I finished Linchpin by Seth Godin last week.  I wasn’t blown away and my life hasn’t changed.  It essentially was further confirmation that more and more companies care about what you can do more than the degree you hold.  Resumes are pretty much bullshit.  The new resume is your blog or portfolio (going along with his idea that we all must become artists.)

He makes the point that because things are so cheap now, ideas are worth more than they have ever been.  In this way, we must all be ‘artists’.  His idea of an artist is anyone who figures out something new.  A new way to do an activity or to create something that didn’t exist before.

Most of the ideas in the book can be found at his blog.

These are my notes from the book:

  • “There are no longer any great jobs where someone else tells you what to do.”
  • The Law of the Mechanical Turk: Any project broken into small, predictable parts can be achieved for free.  [He emphasizes crowdsourcing in Wikipedia.]
  • Attendance based compensation is over.  Jobs are quickly disappearing that anyone can do and pay well.
  • A good question to ask: “If my organization wanted to replace me with someone better, what would the look for?”
  • Management tip: Push decisions as far down the ladder as possible.
  • Nobody sets out to be a typical person.  Indoctrination sets in later…
  • School should only teach two things: 1.  How to solve interesting problems and 2. How to lead.
  • You don’t have to be always right, just always moving.
  • The more value you create in your job, the less time you have to spend on it.  [Genius only comes in short bursts.  Geniuses are only genius a very small portion of the time.  Most of their time is spent doing what most people could do.]
  • “Expertise gives you enough insight to reinvent what everyone assumes is the truth.”
  • Emotional labor is very important.  It’s work you do to manage your feelings.  [ie don’t be a dick at work]
  • Linchpins solve unseen problems and connect people that don’t know they need to be connected.
  • Linchpins assume duties that cannot be assigned or measured. [This is why they’re missed when they’re gone.]
  • Never seek out critics. It’s like pleasing the heckler in the back while the rest of your audience wait.
  • Leverage emotional labor (charm) to help with your skill/craft.
  • Seek achievements that have no limit.  Innovative solutions to new problems never get old.
  • Linchpins don’t need a formal resume.
  • Emotional Labor is doing important work, even when it’s not easy.  [ie working on a report instead of banging out mindless homework]
  • ‘Artists’ don’t think FAR out of the box, just enough to be innovative and acceptable/salable.
  • The purpose of starting is to finish.  Shipping is the goal.
  • Thrashing= apparently productive brainstorming/tweaking to a project as it develops. If you thrash in late stages of a product you will never ship.  So always thrash early, before the project is underway.
  • Don’t just be productive with other people’s task lists.  [If you get tons of emails done at work and tons of homework done you still haven’t done shit towards your aspirations.]
  • Having a backup plan makes us more likely to fall back on it.
  • Lots of bad ideas leads to good ideas.
  • We often don’t allow ourselves to be our best.
  • Fear is involved in any conflict.
  • “Sprinting” is a good way to keep inner dialog out.  [Give yourself shorter timelines than you could possibly finish in.]
  • Building a platform to launch from makes launching much easier. This means build an audience.  This could be through a blog, online videos, twitter, whatever.
  • Have a due date and a blueprint before you start work on a project.
  • Don’t set up a judge and jury for your work.  Set your own definition of success.
  • Deliver a product that can never be adequately paid for. A musical performance or a movie or a product that changes your life for the better can not be paid for in full.  The goal is to make something like that…
  • Humans are difficult to change, try to embrace their uniqueness.
  • You can fit in or stand out – not both.
  • Bring passion to what you do, don’t try to ‘find’ it. People spend their whole life searching for their ‘passion’ when they should have just gotten excited about what they were doing their whole lives.
  • Five key personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, emotional stability.
  • Sincerity is very important in changing minds (placebo effect).
  • In the customers’ eyes you need to be the best.

A great quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson on page 208:

If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises, they lose all heart. If the young merchant fails, men say he is ruined.  If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges, and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards in the cities or suburbs of Boston or New York, it seems to his frieds and to himself that he is right in being disheartened, and in complaining the rest of his life. A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always, like a cat, falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls.  He walks abreast with his days, and feels no shame in not “studying a profession,” for he does not postpone his life, but lives already.  He has not one chance, but a hundred chances.

In Pages 127+128 Godin provides some examples of  “resistances”.

  • Don’t ship on time.  LAte is the first step to never.
  • Provrastinate, claiming that you need to be perfect.
  • Ship early, sending out defective ideas, hoping they will be rejected.
  • Suffer anxiety about what to wear to an event.
  • Excuses involving lack of money.
  • Excessive networking with the goal of having everyone like and support you.
  • Engage in deliberate provocotive behavior designed to ostracize you so you’ll have no standing in the community.
  • Demonstrate lack of desire to obtain a new skill.
  • Spend hours on obsessive data collection.
  • Be snarky.
  • Start committees instead of taking action.
  • Joining committees instead of leading
  • Ship deliberately average work that will fit in and be ignored.
  • Don’t ask question. OR Ask too many questions.
  • Start a never-ending search for the next big thing, abandoning yesterday’s things as old.
  • Be boring.
  • Focus on revenge instead of doing new work.
  • Slow down as the deadline for completion approaches.
  • Wait until tomorrow.
  • Manufacture anxiety about people stealing your ideas.
  • Believe it’s about gifts and talents, not skill.  And announce you have neither.

Godin actually took this from Bre Pettis’ blog.  It’s a manifesto of “done”:

  1. There are three states of being.  Not knowing, action, and completion.
  2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
  3. There is no editing stage.
  4. Pretending you know what you’re doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so accept that you know what you’re doing even if you don’t and do it.
  5. Banish procrastination.  If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
  6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
  7. Once you’re done you can throw it away.
  8. Laugh at perfection.  It’s boring and keeps you from being done.
  9. People without dirty hands are wrong.  Doing something makes you right.
  10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
  11. Destruction is a variant of done.
  12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
  • Done is the engine of more.
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