Path to create value: Linchpin

a.k.a. Hustler, Communicator, Deal-maker, Community-builder, Connector

Linchpin is a communicator and a deal-maker whose biggest drive is growing projects and building impact by developing and managing communities, finding collaborators and followers. The term “linchpin” means the central, pivotal piece of a wheel. 

Linchpins have strong interpersonal skills, are empathic, and easily take other people’s perspectives. They enjoy expanding projects by increasing the outreach and finding potential new clients or beneficiaries of the organizations that they represent. Linchpins love people! They are usually well-connected and gifted with the ability to find the right people at the right time.

As social hubs, a linchpin often becomes the heart and soul of their community. It means so much more than just becoming visible and developing a high number of superficial contacts! Linchpins understand people and make deep, long-lasting bonds. They have their own, objective judgment of people, and can recognize their natural talents and potential. 

Therefore, they always know whom to call with any particular problem. They make projects happen, and at the same time, they also actively build their community, caring about integrity and inclusivity. No wonder that in their environment, they are perceived as indispensable (Godin, 2010). 

Linchpins are also down-to-earth and well understand today’s reality. They are aware that without some (online) buzz, even the best project will fail in the market. They understand that attracting the attention of the right audience, building a company image (or, brand) by broadcasting its values, and investing in long-lasting relations with clients through communication with them, is crucial for building successful projects. They accept today’s world as it is, and play the game. And, they are good at it!


Multiple Transferrable Skills & Mobility

Linchpins are blessed with multiple skills and talents desired in any business and any area of the industry. After all, any company needs to build a brand, strategic partnerships in the industry, and deep relations with their clients. If you can understand the clients’ needs and address them properly, you will be valued in any working environment. 

It’s not a coincidence that skilled salespeople are highly paid professionals today. Today, the massive page of emoticons and short text messages causes that many young people develop poor communication skills today—especially when it comes to communicating emotions and intentions. Therefore, in the future, the trend to appreciate strong communicators such as linchpins, and remunerate them accordingly, will likely progress even further.

This makes linchpins highly mobile in the job market. If you can develop a community in, say, the gaming industry, you would also likely become successful in developing a community in any other branch of IT—or beyond. And you will be welcome with open arms everywhere. Moreover, many of the jobs appropriate for linchpins are fully remote, which leaves you with a lot of personal freedom.

Good Command of Chaos

Let’s be real: today’s professional world is chaotic. We are overwhelmed by the amount of information and duties that flood us every day. There are multiple extenuating circumstances which cause that the outcome of our projects can never be fully guaranteed.

Linchpins are naturally good at understanding probability and finding their way in chaos. They accept the fact that one needs to talk to ten or even a hundred people before one of them will eventually decide to buy into the service or product. They also understand that every day is different. Sometimes, you a flow, and your charisma instantly infects everyone around you. And sometimes, you have a bad day at the office and nothing works the way you wish. 

Linchpins take this day-to-day variability into the equation and don’t blame themselves for these unproductive days. For them, building projects is a journey through an unknown land. Naturally, you can find yourself in a dark corner once in a while. It is also a reason why others usually enjoy working with them. Most linchpins are optimistic by nature and try to look at the positives in every situation.

Linchpins can also concentrate and find solutions in critical situations. When unforeseen circumstances happen in the projects, they don’t panic or freeze, but rather, a sudden boost of adrenaline that gives them a stimulus to think and act faster.

Good Relational Thinking

Some linchpins have analytical mind and enjoy going deep into a single problem. Yet, all linchpins are good at relational reasoning: they easily find commonalities, parallels, and synergies between projects and people, and enjoy juggling concepts and contacts looking for the next best match.

They can produce extra value in their own projects this way, but not only—their activity often leads to incubating brand new commercial and artistic ideas as well!

Creating Safety Net While Working

After a few years in business, linchpins can feel comfortable about their future perspectives. Networking is a natural part of their work, therefore, after a few years of being active in their space, they develop a safety net that carries them.

Effectively, they are never at risk of becoming jobless as they have enough contacts in the field to find a new placement any time they need it. Most other professionals don’t have such a luxury: they need to find time for networking outside their day jobs, and they are rarely as well connected as linchpins.

Hard To Replace by Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Jobs that require empathy and human interactions are one of the hardest to replace with AI—and the situation will probably stay like this for a long time to come.

AI is still poor at reproducing human emotions, reading intentions from non-verbal information, and producing humor. Therefore, one can expect that linchpins won’t lose their position in the job market at any point in the foreseeable future.

Good Understanding of Capitalism

Linchpins are down to Earth and understand that time is money. Although they invest a lot of time and energy in building relations with clients and broader audience, they also keep balance in terms of how much time and attention they are willing to spend per person. They know that building a network is an optimization problem in which you need to wisely allocate your attention. This mindset makes them extremely valuable for their employers.

They also understand that every single interaction with another person is a form of transaction—both sides need to benefit from it in some way. Therefore, linchpins don’t waste other people’s time and always make sure that they get into synergistic interactions in which one plus one becomes more than two.


It Takes Time to Build the Name

Although it is relatively easy to start a career as a linchpin if you have the right type of personality, it can take many years to build a position and a personal brand. After all, in the first few years, many people will be ahead of you in terms of the circle of influence and overall impact. 

This career is a journey—and a long one. It needs the stamina to get to the level on which you can work with the best people in the field, and develop the biggest and most exciting projects. You need to be patient and take it day by day; it is always one hand-shake at a time.

Identity Dilemma / Sense of Void

After the period of initial excitement and a few months to few years of happy career development, linchpins often fall into limbo: a deep sense of void. Namely, they feel that they don’t create anything, and that their work will leave no legacy. After all, they develop projects they didn’t originally conceptualize—they just broadcast the creators’ vision. 

They are always in the loop and connect people. However, they don’t build new products or solutions to problems. They are not innovators. Many linchpins go through this dark period before they finally take a second breath and rediscover that they are indeed essential contributors to their projects.

Overly Optimistic

In the startup culture, there are jokes about how much linchpins tend to exaggerate—especially while presenting the roadmaps and the growth plans to investors. It is often a conscious strategy intending to make an impression on the investors. It also often becomes a form of self-defense: linchpins are aware that most other startups competing for the same investments inflate their financial projections. Therefore, they feel compelled to boost the numbers as well—or otherwise, the business proposition will not look exciting enough to invest in it.

However, some linchpins are overly optimistic about the potential outcomes by nature. They imagine the future success—it is the main reason why they can persuade other people to buy into the project or use the product in the first place. Of course, this enthusiasm and optimism over the top can become deadly for the project. Therefore, linchpins function best if they have honest and rational advisors such as specialists at hand.


Linchpins can be sometimes misunderstood by their closest environment.

Namely, they can be seen as shufflers with no skill or interest in doing the “real work” in their hands.

A dad who spent the whole life working in an engineering company as an engineer might not understand a son whose daily life at work mostly concerns exchanging messages through online forums, communicating on social media, and arranging meetups.

Well, the best you can do is to explain to your relatives how hard and important your job is—some of them will understand, others won’t.

The Danger To Work Yourself To Utter Exhaustion

Unlike managers or specialists—who usually work on projects with well-defined targets and objectives, and communicate mostly with their team members during the day—linchpins effectively communicate with the whole world. For a linchpin, the job is never really finished. After all, you can always reach more potential clients and get more followers. And, there is always some other project ahead of you that gets more recognition and better business deals.

It is also often the case that they give it all to their project and after working hours, they no longer have the energy to take care of their own image. E.g., after twelve hours of intensive online promotion for the project they represent, they feel so drained that they no longer have the energy for posting anything on their private LinkedIn profile. As the proverb says, “the shoemaker’s children are ill-shod.” Therefore, linchpins are at risk of falling into this limbo in which they stand behind the success of many projects but almost no one in their field recognizes them.

Therefore, most linchpins are at the constant professional risk of burnout, need to actively schedule the time off, and make sure that they include some self-care practice in their daily life. Keeping a healthy work-life balance is difficult for all professionals today, but linchpins are exposed to more risk here as they are bombed with even more information than anyone else.


Communicator in Companies: Public Relations Expert, Salesperson

Every company needs at least one competent salesperson. And most companies develop the whole sales department hiring hundreds or even thousands of employees. Sales are the fundament of business. Sales departments offer multiple types of positions. 

If you prefer direct contact with clients, you might choose to work as a Sales Representative. If you prefer to take part in sales in a more indirect way, e.g., by building communities, you might choose to work as a person who arranges business events, represents the company at conferences in the industry, or builds a community among the clients of the company (it’s not always possible, but if the company offers, e.g., products and services attractive to young people, then it is usually possible to build a community around the products through the social media). 

Today, companies are also more and more conscious about the importance of Public Relations for their profits and prospects. One misfortunate event, such as an unhappy client whose tweets get viral or a public statement that is not in line with today’s standards concerning diversity and equality, can ruin the image of the whole company. That’s why companies also need good communicators who have a perfect understanding of the current sentiment in the market, who can communicate with the company’s audience in a professional way and with the company’s vision in mind.

(Science) Communicator, Social Media Manager

As great communicators, linchpins also often represent their employers as bloggers and/or social media representatives. They communicate the progress and innovation happening within the company or an organization that they represent. Today, not only private compare but also public institutions communicate their work with society. 

For instance, universities eagerly share the news about the recent scientific achievements of their staff and the implications of this research for society. They usually hire graduates with degrees in science for this type of work. However, even if you don’t have a degree but you have strong writing skills and exhibit a genuine interest in the subject matter, you will also have a chance of landing this type of position.


Linchpins also make good entrepreneurs. Since, as a linchpin, you understand people’s motivations in general, you will also well understand the clients’ needs and find out how to induce the desired emotions around the product that you sell to your clients. As a linchpin, you not only can speak to people, but you also know how to speak to them to earn their attention and make a long-lasting impression. And that’s exactly what the business needs to stand out and succeed. As a linchpin, you can also work independently and juggle multiple tasks and notice opportunities coming your way rather than sticking to 9-5 office jobs—which comes in handy in business. 

Of course, to build a business, you will need to reach out for help from technical minds with great attention to detail such as specialists. However, as a good linchpin, you are indispensable for your business.


Linchpins sympathize with other people and can understandably convey their message. They also have an undeniable talent for making people communicate with each other. As such, they often become successful and respected politicians.

If you observe a politician who doesn’t have strong, radical opinions and doesn’t enforce their own vision onto their political circles, but rather, focuses on supporting their party and their leaders in getting following and communicating with residents, chances are that this person is indeed a top-class linchpin.


As a linchpin, you can also develop an academic career as a politician-academic of sorts. Politicians believe that a good team becomes more than the sum of its parts and that academic research primarily means people. They believe that they don’t need to become an expert in every aspect of the project but rather, it’s better to team up with other researchers who represent compatible skills. Thus, they choose the part of the project that they feel strong at, and trust that the team members will do their parts well as well.

Politicians are sociable and don’t enjoy individual research projects. They also believe that being good with people is a value in itself that can compensate for some of their weaknesses. They enjoy combining people into teams and making deals to share the authorship so that everyone is happy. They have good judgment of people, and they are good at finding people to delegate parts of the project to. The process of organizing the team so that it functions well and achieves the desired results makes politicians the same happy as the research process itself.

Politicians are generalists and prefer to think about research projects in terms of research concepts rather than in fine-grained detail. They consciously put themselves in situations in which they interact with a lot of people, thus, they are usually also best informed about the incoming trends in science and topics worth investing effort in. They prioritize the overall impact and influence of the projects over the level of innovation and creativity necessary to pursue the project. 

Since academia is constructed in a way that outreach often decides about success, politicians naturally get far in the game. Because of their diplomatic skills, they are often chosen to discuss international collaborations and big consortium projects. Politicians are often accompanied by craftsmen-academics who make sure that the project is also realistic and well planned, and artists-academics whom politicians patron and save from problems. 

Politicians have the aura of wisdom and grace. They believe that academia is huge and there are more than enough people to collaborate with—therefore, whenever they have a conflict of interests with someone else, they simply avoid that person rather than crossing their way. Because of this ability to avoid conflicts, other people feel safe around politicians and line up to work with them.


How to Start a Career

This type of career is suitable for people who have three important qualities. Firstly, they are naturally driven by communicating with others. If contact with people gives you energy, you might be material for a linchpin. On the contrary, if after an evening spent on a business meeting, you come home feeling drained, it might be a sign that it is not a career for you.

Secondly, they like people by nature, and well understand other people’s needs and motivations. It is what makes linchpins so effective while pitching their projects. Without a healthy dose of empathy, even the most sociable person won’t make a successful linchpin.

Thirdly, they are blessed with the divisibility of attention. Namely, they can juggle tasks and concentrate on two or more activities at a time. Most linchpins are bombed with information for the whole day. They need to properly handle their working memory to grasp opportunities whenever they come. Therefore, if you are a type of person who needs to focus on one task—or otherwise, you feel disturbed—you are probably not material for a linchpin. 

The good news is that, if you represent all three of the above qualities, starting a career as a linchpin is not difficult today. Many companies need community managers or social media representatives so badly that they will likely hire you if you develop a good presence online and present yourself equally well in person. 

Getting your first job in sales is also not as challenging. In most developed countries, salespeople work in the provision-based system: they are paid low base salaries (sometimes, even minimal salaries!) and get provision from their successful sales. Therefore, for companies, it is a low risk to give a chance to a new, promising person.

How To Look for Jobs / How To Start Working

Well, to get the first job as a linchpin, you should do what linchpins do best: hustle. There is no better way than networking and asking for opportunities in person. Whenever you attend an event, you need to exchange contact information with the organizers, speakers, and co-attendees. Make sure that after every meetup, your professional network grows by at least a few new faces. 

If you don’t have a naturally strong memory for names and faces, you need to learn some mnemotechnics and work on it—after all, networking is your craft. Networking works like long-term investing. With time, more and more people will recognize what you do. And, you will be contacted—not only with the collar proposals but also with job offers.

With a plan to go this path, you should also take care of your own online image as soon as you can. Create a professional LinkedIn profile, build and update your personal website and some other profiles on social media. The choice of the best medium differs depending on the discipline of your choice—while in some areas, LinkedIn is the main scene, in others areas, Twitter, Reddit, Twitch, Medium, or other platforms take the lead.

Of course, applying for jobs through an open application process can also work well. Thousands of new job openings arrive every day. Many of these positions are fully remote, which increases your scope of possibilities.

How To Self-Manage in Daily Life

Linchpins usually don’t need any incentive to start working but rather, to stop working. You need to make sure that you do enough sports, spend time on self-care, and put a clear line between your professional and private life. 

It is also essential to self-navigate in a way that allows you to become a name in a particular branch of industry. When you are very young, you can try multiple projects on unrelated topics. However, at some point, it is better to think strategically and start choosing projects oriented at a specific sector of the market, e.g., politics, biotechnology, IT, engineering, education, press, etc. You need to make sure that you develop some main line of expertise so that other professionals recognize your name as a top expert in a particular field. 

You can start from being a jack of all trades. However, at a certain level, you will also need deep, specialized expertise. Nike would never let someone who doesn’t know anything about shoes and the modern history of the textile industry create their new ad campaign. Apple or Google would never let someone who is not tech-savvy build a community around their new app. Porsche would not trust your ability to close a sales deal if you are not a fanatic of cars. And so the list goes on.


Richard Branson

An English entrepreneur, investor, author, and philanthropist. As the head of the Virgin Group, he co-owns over 400 companies as of today. In his early days, he was starting his career in business form selling records in his own little record store. Using money earned from this little business, Branson launched the record label Virgin Records

The first-ever release for Virgin Records was the debut album by Mike Oldfield, “Tubular Bells” (1973) which has sold in 15 million copies worldwide. This is the best demonstration that Richard Branson’s biggest talent has always been spotting talents and betting on the right people. He also discovered Sex Pistols, Rolling Stones, Peter Gabriel, and many other internationally acclaimed artists. In 1980, Virgin Records went international. 

Using the money earned from the record label, Branson moved towards the airline industry, telecommunications industry, and many other fields. He authored eleven books to date, all of them about business and/or his own life.

Jordan Belfort

An American author, speaker, and former stockbroker. His memoir inspired the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013). After graduating from Biology, he was working on Wall Street as a talented stockbroker. He was charismatic, creative, bold, and a bit eccentric, which made his environment admire and respect him. He was hustling like a pro. 

Unfortunately, as he summarizes it in his memoir, at some point greed took power over passion and ambition, which led him to commit felonies for which he was eventually sentenced to 22 months in prison. But his hustling skills are still doing their magic. After getting released from prison, he is still invited to public talks and travels the world speaking about the principles for succeeding at Wall Street. He also successfully works as the leader of his own company that provides market straight line training and sales training for businesses.

Mary Kay Ash

 An American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics. Her story is quite unusual as she started her empire only after she got retired. First, she was an employee of Stanley Home Products, a brand producing home cleaning supplies. 

In 1963, irritated by the fact that she did not get promoted—on behalf of her own male trainee—she decided to retire and write a book to help women in business. However, that book suddenly turned into a business plan. In the same year, together with her husband, she launched Mary Kay Cosmetics. Unfortunately, her husband suddenly died from a heart attack just a few weeks later. In place of the diseased husband, she took her son on board and proceeded with the company. 

She started her business from organizing house parties where she was selling beauty products to her friends. She also enrolled other saleswomen on board and proceeded to expand her business. She was always making her best efforts to create close bonds with people—she even referred to her female employees as “daughters.” She also made her saleswomen make more profit per sold unit of stock than competitive companies such as Avon. No wonder that her company quickly expanded beyond America and became a worldwide success. She was also a dedicated philanthropist, advocating against domestic violence.

Martha Stewart

An American entrepreneur, author, e-commerce expert, TV presenter, and media personality. Martha is a great linchpin—and her hustling skills revealed early on. 

She started earning her first pocket money at the age of 10 by working part-time as a babysitter for three players of the New York Yankees. At 15, she began modeling—with great success. In her college years, she was hustling on a side as a model, earning $50 per hour, which was a high rate in the sixties (today, the same amount would be worth between $340 and $1,980). She learned cooking, sewing, and gardening from her parents—which became the fundament of her future empire as a lifestyle expert. 

She graduated with two majors, history and architectural history. In 1967, next to her modeling career, she started working as a stockbroker. In 1976, together with a befriended model, she started a catering business in the basement of her house. 

Her talent for cooking was noticed by Alan Mirken, the chair of the Crown Publishing Group, who invited her to write her first book, “Entertaining” (1982, ghostwritten by Elisabeth Hawes). The next books followed, along with the first TV appearances. In 1990, she became the editor-in-chief of a new magazine entitled “Martha Stewart Living.” In 2002, the magazine was selling more than 2 million copies. In 1997, she established Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, a company controlling all her ventures around television, press, and sales. In 1999, the company went public on the New York Stock Exchange. 

To this day, Stewart controls 96% voting power in the company. She also had missteps in her career, including a 5-month sentence in 2004 for insider trading on the stocks of her company. After getting released, she recovered both her company and her career, and she remains an influential figure and a role model to women until this day. In 2018, she was invited into the New Jersey Hall of Fame, an association that acknowledges residents of New Jersey who have made substantial contributions to society.

Michelle Obama

 An American lawyer and author, who served as the First Lady of the United States between 2009–2017. As a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, she started her career in the law firm Sidley Austin. Subsequently, she worked for a range of charities. She also held the position of the Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago and the vice-president for Community and External Affairs of the University of Chicago Medical Center. 

In 1992, she married Barack Obama and then campaigned on behalf of her husband throughout 2007 and 2008, including a speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. She also spoke at the Democratic conventions in 2012, 2016, and 2020. Her ability to speak, both in politics and on the mainstream media (including popular talk shows) and masterfully adjust her style to the audience contributed to her husband’s political success. 

As the First Lady, she was advocating for better public education, a healthy lifestyle, better work-life balance for women, and reducing economic inequalities. She was also a supporter of American artists. She authored the bestselling book, a memoir entitled “Becoming” (2009). To this day, she remains a role model for women.

Nelson Mandela

A South African politician, thought leader, lawyer, activist, and philanthropist, a Laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize (and more than 200 other awards). 

Since the beginning of his career, he was acting against apartheid, the political system based on racial segregation. In 1961, in collaboration with the prohibited South African Communist Party, he established the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe and led sabotage against the government. For this action, in 1962 he was sentenced and imprisoned for the next 27 years. 

In 1990, he was released from prison by President F. W. de Klerk, who granted Mandela a presidential pardon, mostly due to the pressure from international organizations. In 1994, Mandela became the first democratically elected president of South Africa (and the first black president in the history of the country at the same time).

Dale Carnegie

An American author, teacher, public speaker, self-improvement and salesmanship expert, and corporate coach. 

At the beginning of his career, he was working as a salesperson. Then, as soon as he could afford it, he moved towards his dream job: lecturing. He brought hustling to the level of art by publishing his all-time bestseller, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” He had a strong belief that to change the behavior of people around you, you should change your attitude towards them.

Zig Ziglar

An American author, speaker, and salesman. Similar to Dale Carnegie, he started his career in sales, but only to become a motivational speaker. Next to public speaking, he also wrote over thirty books. His first book, “See You at the Top,” was rejected 39 times before it was finally published. To date, the book was sold over 1.6 million copies.

Donald Trump

An American entrepreneur, author, media personality, and politician. The biggest talent of Donald Trump was always making deals and putting the right people in the right places. The talents brought him very far—eventually, to the White House. 

Before becoming the 45th president of the United States, he made a career in real estate, building and renovating hotels, casinos, and golf centers, and skyscrapers. He owned the Miss Universe brand of beauty pageants (1996-2015). He also co-produced and hosted “The Apprentice” (2003-2015) one of the most popular TV shows of all time. To date, Trump authored 19 books on business, money, and politics—most of them with the help of ghostwriters.