Information Age Ideas

I just read “Linchpin” by Seth Godin. It’s a very insightful read, blurring the lines between business, social commentary, and trends. “Linchpin” is about new business model ideas for the information age and why the old model from the industrial age isn’t working well anymore and is on the way out.

Seth is one of the most prolific bloggers and authors out there, with 12 bestselling books. And he blogs every weekday. He currently has over 4,000 short, pithy posts, and is the #1 rated blogger in the marketing field; but his posts are interesting and useful to a general reader too. It’s one of the few blogs I read daily.

Seth argues that a linchpin is someone who can invent, connect, create, and make things happen – usually in a new way; and a linchpin can’t be replaced, whether they work solo or in a company. The indispensable work of a linchpin is connected to other people, and that requires that a linchpin “ship” (release, roll out) his work or it doesn’t really count because no one will see it. Linchpins also bring their humanity to their work through their interactions and by giving gifts that build a tribe.

We all have ancient part of the brain that’s able to override the newer, higher functioning parts. This “lizard brain” is obsessed with safety, food, and reproduction and so will try to sabotage anything that feels threatening, risky, or generous. But linchpins have figured out the way around it by recognizing it and dealing with the lizard brain’s resistance.

“Consumers aren’t loyal to cheap commodities. They crave the unique, the remarkable, and the human… when customers have the choice between faceless options they pick the cheapest, fastest, more direct option.” The internet has changed things by letting the market directly distribute news from regular people talking about what the great stuff is (and also what the mediocre stuff is).

Linchpins are also artists. Art has the ability to change the way people feel and linchpins do that through their interactions, ideas, or products. “It’s not an effort contest, it’s an art contest. As consumers, we care about ourselves, about how we feel, about whether a product or service or play  or interaction changed us for the better.” Where, how, or how difficult it was to make  something isn’t relevant to most consumers; so emotional labor   becomes more valuable than physical labor because emotional labor changes the recipient and that’s what consumers really care about.

“The race to make average stuff for average people is almost over… Becoming more average, more quick, and more cheap is not as productive as it used to be.” Don’t become a cog in big system. Instead become indispensable, a linchpin, to thrive in the new economy. As Seth says “It’s easy to buy a cook book (filled with instructions to follow) but really hard to find a chef book.”

The future is here; it’s just not very evenly distributed yet.