Tag Archives: books

Day 4, Question 4: What’s Your Sentence?

Question: What’s your sentence?

I’ve always been a great admirer of Dan Pink’s work (www.danpink.com).  From the very beginning, he has felt like a kindred spirit.  I read Free Agent Nation as I was quitting my consulting job many moons ago and it felt like he was giving me a serious free agent high five.  I read Whole New Mind when it first came out and sent copies to all of my friends with MBAs and included a small (smug) note that said “I’m so sorry you didn’t take a sociology and film degree”.

And while I have yet to crack the cover of his new book Drive, it’s clear that he’s done it again.  His talk about the drivers of motivation at TedGlobal last summer was both funny and thought-provoking – a delicious and all to infrequent combination.  But what I’m most excited about, pre-read, is the video that was released on January 1 called “Two Questions”.

I’m particularly captivated by the first of these two questions: WHAT’S YOUR SENTENCE?  The video explains that Clare Boothe Luce (who was one of the first female members of congress) approached J.F. Kennedy (when he was president) and told him that a great man is a sentence.  Just one sentence.  Not a long, rambly, meandering paragraph of lots of sentences.  Just one.  She was worried that he was trying to do too much rather than focusing on one or two things that really mattered and would ultimately become his legacy.  Her suggestion for Kennedy (and Pink’s for us) was to figure out that one sentence and use it to navigate his presidency.


It’s powerful because of its simplicity, its timeliness and its endless applications.

If you’re a person who wants a great life, what’s your overall life’s purpose sentence?

If you’re in a partnership, what’s your partner sentence?

If you’re an entrepreneur, what’s your business sentence?

If you’re a marketer, what’s your brand’s sentence?

If you’re a fundraiser, what’s the one sentence you’re going to take to your next donor conversation?  The sentence that connects their motivation for giving and your organization’s motivation for being?

If you’re a leader, what’s your leader sentence?

If you’re an employee or a member of a team, what’s your contribution sentence?  What’s your team’s sentence.

If you’re a parent, what’s your parent sentence?

If you’re someone’s kid, what’s your “I’m someone’s kid” sentence?

(And yes, I realize that so many sentences can quickly become a paragraph…)

I both love and feel terrified by the discipline and focus required to craft one, single sentence.  But I’m deeply motivated to do it – for myself, for my business and our team.  (Sidebar: Curiosity team who is prepping for our weekend planning retreat in a couple of weeks, be warned.  It’s going to be all single sentences, all the time.)

So, the bottom line is this.  I heart Dan Pink.  I want to thank him for naming and celebrating who I am – a woman with a free agent spirit and a whole new mind who is committed to motivating herself and others.

I’m working on my sentence.  What’s yours?

To watch Dan Pink’s TedTalk visit: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html

To view the Two Questions video visit: http://www.danpink.com/archives/2010/01/2questionsvideo