Linchpin is the 3rd book by Seth Godin that I’ve read (previously Poke The Box and Purple Cow). The book in brief is a manifesto calling for you – for everyone to re-evaluate who you are in relation to your career and what you do for a living.
It’s about defining what an artist is, and the necessity for you to become one at your job. And not simply because you should, but because it’s absolutely necessary in the age of smarter algorithms, crowdsourced labor, and higher standards of excellence.
In hindsight – I should have read Linchpin first among all of Seth Godin’s books. Purple Cow and Poke The Box were both amazing, instructive reads, but Seth Godin has such a perceptive, counter-intuitive view of the world, that he takes some getting used to.
If you’ve never read Seth Godin – you must – and you should start with Linchpin simply because it is less about an abstract topic like marketing (Purple Cow) or an action (Poke The Box), and more about you and the outlook you have to have towards work, career and life.
So much work now is systematized and defined. Systems make the world go around. Templates lower costs and increase efficiency.
That’s all well and good – no organization, much less the world we live in, could function without systems. The problem is if, as an individual, you think that you’re only job is to help execute those systems.
If you are adding no unique value to your job or career…then you are dispensable by either an algorithm or just any other person. However, on the flip side, the rewards for adding or breaking up the systems in place are growing more and more everyday as the world becomes more connected, more competitive, and more interesting.
Seth Godin argues (super-passionately) that the only way out is to become an artist at your job. That is – to add emotion, to break the rules, the figure out how to disrupt the systems that are already in place, to take the systems and templates that are in place, and add your own spin to them.
Basically, the idea is that painting by numbers can produce a nice painting, but someone who paints by numbers is by no means an artist.
A painter who can look at the entire scope of art history, and then say – ‘yep, I’m going to do something different, something me‘ is the artist who’s going do reap the rewards.
On that note – the book might sound a bit banal and too basic. However, Linchpin is actually the perfect example of what Seth Godin is arguing.
As I write out his basic argument – I realized that it sounds like it could be any generic business/career book in Barnes & Noble.
What really sets Linchpin apart is the passion, clarity, and unique writing style that happens throughout the book. Somehow within the first 15 pages, he pulls you in and writes as if he’s writing to you about your job.
It’s the type of writing and turn of phrase that easily goes to your subconscious – and just makes sense the first time through. You can read the cliff notes or this review and get the gist of the book; agree with it…and then continue on doing whatever you’re doing in your career.
However, if you do already agree with the general idea that the economy is changing; that what people expect is changing; that what is possible for 1 person to do is changing – then actually reading this book through would be totally worth it.