I’d normally start a book review by talking about the book, but this time, I’d rather talk about the author.
Seth Godin has been called a revolutionary thinker, a pioneer, and a trendsetter, among other things. And while those descriptions are true, I think it’s better to understand Seth as a really good weatherman.
A good weatherman tells you how things are, why they’re that way, and the way they’re likely to be tomorrow. That’s it.
People don’t get that about Seth – and while there’s plenty of room to disagree with his ideas, many of his critics focus on the fact that his work often doesn’t tell you what to do. That’s not a critique of his work; it’s just showing that they miss the point of Seth’s work.
Think about it this way: a weatherman can’t tell you whether you need an umbrella. He can only tell you that it’s raining now and likely to rain later today. It’s up to you to figure out what to do with that information.
If you’re staying in, you don’t need an umbrella. If you’ve got to be out in the weather, you need to plan accordingly. And if you’re an entrepreneur, you might want to think about the opportunities available given the conditions.
If you think about that going into reading one of his books, you’ll find a ton of value. If you go into it wanting a how-to book, you’ll probably be disappointed.
All analogies aside, Seth’s books report and predict trends, and his books consistently demand and expect that you’ll be reading them with your thinking cap on. The how-to you’ll get from him is not how to act, but how-to think.
I, for one, really appreciate that, and it’s why I buy every one of his books. Given that a large amount of what I do is help people think, it’s obvious that I’d like authors who help elevate and clarify my thinking.
Thank you, Seth, and I wanted to share that.
Why You Should Read Linchpin
The challenge of reading Linchpin is to recognize that Seth is talking to three different audiences – he’s talking to employees, employers, and entrepreneurs. There are a lot of insights for employees and employers, but I want to focus on entrepreneurs.
Though the content of the book is consistently high-value, I think the highest leverage ideas for creative entrepreneurs come in these 5 (of 14) chapters:
- The Resistance
- The Powerful Culture of Gifts
- There Is No Map
- The Culture of Connection
- The Seven Abilities of A Linchpin
These chapters describe the reality of being a creative entrepreneur. Whether it’s the insights into the biology of resistance, the mechanics of gift giving (and how to do it correctly), the nature of working without a map, or the social dynamics of creating art, you’ll find a surprising amount of Ahas! as you read.
I’d like to pause on the abilities of a linchpin, though. There are two abilities that are critical for creative entrepreneurs: 1) delivering unique creativity and 2) possessing a unique talent. If you master your unique talent, which for creative types is their unique creativity, and focus on delivering it, you can make up the rest as you go along. If you can’t get those right over the course of time, you might as well pack up your bags and go home.
That sounds harsh, I know, but the paradox is that figuring out how to do those two things is both the simplest and hardest thing to do. The chapters I listed above explain why.
Linchpin is largely a synthetic manifesto – it’s like a healthy fusion of A Whole New Mind, Free, The War of Art, Trust Agents, and The Dip. Something being synthetic doesn’t make it any less novel, valuable, or artful; in a world of so much discrete information and so little understanding, it’s incredibly valuable to have someone tie all of them together. That’s Seth’s art.
Again, a weatherman doesn’t necessarily tell you new information; he takes all the reports, observations, and conditions and tells you a meaningful story that helps you understand what’s going on. A good, useful forecast is a synthesis in this way, and Linchpin is just that: it’s a book that helps you figure out how to thrive by becoming indispensable.
The Dip was a catalyst that changed my life and it’s on my list of “All Time Favorite Books Everyone Should Read.” While reading this book, I kept thinking about whether Linchpin was better than the Dip, which says a lot about the caliber of this book. Right now, I can’t tell you whether Linchpin is better than the Dip, but really, it doesn’t matter.
Here’s what I can tell you: Buy Linchpin. Read it once now and come back to it six months from now.
Get out there and change the world.
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