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How I Write and How I Decide What To Write

People seem fascinated with routines – how other people get things done and the like. While you do need to develop your own way of getting it all done, it can be inspiring and reassuring to hear how others are doing it. (Yesterday I wrote – 7 Things I Did Not Know About Writing Before I Started)

How I decide what to write about

photo credit: Sven Van Echelpoel via photopin cc

photo credit: Sven Van Echelpoel via photopin cc

I have a pretty solid editorial calendar that runs out about a year in terms of monthly focus themes so my blog posts, podcasts and guest content is lined up to match my annual plan. For example, this month’s theme is writing. I also write a lot of content for needs beyond my blog – presentations, eBooks and webinars often show up in outline form on my blog. (Here’s a description of this Total Content System approach)

How I write

I’m an outliner. I come up with the primary point I want to make from the blog post and then I outline the supporting points, elements and resources that I need to add to fill it out. I find that this approach allows me to stay focused and write very quickly. I write an opening statement, add 3-5 subheads, fill in each and wrap it up with a restatement of the original point.

Then I add lots of links, tips, tools and additional reading to make it as useful as possible. The last thing I add is the headline. I use SEO plugin to create URL, title, and description but the headline is there to grab attention in places like Twitter and RSS readers.

I asked Seth Godin, Mitch Joel, Ann Handley, Mark Schaefer, CC Chapman, Ian Cleary and Brian Solis two questions related to today’s post and I’ve included their thoughts here to give you even more insight into the practices of others who write.

My questions:
1) Describe your blog editorial process: how you decide what to write about
2) Describe your blog writing process: how you attack the actual process of writing a post
Their answers:

Seth Godin

sethIt doesn’t matter.

If you had Elvis’ microphone, you wouldn’t sing like Elvis, nor would you want to.

Readers don’t care about shovels, they care about holes!

Mitch Joel

mitchEditorial process: At the beginning of every day, I scan my email inbox. I subscribe to a significant amount of e-newsletters and I use this as my pure inspiration. If there’s something that really pops up, I tend to save it in an email inbox folder titled “blog.” Over the course of the day, if I find anything else that inspires, I also file it there by sending myself an email. When I finally feel like I am ready to write, there is usually one theme that bubbles up to the top and that’s the one that I roll with. My typical blogging time is at the end of the day, but inspiration can hit at any time… from anywhere.

Writing process: This pretty straightforward. I start with the title and just blog. Once the first draft is done, I do a quick spellcheck and glance for grammar. I review the post a couple of times and put in the tags last.

Brian Solis

solisAbout the only plan I bring to the table is the desire to blog and to do so with rhythm and passion. While I don’t maintain an editorial calendar, I do keep an open mind to trends and also the ongoing challenges and questions I see people asking or attempting to address. I keep a list of ideas as they come up via Apple’s Reminder app. For the most part, I write on the weekends. It’s quieter and I can slow down and focus enough to think through what I’m writing about, who it’s for and what the takeaway will be. I’ll then publish the posts later in the week. I don’t however, write against an outline. I go with a feeling and let it evolve naturally. I think about the outcome as I go to make sure that there’s value at the end. But, often I find that what I set out to write and what I end up publishing are often two different pieces altogether.

Ann Handley

annhEditorial: At MarketingProfs, our editorial process on the text/newsletter side is generally mapped out about a month in advance (with some flexibility for timely items that deserve coverage).

We aren’t a news site with real-time coverage — instead, we publish how-to information with an eye toward filtering the noise to get to the signal. We educate marketers about what they need to know, when they need to know it.

How to we know that? We listen, read tons of blogs/sites, and rely on the PR folks we have relationships with, as well. We also practice what I call “social prospecting,” looking for good writers/speakers/story or session ideas via social networks.

The one exception to my statement about us “not being a news site” relates to our research summaries (here’s an example: http://www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2013/10730/internet-ad-revenue-breaks-record-mobile-achieves-111-yoy-growth) and opinions (www.mpdailyfix.com), which are timely and newsworthy, but not necessarily breaking.

On my own site (AnnHandley.com), I feel no pressure to produce. So I only create content there when I can’t stand not to, and I don’t have anything that remotely resembles an editorial calendar. For example, after seeing Sheryl Sandberg speak in Boston recently, I felt compelled to write this (link), because I couldn’t not write about it. So the things I create there are far more emotionally charged for me. But the trade-off is that I post waaay less frequently.

Writing: I almost always start with a headline that expresses my distinct point of view, which becomes a sort of Blog Mission Statement for the whole post.

That headline doesn’t always end up being the one I use on publication, but it always gives me a framework and perspective to work from. This is critical for me because, as someone who started my career as a newspaper reporter, I sometimes find it a challenge to put “me” into the story, and to not feel like I have to cover an issue comprehensively, like a news reporter might. That was a huge shift for me, when I started blogging.

I know lots of people use word outlines and graphical organizers and mind maps and the like. But I’ve always been terrible at that. (Side note: I was always also terrible at diagramming sentences. Something about it feels like foisting math sensibilities onto the mystery and poetry of the written word. Also, I’m allergic to math.)

I’ll add one more thing about writing a post or article or pretty much anything: Sometimes writing comes easily, and the words flow onto the page as easily as soft butter onto warm toast. But that’s rare. More often than not, the words are like cold butter on sandwich bread: When you try to work it, the whole thing ends up kind of a mess.

It’s disheartening. Sometimes you cry. But if you keep at it, it somehow works out.

Writing is relatively easy. Good writing is very, very, very hard.

CC Chapman

ccEditorial: I wish I was more of a planner who would lay out a full editorial calendar, but that isn’t how I work (although I do it for clients all the time.)

For me when I get inspired, I write. Sometimes if I just have an idea and don’t have enough time to do all the full post so I’ll start a new post in wordpress and leave it as a draft. I’ve got tons of these and on days when I’m stuck for something to write I’ll go through the drafts and pick one.

I am constantly consuming content from every source imaginable and many times that will inspire what I decide to write about, but sometimes it comes from going for a walk, taking a shower or any other random time.

Writing: For me, I always write the post first. I’ll sit down and brain dump the idea directly into word press. Sometimes the headline comes first, but even if I have an idea for it, usually by the time I’m done writing it will evolve and change.

I proof read it at least twice with the final time being in a preview window so I’m reading it as it will look live on the site. This helps me notice strange formatting and since it is bigger text then the editor, I tend to notice mistakes a bit quicker.

Mark Schaefer

schaeferEditorial: I have absolutely no editorial calendar, which I find rather liberating. I write about whatever interests me and try to write ahead so I have at least 10 or so posts ready if I need them. To me, scheduling the blog is kind of what it must be like to conduct a symphony. You want it to flow in a harmonious way, pulling here and there to get just the right mix. I want there to be an ideal blend of tips, insights, opinion, and fun. Most of all it is has to be interesting and one way to accomplish this is to be flexible enough to write about what is happening now, not what was scheduled a month ago. It works for me, anyway!

Ian Cleary

ianEditorial: I only write about social media tools and technology and I get ideas from a variety of sources including tweets, subscribers that ask me questions, reading other blog posts and monitoring keywords related to social media tools and technology. I also often get an idea when I’m in the car or working out in the gym so I jot it down or create a task.

All content ideas goes into an editorial calendar called Divvyhq. There’s a place to park ideas and a place for scheduled content. Since using an editorial calendar I’ve got more consistent with my blogging and I’m not stuck for new content ideas because I’m always adding new ideas.

Writing: I go to Divvyhq and pick a post off my list or come up with a new topic basic on a combination of a couple of items on the list.

I then do some initial keyword research using Google keyword tool and SEOMoz to see if there are useful keywords I can target for the blog post.

I write an initial headline which I’ll always tweak a few times before publishing. I try to grab attention with my opening line and then outline what the angle of the story is. If I have some research or a quote to use I’ll add it in straight after this. I’ll then write the body of the post and finish off with what I want the reader to remember with a call to action to put in a comment!

When the first part of the post is written I’ll go to photopin and find some images to add to the post and then I’ll optimize the content for search engines.

When I post the content I schedule it as I have set days for publishing. When it is published it automatically goes out twitter using dlvr.it. but then I’ll manually post the content on a variety of platforms such as LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Inbound.org and Scoop.it. I also reach out to relevant audiences that might be interested in the post to encourage them to come back and read it. When I get comments I try to respond immediately to them.

So, since you made it this far I wonder if you might add your process?

We Are All Artists Now

Marketing podcast with Seth Godin

seth godin icarus deceptionFew people have captured the post industrial world of work like Seth Godin. Now, you may think of him as a marketer – and he is a brilliant one indeed. I believe, however, his greatest contribution to business is the very clear message about how work has evolved from one of factories and rules to one of making ideas and art.

To be sure there are still many who play in the world of producing things by way of orderly process but, increasingly, people are trying things on the side of design and causing a good ruckus while they play.

As the cost of making things, trying things, starting companies and practicing your art has come down, so too has the cost of failure. Trying your idea out and failing is not such a big deal any more, playing it safe and normal is.

I spoke with Seth Godin for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast and he shared his thoughts on some of the myths and deceptions that hold people back.

Godin recently set the publishing world abuzz, once again, by using a crowdfunding service to prove that people were interested in the notion of his next book before he ever sought a publisher to produce it. With a guaranteed large print run in hand he was able to dictate, to a large extent, the type of deal he wanted.

In his now published work, The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly, Godin reveals the often mistold told story or Icarus. As most people will recall, Icarus famously flew too close to the sun against his fathers advice. This act of hubris led to his demise. The lesson of course, is don’t try to soar too high, right?

The part of the story that is rarely told is that his father also told him not to fly too low as the salt and mist of the sea was equally fatal. Godin’s contention is that the current environments of work, school and even organized religion are often to blame for people aiming too low.

The Icarus Deception is above all things a cry for a revolution of sorts. A cry to get more people to start sharing their ideas, designing their lives and telling people about their art.

One of the best ways to embrace this idea may be to attend one of the more than 1,000 Icarus Sessions happening on Jan 2. You can find or organize an Icarus Session here and read all about how the sessions work here.

Pitch Perfect Crowdfunding

This is installment number two of a series: Crowdfunding: A playbook and case study. (Check out the entire series here)

photo credit: Haags Uitburo via photo pin cc

Today’s post focuses on making a compelling pitch and determining how to create incentives that draw the interest needed in order get your project funded.

Most crowdfunding pitches offer things like early or deeply discounted product access, elevated customer status, exclusive events and branded articles like t-shirts and mugs as a way to raise interest and additional investment.

There’s a real balance between being able to explain what your thing does, why they should back it and what, precisely, you want people to do in a way that leaves no doubt and creating incentives that get them excited about being a part of the launch.

My belief is there are few incentives that can overcome a boring or confusing project pitch, but it’s the perfect balance of value and creativity that seems to make the difference.

The Message

It’s essential that you’re able to sum up your project in as few words as possible. Imagine you’ve got about thirty seconds to get a room full of skeptics to fork over some money for something they’ve never heard of or seen before – maybe they don’t even realize the problem your product or service addresses exists.

So, what would that pitch sound like?

Here are some tips:

  • Compare to something they already understand – “It’s like an iPhone, but you wear it on your wrist”
  • Attack the demon head on – “This tool helps you get paid on time”
  • Play to a strong sense of community – “We’re helping independent musicians survive in today’s economy. ”
  • Exploit coolness – “A Living Canvas for your Instagram Photos”

Now start segmenting.

Once you create your pitch you’ve got to start thinking about the story for multiple audiences. The trick is to make your story as personal as possible, but keep it relevant for the reader.

A pitch to Aunt Betty is going to be along the lines of “you know you said I’m your favorite niece, right?” but your 473 Twitter followers are going to need something else all together.
Count on creating a short video that engages visitors in the possibilities, community, story, dreams and vision attached to your project.

Prove that you can pull this off – people want to back underdogs, but make them want to win as much as you want to win – that’s how you get people to share with their networks – share your future as if you’ve made it.

Here’s how my case study subject ZebraCard project sponsor Nick Carter explains his approach to this.

“I am a big fan of writing the pitch as appropriate to the relationship I have with the recipient. I’m often disgusted at people who try to craft emails to me as if we were best buds when in fact, there is no prior relationship. I wrote 3 messages. 1 was a personal letter to our closest partners, affiliates, and loyal referral partners. 2 was to the remainder of our customer base. The 3rd was to our subscriber base from the many other lead-gen campaigns we’ve conducted over the years. Each was written with the appropriate level of familiarity or formality.”

The Incentives

Here I think creativity and relevance are so crucial. It’s not enough, in my view, to offer product that’s equivalent with a funding level. Incentive levels, and you have many, are a tremendous way to demonstrate the level of excitement, commitment and buzz you can generate. Remember, funding is only step one, this is a public display of the market viability of your company as well so don’t phone this one in.

The first thing you should do is study every successful project you can on Fundable, Kickstarter and Indiegogo. What’ you’ll likely see are some patterns of value and increasingly levels of exclusivity.

One of my favorite examples comes from, no surprise, a super marketer, Seth Godin’s Icarus Project. Go check it out thoroughly.

Admittedly, Godin has built a huge tribe and his choice of a this crowdfunding mechanism is part showmanship on display, but he gets the incentive game like no one I know.

The first think to note is there’s something for everyone, even those that just want to play – there’s a $4 level that still offers great value. He also creates tension by offering levels that clearly offer the most value to someone that really just wants the book. To me, he’s made it obvious where to go if your main interest is getting the information, but he’s also loaded it with the most value.

Then he creates levels that allow his followers to get exclusivity and access that have little to with the product – he’s offering an experience to those in his tribe that want and can afford that.

Here’s advice that crowdfunding service Fundable offers its project sponsors – “Once you’ve identified your group of potential backers- it’s also important to structure your rewards tiers in the most compelling way possible- taking into account what is most interesting to their particular group. It sounds obvious, but people often walk away with a new rewards structure after they’ve had a chance to analyze and decide on their target outreach groups. Once you know who you’re hoping to attract, it’s easier to come up with rewards that are desirable to them.”

Now, not everyone has the marketing background, reputation or backlog of desirable incentives to offer, so it’s important that you also make it clear what you want someone to do and why they should choose a certain level.

Here’s how ZebraCard approached it.

“My #1 goal was to get business cards with the ZebraCard code on them into circulation. So, I made sure to offer incentives that would not only be valuable to the backers, but also achieve that goal. I made sure there was an easy entry point ($10) that still had something of value in exchange so it didn’t feel like an all-out donation.”

Okay, that’s it for this week – next week we’ll take a look at how to get the word out to the various communities that you’ll tap.

Got any great crowdfunding stories or advice? Please share in comments.

Seth Godin Pokes His Own Box

Marketing podcast with Seth Godin (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Poke the Box Seth GodinMy guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is best selling author, blogger, Squidoo creator Seth Godin. In this episode we discuss Seth’s new book – Poke the Box.

While the book comes in at only 80 pages, perhaps the biggest punch it packs is the one aimed at the traditional book publishing industry. Seth produced this book, not with his former publisher Portfolio, but with a start up project, jointly created with Amazon, called The Domino Project.

Few people in the business ranks have been as successful at launching a book as Seth and true to form, Godin is turning the book industry on its side with a $4.99 Kindle version, a 5 pack and 52 pack and a limited edition letterpress cover edition.

Many in the publishing industry are keeping a close eye on this project. While there’s little doubt in my mind that Godin is that concerned about the financial aspects of this endeavor, preferring instead to focus on poking his own box, it will be interesting to see how this pans out.

Godin was paid at the top of the category by his publisher and will need to sell far more copies of Poke the Box in this pricing model than the traditional royalty driven route. The big question for some in the publishing industry is what kind of distribution the big book chains will give to an Amazon produced book. The book also promises to sell far more digital copies than previous Godin books, a category that traditional credibility lists, such as the New York Times, have been slow to acknowledge.

As the book Poke the Box suggests, however, you don’t make your mark by following the status quo, you make your mark by creating the status quo. According to Godin he would rather make a ruckus than be a hypocrite and took this route to be an example of those that change, poke and lead.

We are living in an era where the news in the newspaper is old before it hits our driveway real time, public interaction with small groups of customer is now, not only possible, it’s essential – and perhaps this includes the packaging of ideas that have commerce.

Godin’s message in this book is that we need to think more like computer programmers, we need to test and improve, test and improve in real time where the cost of failure is nothing. We are not General Motors, we are an idea economy that rewards initiative over perfection.

Searching for the next big idea is a form of hiding – being wiling to ship something and not worry about failure is Poking the Box.

A distinction that Godin adds is that if you don’t finish, the starting doesn’t matter. Ideas are worth nothing, finishing is what’s valuable.

Godin is a master at creating compelling ideas out of very few words and this is a book that is both very important and very simple to consume.

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99) or

Mooing On

Linchpin will likely not be the last book Seth Godin publishes in a traditional way.

If you live primarily inside the echo chamber of the online marketing world you’ve undoubtedly heard that Seth Godin, author of at least 12 books that we know of, has pulled the plug on the publishing industry by proclaiming that he no longer intends to publish books the way they are traditionally published. You can get the full story on Seth’s blog, from MediaBistro and even the Wall Street Journal.

Now, before I go any further it must be stated that I am a fan – I am inspired by Seth’s writing and have been blessed by his support on more then one occasion. We have the same publisher and he was kind enough to write testimonials for the jacket of both my books. He is the real deal and has a following that any business or business person would envy. But, let’s keep this in perspective. This is not the end of traditional publishing as we know it, it’s not even the end of traditional publishing as Seth knows it.

Business books, and sadly marketing books, make up a very small chunk of the book publishing world, but even inside this rather small bubble, this is simply a statement that content consumption has evolved. We know that, we’ve all responded to that, but more than anyone else I know Seth has a knack for clearly stating the things we’ve all been standing around thinking – some may not agree, but that’s a skill set that turns people into thought leaders.

Seth Godin

Business book writers don’t really have to be that good at writing. I include myself in that last statement. I don’t think my publisher cares so much about what I can write. They do care deeply about what I can sell. That’s the reality that irks some, but it’s a fact. I have no idea if I’m a good writer or not – although three or four pages into a Don DeLillo novel and I realize how terribly inappropriate it would be call myself an author – but I love that people are inspired to action by something I’ve figured out how to put on paper – the digital and print kind. Not that the world is waiting for me to weigh in, but I do intend to continue to publish in the traditional sense because I still enjoy it and think that the majority of content consumers enjoy it as well.

Seth Godin can afford to move to non-traditional forms of publishing because he has access to traditional forms of publishing and distribution. If you’re a book buyer, you are going to stock Seth Godin’s next hardback. If you’re a world class book editor, you’re going to enjoy editing Seth Godin’s next book. Seth Godin actually stands to make more money from a book he can self publish because he has the platform to do so. This move makes sense and is not a completely bold or trailblazing one. But, let’s wait and see when it hits the shelves.

The Wall Street Journal article cited above states that Linchpin has sold roughly 50,000 copies. That’s a nice number, that’s a number that gets you Wall Street Journal and New York Times Best Seller status in the world of business books. Jonathan Franzen has a new book coming out next week. (Yes, there’s a Kindle version) His last book sold 2.85 million copies and I’ll bet the majority of business book fans couldn’t name it. So, before we go off and do away with the traditional print and distribution models understand that more than anything else, Seth wants to have a conversation with his fans and if he has something to say, you can bet he will generously say it in as many forms as are deemed necessary.

Perhaps the biggest winners from the buzz of Seth moving on are the self-publishing industry and authors without a sufficient platform to attract the attention of a Portfolio.

The Referral Engine Launch Day Bonus

Note: When an author launches a new book (well, at least this author) it’s kind of a big personal deal. So, I know I’ve been a bit commercial of late in promotion of my new book, but the good news is today is launch day so regular old thoughts on helping your grow your business to return. Thanks for your patience, trust and support.

The Referral EngineMy new book, The Referral Engine – Teaching Your Business To Market Itself is finally available to ship! In fact, the online retailers are blowing it out at as low as 55% off during the launch. Go to The Referral Engine book site for details.

The buzz for the book online has been tremendous and the reviews over the top positive. To continue the momentum I want to make you an offer to take action today. I have a library of incredible interviews available exclusively to those who buy my new book today.

Here’s the deal -

The book has received praise from the following thought and business leaders in the form of a blurb on the book’s jacket.

As a bonus for purchasing today you’ll receive audio recordings of the interviews I did with each. These are not pitches for the book, these are deep conversations about their thoughts on marketing and business.

  • Chris Brogan, coauthor of Trust Agents
  • Seth Godin, author of Linchpin
  • Guy Kawasaki, cofounder of Alltop
  • David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR
  • Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com
  • Bob Burg, coauthor of The Go-Giver and Go-Givers Sell More
  • Marcy Shinder, vice president, American Express OPEN

I addition I’ve included double bonus interviews from some of the people you’ll meet in the book who also know a thing or two about referrals.

  • Ivan Misner, founder of BNI
  • Stephen MR Covey, author of The Speed of Trust
  • Scott Ginsberg, The Nametag Guy
  • Zingermans Community of Businesses, a chat with Ari and Mo

That’s 11 interviews in all with some folks I consider the brightest minds in marketing today.

Order today and send a copy of your receipt to [email protected] and you’ll receive your special link to download or listen to this entire library.

Go to The Referral Engine book site to choose your favorite online retailer – you can also send me the receipt from an offline retailer to qualify as well.

Thanks for all your support, you truly inspire me.

Why Word of Mouth Doesn’t Happen

This post is a special Make a Referral Week guest post featuring education on the subject of referrals and word of mouth marketing and making 1000 referrals to 1000 small businesses – check it out at Make a Referral Week 2010

Sometimes, what you do is done as well as it can be done. It’s a service that people truly love, or a product they can’t live without. You’re doing everything right, but it’s not remarkable, at least not in the sense of “worth making a remark about.”

What’s up with that?

Here’s a smörgåsbord of reasons:

  1. It’s embarrassing to talk about. That’s why VD screening, no matter how well done, rarely turns into a viral [ahem] success.
  2. There’s no easy way to bring it up. This is similar to number 1, but involves opportunity. It’s easy to bring up, “hey, where’d you get that ring tone?” because the ring tone just interrupted everyone. It’s a lot harder to bring up the fact that you just got a massage.
  3. It might not feel cutting edge enough for your crowd. So, it’s not the thing that’s embarrassing, it’s the fact they you just found out about it. Don’t bring up your brand new Tivo with your friends from MIT. They’ll sneer at you.
  4. On a related front, it might feel too popular to profitably sneeze about. Sometimes bloggers hesitate to post on a popular source or topic because they worry they’ll seem lazy.
  5. You might like the exclusivity. If you have no trouble getting into a great restaurant or a wonderful club, perhaps you won’t tell the masses because you’re selfish…
  6. You might want to keep worlds from colliding. Some kids, for example, like the idea of being the only kid from their school at the summer camp they go to. They get to have two personalities, be two people, keep things separate.
  7. You might feel manipulated. Plenty of hip kids were happy to talk about Converse, but once big, bad Nike got involved, it felt different. Almost like they were being used.
  8. You might worry about your taste. Recommending a wine really strongly takes guts, because maybe, just maybe, your friends will hate the wine and think you tasteless.
  9. There are probably ten other big reasons, but they all lead to the same conclusions:

First, understand that people talk about you (or not talk about you) because of how it makes them feel, not how it makes you feel.

Second, if you’re going to build a business around word of mouth, better not have these things working against you.

Third, if you do, it may be a smart strategy to work directly to overcome them. That probably means changing the fundamental DNA of your experience and the story you tell to your users. “If you like us, tell your friends,” might feel like a fine start, but it’s certainly not going to get you there.

What will change the game is actually changing the game. Changing the experience of talking about you so fundamentally that people will choose to do it.

Seth Godin is author of ten books that have been bestsellers around the world. His most recent titles include The Dip and Linchpin. His books have been bestsellers around the world and changed the way people think about marketing, change and work.

Talking Linchpin with Seth Godin

Marketing podcast with Seth Godin (Click to listen, right click and Save As to download – subscribe now via iTunes

I had the pleasure of visiting with Seth Godin for this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. Seth’s new book Linchpin is out today and, as we discussed in our time together, this is probably his most personal message and book to date.

The message of Linchpin, to workers everywhere, is pretty simple: “The only way to get what you’re worth is to stand out, to exert emotional labor, to be seen as indispensable, and to produce interactions that organizations and people care deeply about.” A Linchpin is someone who can walk into a room and create order out of chaos. They are special people who view the world differently and who may or may not have the title applicable to the value they bring.

Godin is telling you that you must become that indispensable linchpin in today’s world of work or you’ll become the drone easily replace by the mechanical drone. (In fact on page 15 of Linchpin he recounts an interaction that he and I had about a year ago that drives this very point home – The Law of the Mechanical Turk) In a way Godin is also telling those would be Linchpins, the people inside organizations that do view the world differently, to rise up and make your role as a leader tangible – to make a choice.

There is no instruction manual for becoming a linchpin, although in Godin’s words, if you have a job where you wait around for someone to tell you what to do next, you’re giving up the chance to create value. There is plenty of evidence, however, that creative workers, problem solvers, those who can lead customers and inspire staff are on the path to becoming linchpins.

In true Seth fashion he has made the launch of Linchpin, as with any book he writes, a lesson in marketing. He has an uncanny knack for tying the central message of his books to the promotional tactics of his launch. Linchpin is being reviewed not by the traditional media factory, but by a thousand you and we, linchpins in our own little world. You can read more reviews and interviews on the Linchpin Squidoo lens.


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