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Book Review: Linchpin

Seth Godin’s appeal to take your future into your own hands

Perhaps the tag line of Seth Godin’s book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? didn’t connect with me – I already think I’m indispensable, so why would I want to read about that?

The book however is much more than that single thread. I’m glad it appeared in my hands; come on, let’s look into it.


Tapping into genius

In classic economics, it’s always management versus labor. “How much can I get out of the transaction?”

Notice how I didn’t have to identify one side or the other in that hypothetical question? It doesn’t matter, they’re both doing it!

There’s a third perspective – part management, part labor, part investor, and part consumer – that can take things to a new level. Godin labels this the Linchpin, and while I’m not thrilled with that label, the point is valid no matter what you call it.

And it begins with reaching the genius in everyone.

The world has changed

It isn’t the same world that paid your parents to trade time in the office for a paycheck. If you still think it is, then follow along as Godin tears that building down brick by brick.

Perhaps I listened more as a youth, or perhaps my insight was just as keen then – this isn’t new to me, I’ve lived most of my life that way. And perhaps that’s one reason I had a desire, but wasn’t moved to read the book for so long. I mean who reviews a book 16 months later… Who needs to read a book that tells you things you already know? (Other reviews of the book stress the motivational aspect of it…)

More about the lizard

And this is the factor that worked for me the most.

If you’re going to take control of your life and career, the lizard brain at the base of your skull is going to get active. The honest and open discussion of the lizard helps me see mine more clearly (and hopefully handle it better).

And you’re going to need to handle your own lizard, because if you don’t, you’ll get driven back into that safe comfort zone of trading time for money that isn’t actually very safe or very comfortable.


Imagine my surprise when halfway through the book one of the sections starts out “Seeking out discomfort.”

My 2007 article “All of the Rewards, None of the Risks” sprang to mind – I’m with you Seth!

Just think of what you can achieve by leaving the comfort zone. When Timely Insights started in 2005, I was also keenly aware of what each of us is capable of doing – if only we would “Challenge Ourselves” a bit and try.


Seth is no stranger to the philosophy that giving is central to the new economic paradigm. I wrote about one of his articles in 2007 – “Seth Godin Believes in Giving First.”

He’s expanded greatly on that idea within Linchpin.

Godin highlights an aspect that I didn’t mention in 2005’s “Give First Economics” and “Give First Economics – Part II” – the way the internet changes the potential of giving gifts. If there is virtually no cost to give away some of your content online, why be stingy?

Not typical

And I’m not sure where it came from, but I enjoyed two surprises towards the end of the book.

The one that doesn’t really surprise me – a reference to “More Cowbell.”  I’m excited that he could work such a reference into this sort of book. I’m not surprised though because it is such a classic bit.

The one that shocked me – his reference to “Cosmic Encounter.” While it was a staple of some of my early late-nite gaming, I didn’t expect to see it in this sort of book.

I’ve never gone on a rant against Candyland sort of games (those ruled by pure chance), but I do prefer nearly any other sort. Around here we enjoy games that employ strategy and tactics, and we currently enjoy “Munchkin” (of any flavor).

Second Generation

Much of the concept of a Linchpin is similar to an Entrepreneur. I don’t mean the aspects around raising funds from investors or using the internet to create a tribe.

I mean getting up at the start of the day and creating something new, taking risks, and driving home a project. That’s common to both.

And while Godin makes the case that everything today is different than yesterday, I’m reminded of the story my dad told me. You see, “My Father Was An Entrepreneur,” and if it was important to take initiative, risk failure, and deliver the goods every day in the 1940’s, it’s important today as well. The part about the internet – well, that is new.

If you haven’t already opened a browser window to get your own copy of Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, visit your library and place a hold on it. I’m returning the copy I’ve had checked out today, so you’ve got a chance to grab it.