Linchpin covers a topic that every person who wants to thrive in the workplace should work on: being indispensable and irreplaceable.
The main premise of the book is that the modern world has changed things.
Whether you are a young man or woman just entering the workforce or someone who’s seasoned and experienced, you must understand how things change.
Seth argues that you must be a linchpin in order to succeed. A linchpin is something that holds together the whole organization, similar to a keystone for a bridge. If the linchpin or keystone gets destroyed or removed, everything falls apart.
In the same way, you need to be invaluable to the operation of the entire organization.
Seth takes it a step further and says that you need to be incredibly valuable to the point of being irreplaceable or rare, not just required for the function of an organization.
There’s a clear difference. If you’re just a keystone, that could imply that you got there through manipulative means. You could possibly be providing no extraordinary value to anyone, but simply managed to get your way into a position you can’t be fired through politics or unethical reasons.
This is not the approach you want to go after because you have no real extraordinary value. If the time comes that you get found out or ousted, you will be screwed.
Seth’s main point of argument that this is the era of the linchpin is that the digital modern age has changed how things work. The rapid access of information from the internet has made things much more transparent. You can’t hide.
If you trick your customers or cheat, you’re screwed.
More importantly, the old Industrial age of doing things turns out to have its flaws. While the people at the top get rich, it has a structure that forces the masses to do boring, repetitive, manual labor.
It keeps them from progressing or getting ahead. It leaves them vulnerable to being replaced by someone better at a moment’s notice. It doesn’t give them any leverage to hold on if the boss can find someone a bit cheaper. Everyone is a commodity.
Globalization has made this worse. In the past, we were promised a good, safe life with benefits. Now, there are thousands of people from third world countries who will do the work remotely for a fraction of the price. You will be outsourced in due time if you simply remain average.
I believe Seth’s arguments are generally valid. It really is quite a shame when I meet or talk to fast food employees, any manual laborer, or Starbucks baristas. Most of them don’t want to stay there and seem to have the perception that it’s beneath them or a “low tier job.”
Times have changed. In the past, people were grateful to have a job. But nowadays, modern society has made it so that it’s almost looked down upon. Not everybody is like this and I think you should never be too prideful to get going. I’ve also heard many stories in my studies of successful people where they worked from the lowest tier job to a senior or chief role in the company. It’s not impossible.
What I didn’t like about the book was that Seth gave a lot of abstract claims, opinions on macroeconomics, and directions with very little backing or reasoning. Any reasoning he did have was a very loose kind.
I really didn’t like this because it made up a bulk of the book and I do not believe I should trust his advice. Seth Godin made his money from his books and an internet business. He could have easily lucked out as he sold it right before the Dot Com bubble for an inflated price.
I think he steps outside his realm of competency and starts giving more advice and opinions on topics he shouldn’t. I’m very skeptical of bad advice and he makes a lot of claims on why the Industrial Age failed that can’t be conclusive. Warren Buffett is a genius of macroeconomics and even he’s been humble enough to say that he doesn’t know what will happen next. Why would Seth?
Seth also makes a claim that you should be a constant giver of art. He spends a whole passage romanticizing and building up how great artists are. He clearly sees himself as one, which is why.
He then talks about how everyone’s an artist and if things aren’t working out, you should keep giving more and more of your art. He concludes by reasoning that you should be fulfilled by the work itself, if after all you’ve done, you can’t make your art into a living.
I was a bit confused about the book and skeptical of some of the advice. I’m not sure why so many entrepreneurs praise the book. Some of them seem to just praise whatever book is recommended to them without even considering analyzing or being a bit skeptical.
Having said that, I think Linchpin’s made concept is sound. But it’s a bit common sense, and I think throughout human history, even before the Industrial Age, you should always seek to be invaluable and indispensable with your skills. Rarity and specialization breeds value and demand.