Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? // Seth Godin

I’ve thought pretty extensively about how much I want to edit myself when I write book reviews. Verbally and written-word wise I think I can come across as quite blunt…. brutally honest if I have to be blunt.

To get to the point, the only good thing about Linchpin was that it was formatted with nice bold print for topics I wanted to skip. I skimmed the sections I did want to read and even within these sections I didn’t find anything interesting.

If I have to be generous, maybe I didn’t find this book interesting at all because:

A) I read a lot of personal development books and nothing in Linchpin came as particularly new (or even well thought out and executed… I’ll explain why later)

B) I double majored in economics and sociology during my undergraduate years concentrating most of my sociological studies in the sociology of economics. Godin pulls from a lot of sociological readings that I’ve already read (Weber, Marx, Hoschild) but not in a way that’s particularly clever. He tries to use their work to support his argument except that he doesn’t really have an argument. At some point in the book, he basically draws a quadrant that he calls the “quadrants of discernment”. I looked at it and laughed. The quadrant is essentially Godin’s rebrand of Robert Merton’s strain theory.

Godin’s Arguments or Lack Thereof: 

  • Don’t be a cog in the machine.
    • At least he gives credit to Marx for this one. The problem is that he keeps writing this phrase over and over every couple of pages. I thought he would stop repeating it as if it were his new, grand idea after 40 pages or so but I kept seeing it every 2 pages. If you want to get “classy” drunk, read the book after noon with some cabernet sauvignon….. but to be honest you’re better off just enjoying the cab sauv.
  • A linchpin is someone who adds value to the work their doing. You can become a linchpin by being an artist.
    • I checked when the book was written when I came across this argument because it’s quite a dated argument. The book was written in 2010. I’m trying to think back to what the internet was like 8 years ago and can’t really recall because I’m not a big technology person. The fact that I have a blog now makes me want to scream “Look Ma! No hands!”. Now with social media businesses heavily based on the cult of personality of internet superstars, being a non-conformist who creates content that adds value to those who are willing to buy what you’re offering isn’t revolutionary.
  • There’s no “map” to becoming a linchpin
    • It’s a cop out. I don’t even know what to say really to this one except facepalm. Books that try to tell me something along the lines of “live your life better” but that fail to tell me how to do so annoy me. It’s the same internal itch I get when I see “Keep calm and Carry on” posters. Linchpin is a 230 page rash. I can’t really learn and internalize a lesson if there’s nothing actionable.

The crux of why I didn’t like Linchpin: 

The book is a paradox and not in a good way. For a book that urges you to become a linchpin who creates value, this book didn’t create any value in my life at all. Godin doesn’t claim to be a linchpin, but the fact that he’s written a book on how to be one (…..and he doesn’t even do that because there’s no “map”)   certainly seems to suggest that he thinks he knows something about it.

Is Godin a linchpin? I don’t know. I haven’t read any of his other books. To avoid the risk of sounding just as redundant as he does, however, I’m sure you can already guess what I think.

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