Linchpin: Are you Indispensable?

There is power in asking the right question, and Seth Godin’s new book, “Linchpin” hits you over the head with a question that it’s impossible to run away from:

Are you Indispensable?

Because, now, for a short period of time, you can be (Seth explains why in the book).  And since you can be, why aren’t you?  There are lots of reasons, and the book gets to the guts of them, digging into fear and our lizard brains and the misconceptions that we need a map and that we’re here to do jobs rather than to do the work.  This book will grab you and shake you and open doors to all the things you know in your heart you can do.

This isn’t your everyday book, so it’s fitting that Seth isn’t doing an everyday book launch.  Instead, the book is being launched with a web ring of blog interviews with Seth instead of a typical media tour.  You can see all the posts from the ring on Squidoo.

Here’s why Seth’s doing it this way, in his own words:

I’m not reaching out to any radio stations, any television, any newspapers. Not one.  I’ve come to the conclusion that the long tail is longer and more powerful than ever before, and the engine of that tail is us, the bloggers…I think it’s going to be an interesting experiment in momentarily coordinating the threads of the net, flowing traffic in and around an idea as it travels from one blog to another.

Like so many people, I learn from Seth every day, so it’s exciting to be able to share my interview with Seth here, and more exciting still to be able to share this amazing book with my readers.  This book is a keeper, so why not get yourself a copy?

Here’s the interview:

Sasha:  Do you remember the first really big thing you ever gave away?  How did it feel?

Seth: When I was in college, I co-founded a business that grew to be the biggest student run business in the country… 10% of the students at my college worked for our temporary employment agency. We had all these crazy businesses: birthday cake delivery, a snack bar, a concert bureau. And did it basically for free, working 40 hours a week for $50. People said I was crazy, that work was work and I should get paid. But for me, the act of generosity that came from showing up all the time for free transformed it from a job to a mission. That sense of mission, of making change because it’s important, of doing work because others benefit–I’ve been hooked on it ever since.

Sasha: Why do you think it’s so hard for people to bring their whole selves to work?

Seth: Bringing your whole self to anything… work, a relationship, even cooking dinner… is dangerous because failure or rejection is real. You can’t say, “I wasn’t really trying,” because you were. You can’t say, “it doesn’t really matter,” because it does. The resistance, the pre-historic lizard brain voice in the back of your head, the part that’s responsible for survival and fear… that little voice insists that you hold back, because holding back feels safe. And in the days of the saber tooth tiger, that was probably smart. But today, in a competitive world where holding back means failure, it’s just stupid.

Sasha: Say there are 100,000 people acting like linchpins today.  What does the world look like when that number jumps to 10 million or 100 million?

Seth: The old, “but if everyone does this” problem! Trust me, we’re not going to have a crowded surplus of generous artists any time soon. Just as Purple Cow didn’t make every product remarkable, and The Dip didn’t transform everyone into a smart quitter, Linchpin is not going to be so successful that the economy turns upside down. There’s a window that’s open, and it’s going to be open for a little while: the world desperately needs people willing to stand up and be counted, willing to do work that matters, willing to invent instead of following the rules. That’s my message. There’s a moment, and it’s here for a while. Take it or leave it…

Sasha: People are more empowered than ever to be linchpins.  But it also feels like fear and greed are more rewarded than ever.  Which wins?

Seth: Fear is not rewarded, not at all. Fear gets you laid off. Fear leads to small thinking. Greed has always been a smart short-term strategy, but my sense is that the short term is getting shorter than ever. Greed used to be a valid strategy for a lifetime or a decade. But as we’re seeing in one industry after another, the half-life for greed keeps getting shorter. Plus, and it’s a big plus, it feels better to be generous.

Sasha: If you could rewrite the 1st grade curriculum, what would it look like?  6th grade? 11th grade?  College?

Seth: All the same: solve interesting problems. When was the last time you saw a classroom of students solving interesting problems?

Check out the rest of the interviews here.

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7 Responses to Linchpin: Are you Indispensable?

  1. Pingback: Richard Petersen » Blog Archive » The 2.0 media tour

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  3. Sasha, in addition to “I wasn’t really trying,” and “it doesn’t really matter,” I wonder if another excuse is, “I don’t know how.” What I loved about Linchpin was that Seth anticipated these excuses. He’s essentially saying, “You’re right. You don’t know how, because there is no map to take you where you need to go. Your job is to draw the map as you go!”

    Great interview! Thanks!

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