How to free your people, and yourself, to become indispensable

Book Review:

Critics say this is Seth Godin’s most passionate book. First, he tells you, “There are no longer any great jobs where someone else tells you precisely what to do.”

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?In his new book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, he tells how to free your people so they can become artists, which means creators of unique, compelling and substantial value.

If you can do it, “they will rise to a level you can’t even imagine. When people realize that they are not a cog in a machine, an easily replaceable commodity, they take the challenge and grow. They produce more than you pay them to, because you are paying them with something worth more than money …” People crave connection and respect.

As an individual, “You can’t become a linchpin merely because you are different. But the only way to become indispensable is to be different,” says Godin. “That’s because if you’re the same, so are plenty of other people.”

One reviewer says the chapter titled “The Resistance” is worth the price of the book. Readers are faced with all the reasons they are not as indispensable as they could and should be.

Linchpin is a most unusual, well-organized and concise book about becoming indispensable, whether you work for someone else at any level or are self-employed. But Godin’s principles can be applied to other aspects of life. Linchpins can be better spouses, friends and community members. They can be indispensable in many ways.

Godin says that if you want customers to flock to you, it’s tempting to race to the bottom of the price chart. There’s plenty of room there, but the only way to win is to race to the top. When you are more human, remarkable, faster, and connect with customers, you will win.

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin, Portfolio, 256 pages, 2010.

Can you tell a $1 from a $5 without looking?

A judge has ruled that U.S. bills discriminate against blind people. It means that the government may be forced to change the nation’s paper currency so everyone can easily distinguish one denominaton from another.

Throughout most of the world, countries produce bills in different sizes so blind people can measure one bill against another to determine each one’s value. Other options include imprinting money with Braille or adding textures.

U.S. District Judge James Robertson says the government has failed to prove that the financial burden of the change outweighs the need to make money more accessible to blind people, whose rights are protected by law. He noted that the U.S. is the only country that does not make its currency easily recognizable by those with vision problems.

Vending machine operators are against the change, saying that it would cost a great deal to have each machine altered.

Right now, some blind people fold the different denominations in different ways, but the system causes delays when they have to process change in stores.

How to build ‘sweat equity’ in your home

Save a bundle on projects
How to build ‘sweat equity’ in your home

Homeowners usually have a mental list of projects and improvements they would like to make.
Some are still in the dream stage. Others would be possible if the costs weren’t out of reach right now. There might be one or two under serious consideration, projects that would improve the value of your home.
Sweat equity is a term usually used when you help with the finishing of a new home. It works just as well for a home improvement and could save up to 75 percent of total costs.
On some projects, you can assume labor cost would be about equal to material cost. On others, labor could be up to twice material cost.
A few vacation days would give you the time you’ll need. You also need  tools. Once you have them, they can be used for other projects.
Say you want to remove a wall between the kitchen and dining room. You’ll need a circular saw to cut through wood and wallboard. You could work on a sawhorse, but a Black & Decker Workmate, $95, would be better.
A rotary cutter is a palm-size tool that uses a spinning bit to slice ceramic tile, wallboard, or laminate flooring. It can cut a notch or a  curve. Rotozip at $60 is a good choice.
For this and other projects, you may need a cordless drill and hand tools. They would include your basic hammer and three sizes of screwdrivers in both Phillips and slotted heads, and a putty knife for spackling compound.

Money troubles? Deal with creditors yourself.

It sounds easy. Debt resolution companies offer to get creditors to settle for far less than you owe. All you have to do is give them a couple of thousand dollars up front and make a reasonable monthly payment after that.

But this is what could happen:

* They make no payments on credit cards and other loans for several months, if ever. Your credit card and loan balances explode with late-payment and interest charges.

* You could be plagued with calls from creditors and collection agencies. You could be sued and your wages could be garnished.

* Your credit score plunges. Even if they manage to make a settlement for less money than you owe on an account, the arrangement makes your credit score fall even more.

* By the time you realize they have not kept their promises, you could owe thousands of dollars more than when you signed on to the plan, and they still have your up-front money.

* If you take them to court, you discover that the debt resolution company has no assets. There is no way to recover any of the money you have paid them.

Some non-profit companies do help, but a recent IRS investigation shows that many are not non-profit at all. They send their profits to an associated for-profit debt resolution company. When circumstances have put you into a difficult financial situation, you are far better off to contact creditors personally and try to make a payment schedule you can afford.