These inspirational tales are plucked from a Seth Godin ebook that I downloaded late last year, Insubordinate: Linchpins Everywhere You Look, Vol. 1 (the book cover for Linchpin is to the left–different book!).
If you’re not familiar with the term linchpins, Seth defines them as the people who make a difference, who ship, who do, who disrupt—in a good way. Here are three of them:
Seth’s first boss was David Seuss at Spinnaker Software, the company that created the first generation of educational computer games.
David was a linchpin because he was driven by apparent risk, which, as Seth explains, is “when you launch stuff quickly, challenge the status quo, play with packaging or pricing or distribution, and do it with abandon. It’s not actual risk, because in a fast-moving market, the risky thing to do is to play it safe.”
Because they didn’t play it safe, Spinnaker made a lot of mistakes, but they were also very successful and were constantly moving forward at a hundred miles an hour. VCs and Harvard invested $10 million in Spinnaker Software.
The takeaway: As Seth asks, if you were a VC, would you have invested in David, who was always pushing to ship, or “a calm, polite, spreadsheet-following, numbers-cruncher?”
Seth’s first business partner was Steve. They were unintentional business partners, because the tiny—and failing—college student-run business that hired them couldn’t decide if they liked Steve or Seth better, so they hired both.
Steve was not a risk-taker, but he knew “how to balance the facts and figures of reality with the upsides and options of dreams.” They ended up launching a new business every 10 days; at one point, they employed about 10 percent of the student body.
The takeaway: Don’t do what most people do, which is to use facts and numbers to create and amplify fear. Turn it around and use facts to make dreams happen.
How’s this for an impressive resume: Along with Tim O’Reilly and Dale Dougherty, Lisa Gansky co-developed the first commercial website (GNN), acquired one of the first search engines (Webcrawler), and then helped sell both to AOL back in that company’s heyday.
There’s more, but what is really impressive about Lisa, in Seth’s view, is that she so thoroughly “understands the power of connection and leadership and humanity.” During what was supposed to be a 30-minute meeting to discuss working together on a promotion, Seth and Lisa ended up spending four hours planning the first million-dollar promotion on the internet (this was in 1996 or 1997). It was a huge success.
The takeaway: Instead of treating the meeting like one more sales call, Lisa used the meeting to produce something remarkable.
“What happens when you do that over and over again?” Seth asks.
“What will you do during your next sales call?”
Image Courtesy: Seth GodinGoogle+