Daniel Pink reports the results of his background research and a large number of interviews with "free agents" who work for themselves as consultants, contractors, and small businesses of one. He claims that this is a growing trend in the American workforce and explores the lifestyles, business plans, and satisfaction of these independent workers.
We are no longer in the "new economy" of 2002 and the playing field has changed a bit. Is this book still worth reading? In the reviewer's opinion, it remains relevant for three reasons. First, even in a challenging, then recovering economy, there are many opportunities for "nanocorps" that can offer quick, flexible service to corporations that don't want to bring those services inside. Second, the recent economic pressures have spurred many to pursue after-hours work in a second job that supplements their daytime paycheck. Much of the author's advice is relevant to members of this second-shift workforce who don't have to entirely support themselves as free agents.
The third and best reason to read this book applies to those working for large companies as well as free agents, second-shifters, and other independents. Even if you are in a seemingly secure job, you should take a large measure of responsibility for your own career, thinking like a free agent or as someone who may become one with very little notice. This includes taking initiative to develop new skills, even funding training out of your own pocket. It may include purchasing your own computer equipment, reference materials and business cards when your employer will not. This book encourages all of us to prepare for portability to another organization--or to no organization. We are more occupationally and financially secure if we listen to this advice.
A final thought. As we move into an era of increased government regulation, what will happen to free agents? It is unlikely all will be absorbed into large organizations, even if the regulatory environment becomes unfriendly to small businesses. Some, perhaps many, will go underground to become economic partisans, fighting their own low-profile war for survival. I wonder if a new version of the book will be released as "Black Market Nation?"