Are you indispensable?


  • On Amazon
  • ISBN: 978-1591844099
  • My Rating: 5/10

My notes

The easier people are to replace, the less they need to be paid.

The indispensable employee – called "linchpin" by Seth Godin – is a person who's worth finding and keeping.

We give up our freedoms and responsibilities in exchange for the certainty that comes from being told what to do. People want to be told what to do because they are afraid of figuring it out for themselves.

Win by being more ordinary, more standard, and cheaper. Or win by being faster, more remarkable, and more human.

Any project, if broken down into sufficiently small, predictable parts, can be accomplished for awfully close to free.

If we can measure it, we can do it faster. If we can put it in a manual, we can outsource it. If we can outsource it, we can get it cheaper.

What happens when the world cares more about unique voices and remarkable insights than it does about cheap labor on the assembly line?

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.

If you want a job where you get to do more than follow instructions, don't be surprised if you get asked to do things they never taught you in school.

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.

They should teach only two things in school:

  1. Solve interesting problems
  2. Lead

Leading is a skill, not a gift. You're not born with it, you learn how.

It doesn't matter if you're always right. It matters that you're always moving.

Expertise gives you enough insight to reinvent what everyone else assumes is the truth.

The closer you get to the front, the more power you have over the brand.

As you get closer to perfect, it gets more and more difficult to improve, and the market values the improvements a little bit less.

A resume gives the employer everything she needs to reject you.

Projects are the new resumes.

If the game is designed for you to lose, don't play that game. Play a different one.

The top ten factors that motivate people to do their best at work:

  1. Challenge and responsibility
  2. Flexibility
  3. A stable work environment
  4. Money
  5. Professional development
  6. Peer recognition
  7. Stimulating colleagues and bosses
  8. Exciting job content
  9. Organizational culture
  10. Location and community

Only one of these is a clearly extrinsic motivator (money). The rest are either things we do for ourselves or things that we value because of who we are.

If you need to conceal your true nature to get in the door, understand that you'll probably have to conceal your true nature to keep that job.

As customers, we care about ourselves, about how we feel, about whether a product or service or play or interaction changed us for the better. Where it's made or how it's made or how difficult it was to make is sort of irrelevant.

Optimism is the most important human trait, because it allows us to evolve our ideas, to improve our situation, and to hope for a better tomorrow.

Successful people are successful for one simple reason: they think about failure differently. Successful people learn from failure, but the lesson they learn is a different one. They don't learn that they shouldn't have tried in the first place, and they don't learn that they are always right and the world is wrong and they don't learn that they are losers. They learn that the tactics they used didn't work or that the person they used them on didn't respond.

Going out of your way to find uncomfortable situations isn't natural, but it's essential.

Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you're doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they're busy hiding out in the comfortable zone.

One way to become creative is to discipline yourself to generate bad ideas. The worse the better. Do it a lot and magically you'll discover that some good ones slip through.

If you want to produce things on time and on budget, all you have to do is work until you run out of time or run out of money. Then ship.

If shipping were easy, you would have done it already.

It's difficult to be generous when you're hungry. Yet being generous keeps you from going hungry.

Fire is hot. That's what it does. If you get burned by fire, you can be annoyed at yourself, but being angry at the fire doesn't do you much good. And trying to teach the fire a lesson so it won't be hot the next time is certainly not time well spent.

If your agenda is set by someone else and it doesn't lead you where you want to go, why is it your agenda?

You can either fit in or stand out. Not both.