also be a source of well-being, meaning and fulfillment. When we choose work we are passionate about, that calls forth our talents and integrates with the rest of our lives, work energizes us not drains us. However, as a society we have come to accept a belief that work by its very nature can only generate stress and imbalance. Free Agent Nation reminds us that work wasn't always this way; the ways we live and work now are the products of the Industrial Age. We created the "Organization World" and now we are changing it, whether we realize it or not. Dan does a wonderful job of illustrating the new institutions and structures(from Kinkos to coaches) which are already enabling healthier and more fulfilling ways of earning a living.

    Personally and professionally, I know of which I speak. I was reborn (kicking and screaming) as a free agent a year and half ago when the Fortune 100 company I was working for laid me off. I am also a personal coach by profession and now a partner in a firm called Wisdom Works, Inc., which is dedicated to helping people recreate their work, and as a result their lives. Bottom line, this journey of becoming the leader of my own life has been one of the greatest gifts ever given me. Part of MY work is to help others more easily become the freely chosen agents of their lives (and hopefully help them skip the "kicking and screaming" part of the journey -- it's not fun).

    Other researchers (coming from fields as varied as economics, sociology, psychology and spirituality)support Dan's findings that millions of Americans are already creating new ways to make meaning in their work/lives, far beyond just career and financial success. (Ray and Anderson's The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People are Changing the World is just one example.) There is every bit a pull for a better way of life (one tailored to each individuals values, dreams and life stage)as there is a push. Make no mistake, we are being pushed out of jobs -- just read the daily news and really pay attention to the layoffs happening. Yet, whether or not we are in a recession is the wrong question; the very concept of a job is being pushed out with us and so are our traditional measures of economic growth and health, as Dan points out. I would suggest that a more relevant and powerful question for us today might be: "Given the changes already happening, who do we want to become and what is the world we want to create?"

    According to Dan, freedom, authenticity, accountability and self-defined success are the sources of meaning for free agents. Incidentally, research in the field of human development would say that all four are also characteristics of any human being at the higher stages of human growth and evolution. People at these stages are utilizing their greatest talents/gifts and becoming their best/highest selves...and ALL of us have the potential to reach those levels. Personally, I'd love to live in a society of people like that.

    How about you?...more info

  • A Significant "Approximation of New Realities"
    From my perspective, defining a "free agent" has less to do with vocational status than a state of mind but, as professional athletes and their advisors will correctly point out, free agency has some significant legal and economic implications which must be accommodated. Years ago, Pink wrote an article for Fast Company magazine which generated so much interest that he decided to explore the subject in much greater depth. This book is the result of that exploration. The subtitle indicates that he explains "how America's independent workers are transforming the way we live" and presumably the "we" includes all workers as well as those who employ them and those who depend on what they earn. We must also include officials of various regulatory entities (e.g. Social Security, IRS, EEO) who, directly or indirectly, become involved with independent workers.

    The implications of the subtitle suggest why this book is so important: "How America's New Independent Workers Are Transforming the Way We Live." Pink examines a heretofore neglected segment of the workforce, explaining who "free agents" are and what they do; more importantly, the impact they have on the workplace and indeed on our entire culture as their number rapidly increases. The state of mind I referred to earlier is that which any full-time employee can also achieve and sustain, even within a traditional organizational structure. Indeed, it is no coincidence that the most highly admired companies are also the most profitable companies, often dominant within their competitive marketplaces. One of the key reasons for their appeal and profitability is the nature and extent of free agency which those companies not only encourage but frequently require. Southwest Airlines, Nordstrom's, and Ritz-Carlton are but three of countless examples of organizations within which all employees have significant authority as well as responsibility. Such organizations are literally customer-driven without in any way compromising personal integrity or inhibiting prudent initiative of their employees or (if you prefer, as many others do) their "associates."

    I rate this book so highly because Pink (a) makes a significant contribution to our understanding of how and why the contemporary workplace (broadly defined) is undergoing so many major changes, (2) also makes a significant contribution to our understanding how and why independent workers are "transforming the way [all of us] live, and (3) asks questions, addresses issues, and offers suggestions all of which will, I hope, generate rigorous and extensive consideration by others, including those employed full-time.

    Pink organizes his material within five Parts: Welcome to the Free Agent Nation, The Free Agent Way, How (and Why) Free Agency Works, Free Agent Woes, and finally, The Free Agent Future. He then provides an Appendix: "Results of the Free Agent Nation Online Census" which I found information but also thought-provoking. In a well-written Epiloque, Pink observes: "Today -- in good times and bad, at the peak of the boom or the trough of the bust -- the dice are loaded in favor of the individual....The demands of life will escalate. But more people from more backgrounds -- whether they're pushed into free agency or whether they leap -- will be able to throw off conformity, escape subservience, and live out their true potential. That may not be perfection but it's certainly progress." Pink then recalls Alvin Toffler's phrase "the first approximation of the new realities." What we have in this book is Pink's "first approximation" of what he perceives to be "the new realities." In this context, I recall Lily Tomlin's suggestion that reality is "a collective hunch." Also, Voltaire's suggestion that we "cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it." Pink has offered neither the first nor that last "approximation" but what he has offered is important, indeed significant....more info

  • David Shiple, Independent IT Strategy Consultant
    Daniel Pink gives an interesting pep talk and context for America's would-be free agents. He points to several interesting drivers: need to diversify one's skills and salary sources, increased satisfaction due to accountability and ability to make a difference, less of a need to deal with stifling politics, myth of loyalty from employees to institutions - & vice versa; increase of loyalty to specific projects and individuals in your roladex, ability to control your own destiny, ability to control schedule, less dependent on singular corporate mentors, and the increasing numbers of people doing it, etc. Daniel does not go into mechanics, economics, technology enablers, views from client standpoint, problems with being a free agent, ie managing pipeline, billing, difficult clients, etc. A good book, but like many written in the business advice space, I think it could have been said in a good 4 page article....more info
    Free Agent Nation by Daniel H. Pink is not entirely what it seems.

    Daniel Pink is a former speech writer for Al Gore. He wrote for him when Al Gore was serving as Vice President, but not during the campaign for president.

    When Mr Pink left the White House and became, as it were, a Free Agent, he was surprised at the number of people who earned income from running their own small business. It became apparent to him that if the Republican Party was the party of big business and the Democratic Party was the party of labor unions, then the growing demographic of the self employed had no real representation.

    Therefore, Mr Pink explored who these people were, what they were doing, and what they needed. Of course, Mr. Pink is no economist or statistician. Therefore, his analysis seems a bit heavy on the anecdotal. Likewise, this is not a how to book that will tell you step by step what needs to be done to start up your own business.

    Regardless, this is an interesting book that explores a growing social phenomenon of the post-industrial world. ...more info
  • Free Agent Nation - Totally On Trend
    If you already have or are contemplating striking out on your own and looking for ways to explain your decision to your parents, your maiden aunt and most especially yourself fly, do not run, to get this book.

    Free Agent nation clearly and precisely identifies the most important trend in American economic life with style, wit, meticulous research and astonishing prescience.

    Example: the author of this review recently shed the heavy armor of a highly successful ad agency to construct a company free from financial baggage and bureaucracy - one able to totally focus on the quality of the creative product. In the course of musing about it, I stumbled on the notion of the "advertising version of a film production company."

    Turn to page 17 of the book and read about how "America's going Hollywood." The nub of the idea: teams of highly skilled specialists come together to produce a creative product only to disband until the next opportunity draws them again.

    Of course, the fact that Daniel Pink agrees with this reader is of no particular importance. What is important is that this book offers value to anyone in any field that is amenable to free agency (yep, just about everyone). In part, by the sheer eloquence of the writing. In part, by the fact that Pink talks about who's doing it, how they're doing it, why they're doing it and what challenges they're blowing past to get it done.

    If this book is not on every B-school list it's a travesty. If it's not on the shelf of every restless employee, it's a tragedy.

    Sure, there are plenty of trend-spotting books out there. But precious few rise to the high standard of being a manifesto for a new, dynamic and exhuberent way to work.

    Get the book for yourself. And get a copy for Auntie Em next time she plaintively asks "how could you leave a good paying job?" She'll not only get the answer but also, mercifully, shut up while she reads....more info

  • Insightful Analysis of Today's Workforce
    Dan Pink's new offering, "Free Agent Nation", redefines the modern workforce with thoughtful and easy to understand arguments. Free Agents are a way of life in America and Pink lays out the benefits and pitfalls of this new paradigm.

    The most interesting aspect of "Free Agent Nation" is that it is not just a phenomenon reserved for the high-tech or professional world. You see free agents in all walks of life.

    For twenty years, my father was a forklift mechanic for a local company. When the company he worked for went belly up five years ago, he became a free agent. Without knowing it, he followed Pink's model of diversification and is now happier and more secure (not to mention better off financially) than ever before. He contracts long-term with some companies, free-lances project-to-project on others, and also takes emergency one-time jobs.

    He also ran into some of the pitfalls Pink mentions. Though he makes three times more money than he did as a "company man", lenders were initially skeptical of giving a loan to someone without a "steady" paycheck.

    "Free Agent Nation" will convince more than one teetering "Company Man" to make the jump into free agency. Dan Pink's book is excellent and should be read by anyone contemplating hanging up there own shingle.

    On second thought, this book should be read by those who haven't entertained such thoughts. It will open their eyes to a whole new way of life....more info

  • Our children have a bright future
    Free agency is the key to the renewal of the family and a more satisfying way to earn a living. By enabling the "blending" of family and business rather than the so-called "balancing" of work versus family there is good new ahead for our families and ourselves. This book is extremely well written and captures the best of the social trends sweeping this country. If you were disturbed by the trends discussed in "Bowling Alone" by Robert Putnam, "Free Agent Nation" gives you hope for the future. This is one of the best books I have read this year. A real winner !! Six Stars....more info
  • The Key to the New Economy
    Daniel Pink has provided us with a glimpse of what could be as we make our way through this revolution in our economy.

    In his book, the author challenges the traditional definitons of work, success, and loyalty.

    As an free agent myself, I know Pink is on target and I recommend this book to anyone considering this lifestyle. Pink spent a year traveling the country, interviewing people from all walks of life who no longer depend on a company to take care of them.

    We benefit from hearing their stories and from Pink's own insights such as "Working hard for a far off reward is often a valuable exercise, but the act of work itself should produce it's own intrinsic rewards. And since no position is permanent . . .you might as well enjoy what you do."

    He encourages us to take responsibility for our life and work and in his new edition he even shares strategies on how to do just that....more info

  • Defining New World of Work for the Self Employed
    This book is about independent freelancers merrily toiling away
    in their underwear in a home workspace, as Pink states, in HOHO,
    or "His Office/Her Office". He seems to delight in creating new
    terms to define what is increasingly common for self-employed
    professionals -- independence.

    Here're some Pinkisms, emphasized in chapter-end "boxes":

    * "Nanocorp. A microbusiness that remains 'ruthlessly small' --
    as both a personal preference and a competitive strategy."

    * "Digital Marxism. With inexpensive computers, wireless handheld
    devices, and ubiquitous low-cost connections to the internet,
    workers can now own the means of production."

    * "Corporate Yenta. An entity that matches independent workers
    with firms or projects that need their short term help."

    The first few pages introduce the thesis that we're becoming
    a Free Agent Nation where the old idea of the "Organization Man"
    is giving way to the concept of "e-lancers" holding meetings
    at Starbucks coffee houses and home schooling their kids.

    He sweeps up the dust of our tired old ideas as he continues
    to show us how the "industrial economy separated work and
    family." While ... "The free agent economy is rejoining them."
    He illustrates change by reporting that "My size fits me" has
    now replaced "One size fits all" of not only work but education
    as well.

    Pink is well known for his prognostications on the future for
    Fast Company Magazine and leaps right out there with a few
    shocking ideas indicating massive changes in the economy by
    suggesting entrepreneurs will sell shares in themselves to put
    the "I" back in IPO's with F.A.N. (Free Agent Nation) bonds.
    Financial instruments that emphasize talent and creativity over
    the more common mass of corporate safety and financial bulk.

    He wraps up by suggesting that women will replace the "Old Boy
    Network" and rule the landscape of a new economy because they
    are better suited to community and sharing rather than the
    old male "conquer and topple" model of business success.
    Maybe it's the only way men can be seen as equals, when we have
    to out-think women rather than bully and threaten them.

    Now I'm not sure he's got it all right, but damn! The next
    few years will be nothing if not exciting as they unfold to
    expose the flower of this budding new world as seen by Pink!...more info

  • Great book for tough times
    I bought this book a few months ago, but never found time to read it. Then I got laid off for the second time in four years (which meant I had lots of time to read it.) It might have been my lucky break. Nearly every page in this book has a fact, an idea, an argument, or a piece of advice that I felt compelled to underline. In addition, Daniel Pink (the author) is a very engaging and funny writer. Free Agent Nation changed my whole outlook on work and careers. Thank you, Daniel!...more info
  • Dan Pink is brilliant. Period. This book is The Future 101
    Dan Pink is brilliant. This is not an overstatement. He gets a monster trend that everyone else has tripped over and ignored. He gets it. He articulates it. It's a GREAT read. Miss this book and you might find yourself in the unemployment line when you could be a thriving free agent. My hardcover copy looks like a textbook from my favorite class in college. His research is outstanding. And don't miss the paperback either - this is a fast moving topic and the paperback has additional material. This is a MUST READ book....more info
  • Practical Reality
    Great book that provides more insight into our New Economy. We come across many more "Free Agents" today than in the past. Employers expect us to be ones as well. Planning moves, assessing the current work situation, and plotting the next adventure is a necessity whether the economy is strong or weak. Our co-workers, friends, family, and even our bosses say things regarding their work situation that wouldn't be thought of only a short time ago. The worker today needs to keep his and her eyes open, constantly looking for another opportunity, that will enhance their marketability. One needs to keep the Antennas and feelers out. For if the worker doesn't do it, there will likely come a time when the Employer will. Today's New Economy is one of constant change. People where I've worked have been referred to as "Old Timers," and they've only been with the company for three years. Very interesting and relevant book. It can help one asses one's situation. The days of Uncle Joe staying at the same corporation or shop ended in the 1970s. This is a very practical book, especially for the oder workforce that isn't particularly well-read to begin with....more info
  • Great book / excellent analysis - Easy to read too!
    This book does an excellent job in showing how the U.S. employment market is truly changing in modern times. Instead of being captives of the corporation income-earners are now free agents, including some 30 million freelancers, temps, and microbusiness owners. The lifestyles and philosophies of this growing group will impact the labor pool, retirement, education, real estate, and politics.

    While Daniel Pink terms the phrase "Free Agent Nation" to describe the current economy he basically hits on the fact that the U.S. economy is a more knowledge-based, service-oriented economy without using all the economic jargon. While Pink doesn't focus on the evolution of the U.S. economy (agricultural to industrial to service & technology) he focuses heavily on "big picture" issues that will arise from such an economy. While I wish he explained to everyone the increase in our societies wealth and standard of living from such an evolution he doesn't. But it helps the flow and makes it a lot easier and fun to read, that is for sure!

    Pink does an excellent job in assessing why our economy is evolving. Free Agency is a post-industrial phenomenon that thrives in areas where innovation and flexibility are the only means of survival. Pink concludes that our current evolution is a function partially of what William Whyte wrote in "The Organization Man" in 1956. Today's worker, if properly educated and full networked has the ability to specialize and participate in the U.S. economy in a radically different way than in the past.

    If you are considering working for yourself, especially if you are a college-educated individual who considers the corporate route the only way to go, I would highly encourage you to read this book. Other books of interest about "big picture" workplace issues are Peter Drucker's Management Challenges for the 21st Century and As the Future Catches You by Juan Enriquez, which does an excellent job (in a very brief chapter or two of the book) to show why rich nations are pulling further and further ahead of other countries and what it means in the long-term to the training of a countries workforce....more info

  • Why The Media Will View This Book Through A Very Biased Lens
    Engage your imagination.

    Think of the individuals who provide the standard information we depend on -- those working for the mega-corporations that control TV, magazines and newspapers; the professors at universities and the consultants at large firms; and the public information officers working for the government -- as people whose very view of the world is supported, both economically and contextually, by the many concentric rings of a tree (their employer). These rings show the tree is many decades old, and planted firmly in the ground.

    One who is attached to such a solid, massive, rooted tree would hardly notice the slender, fresh young shoots popping out from the ground far below, even if those shoots are numerous in the tens of millions. Individually, they're just too tiny.

    Dan Pink's book is about the growing power, influence and population of those fresh young shoots. Even to acknowledge the validity of his premise shakes the big trees in a frightening way, down to their core foundations.

    I know whereof I speak. Until 1985, I was a tiny tendril of a branch of one of the great old trees. It was in 1985 I left my post as McGraw-Hill's World News San Francisco Bureau Chief. I know how to "wear the hat" of old-tree warrior-reporter.

    For 16 years I have been a free agent (I didn't know to call myself that until I read Pink's cover story in Fast Company). It was always curious to me that wearing my corporate newsman's hat, I could never see me writing about someone such as myself in my current incarnation -- solely because, as a free agent, I didn't have the institutional affilation (that is, I wasn't part of an old tree) which was needed to be seen by the media as credible.

    Of course, those things have changed somewhat in 16 years, as Pink so skillfully documents. But here's the most important point -- a few days ago, the government (one old tree) reported that in the previous month there was a huge wave of corporate layoffs (from another old tree), and expert economists (working for yet other old trees) announced that now we're in a recession, making their announcement through, of course, the mass media (yet another group of old trees).

    They may be right. They may be wrong. But their measurements are focused on a decreasingly important part of the economy. And, what is more, nobody factored into those measurements of economic movement what the 30-million-plus free agents had been up to during the same previous month.

    I dwell on these points because they illustrate how revolutionary -- in, I might emphasize, a pro-capitalist, economy-expanding way -- the book Free Agent Nation is. Many people aren't visionary enough to understand yet how well Pink has adduced a blueprint for the future in this book. But if you're interested in this book, you probably have enough of a sense of where we're heading to realize we will become a much less institutionally determined, and a much more individually negotiated, economy and society.

    Whether you are of the old tree persuasion, between trees, a free agent, or "other," you'll get a radical reframing of your view of the world by reading this well researched and brilliantly thought-through book. The information in Free Agent Nation is valuable for your own career planning, and for all of your outside business dealings. That it's amusing is merely a plus.

    But don't expect the reporters collecting paychecks from the most respected business publications and highest-circulation newspapers to give you glowing reviews of this book. Or even to step outside themselves to see what it says. Because what it says is too damned threatening for them personally to give it a fair shake....more info

  • exceeded my high expectations
    Free Agent Nation exceeded my expectations, which were high to begin with. This is not just a drawn-out version of Pink's classic cover story in Fast Company. It reflects extensive research and provides many surprising insights and interesting predictions.

    This is not a book you can polish off in an hour or two. It is difficult to convey in a brief review the depth and richness of Free Agent Nation.

    Pink demonstrates that free agents are a large and growing share of the work force. He describes some of the economic forces contributing to this phenomenon, but he finds that free agents themselves explain their reasons for leaving the corporate world in psychological terms: a desire for freedom, authenticity, accountability, and flexible concepts of success.

    Pink shows that free agents have their own unique perspectives and solutions to such challenges as security, workplace relationships, career advancement, and work-family balance. For example, he describes the way that peer networks are providing the type of career support that formerly came from within large corporations.

    Whether you like it or not, the gravitational forces between individuals and large corporations are weakening. In the future, how will business be re-organized? How will the economy function? Daniel Pink asks the big questions, and he comes up with a lot of fascinating answers. I expect Free Agent Nation to become the most talked-about nonfiction book of the year....more info

  • Great if you think like a self-helper
    This book didn't do it for me. It has a lot of overview, theory, selective details and glancing personal accounts--but all of it in a tone of an infomercial. The problem is that this way of approaching any subject rarely gets people to achieve the goals that Pink urges us on to. Instead, it continues an ongoing addiction to self-help books which may be the next silver bullet to our woes. . . but most often it's not.

    He takes a broad survey of a lot of fields, grabs bits of information and formulates it into theories about being a free agent. Having been a grunt-work temp, a freelancer, and now a homeschooling mom (free-agent education), the descriptions seem less-than-rigorous and his conclusions are overdone. Zeal is a powerful force and Pink has lots of it. But it's a force that hasn't matured and mellowed into evenhanded understandings which are brought by in-the-trenches personal experience. And that is what a lot of us need to join the free-agent world....more info
  • Waste of Money for Self-Employed Wannabees
    If you just want to learn =about= self-employed people, this is a good book. If you want to learn =how= to become successfully self-employed, save your money. There are too many other books that will be truly helpful, such as Get Clients Now!, The Well-Fed Writer, and InfoGuru Marketing....more info
  • Interesting.....not compelling......
    At a macro level Dan Pinks view of the "free agent nation" is interesting. The information is well presented and opens a vault of thought and consideration for taking a closer look at micro business. I was looking for more case studies. A peek into a few more examples of how individuals were making sustainable transitions away from the main stream. I looked to this title for inspiration and it didn't deliver to my expectations. A good read, but not compelling enough to re-visit. ...more info
  • This Book changed my life!!
    And I never thought I would say that about any book other than the Bible. But Pink's book has become my professional Bible. I wasn't one of those wise ones who sat down, thought it all out, weighed all the plusses and minuses, and made a decision. Nope, not me. That makes way too much sense! After being left stranded high and dry after the Technology industry downturn last year, and scrambling to make it; little by little, one job here, one job there, I finally realized I was making it, and pretty well, but without the traditional J-O-B. Then I ran across Dan's book, and found myself!! It is overflowing with advice, insights, perspective, tips, you-name-it for those who love freedom and controlling their own life more than a corner office with a rubber tree plant!

    If you want to understand the current revolution in the workplace, read this book.

    If you think you might be interested in being a Free Agent, study this book!

    If you're trying to make it as a Free Agent, DEVOUR this book.

    Thanks for all your hard work, Dan! I can never thank you enough!!!...more info

  • READ THIS BOOK! It changed my whole outlook
    Every next page of this book made my choices about my "free agent" working style legitimate. It has validated in print my choice and also my reasons for the choice. (I'm not a slacker, Mom, I'm a free agent!) It articulated all the things I have felt - and felt compelled to do - that I could never explain to people in any way that didn't sound like I was making excuses. It has been so overwhelming and freeing to read about others making the same choices for the same reasons. I have always felt rebellious and guilty like a bratty little kid for how I was working and living. Now I feel like a woman out on the cutting edge, a woman of the 21st century, instead. This book has cleared the deck, has unhooked me from the idea that "the corporation woman" is the only legitimate choice I could make for myself. I feel bouncy and cocky and hip instead of guilty and slightly embarrassed. It's changed my whole outlook, and I'll be forever grateful to Dan Pink....more info
  • Enlightening and Motivational
    I found this book inspirational in the sense that before the four-minute mile barrier for running was broken, people felt it couldn't be achieved. However, once the record was broken, others were inspired to strive for their own sub-four-minute records.
    As Dan Pink presents the stories and lessons in Free Agent Nation which he gleaned from interviews with numerous "free agents" I felt my pace quicken in the self-employed race I run daily. It is motivational to run with the knowledge that I'm not running solo but part of a growing number of free agents striving for our own four-minute miles. And the summary of free agent guidelines at the end of the book gave me the confidence that I'm on the right track. ...more info
  • A manifesto for worker independence in the 21st century
    As a traditional corporate employee in a slower moving country this book completely blew my mind. During my frequent travels to the United States I have been catching glimpses of this emerging movement towards free agency, but this book lays it out in full in a way nobody has done before. Not a single aspect of free agency has been overlooked: the economic, the historical, the psychologic, the personal, the social, and the political aspects, along with the advantages, disadvantages, and the plight of the free agents less fortunate cousins (temps), everything is here. The book contains a mixture of personal experience, anectdotes from others, and solid statistics that is just right, it's neither impersonally abstract and theoretical, nor too personal and unrepresentative of the whole. A word of advice: this is not a how-to book. There are no second person directives on becoming a free agent (you should do should try that...etc). It's crafted more along the lines of a sociological study, except that the author's enthusiasm for the subject shows through. Even though he doesn't address the reader directly, all along he seems to be saying: what are you waiting for? You can tell that Pink had fun writing this, which makes his case for free agency all the more convincing. It's sad that most of the trends he documents will be confined to the United States for some time to come, but even then I will be measuring my potential for going solo against what this book documents. I have no doubt that the trend towards worker independence will prevail and prove very positive, and that this book will stand along with Future Shock and Megatrends as one of the most influential and prophetic works of the past 50 years....more info
  • FAN Haiku Review
    Free Agent Nation by Daniel Pink is a timely survey of free agents across America. Their case histories are amplified through the lens of his extensive knowledge. The book shines light on events "organization men" do not want to see, events they will not admit are taking place. People are taking control of their work lives whether or not they are employed by large corporations, by government or by large associations. Mr. Pink uses several Japanese language terms to flavor certain significant points. One example is the word "karoshi". Karoshi describes a phenomenon many of us who have worked in large organizations have experienced, namely "death from overwork." Pink's frequent use of Japanese word-images combined with the fact that many excellent reviews have already been written about this book (another standard review might not be productive) stimulated our creative juices. At the risk of being excessively creative, what follows are some of the points we have gained from the book and resonate with our experience. They are written in the form of a 17-syllable haiku (but with no seasonal or nature images as was traditional) and occasionally we use the longer 31-syllable tanka. PROLOGUE
    Daniel Pink wrote the
    Free Agent Nation for all
    who control their work
    or need to and leave behind
    false security and lies.
    Near karoshi, Pink
    barfed in Veep's office (almost).
    Left jobs forever.
    Bye, Bye, Organization Guy
    Man dominated progress
    past but no longer.
    Shattered by Free Agency
    Tailorism not Taylor.
    How Many are There?
    The Numbers and Nuances of Free Agency
    Soloist, temp and
    microbusiness abound,
    all ruthlessly small.
    How Did It Happen?
    The Four Ingredients of Free Agency
    Digital Marxism
    destroyed need for big, secure,
    corporation work.
    Free Agent work is meaning.
    Free Agent work outlives them.
    New wonder, new way
    new clock, new name all coming
    to all those who dare.
    The New Work Ethic
    Now work is fun with
    the Peter-Out Principle.
    Maslow, Maguire speak!
    The New Employment Contract
    Security for
    loyalty bargain crumbled.
    Now redirected.
    The New Time Clock
    Work-time karoshi.
    Death no more from overwork,
    Free Agents own time.
    Free Agent engine
    small groups, Golden Rule, Starbucks, Kinko's and the net.
    Small Groups, Big Impact:
    Reinventing Togetherness in Free Agent Nation
    Free Agent Nation
    Confederations sprang up.
    Board and therapy.
    Getting Horizontal:
    The Free Agent Org Chart and Operating System
    Free Agent Org Chart
    is fluid relationships,
    enlightened self-interest
    The Free Agent Infrastructure
    Centrally planned gone
    Free Agent infrastructure
    new self-organized.
    CHAPTER 10
    Matchmakers, Agents and Coaches
    Economy's most
    important resource talent
    replaced capital,
    corporate yenta collateral
    worker match project.
    CHAPTER 11
    Free Agent Families
    Balancing work and
    family now
    more natural
    my size fits me
    Obsolete laws and
    policies harm Free Agents.
    Change them together.
    CHAPTER 12
    Roadblocks on Free Agent Avenue:
    Health Insurance, Taxes and Zoning
    Free-Agent vicious
    laws unjustly punish them.
    F.A.N. response: Freedom
    of choice is number one and
    nobody dictates to me.
    CHAPTER 13
    Temp Slaves, Permatemps and the Rise of Self-Organized Labor
    Freedom and independence
    flip to anxiety
    and insecurity
    new worker organizations are emerging
    Future scenarios
    unfold. Free Agents thrive: Old, young, all between.
    CHAPTER 14
    Free Agency and the New Old Age
    E-net platform
    for senior soloists
    to get and do global work
    CHAPTER 15
    School's Out:
    Free Agency and the Future of Education
    Poor international
    test scores:
    "If we're so dumb,
    how come we're so rich?"
    CHAPTER 16
    Location, Location . . . Vocation:
    Free Agency and the Future of Offices, Homes and Real Estate
    Virtual teaming
    and "heads-down" work,
    holographic teleconferencing
    and Face-to-face with colleagues
    New Age offices
    CHAPTER 17
    Putting the "I" in IPO:
    The Path Toward Free Agent Finance
    Free Agents finance:
    Borrow, sell stakes, issue bonds
    on themselves to grow
    CHAPTER 18
    A Chip Off the Old Voting Bloc:
    The New Politics of Free Agency Just-in-time-politics
    Meet current demand for
    Simpler tax and rights
    CHAPTER 19
    What's Left:
    Free Agency and the Future of Commerce, Careers and Community
    Lego careers built
    with contacts, skills, desires,
    Grandma Betty poured
    some coffee, served some bagels,
    now a Free Agent...more info
  • A must read for anyone selling to the Free Agent market
    If you sell products or services to small businesses and SOHO's (as we do) you need to read this book. I had so many notes and highlights in my personal copy, I bought two more copies and gave them to my Marketing and Business Development folks to read.

    In my discussions with potential investors for vFirm over the past few months, I often relied on the book as a reference to provide dimension to the target market. Everyone "talks" about the huge small business market, but this book has the statistics and the research to back it up. It is a wealth of information.

    The book captured precisely the life I led as a "Serial Free Agent" (I started a technology licensing firm, and then a patent law firm before founding vFirm), including meetings with clients at Starbucks, starting out in an executive office suite, getting presentations done at Kinko's, shopping at Office Depot, etc.

    This is the best book I have read on the SOHO/small business market. If you sell to this market, buy the book. If you are a Free Agent, buy the book. If you are thinking of going the Free Agent route, buy the book....more info

  • Wave of the Future
    This book examines the "free agent" phenomenon in the U.S. and illustrates how the world of work is truly changing. It is extremely well written and focused. "Free agency" is a post-industrial phenomenon that thrives in areas where innovation and flexibility are the only means of survival (e.g. information technology). I enjoyed this book because I consider myself to be a free agent. It is very encouraging for those of us who strike out on our own....more info
  • Spend Time Elsewhere
    Not a bad book if you have exhausted your list of other business and self-help literature. This book could easily have been reduced by a hundred pages and still made the point that the corporate world of the fifties has been transformed into the free agent world of the 21st century. When Pink focuses on a specific issue the quality of his analysis and the value of the book rises. However, like so many business books of the day it fails to create sustained value and interest. Off to the used rack. (Are there any editors left in the publishing world?)...more info
  • On your own . . .
    This book is all about how America's new independent workers are transforming the way we live and the economy in which we work. This book was recommended by a new friend and mentor and it has been timely indeed. The work that Daniel Pink has done to document the new business model sweeping America will undoubtedly have detractors and naysayers. Yet it fits with my own experience in the high technology market in which I have spent more than thirty years.

    Mr. Pink points out that the largest employer in the U.S. is Milwaukee's Manpower, Inc. and that two out of three workers in California do not hold traditional jobs. These facts, combined with the aging of the American Workforce, the need for more family friendly schedules, and advancing technology makes for a powerful prediction that more and more American workers will be Free Agents in the next century.?

    This book is full of interesting factoids, anecdotal data, and documented trends that not only make the point for Free Agency, but is convincing for the predictions made. The format of the book is also useful in that each chapter ends with "The Box."? This summary includes "The Crux," which is the salient point of the chapter; "The Factoid," which is a major and usually surprising fact that supports the crux of the chapter; "The Quote," which is also lifted out of the chapter and serves to support the conclusions; and "The Word," which is usually a new word or phrase that Mr. Pink believes can be moved into the lexicon of the Free Agent.?

    A timely and useful book and one that all managers (who are toast according to Mr. Pink) and employees alike must take the time to read. Whether or not you are or plan to be a Free Agent, this book will prove extremely useful in understanding our workplace and the emerging economy....more info

  • Powerful Insights for Free Agents AND Employers
    Reading this book was irritating! I've developed a habit of turning down the corners of pages when something on that page is particularly interesting to me. I discovered that I was turning down practically every page of Free Agent Nation! Daniel Pink has accomplished what most readers of non-fiction books desire: he's put solid value on almost every page. Your thoughts will be constantly stimulated as you move through this book.

    Our lives have changed substantially since William Whyte wrote The Organization Man in 1956. The work environment experienced by today's generation-and tomorrow's-is radically different. Instead of being captives of the organizational mode, income-earners are now free agents, including some 30 million freelancers, temps, and microbusiness owners. The lifestyles and philosophies of this growing group will impact the labor pool, retirement, education, real estate, and politics. Daniel Pink's name will go down in literary history for Free Agent Nation because he has so effectively covered the underlying philosophy of a generation.

    Free Agent Nation, an engaging, smooth read, is organized into five parts. The first part introduces us to what Free Agent Nation is all about. Chapter 2 gets right into "Numbers and Nuances" to give the reader a deep understanding. Chapter 3 explains how free agency happened. "Four ingredients were essential: 1) the social contract of work-in which employees traded loyalty for security-crumbled; 2) individuals needed a large company less, because the means of production-that is, the tools necessary to create wealth-went 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 only to make money, but also to make meaning; 4) the half-life of organizations began shrinking, assuring that most individuals will outlive any organization for which they work."

    Part Two explores The Free Agent Way, the new relationship between worker and employer. Part Three gets into How (and Why) Free Agency Works. Pink explains how people get connected-with work opportunities and with each other. While many free agents work alone, they are not alone. There is a growing community of mutually-supportive independent members in an evolving new design of society. But, all is not rosy in Free Agent Nation; this is not Camelot. Part Four examines the problems that arise from laws, taxes, and insurance. An interesting chapter (13) on Temp Slaves, Permatemps, and the Rise of Self-Organized Labor reveals the seedier side of this picture. Pay careful attention, and you can almost feel the changes that are coming.

    Part Five engages The Free Agent Future. Chapter 14 addresses E-tirement, confirming that older members of our society will be playing much different roles than in previous generations. The chapter on Education gives some initial insight into some different approaches to lifelong learning. Educators take note: your lives will be changing . . . are you ready? Concluding chapters explore free agent finance, politics, and how free agency will influence commerce, careers, and community in the years ahead.

    With all that said, let's take a look at who the author is and how this book was put together. Daniel Pink is a former White House speech writer and Contributing Editor to Fast Company magazine. To research this topic, he invested more than a year on the road conducting face-to-face interviews with several hundred citizens of the Free Agent Nation. He met with real people, who are quoted and cited by name in most cases. The text comes alive with the insightful stories of people who are living-and often loving-their free agent status. These case studies are beautifully interwoven, producing a delightful fabric for the reader to caress. Warning: you'll find your mind leaving the page and floating into day dreams and contemplations numerous times.

    To bring readers back to the reality of the core of his treatise, Pink concludes each chapter with what he calls "The Box." Included in this one-page-per-chapter feature are the key information and arguments of the chapter. The four components of this summary box are "The Crux," a summary of 150 words or less; "The Factoid," a particularly revealing statistic from the chapter; "The Quote," which pulls one representative quotation from the chapter; and "The Word," a novel term or phrase from the new vocabulary of free agency. As the author explains, "Read only "The Box" and you'll miss the chapter's narrative and nuance-but not, I hope, it's point."

    An appendix on the free agent census and a good index complete this book. If you're ready to learn about the evolution and revolution in the world of work, this book will be a treasure for you....more info

  • Empowering, well-researched and easy-to-read
    During the 1990's, when everyone was working outrageous hours to keep their jobs, my wife and I had numerous conversations about what we predicted would be a nationwide mutiny. We wondered how long people would go on sacrificing their families and personal lives for an ever-increasing workload as a condition of employment. Well, it looks like the mutiny might already be underway.

    According to Daniel Pink in his landmark book, Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself, the defining chasm came when employees could no longer look to their employer for security. Without security, loyalty to an employer became a thing of the past - replaced by a move toward self-employment (or free agency), and fierce loyalty instead to clients and to personal values and dreams.

    If you're a free agent, you will find this book inspiring, empowering and enlightening. In fact, you might even find enough insight to finally explain to your friends and loved ones who "just don't quite get it" just what you do for a living. If you are considering self-employment, this book will be invaluable.

    Daniel Pink makes a compelling case that free agency is a giant step in the direction of a new declaration of independence - this time from "The Organization." Free Agent Nation is a well-researched and easy-to-read study of this revolution.
    In an economy where good ideas can be more valuable than last-century physical assets, there is little doubt that a significant shift in attitudes has occurred. Pink backs his case with interesting statistics (that's not an oxymoron). For example:

    - Fewer than one in 10 people work for a Fortune 500 company
    - Two out of three workers in California don't hold traditional jobs
    - Most workers outlive the organizations that employ them
    - Independent professionals are twice as likely as others to have personal incomes over $75,000
    - Business incorporations are growing five times faster than the population
    - 69% of all new businesses are located in the owner's place of residence
    - The American economy has twice as many free agents as it has members of labor unions

    The impact of such changes will affect each of us - whether we are a free agent or a W-2 worker - and Pink outlines how 20th century institutions and policies will be affected, too.

    He even takes free agency a step further and refers to Abraham Maslow's legendary hierarchy of needs: "Only when man's more basic needs are fulfilled will he be free to engage his talents toward realizing his true human potential defined as self-actualization." Has our society reached that point?...more info

  • For those who dare to change.......... paths
    It was in September that I actually began to read this book and now more than ever I think it is a timely book to recommend since its core argument is that more people now and in the future will be their own boss, either contracting themselves out or working as stand alone smaller partnerships.

    One of the most positive aspects of the book is the last page of each chapter. It is akin to the notes we have all taken at a lecture etc that we refer to for the breakdown of what was shared. In this section he presents The Crux; The Factoid; The Quote and The Word. You will have to read the book to see the value of this, since it is of great value.
    In Chapter 19, page 310 he really addresses this issue. This is really important for those who think a business needs "managers."

    In this chapter responding to a question about what will happen to managers in a world of free agency, will they become obsolete? He replies that most managers are toast already and that we need to remember what the "traditional" managers job has been anyway. Surveillance on employees and filters for the operation. That in the future as is often the case now, many employees work offsite and that tattletales as I call them or (smiling) teachers pets, stifle creativity and create an aura of parent which in turn really is a bummer for morale.

    And I had my interest perked tempted what have you when I began to read Chapter 16 on page 261 where he discusses Location, Vocation, Free Agency etc and the Future of the Office. Why? Because he lists an add for a home for sale in a "homeschooling community" and being homeschoolers I figured that the guys was the typical liberal hostile to those of us who have homeschooled . And it is an excellent chapter about how some of us are or have sought shelter and work at home from rural areas, that in decades past would have been for the well to do only.

    Now, I have to admit I almost didn't read the book since it begins by noting the author was a speech writer for Al Gore. Since Al Gore never struck me as very warm or convincing when he spoke I questioned whether the author was going to be much better. Then my husband reminded me that no writer could succeed in making a tree sound to literate no matter how hard they tried.

    And then the author proceeded to convince me my husband was right....more info

  • How the Talented Are Creating a Better Life
    The term, free agent, is borrowed from sports. It describes the players who are most talented and for whom other teams bid. As a result, they often command enormous salaries, perks, and influence. Recently, the term has been applied to people like free lance software programmers who are sought after because of their special expertise. In Free Agent Nation, the term is applied more broadly to describe all those who rely on project assignments outside of being directly and permanently employed by someone else. This group includes lots of professional free lancers as well as people who work through temporary agencies with few skills at deadly dull tasks.

    The ideal in the 1950s was to work for one employer, to be loyal to that employer and to receive loyalty in return. Steady progress would follow as seniority grew. Keeping the ship afloat came before the individual's needs. This world was described in the classic book, The Organization Man by William H. Whyte, Jr. Since then the world has changed quite a bit, and Daniel H. Pink's Free Agent Nation is the conscious updating of the working ideal to reflect today's growing free lance economy. This ideal emphasizes freedom, work satisfaction, flexibility, accountability, self-defined markers of success, and being authentic in your own eyes. It's the ultimate of wanting to do good and to do well.

    Mr. Pink draws on his own experiences, hundreds of interviews with free agents, qualitative surveys, and his review of the literature on this subject to weave together the best integrated story on how independent work is becoming a norm as well as an ideal in the United States. Mr. Pink's strength is that he is a great communicator. He deftly weaves his various sources into a tautly connected story that will make sense to anyone who reads it or has lived it. He connected quite a few dots for me that I have never thought of as being connected before.

    The book will be of most value to those who are thinking about leaving traditional employment to become a free agent. Free Agent Nation does a good job of describing what the benefits are once you have made the shift. On the other hand, the book almost totally ignores the difficult transitions that most people go through. If you are looking for advice on how to make the shift, some of what is in here will help, but you would do well to talk to some people who are doing what you would like to do first in order to get their ideas on how to transition.

    The book describes who the free agents are, estimates how many of them there are (a lot more than you probably suspect), how this work style emerged, and why people like it. Essentially, the model described here is a return to the agrarian model of a family growing its own food and always being in close touch. The main change is that people use technology to work from their own homes to meet their material needs rather than farming. Mr. Pink also connects this trend to the rise in home schooling, by showing the traditional school and university to be more similar to the factory model than today's society and economy.

    The best part of the book for me was the description of how people are making free agency work and the problems they run into. Basically, loyalty is being reborn into loyalty to a rolodex of contacts and clients rather to an employer. An infrastructure is being built up to support free agents (from Kinko's to agents and coaches). Increasingly, two free agents head a family with children. In these cases, the children (such as Mr. Pink's daughter) don't understand that some people have offices outside the home.

    The weakest part of the book is his scenarios of the possible future for free agents. He is closest in his estimation that free agency will probably eliminate retirement to the rocker on the porch. It is less clear to me that high schools and prestigious universities will be eliminated by home education and on-line learning. His speculations about being able to float debt publicly are probably pretty accurate. I'm skeptical that individual IPOs will become frequent for the average free agent. On the other hand, a benefit of extreme scenarios is to stimulate your thinking. Mr. Pink's work is very helpful in that sense, and towards the end of the book he suggests that this was his purpose in proposing the scenarios.

    Mr. Pink's optimistic imagination makes this book much more lively than how the same subject would be treated by an academic. For example, the book opens with a scene in which he becomes ill as a result of exhaustion after meeting with vice president Gore. Many people would have treated this incident in a heavy way. Mr. Pink puts a humorous tone on it. He also approaches the Census Bureau for permission to be deputized to do his own census of the free agents, and is politely rebuffed. But this was no mere stunt, for he had actually found precedent for his proposal in the very first census.

    Undoubtly, this book will encourage scholars and sociologists to follow up with quantative studies of the "free agent next door." Those will be helpful, but I'm sure they won't be as entertaining and stimulating as this work.

    Whether or not you think you want to become a free agent, I suggest that you read this book. If Mr. Pink is correct, you will probably be downsized, rightsized, or consulted into being one anyway. You might as well understand what is coming.

    Sculpt your life into a beautiful expression of your values and talents!

    ...more info

  • It missed a few points
    The most interesting miss was the author glossing over the state of health care for the Free Agent. It is difficult at best for the individual to cover the cost of health care and unlikely that any of us could afford even a moderately serious illness or injury. The numbers of individuals and professions where the majority of practitioners are independant providers. Physicians, attorneys, plumbers, programmers, and dozens of others provide solutions on a pay per use basis. For anyone who works in this mode or is thinking about working this way, grab a copy immediately. You might be surprised. In all, it made me want to raise my rates....more info