Seth Godin’s Akimbo: On Getting a Job

In his Akimbo podcast, Seth Godin teaches us how to adopt a posture of possibility, change the culture, and choose to make a difference. Here are my takeaways from the episode.

In this podcast, Seth discussed five fundamental changes in jobs that he has been observing. He further explained how should the employees and employers do with these changes.

The first change is portability. It used to be that we work with few companies and do mostly the same work from one organization to another under the industrialism system. While those jobs still exist in large number, an increasing number of jobs exists where we do n0t do the same thing every single day. The new jobs reward us not for following instructions but for making them up.

The second change is the new-found ability for us to show our work. Resumes used to be that tool, but a body of work has become the preferred vehicle for people to know what our capabilities are.

The third change has to do with the rise of data and metrics. Organizations measure as many things as they can, including the people who work for them. We are being monitored for productivity all the time. The measurements can help organizations identify the slackers and skilled talent.

The fourth change is the idea of outsourcing. If the outputs are similar and the financial metrics favorite it, organizations will generally choose to outsource instead of producing the same output in-house. The work that does not get outsourced is the one that requires critical decision-making and not merely following a manual.

Finally, the fifth change is the idea of slack, in terms of time and/or geography. For many organizations, we do not have to be in the same room, and remote employment is growing. It is growing because it is more efficient and less expensive.

For employing organizations, there are only two kinds of employees. The first kind is a replaceable cog. Organizations process those cog-like employees when they could hire and fire as fast and as inexpensively as they can.

The second kind of job is the linchpin job. The linchpin job requires a particular person in a unique situation, doing an extraordinary work that is hard to describe in a manual. The linchpin work usually has a significant return on investment for someone who could do it with fantastic skill and effort. These jobs are not based on our genes or our inherent talent. They are based on our attitude and our skill, and skill is something that we all can learn and display.

When we do linchpin work over time, people will come looking for us instead of us having to figure out who is hiring. If we were the singular one, the one who chooses to stand out, then we will stand out by showing our body of work.

If the work we produce is a commodity and readily available, life will not get better. If we do a job that can be done by a computer, computers are going to do that job eventually. Productivity and automation most time lead to the race to the bottom.

For us to thrive in the future, we need to choose to do the linchpin work, the one and only. We need to position ourselves in a race to the top. We can aspire to be the 10X professional. 10X professional is someone who can change the game, add a zero to the output, who can inspire others to follow, and who can solve interesting problems.

Become that special professional by demonstrating our body of work, and then maybe one day soon someone will ask us to paint our “Last Supper.”