Book Review: "Linchpin" by Seth Godin

Cover shot of the book "Linchpin" by Seth Godin
Seth Godin starts out Linchpin: Are You Indispensible? (Amazon Affiliate link) insisting everyone is a genius, though, perhaps, not in the “genius” way we think of Einstein, Hawking or other Nobel Prize winners. He stresses, though, that everyone is a genius in their own way. Each of us has something in us which makes us unique and hard to replace in the workforce.

He tells us that we need to find our niche, that thing which is an art to us that no one else can or will do. We need to transfer that knowledge and skill to the workplace to make ourselves the “Linchpin” – the essential piece which holds everything else together.

The great truth is that all of us, no matter what we do for a job, can be a linchpin. He uses the example of a waiter a couple times in the book. One can be a waiter who gives friendly, honest, but otherwise un-noteworthy service. Anyone can do this. Or, one can be a waiter who not only does the minimum, but goes above and beyond by giving the best service possible to each person.  This is the one who remembers regular customers and brings their preferred drinks without asking, who remembers which customers like extra napkins or what kind salad dressing they prefer. This is the person who makes the dining experience unique and who would be sorely missed if she wasn’t there anymore. She is the reason customers tell their friends to come to this particular restaurant. She is the linchpin.

A great example of a linchpin is Dolores at a New York 7-11 who remembers all her customers by name, what kind of coffee they like, and asks about their families. She isn’t just running a cash register and making sure coffee is made. She’s taking that extra step (or three) to make sure everyone who comes into her store feels like one of the family. People drive past other 7-11s and coffee shops just so they can buy coffee from her. The experience is worth the extra drive time.

It’s the art that’s important, and the gift one makes of the art. Seth writes, and I agree, that the more you give away the more you get. It’s really counterintuitive, but true nonetheless. By giving more, you will get more back.

No Magic Formula
Some people will be put off that Godin does not give out a step-by-step plan or a roadmap to become a linchpin. In reality, he can't because there is no roadmap. Everyone has to figure this out for themselves because each person has to learn what their unique art is and how to give it away. There is an entire chapter of the book devoted to this idea.

The book didn't teach me anything I didn’t already know. It did, though, encapsulate many diverse things I’d been taught and learned on my own over the years. Godin has a way of articulating things in a way that causes me to think, "Aha! I knew that was right and he explains it better than I do." I get these nuggets reading his blog, too. The ideas in Linchpin are also things we all need to be reminded of from time to time. Godin has an excellent way of putting into words the details of concepts which otherwise might be overlooked or forgotten.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who feels they are stuck in a rut career-wise and to young people seeking out their place in the workforce. I think it will offer some inspiration to those who want to learn to get ahead in the “new economy.”

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