Book Review: Linchpin by Seth Godin

Seth Godin is primarily a marketing and management guy, so his books don’t often hit the list of books finance and accounting people should read. Which is a shame, because at times I felt like this book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, spoke directly to the financial person in me.

Early on, Godin references a quote by Steve Jobs that has become somewhat famous. Jobs would say, “Real artists ship.” Here is what Godin says about that:

When Steve Jobs said that, he was calling the bluff of a recalcitrant engineer who couldn’t let go of some code. But this three-word mantra goes deeper than that. Poet Bruce Ario said, “Creativity is an instinct to produce.”

Jobs wasn’t talking about the guy painting murals in the Apple office, he was talking about an engineer working on a product. An artist, nonetheless. Whatever you’re doing – making product, selling services, churning out monthly reports, designing a user interface – you’re producing art. Artists aren’t just those who paint, play guitar, or take really cool pictures. You’re an artist.

Godin puts it this way:

Artists are people with a genius for finding a new answer, a new connection, or a new way of getting things done.

That would be you.

Artists do it for the art, not for the paycheck, not for the boss, not for the company. If you want to become indispensable, think like an artist. Produce stuff that works, whatever it is. Create a new way of doing something laborious that everybody in your organization complains about. If you want that next strategic planning presentation to rock the CEO, tackle it like an artist.

I know, it’s idealistic. Godin is a big thinker and he makes big assertions that may seem difficult to implement as you slog through another month-end close with a five year old computer, an antiquated operating system, and too few hours in the day to chip away at your six month backlog of projects. That’s okay, you can ease into this artist thing. I struggle with it, but it helps to think of it as a latitude change, a shifting of a mindset.

If you’re leery, and you don’t want to commit to the book, follow Seth Godin’s blog here. It will keep you interested with almost daily insights into marketing and management. Or you could go to his free stuff page and dip your foot into Godin’s sea of knowledge.

If this topic of a linchpin is especially interesting to you, download Godin’s free Brainwashed PDF. It’s fourteen, nicely formatted pages that will spur some thinking about “shipping great art.” It could be the best 10 minutes you spend today.

UPDATE: I found this additional resource on Seth Godin’s blog. It’s a linchpin hierarchy.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Linchpin by Seth Godin

  1. Kevin Broccoli

    That first comment came out formatted incorrectly. Here it is:

    artists. see also genius
    –backup plans of, 116
    –characteristics of
    —–intent to change people, 83-85, 95
    —–not perfectionists, 68
    —–optimism, 98
    —–posture, 76
    —–seeing world clearly, 184-185, 235
    —–shipping, 99-100
    –children as, 31-32, 122
    –defined, 8
    –employees as, 36, 38
    –vs. factory workers, 96-97, 153
    –great vs. mediocre, 207
    –need for, 8, 17-18
    –reasons to become, 90-91
    –unpaid, 227-228
    –whether working more is better, 195

    shipping
    –banishing busywork to enable, 135-136
    –and coordinating teams, 105-106
    –even if feels unfinished, 102-103
    –as habit of artists, 99-100
    –importance of, 102-103
    –and lizard brain, 112
    –and thrashing, 104-105, 130-131, 146-147
    –of unique creativity, 219-220

    1. John Post author

      Kevin, that’s pretty cool. I wonder if indexes (indices sp?) are all public domain.

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