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Seth Godin has written 12 bestsellers that have been translated into 33 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

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Member since 08/2003

Lessons from the Eiffel Tower

  • It was designed at home, on the kitchen table...
  • by someone who didn't get their name on it
  • Never been done before, not guaranteed to get built or to work
  • It was criticized by hundreds of leading intellectuals and cultural experts
  • It wasn't supposed to last very long
  • It's designed to be an icon, it's not an accident
  • People flock to it because it's famous
  • You can sketch a recognizable version of it on a napkin

Your turn to build one. Happy Bastille Day.

Literacy (and unguided reading)

Two hundred years ago, the government of Sweden changed everything: They required all their citizens to be literate. It transformed every element of the culture and economy of Sweden, an effect that's felt to this day.

Television, of course, is a great replacement for the hard work of learning to read and write, but, if you think about it, so are autocratic governments and dogmas that eliminate choice. Unguided reading is a real threat, because unguided reading leads to uncomfortable questions.

Teach someone to read and you guarantee that they will be able to learn forever. Teach an entire culture to read and connections and innovations go through the roof.

The self-driving reset of just about everything in our cities

Self-driving cars are going to be a huge transformational disruption, and they're probably going to happen faster than most people expect.

Starting in cities, starting with car-sharing, the economics and safety implications are too big to avoid:

  • Few traffic jams--cars will have a slower top speed, but rarely stop
  • No traffic lights--cars talk to each other
  • Dramatically less pollution
  • Pedestrians are far safer, bicycling becomes fun again
  • No parking issues--the car drives away and comes back when you need it
  • Lower costs and more access for more people more often
  • Instant and efficient carpooling, since the car knows who's going where

Most of the physical world around us is organized around traditional cars. Not just roads, but the priority they get, the roadside malls, fast food restaurants, the fact that in many cities, more space is devoted to parking lots than just about anything else. It's pervasive and accepted, so much that we notice with amazement the rare places that aren't built around them.

Understand, for example, that the suburb exists because of the car, as does the big amusement park and the motel. All of them were built by people who saw the changes private mobility would cause.

The self-driving car benefits from Moore's Law, which explains that computers get dramatically cheaper over time, and Metcalfe's Law, which describes the increasing power of networks as they get bigger and more connected. Both of these laws are now at work on one of the biggest expenses and most powerful forces in our world: transportation.

Like all innovations, the death of the non-autonomous vehicle is not all upside. The car industry gets mostly commodified, jobs are shifted and distruptions occur. Privacy for teenagers, ordinary citizens and bank-robbers-making-an-escape disappears. The suburbs become even less attractive to some people. But just as you can't imagine a city scene where just about everyone isn't looking at their smart phone and swarming in the virtual cloud, it's going to be a whole new cityscape once cars retreat from their spot at the top of the attention/command chain.

One way this might happen: Certain models will be labeled as Uber-compatible (or whatever network is in place). Buy that car and with a few clicks, the car starts earning its keep. When you're at work or asleep or otherwise engaged, it moonlights and drives other folks around. The combination of security cameras in your car and rider registration pretty much guarantees that your car isn't going to come back wrecked. It's not hard to imagine organizations building fleets to profit from this (a medallion replacement) but it also becomes economically irresistible to the individual as well.

This is a bigger shift than the smart phone, and it might happen nearly as fast.

Near my house, there's a parkway that was built so that owners of private cars would have a place to go where they could drive them without endangering everyone else. I wonder how long before that's what it will be used for again.

LTL as a strategy

I confess I had to look it up.

A truck passed me on the highway and on the side, it said that they did both LTL and FTL shipments.

FTL means "full truckload." For the longest time, a full truckload was the only efficient way to ship goods around. A company would expand operations (not just trucking, but just about everything) so that it could use all of an available resource. No sense having half a shipping clerk or half a secretary or half a truck shipment--the rest was going to go to waste, so might as well use it all.

As Lisa Gansky wrote about in her seminal book the Mesh, the massive shift in data (and knowledge) produced by the net means that FTL isn't nearly the advantage over less than a truckload it used to be. Since it's so cheap and effective to coordinate activity, that extra space isn't wasted, not at all. It's shared.

Since we can share resources, expanding to use all of something (a car, a boat, a vacation home) isn't just inefficient, it's wasteful.

Now that it's cheaper and faster to share, an enormous number of new opportunities exist. Short runs, focused projects, marketing to the weird--mass is dead in more ways than we can count.

Thirty years of projects

I realized the other day that most people grow up thinking in terms of professional affiliations. "I'm going to be an accountant." "I'm going to work for General Dynamics."

Somehow, I always thought of my career as a series of projects, not jobs. Projects... things to be invented, funded and shipped. Sometimes they take on a life of their own and last, other times, they flare and fade. But projects, one after the other, mark my career. Lucky for me, the world cooperated and our entire culture shifted from one based on long-term affilitations (you know, 'jobs') to projects.

I had a two-part approach to building a career about projects. The first was to find a partner who was willing to own the lion's share of the upside in exchange for advancing resources allowing me to create the work (but always keeping equity in the project, not doing it merely for hire). Publishers are good at this, and it enabled me to bootstrap my way to scale. The second was to grow a network, technology and the confidence to be able to take on projects too big for the typical solo venture. Complicated projects, on time, is a niche that's not very crowded...

The stages of a project—being stuck, seeing an outcome, sharing a vision, being rejected, finding a home, building it, editing it, launching it, planting the seeds for growth—I'm thrilled it's a cycle I've been able to repeat hundreds of times over the years.

There's a difference between signing on to someone else's project and starting your own. The impresario mindset of initiation and improvisation are at the heart of the project. It's yours, you own it. Might as well do something you're proud of, and something that matters, because it's your gig.

Over time, the project world has changed. Thanks to digital tools, it's cheaper than ever to build and launch something based on content. Distribution is far faster and cheaper as well. We used to need a publishing partner or a partner with a platform (a record label, a media company...) to get the word out; now, in many cases, this adds time and hassle without creating sufficient benefit. Because it's easier to launch, we can spend more time focusing on what the audience wants, as opposed to merely pleasing (and pitching) the middleman. On the other hand, that makes it a lot harder to dig in and create, because there isn't that moment where someone says, "yep, I'll publish it..."

For me, the trick is not to represent the client, or the publisher, or the merchant. The trick is to represent the project, to speak up for the project, to turn it into what it needs to be. And over the years, I've found the each project gets just a little more personal than the one that came before.

The lack of a gatekeeper presents a fascinating shift, now. It used to be that the gatekeeper was somewhat of a partner, a ying to your yang, a safe way to find out something might not resonate. Now, it's so much easier to go straight to market that we need to find our own internal compass, something to replace the external one we all used to depend upon...

Here are a handful of the projects I've created and shipped over the last three decades--not my favorites, necessarily, or the biggest, but ones that indicate where I was when I was doing them. This is way more self-referential than I'm usually comfortable with, but the combination of timing and the specifics that come from the example made me think it was worth posting a chronology. Happy anniversary, and thanks for letting me create...

1984—Telarium, a huge project that started my path with a flourish. I was incredibly lucky to be given the resources to create something magical by David and Bill. A story for another day, but it took me a long time to again come close to an experience like this one.

1985—Tennis and golf on VCR, British video games on floppy disk and other Spinnaker projects. 

1986—Business Rules of Thumb, my first book. Followed by 900 rejections in a row, 30 projects dead, including The Fortune Cookie Construction Set and How to Hypnotize Your Friends and Make Them Act Like Chickens.

1987—The Select Guide to Law Firms, an ad-supported directory of fancy law firms given to the most elite law students in the country. I learned an enormous amount about direct mail, rejection and lawyers from this project. It ran for three editions and kept me in business during several really lean years.

1988—Isaac Asimov's Robots, a VCR mystery game. Siskel and Ebert gave it two thumbs up... This one was a leap in complexity, involving Doubleday, Kodak, Asimov, game designers, packaging designers, an editor, a union cast, and yes, robots. Or at least people in robot costumes.

1989—Score More Points, a series of VCR tapes that taught kids how to cheat at Nintendo games. I was certainly waiting for the web to arrive, but it hadn't, yet.

1990—Guts, an online game for Prodigy, launched. It was one of the most popular online promotions of its time, and it contained thousands of hand-built trivia questions incorporated into several different editions of the game. This was a chance to see how much content added to technology, and how it could leverage and spread ideas.

1991—The Worlds of Power series. It took me more than three years to get all the licenses I needed to launch this series of novels, each based on a video game that was popular on Nintendo. We sold more than a million of them.

1992—One day, I saw that Cliffs Notes had published a list of their most popular notes. Using the 80/20 rule as a guide, I realized that the top 30 titles probably accounted for more than 95% of their sales. Hence: Quicklit, a book that should have been incredibly popular, but wasn't. Betting that high school students would plan ahead was a bad idea. I also had the delightful opportunity to work with a giant, Walter Dean Myers, in creating a series of novels for overlooked young adults. Walter died last week, and his impact on millions of kids can't possibly be overstated.

1993—In between multi-year, complex projects, we found time to do things a bit more lighthearted. The Smiley Dictionary started as a phone call with my friend and colleague Michael Cader, was sold the next week and finished a week after that. Without a doubt, my time would have been better spent building a search engine.

[During this seven-year peak period of making over 100 books, my team and I got about a dozen rejection letters a week, or 500 a year, relentlessly, year after year. They were rejections from people who reject things for a living. I wasn't spamming people, I was submitting proposals to people who wanted to get them. This is a useful lesson for project creators...]

1994—This one stretched my philosophy of scaling up to take on bigger book projects. The original Information Please Business Almanac was almost 800 pages of densely-packed facts, advice, resources and more. Five full-time editors worked together (in my attic) and we built a desktop publishing system to collate and manage all the data we organized and presented. Too bad the web made us obsolete, because we were the easiest way to find the phone number for the Honolulu Public Library (open late!). We did this at the same time we built The Guerrilla Marketing Handbook.

1995—For more than five years, I patiently courted Stanley Kaplan (the person) about turning his iconic brand into a series of test prep books. After an arduous development process, we finally launched with five titles (the best part were the cartoons from Bizarro)...

1996—At Yoyodyne, we built an organization that excelled at inventing and launching projects. We created the first million-dollar online sweepstakes, as well as a growing series of promotions from American Express, P&G and others.

1997—The Bootstrapper's Bible was a great idea, and after a few years, I got the rights back and decided to share an abridged edition online for free.

1998—This was a peak year for project craziness, with books and online projects coming out at a feverish pace. At one point, I did project presentations in three different states in one day. I finally (and painfully) realized that entrepreneurs were different from freelancers, sold my companies and shifted gears.

1999—Permission Marketing was, after creating and launching 120 books, seen as my first 'real' book, a solo effort that was marketed the way most books are. I also started writing columns for Fast Company, a monthly launch discipline that suited my need to invent and ship.

2000—Unleashing the Ideavirus was launched, no publisher, no bookstores, no revenue. I went on to quickly create and self-publish a hardcover which became a bestseller, proving to me that the world of projects was going to be different from now on. 

2001—I spent ten hours a day, just about every day, researching and writing Survival is Not Enough

2002—The CD patents were expiring, and Sony launched SACD but forgot to produce original music in that format. I launched Zoomtone records as an experiment with some passionate and talented musicians. Alas, the high-end stereo community wasn't interested.

2003—My first TED talk, Purple Cow in a milk carton and Really Bad Powerpoint all shipped.

2004—This is the year, a decade ago, when this blog really hit its stride, and when it became clear that connecting people online was a useful and powerful platform. I launched the Bull Market ebook as well as Free Prize Inside, a book about how to make a purple cow. The book came in a cereal box, which probably gilded the lily and certainly didn't make bookstores happy. Also! As a summer project, launched, which thrives to this day.

2005—All Marketers are Liars is published, a lousy title for a really important idea. We started Squidoo as a summer project.

2006—This is Broken, a talk I gave exactly once, took months to create. I'm glad Mark filmed it.

2007—The Dip, my shortest book, with the most impact per page by far, launches.

2008—Launched Tribes, a significant shift in my writing focus. If marketing is everything that an organization does that changes perceptions, then leadership is the most important marketing tool. Doing the right thing is at least as important as knowing what the right thing is.

2009—The six month MBA. What a project, one that continues to weave a web of friends, passion and change. We sat together in my office every day for six months, and it directly led to significant shifts in thinking for all of us. Also, unrelated, mini me went to the Minnesota State Fair.

2010—Linchpin was published. This might be my book project that has had the biggest impact. Followed it up with a self-organized event in NYC and then Chicago. Once again, the world says to the project creator... go ahead, pick yourself.

2011—Started as a summer project in 2010, 2011 was devoted to launching a dozen Domino Project books. Each was a bestseller, with special editions, letterpress and experiments in design, pricing and distribution. Publishing the master, Steve Pressfield, was one of my all-time career highlights. After a year of launches, the books remain, but new work goes elsewhere.

2012—The key project of the year was my Kickstarter project, launching four books at the same time (this is not recommended). I learned a lot in closing the circle and turning the reader into the middleman. Writing, designing, marketing and trafficking the four books required most of what I've learned in thirty years. If you're considering a Kickstarter (just one book, please), I hope you'll read this first...

2013—On time, The Icarus Deception, V is for Vulnerable, Watcha Gonna Do With that Duck and the behemoth shipped. The craft of a project is sometimes daring to write a short little book about Smileys and let someone else print it, ship it, promote it and keep it in print for a decade, and sometimes it's about touching every element of the project by hand, hauling boxes, renting storage units and making sure the box got to New Zealand... Thanks to Bernadette Jiwa and Alex Miles Younger for being critical elements of this insane plan. Also, as a bonus, I worked with a fabulous team to build and launch Krypton Community College. (Here's a curriculum on shipping, the heart of the project life).

2014—My Skillshare courses on Entrepreneurship and Marketing both launched and became Skillshare's most successful. The HugDug project launched, raising money for charity: water, Acumen, Save the Children and other worthy causes.

I'll do another update in thirty years... What an opportunity each of us now has to create a project worth making.

Burning bridges

In action movies, the hero doesn't mind destroying the aircraft, road or bridge he just crossed, because it's always a one-way journey.

Retreating armies used to burn bridges as they crossed them so those in pursuit couldn't follow.

And that very mindset, the mindset of, "I am so intent on my goal that I am willing to push through this person, push through this relationship, push through this interaction, whatever it takes," is precisely how we burn our bridges.

The difference, of course, is that life is long and very few paths are only one way. You will need to come around here again.

A bridge well-crossed gets better over time. When you need to break it down to push through, you've not only hurt the person you trampled on, you've hurt your reputation.

Beware the zeitgeister

He only cares about what's trending now. The only worthy examples are this week's examples, or even better, tomorrow's examples.

The zeitgeister will interrupt a long-term strategy discussion to talk urgently about today's micro-trend instead. The zeitgeister has little or no knowledge of the foundations of his industry, merely an out-of-context understanding of today's state of the art. He's encouraged by the media, of course, because the media are in the zeitgeist business. It's easier.

The challenge, of course, is that the momentary zeitgeist always changes. That's why it's so appealing to those that surf it, because by the time it's clear that you were wrong, it's changed and now you can talk about the new thing instead.

The artist who dances on the edge

You are brave.

Such a generous soul, someone who doesn't hesitate to leap when others shrink in fear. Your work means so much to you and to the people you share it with, we can't help but be inspired at the way you make your magic.

You're a warrior in the service of joy and you never seem to stop standing up and speaking up and doing your very best work.

Sometimes, a particular audience doesn't deserve you. But that doesn't matter in the long run, because of your relentless generosity in sharing your gift.

I can't wait to see your next work, and the one after that.


How much do you trust your people to do the right thing?

Consider giving every person on your team a budget—$1000 a year? $200 an incident? and challenging them to spend the money to make things right, to create efficiency, to delight.

If the CFO freaks out, invite her to meet with each employee at the end of the year to hear how they chose to spend the money. $5 extra to park close enough to the airport to not miss a flight. Giving an unhappy customer a refund on the spot. Buying a subscription to an inexpensive web app that dramatically decreases customer service time...

At the Ritz-Carlton, every single employee (even the maintenance folks) has a budget of $2,000 per guest to make things right. On the spot, without asking.

Without a doubt, the guest is blown away by this rapid response. A caring person who, instead of saying, "I'll have to ask my supervisor," just makes it right. But even more important, I think, is the effect of trusting your people. You've already given them the keys to your brand, you've already made them the face of your organization—isn't it time to trust them enough to do the right thing?


Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding are built around many individuals coming together to make something happen.

But crowds don't make things, people do.

Terry and Sarah and Herbie, not the crowd.

When we say to a group, "everyone help me with this," it's easy to let someone else do it. And those asked can see the surplus, the wasted energy, the duplication implied with 'everyone'. If the crowd is assigned to help every person down on his luck, or to keep the city or the planet clean, well, that everyone doesn't have to be me.

Bobsourcing and Lisafunding, on the other hand, understand that a clear, 1:1:1 relationship between individual, project segment and organizer can change everything. Wikipedia thrives partly because the 5,000 core editors can each monitor certain articles. None of them are required to worry about all of Wikipedia, just their article.

One component, one person, one contribution, all urgent and necessary and vital.

When we rely on the crowd, we get deniability. The organizer doesn't have to ask anyone specificially, and the individual is easily off the hook. But sometimes, the hook is exactly what you want.

Is better possible?

The answer to this is so obvious to me that it took me a while to realize that many people are far more comfortable with 'no'.

The easiest and safest thing to do is accept what you've been 'given', to assume that you are unchangeable, and the cards you've been dealt are all that are available. When you assume this, all the responsibility for outcomes disappears, and you can relax.

When I meet people who proudly tell me that they don't read (their term) "self-help" books because they are fully set, I'm surprised. First, because all help is self help (except, perhaps, for open heart surgery and the person at the makeup counter at Bloomingdales). But even this sort of help requires that you show up for it.

Mostly, though, I'm surprised because there's just so much evidence to the contrary. Fear, once again fear, is the driving force here. If you accept the results you've gotten before, if you hold on to them tightly, then you never have to face the fear of the void, of losing what you've got, of trading in your success for your failure.

And if you want to do this to yourself, well, I guess this is your choice.

But don't do it to others. Don't do it to your kids, or your students, or your co-workers. Don't do it to the people in underprivileged neighborhoods or entire countries. Better might be difficult, better might involve overcoming unfair barriers, but better is definitely possible. And the belief that it's possible is a gift.

We owe everyone around us not just the strongest foundation we can afford to offer, but also the optimism that they can reach a little higher. To write off people because you don't think getting better is comfortable enough is sad indeed.

Better is a dream worth dreaming.

The difference between impossible and nearly impossible

Is as big as any difference we encounter. All we need is 'nearly' and we have completely transformed the problem--changing it from one to avoid to one to commit to.

Here's the hard part: having the ability to see (and to announce) the 'nearly' part. 

Almost every breakthrough comes from someone who saw nearly when no one else did.

It's called self esteem

What other people think of you is called "other-people esteem." That's a different thing altogether.

If it's better to think well of yourself, then by all means, go ahead. No need to wait for us to do it for you. Without a doubt, uncaring people can tear you down and make this more difficult, but at some point, you can make a choice.

Self esteem is something that is done to childen, but for adults, it becomes a choice.

It's up to you.

How will you choose your next project?

After you make a list, after you've exhaustively chronicled your options, will you choose: easy, cheap, proven, brave, certain, big payoff, fun, convenient, known, unknown, important, urgent, challenging...

There is no perfect answer, but knowing which way your compass points (and saying it out loud) is the best way to move forward.

The children's menu

"Here, eat this food you've eaten a hundred times before. These chicken fingers and french fries are just like what we have at home. And turn on your iPad and watch that movie you like so much..."

Of course, chicken fingers are just a symptom. If we want to insulate ourselves from new experiences, ensure that we never eat something we don't like, never engage with someone we disagree with, never have to hold two opposing ideas in our head at the same time—chicken fingers are a great way to start.

The new is a habit. It's a habit we can teach to our kids and it's a habit we can learn ourselves. 

Spend a few hours thinking and walking in that local park you've never visited. Go visit an online forum where you disagree with the worldview of those hanging out—but instead of arguing, listen. Play some opera while you're chilling out at home tonight. Try eating vegan for three days...

The children's menu is always available, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea.

References available upon request

 (and other things to leave off your resume)

Resumes are overrated.

Of course your references are available upon request. What are you going to do, refuse? 

If your references are amazing, don't offer them on request, include them. If they're not stellar, do better work and get some stellar references. Give me names and phone numbers and actual testimonies.

And that objective line? Objectives are a relatively new addition to resumes. Their original purpose was to show a big company that you had aspirations to move up the corporate ladder (their corporate ladder) in a specific direction. For a few isolated careers, this made sense.

But now, the objective line is either used as a narcissistic caption about what's in it for you (not me) to hire you ("to learn about what you do so I can quit and go do it somewhere else soon") or, far more common, as an exercise in say-nothing doublespeak that can best be summarized as blah, blah, blah.

Starting your resume with blah and ending with an obvious bit of boilerplate does no one any good.

"How was your bike ride?"

The answer has evolved over the last century...

It was great, I pushed myself and feel fabulous.

    It was okay, I came in fourth place in the race, but those other guys beat me again.

I did fine. My speed was 15.6 miles per hour, not my best average.

    Well, the computer says it was a personal best, and my heartrate approached max on the third hill.

The app says that I did that route the 159th best of everyone who has ever done it. A bust...

More information doesn't always make us happier. At some point, improvement turns into a game, something to be won or lost, completely losing the point of the project we set out to do.

It's no wonder that after a certain point, increased income doesn't usually lead to more happiness. If income becomes a game, not a means to an end, then people will distort their goals and choices in order to win. They'll cut corners, maybe even do things they're not particularly proud of, all because our culture has created a huge scoreboard, updated hourly.

The same thing is true with the quest to win the sports trophy at all costs, or to measure your office in square inches and compare it to the next guy's...

"How big was your bonus," is not the same question as, "how happy are you?" or even, "do you feel good about making a difference..."

Three marketing lessons from Broadway

Understand who it's for.

Almost all the casting, play selection and advertising done for Broadway shows is designed to appeal to tourists and to those that rarely come to the theater. After all, there are a lot more of them than there are the diehard fans who see three or four or nine shows a year. 

And so the producers focus on celebrities and popular topics. They run bus ads and reach out to hotel concierge staff. Makes sense.

Until you do the math. The math makes it clear that the people who go to the theater regularly are often the ones who fill the seats, pay the bills and spread the word. It turns out that activating people who already like you is far more productive and profitable than it is to spend time and money yelling at people who are ignoring you.

This one shift, a shift to building relationships between and among the core audience, to make plays for your audience instead of finding an audience for your plays, is the golden lesson that applies to just about every organization.

Understand the worldview of those you're trying to reach.

In this revealing article, we see SpotCo, the leading Broadway ad agency, working their way through the creation of an ad. The good news is that they were insightful enough to realize that this musical, with its lack of edginess or big stars, is going to appeal to the kind of people who have been coming to see it--older folks, mostly women, people looking for a reliable, pleasant night at the theater.

Broadway adHere's the ad they just ran. It completely misses the goal of telling a story that matches the worldview of those they're trying to reach. Instead of talking about what other people "just like me" have said, it quotes the awards it's won, but the skeptical theatregoer in this category has seen award-winning plays before, plays she hasn't liked very much. Bragging about all the awards makes perfect sense if you're trying to reach the people who have to see the plays that everyone is talking about, if you're trying to reach the buzzhounds and the completists, but that's not the worldview of this group. Worse, for the skittish ticket buyer, it doesn't tell us what the play is about.

Most of all, it fails to create a sense of urgency for those that share this worldview. In almost every non-essential situation, people are likely to choose, "later," as their response to a pitch. Why do it now if I can do it later? This group in particular, a group that doesn't need to go first, is likely to respond with 'later'. 

(PS If you end up making an ad that compromises enough that it pleases the committee you've been assigned but doesn't accomplish your real goal, I think it's better to frame that ad to hang on the wall and not waste the money actually running it).

Realize that you don't have enough ad money.

Just about every organization doesn't have enough cash to run enough ads to do what ads are best at. Overwhelming the chosen audience with a consistent, persistent message is how display ads do their job. (Absolut vodka). One ad, one time, isn't going to change much. That means that the cash-strapped ad buyer needs to obsessively focus and trim and find an arena where they can reach fewer people, more often. The New Yorker is not that place. One of the advantages of building and connecting a tribe is that you can talk to them directly, and honestly. The other advantage is that each time you show up, you don't have to pay $50,000.

Self assurance checklist for the anxious traveler

Travel has always meant possibility and change, and for some people, that means anxiety. Add to this non-refundable fares, tight connections and security theater courtesy of the TSA, and it's easy for the fun to turn into a literal nightmare.

There are people who will tell you to just get over it and enjoy travelling, but for some people, the real benefit happens if they can eliminate the things that trigger the biggest issues.

Some prophylactic measures to consider, extreme steps to transform your internal dialogue:

  1. Five days before you travel, lay out everything you intend to bring with you, all in a special section of your room. 
  2. You're not going to be checking bags (that's my dad's first law of travel), so, first, relentlessly trim what you laid out. Second, if it still won't fit in a manageable, small, wheeled bag, ship it ahead of time. Get the name of the person at the bell desk at your hotel, and ship the things you can't live without via UPS or Fedex Ground. Track them and you'll know that they've arrived before you even leave.
  3. Take a photo of everything you intend to pack, all laid out on the floor. In addition to helping you file a claim for some reason, the big bonus is that you never have to worry about whether or not you packed something, because you have a photo of everything you packed, on your phone.
  4. While you're at it, go ahead and get a duplicate of your favorite pillow. Ship it ahead. No, we're not moving in, we're not staying at this hotel forever, and no, it's not the way easygoing travelers do it. But hey, you're not an easygoing traveler, and getting a good night's sleep is worth the few dollars it's going to cost you to add a pillow to the box.
  5. Make a written checklist of everything you're going to do the day you depart. Include, for example, the phone number of the car service, checking the oven light and watering the plants. If it's written down, you don't have to keep it in your active memory so you won't forget it. And once you make the list, you can use it again and again, improving it as you go.
  6. Get your boarding pass the day before. I think every airline offers this now. Get it as a printout, not on your phone, because a printout is easy to check off and put next to your passport, more peace of mind. Print a few copies, why not?
  7. Use Yelp to find a restaurant within 4 miles of the airport. Go there for a meal a few hours before the flight is scheduled to leave. You'd feel stupid getting to the airport three hours early, but having a delicious bowl of tom yum three hours before feels just fine, and then you can completely forget about the issue of traffic.
  8. While on Yelp, check out the neighborhood where you are staying. My guess is that they have stores! Remind yourself that if you need a bobbin or a notion or even a toiletry, you'll probably have no trouble picking one up.
  9. When you park your car, put the parking ticket in your ashtray. After you lock the door, take a picture of where you parked, and email the picture to a friend. No worries about finding the car or the ticket later.
  10. You're thinking of bringing more stuff and checking it. Don't. See #2. Only bring the smallest amount of stuff with you, no giant bags to argue about fitting in the overhead and such.
  11. If you travel with people who get all uptight when they go through security, don't go through security with them. Let them go five minutes before you, and you'll have no issues.
  12. Your favorite necklace that's really hard to take off that freaks out the security machines? Leave it at home. And those boots with 100 laces? Leave all of it at home. 
  13. You know that scrum to get on the plane first? Skip it. You have very little luggage, and you can just sit there and relax. No prize for getting on first.
  14. You know that scrum to get off the plane first? Skip it. Particularly people who have trouble wrestling their bags, or racing down the aisle or who might need a wheelchair at the gate. Just let everyone else get off first while you take two minutes to check the email on your phone. No prize for getting off first.

So, there you go. For just a little extra cash and just a little extra time spent, you've eliminated fourteen of the things that get people all stressed in their rush to force reality to match their expectations (or to keep reality from matching their fears).

A bonus: Some people get peace of mind by hiring a car service to meet them at their destination. This always messes me up, because there's the hassle of figuring out where to meet the driver (upstairs? downstairs? which door?). I prefer the random access approach of finding a cab, but highly recommend you have Uber loaded and ready on your phone before you leave. It really does transform the way people travel. (Here's a free ride promo they're running for new users).

And another bonus: the now legendary wrinkle-free packing hack.

Have a good trip.

The existential crisis (and the other kind)

For some, crises are existential. The subsistence farmer, the parent without access to medical care, the person living in a makeshift shelter--this crisis might be the last one they ever encounter. Deal with this crisis or cease to exist.

As a result, crisis management became a cultural emergency, something we all focused on. High alert, drop everything, this is do or die, because if we don't get through this, it's over.

Now, of course, for those lucky enough to live in a well-off part of the world, insulated from disaster, few crises are actually this black and white—they merely feel that way.

The project might be in jeopardy, but you're not.

Don't blow it (the secret of b2b)

If you sell to businesses, you're either calling on unsuccessful companies, who are panicking and afraid and don't have a lot of resources to spend on new things...

Or you're selling to successful businesses. And in those organizations, most people walk around with a three-word mantra imprinted on their arm: Don't blow it.

Far more points are awarded to people who keep things moving and defend the status quo. If you're the gambler, the one who risked and failed, well, it's understood at many places that this isn't good, that you're at risk and off the track.

So, the story that resonates more often than not is a story that's built around those three words. 

A review sprint

How many short book reviews can we assemble in one day?

Think of a book that's influenced you or made a difference in your life and write a short review on Hugdug. Just type in the name of the book and the site will tee you up to write a few words and share them with your friends.

To get you started, here are a bunch of popular authors and their books to choose from.

It would be magnificent if 1,000 people posted a review today. I hope you'll give it a try.

Sharing a book is (almost) as good as writing one.

Cat food is for people

So is this bag of gluten-free, kale, peanutty dog treats.

And the first birthday party for the kid down the street is for her parents, not her. And the same is true for most gifts we give people (they're for us, and how we feel giving them, not for the recipient, not really). And many benefits the company offers to its employees...

It's easy to imagine that the giver is focused on the recipient at all times. But, more often than not, the way the gift makes us feel to give is at least as important as how it makes the other person (or pet, or infant) feel to receive it.

PS if you think cat food is for cats, how come it doesn't come in mouse flavor?

The handyman, the genius and the mad scientist

The handyman brings attention to detail and craftsmanship to the jobs that need to be done. Difficult to live without, but a household name, not a famous name.

The genius, Thomas Edison, relentlessly tries one approach after another until the elusive solution is found.

And the mad scientist, Tesla or Jobs, is idiosyncratic and apparently irrational—until the magic appears.

Who do you need?

Who are you?

Can we talk about process first?

It's so tempting to get straight to the issue, especially since you're certain that you're right. 

The challenge is that organizations and relationships that thrive are built to go beyond this one discussion. They are built for the long haul, and this particular issue, while important, isn't as vital as our ability to work together on the next hundred issues.

So yes, you're probably right, and yes, it's urgent, but if we can't agree on a process to talk about this, we're not going to get anywhere, not for long.

If the process we've used in the past is broken, let's fix it, because, in fact, getting that process right is actually more urgent than the problem we've got right now. Our meta-conversation pays significant dividends. At the very least, it gets us working together on the same side of a problem before we have to be on opposite sides of the issue of the day.