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Must Read: Linchpin (the book)

Seth Godin straddled a tough line in his new book, Linchpin.

“Shut up, just shut up. You had me at hello.”

Seth Godin had me at “hello” in his new book, Linchpin.  And there’s so much to love in the book that I’ll start with that.

I’ve documented my struggles to establish a memorable brand for myself, even though my professional success has been based on creating clarity in the face of complexity.

Linchpin resolves that challenge.  It’s on the inside front cover flap:  Linchpins “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.”  OK, I now have the foundation for crystallizing my own linchpin brand.

Here are the seven traits of linchpins:

  1. Providing a unique interface between members of the organization.
  2. Delivering unique creativity
  3. Managing a situation or organization of great complexity
  4. Leading customers
  5. Inspiring staff
  6. Providing deep domain knowledge
  7. Possessing a unique talent

There’s an interesting dynamic at play.  Linchpins are people who, by definition, make themselves indispensable to an organization and therefore should be safe from layoff.  But I suspect many organizations don’t properly recognize their linchpins and might very well let them go in favor of keeping people who don’t rock the boat.  And the linchpins will, in the long run, be better off for it.

The challenge — if you’re a job-seeking linchpin — is figuring out how to highlight those traits in a way that gets you past the gatekeepers whose job it is to eliminate people who don’t perfectly fit the job description.  And linchpins rarely do, because the things they do well aren’t in the job description.

But this book is terrific for that group of people because, I suspect, they never defined themselves as linchpins; they just did the job.  It’s full of great tips on how to be better at it.  And Godin’s passion for the subject is burned into every page.

The problem — and this ties back to my use of the Jerry Maguire quote — is that Godin, who has rock-star status in many corners, is preaching to the choir.  He had me at hello, but it took 48 pages or so to get to the chapter on Becoming a Linchpin as he tried to convince me I needed to become one.  The reviews have been terrific; the adulation virtually unanimous.  But I wonder if the people who would buy this book wanted less convincing and more linchpin “tools.”

But that said, it was worth the wait.  This book is jammed with great stories — at times he could have edited more ruthlessly — and I feel I’m on a streak of three books that are changing the way I’m approaching the next chapter of my life (Switch, this one, and The Checklist Manifesto).

If you’ve read the book, how do you go about convincing a prospective employer that they should make room for a linchpin like you in their organization?

Must Read: The Linchpin (Seth Godin) table of contents

A lot of people have had a lot of nice things to say about Seth Godin’s new book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable,” and I hope to blog on the book soon.

But take a look to the left at the Table of Contents for the book — it offers chapter summaries instead of page numbers.  What a very cool way to summarize the book and help (1) new readers navigate the book and (2) returning readers find the specific chapters they’re looking for.

An example…In most books, you’d see that the fifth chapter is Becoming the Linchpin.  In this book, Seth gets your attention by adding, The linchpin is an individual who can walk into chaos and create order, someone who can invent, connect, create, and make things happen.  Every worthwhile institution institution has indispensable people who make differences like this.  Over at Chapter 9, in addition to There Is No Map, you get Indispensable linchpins are not waiting for instructions, but instead, figuring out what to do next.  If you have a job where someone tells you what to do next, you’ve just given up the chance to create value.”

The inside cover goes further with the definition of a linchpin: They “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.”

Can you imagine anything better than to be described as a linchpin by those who know or work with you?  Paging through it, this looks like a terrific book, starting with the Table of Contents.  It’s the next book I’ll be reading (after finishing Switch by the Heath Brothers, which will be officially released early next week).