Sunday, May 22, 2011

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

Seth Godin's book Linchpin asks the question, "Are You Indispensable?" Quite a thought provoking question! I first heard about this book on a Paperclipping Roundtable episode. (The episode was from May 2010, but I probably listened to it sometime last fall.) This book was Stacy Julian's pick of the week.

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
I have to admit that it took me a while to get into the book because it seemed that Godin continually repeated the same information for the first half of the book (using different words and examples, of course). Godin's basic premise is that everyone is an artist and creating art can make an employee an indispensable linchpin. He defines an artist as someone "with a genius for finding a new answer, a new connection, or a new way of getting things done" and states that "every organization needs a linchpin, the one person who can bring it together and make a difference." He goes on to discuss how you must do the emotional work that only you can do and how your lizard brain will put up resistance when you attempt to do things differently.

After my initial reaction of "ok, I get this idea, now what" I really enjoyed the book. I like the definition of "art" as "a personal gift that changes the recipient" and the entire chapter devoted to the fact that art must be given away. If you have invested emotional energy into creating art, you must give it away without strings attached to become successful. Another thought provoking idea!

Godin injects some humor throughout the book as he points out that the lowest cost and most efficient methods are not always the best in terms of customer service and employee satisfaction. One of my favorite examples is this comment about Wal-Mart: "There's plenty of research that indicates every time Wal-Mart enters a community, jobs disappear, businesses close, and the base of the town decays. That's okay, though, because you can get a jar of pickles the size of a Volkswagen for three dollars."

Since I enjoyed the book and believe I understood and agreed with his idea that anyone willing to invest the emotional work can become a linchpin, I had to laugh every time he indicated that many MBAs would be resistant to the work necessary to become a linchpin. Maybe I found it funny because I would never call myself an "MBA" even though I have one of those hanging on my wall (and now Robbie does too!). Mine is beautifully framed and watches over me as I scrapbook, blog, and try out other crafty endeavours.

If you've read this book, I'd love for you to share your thoughts in the comments. If you haven't read it, I definitely recommend it as a very thought provoking (and possibly life changing) book.


  1. What an interesting, interesting thought. I'll be pondering this today Melissa

  2. In the old days, they just used to talk about having the ability to make connections between different fields/cultures/teams/etc, and, in so doing, create or bring to birth something fresh. While I am sure that creating and giving away is a good thing, I don't think it is necessarily essential to success. Plenty of wonderful and prolific composers got paid for their work!
    I understand that Seth is famous, but I wonder how much of his thinking is really new?

  3. I do like that definition of an artist, but I would be like you and get a bit impatient with the repetition you describe in the book. Padding? Now someone needs to take these ideas out of corporate America and place them in our homes, where I think we certainly are the most indispensable.


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