“We need you to stand up and be remarkable. Contribute. Interact. Take the risk that you might make someone upset with your initiative, innovation, and insight – it turns out that you´ll probably delight them instead.” Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?” Seth Godin
“Linchpin” isn´t the most original original book of Seth Godin but it has an important message. The message isn´t exactly new. However it is always worth repeating it and Seth Godin does a very good job. I believe most of the readers of this review already know he message of the book. However, to know it intelectually is different from really know it.
Seth Godin is an entrepreneur and a very known author. He wrote at least 18 book that were translated in more then 30 languages. Most of his books are about how we see marketing, entrepreneurship and work. He was the founder of several companies like Yoyodyne and Squidoo.com. Besides CEO of Squidoo.com he was also Vice President of Direct Marketing of Yahoo!
From all the books I read written by Seth Godin, “Linchpin” is my favourite. According to the author a linchpin is someone that is very necessary in an organization and difficult to be replaced. Obviously, this isn’t a very important and original message.
What is the book about? Well, I will give two answers: one short and other longer. First, the short answser: Linchpin is about the changes and the meaning of having a job. It poses an important message: how can we became indispensable in today’s economy ?
The longer answer can be divided in two parts:
Firstly, the book is about how the model decadence of the way most of us were trained in western countries to obtain a better life in relation to our parents since the 19th century. Traditionally one used to think that if you would study and go to the university, you would get a job in a big company or as a public servant, and do what you were told to do. This model of social progression worked more or less well for a long time. In it, you would trade obedience for a good career and security. The problem, says Seth Godin quite abruptly, is that there “are no longer any great jobs where someone else tells you precisely what to do.” This poses great challenges to most of us and the coming generation. The main reason of this is that most of the school systems are still preparing kids to a factory economy that is vanishing very fast
Secondly, says Godin, we should have more initiative and be more creative in the present if we want to have success in the present. Seth Godin argues that in order to become indispensable, a “linchpin”, we should stand up and do work that matters to us and perhaps to the world, to become indispensable. Even though the path he defends isn´t exempt of dangers, Seth Godin argues that the old way just doesn’t work anymore at all.
Both as employees or entrepreneurs, it is important to have more initiative and use creativity. Nowadays, throughout the whole world, people with initiative and creativity doing work that matters are always a fantastic surplus. Paradoxically, Seth Godin argues that one way to be safe in the long run in our current times, is to take risks doing work that matters.It is therefore central that we overcome several fears that are in part biological and also the result of our previous education. Some of the fears he points out are embarrassment and fear of authority. One has to overcome those fears and be willing to take risks, if one is willing to have success now.
From the point of view of Seth Godin it is therefore necessary to transform radically the school systems. School (from elementary to Universities) should teach only two things: how to solve interesting problems and how to lead. As a college professor, I agree with Seth Godin. However, I know that change will not be easy because most investments being done today aren’t in the direction he advices.
I agree it is urgent to find the right path in the school systems that will be more appropriate to our times. These still follow the legacy of the 19th century economy where pupils were educated to follow standar procedures to be able to achieve economic success. Nowadays, that is not the case anymore. The job market rewards more and more people with creative answers and less and less persons with the standard profiles. Their jobs can be easily downsized and outsourced to the other side of the world. To be different isn´t a garantee to be indispensable, however, suggests the author, is a necessary condition to be indispensable.
“Linchpin” is a very passionate wake-up call to all its readers. The message of the book isn´t fundamentally new but it is a very important. Times are changing and if we don´t want to be downsized and outsourced to another side of the world, we have to be willing to take risks and become more creative.
Ivo Dias de Sousa is a Portuguese writer born in Mozambique. Ivo is also a Professor at Universidade Aberta, Portugal, giving courses on information management. Currently, Ivo is interested in using his experience on information management to construct applications (see http://windit-app.com/ ) for smartphones, in collaboration with others. Ivo holds a Master in Statistics and Information Management (Universidade Nova de Lisboa) and a Ph.D. in Information Management (Universidade Aberta). Amongst his main interests are information management, psychology of luck and literature.