Curiosity Matters

An Exploration of Branding, Design and Cultural Trends

Seth Godin's "Linchpin"

Just came across an interview with Seth Godin in here about his new book, Linchpin. Looks like I'll probably pick up the book. I don't think what his thoughts about creativity being the salvation to the working man is totally revolutionary. "Thought leaders" have been saying for some time that in order to get ahead in the age of technology, outsourcing, etc. one must think creativity and break free from following the crowds. Even my alma matar tag line is "Creative Thought Matters," jumping off of that very idea.

"A linchpin makes a difference, changes people, does something that needed to be done that no one else knew needed to be done. So Pablo Picasso was a linchpin, Bob Dylan is a linchpin, and Jonathan Ive at Apple is a linchpin. Donna Sturgess, the woman who invented Aquafresh toothpaste, is a linchpin—they’re in most successful organizations."

But what Seth touches on, and I think is a new thought, is the idea that when you create these unique ideas, you're essentially giving people a "gift." Which goes back to the questions of my portraiture class and the whole idea of creating art in the first place. Is a successful artist one whose art is no longer simply an expression of themselves, but who inspires and enlightens others? Can we do a side by side comparison of a "good" photographic portrait vs. "bad" and see that the good one offers insight, gives us a gift?

You encourage people to "start giving gifts that change people," which seems like a huge shift in thinking, almost bordering on spiritual.
Well, let's start by breaking this into little bits. What’s a gift? If I see a Chuck Close painting in a museum, I didn’t pay for that painting, I just get the benefit of seeing it. If I see a Karl Lagerfeld outfit walking down the street, it didn’t cost me anything to see it. If someone takes the time to use a beautiful Bodoni typeface kerned properly, it doesn’t necessarily communicate the words more clearly, but there was a gift element associated with it. We need to start with this idea that there isn’t just a transaction every time—I do something, I get money, we move on. What gifts do is they create a connection, because they’re not even. Someone gave me something, I couldn’t give them anything in return. We're not even-steven.

Naturally, just some thoughts to ponder.