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Free Agent Nation
How America's Independent Workers are Transforming the Way We Live

by Dan Pink

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Review: Pink Eyes Free Agent Nation

Free Agent Nation is quite simply the best book written this century about emerging social trends shaping the world of business and our lives!... Okay. It's early in the century. But that's the point.

Free Agent Nation is an immensely readable, fact-filled, story-driven snapshot of the current state of life for independent, self-employed, entrepreneurial workers... the State of the Union for Free Agent Nation, if you will. But Pink is at his best and most provocative in his future's thinking. And it is Dan's prognostications that will, in time, elevate his book to classic status.

Sohodojo's Jim and Timlynn lunch with Dan Pink during Dan's book tour stop in Raleigh...
Dan Pink does lunch with Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn during his Free Agent Nation Book Tour. Dan's keeping an eye on the Small Is Good Business Revolution in the North Carolina corner of Free Agent Nation.

In the closing chapters of Free Agent Nation, Dan Pink deftly projects far-reaching implications of the 'dejobbing' of the workplace and the emergence of a dynamic Talent Market... the marketplace and economy of Free Agent Nation. He tackles the ripple of free agency from the workplace to our neighborhoods, political systems and the very social fabric of our lives in the 21st Century.

Whether you are a free agent, e-lancer, micropreneur or nanocorp, or whether you just want to better understand the great changes that are reshaping the workplace and our lives, you must read this book.

Dan Pink's 19 Words Defining Free Agent Nation - 'nanocorp' is one of them!

Visit Dan Pink's Free Agent Nation web site...
Dan's web site is back! Check out the beta version...

Being a free agent himself, Dan appreciates the demands on time-starved free agent readers. So Dan thoughtfully provides 'The Box', a summation page at the end of each chapter presenting four elements: 'The Crux', 'The Factoid', 'The Quote' and the crowning glory, 'The Word' that captures the chapter's essential content and arguments of Free Agent Nation.

Imagine our pleasure at learning that a word coined at Sohodojo, 'nanocorp', made it into Dan's lexicon of Free Agent Nation!

Here, chapter-by-chapter, are Dan Pink's Nineteen Words Defining Free Agent Nation:

  1. Bye, Bye, Organization Guy
    The Word: Tailorism. The free agent's approach to work; descendent of Taylorism, Frederick Winslow Taylor's One Best Way method of mass production. Under Tailorism, free agents fashion their work lives to suit their own needs and desires... Opposite of the One Size Fits All ethic of the Organization Man era. (Synonym: My Size Fits Me) (pg. 25)

  2. How Many Are There? The Numbers and Nuances of Free Agency
    The Word: Nanocorp. A microbusiness that remains "ruthlessly small" - as both a personal preference and a competitive strategy. (pg. 46)

  3. How Did It Happen? The Four Ingredients of Free Agency
    The Word: Digital Marxism. With the proliferation of inexpensive computers, wireless handheld devices, and ubiquitous low-cost connections to the Internet, workers can now own the means of production. (pg. 55)

  4. The New Work Ethic
    The Word: The Peter-Out Principle. Successor to the famous Peter Principle, which held that people would rise through the ranks of an organization until they reached their level of incompetence. The Peter-Out Principle holds that people will move up the ranks of an organization until they stop having fun. When the fun peters out, the talented people walk out - usually to become free agents. (pg. 84)

  5. The New Employment Contract
    The Word: Horizontal Loyalty. The successor of vertical loyalty, which flowed upward - from an individual to an institution or authority figure. By contrast, this new loyalty flows laterally. It is a fierce, and usually reciprocal, allegiance to: teams, colleagues, and ex-colleagues; to clients and customers; to industries and professions; and to family and friends. (pg. 102)

  6. The New Time Clock
    The Word: New Economy 7-Eleven. What many free agents become, because they are never fully "off" work. Like an all-night convenience store, their work life occasionally may be empty, but it's never closed. (pg. 116)

  7. Small Groups, Big Impact: Reinventing Togetherness in Free Agent Nation
    The Word: Confederation. A regular collaboration between free agents akin to a law or accounting partnership - but in which the relationships are fluid and the structure is set by an informal agreement rather than a legal contract. (pg. 141)

  8. Getting Horizontal: The Free Agent Org Chart and Operating System
    The Word: Free Agent Operating System. The underlying instructions that allow free agency to function. Like Windows, DOS, or Linux on computers, the Free Agent Operating System establishes the platform on which the free agent economy operates. Its basic unit is trust, which is fashioned into reciprocal altruism. (See also: The Golden Rule.) (pg. 159)

  9. The Free Agent Infrastructure
    The Word: Free agent infrastructure. The physical foundation on which the free agent economy operates. The infrastructure is self-organized and composed of private establishments. (pg. 169)

  10. Matchmakers, Agents, and Coaches
    The Word: Corporate yenta. An entity that matches independent workers with firms or projects that need their short-term help. (pg. 182)

  11. Free Agent Families
    The Word: Commuter marriages. Couples with children and traditional jobs, whose lives seem to revolve entirely around the morning struggle to get to work, day care, and school - and the evening battle to return home and begin the process again the following day. (pg. 195)

  12. Roadblocks on Free Agent Avenue: Health Insurance, Taxes and Zoning
    The Word: COBRA baby. A child conceived and born within the eighteen-month period during which employers are required to continue offering health insurance to departed employees, if the employees pay the full bill themselves. Common reproductive practice among free agents. (pg. 212)

  13. Temp Slaves, Permatemps, and the Rise of Self-Organized Labor
    The Word: Permatemp. Somebody who works alongside a traditional employee, doing the same work, but whose employer classifies him as a temp to avoid providing health insurance, a pension, and stock options. (See also, Temp 24-7 definition of permatemp: "A kinder, gentler... euphemism for 'indentured servant.'") (pg. 229)

  14. E-tirement: Free Agency and the New Old Age
    The Word: E-tirement. A new stage in American working life; working as a free agent after age sixty-five - and using the global communications network as the platform for obtaining and completing work. (pg. 241)

  15. School's Out: Free Agency and the Future of Education
    The Word: Thanksgiving Turkey Model. The education model that predominated in the twentieth century. Society placed kids in the oven of formal education for twelve years, cooked them until they were done, then served them to employers. A few youngsters also received an additional four-year basting at a place called college. (pg. 259)

  16. Location, Location... Vocation: Free Agency and the Future of Offices, Homes, and Real Estate
    The Word: HOHO. His Office/Her Office. A descendant of the well-known marketing label SOHO (Small Office/Home Office), this term describes family homes with two offices. Designation also works for same-sex couples. (pg. 270)

  17. Putting the "I" in IPO: The Path Toward Free Agent Finance
    The Word: F.A.N. Bonds. A form of debt financing for free agents. A financial instrument more widely available than student loans but with lower interest rates than credit cards. To allow the market to flourish, a corporation, perhaps chartered by Congress but owned by shareholders, would buy F.A.N. Bonds and package them into securities - much as Fannie Mae does for home mortgages. (See also: Bowie Mae) (pg. 285)

  18. A Chip Off the Old Voting Bloc: The New Politics of Free Agency
    The Word: Just-in-time politics. The political version of just-in-time manufacturing. Instead of building one coalition and keeping it together, the modern challenge of politics will be to assemble the available components to satisfy the current political demand, do it in real time, and then move on to the next task. (pg. 299)

  19. What's Left: Free Agency and the Future of Commerce, Careers, and Community
    The Word: Lego careers. Instead of climbing a prefabricated ladder, rung by rung, in a predetermined order, careers will have a much greater variety. People will assemble and reassemble them much as kids play with Legos. The pieces will be contacts, skills, desires, and available opportunity - and people will build impermanent structures with infinite, idiosyncratic variations. (pg. 312)

Note: All chapter titles and 'The Word' sections cited in this review are copyright by Daniel H. Pink and quoted in the context of this review of their source, Free Agent Nation: How America's New Independent Workers Are Transforming the Way We Live, Warner Books, New York USA, 2001. The hyperlinks in the quoted box describing the term 'nanocorp' are not part of Dan's original work and have been added by Sohodojo with the kind permission of Dan Pink.

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