Tag Archives: Seth Godin

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? Part XIII


Seth Godin does not provide detailed solutions to practical employment dilemmas of the functionary kind. Godin is abstract, a marketer, and he’s a journalist without the experience of working in an Amazon or Apple corporation. His advice that linchpin’s should be artists seems so out of touch with what it is like to work in startups, or businesses generally. At one point he says, schools should teach two things: 1) solve interesting problems, and 2) be a leader. The only problem is a scarcity of leadership positions that are sustainable, Godin. The Functionaries Paradox is that if everyone believes that they are a leader/entrepreneur, it becomes extremely difficult to get anything done in a business team. There are still millions and millions of functionary roles that need to be completed in Western society. Godin, in fact, is speaking to a very small pool of risk taking entrepreneurs but trying to mask it as if a midlevel manager in a corporation can be linchpin without compromising their execution of tasks, and their functionalist remit. Entrepreneurs or linchpin’s as he calls them are UNEMPLOYABLE. He provides no examples of linchpin from bankers to lawyers or doctors, he is talking about entrepreneurs and more loosely about marketers (whom he loves as it’s what he does) while pretending that being a linchpin can work in any business. Marketers frequently under emphasize the scarcity of resources, the scarcity of eye balls, and time which limits the number of Squidoo.com users, or in the case of the linchpin, the number of leaders that can actually aquire leadership positions that are meaningful. Godin can’t say that he’s talking to a small group of risk takers, because then most job-stability focused people will put the book down. He’s repackaging the ethos of the entrepreneur, and more vaguely the artist.

(This is a series of posts on Seth Godin’s Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?)

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? Part XII


Seth Godin’s Paradox ie. the Functionaries Dilemma. Seth Godin is a pop-culture synthesizer, who repeats himself over and over again as if his audience is truly “lizard brained.” Everyone knows he is deducing these arguments based on his macro-observations. He has limited experience in successful business management having created a mediocre enterprise like Squidoo.com. His primary goal is to convince the reader that you can be the linchpin without his giving substantive advice on how to be one in a practical context. His advice is “to be an artist,” along with a series of similar “be different” slogans. Linchpin is a marketing pep-talk designed to suggest that his target market is ANYONE who is working today. In reality, he is talking about entrepreneurs because most entrepreneurs espouse exactly what he is saying, and Godin wants to convince others to join in the innovative. By pretending that the pie is unlimited, he can argue that his readership can all participate in this linchpin ethos. But framing his book in the way he does, Godin is able to build a larger target market of book purchasers (to use his marketing-think). The trick is that functionaries are very useful for entrepreneurs because those workers never realize that they could do what the entrepreneur is doing. It is difficult to occupy that same space as the leader/entrepreneur/artist inhabit. As with much of his marketing-think, Godin is preaching to the converted who already understand his points, or preaching to the lizard brained who are not going to apply his advice anyway.

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? Part XI

(V) The Linchpin Is More Emotional, Gift-Giving, Visionary, and Mature.

Artists Ship!

You should click send on your blog, you should ship your creativity, do not delay because the lizard brain will stop you. You should resist the thought that you should not create art. What slows us down is the thrashing, and the coordination. Thrashing is adjusting of ideas as they are being developed, and coordination is the getting everyone to agree to an objective. The reason that a startup has an easier time getting a product to market than a corporation is that it has few people to coordinate. TO overcome the coordination problem you need to be exceptionally secretive which calls for the exclusion of certain people, then you need to appoint one person to run it. Write your ideas down, action them, then ship them. DO not be selfish. Linchpins must be generous…

The Linchpin is An Entrepreneur:

How to become a linchpin:

1)    Hire plenty of factory workers. Scale like crazy. Take advantage of the fact that most people want a map, most peoapl are willing to work cheaply, most people want to be the factory.

2)    Find a boss who can’t live without a linchpin. Do the work. Make a difference.

3)    Start your own gig. Understand that an organization filled with linchpins is itself indispensable.

Richard Branson was in Puerto Rico when his flight to the Virgin Islands was cancelled, so he decided to charter a private flight, and the got a blackboard and wrote “Seat to Virgin Islands, $39.00”. He sold enough seats to make it to the Virgin Islands on time.

Linchpins do two things for the organization. They create emotional labour, and they map out what do next. Being indispensable means:

  1. Providing a unique interface between members of the organiszation;
  2. Delivering unique creativity;
  3. Managing a situation or organization of great complexity;
  4. Leading customers;
  5. Inspiring staff;
  6. Providing deep domain knowledge;
  7. Possessing a unique talent.

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? Part X

(V) The Linchpin Is More Emotional, Gift-Giving, Visionary, and Mature.

I don’t care to belong to any club that would have me as a member.” – Groucho Marx

Be Passionate/Stand Out/Emotional Labour & Anticipate What Is Next/Have Vision

Figure out what to do next before your boss does. That’s what being a linchpin is about. Do not conform, but swim upstream. You need to become an artist in your own right. You need to persevere, be talented, be charming, and only then can you be the linchpin. You can be a linchpin if you agree to that you can do it. You need your company to rely on you as a particular employee. The law of linchpin leverage: the more value you create, the fewer hours you actually need to work. Most of the time, entrepreneurs are doing administrative work. Marissa Mayer at Google is a linchpin because she solves problems that people haven’t predicted, haven’t seen and connects people who need to be connected. Nobody cares how hard you worked on something, it’s not an effort contest, but the measure is whether it is good art.

The Gift Economy

You need to be emotionally involved in your company because if you don’t care you will not be a linchpin. You should not be a cog according to Godin. JetBlue invests in its flight attendants. Godin calls for a generousity of labourers. This is a marketer’s thinking that generousity will be the future, a gift based economy. Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. You must create art, you must choose to create art. Do not become of the could have, should have, didn’t persons. Art is creative, is not commerce, is unique, involves labour… The problem is that he aspouses an emotional labour that is self-less which means low paying anyway. MBAs want to put everything in a spreadsheet while Godin wants to contact the emotional self. Our gift culture has collapsed in exchange for a money based system, instead of sharing a cab with a stranger, you might just go alone. This is the wrong way to live your life. The Metcalfe Law: the more people have a technology the more valuable that technology becomes. This was invented by Bob Metcalfe who created the Ethernet cable. The more people have facebook, the more useful it can be.

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? Part IX

(IV) The Zero Sum Game within the Economy Is A Lie.

New wealth can be created by reinventing a business model. Godin believes that the pie (economy) is not limited, and does not delinate how large the pie could be. The example is Kim Berry of the Programmers Guild, a non-profit lobby in Congress to ban Visas for talent programmers from outside the US. For him, it’s a win/lose, not a win/win to have diversity and foreign competition within the US programming community. This is completely absurd since programmers can be anywhere, and still program via telecommuting. Also, great talent can create innovation and more productivity, this then leads to more demand, the programmers guild could grow tenfold by enlarging the pie.  The scarcity of resources might make it clear that wealth is derived from 1st resource acquisition, 2nd the specialists within finance, et cetere, 3rd the service technology and industries but Godin believes the pie can be enlarged, while Berry believes that there is a limited size to the macro-economic pie.