Published May 2010

Marketing book review: Linchpin by Seth Godin

I’m a big fan of Seth! His daily blog is a must for all marketers. Personally, I think he’s one of the greatest marketers of our age. This past Christmas, I even bought my marketing team Seth Godin Marketing Guru Action Figures as presents. So when his new book was released early this year, I was eager to get a copy and read it.

A Call to Greatness

Seth starts his book with the basic principle that we are all geniuses. That we all possess a potential for greatness that can be manifested through the work we do. Similarly to many self-help books, he calls us to tap into our talents, make them come alive, and in turn change our world.

He cautions that in our attempt to realize our greatness we will be faced with deeply embedded barriers that will make this call a challenge. First, he outlines how the school system we grew up in encouraged homogenization of thought. Second, he explains that we all have an innate and primate portion of our brain that values safety and uniformity and resists change. Yet the book serves as a motivational call for all of us to choose to overcome these obstacles and realize our greatest potential in order to create a better future and, simultaneously, unlock what can make us indispensable at work—a linchpin.

 What Is a Linchpin?

A linchpin is a person who becomes indispensable to an organization or team.

Linchpins can walk into chaos and create order. They invent, connect, create, and make things happen. They don’t need a map or instructions to exceed expectations. Linchpins are comfortable with ambiguity. They adapt and take calculated risks. They are not perfectionists who never “ship” the product in their endless pursuit of needless incremental improvements.

Linchpins are made, not born. They tap into their inner daemon—the source of great ideas, groundbreaking insights, generosity, love, connection, and kindness. They understand the value of gift-giving and the connectivity of human beings.

Linchpins have bursts of brilliance. They may have the right experience, raw talent, and education to give them a strong foundation, but their art, though seemingly omnipresent, is really executed a small part of the day. Yet the value they create is tremendous. They become a person who organizations cannot live without. A key player whom organizations build around.

 The 7 Abilities of a Linchpin

Here’s a summary of what can make a person indispensable:

1) Providing a unique interface between members of the organization

2) Delivering unique creativity

3) Managing a situation or organization of great complexity

4) Leading customers

5) Inspiring staff

6) Providing deep domain knowledge

7) Possessing a unique talent


As I’m writing this review, Linchpin has made the top 10 WSJ Hardcover Business list. So what I’m about to say will not be popular (but I’d welcome your comments on my blog). The book is a decent self-help motivational tool. But I did not see much originality outside of some new labels to old concepts. To his credit, Seth gives us a partial list of 38 books and about 12 blogs that he used as inspiration to write Linchpin. In my humble opinion, Seth should stick to writing marketing books and not dilute his personal brand by overextending himself into self-help leadership topics. Save your $25.95.

Good marketing!


Published in PM360.



One thought on “Marketing book review: Linchpin by Seth Godin”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s