“Stop settling for what’s good enough and start creating art that matters. Stop asking what’s in it for you and start giving gifts that change people. Then, and only then, will you achieve your potential.” p. 3, Linchpin
In Seth Godin’s masterpiece, Linchpin, he explains how any person can become indispensable in the modern marketplace. Being indispensable means ensuring that you are not without work and that you are highly compensated for the value you provide to others. This value is a gift that you give without barriers and without expectations. A gift that you bring every day to your work, which is your art.
Godin explains the way companies used to make money vs. the new marketplace. Instead of winning by being cheaper, the market is now demanding a new normal. Consumers want people who are human and remarkable. “The only way to get what you’re worth is to stand out, to exert emotional labor, to be seen as indispensable, and to produce interactions that organizations and people are deeply about.” (pp. 27)
In Linchpin, we get an introspection into why we buy and how to sell ourselves. The theory is that when we act as consumers, we choose connections over everything. You buy an album because the artist’s music speaks to you. You choose a realtor not just because she is knowledgeable about homes in your area, but because she remembers your kids’ names and your hobbies and seems to really care about you. You decide on a new purse because it’s not just a bag, but it’s that you believe the designer tells a story about you as a person. These connections are the main components in the new marketplace, where consumers are willing to pay more money for a service or product because they feel that what is being given to them is a gift from another human. A creation. It’s the reason Etsy is growing rapidly. It’s the reason Pinterest is more interesting than Google image search. The people who create these gifts are Linchpins, and the rest of the book tells the reader how to become one, including the detail of concepts like “Real Artists Ship,” which is one I think about almost every day at work.
Linchpin is one of the few books that I recommend to anyone and everyone. It will teach you how to be excited and passionate about your work, even if your work is not exciting or fulfilling by nature. It will teach you how to be a good employee, artist, business owner, manager, leader, philanthropist, volunteer, friend. I hope you get as much out of it as I did.
“Great work is not created for everyone. If it were, it would be average work.” (pp. 171)