Book Review: Linchpin
By far one of the most important and personally impactful books I have read in the past few years, Seth Godin’s Linchpin is a must read for those of us who want to remain relevant in the emerging global information economy. I would categorize this book as more of a manifesto for the new age of work.
Seth’s basic premise is that the industrial, factory mentality of work is obsolete and a new “linchpin” mentality must emerge. He describes the factory mentality as go to work, do a prescribed job (no more), go home, collect money, repeat. Instead, Seth implores us to become linchpins – the piece that, if missing, causes the machine to come apart. These employees, he says, will have higher job security, compensation and satisfaction in their careers.
The way to become a linchpin is to think less like a factory worker and more like an artist. See what you do as art. Add more to your organization than just effort hours – put in emotional work. Art, he says, is given as a gift. The new online economy is really a gift economy – you give what you have freely (think blog, online communities, videos, etc.) to others and they give back.
The book is incredibly rich with few wasted words. I actually have the audio version and have started listening to it for a second time. This book is hard to accept (by our “lizard brain” as Seth calls it) in many ways because it goes against our ingrained idea of work and our philosophy of work. However, it rang very, very true for me in terms of what I have experienced and learned in recent years. The jobs that are easily repeatable and replaceable will continue to be given to the lowest bidder. Don’t race to the bottom trying to become the Wal-Mart of your industry, race to the top, becoming the Bentley or Porsche. This is done through art and emotional labour, not by focusing on cost reduction and creating cogs.
If you are under 50 and still have decades of career ahead of you, do yourself a huge favor and read this book.