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

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all.marketers.tell.stories

All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing

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Free Prize Inside

The practical sequel to Purple Cow

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linchpin

Linchpin

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

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Meatball Sundae

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

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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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purple.cow

Purple Cow

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

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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

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

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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

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

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Tribes

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

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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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« February 2005 | Main | April 2005 »

Skeptico: Five apples

This is brilliant. The whole site is worth a read.

Skeptico: Five apples.

Five apples

This is what my life is like. I have four apples. At least I’m pretty sure there are only four, I only bought four, I can only see four and there is no reason to suppose I have any more. There could be five I suppose, but I see no reason to think so. The trouble is, everyone else thinks there are five. I ask people for evidence that there are five apples. I ask them what reason they have to suppose there are five, or to show me how they counted five, and these are the replies I get:

   

1. What do you mean, “count the apples”?    

2. Have you studied agriculture? If not, how do you know there aren’t five apples?    

3. The majority of people in the world know there are five apples.  Are you saying they are all wrong?    

4. It’s closed-minded to think there aren't five apples.    

5. There is plenty of evidence to prove that there are five apples, go and look for it, I’m not counting them for you.    

6. Apples can’t be “counted” by science, so there are five apples.    

7. Can you prove there isn’t a fifth apple somewhere?    

8. Scientists counted only three apples in the past and now they admit there are four, so there are five now.    

9. The ancient Chinese knew there were five apples; modern science still has not yet caught up.  

10. They laughed at Galileo when he said there were five bananas, and he was right, so there are five apples.  

11. Science can’t yet see all the apples. You can’t see radio waves, but they existed before we developed ways to measure them, so why can’t there be a fifth invisible apple now that we just haven’t developed the technology to see?  

12. Quantum mechanics proves there are five apples.  

13. I just know the fifth apple is there.  

14. It’s a government conspiracy to cover up the existence of the fifth apple.  

15. You’re not keeping up with the latest research. It has now been proven that there are five apples (although I can’t actually remember where this research is written up).

Here’s the thing: I actually have four apples and an orange. These people are so busy making up stories about a fifth apple, they’ll never realize the orange even exists.

My Wifi Rant

This one has been a long time gestating, but today's New York Times completely pushed me over the edge (Link: The New York Times > Technology > Growth of Wireless Internet Opens New Path for Thieves.)

As I make my travels through the Northeast, I'm stunned by how many wifi networks my Mac encounters--and how many of them are password protected. Waiting in the doctor's office, for example, I find five networks. And every one of them is closed.

Why on earth would someone go to the trouble to do this?

I mean, I'm sitting at an ad agency or a cosmetic firm and their network is closed. I'm standing outside of an office building and there are 18 networks and all of them are closed. All of them!

It's like having a television on and intentionally putting up blinders so that certain people can't watch it. Worse, it's like making an apple pie and putting nose plugs on people who would like to smell it! (I like pie, not crazy about TV).

Having the wifi network in your lobby or your waiting room or in the street under your window open to guests will not compromise the security of your files. You need a different sort of security for that. And it won't degrade your net performance much either (hey, if it does, you can always turn the password on again, cursing me out as you do). [NB I'm not a computer security expert, and I'm not making a statement about the risk to your data. What I am saying is that if you're dealing in stuff that's super confidential--like medical records or which Congressman is breaking which law--then you've got no business using a wifi network anyway.]

And yet, here comes the influential Times with an urgent warning that all sorts of pedophiles, car bombers--hey, even people who do graffiti or spit on the street--are using this major hole in our security networks to do bad deeds. Since the article focuses on the dreaded "data thieves" it's easy to assume that they're stealing data from the networks. They're not. They're just hiding from the FBI. But if everyone jumps up and down and starts closing their networks, these data thieves will just take one of their stolen credit cards and go to Starbucks!

There were no razor blades in apples on Halloween when we were growing up. Did you know that? Really. They made it up. Someone should tell the Times and its readers that if you want to be anonymous on the Net, you can go to Kinko's or go to Bryant Park or the library. It's certainly not necessary to scare the nation into closing their wifi hot spots.

A Warning About Ostrich Farming

Ostrich_1Have you ever eaten ostrich?

I missed my chance when I gave up poultry as the last land animal on my eating list.

My guess is that you haven't had a lot either.

It turns out that there was a huge bubble in ostrich farming (yes, they have bubbles off the internet, too). Once a few clever promoters (Ostriches On Line - Chad.) realized that the world would go crazy about ostrich meat (and don't forget the eggs) there was money to be made selling breeding ostriches.

So, you bought two ostriches and a bunch of land, and soon you have some baby ostriches. You sold those ostriches for $20,000 or more each--to other people who wanted to breed ostriches. Do this for a few generations and pretty soon there would be plenty of ostrich meat available (and the breeders at the top of the pyramid would be rich indeed).

You can guess the punchline. The breeders sold their ostriches to other breeders, and soon there were plenty of ostriches but in the end, restaurants didn't want to sell the stuff because people didn't really want to eat it.

The blogads survey (see below) says that more than 20% of blog readers are also blog writers. Imagine a world where 20% of the people who read novels, wrote novels. Hope we're not breeding ostriches. We're so busy writing that maybe, just maybe, nobody who shows up is going to actually spend the time to read! As a parting shot, here's a quick blurb from the ostrich site:

The ostrich industry is the fastest growing agricultural business in the world. With the vast array and almost unlimited supply of products and services that we have available, your opportunities to resell these products has never been better.

Cheap, loud and smart

Joi Ito  points me to the newest Blogads reader survey. The upshot?

Blog readers have a one in five chance of having their own blog (ostrich farming alert!). They read a ton of high end magazines and are well educated. They have very very high household incomes. They don't hesitate to sign petitions, write letters or otherwise share their opinions. They read about five blogs a day. They buy almost nothing online. A bunch are students, but even more have influential jobs. And they don't use an RSS reader

Blogads: reader survey for blog advertising..

When your customers hold you back

Pf1606Ten or twelve years ago, I used to buy stuff from Paper Direct. They sell preprinted sheets that you run through your laser printer to make brochures and business cards and such.

In those days, when laser printers were still a little rare (and only printed in black toner) this was a neat way to make a sole proprietorship seem a little more professional.

I got their catalog in the mail today and browsed through it. I was stunned. The stuff they sell is exactly the same. The same pastel colors, boring designs, slightly cheesy look and very cheesy fonts in the examples. The market has changed radically but the products haven't changed a bit.

Today you can print astonishing color on a $200 printer. You can do professional short run printing on an Indigo machine. But Paper Direct is still selling design from the 1980s. It sort of screams, "home office!"

My bet? I think that every time they try to introduce something more hip or effective than "PC1606 Tropical Fish Postcards", their audience doesn't buy any. As a result, they slavishly serve their existing audience. Which is no doubt profitable, but how can they grow?

The organizations that have the most impact and grow the quickest are those that frequently alienate their existing customer base.

Hundreds of designed printable border papers, brochures, certificates at PaperDirect..

Pre-bankruptcy marketing

JapanamericanLet's say you run an airline with a horrible cost structure and you're facing bankruptcy on an almost daily basis.

Why on earth would you waste money on marketing like this?

Do the folks at American believe that some harried New Yorker is going to choose to fly to Tokyo on the spur of the moment for sushi and because American is the brand that prompted them, fly there on American?

Where's the ROI?

Stop for a second

Tom Peters reports that

In England more people are employed by Indian restaurants than in steelmaking, coal mining, and ship building combined!

Think about that for a while.

MBA mail

I've gotten a lot of heat about my "don't get an MBA" post--(Harvard did those guys a favor when they didn't let them in). Here's one: Life Beyond Code :: MBA or no MBA??.

Let me make my point in a more MBA-esque sort of way:
What if an MBA cost $2,000,000?
What if an MBA took five years?

Would it would be worth it then? Of course not.

So my question really is: is the marginal value (in terms of opportunity cost, time value of money and capital expenditure) higher or lower than the current cost? I think it's pretty close to a no brainer.

What happens next?

I think there are two blog/RSS frontiers worth considering... whether you manage a project, a church or a brand.

The first is the idea of the micro-blog. Ed Brenegar got asked to help a small group understand word of mouth and turned it into a blog: University of Word Of Mouth. Now, as he gets new groups to work with, he can repurpose the blog. I did the same thing when I produced a musical for an elementary school last year. I made a blog for the parents to use to keep up with the news about the play, with the schedule, with photos of each rehearsal.

Blogging doesn't have to mean "talking to anonymous strangers."

The second is what BaseCamp is doing (Link: Project management and task management software: Basecamp.) This is project management software that uses RSS to alert the people who need to be alerted whenever something is up... and they can ignore it the rest of the time.

RSS is like email, except there's no spam, the loop is closed, the media that's available is far wider and, best of all, the recipient can configure a host of readers to present the info in the way they want. Thinking like this led to podcasting, and it's going to lead us in a bunch of new directions now.

Again with the RSS?

If you're already using RSS, please skip this post.

Otherwise, you really need to read it.

RSS is the next big thing. Find out about it here: FeedBurner - About Feed Syndication.

Even better, click below and you'll be automatically subscribed to updates about this blog. Instead of having to go from blog to blog to find out if there's anything new, you can just go to bloglines.

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