A fellow VMware Engineer recommended a book to me recently titled “Linchpin” by Seth Godin. The book has nothing to do with VMware or virtualization but it hits home for me because it highlights a lot of topics that I find applicable to our industry. I could not ignore this as a relevant force that has somehow affected me, so i felt I had to write something up and share some thoughts. This post is a little more off paced from what I normally write about so bare with me. I think a lot of what Godin covers is present in the VMware community today, and many of you are already “Linchpins”. I reached out to Seth to get his permission to share some of his insights, if your interested in purchasing the book just click the link above. Here is the book synopsis:
There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there’s a third team, the linchpins. These people invent, lead (regardless of title), connect others, make things happen, and create order out of chaos. They figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art.
Linchpins are the essential building blocks of great organizations. Like the small piece of hardware that keeps a wheel from falling off its axle, they may not be famous but they’re indispensable. And in today’s world, they get the best jobs and the most freedom. Have you ever found a shortcut that others missed? Seen a new way to resolve a conflict? Made a connection with someone others couldn’t reach? Even once? Then you have what it takes to become indispensable, by overcoming the resistance that holds people back.
Godin believes that our society has changed and we (the U.S. in this example) are no longer living in the industrial era that our parents and grandparents grew up in. We are no longer the factory-driven-widget-producing society that we once were, in fact most of these types of positions have been outsourced to cheap labor across the globe. Going through the schooling process and obtaining a piece of paper no longer guarantees you will be promised a job for the next 30 years of your life. Competition and technology have extinguished the promise of a secure job that pays well, offers health insurance, and a great retirement package when you exit.
Sound melodramatic and doom and gloom? It’s not really. Godin goes on to explain that because our society is changing, we need to also identify this and change with it. We are not cogs in a giant industrial machine. You have a mind of your own, and have more to contribute that you might think. Working off the same rule book is no longer going to apply if you want to be considered indispensible by forward thinking companies.
The old school of thought: "”Keep your head down, follow instructions, show up on time, work hard, suck it up”.
The new school of thought: “Be remarkable, be generous, create art, make judgment calls, connect people and ideas”
Become a VMware Linchpin
Here is how Wikipedia defines Art:
Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way to affect the senses or emotions. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music, literature, film, photography, sculpture, and paintings. The meaning of art is explored in a branch of philosophy known as aesthetics.
The new school of thought talks about becoming an artist, but don’t think of art as the class you avoided in high school. Art is creating something from nothing, it’s also about creating something that invokes an emotional area in the brain for yourself and others. Many virtualization evangelists are creating something from nothing, the VMware blogosphere is one of the best examples of this today. The VMware community is alive with passionate people that are writing and creating new content daily. Have you ever stopped to examine the VMware Planet v12n blog aggregator? It’s really quite amazing the amount of new content created around this topic of virtualization. Customers stepping up, and brining their content to local VMUG’s to share their personal experiences is another great example of creating this type of art.
Twitter is now inundated with VMware virtualization metadata. Not only can you find where this virtualization data resides but you can now make connections with people that would have been impossible to make before. There are experts in every form and fashion that are now open to communicating about all things that touch virtualization. Storage experts, systems experts, networking experts, powershell experts, and perl experts are just a few that jump out. Are you looking for a specific need that might have a benefit to others around you? Pose the question and 9 times out of 10 someone will write the code and share it with the community at large.
Maybe this is something you are already doing today, maybe it’s something your not doing and will never do. That’s fine too, I’m just some guy that read a book and sharing my two cents. I will tell you that as you start to consider some of these topics and look out at the industry in general (not just VMware) you will see this change come into play more and more.
Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone. Go out of your way to make new connections. Help someone out that might not be as skilled as you. Write a blog. Sign up for a Twitter account. Stand out, create art, be noticed. It will give you a sense of accomplishment, help define yourself as an expert in your field, and even open more opportunities down the road.