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Book Review: “Linchpin” Our Needed Wake-up Call

Way back in December 2009, Seth Godin offered his blog readers a chance to get an advance copy of his new book, Linchpin. The first 3,000 folks who were willing to donate at least $30 to one of his favorite causes, the Acumen Fund, received a book. I jumped at the chance to do so, both because I enjoy Seth’s books and I wanted to participate in this novel form of meaningful book marketing.

Godin’s plan was to get a flood of positive reviews and word of mouth in time for Linchpin to hit bookstore shelves. He even followed up a few weeks later by sending an additional book to people who accepted the original offer. I’m a little more than a year late to the party with my own blog review of the book, but I would be doing my readers a disservice by ignoring the positive impact of reading Linchpin—and I hope Seth benefits from new long-tail sales.

Simply put, Linchpin is a motivational tool for businesspeople who are seeking a new path and need a loving kick in the pants. For years Seth Godin has given us books to help us think about marketing and business positioning in a different, evolved way. But this time he sets his sights on providing individuals with the mentality they need to become “linchpins” in whatever they do. Here are a few of the key points that I underlined in my copy of the book:

  • The “factory contract” of the economy is going away; we can no longer expect to plug into a job, follow the rules, and be taken care of. The future will belong to artists who create something original, interesting, and meaningful. “…History is now being written by the artists while the factory workers struggle. The future belongs to chefs, not to cooks or bottle washers.” “Art” can mean whatever you uniquely bring to the world—a skill, knowledge, experience. It can come to life in a painting, a business idea, or a blog like this one.
  • Education is ripe for an overhaul. “The launch of universal (public and free) education was a profound change in the way our society works…. We trained millions of factory workers.” We need to transform education to teach children two things: (1) Solve interesting problems; and (2) Lead.
  • We must think differently in how we look at success in the workplace or hunt for jobs. “The problem with meeting expectations is that it’s not remarkable…. A resume gives the employer everything she needs to reject you…. Having a resume begs for you to go into that big machine that looks for relevant keywords, and begs for you to get a job as a cog in a giant machine.” It is your visible results that matter in today’s economy: “Projects are the new resumes.”
  • “Real artists ship.” (‘Nuff said.)
  • We must continually learn about the world and ourselves, and have strong opinions but be ready to shift them. “It’s not an accident that successful people read more books.
  • “One of the fascinating aspects of business and organized movements is that there’s some correlation between the passion and effort that people bring to a project and the outcome…. In great organizations, there’s a sense of mission.”
  • A new model for success is to create valuable art and share it broadly (especially thanks to the power of the Net), and if helps others they will repay you in many ways.

Even if everything here seems that it has been said somewhere before, it’s worth the time to read Linchpin. I know you will find something that inspires you, gets you out of bed in the morning, or refocuses your best efforts. I personally was most moved by Godin’s ability to distill the work I have done around the concept of Marketing with Meaning for nearly three years. It is my passion to help others succeed, and by giving  knowledge and assistance away as much as possible, I have benefited from seeing our company enjoy better business results—but I also get the pleasure of hearing how a blog post, book chapter, keynote speech, or email with advice has helped others.

Sometimes it is difficult to trust that “giving the gift of your art” will allow you to continue to grow your business and yourself. I thank Seth Godin for giving us the manifesto we need to keep creating a new and better future of work.

One Response to “Book Review: “Linchpin” Our Needed Wake-up Call”

  1. Tony B says:

    Well done hitting the high notes of the book. It was my most shared book of 2010.

    Pardon the digression for a minute but…

    RE: Education. I’ve been having some interesting discussions on re-engineering education recently, and came across a couple links worth sharing involving more interdisciplinary, experiential learning.

    One from entrepreneur & professor, Steve Blank’s recent post about a Philadelphia University:

    Followed up by a video from the RSA presented by Sir Ken Robinson. It’s long, if you watch any of it, go to the 6:40 mark:

    Anywho, thanks for encouraging me to “ship.”

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