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SETH'S BOOKS

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

All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

free.prize.inside

Free Prize Inside

The practical sequel to Purple Cow

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IN STORES:

linchpin

Linchpin

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

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IN STORES:

meatball.sundae

Meatball Sundae

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

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IN STORES:

permission.marketing

Permission Marketing

The classic Named "Best Business Book" by Fortune.

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poke.the.box

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.

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IN STORES:

purple.cow

Purple Cow

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

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small.is.the.new.big

Small is the New Big

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

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survival.is.not.enough

Survival is Not Enough

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

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the.big.moo

The Big Moo

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

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the.big.red.fez

The Big Red Fez

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

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IN STORES:

the.dip

The Dip

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

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the.icarus.deception

The Icarus Deception

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

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tribes

Tribes

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

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unleashing.the.ideavirus

Unleashing the Ideavirus

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

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v.is.for.vulnerable

V Is For Vulnerable

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

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we.are.all.weird

We Are All Weird

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

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whatcha.gonna.do.with.that.duck

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.

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THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin




All Marketers Are Liars Blog




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Member since 08/2003

(re)Radical

At the congregation down the street, they're doing things the way they've done them for the last few hundred years. Every week, people come, attracted by familiarity, by the family and friends around them, part of a tribe.

And just past that building is another one, a different tribe, where the tradition is more than a thousand years old.

This is not so different from that big company that used to be an internet startup, but all the original team members have long left the building. Work tomorrow has a lot in common with work yesterday, and the safety of it all is comforting.

Che, Jefferson, Edison, Ford... most of these radicals would not recognize the institutions that have been built over time.

The question each of us has to answer about the institution we care about is: Does this place exist to maintain and perpetuate the status quo, or am I here to do the work that the radical founder had in mind when we started?

First principles. The quest for growth, or for change, or for justice. The ability, perhaps the desire, to seek out things that feel risky.

All of us are part of organizations that were started by outliers, by radicals, by people who cared more about making a difference than fitting in.

The angry teenager (your customer?, your boss?)

You’ve probably met one. You might have a boss who is one, or customers who act that way. Someone doesn’t have to be in high school to act like a teenager. (Teenagers are supposed to act like that, it's their job. When adults act like this, though, it can get really ugly.)

The angry teenager believes that rage is always justified. He rejects the rational approach, replacing it with hot flashes of belief instead. Facts matter little when they can so easily be replaced by emotion. The angry teenager doesn’t want to talk through an issue, he just wants to yell about it. He doesn’t care so much about solving a problem as he does bathing in it, embracing it and wallowing in self-pity (loudly).

Show an angry teenager a way to grow and he’ll head the other direction, cursing you for rejecting his anger. Ask an angry teenager to rationally explain his proposed solution and he’ll hate you for wanting practical steps. Laugh at the unreasonableness of his demands and he’ll get angrier still, because being laughed at is his greatest fear.

It’s really easy to find an angry mob, really easy to embrace the momentary power that comes from harnessing the fear and disillusionment and angst of the disenfranchised. The challenge is that the mob is impatient and impractical and afraid. It's not a scalable way to get things done.

We all have to deal with angry teenagers now and then. It’s not fun or even productive, but if you’re smart and patient, you can outlast them. Picking a fight isn’t a practical solution, of course, because they’re better at fighting than you are.

Whatever you do, though, don’t let an angry teenager be in charge. 

Discovery fatigue

When Napster first hit the scene, people listened to as many different songs as they could. It was a feast of music discovery, fueled by access and curiosity.

Now, the typical Spotify user listens to music inside a smaller comfort zone.

When blogs were fresh and new, we subscribed to them by the hundreds, exploring, learning and seeking more. Over time, many people stopped following the outbound links.

When Twitter was new, just about anything seemed worthy of a retweet. Not so much for many people today. And podcasts are already starting to fill people up, making us feel like we don't have the time to listen to more.

We come up with all sorts of excuses about our fatigue, most of them have to do with the fact that there's nothing good on, nothing new happening, or we're just too busy. I don't think those hold water...

I think there are actually three reasons:

First, once you're busy with what you've got, it diminishes the desire to get more.

Second, discovery is exhausting. Putting on a new pair of glasses, seeing the world or hearing the world or understanding the world in a new way is a lot more work than merely cruising through a typical day.

And third, infinity is daunting. A birdwatcher might be inspired to keep seeking out new birds, because she knows she's almost got them all. But the infinity of choice that the connection economy brings with it is enough to push some people to artificially limit all that input.

I think it's way too early to announce to ourselves that we've read the internet and we're done.

The naked corn paradox

Sometimes, the thing that's done to market something makes it worse.

And so, the corn at the local supermarket is already husked, because it looks better, sells better but tastes worse.

And stereo speakers are designed with extra bass, so they'll demo better, sell better but sound worse.

The market isn't always 'right', if right means that it knows how to get what it wants in the long run. Too often, we are confused, or misled, or part of a herd headed in the wrong direction.

It's almost impossible to bring the mass market to its senses, to insist that you know better. What you can do, though, is find discerning and alert individuals who will take the time to understand. And then, if you're good and patient and lucky, they'll tell the others.

Which is why, over the last thirty years, farmers markets and other entities have slowly grown in influence. Because happy customers tell stories about remarkable products and services.

When you see the corn paradox, label it and act accordingly. Tell stories for the few, help them to spread.

PS Shawn Coyne's book about editing your stories is just out. A keeper.

I didn't see it because I wasn't looking

My friend Alan came over to dinner the other night. Unbeknownst to me, he had a few plastic scorpions in his pocket (a reminder of a recent adventure).

I saw a plastic scorpion on the bowl of nuts, but I didn't see it, I just moved it aside and went ahead preparing dinner. A few minutes later, I saw a second plastic scorpion on the counter, but again, I didn't actually see it, didn't pause or consider it, I just moved on. It took until the third plastic scorpion before I said, "huh."

This is one reason we feel the need to yell 'surprise' at a surprise party. Because we all have blinders on.

The people who are the very best at noticing what's happening notice it because they're looking.

"You can see a lot just by looking."

Good design (and serial numbers)

Bosch puts the serial number for its dishwashers on the side of the door, not the top. Which means that 50% of the time, if the device is mounted in a corner, it's impossible to see the serial number.

Most companies use 0 and o and O in their serial numbers, as well as 1 and I. If they used nothing but letters, words in fact, there'd be no confusion. Make a list of 1000 short words, use each word twice and you have a million numbers. FISHY-LASSO, for example. Easy to remember, hard to screw up.

And there might be a reason to use really small type, but it's hard for me to understand why.

Of course, serial numbers are merely a symptom. I'm not particularly ranting about them. Design is about function. Everything we do has a job, and if it's designed properly, the job will get done well.

When we think about what might go wrong, we're more likely to design something that goes right. 

[PS just found out about 3 words]

Product adoption: different problems for different folks

The product adoption cycle is one of the most essential things to understand when you seek to launch a product or service, or make any sort of cultural change. Different people sign up for new ideas at different rates.

DiffusionOfInnovation

Some farmers, for example, are eager to try a new type of seed or irrigation device. Some farmers will wait years, or a generation, to try the same thing. Some people start the video going viral, some are the very last to see it.

What distinguishes these people? It's worth noting that someone who might be an innovator at work might choose to be a laggard at home.

It turns out that the key is in the way they present themselves with problems. "I have a problem: I don't have the new cell phone," is a concern of the Innovator. On the other hand, the Early Majority says, "I have a problem, all my friends have a new cell phone and I don't."

Note that few say, "The device I have doesn't have the right features." That's because features don't create problems that we can solve by embracing a new idea or technology. Our stories do. A missing feature might provide some of the narrative of our internal story, but most of all, the story is built around the behavior of those around us.

If you want a population to adopt your innovation, you have to create a problem that is solved by adoption. And that problem is almost always related to, "what about the others?"

To overcome an irrational fear...

replace it with a habit.

If you're afraid to write, write a little, every day. Start with an anonymous blog, start with a sentence. Every day, drip, drip, drip, a habit.

If you're afraid to speak up, speak up a little, every day. Not to the board of directors, but to someone. A little bit, every day.

Habits are more powerful than fears. 

Terroir

You can taste it.

Heinz ketchup has no terroir. It always tastes like everywhere and nowhere and the same. A Dijon mustard from a small producer in France, though, you can taste where it came from. Foodies seek out this distinction in handcrafted chocolate or wine or just about anything where the land and environment are thought to matter.

But we can extend the idea to you, to your work, to the thing you're building.

Visit the City Bakery in New York. Every square inch contains the DNA of the whole place. The planking of the floor. The sound as you sit on the balcony. The parade of people coming in and out. The staff. It's not like anyplace else. It's not like everyplace else. It's like the City Bakery.

Consistent doesn't mean, "like everybody else." Consistent in this case means, "like yourself." If we took just one drop of your work and your reputation and the trail you leave behind, could we reconstruct the rest of it?

The pressure on each of us to fit in, to industrialize, to be more like Heinz--it's huge. But to do so is to lose the essence of what we make.

Reckless abandon (is neither)

It's not reckless, because when we leap, when we dive in, when we begin, only begin, we bring our true nature to the project, we make it personal and urgent.

And it's not abandon, not in the sense that we've abandoned our senses or our responsibility. In fact, abandoning the fear of fear that is holding us back is the single best way not to abandon the work, the pure execution of the work.

Later, there's time to backpedal and water down. But right now, reckless please.

Thanks

In just two days, my new course for freelancers is the fastest-growing one of its kind in Udemy's history. I'm thrilled to see that so many of my readers are eager to dig in and make a difference.

The course has already transformed the work of thousands of people.

The half-price discount expires soon, and this will be my last post about it. I hope it resonates with you, and thanks again for leaping.

People are real, but the crowd disappoints

Every crowd, sooner or later, will let you down.

The crowd contains a shoplifter, or a heckler, or an anonymous boor who leaves a snarky comment.

The crowd loses interest, the crowd denigrates the work, the crowd isn't serious.

Worst of all, sometimes the crowd turns into a mob, out of control and bloodthirsty.

But people, people are real.

People will look you in the eye.

People will keep their promises. People can grow, can change, can be generous.

When in doubt, ignore the crowd (and forgive them). When possible, look for people instead.

Scale is overrated, again and again.

Demand higher standards

On a long flight a little while ago, I saw two couples watch movies while they let their six kids run around like maniacs from take off to touchdown. A seven-year old actually punched me. (I didn't return the punch).

A few days later, I saw the now-typical sight of kids in a decent restaurant eating french fries and chicken fingers while watching a movie on a tablet.

And it's entirely possible you have a boss that lets you do mediocre work, precisely whenever you feel like it.

I wish those kids had said, "Mom, Dad, raise your standards for me. I deserve it."

And the sooner you find a boss who pushes you right to the edge of your ability to be excellent, the better.

Even if the boss is you.

The freelancer course is here

Each of us gets to choose the sort of freelance work we will do.

This is a profound freedom, and one that we often ignore, wasting the opportunity.

To provoke you to take advantage of this moment, my new course for freelancers is now available on Udemy.

In this online, video-based class, I'm daring you to get paid what you're worth and to find a platform where you can do your best work.

When you move up the ladder, step by step, the work gets more rewarding. We each start as a replaceable cog, open to taking whatever is offered. With focus and effort, though, you can go all the way to becoming a remarkable creator with few substitutes. Along the way, you will gain respect, income and freedom.

This is the course I wish I had taken thirty years ago.

If you work on your own, either full time or part time, this mindset of moving up the ladder will fundamentally change your work.

Through the end of April, readers of this blog get a significant discount from Udemy by using the coupon code MOVEUP. Please go ahead and share this automatic link with your colleagues. The course comes with a money-back guarantee.

[Also: Over the last six months, I've been building two courses. This is the first one. In a few weeks, I'll be telling you about the other, which is dramatically different. It's aimed at a far smaller audience, requires a bigger investment and is delivered in a totally different format.] 

Freelancers, this is our chance to move up.

The difference between mass and banality

Something doesn't have to be trite and dreadful to be popular, but often, popular things get this way.

In the 1980s, most of the cars made by General Motors were mediocre, unmemorable and poorly designed. They were also quite popular. By racing to the bottom, GM defended market share but ended up crippling themselves for generations.

Hot Wheels, Spaldinis and the original Monopoly game are classic toys, Platonic ideals of good design and idiosyncratic thought. On the other hand, the hyped toys of the moment fade away fast, because they're designed to shortcut straight to the lowest common denominator of the moment, not to earn their way up the ladder of mass.

Just because bad design and popularity sometimes go hand in hand doesn't mean they're inextricably linked.

The culture of compromise is often accepted as the price of mass. But in fact, this is the crowded road to popular acceptance, and it works far less often than the compromisers believe it will.

Seen, heard, gotten, changed

Most of the news/advice/insight you run into is merely seen. You might acknowledge that something is happening, that something might work, that a new technique is surfacing.

Sometimes, if you work at it, you actually hear what's being said. You engage with the idea and actively roll it around, considering it from a few angles.

But rarely, too rarely, we actually get what's going on, we understand it well enough to embrace it (or reject it). Well enough to teach it. And maybe that leads to a productive change.

It's not clear to me that more stuff seen leads to more ideas gotten and more action taken. We probably don't need more inputs and noise. We certainly need to do a better job of focusing and even more important, doing the frightening work of acting 'as if' to see if we get it.

It starts with more doing, not more seeing.

"What have you got?"

The wrong answer to this question is often, "what do you need?"

When someone asks what you have to offer, when they ask for a menu or a price list or some indication of what they can choose from, it's tempting to ask what they want, because maybe, just maybe, you'll figure out how to make that for them.

When you act like a short-order cook at a diner, people rarely ask you for something interesting. Instead of trying to figure out what will get us picked, we might figure out if there's a way we can sell people on dreaming about what we have instead.

What if you stopped?

What would happen to your audience if you shut the doors tomorrow? (I know what would happen to you, that's not my question... what would happen to them?)

What would happen to your customers and to your prospects if you stopped doing your work?

If you stopped showing up, if you stopped selling them something, would they miss you if you were gone?

If the airline went away, we'd just find another airline. If the cookie cutter politician went away, we'd just vote for someone else. If the typical life insurance agent...

Does it matter if it's you doing the work?

I am 'anti-business', you might be too

A hundred and fifty years ago, when people finally began organizing to eliminate child labor in American factories, they were called anti-business. There was no way, the owners complained, that they could make a living if they couldn’t employ ultra-cheap labor. In retrospect, I think businesses are glad that kids go to school--educated workers make better consumers (and citizens).

Fifty years ago, when people realized how much damage was being done by factories poisoning our rivers, those supporting the regulations to clean up the water supply were called anti-business. Companies argued that they’d never be able to efficiently produce while reducing their effluent. Today, I think most capitalists would agree that the benefits of having clean air and water more than make up for what it costs to create a place people want to live—the places that haven't cleaned up are rushing to catch up, because what destroys health also destroys productivity and markets. (And it's a good idea).

When the bars and restaurants went non-smoking in New York a decade ago, angry trade organizations predicted the death knell of their industry. It turns out the opposite happened.

The term anti-business actually seems to mean, “against short-term waste, harmful side effects and selfish shortcuts.” Direct marketers were aghast when people started speaking out against spam, but of course, in the long run, ethical direct marketers came out ahead. 

If anti-business means supporting a structure that builds a foundation where more people can flourish over time, then sign me up.

A more interesting conversation, given how thoroughly intertwined business and social issues are, is whether someone is short-term or long-term. Not all long-term ideas are good ones, not all of them work, but it makes no sense to confuse them with the label of anti-business.

Successful businesses tend to be in favor of the status quo (they are, after all, successful and change is a threat) perhaps with a few fewer regulations just for kicks. But almost no serious businessperson is suggesting that we roll back the 'anti-business' improvements to the status quo of 1890.

It often seems like standing up for dignity, humanity and respect for those without as much power is called anti-business. And yet it turns out that the long-term benefit for businesses is that they are able to operate in a more stable, civilized, sophisticated marketplace.

It’s pretty easy to go back to a completely self-regulated, selfishly focused, Ayn-Randian cut-throat short-term world. But I don’t think you’d want to live there.

Are you feeling lucky?

Expected value is a powerful concept, easy to understand, often difficult to use in daily life.

It's the value of an outcome multiplied by the chances it will happen.

If there's a one in ten chance you'll get a $50 ticket for parking here, the expected value (the cost) of parking here is $5. Park here enough times, and that's what it's going to cost you.

If there's a one in five chance you'll win that lawsuit for a million dollars, the expected value of the suit is $200,000.

That's not a guess or a vague hunch, it's actually true. If the odds are described properly (and setting those odds is an entirely different discussion) then the value of the opportunity (or the cost of it) is clear.

And yet...

And yet we anchor our risks, often overestimating just how much it's going to cost us to get a ticket.

And we anchor our possible gains, usually overestimating how much that opportunity is worth (which is why so few lawsuits that should settle, do).

Humans are quite bad at dealing with ambiguity, and even worse when there's money on the table. Ellsberg's paradox helps us understand some of the bugs in the system, and perhaps we can take better risks by using a pencil, not our gut, to decide what a chance is worth.

"I'm not the kind of person who..."

We box ourselves in long before the outside world ever gets a chance.

"I'm not the kind of person who watches movies like that."

"I'm not the kind of person who proposes new ideas."

"I'm not the kind of person who reads books for fun."

"I'm not the kind of person who apologizes."

"I'm not the kind of person who gets a promotion."

"I'm not the kind of person who says 'follow me'."

I'm not the kind of person who... is up to you.

Hope and expectation

Hope is fuel, it moves us forward and it amplifies our best work.

Expectation is the killer of joy, the shortest route to disappointment. When we expect that something will happen, we can't help but be let down...

The noise in our head (and artificial intelligence)

One common insightful definition of AI: Artificial Intelligence is everything a computer can't do yet. As soon as it can, we call it obvious.

And so, self-driving cars and devices that can beat us at chess don't really think, they're just doing something by rote (really really fast).

One reason we easily dismiss the astonishing things computers can do is that we know that they don't carry around a narrative, a play by play, the noise in their head that's actually (in our view) 'intelligence.'

It turns out, though, that the narrative is a bug, not a feature. That narrative doesn't help us perform better, it actually makes us less intelligent. Any athlete or world-class performer (in debate, dance or dungeonmastering) will tell you that they do their best work when they are so engaged that the narrative disappears.

I have no idea when our computer overlords will finally enslave us, but it won't happen because we figured out a way to curse them with a chattering monkey. 

Five steps to digital hygiene

Washing your hands helps you avoid getting sick.

Putting fattening foods out of your reach helps you stay slim.

And the provocations and habits you encounter in the digital world keep you productive (or drive you crazy):

  1. Turn off mail and social media alerts on your phone.
  2. Don't read the comments. Not on your posts or on the posts of other people. Not the reviews and not the trolls.
  3. De-escalate the anger in every email exchange.
  4. Put your phone in the glove compartment while driving.
  5. Spend the most creative hour of your day creating, not responding.

Each habit is hard to swallow and easy to maintain. Worth it.

Why not?

If technology gives you the chance to speak up, build a platform and help show the way, why not use it?

If someone offers you a project or a job with more leverage and the chance to both learn and teach, why not take it?

If you can learn something new, more efficiently than ever before, if the opportunity to leap presents itself, why not?

Now is a good time.