in Books/Reviews, Career Development, Great Quotes, Improvement & Development, Leadership, Leading the Self

Are You An Artist? A Review of Seth Godin’s LINCHPIN

Over last couple of weeks, I was reading and re-reading Seth Godin’s remarkable book “Linchpin”. I have been following Seth’s blog and books since last 4 years. This book has brilliant ideas that can change the way you work, how you work and most importantly, why you work.

Linchpin urges us all to be artists – to be the best we can, to take our work to such a level that it is viewed as an art. Seth says that manufacturing world required cogs – people who follow the instructions, were compliant, low-paid and replaceable. New world of work needs people who care, who are original thinkers, risk-takers, provocateurs – Linchpins, who are difficult to replace.

Linchpin is about being remarkable – being different and being original.

On being an artist – Seth says:

‘You can be an artist who works with oil paints or marble, sure. But there are artists who work with numbers, business models, and customer conversations. Art is about intent and communication, not substances.”

This book also introduces us to “Lizard Brain” – a little voice inside our head that prevents us from being different. This voice convinces us to stick to old ways of doing work – because doing it differently is a risk, of failure and embarrassment. Lizard brain thrives on our strongest emotion – fear.

Organizations need more linchpins to deliver more value – and for people, their jobs are a platform to deliver value, to be generous, to express their unique skills and be an artist.

The book also made me realize that doing “emotional labor” is extremely important to be a linchpin. Emotional labor is the task of doing an important work, even when it is not easy. It is about walking that extra mile, when you don’t feel like doing it. A larger part of work involves doing things we don’t particularly love doing. But unless that is done, art cannot happen.

The book is a GREAT read (also a NY Times bestseller), because it drives important points home with brilliant examples and stories along the way. I specially liked the diagrammatic representation of ideas – making it simple and easy.  A blog post is way too short to express the profoundness of messages this book encapsulates.

Most people don’t know about their unique gifts – their art. It sometimes takes a lifetime to discover what their art really is. This prompted me to ask a question to Seth. Here is the question and Seth Godin’s response:

Tanmay: Being a Linchpin is impossible without actualizing with one’s gifts (that we are all born with). How does one discover these gifts and unwrap them for the world?

Seth Godin: To use your analogy, if you want to find gifts, you have to look under the tree. And if you don’t know which tree, look under all of them. Too many people want a promise that the effort will be instantly rewarded. It won’t. Fail frequently. That’s the only way I know.

Tanmay: Thank you so much. “Fail Frequently. Ship Early. Ship Often. Realign” that is my takeaway and probably the only way to discover your gifts.

Seth Godin: Thanks Tanmay! Keep Shipping.

Thanks Seth, for that insightful conversation through your book and your response.

Linchpin is a wake-up call – to stop being ordinary and compliant and start being remarkable. Life – as Seth says – is too short not to do something that matters!

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P.S: Check out Carnival of Management Improvement at Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog by John Hunter – fantastic collection of posts on leadership, improvement, lean and quality. Carnival includes my post “Building a Culture To Promote Differential Thinking

  1. Hello Tanmay, This seems to be a very interesting book! Please share a link to e-book format if it is available. Would love to read it. Have a good productive week ahead.

    Jay Chhaya

    • @Jay: Thanks for the comment Jay – you need to get the hard copy of the book to read it. Not sure if e-book version is available yet.

    • @Abhishek: Glad you liked the review Abhishek – you may read it later (after your queue is conquered) but do not miss this one. Strong recommendation!


  2. Hey TV, I am so glad you have liked the book as well! It is a must read – I love this book 🙂
    The only one video book review which I have done was dedicated to Linchpin by Seth

    BTW, do you know that today is 1st Linchpins are everywhere meet up? check out more here:

    I am force of one in Slovakia – so let us see if someone will show up 🙂

    have a super cool day, everyone!
    .-= Ivana Sendecka´s last blog ..Question Of The Week #23 =-.

    • @Ivana: Thanks for the comment Ivana. I had seen video review of Linchpin by you. Great work!

      I know about Linchpin meetup – but am also the one man army in my area.


  3. I loved the review and as you told me personally about this book, i am quite curious to read its hard copy ASAP. I am also following his blog now 🙂 Thanks for the Wonderful share Sir!
    .-= Chintak´s last blog ..12 Quotes by Chanakya =-.

    • @Chintak: It was great to share a few thoughts with you when we last met. LINCHPIN is a must-read for anyone who wants to be remarkable.


  4. I remember once you told me about the “actualizing one’s gifts” with the help of “self analysis”. I know few people who have finished MBA but they do not know why they did it. Just today my friend in Europe got job in very good consultancy company (her first job), but when I asked her if thats what she wants to do, She said – I don’t know, I will see if I will like it. THAT IS NOT ART.

    I like how you said here… “New world of work needs people who care, who are original thinkers, risk-takers, provocateurs – Linchpins, who are difficult to replace.”

    • @Ajay That is what Seth said – the only way to find your gifts is to fail frequently. Your friend is in failing mode – and I am pretty sure, she will eventually land up in work she loves. That’s where art starts happening. Or else, she can choose to be an artist in whatever she is doing currently. Being an artist is as much about attitude, as it is about skills, mastery and doing things you love doing.


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