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What are you selling at work?

I’m a fan of Seth Godin — I’ve read Linchpin, Tribes, and Purple Cow.

I find the posts at his blog are often thoughtful and engaging, yet they are not the typical posts you’d come across at Farnam Street.

His blog entry today, struck me as something I wanted to share:

Your attitude is now what’s on offer, it’s what you sell. When you pass by those big office buildings and watch the young junior executives sneaking into work with a grimace on their face, it’s tempting to tell them to save everyone time and just go home.

The emotional labor of engaging with the work and increasing the energy in the room is precisely what you sell. So sell it.

Borrowing a little from Warren Buffett — Imagine you could buy 10% of one of your colleagues and their future earnings? You likely wouldn’t buy the ones with the highest IQ, but you’d search out the most effective. You gravitate towards people who are generous, go out of their way, who are both honest and competent. The people other people want to be around. Now imagine that you could short 10% of one of your workmates. Who would you short and why?

Sometimes you sell pure intellect at work. However, if you’re smart and abrasive, it’s only a matter of time before you become marginalized or forgotten by others. If you want to be in the room when the decisions are made, you need to be a catalyst, or in Seth’s words, a Linchpin.

An interesting aside — if you’re abrasive people start to fear you. If you’re at the top, or near the top in the organization and people fear you, a funny thing starts to happen. Fewer and fewer people are willing to tell you the truth. Eventually you become isolated from reality because, in the parlance of Farnam Street, you’ve shot the messenger and that’s a very important model to know.