Linchpin by Seth Godin – Book Review

My impression after reading this book is that this book has really nice core idea, however this book does not live up to expectations. It does not have coherent flow to take this idea to completion. This book does not come to logical conclusion. While reading last few chapters of the book, It thought if author has written essays about few topics and this book is collection of these essays.

Best part of the book is the concept of linchpin, this is not entirely new concept but author has defined it in better way and have given a name to it – “Linchpin”. But beyond this point, book is primarily summary of many books that author has read, best section of this book is Bibliography.

Here are some of the statements which I liked from the book :

Linchpin are people who flourish where there is no order, no map, they create map of their own and create position of power and value. The linchpins among us are not the ones born with a magical talent. No, they are people who have decided that a new kind of work is important, and trained themselves to do it.

They are not product of a school designer to create him/her.

Someone with passion and energy, capable of seeing things as they are and negotiating multiple priorities as she makes useful decisions without angst. Flexible in the face of change, resilient in the face of confusion.

The distinction between cogs and linchpins is largely one of attitude, not learning.

Linchpins are able to embrace the lack of structure and find a new path, one that works.

She wants to mix it up. She looks for trouble; trouble gives her a chance to delight. The cog is standing by, waiting for instructions.

At the same time author wants to break the structure, for someone who wants to rise in corporate ladder this is not a good advise.

Deadlines? Surely you know someone who is late all the time. Someone who can’t deliver anything of value unless they’ve stalled so much they’ve created an urgency, an emergency that requires mind-blowing effort and adrenaline to deliver. This is not efficient or reliable behavior, and yet they persist. The reason is simple: they can’t push through the common fear of completion unless they can create a greater fear of total failure. The lizard brain is impulsive, but for these people, it’s also capable of choosing the greater risk and avoiding it.

Here are two important screenshot that define Linchpin

The book definitely has some gem of information but its it spurts, reading other parts of the book is nothing short of drudgery.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport : Book Review

Before you read positives and negatives of this book, let me say this – ‘This is a must read book’. Yes, there are some fault lines in some of the points made in the book however  primary concept is good. It should be must read by everyone who has interest in productivity or performance literature or interest in understanding how to go ahead in his career. I would definitely recommend this to someone who is graduating from college.

If I have to summarise this book in one sentence then its “Working right trumps finding the right work.” You can say, author wrote 300 page book just to convey this simple idea. But wait, if someone says this to you, you are most likely accept this as obvious and forget this the next moment and wont act on it.  Author rests his case with the help of four rules and concepts such as “The craftsman mindset” and “Career Capital”.

Four rules

  1. Don’t follow your passion
  2. Be so good They can’t ignore you (Who are they ??)
  3. Turn down promotion (Really !!)
  4. Think small Act Big

Rule 1 and 2 are really though provoking.

Rule # 1 Author makes logical statements with some examples as why following passion is not correct. If you ask someone, they’ll tell you what they think they’re passionate about, but they probably have it wrong.

If you ask people what is there passion, there response will be running, reading, singing and frankly these field are very competitive and these are winner take all market, majority of population can not survive in these.

Rule #2 is most though provoking of this book, author introduces concept like  “the craftsman mindset” and “Career Capital”.

the importance of the craftsman mindset by arguing that the traits that make a great job great are rare and valuable, and therefore, if you want a great job, you need to build up rare and valuable skills—which I call career capital—to offer in return.

Part of what makes the craftsman mindset thrilling is its agnosticism toward the type of work you do. The traits that define great work are bought with career capital, the theory argues; they don’t come from matching your work to your innate passion. Because of this, you don’t have to sweat whether you’ve found your calling—most any work can become the foundation for a compelling career.

Here author also introduces deliberate practice.

Deliberate practice, the key strategy for acquiring career capital,

If you can figure out how to integrate deliberate practice into your own life, you have the possibility of blowing past your peers in your value.

Musicians, athletes, and chess players know all about deliberate practice. Knowledge workers, however, do not.

I think I have seem this in reality.

Rule#3 is more about control, It has nothing much about “‘Turn down promotion”. I guess author wanted to come up with catchy rules, that’s it.

Rule#4 is about “not making” grand plan, You can make grand plans but many things are out of your control. Also, sometimes, grand plans makes people overburdened and they fail miserably, instead, start small and keep exploiting opportunities as they come. This is all about making little bets. BTW, I have added Little Bets by Peter Sims to my “To Read” list.

Please do watch following two TED talks referred by author in this book.

What motivates people

How movement starts

Some issues:

“So Good They Can’t Ignore You” – It seems author liked this catchy statement by Steve Martin so much that he decided to use it as a book name. Although this book is about getting better but the title seems far fetched

Author says first build some capital and then find a mission. Isn’t this a chicken and egg situation ?  Suppose someone starts at retail and build a career capital but he hates retail like anything but he like lets say math or medicine or something else ? Isn’t it logical to start something with interests you ( need not be a passion). Well this seems obvious and logical but this is not clearly articulated.

Author hails mission but hates passion. If you have read any literature about vision and mission statement, you must be knowing that mission comes from “what is your passion”

To conclude

Other than above minor fault lines (which can be ignored) this is a must read book and I will definitely recommend this book not just anyone starting his career but someone who has already started his career.