Seth Godin has written about being a leader in Tribes; when to quit in The Dip; how to be different in Purple Cow; and started the whole Permission Marketing concept. He is an author with many Idea Virus. This one he released on his Triiibe.
It is a very different book from his others. Most of his books are a quick read with concrete examples. The concepts are easy to grasp and my head is usually swimming with ideas during and after the book. The Linchpin is distinct. It isn’t about Marketing. It’s about Living.
This book is geared toward the W-2. The employee on payroll. Most folks are not having much fun right now at work (if they are employed). This book explains how to get back your job security as well as find some passion at work.
What is a Linchpin? It is a piece of metal that prevents a wheel from falling off its shaft.
“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. They make their customers and peers happy. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn it into a kind of art.” – Seth Godin’s blurb.
The art that Seth discusses is creating a connection; the act of being human interacting with another human. Art is a gift. It is about being generous. An example is Warren Buffett. He shares his gift for free with the world. That is Art. That is what makes the difference.
See Seth Godin talk about Linchpin on YouTube. Not as good as seeing him live like I got to do today.
“Be a Linchpin in every aspect of your life. How you give, laugh and love.” From the introduction to Seth Godin Live by Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen.
Seth explained the book this morning by starting off asking “Are you a Genius?” Then announcing that the Industrial revolution has ended. Work has changed.
A Genius solves a problem the way no one else has before. A Genius brings new thinking to a situation. I am a genius in my niche.
Seth explains that the Industrial Revolution started us on a path where most businesses became a factory – Ford, Allstate, GE. Each employee just a cog in the machine that makes average parts for average people at the cheapest price possible. The problem is to sell cheaper and cheaper, the worker gets paid less and less. (See Wal-Mart workers). In fact, adjusted for inflation, the average worker in the US has not gotten a raise in 40 years. Also, as things become commodities and get cheaper, profits shrink, pay must shrink, and benefits (like health insurance and bonuses) must decline (unless you are in banking).
How did this begin? With Henry Ford’s invention of the assembly line and the invention of the Mechanical Turk. Public school systems are designed to create factory workers with a consumption hunger. That way the barons of industry – Carnegie, Ford, Edison, and the rest of the Jekyll Isle clan – had laborers for their businesses and consumers for their overproduction.
Seth explains that it began with the idea of inter-changeable parts and has not let up since. The only way to avoid being interchangeable is to be indispensable. To do that, you must become a Linchpin. To do that, you have to create Art.
I know. What? The Arts are on life support. Music and art are not taught in many schools in the US any more. But Seth is not saying go be Van Gogh. Keep your ear on. He wants you to create art by creating interactions between human beings. Interactions that change, move or touch another human being. Art is a mission of change.
Art is about generosity. It’s about finding passion in your work so that your job is more tolerable – not just for you but for those around you.
My example is that customer service in this country is pitiful. Any decent service and we blog about it! Why? Because, Seth eludes, corporations hire manual readers to interact with customers, but without letting them think for themselves or go off-script. In other words, the $9 per hour employee with 15 minutes of training is the face of your company to the customer standing in front of them.
All those marketing dollars and years of branding derailed by a gum-chewing employee, who you treat like a cog in your machine. That’s why employers need linchpins. People who want to change that situation (or experience) one interaction at a time. Many companies are experimenting with this on Twitter like JetBlue, Southwest, Comcast and others.
The original title for Linchpin was going to be The Chef, the Cook, and the Bottlewasher. The Bottlewasher is a Mechanic Turk, easily replaced. The line cook follows recipes, but is also replaceable, just not to the extent that the washer is. The Chef. Ah! He is the Linchpin. People come to your restaurant to eat his recipes, see his plate presentations, have a culinary experience. Creating that memorable (tweetable) experience is what separates you from all the other restaurants.
Seth also spoke of Fear and the Lizard Brain. (Here’s a video of Seth Godin talking about the Lizard Brain.) The lizard brain says to shut up and save your job. Seth says that unless you become a Linchpin, you will lose your job anyway. Anxiety is living with fear before it exists.
It’s time to take responsibility instead of orders. grow into someone indispensable who interacts with people, do what does matters. What matters now?
- Provide an interface between your company and customers.
- Manage complexity.
- Lead passionate people (tribe).
- Inspire the staff that you work with.
- Deep domain knowledge.
- To be soooo much better than everyone else.
Art is about abundance and generosity. Your job is your platform to create art. Be proud of what you do and spread your art. Go make something happen.
Are you a Genius?
I am a Genius and an Artist too. That makes me a Linchpin. Seth and I would like to help you be one to. Why? We want the world to be a better place.