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Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? How to drive your career and create a remarkable future

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532 pages, Paperback

First published January 26, 2010

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About the author

Seth Godin

222 books5,946 followers
Seth Godin is a bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change.

Godin is author of ten books that have been bestsellers around the world, and he is also a renowned speaker. He was recently chosen as one of 21 Speakers for the Next Century by Successful Meetings and is consistently rated among the very best speakers by the audiences he addresses.

Seth was founder and CEO of Yoyodyne, the industry's leading interactive direct marketing company, which Yahoo! acquired in late 1998.

He holds an MBA from Stanford, and was called "the Ultimate Entrepreneur for the Information Age" by Business Week.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,166 reviews
Profile Image for Shalom.
63 reviews10 followers
March 25, 2013
Not quite finished with this yet but it seems as if it could be condensed to a one page blog posting. In fact I wonder if he just expanded a blog into this. It is so incredibly repetitive without inventing any major insights. "Be indispensable and be artistic". Give me a break, that isn't even an insight, it's a fact if life. Try to be useful at your job and contribute more than just the minimum. Thank Seth.
Now that I finished, I reaffirm the wasted hours I spent reading this book. It is a boor and a bore. I cannot believe so many people rated this book so high.
Profile Image for Poonam.
411 reviews163 followers
October 14, 2013
It is indeed true, most of books such as these can be summed up in few paragraphs. Let me try and summarize 242 pages of this book.

Linchpin is the person who is indispensable in the organisation, who doesn't do what he/she is being told, brings emotional labour to his job, is an artist.

Thing is our schools, workplaces encourage people who keeps head down, fits in and does what he/she is being told. In this economy, that person, like an average factory worker, is replaceable.

All of us are artist or have daemons (a term for genius). However, we are afraid, caught up in cycle of anxiety and shenpa, due to the 'resistance' provided by our 'lizard brain'.

Lizard brain was first part of brain i.e. the limbic system, in charge of flight and fight. Cerebrum (with 4 lobes: frontal, parietal, occipital and temporal loves) is the newest part of brain where art (or artistic brain) resides.

Art has nothing to do with painting. In fact, there is a difference between a painter (a billboard painter, for eg, or one who paints reproductions) and an artist. You can be artist in any field, you can be a artist at solving problems at your organisation, you can be a leader or you are great at connecting with people. You have to find your art, that makes you linchpin.

You need to recognise your resistance and overcome it. Creating art is not enough, you must ship it. That is you must focus on marketing and delivering your ideas as well so that they reach out to people.

Linchpins bring a gift to their job. For example, a painting artists create is a gift. It is not created for reciprocity. You can bring emotional labour to any mundane job, connect to people, co-workers, customers and it will show. That makes your irreplacable.

How to be a linchpin or an artist? There is no map. You must make your own.

It may not work all the time, your art. You may fail, but that is ok but you must not give up and find your art to be a linchpin.

Profile Image for Melissa.
393 reviews26 followers
July 3, 2017
Whenever we went to the McDonald's near my college campus, it was like dining at a five-star restaurant. At this particular Mickey D's, every single customer was greeted by the most cheerful and friendliest guy I have ever encountered. He held the door open, asked you about your day, stopped by your booth to see how your Big Mac was, and engaged you in some witty repartee.

People loved this guy. The Husband and I certainly did. Its been 20 years since I last laid eyes on the guy and while I can't remember his name (if indeed I ever knew it to begin with), I think of him every single time I walk into a McDonald's. Any McDonald's. It's like I expect him to be there because he has made an indelible impression on my mind. I've connected him with that experience so strongly that he has come to be part of what I associate with the McDonald's brand, even two decades and two kids later.

Seth Godin would know the name of this guy.


In his latest book, Godin writes about the qualities and characteristics of linchpins - those people in every organization who are the go-to people, who are the ones who seem essential and indispensable, who don't know the meaning of the phrase "not my job."

"There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there's a third team, the linchpins. These people invent, lead (regardless of title), connect others, make things happen, and create order out of chaos. They figure out what to do when there's no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art." (from the book jacket)

Godin's view is that as managers, we have the ability (and some might say the responsibility) to develop linchpins among our employees. But more importantly, as employees we have the ability to develop linchpin characteristics within ourselves.

This is becoming more essential in order to survive in the workplace because the days of being a cog in the wheel are over. Back in the day, we bought into a mentality of work where, in exchange for doing what we were told and what was expected of us without any resistance, we were rewarded - with a paycheck, with health insurance, with job security, with the gold watch upon retirement.

As we all know, those days have disappeared - taking with it our paychecks, our health insurance, our security, our gold watches - but that "factory" mindset still persists. ("Factory" being a term for workplaces and organizations of any type, not just assembly-line style processing plants.) According to Godin, one of the only ways to survive this new world of work is by becoming a linchpin. After all, think about the people who usually survive the layoffs, get the bonuses and the perks others don't. They are people considered to be essential to the organization or the brand. They're indispensable. (Not irreplaceable. Indispensable. There's a difference.)

Linchpins produce art, says Godin. Not art in the Michaelangelo sense, but art as it relates to our work. Delivering (or "shipping") three grant proposals in one day, as I did on Monday. It needs to be consistent and often.

And, we need to give our art away, as a gift. Kind of like we do here on our blogs. There are so many stories (like the one about the McDonald's guy, like the one I'm about to tell you about my Uncle Warren) that I could keep to myself or perhaps store up so that they become fodder for some of my writing, work that someone, somewhere might pay a couple pennies for. And maybe it will, but in the meantime, giving it to you as a gift makes me feel good. I like that my posts are being read, enjoyed, retweeted. It's a gift to recommend a great book that I loved. In doing so, those of us who do this - often - are becoming the linchpins to readers. This is what Ron Hogan was talking about at the Book Blogger Convention when he referenced Linchpin in his talk.

When we start giving gifts, we become identified as a person who gives freely of him or herself. People who give gifts do so often (Godin says that you have to) and people gravitate to that person, making him/her a linchpin.

My grandfather's family did this constantly. They were the ones who were always at church, usually fixing something like the heater or volunteering on some committee. I spent many a Saturday of a my life reading or writing in an empty Sunday School classroom while my Dad checked on some plumbing issue or did some other sort of maintenance job at our church. At my Uncle Warren's funeral (which was a packed house and - I swear, standing room only - and the man was pushing 90) they told a story about how they found him climbing on the newly repaired church roof "just checking on whether the contractor did things correctly."

(Uncle Warren was known for giving gifts. He'd shake your hand or embrace you, and you'd look down in your palm and there was a peppermint candy. He was so subtle, so quick, that you didn't even feel the peppermint being offered. If you didn't like peppermints, he would have your favorite candy the next time he saw you. For every single person he met, there was always a piece of candy ... even at the foot of his open casket, where a basket of peppermints was there for the taking.)

Think about it. These are really not unique concepts: be good with people, connect with them in a memorable and unique and powerful way, provide joy, don't be a cog in the wheel, do great work and do it often, deliver the unexpected and give people something unexpected for free. We've heard much of this before and Godin admits just as much. The reason it hasn't stuck is because our brains (the "lizard brain") have resisted this new way of thinking. We're scared stiff that we'll lose our jobs if we take a risk, try something new, speak up in meetings. We think that we don't have the authority to be bold, yet the irony is that our bosses want these sorts of qualities. They hire for these sorts of intrinsic qualities because it is almost impossible to teach them. In some ways, I think, you've either got it or you don't. And those who have are going to be the ones leading us out of this gawd-forsaken economy we're in.

I'm a fan of Godin's. I've been one for quite some time now, primarily through Seth's blog. He has the ability to take the whole concept of marketing and other communication (whether it is in the workplace or personally or whatever) and explains it in such a way that makes sense for the average person. Linchpin is a little bit of a departure from that while still being written in the straightforward, no-nonsense style. Each chapter is divided into short, blog-post like subheadings.

Seth Godin has been getting a lot of press lately - good and bad - for his decision to make Linchpin the last book he publishes via a traditional publisher. Personally, I don't care whether Godin publishes his next book traditionally, exclusively on an e-reader, via subscription on his blog, or by scrawling on papers delivered piecemeal by carrier pigeon. Just as long as the man keeps writing stuff like this - as well as his previous books (they were darn good, too) - then however he thinks is the best way to get them into my hands or my eyes to the screen, it doesn't matter. I mean, who the hell am I to tell him what to do or how he should do it.

Instead I say good for him. After all, that's exactly what being a linchpin is all about.
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,388 reviews1,469 followers
July 19, 2017
Seth Godin draws on his experiences in business and life to convince the reader to be a linchpin rather than a cog in the machine of work.

He says it better than I did: "This book is about love and art and change and fear. It's about overcoming a multigenerational conspiracy designed to sap your creativity and restlessness. It's about leading and making a difference and it's about succeeding." pg 2

You have our attention, Godin. What do we do?

Through a series of blog-like sections, Godin explains that there is no road map or simple answer. "Our world no longer fairly compensates people who are cogs in a giant machine. ... Leaders don't get a map or a set of rules. Living life without a map requires a different attitude. It requires you to be a linchpin." pg 19

Essentially, you have to embrace the uniqueness and drive that is inside of you. You have to create a platform of work rather than a resume. You have to decide to discard mediocrity. "The very system that produced standardized tests and the command-and-control model that chokes us also invented the resume. The system, the industrialists, the factory... they want us to be cogs in their machine-easily replaceable, hopeless, cheap cogs. ... if you don't have more than a resume, you've been brainwashed into compliance. Great jobs, world-class jobs, jobs people kill for- these jobs don't get filled by people e-mailing in resumes." pg 72

That's so outside the usual paradigm of work, for most of us, that it can sound scary. "Often, when people hear about my radical ideas for how you should train for a career, as well as the best way to present yourself, they object. They point out that not fitting in is certainly going to be an ineffective way of getting one of these average jobs. They remind me that not having a resume is all fine and good, but how will that help them get a job at a place that requires a resume? ... If you need to conceal your true nature to get in the door, understand that you'll probably have to conceal your true nature to keep that job. ... The linchpin says, "I don't want a job that a non-linchpin could get." pgs 78-79

It seems like he's asking a lot, but the alternative is to give up and conform. Godin says that this mindset isn't impossible: "My fundamental argument here is simple: In everything you do, it's possible to be an artist, at least a little bit." pg 94. We can do that, right?

I didn't agree with everything in Linchpin. I thought that Godin was far too hard on journalists... it is easy to look at an industry, or any situation really, from the outside and criticize the people in the thick of it.

News agencies know that they have to embrace the future or die. Just how to do that is up for grabs and adding Godin's toolbox of how to excel at work couldn't hurt. I don't think that reinvention or evolution is an impossible task. It's just tricky because, as Godin noted, "there is no roadmap."

Recommended for people who may be bored with where they are and can see a glimmer of where they want to be- but aren't sure how to get there. Also recommended for those who work in the newspaper business because we clearly need more linchpins.
3 reviews7 followers
July 1, 2012
Like many books in this genre, this book suffers from being too long. The core content, however, is fantastic. Seth's thoughts on "shipping", beating the resistance, and giving gifts were useful and inspiring. I'd recommend the audio book to anyone--makes it easier to skip past the repetitive chunks once you've got Seth's point.
Profile Image for Caro (Bookaria).
617 reviews20.5k followers
October 8, 2018
“An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it personally.”

I picked up this book because I recently subscribed to Seth Godin's blog and have found his advice on business and organizational culture insightful and useful. 

He published this book a few years ago about the new skills that professionals need to polish in order to stay relevant and indispensable in the informational age. The book feels like it was recently published, the information is still accurate and pertinent to most of the workplace changes occurring these days.  

Although some sections were very repetitive, I still recommend this book if you're interested in business and organizational topics. I also highly recommend subscribing to his blog.
Profile Image for Riku Sayuj.
656 reviews7,103 followers
May 2, 2016
I have long suspected that Seth was a Communist-evangelist and that his books propagated the gift economy. Yes. Here is the clincher, and it is the best part of the book too.

Seth’s take on:

The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

This book isn’t about what you think it’s about. And it’s certainly not about the USSR. The key argument here is that small experiments in communism don’t work, because they are corrupted by the temptation to defect and engage in trade with neighbors that exploit their workers (so you can benefit). Only worldwide revolution and grabbed power by farmers and factory workers can upend the unfair bargain that kings and capitalists have put in place. At one profound level they are right: as long as the workers don’t own the means of production, the exchange will be inherently unfair. A lot of what they pessimistically predicted has occurred to the workers at the bottom of the ladder.
Profile Image for Francis Fish.
Author 6 books19 followers
January 15, 2011
Seriously, if you want to know why your children's school seems to not be teaching them to think, if you want to know why you hate your job, read this book.

Our entire education system is built around creating good factory workers, who have no initiative and do what they're told. You may sit in a call centre or push numbers into a computer all day - but it's still a factory, think about it. Guess what - the factories are all gone or on their way, and cost-cutting means that you can't compete with folk from other countries. The race to the cheapest is one you can't win. The race to the most useful, caring, innovative - well, you're competing with the cheapest, they're going to lose.

Enter the linchpin - someone who adds value, who cares about doing a good job, who *thinks* about how to get things done more quickly and to a higher standard, a game changer. Your boss will employ a competent drone if no-one else is available, but would prefer a linchpin. Someone who is difficult to replace. If you don't want to be easy to replace then read this book and follow Seth's advice.

The latter half of the book gives a whistle-stop tour of the human brain and goes into some detail about how the "lizard brain" tends to sabotage the thinking brain and choose short term comfort over long term success. It needs to be tricked to get out of the way and allow you to succeed. Godin talks about how the lizard brain made him stop writing the book several times, because it was hard work. The paradox is the lizard brain likes comfort, but is scared of success.

Read this book if you want to escape the whole post-industrial "my job went to India" fear and find your way to a future where you enjoy what you do.

Just read it, it's the 21st century equivalent to How to Win Friends & Influence People, (which you should read as well).
Profile Image for Julie.
65 reviews21 followers
April 2, 2010
I'm ambivalent on this one. A few years ago, I read another of Godin's books, Meatball Sundae, which explained that you cannot use "sundaes" (web 2.0 marketing) to sell "meatballs" (old-school, average products for average people). Which was a good argument, I suppose, except that Godin never really explained how you can transform your "meatballs" into "ice cream."

So when I picked up his new book, Linchpin, I wasn't sure what to expect. Unlike Godin's other books, Linchpin isn't about marketing, not really. It's about you, about asking yourself, "Are you indispensable?" Godin argues that every one of us has been a genius, at least one. We've made a connection no one made before, soothed an angry toddler or customer, delivered something brilliant. The challenge, he says, is to do it again. Godin insists that you -- yes, you -- can become an "artist," someone who does more than just crank out their daily widgets. You can touch people with your work. Indeed, you must. In an analysis reminiscent of A Whole New Mind (by Daniel Pink), Godin argues that just doing your job is no longer enough. If what you do can be reduced to a manual, then it can be outsourced; if it can be automated, it will be. It's the things you do that cannot be written down (your leadership, your human touch, your insights, your passion) that will make you indispensable.

So far, so good. But in typical Godin style, he doesn't actually tell you how to do this. He'd argue that that's the point: if he could tell you in a step by step process how to make yourself indispensable, everyone would be doing it and you wouldn't stand out anymore. But I find that much of the book consists of Godin repeating himself, hoping to drill the message home. Unlike some of my favourite books, Godin doesn't give you any actionable steps, and I think the book loses out because of that.
Profile Image for Amy.
2,628 reviews414 followers
April 3, 2020

I really hoped I could slip in, glean a few nuggets, give it two stars, and escape with a "not for me."
But, no. I think I am doomed to vehemently dislike every Seth Godin book I pick up.
There is just no substance here.
As a perky, slightly ADHD millennial blessed with an awesome job where I pursue my passions, I guess I'm just the wrong audience. I'm not in a rut and so being told over and over again to "fight the machine" and "be an artist" just left me eye-rolling. I thought I'd be the perfect target because I'd agree with everything Godin says. Instead, I seem to be the exact opposite of the people he is trying to reach. So take that as you will.
But I don't think I'd even recommend this to someone with an "average factory worker mentality" or whatever Godin would call it. This book is basically a cheerleader shouting the same peppy phrases over and over again with some pseudo-psychology and pseudo-economics mixed in for good measure. The segment on Marxism especially made me want to go bang my head against a wall.
If this book helped you get out of a work rut or whatever, that's great! But if you are looking for something with substance to help you get better at pursuing your dreams or advice on where to start, this is not a great resource unless you want someone yelling at you that rules are for losers and job-security for cowards.
Profile Image for Elizabeta.
155 reviews39 followers
January 21, 2018
First, book name is wrong. It should be "Are you a valued worker?" or something like that. Author himself says no one is indispensable and uses the quote "Cemetery is full of indispensable people". Advices he gives do make sense: to give small gifts to your clients and customers in order to stand out, go extra mile not expecting anything in return and you will be successful.

But, he has a grudge against evil capitalism.
- Capitalism turns people into machines (Isn't any -ism doing that? Especially, Communism)
- Capitalism puts you in schools which brainwash you (Ahm, schools are mostly states school and isn't everybody fighting to get to a private school, that evil capitalist private school?).
- Only capitalists do something and expect to get something back, nice people give gifts. Like you can't do the work, expect to be paid and be charitable at the same time. (He gives example of himself blogging for free, but doesn't mention he is selling (not giving away) his books.)

It wouldn't hurt to pick a principle and stick with it. You can't have your cake and eat it too.
Profile Image for Tommy.
522 reviews8 followers
December 4, 2013
I have to read these type of books for work twice a year for a mandated "Team Book Club". As a caveat before getting into this, I hate things that are mandated. Also I read a lot and have a huge list of things I want to read, so having to take time out to read something like this, can feel like a bit of a waste of time.

So now, I like Seth's blog and check it from time to time when I have the time. This one should have stayed as a blog post. It would have been good in that length. In book form, it was very repetitive and tiresome.

Also maybe it wasn't exactly made for me or my background. I'm under thirty (28), have never worked for a large bureaucratic multinational corp, mostly worked for smaller tech savvy though not tech based companies (staff under 50) where flexibility is at least mostly allowed and encouraged. So I'm saying this might not have been meant for me.

Read it if the description sounds like something for you. If not you should probably pass.

And sorry this isn't a better review.
Profile Image for Mad Dog.
86 reviews10 followers
November 14, 2010
Reading this book, I often thought of one of my favorite bumper stickers "Visualize Using Your Turn Signal". Of course, it is a funny and practical variation of the bumper sticker "Visualize World Peace".

This is a "Visualize World Peace" book, in a world in more need of "Visualize Using Your Turn Signal". Forget about being a "Linchpin", some of us workers need to make ourselves productive (as opposed to counter-productive). And many others need to increase their lagging productivity. How many times have you found yourself or your co-worker lolligagging on the Internet? How many of us really like our job and/or are even motivated to try to become a linchpin?

So I'd say this book is a bit high-minded for many of us workers. For most of us, we need to do our job as well as we can, while we spend some work time trying to increase the "as well as we can" (do our studying). That is what see lacking: people creating extra time at work (and even away from work) doing their 'homework' so they can be better workers in the future.

So here is my "Linchpin book" in an efficient few sentences:
Do "your job". "Your job" includes helping your co-workers 'do their job' better. Constantly, while doing "your job", look for opportunities to take time to increase your ability to do "your job" better in the near future and in the "long-term". Be stubborn about this as it is easy to do "today's job" and not spend time doing your "homework". It is easy to surf the Internet (or talk 'stuff' at the water cooler) and skip the homework part of your job.

And take any opportunity to encourage/help your co-workers. Not only is this a 'cool thing' to do, but it opens the door for you to get help from others and will increase the opportunities that come to you. And if your job is not right for you (and you probably know whether it is or not), "God bless" and please look for the right time and opportunity to arise to get you to a 'better job'. I know that this is easier "said" than "done".

I will get those two paragraphs published (in book form) so I can be a best-selling author of business books. Let me add an appendix:

And remember that your job and your career is not "all that". You might think that, but you will get over that type of thinking some day. If you are consistently (over periods of years) putting your job above your family and friends, you will probably regret that some day. And that regret can be real, real painful. "God bless" you if are struggling with "workaholic-ness". As I said before, it is easier "said" than "done". But it is do-able (to get over being a workaholic).

And if you are looking for work and things are tough, I don't what to say. That SUCKS! "God bless". May help come in your path.

Appendix completed.

OK, all that said, what does the book have to offer? After all, there has got to be some gold nuggets here (if a major publishing company chose to publish this). Well it doesn't get much easier for me. Beside the high-mindedness of the book ("Unlock the genius within"), the author has a tendency to more hyperbole akin to "This is the first day of the rest of your life", "We are living in a time of dramatic change", etc. And the author writes much about adjusting to "post-factory" business life. I needed to affirm to myself that this book was written in 2010, because writing about the "post-factory" business world was outdated ten years ago. We've been 'post-factory' for quite a while now (20 years would be my estimate).

And the author writes that we are now progressing past the "do a good job at what your told to do" business world. I can't speak for everyone, but I have never seen that business world. Since I have been in the workforce (for 25 years), I (and others I know) have been rated on showing initiative, being a self-starter and being creative. The author is attacking a business world that already has been long extinct. And myself, I think "doing a good job at what your told to do" is a good thing and an important first-step that should not be overlooked.

This book would be more interesting and relevant if the author chose his "enemy" as the current business world (and not an extinct business world). And, alas, the author has identified another "enemy" besides the business world.

This enemy is .. gulp .. our "lizard brain". The lizard brain is the "amygdala". The author states that the "amygdala" sets out to "sabotage anything that feels threatening, risky, or generous". "Cuckoo", "Cuckoo", "Cuckoo". The author adapted his "lizard brain" theory from the Triune Brain theory of neuroscientist Paul Maclean. According to Maclean, one of our three brains (within our "brain") is a primitive reptilian brain. The Triune Brain theory has gained very little acceptance among neuroscientists. Adding to that, the author doesn't adapt correctly from the Triune Brain Theory, as the author states that we have "two brains" in our head. The adaptation gets even worse. The author states that the "amygdala" is the "lizard brain", but MacLean's Triune Brain Theory places the "amygdala" in the "lymbic brain", which is distinct from the "reptile brain". What a disingenuous mess!!

No, I didn't finish the book.
Profile Image for Amir Tesla.
161 reviews682 followers
October 20, 2017
An inspiring book with a great message

From school to the workplace, we're all trained to act and behave within a specific framework and following certain rules vital to the production.

According to the "law of cold turkey" Any project, if broken down into sufficiently small, predictable parts, can be accomplished for awfully close to free. And think for yourself about those who are in charge of managing those simple parts, Are the indispensable? Are they irreplaceable?

The message of the book is to become an artist, great in what s/he does while always going far beyond what s/he's expected to do. Putting emotional labor and creativity in what s/he does for the sheer joy of being an artist and holding no expectation. From this mindset the author argues, springs out prosperity and numerous opportunities.

Selected from the book

1. Artists are people with a genius for finding a new answer, a new connection, or a new way of getting things done.

2. In a factory, doing a job that's not yours is dangerous. Now, if you're a linchpin, doing a job that's not getting done is essential.

3. In the fast few years, it's becoming clear that people who reject the worst of the current system are actually more likely to succeed.

4. Wikipedia and he shared knowledge of the internet make domain knowledge on its own worth significantly less than it used to be. Today, of all you have to offer is that you know a lot of reference book information, you lose, because the Internet knows more than you do. :)))))
حالا هی بشینید کتاب بخونید و مطالبشون و به کار نگیرید.

5. Where do you put the fear? What separates a linchpin from an ordinary person is the answer to this question. most of us feel the fear ad react to it. We stop doing what is making us afraid. Then the fear foes away. Linchpin feels the fear, acknowledges it, then proceed.

6. The problem with meeting expectations is that it's not remarkable. It won't change the recipient of your work, and it's easy to emulate (which makes you easy to replace.)

7. Art is unique, new, and challenging to the status quo. It's not decoration, it's something that causes change.

8. Most of all, art involves labor. Not the labor of lifting a brush or typing a sentence, but the emotional labor of doing something difficult, taking a risk and extending yourself.

9. The job is not your work, what you do with your heart and soul is the work.

10. Successful people are successful because they think about failure differently.

11. When the resistance tells you not to listen to something, read something, or attend something, go. Do it. It's not an accident that successful people read more books.

12. When you feel the resistance, the stall, the fear, and the pull, you know you're on to something.
Profile Image for Mark.
154 reviews18 followers
March 2, 2010
I've found myself reading several other Godin titles in the past so there must be enough there that I keep getting drawn back... but I do have to remind myself -- again -- that while Godin is a master of the blog format he just isn't up to the full-length book format. His ideas, while generally brilliant, come at the reader in bullet-point format and if they were condensed into a more flowing narrative they would be about 1/2 the length and not nearly so redundant.

So that's the major downside of the book. Where Godin shines is laying out what you (or your employees) need to do to be successful. In a word, they need to be able to do art. The age of showing up at the factory and performing consistently, but in an uninspired fashion, is over. If you want to be the person your organization can't do without, there probably isn't a road map showing you how to get there. If there were a map, someone would already be there. It is up to the artist -- the person who can bring passion, creativity and insight to their work -- to set their own course. And it is up to the managers of these people to give them some guidance but mainly just get out of their way and let them break new ground.

Aside from Godin's choppy writing style, the only quibble I have with this book is that it grazes dangerously close to the Bright-Sided territory that Barbara Ehrenreich warns about. I can easily imagine a situation where I could be an artist and have all the ambition in the world but not have a venue to put those talents into action. We have to be careful that we don't lump those people in with the underachiever camp.
Profile Image for Malin Friess.
705 reviews21 followers
September 15, 2011
I only gave this book one star. I was under the impression that Seth Godin's writing was similar to that of Malcolm Gladwell...Blink (which I thouroughly enjoy). This book argues that we should all seek to create skills such that we are the linchpin of our organization or company and thus irreplacable. I didn't buy into his arguments...he spoke little of higher education and/or specialization. I generally find no matter how special you are you are always replacable.

I suggest your time is better spent becoming irreplacable to your spouse, family, and friends...and or just become your own boss.
Profile Image for Laura Noggle.
682 reviews396 followers
February 10, 2019
Godin is the man! My 8th Godin book, this one was surprisingly good, and as always, right on point.

Recommended reading for anyone interested in career development. This one might get a second round, excellent reminders.

“The only purpose of starting is to finish, and while the projects we do are never really finished, they must ship. Shipping means hitting the publish button on your blog, showing a presentation to the sales team, answering the phone, selling the muffins, sending out your references. Shipping is the collision between your work and the outside world.”
November 6, 2019
کتاب "مهره حیاتی" از اون دست کتاب هایی هست که افرادی که به دنبال موفقیت در هر زمینه شغلی هستن، باید یه نسخه ازش بخرن و بذارن کنار دستشون و به طور منظم به بخش های مختلفش مراجعه کنن. کتاب یه جورایی مثل یه کوچ coach یا مربی فردی میمونه که باید همیشه همراهت باشه، اگه که هدف های مشخصی داری و قصد داری حتما بهشون برسی. به خصوص خوندن فصل ششم کتاب رو به همه کسایی که میشناسم توصیه خواهم کرد. خوندن این فصل جدا از اینکه شما شغل داشته باشید یا نه، برای زندگی تون واقعا "حیاتی" ه...
Profile Image for Tom Bentley.
Author 7 books12 followers
July 14, 2012
Linchpin is Seth Godin's challenge to do your life's best work. That's big: your life's best work. Its message is that no matter if you're a pizza cook, a shaman or a 30-year Member of the Board, it's time to make something--something that matters--happen. And to make it happen with clarity, with humility and with a generous heart. The book's message is appropriately urgent, because these are urgent times, where molasses-bound mediocrity suffuses the workplace, where convention pulls the air out of the room.

What Godin insists is that everyone is an artist, a person whose unique skills, insights and enthusiasms combine so that they can produce art in their work. It's that pizza cook who discovered that a little chipotle and cayenne in the sauce made people exclaim "Wow!" at the tables. Trivial? Perhaps. But not if we all offered our particular art--the essence of meaningful effort--in a world where just getting by is good enough. Seth posits that this art is that special something, something extra--it's what makes a REAL exchange between humans. And that though the offering of art is a gift, it's entrepreneurial too: summoning your best, and giving it has cascade effects, it's generative.

The book extensively addresses the voice that says "No!" in all of us: the lizard brain. Fear is the lizard brain's song of paralysis; the basilisk that both protects and prevents forward movement. Godin gives workable advice on unclogging the arteries of that lizard brain so that your joints flex toward "Yes!"

Linchpin is formatted so that Seth's ideas come in blog-bites: chunky canape servings, perfect to roll around the mouth and mind, noting spice and scent. I read it as part of my Slow Book movement: savoring a passage, reflecting on its flavor, digesting its impact--and licking my lips to taste it again.

So, the essentials: Don't settle. Your life is your shot (your cosmic chance, if I can risk guru-rrificness) to make a difference. Going through the motions of your career, your relations with others, your relations with yourself = drag. Making a difference, offering your art through your work and actions = world-changing; indispensable.
Profile Image for Loy Machedo.
233 reviews195 followers
May 8, 2012
Loy Machedo’s Book Review – Linchpin by Seth Godin

After watching Seth on TED talks and accidentally noticing his books on more than one occasion, I finally decided to take the plunge and purchase his books. I wasn’t sure if his books were worth the investment, but hey, what the hell.

But having done that, I must admit, I am impressed with the man. He is quite a creative crackpot who comes up with great ingredients and strange concoctions – some of which you might have tasted before but now being presented as a new dish. While some others, you might have glanced across watching someone else relish but not have had the chance to indulge yourself into.

He brings them all up in a new menu.

Over here, Linchpin is one such dish.

The key points in the book are as follows:
- The Focus on being than doing – to be an artist than another cog in the wheel.
- The passionate plea to be a creator than a follower
- The call to resist acting out of the ‘lizard brain’ (amygdala) impulse which is afraid to risk & present non-conformity
- To regard, yet disregard the damaging educational system which we are made to follow or go through
- To follow the concept of participating in the gift economy – giving value for free without expecting anything in return – a benefit which eventually comes back many times over in the form of deeper and lasting relationships.
- To go beyond failure and much more further.
- Not to follow the operations manual – a framework we are asked to follow.

Drawbacks of the theory:
The principles outlined in the book are however not meant for everyone. The book does not take into account the human emotions – which can range from being really good, to the extreme opposite. Just imagine for a moment, all the retailers giving something or another for free – need not be a product but could be a service or the attitude of going the extra mile. All of sudden when everyone starts doing it, the impact is negated due to the volume and scale of the act. Then it would suddenly become an Industry standard and then everyone would expect to give even more. The question is – where do you put a cap on human greed? Where would it end?

The second drawback can be the unpredictability of the success principle. Agreed, that the whole exercise is to stretch oneself so as to contribute and think ‘win-win’. However, life offers no guarantees. So what do you do when one goes through the process of just giving everything for free and not receiving the same in return – for extended periods of time?

The third drawback is the over-emphasized and always stated fact – the limitations of the current educational system. The majority may agree with this. However, what is the solution? Have a whole generation or rebels who do not follow the system? Who break rules? Who do whatever it is they want? Then what?

Overall conclusion
Evaluating both the pros and cons, I can say this is a good inspirational read that has its thought provoking moments, however, like I have said before for other inspiration and motivational books – they are not meant for everyone. Yes, Radiohead may give its music online for free, poster artist Shepard Fairey, photographer Thomas Hawk, and musician Keller Willams are promoting the notion that the new economy is about gifting one’s art without asking for anything in return – but if everyone starts doing this – how does one pay his bills?

Ironically, I paid money for this book and it didn’t come for free – so I guess there are limitations to this theory.

But having said that, a good read, worthwhile introspection and a chance to re-think ones strategy in the way one does things. I felt this was a good book and a valued investment.

Overall Rating
7 out of 10.

Loy Machedo
Profile Image for Sergei_kalinin.
451 reviews165 followers
August 7, 2017
Книга очень неоднозначная...

Во-первых, очень растянута, много "воды", повторов и чрезмерного пафоса. Великий и ужасный Гудвин (зачёркнуто) Годин не столько даёт информацию к размышлению, сколько пытается "продать" читателям свои идеи, и делает это довольно навязчиво. Возможно, такой стиль рассчитан на какую-то более недалёкую аудиторию, но я бы с таким продавцом дол��о разговаривать не ��тал бы.

Во-вторых, предлагается довольно простая идея. Изложу её виде тезисов:

1) Современный мир фабрик штампует одни и те же товары, потребительская ценность которых неизменно снижается. В современном мире ценится уникальность, индивидуальность, и главное - собственный опыт (эмоции, истории, вовлеченность и т.п.)

2) Незаменимый = тот, кто умеет создавать и дарить людям Искусство.

3) Искусство = то, что вы делаете лучше (чем многие другие), что уникально / оригинально / инновационно; что делает мир вокруг вас лучше. Процесс творчества доставляет вам радость/удовольствие сам по себе и является вознаграждением сам по себе. Настоящее искусство это всегда дар другим людям, а не продажа. Монетизация убивает искусство.

4) Искусство (со стороны получателя) = трансформирующий его жизнь/личность уникальный и яркий эмоциональный опыт. Получение в дар такого опыта запускает "экономику благодарности" - у нас появляется желание отблагодарить художника-дарителя. Отблагодарить его можно уважением, признанием и трансляцией его творчества, и в меньшей степени - деньгами.

5) "Эмоциональная экономика" работает так: современные медиа (в первую очередь Интернет) дают Художнику неограниченные возможности транслировать своё творчество самой широкой аудитории (минуя корпорации). Если творчество создаёт тот самый уникальный эмоциональный опыт, и Художник становится популярен у обычных потребителей, то он становится востребован и корпорациями, которые хотят заполучить такого Незаменимого, и готовы платить за это большие деньги.

Если резюмировать, то суть идеи проста: делай добро, и бросай его на ветер. И когда-нибудь оно к тебе обязательно вернётся :)

В-третьих, идея в целом хорошая и правильная, но у неё много "дырок". Годин живёт в условиях многовекового капитализма (где за всё принято платить), и в условиях "жирного рынка" развитых кап.стран (где небольшой donation очередному "художнику в поисках себя" не пробьёт бреши в скудном семейном бюджете). Наверное, для западного гуру умершие в голоде и нищете художники - архаизм из позапрошлого века. А я вот таких художников и сегодня знаю :( . К тому же в России за "халяву" платить не принято; а про donation многие просто не знают или воспринимают это как милостыню/вымогательство. Возможно, я сгущаю краски, но Годин в своей модели наличие иной ментальности почему-то даже не предполагает...

Я не спорю с Годиным в принципиальных моментах. Я сам уже много лет назад ушёл с конвейера, и занимаюсь тем, что мне нравится, и что я умею лучше всего делать. Не с очень большой буквы "Х" :)), но стараюсь быть художником / незаменимым в своём деле. Дарю много и всё время думаю, как дарить больше, вот только отдача удивляет :) . Кстати, нашёл у Година несколько ценных советов, которые (возможно) помогут эту самую отдачу улучшить :)).

Мораль: книгу читать, но осторожно! Если вы хотите "соскочить" с корпоративного конвейера и пуститься в свободное творческое плавание (бизнеса, фриланса, художественного творчества и т.п.), то книга очень вдохновляет, и наверняка придаст вам сил и уверенности.
Profile Image for Foad Ansari.
244 reviews37 followers
May 14, 2021
مزخرف بود. مهره حیاتی در شرکت خود باشید طوری که نتوانند شما رو اخراج کنند. همین! ست گودین این جمله را با آب بندی تبدیل به یک کتاب کرده بود.
نظرات افراطی این کتاب ضد کار گروهی و تیمی و همچنین مانع توسعه نیروی انسانی و ترویج آموزش بین کارکنان و در واقع باعث انسداد مسیر دانش و تجربه میشه. متوسط ها و افراد پایین رده شرکت را باید آموزش داد که اونها هم بالا بیایند نه اینکه به چند مهره حیاتی شرکت دلخوش بود و بقیه را اخراج کرد. کیفیتی که گودین در مورد مهره حیاتی توضیح میده و در واقع این ابر قهرمانی که میگه شبیه یک کارآفرین است که امروز یا فردا شرکت خود را خواهد ساخت. هیچ گونه متریک و گزارشی که ثابت کنه یک نفر مهره حیاتی است در کتاب وجود نداره و فقط کلی گویی شده. ما می دونیم توی این دنیای بزرگ برای جانشین استیو جابز هم تیم کوک پیدا میشه و تصور بدون جایگزین شدن فقط مناسب کارمندان رسمی ادارات ایران است که واقعا هیچوقت به خاطر کم کاری اخراج نمیشن اینها مهره های حیاتی واقعی هستند.
کامو یکبار گفته بود. کسی که ابر مرد نیچه را بخواند احساس میکند خودش ابر مرد است و همه را باید کشت غافل از اینکه همسایه ی او نیز احساس میکند که ابرمرد است و روزی سراغش می آید.
شرکتهای فعلی در ایران بیشتر به همدلی،کار گروهی،توسعه نیروی انسانی و آموزش،داشتن ویژن و انگیزه نیاز دارند.مهره حیاتی بودن یک تصور کوتاه مدت صرفا برای مقابله با اخراج شدن است. وگرنه همه میدانند که همه با هم باید برنده شوند و هیچ کسب و کاری بدون همکاری و کارگروهی به نتیجه نمی رسد. مهره حیاتی یعنی نزاریم بقیه رشد کنند و به ما برسند چون اونوقت دیگه ما مهره حیاتی نیستیم.

ولی واقعیتش اینه که ما به سیستم نیاز داریم نه ابرمرد. بی خیال ست گودین قصد جسارت ندارم ولی خودت هم میدونی که این راهش نیست!
Profile Image for Will.
87 reviews16 followers
May 4, 2010
Linchpin is one of those career self-help books that are popular airplane reads. I was ready to give it a terrible review, but then I spent an hour skimming it. During that abbreviated read, I ran across a simplified view of the modern workplace and how it differs from a naive and inaccurate view of the workplace of yesteryear, a few run-of-the-mill inspirational stories including one about Richard Branson that's memorable, and some ambiguous descriptive advice about how to stand out in your career. For those of you without an hour, you can literally (no, not figuratively) get the complete message of the book by reading the table of contents. Unfortunately there's no "look inside" through Amazon or Google Books, so you'll need to make an effort to get that far.

As repetitive, generic, unstructured, uninformative, and absurd as the book may be, I still gave it three stars because I ran across a couple sentences that led to some minor insights. I even wrote them down. They probably wouldn't work for you, but others might. So, consider my experience as an existence proof that reading the book isn't a complete waste of time for everyone.

As a side note, the blurbs on the back cover are rather generic, but one of them may be my favorite of all time. Jacqueline Novogratz offers simply, "This book is a gift." I can just imagine her dinner conversations. "This food is nourishment. This fork is a tool." Riveting.
Profile Image for Niloufar Salehi.
41 reviews11 followers
March 24, 2020
شاید پیام کتاب برای خیلی از ماها تازگی نداشته باشه، ولی حتما مهمه. از معلم ادبیات دوره دبیرستانم، که در حرفه خودش مهره حیاتی بود، به یاد دارم که همیشه ازمون میخواست گدا هم شدید گدای تمام وقت بشید. حرف این کتاب هم همینه، در هر زمینه ای که کار میکنید پا رو از وظایف مشخص خودتون فراتر بذارید، هنر خلق کنید، غیرقابل جایگزین باشید. تلنگر کتاب اونجایی ست که به یادمون میاره کارهای تکراری و ماشینی که انجام میدیم به راحتی با ورود تکنولوژی به اون زمینه قابل جایگزینه، دوره متوسط بودن و بر اساس دستورالعمل پیش رفتن داره به پایان خودش میرسه. فکر هم نکنید مثالهاش فقط از بزرگان علم و تکنولوژیه و ورزش و هنره! واقعا هر زمینه ای پتانسیل خلق هنر، به معنی کاری که ارزش افزوده تولید میکنه رو داره.

وقتی کتاب تموم شد به یاد مرگ ایوان ایلیچ افتادم، یه جاییش میگفت از زندگی ایوان ساده تر و معمولی تر و بنابراین وحشتناک تر پیدا نمیشد، نکنه اونطور که باید زندگی نکرد. نکنه مقاومتمون در برابر تغییر ترسمون از شکست ما رو هم به همین افسوس برسونه.
Profile Image for Heshmati.
53 reviews27 followers
March 9, 2022
کتاب زرد که میگن همینه.
معدود کتابهایی که نتونستم تمومش کنم اینقدر که ازار دهنده بود
Profile Image for Mitra Mirshafiee.
27 reviews1 follower
March 10, 2023
One of the must-reads for anyone who wants to learn about how to be better at their job. The book mostly revolves around the idea of how to become innovative, curious, and a self starter. I definitely suggest this to young people who are at the beginning of a career path they love and want to grow in.
However if you are still looking for your passion, it's better to read books like so good they can't ignore you by Cal Newport, because the author in this one has the assumption that you know what you want but don't know how to or have resistance in making it happen.
Profile Image for Ben Denison.
503 reviews22 followers
March 24, 2023
I loved this book.

The premise is that the corporate world trains and wants its workers to "just do the job" not be seen, or heard, not step out or step up, but rather just complete the work required, and similar to the factory line or fast food restaurant they design even white color jobs to be replaceable. Thus, can get rid of, interchange employees easily and always be going for the cheaper option.

But Godin says we need to be "Linchpins". Make yourself indispensable, design your own job by taking on more work, solutioning, and/or leadership that the company can't do without you.

We do this by being "artists", which it made glaringly clear to me that I need a paradigm shift, because I've never considered myself an artist, but he makes a great case that we all have the ability to be an artist. All can come up with new ideas, new solutions, new processes to create change and improvements at work. This will make you a "Linchpin".

Also talks about giving gifts. Provide something for people and not expect anything in return. Much more to this book, but I was walking/listening to Audiobook and not able to take notes, but i will definitely listen to it again.
3 reviews2 followers
April 19, 2010
This is a preachy, slightly condescending, some what annoying, repetitive book about how to thrive in a new era of work and a new economy. Sounds like I'm down on it, aye? Not at all. I loved it. It is full of ideas that are perfect for creative professionals. It outlines our past economy, school system, work mindsets and ideas about work. Bit by bit, it builds up a case for how to thrive doing what you love, giving to others and doing 'art'. His definition of art is broad, conceptual and not at all traditional. His ideas are based in capitalism, but it speaks about the importance, benefit's and necessity of giving gifts with no expectation of reciprocation.

Although there were many new ideas in here, most are ones that we all know to be true and don't do enough or have heard and discounted. They have been tied together in a way to make an inspirational case to be creative, generous and to not let an excuse get in the way.

Just, be for-warned. It's tone and style are annoying at times. ;)
Profile Image for Joel.
414 reviews22 followers
September 8, 2013
Am I alone in thinking that every motivational work book could pretty much be summarized in two or three paragraphs? It's not that I don't enjoy them, because the style of this sort of self-help book tends to be very conversational and with lots of entertaining (or semi-entertaining) examples. But most of the time it seems like the author has about a handful of ideas designed to make you rethink your approach to your job/life/etc. and then spends two hundred plus pages belaboring the point. It's why, though these books are easy to read, I never get particularly excited about reading them.

That said, in Linchpin author Seth Godin did make some great suggestions that have encouraged me to shift the way I think about my career. In essence, Godin suggests that the real key to success, career satisfaction, and (though he downplays it) profit is to make yourself an indispensable part of your organization, to figure out what "art" you have to offer the world/your company/your clients/etc. and then not be afraid to go "off script" and make human connections doing so. He talks about getting out of the mindset that all work is about exchange (I do a service, you pay me) and being taken care of and should be about giving gifts and blazing trails. It's all very shiny, happy, "let's hold hands and sing songs and realize how special you can be if you'll get out of your comfort zone," and some of his advice is still a little pie-in-the-sky (e.g., the best linchpins don't need resumes because their work and what they've accomplished is their resume--they don't fit in as an easily replaceable cog, so why would they apply for the same jobs that everyone else with a resume does), but I like rethinking my job as a teacher as art, and I like rethinking how I teach.

I got an email this week from a former student who was amazed and thought I would need to know that he got his first college essay assignment and that the teacher said they didn't want a standard five-paragraph essay. This was a student who I had repeated conversations with about understanding the form and organization and why it mattered. I wrote him back to tell him that--shocker--I agreed with his teacher. The five-paragraph essay is boring, it's flat, and any "formula" for good writing eventually grows stale and, well, formulaic. But the basics of learning how to write a five paragraph essay (what I had hoped I was teaching him) give you the groundwork to explode the formula. Once you know how to organize and clarify your thoughts, you can go a million different directions with them. Yes, I also stopped (for the most part) writing five paragraph essays after high school. But that's because I knew how to structure my thoughts in ways that were (for the most part, I hope) clear and understandable. Once you can do that, then it doesn't matte whether you're writing one paragraph or a thirty-page essay. The form provides a base, but the art comes from the ideas and insights that the form helps you to make clear.

I wonder if I'm teaching my students that enough. I don't want my students to all produce the same end product. I want them to discover their own voices and ideas. Every essay, even with tenth graders, I try to tell them that there's not a "right" essay that I'm looking for. There's not a single answer to an essay prompt, there are many. It's taking their unique insights, supporting them, and presenting them in a clear, meaningful, and convincing manner. I think that's what Godin's getting at. Quit thinking that you have to be the same kind of teacher (or web designer, banker, etc.) as everyone else, and figure out what you have to bring to the table that's unique. That's your art, and that's what you can nurture and develop and share with the world. Doing so turns you from a cog into a linchpin--and what do you know, it makes your job more enjoyable as well.

That's not a bad message. It's one that has had me reconsidering how I approach my subject and what it is I want my students to walk away from my classes thinking, feeling, and understanding. It's got me thinking about what unique abilities I have as a teacher that I can bring to bear more fruitfully--things like patience, and my sense of humor, and my expectations, and my tech savvy-ness, and so on and so forth. So I guess, for all the fluff, I like what Godin's saying here. (And what do you know, I explained it in five paragraphs after all.)

Grade: B
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