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Book Review: Linchpin

Even though I’ve always been a Seth Godin fan, his writing has never felt like it was directed at me. When I met him in person, his speaking presence was quite different than his writing.

When he asked me how I liked the presentation he gave, I immediately said, “I like your speaking better than your writing.” He sort of smiled, then sort of didn’t, and when I got home I wondered if I’d said something inappropriate.


Even though I love reading more than just about anything, I can still ignore a book. I can ignore a blog. No matter how good they are, I can still make the choice not to open the book and not to log onto the web. His speaking was impossible to ignore. There was no tuning out, no ignoring it…it was just hypnotic.

When I asked him about it later, ready to apologize, he said he was not annoyed, but thrilled. And then I was thrilled. And then I said, “You were like that snake Ka from The Jungle Book, only without the spinning eyes and bad intentions.”

And whether he was thrilled with that remark, I’ll never know…

For me, To me

The music, writing, and movies that always resonate the most profoundly with me are when I feel like they had me in mind when they were creating. That’s how it felt to listen to Seth speak: as if he were speaking only to me. To me, that’s art.

But now, that’s how I feel about Linchpin, and there’s a reason that goes beyond my own personal quirks and preferences. Linchpin is written for and to the individual, while most of Seth’s other books and blog pieces are written for organizations and companies.

The subtitle is: are you indispensable?

Be you, and do it better

That says it all. This book is an insistent manifesto that everyone–you, me, everyone–needs to find out what they are best at and then do it better. That they must offer whatever unique talent they have to offer and that you are not indispensable unless you make it possible for someone to replace you.

I’ve written this in another post, but I’m going to write it once more because I believe in it more every time I see it. From Seth:

If someone can write down your job description, they can find someone to do your job cheaper.

Think about it.

Linchpin is extremely, incredibly, splendiforously (sp?) awesome. I loved every page and I felt like every page was written with me in mind. To an author trying to reach the largest possible audience, that’s the highest compliment I can give.

Seth also talks a lot about the Resistance that I first remember reading in Stephen Pressfield’s War of Art. That link will take you to a guest post about that book and author if you’re intrigued.

Read Linchpin. You’ll be better for it.

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  • Raphael Gabbarelli March 23, 2010, 2:22 am

    I’m reading “Linchpin” right now, and I love it! You are totally right when you say that it’s written with you in mind, but also me 😛
    I read “Tribes” twice in a row, I think that I’ll do it with Linchpin as well…or probably I’ll leave some times in between do digest it.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 23, 2010, 10:14 am

      I’ve found that I progressed through Linchpin fairly slowly, at least compared to my normal bulldozer reading attack. It felt important to just slow down and think things over. Glad you like it!

  • Hilary March 23, 2010, 3:43 am

    Hi Josh .. I spotted Seth right at the top yesterday. I’m so pleased for you .. and this review is excellent and so much to the point: written to me personally, as is LinchPin.

    If the speaker is engaging, and Seth is, then we hear, we see and we can take notes, if we wish, we can feel his words .. we don’t sometimes engage as much with a book, but as you say we can do that too.

    Good points and I’ll be out to get the book – thank you, Hilary

    • Josh Hanagarne March 23, 2010, 10:15 am

      My own attention span may be to blame for my book wishy-washiness.

  • floreta March 23, 2010, 4:29 am

    that sounds so inspiring. both seth–in person–and linchpin. that’s really all there is to it. do what you do best, and then do it better!

  • Joy Tanksley March 23, 2010, 6:00 am

    You know what’s weird? I won this book. Like today. I literally just got the email that I won this book in a giveaway. I was super excited, because I’ve been wanting to read something by Seth, but I didn’t know much about this particular book. And then I pull up your site and BOOM – review on the book. So cool. I’m even more excited now.

  • Dan Cosgrove March 23, 2010, 6:21 am

    Looking really forward to checking out Linchpin. I put it on hold pretty much the moment I heard about it, now I’m just waiting for everyone else at the library to finish with their copies.

    Good lord man, you’re HUGE!

    Either that, or Seth’s itty bitty.

    Maybe both.

  • Laura Cococcia March 23, 2010, 6:26 am

    Very nice, Josh. I am halfway through the book and am really finding some of the lessons useful, especially as I’m going through some personal exploration about what I really want to do with my life (I know, big statement, but true). Great review…I’ll let you know what I come up with after I finish it and we can compare notes!

  • John March 23, 2010, 7:17 am

    “be you, and do it better.”

    Great line. Thank you for the inspiring post and for the book recommendation. I can’t wait to pick up a copy.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 23, 2010, 10:16 am

      You’re welcome John, let me know how it goes when you read it.

  • Susan Giurleo March 23, 2010, 7:19 am

    LOVE Linchpin! It’s like Tribes on steriods :-).
    What really resonated with me was Seth’s ideas about education. He is so right that we educate kids for factories and not to be creative innovators. Smart guy, that Seth!

    • Josh Hanagarne March 23, 2010, 10:17 am

      The factories segments were the most eye-opening to me. And scary.

  • Patrenia March 23, 2010, 7:30 am

    Wow, talk about foot in mouth, LOL. Well, I purchased Linchpin and Tribes on audiobook a few weeks ago and love them both. I purchased them after listening to a few interviews he did promoting Linchpin. I would love to hear him in person. Maybe one day…

    • Josh Hanagarne March 23, 2010, 10:17 am

      My foot spends more time in my mouth than in my shoes.

  • Srinivas Rao March 23, 2010, 8:11 am


    I was lucky enough to see Seth speak when he came to Orange County. I would have to agree with you on enjoying his speaking more than his writing, especially in the case of Linchpin. I’ve read 4 of his books, and I actually listened to audio versions in my car so it was kind of like getting to hear him speak. But I definitely think it’s a must read for anybody.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 23, 2010, 10:18 am

      I’ll have to pick up an audio. I’ve never listened to one of his books. We’ll all be listening to you someday!

  • Boris Bachmann March 23, 2010, 8:32 am

    Well, you’ve sold me. I’ll be buying a copy probably later today.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 23, 2010, 10:18 am

      Boris, Randy Hauer loved it as well. I really think you’ll enjoy it.

  • Jenn March 23, 2010, 8:33 am

    My husband just bought that book. Sounds like I will have to make it a priority. Thanks for the review.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 23, 2010, 10:19 am

      You’re welcome. Make it a lesser priority, please:) Nothing bad will happen if you don’t read it.

  • Casey (North and Clark) March 23, 2010, 8:35 am

    If there are two blogs I read every day they are yours and Seth’s.

    One for inspiration and one for inspiration.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 23, 2010, 10:20 am

      Whoa. Easy there, Casey. I appreciate it, but it sounds like you are headed towards psychosis.

  • david March 23, 2010, 8:39 am

    Linchpin is excellent. Almost as excellent as Josh’s compliments.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 23, 2010, 10:19 am

      David, I am preparing an extra painful headlock for you for when I see you in April. Start working on your neck.

  • ami March 23, 2010, 8:51 am

    “You were like that snake Ka from The Jungle Book, only without the spinning eyes and bad intentions.”

    That Seth Godin as Ka imagery will never leave my brain. Trying to erase mental image of Ka body with Seth head, processing, processing . . .

    • Boris Bachmann March 23, 2010, 9:21 am

      I think that would be “Prosssseesssssssing. Prossssssessssssing.”

    • Josh Hanagarne March 23, 2010, 10:20 am

      It shouldn’t leave your brain. That’s freaking awesome imagery. You’re welcome:)

  • Heather March 23, 2010, 8:54 am

    Am hitting up Amazon right now, not only for this but for “Big Red Fez” as well. Thanks, Josh! 🙂

  • Randy Hauer March 23, 2010, 11:19 am

    As you and I already discussed, Josh, I liked the book as well. Concepts like art as gift making, gift giving and gift receiving were very powerful; the absolute need to discipline oneself to thrash early then ship (I still owe you a blog post…speaking of which…still thrashing) and the difference made for oneself and others by putting yourself into your job, whatever that job may be. His citations have been interesting too: Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk for example was fabulous. I’m looking forward to reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield also.

  • Yusuf Clack March 23, 2010, 11:19 am

    Thanks Josh. I read Meatball Sunday and the Big Moo. Both of them were major influences in the building my business. I know I need to read all of Seth’s books eventually but I’ll move Linchpin up near the top of my cue after your post. Continued success…

  • Giulietta the Muse March 23, 2010, 3:12 pm

    Hi Josh,

    Much thanks for stopping by my blog! Linchpin is the most awesome book. My fav SG book. Every page spoke to me. The resume section and how outdated they are gave me a chuckle. I wrote a song about resumes about 18 months ago and sang it at an open mic.

    Just signed up for your blog.

    Enjoy! Giulietta