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on February 28, 2014
We are all artists. That is the point that author Seth Godin is trying to get across in his book Linchpin. His objective with writing this book is to change the way people look at their work. The goal is to inspire people to no longer follow the norm, but instead create their own paths. With doing this they will build for themselves a more fulfilling, successful and rewarding career thus becoming better employees. When people are passionate about their work, it is in their nature to do whatever it takes to succeed. Having passion, a strong work ethic and drive to succeed is what makes a person a Linchpin.
Linchpin – this funny little eight-letter word is the main concept of this book. What does it mean to be the linchpin of a company? How does one become a linchpin? Can anybody be a linchpin? All of these questions were addressed in the book. Before addressing all those questions, Godin first explains his definition of a linchpin. He does not mean for people to be like the small pin on a wheel. Instead of the literal definition, he considers a linchpin to be “an individual who can walk into chaos and create order, someone who can invent, connect, create, and make things happen.” (pg VI). Based off of this definition, he considers a linchpin to be a person that the company would not function with out. This person sees the problem clearly and does not panic. Instead they develop innovative solutions and create their own path. A linchpin never follows a map; they create it.
When Godin looks at the corporate world, he sees many cogs. There are far to many people that blindly follow the rules set before them. They show up to work, do as they’re told and then leave. These people are compliant, under paid and in pain because they are not following their passions. This is Godin’s target audience. In order to inspire, you must speak to those in need.
From Godin’s research he has developed seven abilities that make a great linchpin. All of these abilities make the linchpin a unique asset that is indispensible to the company. These seven abilities are 1) Providing a unique interface between members of the organization 2) Delivering unique creativity 3) managing a situation or organization of great complexity 4) leading customers 5) inspiring staff 6) providing deep domain knowledge 7) possessing a unique talent. Godin describes each of these talents in detail and explains why if a person is special enough to possess all seven, then they can be an indispensable worker.
When explaining his point about why linchpins are the artists of their industry, Godin used a few good examples to help bring his point across. Artists create things, whether it is a beautiful painting, sculpture or new business model. All artists are innovators, creators and visionaries. The sign of a true artist is when they see something that’s so different and yet works so well. While Ev Williams was creating twitter, he did not use a conventional business model. When people first saw his project, they thought it was absurd. No one had ever seen such a thing. However, it’s uniqueness helped spread the word about twitter. Now it is a hugely successful form of social media. By throwing in the real life example of Ev Williams and Twitter into the book, it made Godin’s point more concrete. Without William’s quotes and the well-known success of Twitter, the point would have just been an abstract theory. Because I know the reality of Twitter, I could conceptualize the problems Williams faced and now I see how he overcame them. By using real life examples, Godin was able to better prove his point.
While I felt like Godin had some great examples, he also had some that were sub par. There were many times where the book seemed more like a cliché inspirational speech, than anything of substance. When discussing how one becomes a linchpin, Godin wrote that we all could be CEO’s of top companies. He used the example of Richard Branson and how he built his airline company. Godin tells the story of his idea for Virgin Atlantic and then goes on to say that anyone could do Branson’s job if they thought creatively enough and knew what to look for. While this is a sweet and thoughtful thing to say; it is not accurate. In reality not everyone can be a CEO. It takes a lot of leadership skills, vision and intelligence to be a good leader. It’s important for a good leader to always be looking for new opportunities, make important decisions and understand your audience. Each of those adjectives are characteristics that Branson possesses, however not everyone has them or can learn them. Even if someone did, they are not the only qualities that make a good linchpin or guarantee success. Godin devotes a whole chapter on “becoming a linchpin”. Even if someone reads the advice a thousand times that does not guarantee that they can apply it. While every one is special and has a lot to offer the world, that does not mean they will be the linchpin of their company. It takes practice, intelligence and a lot more than just reading a book to teach the skills needed to succeed.
Overall this book would get a B rating on a traditional college grading system. It brings up some interesting points about how to become a better worker as well as helped me better understand not to let my fear inhibit me from trying a new method. I learned that the best inventions were created by people who looked at things in a different way than the average person. They were able to see the problem, understand it and then had the courage to try something new. This is a useful skill that any body can use in their work or while at home. While that was a useful skill, Godin had a tendency to ramble on in the book. Sometimes his lessons sounded more like a cliché speech, then something I could see myself applying. Godin has accomplished a lot in his life. He has seen much success in the marketing world. If he had incorporated some of those experiences in the book, it would have felt more genuine and less like someone preaching to me about having a good work ethic. This would have helped me to better visualize how his points are feasible. Despite the rambling, the book does have some worthwhile points that are important for anyone in the workplace to understand. For anyone who is just entering the workforce or feels stuck at his or her job, I would recommend this book as a useful guide on how to navigate the corporate world.
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Just wrote an extensive review on my blog, Prolific Living, but a few thoughts for Amazon friends:

Seth Godin needs no introduction. A world class marketer, a best-selling author of a dozen books, an unmatched voice of influence, not to mention a sincerely genuine person on every interview and interaction. He is too good to be real and yet so real, it's hard to believe.

Even so, I did put the book down. I even came close to shipping it off to a friend but I came back to it. I read it. I finished it. I devoured it. I loved it.
Brilliant thoughts expressed in simple form and through stories and facts and experiences. After reading it, you examine your every move; you look at your decisions with fresh new perspective, and you wonder why no one else told you to do "emotional work" and called you an artist all these years when you were trying to give your art to the world. And why you let the "lizard brain" have so much power over your plans and prospects. I have now come to know my lizard brain and I have seen evidence of my linchpin within. What about you?

To permanently shut off the lizard brain may take a long time but recognizing the things that stand in the way of our dreams is the first step toward greatness.

So what does it take to be the linchpin, to become truly indispensable? Is it to write endlessly, to create daily, to be original and authentic and to do it day in and day out tirelessly? Is it to dig deep and find one single genius idea and spend the rest of your days on bringing it to life? Or is it going through one bad idea after another until a good one emerges?
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on August 17, 2017
Seth Godin really inspires the heck out of me. I read some of his books right out of college and the principles in them have guided me in my career and the way I approach work ten years later. This one was a great read. I appreciate his alternative views and far-out ideas - they're so spot on. His stuff pushes me to the best I can be. Start with some of his earlier books first!
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on May 3, 2010
Linchpin is an operator's manual for the brain. In my business life, I tend to worship at the altar of Godin so it came as no surprise to me that I loved it. I wanted nothing more than to go back to kindergarten to trade my "cooperative and obedient" title for "Little Miss Hellion on Wheels," wondering with every fiber of my being how much that would have changed my existence. Godin does that to you - makes your brain expand so far you'll swear it's going to pop - and then he starts filling the void! First he lays a firm foundation, then, brick by brick, he takes you to a place where it all comes together. I found myself questioning, and still am months later, almost every action I take, to see exactly what part my lizard - and he's a big 'un - plays.

How many times a day do we think of things, then tell ourselves "no" for reasons that are attached to remaining comfortable? "I think I'll make a video of our product for our blog - oh, wait, no, I can't do that. My roots need to be touched up first." Come on! Is it really about the roots? We're all worried someone will see us, and think us foolish. Oh, my goodness, we might fail. Our ego might get bruised. What's worse than that? I always think of Newton. A body at rest remains at rest. A body in motion remains in motion. Right? How far does a body at rest travel?

Not having tried just means we failed. We failed to try. God gave us great brains, great subconscious abilities, great knowledge and wisdom, and we throw it all away. In Linchpin, Godin removes the container that holds such shallow concerns - and mine was overflowing. Linchpin basically, removes our garbage cans and asks us to please use what we've been given rather than waste it.

As someone who's deeply committed to "thrive not survive" in the start-up and micro world, I wondered just how Linchpin applies to me and my people. What concrete examples might I give that they can relate to. Then, as I was preparing our newsletter, it hit me. Purple Cow businesses are never owned by ordinary people and Linchpins never own ordinary businesses. If you apply the chicken-egg examination, an answer does out. The Linchpin comes first - then the Purple Cow.

Now that I understand it, can I at least pin an "L" on my chest?

If I was forced to remove virtually all of the hundreds of books on my "success shelves" I can promise you, this book would remain. I'd like to see educators give serious thought as to how they can incorporate these "think for success" principles into the curriculum in some real way. It might mean the difference between maintaining our current standard of living and sliding slowly into an economic abyss that I hope not to see in my lifetime. As our natural resources dry up, all we'll have to export is what lies between our ears. Linchpin develops those resources just as surely as a drilling rig is needed to find oil. I ask you, of those two resources, which would you value most highly?

It's easy to review most business related books. They're good. Some are great. Few will be remembered for generations the way Hill's books, for example, have been remembered. I tend to give books cook time. I leave them alone to be rolled around, mulled over, and mixed with other thoughts in my brain. Most don't stand the test of time. Most are not books that demand to be written about long after they've been put back on the shelf - or in this case, half a dozen have been "lent" and not one has come back. If you're still with me, all I can say, is read the book then tell everyone else you know to read the book - and don't forget to discuss it with your children.
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on June 7, 2017
Honestly, by far the most powerful books I have ever read. It hit me in all the right places. We are all artists, and we need to ship out all those moments of being a genius. Tell the lizard brain to shut up, and be a linchpin. Highly recommend this book for all who are wanting to be inspired.

Jorge Harrington
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on June 8, 2017
Some complain that this book doesn't have enough technical details, the way a textbook would. This is instead a book that will change your mindset about work and careers. It's a fun read and very valuable for people who want extraordinary careers.
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on May 20, 2017
This was one of the best business books I've ever read. Seth Godin can contain so many individual nuggets of wisdom that he sometimes loses focus on the overall vision of a book. This was not the case with Linchpin. I recommend this book for anyone interested in business and leadership.
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on October 17, 2015
The best way to be indispensable is be outstanding. We need to do the work, go the extra mile, put in the sweat equity to make ourselves standout. What's also the case is we all have different talents, abilities, and capacities. We are well served by pursuing what we are passionate about and make the most of who we naturally are. One of the best books I've ever read on the genre. I'm looking forward to reading more by Seth Godin!
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on December 17, 2016
Too much rambling. Author claims to have written many books. He should write less and hire a good editor to help focus. Any good content could probably be condensed to an essay. I found myself reading first sentence of many paragraphs and skipping, skimming to try to get to any substance.
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on March 9, 2016
I really wanted to like this book. After all, who wouldn’t feel good when someone tells them that they could be - should be and are - an artist or a genius? Such is the premise of Linchpin. Beginning with that as a premise, Mr. Godin spins an argument for all of us to become indispensable in our chosen fields.

Personally, I favor books with a strong research base and primarily inductive reasoning. Given a relatively large number of studies, certain generalizations can be made with a reasonable level of confidence. As a retired teacher, still committed to better understand all the factors which bear on achievement in life, Mr. Godin’s book attracted me. Sadly, what I found was a deductive work with sometimes seriously lacking scholarship.

If we are all geniuses under the skin, Mr. Godin, postulates, then there must be some evil forces conspiring to prevent us from achieving our potential. In the case of Linchpin, those forces are several: the “old” American creed of hard work without complaining, a mind-numbing educational system, and our limbic brain. Readers are even told that if they disagree with the major argument here, it’s the resistance of our “lizard” brain. This made me think of the emperor’s new clothes.

The problem I have with many inspirational works is that they fail to recognize the complexity of people’s interactions with the outside world. The educational system, my area of particular interest, for example, is not nearly as constricting as Mr. Grodin would have you to believe. The individual’s interaction with the world at large is quite complex and depends heavily on traits possessed both through birth and early development, circumstances like family social class and community, and chance events. Even Mr. Godin recognizes that some individuals who shouldn’t end up expressing their genius in powerful ways.

Though I agree that there is indeed genius in each of us waiting to be realized, I would urge individuals to do their homework before rushing out to show the world their artistic brilliance. As a teacher, I’d certainly urge teachers to do their best to learn what actions on their part have the greatest impact on showing students that they are capable of great achievement. There’s a very low likelihood that telling individuals that they’re capable of great things, but guiding them toward expressing it has potential… and a research base that can be learned.
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