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January 15, 2010

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Linchpin

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 7:08 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? By Seth Godin, Portfolio, 256 pages, $25.95, Hardcover, January 2010, ISBN 9781591843160

Seth Godin has a high opinion of you. In his last book, Tribes, he told you that “We need you to lead us.” In his new offering, Linchpin, he asks, “Are you indispensable?” and fully expects that you can be.

In the past, it was safe and even profitable to be a “cog” in the machine. Today, to obtain any kind of security, to truly be valuable, you must try to become a “linchpin.” A linchpin is someone you can’t run the machine without. Though becoming indispensible is not easy, Godin explains why it’s necessary. He traces where our indoctrination into mediocrity comes from, and shows us how to break free of it… however uncomfortable that may be. Godin is ultimately trying to help you reverse that indoctrination and discover the artist you inherently are. If we can do that, we can begin “standing out” in our work rather than “sticking it out” at a job.

The business book genre is changing, allowing a space for titles that change not only the way we look at the workplace, but at the world. In Linchpin, Godin writes early on: “This book is about love and art and change and fear.” It’s an odd thing to read in a business book, but it fits. We spend most of our lives at work in some way or another, and accepting the reality Godin sees (full of opportunity as it may be) can be daunting. He’s asking us to abandon a way of thinking about ourselves, and the “factory model” of work that we were raised in.

It seems that some business authors have come to an epiphany that how we all go to work is how we build our society, that the building blocks of business are placed on the foundation of something larger. Here we have Godin telling us we need to abandon the factory model and mindset. Last year Douglas Rushkoff challenged the corporate model we define our very lives with in Life, Inc. The useful “nuts and bolts” business books that helps us focus on a specific problem at work aren’t going away, but there are more books than ever addressing the larger problem of work, and Seth Godin’s Linchpin is an important and delightful one. Oh, and did I mention it is filled with illustrations from Jessica Hagy and Hugh MacLeod? Great stuff.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.