Why I Love the Linchpin Book

Posted by on Aug 17, 2011 in Book review, Linchpin | 4 Comments

My friend Jurgen Appelo recently wrote a review of Linchpin—Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin. He says it’s simplistic, “purple crap”, and calls Seth a Single Strategy God. When I started reading that post, I was first a bit put off by the language… But as I’m quite used to Jurgen being blunt (which he attributes to being Dutch), I read on and surprisingly found I agreed with every single bit of criticism he wrote. Yet, I still stand by my Linchpin promotion, I still love the book… Why?

It’s about time I wrote down why I value this book so much.

Start With Why

Simon Sinek coined the phrase “People don’t buy What You Do, they buy Why You Do It”. Just in case you don’t know him, watch his amazing TED talk “How great leaders inspire action”. What Jurgen wrote about was the WHAT of the Linchpin book, what I value is the WHY. I can obviously only assume why Seth wrote the book, and the Linchpin manifesto to go with it.

He’s encouraging people to make a difference. He’s giving examples of people who started doing that. He’s inspiring the reader to be an artist, to care about hir work, to care about people, to inspire change.

Judge By the Outcome

When I read Linchpin, I had just decided to change my job. In that book, I found

  • a good summary of the reasons why I was irritated by the environment I worked in,
  • an equally good summary of the reasons why I chose the company I work for now,
  • an exact summary of the way my job application went.

Because of this, the book resonated with me like few (business) books ever did before. It gave me the very strong feeling of I’ve made the right decision. And it led me into an intensive reflection of WHY I made it.

If Everyone…

Jurgen very rightly wrote that if everyone would follow Seth’s advice the economy might break down. (I’ve simplified his statement very much.) That’s probably true. We don’t need everybody to be a Linchpin. But I think we need more people who want to make a difference, who care about change. And some of these might just need a nudge to get started, because on their own they don’t dare to…

Linchpin Is Viral

I got the tip to read Linchpin from Mike Sutton. I gave the book as a gift to four people since I read it, recommended it to about 10 more. 80% of these have since changed their jobs, the others are planning to. (This is not statistically relevant as I gave it to friends who were not satisfied with their jobs.) It works. It makes a difference.

In May, I went to a Linchpin meetup. I learned of the Linchpin Meetup Day on Twitter, looked at the website and saw there’s a Linchpin community in Berlin. In fact, currently there are 1162 Linchpin communities in cities all around the world. I registered for the event and had absolutely no idea what to expect. I persuaded my wife to join me, who didn’t have the slightest idea what this was all about. (I said the worst that can happen is that it’s boring—in which case we could leave and have a nice night out in Berlin. We had a nice evening. Yes, she then started to read the book, too. And yes, she changed her job last week.)

The amazing thing was: I got to know a cinematographer. I told him I just started organising a conference in Berlin, trying to bring European agile and lean thinkers together in Berlin… And that we might need someone with a camera. Yesterday we agreed on a price, ensuring that the awesomeness of ALE2011 will be captured in high quality…

It just works. That’s why I love Linchpin.

A Book For Everyone?

Sinek explains in Start With Why that while Apple is an excellent example of inspiring people with WHY they do WHAT they do (to make a difference, according to him), they still don’t sell their products to everybody. Some people buy and use PCs or Creative Zen players, and they do that for perfectly sensible reasons. If you are an entrepreneur who created a sustainably successful business, or you just published a book that’s successful all over the world, Linchpin might not be what you want to read.

But if you want to make a difference, if you want to change the world (or a part of it that’s significant for you) and need a bit of courage to get started… Read Linchpin. Because it works..


  1. Wolfgang
    August 18, 2011

    Couldn’t agree more! I think Linchpin is a great book(yes Olaf recommend it to me and yes I switched jobs) and love the idea of making a difference and being the one doing it. No matter how. Just doing it!
    That’s why I was pretty confused by Jurgen’s post. I wasn’t able to find the right words, why I think it’s just half the truth. Your post puts it all together for me.
    So thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!

  2. Olaf
    August 18, 2011

    thanks for the kind words. I saw your tweet the other day and it was one of the reasons I felt inclined to write this:-)
    take care

  3. Patrick Verheij
    August 18, 2011

    Thanks for making a difference, Olaf. Have loads of fun at the ALE conference. I chose not to be there for reasons that force me to re-read Linchpin. Enjoy and I’ll make sure to get hold of the video.

    • Olaf
      August 18, 2011

      Thanks, Patrick!
      We’ll keep you informed on the proceedings in Berlin:-)
      take care


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