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

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An intensive, 4-week online workshop designed to accelerate leaders to become change agents for the future. Designed by Seth Godin, for you.



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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« September 2004 | Main | November 2004 »

What happens when it's all on tape?

It's been twelve years since the videotaped beating of Rodney King started a riot in LA. Rodney King and the Los Angeles Riots.

In that time, the percentage of people with a video camera at home has increased dramatically. And the number of streetcorners and businesses that tape everything has gone way up as well. Steve Rosenbaum is trying to use that fact to change the way media is created: CAMERAPLANET

Odd segue: Today, in anticipation of a dinner party, I stopped at a lobster seller in Chelsea Market in NYC. I asked for a six pound lobster. The pricing at the store is $9.95 a pound for small lobsters and $8.95 a pound for lobsters six pounds and up.

The lobster weighed (I'm not making this up), 5.97 pounds. For reference, that's just less than a pound by the weight of a penny. Feed the lobster a plankton and it would be six pounds.

He started to ring me up at $9.95 a pound. I pointed out the price breakdown and the guy shrugged and said, "It doesn't weight six pounds."

Two co-workers came over and with precisely the same uncomprehending grin, repeated his point. I added a penny to the scale but they weren't swayed.

So, the two questions are, "Do you think the owner wanted them to act this way?" and "Would they have acted differently if they were on camera?"

I believe that the best motivation is self-motivation. That teaching people the right thing to do is far more effective than intimidating them into acting out of fear.

But I also know that people act differently when they think no one is watching.

I've been counting more and more mail from enraged customers (thanks, but I have enough!). These are people who feel outrage when they are deliberately mistreated by someone who should know better.

As the number of "owners" goes down (because the big chain outlets, telecom oligopolies and centrally controlled media keep increasing in number), it's harder to find people who act the way we might like.

I wonder what happens once it's on tape?

All as a way of asking you to bring your videocamera with you when you go to vote on Tuesday (regardless of which side you're on). The biggest impact of the Net on this election, it seems to me, is that so many things are "on tape." So many people are now embedded in the process that the process has changed forever.

Maybe if we all show up with a videocamera, other people will be reminded to act like citizens. Worth a shot.

Beware the CEO blog

It's apparently the newest thing. I just got off the phone with one CEO who's itching to start, and read an email from another who just did.

Here's the problem. Blogs work when they are based on:
Pithiness and

(maybe Utility if you want six).

Does this sound like a CEO to you?

Short and sweet, folks: If you can't be at least four of the five things listed above, please don't bother. People have a choice (4.5 million choices, in fact) and nobody is going to read your blog, link to your blog or quote your blog unless there's something in it for them.

Save the fluff for the annual report.


"I've worked out a series of no's. No to exquisite light, no to apparent compositions, no to the seduction of poses or narrative. And all these no's force me to the "yes." I have a white background. I have the person I'm interested in and the thing that happens between us."

Richard Avedon

Do you have a no?

Safe is Risky

Publishers Lunch points us to: Books: Election 2004: How Bush/kerry Won…

Is it risky to sign up and announce a book about the election weeks before it actually takes place? Risky to do a book that assumes the underdog won?

Of course not. It's risky NOT to.

What are you doing that's risky?

[yikes, the link is down. I guess Amazon wasn't ready to be that safe...]

Is there a right way?

So, I flew round trip to Toronto from New York yesterday.

In New York, they x rayed my shoes but ignored my digital clicker, cell phone, digital camera and assorted electronics. They also made me take off my suit jacket.

In Toronto, they ignored my shoes but took apart my clicker. They didn't care about my jacket.

On the plane from New York, they said it was fine to use cell phones as soon as we landed.

On the plane from Toronto, they insisted we not use our cell phones, even though we were on the runway for twenty minutes.

So, which is it?

One of the illusions members of the reality-based community labor under is that there's a right answer. That if you do X and Y, you're most likely to get Z.

This sort of rational thought certainly makes it easier to plan.

I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that in fact, many complex problems don't have obviously correct answers.

My best takeaway from this insight is to pursue answers that are inexpensive and easy to test. That becoming hysterical when one particular superstition is hard to implement is ridiculous.

Most of all, being serious about a superstition is not the same as being serious about the problem at hand. We shouldn't minimize our marketing (or security, for that matter) challenges, but we ought to lighten up a bunch about the untested beliefs we bring to the table.

why do these things spread?

Why weddings?
Why this sort of humor?

I have no idea. I wish I understood the mechanism better.

eBay item 5527273221 (Ends 23-Oct-04 12:12:44 BST) - 2 invitations to a wedding I don't want to go to (via Lecky)

The Selfish Marketer (part XIV)

If this wasn't true, you wouldn't believe it.

I needed to store a bunch of stuff as I move my office (the new office, no surprise, is months behind schedule). I went to one of the handy new storage companies (Public Storage), answered all their questions and got this response (click to make it bigger).


That's right. They don't service my area. Their solution? I should move, then try again.

"Honey, we need to move to Florida!"
"Because we can't store our stuff here in New York."

To be fair, I called the number they asked me to call. I spoke to Cheryl, who was very friendly. I read her the message. She said, "Oh no, we don't serve your area."

"Why," I asked, "did they want me to call you then?"

And her answer, which is priceless, was, "So we could officially tell you."

More Malcolm: The Talent Myth

A classic article worth a look: ChangeThis :: The Talent Myth

Don't tell me you're not in the fashion business.

Sushi via Gizmodo.

Yes, these are USB flash memory units.

Just ask Dave!

Dave Lennox is the guy whose voice answers the call handling center at Lennox. He also appears in their ads. "Hi! I'm Dave Lennox!"

Dave always talks in exclamation points.


I just discovered that Dave Lennox died more than fifty years ago. That he's an actor. That there is no Dave Lennox.

Contact Us :: Lennox International Appropos to my previous post, the number you call to reach Lennox (only a couple clicks down on their site) starts with the eponymous Mr. Lennox answering your call. Very quickly, though, you discover that this isn't really Lennox, it's an outsourced call center that can only do one thing... tell you where your nearest dealer is.

So, first they lie about Dave, then they lie about contacting them.

I still don't get it. Maybe one day I will.

The most important book of the year

You'll hear more about this from me closer to January once the embargo is lifted, but I think you should pre-order this right now: Books: Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Malcolm Gladwell (he of Tipping Point fame) has done it again.

This is a subtle, powerful book about first impressions and the way we make decisions. It completely changed my thinking about a number of things and inspired the new book I'm playing with.

I know it's unusual for me to come right out and endorse a book like this, but Malcolm's latest is that good.

The next blog thing

TravelBlog | Travel Journals, Travel Blogs, Diaries and Photos

Thanks to Andrew Rupert for the ping.

Things are happening in this medium a lot faster than things changed after they invented that printing press thing.

"But I might learn something if I read that"

Yes, that's exactly what she said.

I was at a conference the other day, and when I recommended a book to someone, panic flashed across her face.

As media gets ever more nichey (is nichey a word? If it isn't, it should be), it's now easy to expose yourself only to messages you already agree with, to see things you already know.

It's comforting to be reminded that you're right. It's good for your ego to discover that you already know everything that's important so you can go back to doing what you were doing yesterday.

But where's the growth in that?

There's more information on more topics on blogs and in the Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia than has ever been published before in the history of the planet.

And yet, with all this data, most of us resist the opportunity to obtain information. We don't want to be confused or stressed or put in a position where we might, just maybe, make a mistake.

What a shame.

On copyright and on spectrum

Stop me if you've heard this before, but the Internet keeps bringing this pair of issues to our attention, and they seem to go together more and more often.

Sinclair Broadcasting wants to use the spectrum (our spectrum) to broadcast political messages through its company-owned stations. Once again, regardless of our politics, I think we need to ask the following question:

"Whose spectrum is it?"

Computers have completely reinvented what we can do with a slice of spectrum. In the bandwidth your local CBS-affiliate uses, we could easily broadcast dozens of channels of digital information. We could create free internet access around the country. But it sits there, stuck, because the FCC licensed that spectrum years ago. Just because someone has built a business around it, should it stay that way?

What if we decided to use the spectrum in ways that benefitted everyone, not just media companies? For example, why not require that anyone broadcasting on the public airwaves devote one hour every night in prime time to public interest programming and commercials? With that much inventory, the cost of running for President could be driven close to zero (all your media buys would be free).

Which brings us around again to copyright, which always manages to get me in trouble. Whose copyright is it? What's it for?

Why not have patents last 100 years? They don't because we know that allowing a patent to go into the public domain makes it far easier for society to benefit... other inventions can be based on that first idea.

So why not make copyrights last for 5 years, not 100? A five year copyright would not dramatically decrease the incentive to make a movie or write a book, would it? Looking at my book sales, I can tell you that the vast majority of sales come in the first five years. Sure, JD Salinger would get hurt in the long run, but would that have kept him from writing Catcher in the Rye?

The purpose of copyright is simple: to encourage people to make stuff worth looking at and using. Not to protect the people who already wrote something. And CERTAINLY not to protect the companies that market movies or publish books.

Both cases are the same: our spectrum and our access to ideas are being held hostage by big companies who are dependent on the status quo. The ability of our culture to quickly evolve ideas and then to broadcast them to ever larger audiences is a fundamental building block of our success. Why do 98% of us sit around while big companies with no interest in us legislate against our interests?

The newspaper of record

Two quotes from page E1 of today's New York Times:

"Sports Illustrated has designated the book "Friday Night Lights," an account of a year the author spent in 1988 following a high school football team in Odessa, Tex., one of the top five sports titles ever, and called it the best book ever written about football--a verdict that's hard to quarrel with unless you're partial to Roy Blount Jr.'s "About Three Bricks Shy of a Load."

"...the 1990 work is titled in part "Three Little Boys" in parentheses, preceded by a description of a sexual act."

Is it just me, or is the (unedited/unprofessional) writing of blogs significantly clearer and more straightforward?

Holy smokes!

It's a movement.

Viral & Buzz Marketing Association

Nice manifesto as well.

Getting Backwards

Many companies have decided to use the web and automated phone systems to decrease their costs. What an incredibly stupid idea.

How many clicks is it from your company's website to your phone number? At Sprint: Welcome to the Sprint Customer Center, the phone number is four clicks down.

Then, once you call them, you have to go through dozens of hoops and presses and pound signs before you reach a human.

Isn't having your customers and prospects talk to you a profit center, not a cost?

Isn't the best outcome of a visit to your website a phone call?

If it's not, how can you change things so it is?

HELLO, my name is Scott

HELLO, my name is Scott July_scott_pic

Scott has been wearing a nametag for almost five years. It's fascinating to see how this simple act of engaging with the world has fundamentally changed his life.

the disposable restaurant

Courtesy of my friend Elizabeth: About Foodie NYC.

One more thing that changes when you can communicate with people who want to hear from you (and when the word is easy to spread).

It's a restaurant that's only open 6 nights a year. Fifty people, sold out far in advance.

Why is this surprising?

Bush, Kerry Underfund Online Ads · MarketingVOX

No one builds a jingle or a slogan or even a brand identity using web advertising. It's never been done to my knowledge and it's hard to see how it could be done.

The purpose of web advertising is to get interested people to raise their hand and give you permission to have an anticipated, personal and relevant conversation.

The web site and the blogs and the interactive email conversations and the petitions and the online buzz are where minds get made up and where ideas spread. Not in the Adwords.

Did either campaign do a good job in building an online asset of people who actually want to hear from them? Nope. Moveon did, definitely. Everyone could have done far far better, but political operatives are impatient and greedy and forget to build an asset for when it really matters.

Quality is not a given

In just about all of my writing, I assume that the stuff you're making is world class. In a world where everything is good enough, meeting that standard isn't enough.

But it's worth a reminder every once in a while that getting the quality right still matters. I went to buy the much hyped (1 million bucks worth ) Gourmet Magazine cookbook: Books: The Gourmet Cookbook : More than 1000 recipes, only to discover that every single reviewer hated the fact that they couldn't read it.

How did that happen? In a conservative industry known for not screwing up the hard stuff (no typos, page numbers in order, stuff like that), how did a book this important to the bottom line end up with yellow headlines?

[added two days later: my apologies to Ruth Reichl. I just bought the book at Borders. Hey, it's not so bad. A reasonable person might even like it. I got fooled by the Amazon reviews. I guess retail stores still have a purpose.]

The edge beyond Geranimals

I love this.

The web site (LIttleMissMatched) is totally lame, but the idea goes straight to the edge.

Mismatched socks for 11 year old girls. Hundreds of varieties. Four categories so you don't clash. Only sold in odd lots.

Think about how easy this was to do, and how remarkable it is. Think about how many sock marketers thought of this and then got scared and didn't. Realize how turning socks into a remarkable collectible is both obvious and satisfying and likely to succeed.

I wish they came in my size.

« September 2004 | Main | November 2004 »