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April 06, 2010

Linchpindex: The missing index for Seth Godin's "Linchpin"

Linchpin I like making indexes. I've done several books, including Groundswell. In the language of Social Technographics, I'm a Collector. So when I noticed that Seth Godin's Linchpin, a book I admire, had no index, I saw it as an opportunity. The results are at the end of this post.

In the terms Seth uses in Linchpin, this is a gift. Partly because I took a skill I had and put the results out there to help people, not to get something. Partly because I see this as a way to express myself. I'm not trying to get work as an indexer. I am trying to highlight the value indexers create.

This is not what a professional indexer would do. I know how to do that kind of index, but I thought, what the heck, let's have fun. So I included a lot more "passing references" than a typical index would. There are also some (how timely) Easter eggs in here. For example, under "jobs and industries" I listed every single job and profession and industry that Seth references. It's an amazing list, and gives you an idea of just how Seth was trying to be inclusive here, from actor to writer with everything in between. I also tried to capture every single name. You'll find some fun threesomes: Harper, Ji, and Spike Lee; Keith, Nicely Nicely, and Stephen Johnson; Julia, Monty, and Nora Roberts.

The object of a regular index is to help you find things in the book. The object of this index is, if you have the book and especially if you have read it, to help you find stuff you may remember and want to refer to. That's why there are entries for things like fear, gifts, failure, and obedience. Check what I put under "Laws."

Part of the reason I did this was to understand how Seth writes. Unlike Groundswell or my forthcoming book, Empowered, Linchpin is not neatly divided into cases, bits of insights, and concepts. Instead, he rapidly hits and weaves together themes, like a carillon player bringing bits and pieces of sound together. It doesn't make indexing easy, but it was quite revealing.

I also caught Seth's tendencies in action. There are many, many airline and airport examples; he talks about flight attendants in three places (travel much, Seth?). McDonald's is mentioned, mostly as a punching bag, in four places (I imagine because Seth hates conformity and corporate soullessness, not because he's a vegetarian). Salespeople get seven references, because he's passionate about how to sell well and how not to.

I enjoyed this -- how often do you get to study something in this way? If you read Linchpin, please accept this index and use it to get the most out of your book. If you haven't, maybe this index will help you understand what you might enjoy. You can view it or download it below.

6-page 8.5 x 11 version PDF.

12 book-size pages on Scribd


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Kudos to Josh !

Kayla Lamoreaux

Thanks so much for this - I have often wanted a way to find a specific quote and your index will help make that a lot easier.

Subscribed to your blog and looking forward to your upcoming book.

Deb J Jones


Thanks for this. For those of us who enjoyed the audio version, we don't usually get to enjoy an index, but seeing the terms cataloged is valuable, nonetheless.


P.S. Loved Groundswell (also on audio), too.

Maggie Holt

Dude, you are very cool for doing this - not just for readers but cool that you do it for yourself, too.

Ernest Prabhakar

Very cool. Thanks for doing this -- and sharing your story of "how" and "why.

I wonder what it would look like as a tag cloud...


Excellent - thanks for sharing with the crowd :-)

Jeff Korhan

Thank you. And you just picked up a new subscriber to boot!



What a practical object lesson. Brilliant illustration of what a Linchpin really is.

Marketing Speaker David Newman


This is priceless - and no, not because it's free. Great insights into the content and process of the book. Also, great callout of Seth's tendencies and how those patterns emerged in the indexing.

I totally CONSUMED the book - over 40 post-it notes and several dozen more dog-eared pages. Post-its are the big AHAs and dog-ears served (until now) as the index of stuff I wanted to go back to.

Thanks for your great work!!

-- David

Lauren Radonski

Thanks Josh!

I just subscribed to your blog yesterday and ordered Groundswell last night on Amazon. Can't wait to "marry" the ideas of Linchpin and Groundswell! :)

Michelle Barry Franco

Wow - this is brilliant! I am so excited - and grateful to you. I loved Linchpin (and Groundswell!) and I get lost in all of my notes and systems (not nearly as organized as David, above - or you, clearly) so this is truly a gift. How generous of you. Thank you.

Josh Bernoff

Thanks for all the love, people. I love researching and writing, but indexing is right up there.

Barbara A, Fuller

You are wonderful. thank you.

Ron Templeman

Well played, sir.

Jodi Kaplan

Brilliant! Thank you!!

Ed Shane

The gift accrues to the giver. The balance is in your favor. Thanks!


Josh, thank you so much for your gift. And thank you for not resting on your most excellent Groundswell laurels.


Thank ya Jesus, thank ya Josh.

The Linchpin Way

This is an awesome index. I have the book and audio book - perhaps the next project will be to marry this index to the time codes on disc 1 and disc 2?

Hey a guy can ask right?! :)

Excellent work. Come unite with other Linchpin's at The Linchpin Way!


Josh! Thanks tons for this great index. It is exactly as you note, a gift of your talent and joy.

I for one will be printing and enclosing in my copy of Linchpin.

Quite sure I won't be the only one.

Thanks again, Josh.

Jay Hepner


Hi! Strange. And funny. I've read Linchpin some minutes a day for a week nok, but didn't notice the index was missing.

Mr. Bernoff, you have an great eye for details :-)

Best regards, and have wonderful week!

Louise Karch

Thank you. Seth's work has so influenced my thinking and practice. I appreciate your your gift. L

Evan Williams

Thank you VERY much!

Chip Reese

As a full-time indexer, I certainly appreciate how the act of creating an index gives you new insights into the material. Well done, and I enjoyed the 'easter eggs'


Thank you! Very cool :)

Kristin Keffeler

A gift indeed! And your style and sense of fun shines through... thanks for giving me both a smile, and a great resource for one of my recent favorite reads!

Tyler Jorgenson

This is fantastic. You've helped turn Linchpin into even more of a resource. Thank you for your gift.


Thanks! I started reading Seth's blog several years ago, and have followed ever since. I enjoy those short, sweet, "to the point" messages. Although I haven't picked up the book yet it's on my list for Friday. Thanks so much Josh...a great gift.

Kathleen Rock

THanks so much. More than once I went to the index and it wasn't there.... you're labomba!!

Linda K

Thank you so much! Truly a gift to the rest of us. :)

Tom Bentley

"I like making indexes." That's a classic example of work that for many of us would be a tedious undertaking, but as you explain it's a pleasure for you, and a gift to us.

Cheers to your enterprise and your interesting interests! (And yes, a good index really is a gift, and one that takes a serious-but-not-serious slant is even better.)

Elizabeth H. Cottrell

Josh, you have exemplified the Linchpin spirit in this generous gift. Thank you.


Thank you so much, Josh!


You are so my new favourite person - transcendent high C genius!


This is amazing! Thank you so much for doing this.

Lynn Stevens

Thank you, and you made me think about books and indices in general in a different way. I'll put it to good use.

James Woosley

Thank you for this gift! Linchpin is my new favorite book and this makes it better--something I didn't think was possible! This is the perfect companion for the audio book as well.

I will use it often!



Grazie! Good looking out. Thank you so much.


This is a true gift. Thank you so much.

Rebecca Rodskog

thank you thank you for this! I love that you did this, for SO many reasons!


This is simply excellent! In a way this is 'updated, unique and useful'way to understand the author's view.
And like some others, I see indexing as 'tags', I wonder if there is something that could be done in that area : wordle.net + human understanding.

Pablo Edwards

Nice work. This is going to be a huge help as I look back for some of the gems still buried in this book!

John Ray

You have written a very impressive post providing highly valuable information. You have a very good feel for getting the right information out to the people through blogs. I am also very impressed with the website as a whole. Keep up the good work.

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