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ATD Blog

Curiosity, Possibility, and Regret

Monday, May 20, 2024

A Q&A with Daniel Pink

Daniel Pink
Daniel Pink’s books, including five New York Times bestsellers, have helped individuals and organizations around the world rethink how they live and operate. His deeply researched works on business, creativity, and behavior have won multiple awards and appear in 42 languages.

Prior to his keynote address on Tuesday, the Conference Daily interviewed Daniel Pink on his career, his work, and what he has to say to ATD attendees.

Your books span topics, from regret to timing to selling and moving others to motivation. What gets you motivated to research and write on a topic?
Writing a book takes an enormous amount of time, effort, and frustration. So, I only choose topics that I’m deeply, deeply interested in—subjects I’m willing to live with for many years. That’s not most topics.

There are some ideas you’re willing to date—but very few you want to go steady with. That’s why I do a ton of research before proposing a book, simply to check my own level of interest. I've actually written a few book proposals that I never submitted because writing the proposal convinced me I didn’t want to write the book. But once I commit, I’m all in!


You have a routine of posing a question each Monday for LinkedIn users to reflect upon and discuss with team members. What inspired that practice and how do you choose the questions?
Curiosity. We learn a lot more (about each other and about ourselves) from questions rather than answers. So, I was curious what would happen if I asked a bunch of relative strangers a bunch of open-ended questions. The results have been fascinating.

How do you hope the lives you’ve touched by your work will change?
I’ve been in the book-writing business for a long time—more than 20 years. But I’m still grateful anytime anybody picks up one of my books and reads it. It still amazes me. It’s a huge honor. I try to repay that honor by giving people a fresh lens to examine their world and a few specific steps they can take to work smarter and live better.


You are undertaking a project to “jolt America’s imagination.” Can you share some details of what it’s all about?
The Washington Post Opinion section and I recently launched a one-year project in what we call “possibility journalism.” Instead of arguing about who’s right and who’s wrong, we’re asking what’s possible. That’s what the world needs now: a wider frame, a broader sense of what we imagine and, therefore, what we can do. The series is called “Why Not?”—and we’re proposing unusual ideas—ideas that few people have fully considered—for improving national, organizational, and personal life.

Your keynote is titled “Beyond Resilience: A New Path to a Strong Culture.” What do you hope attendees will learn about resilience from your address?
A few things. I hope they’ll leave the presentation seeing the emotion of regret in a new light. All of us experience regret. It’s normal. It’s part of being human. It helps make us human. But we’ve never been taught how to deal with it. Some of us ignore our regrets. Bad idea. Others of us wallow in our regrets. Also a bad idea. What we should be doing is confronting our regrets—using them as signal, as information, as data.

When we do that, there’s 60 years of scientific evidence that regret can be a transformative emotion. It can help us perform better and feel better on every front. I’ll offer some tools and tips to help people enlist regret as an engine of progress.

Attend Daniel Pink’s keynote address either in person or online on Tuesday, May 21 from 8 to 9:30 a.m.

About the Author

ATD24 News is your source for news, updates, and session coverage for ATD’s 2024 International Conference & EXPO.

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