I received a review copy of Seth Godin’s new book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?. (I say this just to be compliant with the new FTC regulations.) Let’s see if I can do the review in his signature style: short, bright, and to the point.
Linchpin is different from his previous books such as Tribes (link to my book review), which was about the new meaning of leadership, and Purple Cow, which was about new type of marketing. Linchpin is about being a new type of employee, who is “indispensable”.
So? He is still talking about new concept, right? And there is certainly a market for this book as the unemployment rate is high and so many people are afraid of becoming the next victim of downsizing.
Well, I see the difference in empowerment. Upon reading Tribes, I understood I didn’t have to have a certain title or status to be a leader; I can just start leading, and the point is if I can form a tribe. That was empowering. His marketing books are also empowering to me as an entrepreneur because they help me see and do marketing in a new meaningful way.
Linchpin, however, requires an evaluator, someone who decides if he is indispensable or not. So the power is not in the hand of the linchpin really.
I’m not saying being an employee is no good. The world needs organizations and team members. Great team members, in fact. I just feel it is very difficult to be truly empowered as an employee.
My last corporate job was assisting a president of a midsize manufacturing company which was part of a global conglomerate. This position gave me the opportunity to meet indispensable linchpins — for instance, a brilliant design engineer with unique vision and expertise (who used to work for our competitor — we were so excited to get him). My boss was a linchpin, too, who literally resurrected a near-death company and therefore saved several hundred jobs. Yet the engineer was practically demoted when the company’s business direction changed … I’m not sure if he is still there. When my former boss leaves, his boss will surely replace the position, or may even do away with that position. That’s how corporate world works.
When David, the linchpin worker at the posh Dean & Deluca cafe leaves, Dean & Deluca may loose some customers, they probably suffer from some operational difficulties, but soon enough, they will find a replacement. No one is really indispensable in the corporate world. Of course, in the meantime, David can leverage his linchpin value and get a better job — good for him.
How do you become a linchpin? Here is a list from page 218:
- Providing a unique interface between members of the organization
- Delivering unique creativity
- Managing a situation or organization of great complexity
- Leading customers
- Inspiring staff
- Providing deep domain knowledge
- Possessing a unique talent
We are each on a different path of evolution. If you are working for someone, read Linchpin. If you aspire to be a leader, read Tribes. Seth Godin has something for everyone, and together we can make this world a better place.
Now a bonus to this book review. I had the honor to interview Seth Godin by email.
Akemi: We all know you are a prolific blogger and author, but will you tell us the whole scope of your business? Do you still take marketing clients and if so, do you choose your clients in some ways? Or are you more about public education now, doing speaking, seminars, etc?
Seth: I’ve actually never done consulting. I do speeches, write a book now and then, run some seminars, help a few non-profits and cook dinner.
Akemi: Oh, that’s interesting. I always thought you are first and foremost a marketing consultant. So you have been in education (in the big meaning of it) always.
I think you are a change agent. Will you tell us your vision of the world we are creating?
Seth: I fear we’re creating a long term world as an accidental by-product of a short term future. It’s not good. On the other hand, there are plenty of individuals making great art.
Akemi’s note: The concept of “art” is discussed further in Linchpin. He means a lot more than paintings.
Do you have technique or daily practice to stay creative? Or do you think creativity is a talent and you are just blessed with it?
Seth: Writing a blog post every single day is amazing therapy. Everyone should do it.
My gratitude and blessings to Seth Godin for this interview.
Meditation helps to balance the body, mind, and spirit. It allows you to be who you really are — the spiritual being in your body. Consequently, meditation brings various benefits such as improved health, clearer mind, better performance in your personal and career life, and even psychic development.
There are many techniques and approaches in meditation. In this article, I’ll introduce you to the basics of meditation so you can start it right now. (Photo credit)
1. When & Where: Choose the time and place you can enjoy quiet solitude. First thing in the morning is a great idea — it starts your day right. Meditating when the stomach is full may be difficult. But of course, meditating any time is better than not meditating.
2. Position: There are two basic positions, open position and closed position, and various variations of each.
To meditate in open position, choose a firm stable chair. You want to keep your lower back straight while you meditate, so reclining chairs and soft sofas are no good. Office chairs with wheels are not recommended, either. A firm upright chair or bench is good. Adjust the height or use foot rest so that you are sitting with your knees at the right angle and your feet comfortably landed on the floor. Think of ancient Egyptian figures.
To meditate in closed position means you sit on the floor. You don’t have to do the lotus or half-lotus position. You can just put one leg in front of the other. It helps you to use a firm pillow under your butts, but not under your legs, so that your butts are plopped up to the height of your knees. Some yoga stores sell “meditation pillows” for this purpose, but any firm and large pillow works. It helps you to relax your leg joints and to keep your back straight.
In both cases, you want to keep your upper body upright and straight, but relaxed. Place your hands comfortably on your lap without stretching your shoulder joints. There are many hand gestures used in meditation, as you see in Buddhism arts, and each has different effects, but for now, let’s just place your hands palms up and form circles with your thumb and middle finger.
Be sure to loosen up your belt. Tight underwear are no good, either. Close your mouth and keep the tongue touching to the ceiling in your mouth. It probably helps you to close your eyes even though there are techniques to keep them “half-closed”.
3. Breathing: Now breathe in to the count of four, hold, then breathe out to the count of four, hold, and breathe again. This breathing patten helps you to bring your focus to breathing. It also regulates the breathing — the point is to take about the same time breathing in and out and to have a short period of holding in between. You only need to count your breath for a few minutes. As you progress in your meditation practice, you will notice your breathing slows down naturally, and this is very good. It means your body is getting adjusted.
I tried to count my breathing to share as a reference. I cannot count right when I’m meditating — I can only check my watch right after meditation, and as soon as I do this, I can feel my breathing start to speed up a bit. But just as a reference, I think I breathe about 3 times a minute when I meditate. On good days, maybe 2.5 times a minute.
4. Mindset: But don’t force yourself to do this. Don’t force yourself to achieve anything in meditation. Just be. The various benefits may happen, but chasing them is counterproductive.
Most of the time, we operate from our head. By not thinking anything particular, we give rest to our logical mind and let our soul come through. When thoughts try to distract you in meditation, don’t fight it. Fighting and trying to push away your thoughts only gives energy to the thoughts and let more thoughts come to you. Just gently let them go. Notice that you are noticing the thoughts — you are not your thoughts, the true you (your soul) is noticing your thoughts — and sit quietly there without chasing them. This way, they will go away. And yes, more thoughts will come to you, almost constantly, but keep releasing your thoughts.
5. Experience: As you get more experienced in meditation, you will reach a quiet state of no thoughts and no words. At this point, trust whatever happens in your meditation is good. Let your soul be in full control rather than judging with your mind.
Also, because meditation is about both body and soul, you may experience physical change while meditating. For example, your body might start swaying without your intention. If the movement is too much and uncomfortable, stop. But if it’s a gentle swaying, let it do what it needs to do. You may also see unusual vision or sense your spirit guides around you. I also heard men get election due to increased blood flow, but I haven’t made sure about this.
6. Closing: Don’t force yourself to meditate, say, for 30 minutes. Just meditate for the length of time you are comfortable with. 10 or 15 minute meditation is great.
When you want to end your meditation session, don’t suddenly get up. Gently come back to this world, open your eyes, maybe shake your hands gently, and then get up.
7. Additional ideas: You may like to do the visualization of self-protection at the beginning of meditation session. Visualization of a grounding cord, stretching from your first chakra to the center of the Earth, is also helpful.
I like the simple and open-ended meditation I just described, but if you want to do more extensive visualization, that is fine. Just don’t overload it and make meditation yet another project in your life.
Do you meditate? Please share your experience in the comment. Thank you.
Motivation and inspiration are two words that are often used interchangeably. However, there is a fundamental difference, and understanding this difference makes a whole lot difference in the quality of your life. (Photo credit)
Motivation is based on lack
Motivation is what you feel when you hit the bottom. Or when you hear a motivational speaker talk about how he doubled his income by practicing his success principles. It’s based on lack. You seek out something you don’t possess. That is, your thinking mind seeks out what it thinks missing in you.
So when you are motivated, you are driven to work hard. For a while, this is great. But soon, you run out of gas. The stress of pressuring yourself to be someone you are not wears you out. This is why few people succeed with motivation in the long run.
It doesn’t mean your willpower is weak. Motivation has innate problems. If you intuitively felt weary or even depressed at motivational arts (you know, like the photo of a climber with the word “Success” or “Persistence”) or felt uncomfortable with motivation speeches and slogans, you are not alone and you are quite keen at sensing some lies.
Motivation is more or less manipulative. Many organizations and their managers use motivation to push people to their goals, not their own.
Inspiration is based on who you really are
Inspiration, on the other hand, is what you feel when you read something that deeply resonates within you. You might also feel inspired with music, arts, or being in nature. I’m talking about the kind of writing, music, and arts that remind you who you really are on the soul level. Or you may be inspired when you are in love.
We are essentially the soul in the body. But we often forget this. This physical world is full of distractions, and there are various peer pressures to stay in the social circles based on materialism. Deep down, however, we never forget who we really are. And this sense of self realization comes to surface when we experience something as beautiful as we knew in the spiritual world. This is inspiration.
When you are inspired, you are empowered. You are becoming who you really are, so there is no manipulative pressure. Instead there is expansive joy. This soul level joy continues as long as you stay inspired, and losing this inspiration is the last thing you want. Unfortunately, we still do lose our inspiration — again, this physical world is very distracting — but even when you do, the experience leaves you feeling warm inside.
Motivation and inspiration in the real world
Not many people use these two words with clear consciousness, so you need to be your own authority to tell which is which. Just because a book says it’s “inspirational” doesn’t mean it is — it may be motivational.
For instance, I happened to see an “inspirational” website that said, “This is your second act…your chance to live large so that you don’t wake up one morning, decades too late, wondering what the hell just happened.” Do you see how it uses the fear tactic and sense of lack to get people to action? I call this motivational. A bad one at that — I don’t like the age discrimination it’s based on.
The example of inspirational resource is hard to quote because each person is different so each person finds different things to be inspiring. For me, Marianne Williamson’s following quote has been super inspirational. As I wrote in my eBook, it changed my life:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
What inspires you? And have you been driven unduly by motivation? Please share in the comment. Thank you.