Author Daniel Pink and his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

With middle school and high school final exams fast approaching, it seems a good time to be thinking about what motivates students –and the rest of us—to want to succeed.

According to best-selling author Daniel Pink, it’s not what we’ve traditionally believed it to be. Striving for external rewards, like a raise, is so 20th century and exactly the wrong approach to motivate people for today’s challenges, he says.

According to Pink’s website, “the secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.”

Pink explores the elements of true motivation in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, his fourth book about the changing world of work. 

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr has chosen Pink’s book for his next book club discussion at 7 p.m. Jan. 31 in the Carver Educational Services Center in Rockville.

The event will mark the second session of the Superintendent’s Book Club. The first session focused on Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck and drew 85 people to the Carver Center.

Pink, who lives in Washington, D.C., is expected to join Starr for the book discussion. People interested in being part of the studio audience for the Jan. 31 discussion can contact the MCPS public information office at

The session also will be shown on the MCPS website and public access TV channel.

Pink’s 2009 book focuses on the keys to true motivation, suggesting that readers think about two questions that he says can change careers and lives. A short video on the website explains that the first question—“What’s my sentence?”—can help us find our true motivation by considering how we would want to be defined in one sentence, such as “He taught two generations of kids how to read.”

The second question is one that Pink suggests we should pose as we end each day: “Was I better today than yesterday?”

Pink explores these interesting ideas while drawing upon 50 years of behavioral science “to overturn the conventional wisdom about human motivation and offer a more effective path to high performance,” according to the website.

Should be interesting to find out how these ideas can be employed beyond the business world and in the classroom.

Julie Rasicot

Julie Rasicot can be reached at