“You have brilliance in you, your contribution is valuable, and the art you create is precious. Only you can do it, and you must. I’m hoping you’ll stand up and choose to make a difference.”

“It’s futile to work hard at restoring the take-care-of-you bargain. The bargain is gone, and it’s not worth whining about and it’s not effective to complain. There’s a new bargain now, one that leverages talent and creativity and art more than it rewards obedience.”

“You’re free to contribute.”

“…one of the most difficult types of emotional labor is staring into the abyss of choice and picking a path.”

“But your job is also a platform for generosity, for expression, for art.”

“She solves problems that people haven’t predicted, sees things people haven’t seen, and connects people who need to be connected.”

“If you can’t be remarkable, perhaps you should consider doing nothing until you can.”

“The world wants you (needs you) to bring your genius self to work.”

Early-Reader Tribe

I was one of 3,000 people who took Seth Godin up on his offer to get an early copy of his new book, Linchpin. In exchange for donating $30 to Acumen Fund, we got to join a tribe of early-readers. We were invited to be a part of the early conversation – to Contribute our thoughts on his book even before it was shared with the press.

I never read a non-fiction book from the beginning through to the end. I have tried, but it just doesn’t stick. I open the book and read some pages until my interest shifts from the topics being covered – then I thumb to another section of the book and begin anew with that topic area. So, that’s sort of how I read the first half of Seth Godin’s Linchpin book, except that I never moved to another section because I lost interest. I got to a new section simply because I was interrupted in reading and I picked up again in a new spot.

I Can’t Wait to Tell You About It

I’ve read approximately half of Linchpin. I am writing about it now because there is so much I want to say that putting it all into one blog post when I “finish” the book (I can’t imagine finishing Linchpin, really – it’s a major re-read kind of book) seems overwhelming. Plus, I’m too excited to talk about it to wait that long.

Seth Godin writes just like he blogs. He is him. I dig that. It’s familiar and authentic. I love how he uses headings that may or may not totally relate to the one ahead of it. There are no real transitions from topic to topic, but it flows like a conversation might. It builds on itself without assuming that I need all of the extra language between topics in order to follow. Linchpin assumes I’m smart. I like that. And still, the topics are gathered into chapters that make sense and they interplay just right.

So far, I think Seth is telling me to get out there and be a Brazen Soul – for real, all the way, right now. Of course, he doesn’t use the words “brazen soul” – but the spirit is the same. He takes it a necessary step further, though. He tells me how.

Your Brilliance and Your Lizard Brain

If you read those quotes above at the start of this post, which I took from my crazy-everywhere-excited notes I wrote in the book as I was reading, you’ll get the gist of Seth’s message in the first 75 or so pages of Linchpin. Those are direct quotes from the book. (He says way more – with tons of useful examples – so you really have to read it to get the whole powerful shebang, but these snippets are a good intro.) He’s saying what he says in his blog all the time – Bring Your Brilliance. It’s time. It’s needed and wanted. It’s the only way now anyway.

Art & Brilliance

He takes it further, with a gorgeous “art” theme throughout (art in the human sense). He gives examples that vary from huge entrepreneurs like Sir Richard Branson to David, the coffee-shop guy at Dean & Deluca. But not in the “smile and have a great attitude and your whole life will change” way that you’ve seen tons of in positive psychology or wherever I keep seeing that advice. He takes that “have a great attitude” advice to the level of art, and it’s inspiring.

The Lizard Brain

I guess I’m not really a fan of lizards so I it was a bit difficult at first having a lizard represent my thinking. But somehow, I can get there in the Linchpin analogy. There is this kind of sneaky, quick, slightly snide look that I picture on a lizards face (sorry all you lizard fans) that works to represent all of the negative crap we say to ourselves that gets in our way. It actually helps me a lot to have this powerful visual when I notice my negative thinking getting in the way of my brilliance. I also notice that giving my negative thinking a name makes it easier to label it and set it aside. Now, if only my sneaky lizard brain wouldn’t so cleverly try to rename my lizard-brain-thinking something else, like logic or realism or consciousness. I’m onto it, though.

I’m a huge Seth Godin fan already. He genuinely adds value to my life and my business through his blog. I implement his ideas often – and I set others aside for the right time as well. I’ll be using this book for reference and inspiration a lot – for a long time.

I read many business, personal growth, and human potential books. Seth Godin was a marketer before, and he still is a (brilliant) marketer, but the essence has changed. He is marketing freedom, Contribution and brilliance in this book. This is a manifesto for your own big, bold life and a manifesto for more greatness in the world.

I’m totally digging Linchpin. I’ll be back to report thoughts on the second half soon.

Linchpin officially comes out January 26, 2010.