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Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? Paperback – April 26, 2011
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Amazon Exclusive: Hugh MacLeod Reviews Linchpin
Hugh MacLeod is an artist, cartoonist, and Web 2.0 pundit whose blog, gapingvoid.com, has two million unique monthly visitors. His first book, Ignore Everybody, was an Amazon Top Ten Business Book of the Year and a Wall Street Journal bestseller. Read his exclusive Amazon guest review of Linchpin:
This is by far Seth’s most passionate book. He’s pulling fewer punches. He’s out for blood. He’s out to make a difference. And that glorious, heartfelt passion is obvious on every page, even if it is in Seth’s usual quiet, lucid, understated manner.
A linchpin, as Seth describes it, is somebody in an organization who is indispensable, who cannot be replaced—her role is just far too unique and valuable. And then he goes on to say, well, seriously folks, you need to be one of these people, you really do. To not be one is economic and career suicide.
No surprises there—that’s exactly what one would expect Seth to say. But here’s where it gets interesting.
In his best-known book, Purple Cow, Seth’s message was, “Everyone’s a marketer now.” In All Marketers Are Liars, his message was, “Everyone’s a storyteller now.” In Tribes, his message was, “Everyone’s a leader now.”
And from Linchpin?
"Everyone’s an artist now."
By Seth’s definition, an artist is not just some person who messes around with paint and brushes, an artist is somebody who does (and I LOVE this term) “emotional work.”
Work that you put your heart and soul into. Work that matters. Work that you gladly sacrifice all other alternatives for. As a working artist and cartoonist myself, I know exactly what he means. It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it.
The only people who have a hope of becoming linchpins in any organization, who have any hope of changing anything for the better in real terms, are those who have the capacity to do “emotional work” at a high level—to be true artists at whatever they set their minds on doing. The guys who just plod around the office corridors, just turning up for their paycheck.... Well, those guys don’t have a prayer, poor things. The world is just too interesting and competitive now.
And Seth then challenges us, the readers, to become linchpins ourselves. To make the leap. To become artists. To do emotional work, whatever the sacrifice may be. It’s our choice, and it’s our burden. Seth won’t be there to catch us if we fall, but to become the people we need to be eventually, well, we probably wouldn’t want him to, anyway.
Congratulations, Seth. You have penned a real gem of a book here. Rock on.
--Hugh MacLeod --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
"It's easy to see why people pay to hear what he has to say."
"Thousands of authors write business books every year, but only a handful reach star status and the A-list lecture circuit. Fewer still-one, to be exact-can boast his own action figure. . . . Godin delivers his combination of counterintuitive thinking and a great sense of fun."
"This book is a gift."
-Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder, The Acumen Fund
"If Seth Godin didn't exist we'd need to invent him-that's how indispensable he is! You hold in your hands a compelling, accessible, and purpose-filled book. Read it, and do yourself a big favor. Your future will thank you!"
-Alan Webber, Founder, Fast Company
"This is what the future of work (and the world) looks like. Actually, it's already happening around you."
-Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com
"Thousands of authors write business books every year, but only a handful reach star status and the A-list lecture circuit. Fewer still - one, to be exact - can boast his own action figure....Godin delivers his combination of counterintuitive thinking and a great sense of fun."
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
"There are no longer any great jobs where someone else tells you precisely what to do."
Linchpin is a most unusual, well-organized, concise book about what it takes to become indispensable in the workplace - whether you work for someone else (at any level) or are self-employed. It's about how business has rapidly changed and how treating employees like factory workers (or doing your job like one) doesn't work any longer. We must make choices and take action to "chart our own paths" and add value that others do not. We cannot wait for a boss or a job description to tell us what to do, rather we must just take the initiative ourselves. Only then can we become indispensable "linchpins," rather than replaceable "cogs." There are so many fantastic quotes in the book too.
"You don't become indispensable merely because you are different. But the only way to become indispensable is to be different. That's because if you're the same, so are plenty of other people."
The 14 chapters in this book are each broken down into short segments with great headlines that summarize them. Godin uses special vocabulary words to describe the many factors that go into becoming a linchpin. These words have unique meanings in the context in which they are used. You'll learn interpretations for terms such as art, thrashing, gifts, resistance, pranja, ship, lizard brain, shenpa, emotional labor and others.
"Art is unique, new and challenging to the status quo. It's not decoration. It's something that causes change. Art cannot be merely commerce. It must also be a gift."
You'll never be bewildered or bored while reading Linchpin. It will awaken a part of your brain that you may have never used before. It will make you take a deep look inside your thoughts, patterns and habits and oblige you to realize there are things you can change right now to become more of a success, a true "artist." In fact, you may find yourself sliding down in your chair a bit while reading, like I did. But that's okay; it's part of the learning process.
"If all you can do is the task and you're not in a league of your own at doing the task, you're not indispensable."
This is particularly true in the chapter on page 101 entitled The Resistance. Just this chapter alone is worth the price of the book. You've got to read it twice to really capture all it offers. Here you'll be faced with all the reasons why you're currently not as indispensable as you could be - as you should be. Have you ever delayed a project and not delivered (Seth calls this shipping) on deadline just because you were trying to achieve perfection? That's resistance. It is the "lizard brain" way-of-thinking that causes us to resist. Do you find yourself doing a lot of busy work (obsessive email checking, Tweeting, etc.) rather than taking action that really adds value? That's resistance too.
"The lizard brain is the reason you're afraid, the reason you don't ship when you can. The lizard brain is the source of the resistance."
Godin will educate you on what it truly means to be a valuable gift giver. He'll tell you that there's no map in existence to help you become an indispensable artist. He'll tell you that you have a choice to either "Fit in or stand out. Not both." He'll even tell you that there are times when your art will not work, and for whatever reason, you may not be able to get paid for your particular talent.
"Maybe you can't make money doing what you love (at least what you love right now) But I bet you can figure out what you can do to make money (if you choose wisely)."
"There is no map. No map to be a leader, no map to be an artist. I've read hundreds of books about art (in all its forms) and how to do it, and not one has a clue about the map, because there isn't one."
The only thing Seth Godin left out of his well-researched Linchpin book is that his principles can be applied not only to business but also to other aspects of a person's life. Linchpins can be better spouses, friends and community members at large. They can be truly indispensable in many ways.
"Nothing about becoming indispensable is easy. If it's easy, it's already been done and it's no longer valuable."
Ever read a business or marketing book that is interesting while you're reading it, but two days after you have finished it, you cannot really remember the gist of what you read? Linchpin is not one of those books. This one will stay with you. There is nothing else like it; it can change your future. That is, if you set your lizard brain aside and replace it with the true linchpin artist in you.
Every once in a while I run across a book that is so important, so compelling, so unique with respect to not only content but also writing style that I can't put it down until I finish it. This is not one of those books (for me); nevertheless, I am going to recommend it because I concur with his core message and if you have not heard it before from other sources, I think you need to hear it now.
Parts of this book are brilliant - they will change how I talk about my core message. Much of what Seth had to say in this book was not new to me, and frankly I prefer the way others have said it. But Seth has a style of writing that will appeal to many, and I predict many will come away reading this book thinking it is the most important book they have read in a long time. Don't get me wrong, I am a BIG fan of Seth Godin, but for this book such claims would be pretentious.
Here is Seth's bottom line:
I didn't set out to get you to quit your job or to persuade you to become an entrepreneur or merely to change the entire world. All I wanted to do in this book was sell you on being the artist you already are. To make a difference. To stand for something. To get the respect and security you deserve. If I've succeeded, then you know that you have a gift to give, something you can do to change the world (or your part of it) for the better. I hope you'll do that, because we need you. (p. 230).
I think he succeeded, and if you have never heard this message, then I encourage you to get this book and read it. Seth is right, we need you to make a difference, to stand for something. YOU need you to make a difference.
A linchpin is someone that is remarkable. They bring the emotional labor to their work. They pour themselves into what they do because they know it is the right thing to do, and they become better people for living and working this way. This also makes them very scarce, and that scarcity makes them valuable - indispensable.
Seth defines art as "the intentional act of using your humanity to create a change in another person" (p. 99). I love that. Seth acknowledges that when we give to others, the law of reciprocity kicks in and they will feel indebted to return our favor. But Seth reminded me that when we give to others with no expectation of anything in return, that posture of unconditional generosity changes us. It creates abundance in our lives and in the lives of those we connect with at work and in our communities. I've known that for a long time, but is always good to be reminded of it. Thanks, Seth.
I wish this book had been 50 pages and free on the internet instead of 236 pages and $15 on Amazon. Then more people that need to hear this message of remarkable, abundant living might get it. Alas, this book to some extent represents the cog in the system that is the object of Seth's lament.
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