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Seth Godin has written 18 bestsellers that have been translated into 35 languages

The complete list of online retailers

Bonus stuff!

or click on a title below to see the list


All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing




Free Prize Inside

The practical sequel to Purple Cow





An instant bestseller, the book that brings all of Seth's ideas together.




Meatball Sundae

Why the internet works (and doesn't) for your business. And vice versa.



Permission Marketing

The classic Named "Best Business Book" by Fortune.



Poke The Box

The latest book, Poke The Box is a call to action about the initiative you're taking - in your job or in your life, and Seth once again breaks the traditional publishing model by releasing it through The Domino Project.




Purple Cow

The worldwide bestseller. Essential reading about remarkable products and services.



Small is the New Big

A long book filled with short pieces from Fast Company and the blog. Guaranteed to make you think.



Survival is Not Enough

Seth's worst seller and personal favorite. Change. How it works (and doesn't).




The Big Moo

All for charity. Includes original work from Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Peters and Promise Phelon.



The Big Red Fez

Top 5 Amazon ebestseller for a year. All about web sites that work.




The Dip

A short book about quitting and being the best in the world. It's about life, not just marketing.




The Icarus Deception

Seth's most personal book, a look at the end of the industrial economy and what happens next.





"Book of the year," a perennial bestseller about leading, connecting and creating movements.




Unleashing the Ideavirus

More than 3,000,000 copies downloaded, perhaps the most important book to read about creating ideas that spread.



V Is For Vulnerable

A short, illustrated, kids-like book that takes the last chapter of Icarus and turns it into something worth sharing.




We Are All Weird

The end of mass and how you can succeed by delighting a niche.



Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?

The sequel to Small is the New Big. More than 600 pages of the best of Seth's blog.



THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin

All Marketers Are Liars Blog

Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 08/2003

"No one clicked on it, no one liked it..."

These two ideas are often uttered in the same sentence, but they're actually not related.

People don't click on things because they like them, or because they resonate with them, or because they change them.

They click on things because they think it will look good to their friends if they share them.

Or they click on things because it feels safe.

Or because they're bored.

Or mystified.

Or because other people are telling them to.

Think about the things you chat about over the water cooler. It might be last night's inane TV show, or last weekend's forgettable sporting event. But the things that really matter to you, resonate with you, touch you deeply--often those things are far too precious and real to be turned into an easy share or like or click.

Yes, you can architect content and sites and commerce to get a click. But you might also choose to merely make a difference.

Going to the edges

The best restaurant in Omaha doesn't serve steak. And it's not a chain.

The Kitchen Table is run by two people who care. Colin and Jessica aren't trying to copy what's come before and they're not trying to please everyone.

When they first opened, people wanted to know why everything wasn't $5. (You can get a large dinner for two for $30 here). Instead of dumbing down the menu and averaging down on quality, they went the other way. There might be other restaurants in Nebraska that serve homemade dukkah on their salads and homemade sourdough bread with their sandwiches, but I don't know of any. And I think homemade watermelon rind pickles are scarce even in New York.

It helps that the rent is (really) cheap on the big city rent scale. It helps that the two people behind the restaurant live upstairs and are willing to put their hearts into it.

Now, the place is jammed most days for lunch, and dinner is almost as busy. Now, it's an 'of course', not a crazy scheme. It's a restaurant for people like us.

The reason that this is possible now, though, is that the 'us' in "people like us do things like this," can now more easily communicate with each other. A few clicks on the magical phone in your pocket and you can find this place... if you're looking for it.

And that's the secret to thriving on the edges: Build something that people will look for, something that people will talk about, something we would miss if it were gone.

Not for everyone.

For us.

Sloppy ties

It's easy to visualize the efficiency of precise ties.

Every phone call goes through.

The marching band executes every turn, on cue. The entire band, each and every one of them.

The fabric in that sari is flawless.

Today, we're seeing more and more sloppy ties, more things created by apparently random waves than in predictable outcomes.

Maybe that email doesn't get through or that text isn't answered. Maybe the individuals you thought would spread your idea, don't. Maybe turnover increases in your organization or the provider you count on changes his policies...

But the number of connections is so great, it all works out. The haystack doesn't fall down, the nubby wool sweater doesn't ravel, the idea still spreads.

Precision ties are still magical. But we shouldn't avoid sloppy ties if they're going to get the job done. Substituting sloppy ties without sufficient mass, though, gets us nothing but disappointment. {9}


It turns out that competitive Scrabble players always arrange the letters on their rack in alphabetical order.

The reason makes sense: By ensuring consistency, the patterns appear. You've seen this before...

That same discipline works in most kinds of problem solving. Develop a method where you organize all the inputs, the assumptions and the variables in the same order. Consistently grouping what you see will make it ever more clear that you've seen something like this before.

History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

Promotion, demotion and opportunity

You can learn a new skill, today, for free.

You can take on a new task at work, right now, without asking anyone.

You can make a connection, find a flaw, contribute an insight, now.

Or not.

In a fluid system, when people are moving forward, others are falling behind.

The question, then, isn't, "when am I going to get promoted?"

No, I think the question is, "will I grab these openings to become someone who's already doing work at a higher level?"

Act 'as if'. If the people around you don't figure out what an asset you've become, someone else will.

Sometimes, you have to believe it in order to see it

In a hyper-rational world, this sounds like voodoo. Persuading ourselves in advance is no way to see the world as it is.

But what if your goal is to see the world as it could be?

It's impossible to do important innovation in any field with your arms crossed and a scowl on your face.

Missouri might be the show-me state, but I'd rather be from the follow-me state.  {12}

Bikes and cars

Bikes should give way to cars:

  • Cars are bigger
  • Cars are faster
  • Cars are powerful
  • A car can hurt a biker
  • Cities are built for commerce, and powered vehicles are the engine of commerce
  • It's inefficient for a car to slow down
  • I'm in a car, get out of my way
  • I'm on a bike, I'm afraid

Cars should give way to bikes:

  • Bikers need a break
  • Bikers are more fragile
  • Bikes aren't nearly as powerful
  • A car can hurt a biker
  • Cities are built by people, and while commerce is a side effect, the presumption that cars are the reason for a city is a bit... presumptuous
  • It's a lot of work for a bike to stop and start again
  • I'm on a bike, get out of my way
  • I'm in a car, I see you

This dichotomy is, of course, a metaphor, a Rorschach that tells each of us a lot about how we see the world. 

On feeling like a failure

Feeling like a failure has little correlation with actually failing.

There are people who have failed more times than you and I can count, who are happily continuing in their work.

There are others who have achieved more than most of us can imagine, who go to work each day feeling inadequate, behind, and yes, like failures and frauds.

These are not cases of extraordinary outliers. In fact, external data is almost useless in figuring out whether or not someone is going to adopt the narrative of being a failure.

Failure (as seen from the outside) is an event. It's a moment when the spec isn't met, when a project isn't completed as planned.

Feelings, on the other hand, are often persistent, and they are based on stories. Stories we tell ourselves as much as stories the world tells us. 

As a result, if you want to have a feeling, you'll have it. If you want to seek a thread to ravel, you will, you'll pull at it and focus on it until, in fact, you're proven right, you are a failure.

Here's the essential first step: Stop engaging with the false theory that the best way to stop feeling like a failure is to succeed.

Thinking of one's self as a failure is not the same as failing. And thus, succeeding (on this particular task) is not the antidote. In fact, if you act on this misconception, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of new evidence that you are, in fact, correct in your feelings, because you will ignore the wins and remind yourself daily of the losses.

Instead, begin with the idea that the best way to deal with a feeling is to realize that it's yours. 

Choose your impact

Is it that simple? Can you choose to make an impact?

Of course it is. You can choose to merely do your job, to meet spec and to follow someone else's path.

Or, you can dig in and transform your contribution. You can level up, taking advantage of the world-changing array of tools and connections our new economy is making available.

Access to tools is a small part of it. Mostly, it’s about taking control over where you go and what you do with your gifts.

The dislocations of our time are significant, the sinecures are disappearing, there is real stress and pain as the world changes. We can't control that, but we can control how we respond to it.

Those changes open the door for those that choose to stand up and learn to contribute. A chance to be put on the hook instead of let off of it.

The altMBA is a workshop designed to push you to see more clearly, speak more effectively and create change that lasts. It’s an intensive online group experience that works. You don’t have to travel, but you do have to be prepared to work hard.

When I set out to create this process, I decided to push it uphill. Not to make it easier or faster, but to make it more difficult, to have it take longer. Not to make it more digital and scalable, but to make it more handmade and require a smaller scale. Mostly, not to let people off the hook, but to create a process that would help a few people transform themselves.

This $3,000 workshop is for people who want to move up to leadership in their current organization, accelerate their indie projects and take control over their agenda. It’s designed to be the most significant lever for change we could create. This is our third session, and I can say with confidence that it's working.

You have far more potential than people realize. You have something to say, a mission to go on, a contribution that matters. I’d like to help you unlock that potential.

If you know someone who needs this sort of opportunity, I hope you'll share it with them.

There are {15} days left to apply. I’ll post {reminders} now and then over the next two weeks. I hope you’ll get a chance to check it out, but even if you don’t apply, go ahead and use this moment, right now, to make a choice.

Level up.


Abbey Ryan has painted a new painting every day for 8 years.

Isaac Asimov published 400 books, by typing every day.

This is post #6000 on this blog.

Writer's block is a myth, a recent invention, a cultural malady.

More important than the output, though, is the act itself. The act of doing it every day. When you commit to a practice, you will certainly have days when you don't feel like it, when you believe it's not your best work, when the muse deserts you. But, when you keep your commitment, the muse returns. When you keep your commitment, the work happens.

It doesn't matter if anyone reads it, buys it, sponsors it or shares it. It matters that you show up.

Show up, sit down and type. (Or paint). 

For less than it's worth

The only things we spend time and money on are things that we believe are worth more than they cost.

The key words of this obvious sentence are often miscalculated:

Believe, worth and cost.

Believe as in the story we tell ourselves. Believe as in the eye of the beholder. Believe as in emotion.

Worth as in what we'll trade. Worth as in our perception of its worth right now, not later. Worth as in how we remember this decision tomorrow or next year.

and Cost, as in our expectation of how much it will hurt to get it, not merely the price tag.

If people aren't buying your product, it's not because the price is too high. It's because we don't believe you enough, don't love it enough, don't care enough.

Thanks, let's write that down

One way to deal with clients, with criticism, and with feedback is to not insist on resolving it in the moment.

Taking feedback doesn't have to be the same thing as resolving feedback. 

It's tempting to challenge each bit of criticism, to explain your thinking, to justify the choices. This back and forth feels efficient, but it fails to deliver on a few fronts.

First, it makes it more difficult for the client to share her truth, to feel heard.

Second, it escalates the tension, because it's almost impossible to successfully resolve each item in real time.

If you write it down, you can accept the feedback without judgment.

And then, after it's all written down, after the feedback is received, people can change roles. You can sit on the same side of the table, colleagues in search of the best path forward.  You can rank by expense, by urgency, by importance. You can agree on timelines and mostly, say, "what do we do now?"

The 2% who misunderstand you

Sometimes, it's essential that you be completely understood. That every passenger knows where the emergency exit is, or that every employee knows how it is we do things around here.

But most of the time, if 2% of your audience doesn't get the joke, doesn't learn what you seek to teach them, doesn't understand the essence of your argument, it's not the problem you think it is.

Sure, the 2% who are underinformed can write reviews, tweet indignantly and speak up. You know what? It doesn't matter that much.

If you insist on telling everyone on the airplane precisely how to buckle their seatbelt (!), then yes, of course you're going to not only waste the time of virtually everyone, but you're going to train them not to listen to the rest of what you have to say.

If you insist on getting every single person in the room to understand every nuance of your presentation, you've just signed up to bore and alienate the very people you needed most.

When you find yourself overwriting, embracing redundancy and overwhelming people with fine print, you're probably protecting yourself against the 2%, at the expense of everyone else. (And yes, it might be 10% or even 90%.... that's okay). 

When we hold back and dumb down, we are hurting the people who need to hear from us, often in a vain attempt to satisfy a few people who might never choose to actually listen.

It's quite okay to say, "it's not for you."

More of a realist

When did being called a 'realist' start to mean that one is a pessimist?

Sometimes, people with small goals call themselves realists, and dismiss those around them as merely dreamers. I think this is backwards.

"I guess I'm more of a realist than you," actually means, "I guess I've discovered that a positive attitude, a generous posture and a bit of persistence makes things better than most people expect."

Hope isn't a strategy, but it is an awfully good tactic.

Attitude is a skill

You can learn math. French. Bowling.

You can learn Javascript, too.

But you can also learn to be more empathetic, passionate, focused, consistent, persistent and twenty-seven other attitudes. 

If you can learn to be better at something, it's a skill.

And if it's a skill, it's yours if you want it.

Which is great news, isn't it?

[PS Starting today, we’re running a seven-day email sequence to teach you about the upcoming altMBA workshop.  Find out more here.]

Industrializing, professionalizing, scaling...

You could make it into a cookie cutter, a scalable, depersonalized, committee-approved ticket to endless growth.

Or you could make it more real, more human and more personal.

What is "it"?

It is the interaction you have with your best customer. It is the way you talk to your employees. It is your safety policy, your go to market strategy, your approach to the board meeting.

If you can't figure out how to talk to one person, it doesn't really pay to scale up your efforts to talk to a thousand.

The banality of the magazine rack

Stop for a minute to consider those magazines that stack up like firewood at the doctor's office, or that beckon you from the high-priced newsstand before you get on the airplane. The celebrity/gossip/self-improvement category.

All the airbrushed pretty people, the replaceable celebrities and near celebrities. The mass-market fad diets, the conventional stories, the sameness tailored for a mass audience.

It's pretty seductive. If you can just fit in the way all these magazines are pushing you to fit in, then you'll be okay, alright, and beyond criticism. Boys and girls should act like this, dress like this, talk like this. Even the outliers are outliers in tried and true, conventional ways.

The headlines are interchangeable. So are the photos and the celebrities, the stories and the escapades and the promises.

Magazines believe they have to produce this cultural lighthouse in order to sell ads--there are advertisers that want average readers in order to sell them their average products. But this doesn't have to be you. These aren't cultural norms, they're merely a odd sub-universe, a costume party for people unwilling to find their own voice.

#WeAreAllWeird (3 contest updates)

1. You can win four books, signed by the authors, with a tweet. Rules are here. Tell us why you are not part of the lockstep masses.

2. I recently blogged about long odds (one in a quadrillion) and how hard it is to predict the future. It turns out that of the 897 people who entered my presidential bracket game, there’s only ONE contender left. Even though only two candidates have dropped out, there's already more than a 99% failure rate in predicting this future. And I think the prize is safe, because the only remaining contender has picked Christie and Bush as the next two to go.

3. Within 24 hours of recent events virtually determining the first question I surveyed, we also have an answer to the second one. Today’s the day my blog hit 500k followers on Twitter. As you can see, the crowd was off a bit on this as well. I’ve emailed the seven top entries to send them a prize.

Thanks for giving it a whirl.

Dreams and fears

Sooner or later, important action taken comes down to this.

Fear: Of being ashamed, feeling stupid, being rejected, being left out, getting hurt, being embarrassed, left alone, dying.

Dreams: Of being seen, being needed, becoming independent, relieving anxiety, becoming powerful, making someone proud, fitting in, seen as special, mattering, taken care of, loved.

Marketers put many layers atop these basic needs (horsepower, processor speed, features, pricing, testimonials, guarantees, and more) but it all comes down to dreams and fears.

Tires, coffee and people

The most important part of a race car is the tires. Good tires will always beat bad ones.

The most important part of a cup of coffee is the beans. The grinder, the machine, the barista pale in comparison to the quality of what you start with.

And the most important parts of an organization are the people you begin with. Not the systems or the policies or even the real estate. Great people make everything easier.

And yet...

And yet we spend money on 4 wheel drive instead of snow tires.

And yet we upgrade our coffee maker instead of buying from a local roaster (or roasting our own).

And mostly, we run classified ads to find the cheapest common denominator employee and spend all our time building systems to protect our customers from people who don't care...


Some simple arithmetic will show you how much time you're spending on finding the path:

[The amount of time it took you to do it last time] minus [the amount of time it will take you next time]

If you come up with something close to zero, then you're running the path, doing it consistently and spending almost no time at all finding a path. You've already found one.

On the other hand, if the first time it took you to write that novel was 8 years, and retyping it would take five days, you're spending virtually all of your time finding out where you're going, not actually typing. Which is why writing novels is more difficult than commuting to work.

A few things to consider as you develop your skills as a pathfinder:

  • If the value you create is in finding the path, are you being patient and generous with yourself as you hack your way through the weeds? You're not a typist, you're an explorer.
  • Are others significantly more efficient and productive at finding paths in your industry? If so, it probably pays to learn what they've figured out.
  • If you're not spending much time at all on pathfinding, what would happen if you did?

Lots of people run paths. Very few have the guts to find a new one.

Ad blocking

By most accounts, more and more people are automatically blocking the ads in their browser.

Of course, people have been blocking ads forever. By ignoring them.

Fifteen years ago, when I began writing about Permission Marketing, I pointed out that when ads are optional, it's only anticipated, personal and relevant ones that will pay off.

And advertisers have had fifteen years to show self restraint. They've had the chance to not secretly track people, set cookies for their own benefit, insert popunders and popovers and poparounds, and mostly, deliver us ads we actually want to see.

Alas, it was probably too much to ask. And so, in the face of a relentless race to the bottom, users are taking control, using a sledgehammer to block them all. It's not easy to develop a white list, not easy to create an ad blocker that is smart enough to merely block the selfish and annoying ads. And so, just as the default for some advertisers is, "if it's not against the law and it's cheap, do it," the new generation of ad blockers is starting from the place of, "delete all."

Ad blockers undermine a fundamental principle of media, one that goes back a hundred years: Free content in exchange for attention. The thing is, the FCC kept the ad part in check with TV, and paper costs did the same thing for magazines and newspapers. But on the web, more and more people have come to believe that the deal doesn't work, and so they're unilaterally abrogating it. They don't miss the ads, and they don't miss the snooping of their data.

This reinforces the fundamental building blocks of growth today:

  • The best marketing isn't advertising, it's a well-designed and remarkable product.
  • The best way to contact your users is by earning the privilege to contact them, over time.
  • Making products for your customers is far more efficient than finding customers for your products.
  • Horizontally spread ideas (person to person) are far more effective than top-down vertical advertising.
  • More data isn't the point. Data to serve explicit promises is the point.
  • Commodity products can't expect to easily build a profitable 'brand' with nothing but repetitive jingles and noise.
  • Media properties that celebrate their ads (like Vogue) will continue to thrive, because the best advertising is the advertising we would miss if it was gone.

Media companies have always served the master who pays the bill... the advertiser. At some point, the advertiser will wake up and choose to do business in a new way, and my guess is that the media that we all rely on will change in response. But in the meantime, it seems as though many online consumers have had enough.

Rejection-seeking as a form of hiding

When you get rejected, you're off the hook. No promises need to be kept, no vulnerability felt down the road. When you are rejected, you don't have to show up, to listen or to care.

All you have to do is make promises far bigger than people are prepared to believe about you. Or try to be accepted by people who are in no mood (or have no experience) trusting people like you or promises like this.

Seeking out ways to get rejected is a sport unto itself. It's tempting, but it's not clear that it's a productive thing to become skilled at.

Far more frightening (and more powerful) to earn a reputation instead of merely asserting one.

Serving size

In our culture, our instinct is to fill the bowl.

We get used to having a coffee that nearly reaches the rim, or a level of debt that's just below our credit limit. 

If you want to do less of something, then, get a smaller bowl. It's the simplest possible hack, but it truly works.

And if you want to do more of something, the path is just as obvious.

If you have your bank automatically siphon off $10 a week to savings, you'll discover that your checking account balance doesn't change so much.

And if you put a smaller scoop in the bin, you'll take less every time.

Often, the real problem isn't what we have, it's how big our bucket is.

When did you give up?

The bureaucracy is no longer your enemy. The bureaucracy is you.

And it's easy to blame your boss, or the dolt who set up all these systems, or the one who depersonalizes everything. The policies and the oversight and the structure almost force you to merely show up. And to leave as early as you can.

But the thing is, the next job, like the last one, is going to be like this. If this is the job you're seeking, if this is the level of responsibility you take, perhaps it's not just your boss.

How long ago did you decide to settle for this? How long ago did you start building the cocoon that insulates you from the work you do all day?

Years ago, the spark was still there. The dreams. And most of all, the willingness to take it personally.

You can take it personally again. 

Hello, London

I recently realized that I haven't been to the UK to give a public seminar in a very long time.

It looks like I may be able to remedy that situation on November 3, 2015. I have no idea how many people might want to come, though, which makes it tricky to book the right venue.

If you're interested, would you fill out this quick form for me? I'll post details of the event in a few weeks.


The patina of books and the magic thrill of a new idea

Show me your bookcase, the ideas that you've collected one by one over the years, the changes you've made in the way you see the world. Not your browser history, but the books you were willing to buy and hold and read and store and share.

Every bookshelf tells a story. You can't build one in a day or even a week... it's a lifetime of collected changes. On the shelf over there I see an Isaac Asimov collection I bought when I was 12, right next to a yet-to-be-published galley by a friend of mine. Each of them changed my life.

It's thrilling to juxtapose this look backwards with the feeling I get when a great new book arrives. It hasn't been read yet (at least not by me) and it it offers unlimited promise, new possibilities and perhaps the chance to share it with someone else after I'm done.

This week, Portfolio is publishing four new editions of books I wrote or helped publish. These are books that your friends and colleagues and competitors may have seen already, and they each offer a chance to leap, an open door to change that matters:

Anything You Want is a business book like no other. Derek Sivers built a business a different way, a human way. He did it with no investment and a series of apparently crazy principles. And they work. They worked for him and they might work for you. A brilliant book.

Read This Before Our Next Meeting was a massive success when it first came out, with more than 100,000 copies in print. It has changed the way people go to work at companies around the world.

Poke the Box is my most condensed manifesto. I wrote this book to share, and it has been shared, making it one of the most successful books Amazon ever published.

We Are All Weird is the fourth of the series, the fastest, shortest, most powerful marketing book you'll read this week. Except it's not a marketing book. It's a book about changing the world, or at least part of it. (Look for a quick Twitter contest on this book in the next few days).

These books are now available in fine bookstores. You can also find them online. I hope you'll buy a few, share them and put one or two on your bookshelf.

You can see the four new covers and get a discounted bundle right here.

What does your bookshelf say about you?

Shouting into the wind

Anything worth shouting about is worth shouting into the wind.

Because if enough people care, often enough, the word spreads, the standards change, the wind dies down. If enough people care, the culture changes.

It's easy to persuade ourselves that the right time to make change happen is when it's time. But that's never true. The right time to make it happen is before it's time. Because this is what 'making' means.

The most devastating thing we can learn about our power is how much of it we have. How much change we could make if we would only speak up first, not last. How much influence we can have if we're willing to to look someone in the eye and say, "yes." Or, "this is our problem, too." Or, "this must stop."

Yes, there's wind, there's always been wind. But that doesn't mean we should stop shouting.

HT: JimBrian, Willie, JodiJacquelineDonJohn, Jo-Ann, BrookeCaseyAllison and a thousand more...

Another chance to start over

Every day that you begin with a colleague, a partner, a customer... it might as well be a fresh start.

There's little upside in two strikes, a grudge, probation. When we give people the benefit of the doubt, we have a chance to engage with their best selves.

If someone can't earn that fresh start, by all means, make the choice not to work with them again. Ask your customer to move on, recommend someone who might serve them better.

But for everyone else, today is another chance to be great.

Will this be on the test?

The test, of course, offers nothing but downside. No extra credit, just points marked off. The test is the moment where you must conform to standards, to say what is expected of you.

Perhaps a better question is, "Will this be in the Playbill?"

The Playbill is the little program they hand out before the Broadway musical. The Playbill is all about extra credit, about putting on a show, surprising, elevating, doing something more than people hoped for.

A different part of our brain is activated when we think about what's possible as opposed to what's required.

A fly on the wall

It's easier than ever to listen in, to hear what your customers say about you, to read what your friends are posting, to eavesdrop. Keep surveying your employees, tap their phone lines, hang out in a stall in the break room...

If you try hard enough, you can hear what people are saying about you behind your back.

The thing about the fly on the wall, though, is at the end of the day, he spends a lot of time eating dung.

What people say isn't always what they mean. It's more productive to watch what they do.

How idea adoption works--The Idea Progression

I've been sharing Rogers production adoption curve for a long time, but I realize that it doesn't viscerally explain what's actually happening. Here's a better way to think about it:

The idea progressions.001

[Click to enlarge]

Different people have different mindsets when encountering various markets. Some people are eager to try new foods, but always rely on proven fashions or cars. Some people live on the edge of popular culture when it comes to lifestyle, but want to be in the back of the room when it comes to their understanding of the latest science...

Every important idea starts out on the fringe. It's not obvious, proven or readily explained. And a tiny group of people, people who like the fringe, engage with it.

Sometimes, that fringe idea begins to resonate with those around the fringe-loving. This might have been what happened to punk music at CBGB. Now it's risky, but there are more people doing it. Again, these are the kind of people who like to seek out things that are risky (but hey, not fringe, they're not crazy.)

Sometimes, more rarely, the risky idea is seen by some culture watchers as a 'new thing'. They alert their audience, the folks that want to be in on the new thing, but can't risk being wrong, so they avoid the risky.

When enough people embrace a new thing, it becomes a hot thing, and then the hot thing might go mass.

The numbers don't lie: There are more people in the mass group! There are people who only buy pop hits, who only go to restaurant chains, who only drive the most popular car. In fact, it's the decision of this group in aggregate that makes the thing they choose the big hit.

Finally, when enough people with the mass worldview accept an idea, they begin to pressure the rest of the people around them, insisting that they accept the new idea as if it's always been the right thing to do, because that's what this group seeks, the certainty of the idea that has always been true.

You can apply this cycle to Talking Heads, diet ideas, the role of various genders and races in society, precepts of organized religion, political movements, sushi, wedding practices... Things that are accepted now, things that virtually everyone believes in as universal, timeless truths, were fringe practices a century or less ago.

The mistake idea merchants make is that they bring their fringe ideas to people who don't like fringe ideas, instead of taking their time and working their way through the progression.