Review of Seth Godin’s Linchpin

March 12th, 2010

This review is going to be a little different from anything I’ve done before.  It’s an experiment, you might say.

You can say that I was thrilled to grab a copy of Linchpin on my Kindle.  And as a disclaimer, I was pre-disposed to liking this book because since this year stared I have made creativity my focus.  In addition, I have made creating art (not drawing pictures/painting kind of art, but art as in expressing creativity) my theme for the year.

That said.  I HATED this book.  If I still had hair, I’d of pulled it out right in the middle.  This might be the first time ever that I loved the idea in a book but hated the book itself.  How is that possible?

Let’s go into it.

Linchpin basically says that we’re all artists and we should  make ourselves indispensible (linchpins).

Here’s basically what Godin is saying in his own words.

“You don’t become indispensable merely because you are different. But the only way to become indispensable is to be different. That’s because if you’re the same, so are plenty of other people.”

Don’t you love that message?  I do.  So, why did I hate the book so much?

I thought as an experiment I’d try to write the rest of my review in the style of Linchpin.  Sit back and enjoy (if you can).

Review written in the style of Linchpin

Linchpin is a book that repeats the same idea over and over again.  It constantly talks about the same thing over and over again.  The severity of this repetition cannot be overstated. This is because it restates the same premise ad nausea (yes, I’m using the word incorrectly).

The Guy at the Bar

It’s like this time I went into a bar.  I met this guy.  This guy was pretty wasted.  I mean really wasted.  His eyes were glazed over and it looked like he would fall down at any moment.  But here’s the thing.  This guy keeps telling this story about his ex-wife and a dog.  And he keeps telling the same story over and over again.  Till finally, someone says, “hey man, I heard that already.”  But the guy just kept on telling the same story, as if he heard nothing at all.  I think somewhere out there that man is still telling that story.  Linchpin is that man.

The Broken Record

When I was a kid I played records.  That’s right.  I was born before the CD was invented.  So, for you “youngsters” who don’t know what I’m talking about a record is “vinyl”.  Anyway, every so often one would skip and play the same little part over and over again.   You may like that part of the song.  It may even be your favorite part of the whole darn song.  But it’s get REAL annoying after awhile.  Linchpin is that broken record.

The Undergrad Stretching the Report

A student needed to write a 35-page paper on the symbolism in Heart of Darkness.  He pretty much summed it up in 5 pages. But the assignment was 35 pages.  What does he do?  First, he peppers the paper with stories and long quotations.  Then he phrases and rephrases himself.  He takes one short sentence and turns it into three long ones. He takes short and easy words and replaces them with long phrases and idioms.  Before long that paper is at 37 pages.  Linchpin is that paper.

The Cover Band That Only Knows 3 Songs

There’s a cover band that only knows three songs.  Yet, they usually play a one-hour set.  Now, the three songs they know run about 21 minutes or so.  So, they play the same three songs over and over.  They change the order here and there to add variety.  And of course one of those songs is “Free Bird” which they add some drum solos and guitar bits at the end.  Now, some people in the audience love these 3 songs and demand that they be played again and again.  Some even ask them to play ONE song the entire hour.  Linchpin is that cover band.

I am sure that the fans of Seth Godin who buy all his books love to hear him repeating himself. They probably see it as proof that he’s a marketing genius or something.  I, for one, can only hear “Free Bird” so many times before I finally say ENOUGH ALREADY!

Summary of the Linchpin-style Review

As you may have guessed by now, this book has a serious repetition problem.  A big problem!  The only other thing I hated about this book was how in the beginning Godin keeps repeating how schools train you to be a factory worker.  He goes all off on how schools don’t teach you to be artists but how to repeat information and follow orders, but I get the feeling that Godin was regurgitating the same message throughout this entire book while  following the instructions of his publisher.

The Verdict

Great idea.  Terrible book.  If you’re a fan of Godin, you’ll buy it anyway.  If you’re not a fan…read a summary on Amazon.  It pretty much covers it.  Or go back and read the quote above.  It’s the whole book.


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