My notes on “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? How to drive your career and create a remarkable future” by Seth Godin
The law of the Mechanical Turk
- The law: “Any project, if broken down into sufficiently small, predictable parts, can be accomplished for awfully close to free.”
- Eg Jimmy Wales led the tiny team at Wikipedia that destroyed the greatest reference book of all time. And almost all of them worked for free.
- The Encyclopaedia Britannica was started in 1770 and is maintained by a staff of more than a hundred full-time editors. Over the last 250 years, it has probably cost more than a hundred million dollars to build and edit.
- Wikipedia, on the other hand, is many times bigger, far more popular, and significantly more up-to-date, and it was built for almost free. No single person could have done this. No team of a thousand, in fact. But by breaking the development or articles into millions of one-sentence or one-paragraph projects, Wikipedia too advantage of the law of the Mechanical Turk. Instead of relying on a handful of well-paid people calling themselves professionals. Wikipedia thrives by using the loosely coordinated work of millions of knowledgeable people, each happy to contribute a tiny slice of the whole.
- The internet has turned white-collar work into something akin to building a pyramid in Egypt. No one could build the entire thing, but anyone can haul one brick into place.
The Myth of the White-Collar Job
- Most white-collar workers wear white collars, but they’re still working in the factory.
Why exceptional performers (like you) leave
- Contributing employees are getting paid less to make up for the ones who contribute the least. The exceptional performers are getting paid a lot less, which is why they should (and will) leave.
- Exceptional performers are starting to realise that it doesn’t pay to do factory work at factory wages only to subsidise the boss.
Limited or Unlimited?
- You can see your marketplace as being limited, a zero-sum game, a place where in order for one person to win, another must lose.
- Or you can see it as unlimited. A place where talent creates growth and the market increases in size
- Exceptional insight, productivity, and generosity make markets bigger and more efficient
- If you think “win/lose”, you’ll make choices like banning skilled immigrants
Is it getting done? Is it your job?
- In a factory, doing a job that’s not yours is dangerous. Now, if you’re a linchpin, doing a job that’s not getting done is essential
More Obedience or More Passion?
- Would your organisation be more successful if your employees were more obedient.
- Or, consider for a second: would you be more successful if your employees were more artistic, motivated, connected, aware, passionate, and genuine?
Alcoholics Anonymous and Gifts
- A critical underpinning at AA is that no money changes hands. There’s no central organisation collecting dues, no fee to attend a meeting, no payments from one member to another.
- The act of helping a fellow alcoholic for free has two effects: First, it brings the giver and the recipient closer together, creating a tribe. And second, it creates an obligation for the recipient.
- Not an obligation to reciprocate, because she really can’t and it’s not expected, but an obligation to help the next person.
- And so the movement grows.
The Circles of The Gift System
- The first circle represents true gifts – items that an artist gleefully and willingly shares. This circle comprises friends or family or the people you work with. Someone comes over for dinner and you don’t charge them. The meal is a gift. Friends ask for a stock tip or accounting help. You don’t charge them. It’s a gift.
- The second circle is the circle of commerce. In this circle are people and organisations that pay for your art. They pay for a souvenir edition or a poster or a speech. They pay for consulting or a house concert or a newsletter subscription.
- And now, the internet creates a third circle, the circle of your tribe, your followers, fans who may become friends. Friendlies. This circle is new. It’s huge and it’s important, because it enables you to enlarge the second circle and make more money, and because it enables you to affect more people and improve more lives.
- When you focus on the second circle, when you work to charge more people more often, your art suffers. Instead, we profit most when we make the first and third circles as big as we can. Generosity generates income.