Are You a Cog or a Linchpin?

by Harold Shinsato on January 26th, 2010
5 CommentsComments

LinchpinSeth Godin has made enough of an impact to have his own action figure, perhaps the only business book writer to have earned such a distinction. He’s hit home runs with so many of his books such as Permission Marketing, Purple Cow, All Marketers are Liars, and Tribes. He’s done it again, maybe even more so, with his latest book that is going onto the market January 26 – Linchpin: Are You Indispensable.

If you follow his blog, or follow someone who follows Seth’s writings, you may have been lucky enough to get an early copy of the book as I did by making a donation to the Acumen fund. This book is potent stuff. Read it only if you want to be challenged and changed.

The idea of the book is that the linchpin, that little metal pin that holds the wheels on vehicles and machinery, that holds the whole machine together, is a perfect metaphor of what we all need to do and become now. We do it by being artists and by giving.

This book is an impassioned plea for people not just to get up and lead, but to break out of the factory industrial capitalist model and stop following orders and being cogs in the machine. It calls for us to throw away the formulas that are embedded in our psyche’s as “the resistance” to our own genius, and do the emotional labor needed to do our art – whatever that is – but also where ever we are, or need to be. I loved it how he said that for 90% of the cases, that probably means leaning into the job you have right now. And not waiting for permission from your boss to do great work.

In one chapter, Seth gives completely conflicting directions about what might be needed, and that’s the point. One of the final chapters is “There Is No Map”. True explorers make new maps for the people coming after them, even if it means they might fall off the edge of the world. That’s also what an artist does – not necessarily with canvas and paintbrush. But maybe with WordPress and a laptop, or with a contact list and a cell phone. What is your art?

It’s hopeless to convey the message of the book in a few paragraphs. Get it. Read it. More than once. Read the books it points to. My life coach, Wendy Keilin, when I told her about Linchpin immediately told me about the book, The War of Art, by Stephen Pressfield. This book is all about identifying the Resistance to your Art. And it’s no surprise that it’s the first book in Seth Godin’s bibliography.

Thank you Seth Godin! You’re truly indispensable.


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  • Harold: Super! If one is going to mention, comment on, or review a book it may as well be one by Seth Godin. I love how he exemplifies what he is talking about – his Ted Talks are very inspirational.
    (Like Wave Rider by Owen too!)
    Best wishes, Paul

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Harold Shinsato and ReevesResults, Piatkus Books. Piatkus Books said: RT @hajush: Finished and blogged about Seth Godin's latest book – Linchpin – awesome stuff: http://tr.im/LCMb […]


  • Hugh

    Did my Facebook post have anything to do with your Godin kick? I love the action figure, btw.


  • harold

    Thanks for commenting, Hugh. Your facebook entry did cue me into the action figure, but I’d been following Seth Godin for years. His book Tribes inspired some of the presentation I gave to the N-Ten non-profit tech group in Missoula where the organizer caught me on video in an interview after my talk. I put a link to that youtube video in an earlier entry in this blog. My first encounter with Seth was via Audible.com, an audio book version of Free Prize Inside – which really impressed me that he had his finger on some major social (and business) changes.

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