How Linchpin Turned Me Into An EntrepreneurLinchpin is an important book for me on a very personal level. I read it at a critical time during my career. I was working at a small advertising agency and felt like nothing more than a cog in a wheel. It certainly didn’t feel like my work was “art” and I certainly didn’t feel like I had the permission to do something else. I was stuck. For me, Linchpin was a wakeup call. In his book, Seth Godin outlines a few key perspectives:
- All work is art.
- The linchpin is indispensable because they ship.
- The first step is to give yourself permission.
The Business Case For Requiring Book Reports From Your TeamSo, why should you require a book report for members of your team? Well, here are five of the major benefits that our team has realized from this quirky practice.
1. It Helps Us Foster A Consistent CultureStartup culture is frequently (and mistakenly) defined by the Xbox or PlayStation in the break room. At CoSchedule, we don’t have any gaming consoles in our break room. Rather, we define ourselves by the core principles of the company:
- Maintain a Passion for Product
- Think Big
- Hold a Bias for Action
- Never Settle
- Every Customer Matters
- Trust in your Team
Company book reports create a scalable way to instill your core values across all team members.Click To Tweet
2. It Enables a Culture of ShippingOne of my favorite themes of Linchpin is the constant encouragement to ship the project that you have been working (or sitting) on. In the book, Seth outlines the force against shipping as the “lizard brain.” The lizard brain is a negative fear-monger that prevents us from reaching our potential. As a startup, however, “shipping” is literally our most important job. We have to learn how to outsmart our lizard brain and beat the fear that will keep us from starting and creating something new. New blog content, new features, new ideas in action, and crazy marketing experiments are essential to a startup's survival.
It is essential to your startup’s survival that you keep shipping. Never fear failure! #startupClick To Tweet
3. It’s A Reminder That Work Is ArtThe concept that “all work is art” is usually the hardest to accept by new team members. We’ve been taught that art is something you do with paint or musical instruments, but Seth makes the argument that human output, whatever it might be, is our art. This could be writing, customer service, code, or actually painting, but the medium doesn’t matter. The art is the delivery of your unique gift to the world.
Art is the delivery of your unique gift to the world - @garrett_moonClick To Tweet
4. It’s A Shared ExperienceAs a leader, I believe that one of my jobs is to create shared experiences for our team. Shared experience build teams, by giving everyone something in common. Knowing that every team member before you has completed the same task is valuable, and gives everyone that works with us common ground and a shared experience to lean on. This is a small but powerful team building tool. The book report process also teaches us something about our newest team members. It builds connections, and that is always a good thing.
5. It’s A TraditionThis may seem simple, but reading Linchpin and doing a book report is just a tradition around here. Justin and I have required it since we started our first company in 2010, and the tradition has stuck. Now, it is one of those things that makes CoSchedule, CoSchedule, and that’s a good thing. Do you have any traditions in your startup? If not, maybe it’s time to add a “company book report” to your on-boarding checklist.
Is a book report program right for you?“Linchpin thinking” obviously has a lot to do with our team here at CoSchedule, but I understand that it may not be right for you. Chances are, however, that some book would be a good fit. What book could your team adopt as a company read? It’s worth noting that many of these same benefits I outlined above could be accomplished at any time during your company's life cycle. Even if you’re no longer a startup, pick a book or a take a vote, and read it together as a company. Conclude this process with a verbal book report by each participant and pass the tradition down to all of your new hires. You’ll be glad you did! Maybe you already have a “company book” and you just need to add the book report portion. If so, here’s a breakdown of how we do this for our team. You can also download our pre-built worksheet that will work you through the entire book report process top to bottom.
How CoSchedule Runs Its Book Report Program
- Every team member is supplied with a complementary copy of Linchpin on day one. If they prefer a Kindle or audio version of the book, we will also provide that upon request.
- Team members are give 90 days to complete the book, but they aren’t allowed to consider it completed until performing a formal “book report” in front of the entire team. We follow up on this requirement during our mandatory 90 day review to keep everyone honest.
- Once team members are ready to give their book report, they are giving a standard format of three questions that they must answer. I’ve included these questions in the pre-built worksheet that you can download here.
- Book reports are verbal and usually last between two and five minutes during our weekly all-hands meetings. In some cases we do accept written versions of the book report as well.
- Once a book report is complete we all clap and provide a bit of encouragement to the person giving the book report. As a prize, they also get a sticker of their choice from our bag of stickers – usually well stocked with unique selections from StickerMule or other places.
This is why your company needs a book report program.Click To Tweet