How to Become Indispensable: Pour Your Soul Into Whatever You Do




“Use what talents you possess, the woods will be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”  Henry van Dyke

Times are tough. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs in 2015. And it’s not just the oil and gas sector – HP, Microsoft, Caterpillar, Radioshack, JP Morgan have sent thousands people home. Last month analysts reported that this year IBM may lay off a record number in its workforce.

We all know there’s no permanency in the job market. There aren’t decades-long careers with large multi-national companies anymore. Career paths have become much more fluid.

“It’s a giant transformation that happened just in the last five or 10 years,” says Seth Godin, a bestselling author of Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? “As we have an economy that used to make money by leveraging a factory, a system, a process, to an economy now where the people who win are the ones who do stuff we didn’t expect and we didn’t ask for.”

What can help us to stay relevant? What skills can keep us afloat? How do we become indispensable?

“My super power is not being one thing, but many things,” says Annie Conn, Experience Designer at ThoughtWorks, in her insightful post My Path to a Fluid Career. “I am an example of the new fluid careerist. What’s a fluid career? It’s a way through life that leverages a collection of experiences, expertise, roles/titles and spans multiple industries. Fluid careerists navigate ambiguity and are nimble. We’re restlessly driven by curiosity, have a passionate need for excellence and aspire to self-awareness.”

What Annie says makes perfect sense to me – I know this from my own experience. When I graduated with a major in Chinese language and history back in 1993, I thought that I’d be working in an international organization working on China-related projects. Yet, my career took a completely non-linear path. I have worked in five countries in the hospitality business, government consulting, technology business development, non-profit program management and finally, non-profit fundraising.

What I’ve learned from all these life experiences is that to succeed today, you need to be flexible, continuously hone your skills, and discover new opportunities through creative thinking and entrepreneurial drive. Most of all, you should be prepared to embrace uncertainty, adapt to unusual circumstances and apply your skillset to the particular career in which you find yourself at any given time. Be a catalyst of new creative ideas and try to stay positive, because your success is in your attitude.

Quoting Godin, to be successful, you will need to become a “linchpin,” someone who can “invent, lead (regardless of title), connect others, make things happen, and create order out of chaos.” Linchpins are the people who can work with “no rule book,” people who are happy to always make their best effort to transform even mundane tasks into something remarkable.

It all comes down to simple truth – pour your soul into whatever you do. Represent your nonprofit, start-up or business in such a way that the whole world knows that you own it.

Want to test if you’re indispensable? Lolly Dascal, President and CEO of Lead from Within, gives us a hint: “Remember, the people who go around saying they’re indispensable never really are. Being indispensable doesn’t come from ego but from what others think of you as you help them succeed.”

Andrey Gidaspov is a published author, creative fundraiser, and a passionate “dot connector.” He is passionate about connecting people and ideas, creating new social ventures and helping non-profits find new funding streams. 

Follow him on Twitter (@AndreyGidaspov) and check out his blog ( for more useful tips on creativity, innovative marketing and fundraising.

 Check out Andrey’s latest e-book, Reignite Your Thinking: Kickstart Your Career By Using Brains, Intuition and Creativity


Don’t Throw Away Your Million Dollar Jackpot Ticket, or Why You Should Continue Writing on LinkedIn



In July of 2011, Sharon Duncan bought a lottery ticket at a local store in Beebe, Arkansas. She thought the ticket had no chance of winning and tossed it into a trash bin right in the store.

Turned out it was a winner! Her neighbor Sharon Jones discovered the ticket in the trash bin, and knew exactly what she had found. Ms. Jones claimed the prize money…a million dollars!

That’s just luck, you say. But is it?

Consider another “lost ticket” story. In 1976, Ron Wayne, one of the three Apple co-founders, owned a 10 percent stake in the company. However, after just 12 days Wayne decided to quit and sold his shares for…$800! In his interview with Cult of Mac Wayne said, “They (Jobs and Wozniak) were whirlwinds — it was like having a tiger by the tail. If I had stayed with Apple I probably would have wound up the richest man in the cemetery.”

Indeed, he’d be a billionaire today.

How many of us give up too easily when our chances of success seem slim?

Take LinkedIn Pulse authors. There has been a wave of changes on LinkedIn lately, some of which have made authors frustrated. I agree that LinkedIn Pulse has become less dynamic, and its algorithms are promoting a lot of cookie cutter articles while not catching all the quality articles out there. I also agree that with the growing amount of spam on LinkedIn, we are less optimistic even about communicating with new contacts.

But should we just stop writing and move to another platform? Can writing ever be easy?

No, writing is more of a lottery than a predictable sport. Ask Jack London, Emily Dickinson or Ernest Hemingway. Did they stop trying? Should we just forget about our winning ticket?

“Can one individual’s social media activities, meaningful and honest or pointless, impact a multitude of other minds significantly?” asks Milos Djukic, one of the most original writers on LinkedIn.

Comparing social media writing with the famous Butterfly Effect, he argues that every one of us can make a difference. “You are one in a million, equally unique, unrepeatable and unpredictable. A single flap of a butterfly’s wings may provoke a new Renaissance… It is your global social impact,” says Djukic.

So write to make this impact. Write, but don’t preach. Write to create positive thinking. Write to inspire. Write to make sense. Write to transform yourself.

Ray Bradbury, the king of science fiction, once said, “And what, you ask, does writing teach us? First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is a gift and a privilege, not a right.”

Or listen to the advice from Karthik Rajan, another successful LinkedIn blogger, who heard a perfect advice on writing from his mother – “Just share your experiences, trigger the reader’s curiosity and let the audience draw their own conclusions, respect them as individuals and they will in turn respect you.” And shared he did! Thanks to LinkedIn blogging, Karthik is now sharing his thoughts in his Huffington Post column. Not bad?

“It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.”
—Robert Benchley

But what should you do with all of your LinkedIn articles? What’s the ultimate goal?

For me personally, writing itself is a rewarding experience. Yet, when I started writing on LinkedIn back in May 2014, I had no idea that my 42 articles would help me find new business leads, meet inspiring social entrepreneurs and non-profits, and open many doors. Most importantly, I found a great diverse audience, fellow writers and readers, who constantly guide me and improve my writing one article at a time. Isn’t that a treasure?

There’s not one single goal in writing, because its ROI is more than just a monetary reward.

So instead of throwing your dream into a trash bin, think of compiling your articles into a non-fiction book.

This is advice that I got from Derek Sivers, a successful entrepreneur, musician and the bestselling author of Anything You Want. This book changed me. It inspired me so much that I wanted to speak with Derek and learn from him. So when I read on the book’s back cover that Derek’s “main act of public service is answering emails from strangers,” I emailed him asking whether I should write a non-fiction book based on the articles I wrote on LinkedIn. Here’s what he said:

“Yes! Absolutely. Share whatever you learned. We should all do that. It’s just the right thing to do.

Tell the tales the best you can.  Start by telling them to friends & strangers, before you write them down.  Watch feedback.

Don’t worry about it becoming an official book. First just start by making each experience into its own blog post like this:

Once the blog posts are well-received, look into making them a book.”

How about that? Want to know how to improve your LinkedIn articles before you venture into the book business?

Following Derek’s blog advice, begin by “presenting one little idea, something anyone can read in under two minutes, and shine a spotlight on it.” Watch for comments, and see if other social media channels pick up on your content.

Important – “don’t bury your brilliant idea on page 217”! “Stop the orchestra. Solo that motif. Repeat it. Let the other instruments build upon it.”

Once you’ve selected your top winners, you can plunge into the excitement of book writing. After all, you’ve got nothing to lose! Your own LinkedIn audience improved and approved your articles. And while you’re waiting to receive your first freshly minted book from a publishing house, hear out this advice on how you can actually get paid for what you write, by Jeff Haden, a ghostwriter, speaker, LinkedIn Influencer, and contributing editor for Inc. who authored over 50 non-fiction books.

But always remember your duty as a writer, which Theodora Goss said best: “If you’re a writer, your first duty, a duty you owe to yourself and your readers, and to your writing itself, is to become wonderful. To become the best writer you can possibly be.”

Isn’t that like winning the jackpot?


The Power of Authentic Email



Every day we write dozens and dozens of emails. Some are dull and boring. Others may be more engaging. On average, they all serve their purpose, and we’re fine with it – type, send, done, next!

Yet, if we only add a touch of personality to our communication, the results might surprise us. Here is an example of one authentic email message that created thousands of new customers, and over 20,000 citations on Google.

Derek Sivers, a successful entrepreneur, musician and the founder of CD Baby, an online distributor of independent music, which he built from scratch and sold for $22 million, shared how he made this happen in his bestselling book Anything You Want.

Sivers wrote how one day he decided to customize an automated email that went to every customer informing them that their CD had been shipped.

The message was standard and boring. Something like I get from Amazon all the time:

Thank you for shopping with us. You ordered XYZ product and 1 other item. We’ll send a confirmation when your items ship.

Sivers knew that this dull message did not match his company’s boutique customer-oriented image and his “personal mission to make people smile.”

In 20 minutes, “Your order has shipped today” transformed into:

Your CDs have been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CDs and polished them to make sure they were in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CDs into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved ‘Bon Voyage!’ to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Sunday, December 11th.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby.  We sure did.
Your picture is on our wall as “Customer of the Year”.  We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

Thank you once again,

Derek Sivers, President, CD Baby

Goofy? Yes? Memorable? Of course! Effective? 20,000 references say so.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you have to be funny tomorrow, or that you should never use your corporate speak!

But whether it’s your LinkedIn message, an email to your customer or a thank-you letter to your donor, the point is to take an extra step to own your message. Once you make it authentic, memorable, and creative – your reader will love you for it.