Linchpin Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Linchpin shows you why the time of simply following instructions at your job is over and how to make yourself indispensable, which is a must for success today.

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Linchpin Summary

I’ve recently fallen in love with Seth Godin and his books, I won’t even try to hide it. The reason I want to learn more and more from him is that somehow, no matter what he comes up with next, it always fits perfectly into his overall message.

Therefore, the more of his books you read, the more you get the complete picture, and a philosophy to live by. As he says, he doesn’t want to teach you tactics. He wants to teach you how to see. In that case my eyes still feel like I’m opening them for the first time, but I’m getting there.

Linchpin is all about becoming indispensable at work. Following instructions isn’t what we need any longer, as we’re already outsourcing most of this, and robots will take over the rest before too long.

Here are 3 lessons about what makes you a linchpin and how to become one:

  1. Linchpins pour their heart, soul and energy into their work.
  2. You have to make a conscious choice to overcome your fears to become a linchpin.
  3. Give genuine gifts, without expecting anything in return.

Determined to become indispensable? Let’s linchpin the heck out of your work!

Lesson 1: Give your work all you’ve got.

Maybe you’ve heard of the scenario: A restaurant has to close after the chef leaves, or a car dealership struggles, because their top sales star goes to the competition. In these instances, the people leaving are so-called linchpins.

They’re indispensable for the business, because they are 100x more valuable than the average employee. They are the people who make a business great, by giving it their everything.

An extra-friendly barista at Starbucks, who smiles and brightens everyone’s day, brings in more customers than three others combined. If you give your work all you’ve got, are present in every moment, put emotion into each task and pour your heart and soul into it, you’ll build a reputation.

Linchpins don’t need instructions, and never just do what is asked of them. They approach their work creatively, solve problems when they see them and always over-deliver.

That’s why they’ll always find work, be treated fairly and businesses are really scared of losing them.

Lesson 2: Make a conscious choice to act in spite of your fears.

Why then, are there so few linchpins, when it would be easy to stand out by investing a little more than your co-workers. Well, most of us are afraid. From a young age on we’re conditioned to follow the rules, merge with the masses, and hide behind them to stay safe and comfortable.

Just think about school: Everyone is taught to use the same pencil, read the same book, learn the same stuff, sit quietly and listen. Even art has rules – try to paint outside the lines and you’ll probably get a D at best. Refuse to do what you’re told and be rewarded with detention.

We’re all conditioned by fear to play it safe. Linchpins are no different. They’re afraid too. But they choose to act in spite of it.

For example, whenever I took an exam in college, I was anxious about what grade I got, which led me to constantly check my grade report online. Eventually, I realized I cannot change anything after I hand in that piece of paper, so I just stopped checking and waited until someone said the grades were actually online.

Don’t let fear steal your determination to do something productive. Accept that it’s there and consciously decide that you’ll act anyway.

Lesson 3: Give, give, give, and don’t expect anything for it.

Economy used to work like this: “You give me $20, and I’ll give you this DVD of your favorite movie.” Everyone expected something in return for, well, everything.

If you’ve ever tried giving someone a gift when it wasn’t Christmas or their birthday, you’ll know that being generous often even makes people suspicious. It took me several tries last year to give a homeless person a piece of fruit, because they thought I was up to something.

Nevertheless, genuine gifts, given with good intention and zero expectations, are becoming a winning tactic. I don’t mean shitty free ebooks, 3 day email “courses” or gifts which are really just disguised advertisements. What Seth means by genuine gifts is giving away your best work – for free.

Gary Vaynerchuk is a great example of this. He always gives his best advice away for free and talks about it publicly. Instead of “not getting paid” this makes many people see and appreciate his unique skills so much, that he gets plenty of paid work, and companies pay whatever he wants, just to keep him around.

So if you want to stand out, start giving like a true artist, as Seth calls them, and don’t expect anything in return. Give it some time, and the universe will pay you back ten times over.

My personal take-aways

Seth’s ideas stick. Not only because of the great stories he tells and good examples he gives, but also because he always comes up with a catchy name. A linchpin. It sounds so cool I know I want to be one, before I even know what a linchpin is.

Don’t you? Seriously, Seth’s stuff is gold. All of it. It’s a good summary, but you should stock up your Seth Godin collection with this book on your shelf as well.

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What else can you learn from the blinks?

  • Why Hector the day laborer has it tough and what the industrial revolution meant for our work ethic
  • What your lizard brain is and why it stops you from being a linchpin
  • How to deal with a critic boss
  • What “emotional labor” is and why you need to pour it into your work
  • When the resistance gets biggest and why you should always “ship” anyway

Who would I recommend the Linchpin summary to?

The 29 year old who just started a new job with a new chance to make herself indispensable, the 47 year old who’s always taken the backseat at work to play it safe, and anyone who works as a barista.