When Seth Godin speaks, I listen. His no nonsense, thought provoking insights into marketing are business changing. So you can imagine when given the opportunity to do an advance review of his book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, I said “yes” immediately.

Like his other works, Linchpin doesn’t disappoint. There are so many nuggets of wisdom packed into 230 or so pages, I could write several reviews, each focusing on a different concept.

What is different about this book from Godin’s previous works is that it focuses on you, the individual. Not your company. Not your products. Not the way you do business. But there is no doubt it will affect your company, your products, and the way you do business. The premise is that the more unique, the more connected, the more giving you are, the more influence and success you can enjoy.

Almost counterintuitively, Godin suggests that the more you give away your “art” (whether it be advice, music, insight, or literally art) for free, the more likely it is that your boss, your customers, and your fans will stay loyal. In fact the “Givers Gain” message was so entrenched into the book I thought I was at a BNI (Business Network International) meeting or reading Bob Burg’s The Go-Giver. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. There isn’t. And I have seen this principle work for me on so many occasions, I can vouch for its usefulness.

In Godin’s discussion on The Powerful Culture of Gifts, he notes there are three ways people think about gifts: 1) “Give me a gift.” 2) “Here’s a gift. Now you owe me big time.” 3) “Here’s a gift, I love you.” I think it’s very easy for people to slip into the second mode of thinking upon reading about the gift economy. We see this all the time with “free seminars” or “free networking” that are nothing more than sales pitch events. This is NOT giving away your art.

So how can you expect to make a living giving away art for free? That’s where the Circles of the Gift System come in. Godin’s theory goes that in the First Circle of true gifts you give away your art for free to family, friends, co-workers, those that you are close to. The Second Circle is the circle of commerce made up of those who pay for your art, your customers. And now with the rise of the Internet, a huge Third Circle has emerged which is that of your followers and fans–“friendlies”–who can become friends. This Third Circle helps expand the circle of commerce, as well as help you influence and improve the lives of even more people.

I am just beginning to tap into this world of the Third Circle and it is truly an amazing new frontier. Within less than a year, I have made scores of new friends (especially my Twitter “twibe”) and gained so many new resources, I can’t even imagine my future without it.

After reading Linchpin, you understand why Godin was giving us advance reviewers a chance to read and comment on the book. He was demonstrating what it truly means to be a linchpin.

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