Don't Miss a Thing
Free Updates by Email

Enter your email address

preview  |  powered by FeedBlitz

RSS Feeds

Share |

Facebook: Seth's Facebook
Twitter: @thisissethsblog





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

The complete list of online retailers

Bonus stuff!

or click on a title below to see the list


All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing




Free Prize Inside

The practical sequel to Purple Cow





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




Meatball Sundae

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



Permission Marketing

The classic Named "Best Business Book" by Fortune.



Poke The Box

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




Purple Cow

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



Small is the New Big

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



Survival is Not Enough

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




The Big Moo

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



The Big Red Fez

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




The Dip

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




The Icarus Deception

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





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




Unleashing the Ideavirus

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



V Is For Vulnerable

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




We Are All Weird

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



Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?

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



THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin

All Marketers Are Liars Blog

Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 08/2003

« September 2005 | Main | November 2005 »

Tools vs. Craftsmen

Sunday morning and I'm watching an eleven-year old make a stop-motion animated movie.

He's using tools that would have cost $100,000 or more a decade ago. And today, of course, they're supercheap.

You can typeset using the finest graphic design tools ever made--for fifty cents a minute at Kinko's, or at home with a $500 Mac Mini.

You can post your resume in more places and reach more people than any outsourcing firm ever could

And my friends at eyebeam just got a fancy 3D printer that allows them "output" just about any small three dimensional object they can imagine.

If you want to write a book, go ahead. You can write it and typeset at home, and get it professionally printed with no problem. And Amazon will sell it, right next store to Stephen King's latest.

If you want to design a car or create a perfume or access a law library, same deal.

And if you want a blog, you can have the very same tools that the most popular bloggers have... for free.

The tools keep getting better and better.

Which means that the first barrier to entry--access to professional tools--is gone.

So there's more, but is there better?

I think we gave a Disney movie, circa 1954, the benefit of the doubt. It was the movie in the theatre. It was the only one to choose from. It was a big deal. It didn't matter if it was the best movie Walt ever made, because it was the only one right now.

The bar's a lot higher, because access to tools is a lot easier.

Remember Felix?

(marketing makes it critic proof).

The New York Times roasted the Odd Couple today. They hated it.

The Odd Couple booked $21 million in advance tickets. A record. The whole run is sold out.

The review, then, doesn't matter.

But of course it does. It does for the two reasons that it sold so many tickets.

1. American Express offered advance seats to Gold Card members. This permission asset is hugely profitable. American Express has permission to market to this group, a group that responds to Broadway show offers in a big way. Not only does that help sell tickets, but it makes it more likely that members will keep paying money for their Gold Card.

2. Nathan and Matthew have a brilliant reputation. A brand, even. As a result, when the offer showed up (TV show! Jack Klugman! The guys from the producers! Neil Simon! Advance tickets!) the offer was irresistible. We're talking $1000 scalpers on eBay.

So, there's zero short term economic impact from a bad review.

But if it's a bad play, all sorts of brands get tarnished. The permission asset decreases in value. The names aren't worth as much.

The lesson is that the new marketing makes it a lot easier to make products for your customers (instead of having to run around finding customers for your products.) The obligation that comes with that, though, is to make something really and truly great. You no longer have to dumb stuff down to create average stuff for average people. You can make something truly great. So do it.

Swan song?

My first reaction to Delta to Eliminate Discount Carrier Song was, "of course it failed." It failed because they didn't burn their bridges, didn't really commit, didn't do anything but a pale imitation of Jet Blue.

But then I realized that Song wasn't a failure on at least one level... it allowed a stodgy brown company to move fairly quickly and to discover the power of story telling. Everything from the organic food to the paint job was about telling passengers a different story. Song had trouble keeping that promise, but at least they tried.

So maybe Delta learned a lesson about flexibility and speed and risk. Failure is rarely fatal.

The kids say "thanks."

The Big Moo broke into the top 100 on Amazon yesterday.

Since every copy sold there (or at any bookstore) buys part of a school and part of a cure for diabetes and part of a round of financing for a third world entrepreneur, we need to say thank you.

Because I involved so many of my friends and colleagues (and heroes), this project has been a huge risk for me. Every single person in publishing said an anthology on this topic couldn't sell. If it weren't for my blog readers, they would have been right.

Thanks for buying a thousand copies. Or 100. Or one. Books: The Big Moo : Stop Trying to Be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable.

Opening the microlending system

Soni Pitts points us to Kiva. The idea seems to be that anyone can be a microlender... Instead of spending $25 on lattes, you can help a farmer in Bangladesh buy a bull... and then he pays you back.

This is one of a number of cool ways to do first world wealth transfer. The challenge, as always, is in the execution. There's not a huge shortage of money for microlending operations--there's a shortage of great banks, great people to run those banks and access to the right sort of people to make the loans to.

It's easy to imagine that every culture is as crisp as ours when it comes to money. (and hey, we're not even that good at it... just look at credit card debt for an example). Most of the challenge of microbanking is in changing social systems, not in moving the $25. But like all things on the net, this is a great first step in opening up bottlenecks.

All your base [are] belong to us

GooglebaseSneak peak of Google's new Craig's List/eBay alternative: google base

The challenge is whether people are better at sorting through junk than computers are. Because it's Google and because there's a "bulk loader", it will be filled (okay, not filled, but "well-populated" in less than a week.

One more layer in the multi-layered web...

Are you tired? Busy?

Probably not as busy (or as tired) as our hero Tom.

He's done an astounding number of lectures in a ridiculous number of countries over the last two months. 76,000 miles so far (he's not very good at doing these gigs in the right geographical progression.)

So, congrats to Tom for spreading the word, and here's a lesson worth hearing. (From: tompeters!):

So I've been consciously working on a new (for me) approach, with at least a smidgeon of success. Either at day's end or dawn's early light, I have a little meditation and self-counseling session on making the day count, rather than devoting the day to eager anticipation of the moment I can cross it off the calendar. Professionally, that first means looking anew and in depth at the forthcoming lecture to be sure that it clearly encompasses (as best I can) an ennobling purpose, challenges participants' minds and engages their souls. (Will it at least aspire to the JFK idea that no speechifier should utter a word unless she "aims to change the world"?) Also professionally, I "work on" my attitude. This may be day 45 and mile 76,000 for me, but for the Client it is D-Day for an Important Event (often their year's #1 event, for God's sake); hence my exhaustion and accompanying short temper must be thrust aside ... and downright cheeriness and spirited engagement must become the invariant orders of the day. Besides, such cheeriness, even if feigned, cheers me up first and foremost! Next, and in a way most important, even though I have little trouble infusing my lecture with meaning, I must thoroughly convince myself that this is a day every hour of which is worth savoring! Hackneyed though it is to write, 25 October 2005 ain't gonna come around again and this 62-year-old is gonna be a day older and closer to checkout time when it's done.

Whatever you're making, designing, shipping or selling, it's a Big Event for the person buying it and using it. It may be just another car/contract/widget to you, but someone is counting on it being remarkable.

Seth in New Jersey

I get a lot of mail about public speaking gigs. I was recently hired to do one on November 17th: Seth Godin presented by Move Ahead 1.

Ben's insight

Ben Stein wonders (link) , in today's Times, why Yale University keeps asking him for money (and why he gives it to them.) Last year, Yale earned about $3 billion on their endowment doing deals that you and I could never do. In the face of that sort of return, do the $3,000 alumni checks really matter?

Michael Motta answered that question for me when he quoted Ben Franklin in an email today. "he that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than whom you yourself have obliged".

In other words, Yale wants Ben Stein's money so that Ben will be inclined to do the things that Yale really wants: send over great students, hire graduates, talk up the school and maintain its place in the pantheon of liberal arts colleges. And donors are far more likely to do that than disconnected alum.

It's not always about giving. Yale wins by taking.

Changing the game

Michael Kenny points us to a story in Wired: Link: Wired News: Pumping Indies on MTV.

Pump Audio solves that problem by providing networks with a hard drive filled with 11,000 songs categorized and searchable by genre, instrument and lyrical theme. Customers pay a flat fee per episode (or commercial) to Pump Audio, which the company splits evenly with the musicians.

The music industry is broken. Has been for a while. Here's a smart guy with a simple offering that is irresistible to all parties. Because he was willing to create a remarkable product that didn't meet industry standards.

On Mediocrity

RollsWhy settle?

It's not expensive to make a world-class roll. There are only a few ingredients, the recipe is straightforward (but not easy) and the ingredients don't cost a penny extra.

Mediocre rolls are easier and more predictable. Once you figure out how to make a mediocre, tasteless, soggy roll, you can do it over and over again. Mediocre rolls can be baked by anyone, with very little care. And no one would ever go out of their way to purchase or consume a mediocre roll.

So why do we settle? Why bother being in the food business if you're going to serve something you can't possibly be proud of? Is making that extra dollar so important that all pride goes out the window?

Part of the curse of Wall Street is that enough is never enough. So short-term thinking sets in. Too many companies believe their owners (the stockholders) would rather have them make shlock and alienate customers to turn a little extra profit--even though it's clear that this strategy virtually always leads to doom.

The real story here, though, has nothing to do with the stock market. It has to do with our willingness to settle for work product that just isn't that good--at the same time we vote with our dollars to buy things and experiences that are exceptional.

Peace of mind

Today's Globe & Mail reports that over the last 12 years, the number of armed conflicts in the world has gone down by 40% and the number of extremely deadly conflicts (more than 1,000 battle-related deaths) is down by more than 80%.

A different source reports that New York is the safest large city in the US, with serious crime continuing to drop.

And it's much harder to get sick from bad sushi, too. (has to do with aggressive refrigeration.)

So, what's going on? Why is everyone so tense?

The internet doesn't help. Today, bad news anywhere in the world shows up in your browser in seconds. Second, there are people making a full time living (and increasing their power) by scaring us (and not just on Halloween). And lastly, it's human nature. Vivid images have more impact on us than cold statistics. If I had accompanied this post with a picture of someone in a gutter, the 80% decrease in serious wars over a decade would quickly be forgotten.

Optimism is hard. But it's usually worth it.

The proximity effect

Booksclutter019Imagine a book publisher being upset because her company's books were being shelved right next to competitive books on the same topic...

In fact, books sell far better at bookstores than they do at trade shows or supermarkets or pubs. That's not news to you, I hope.

What about blogs? Blogs are far more read now than they were a few years ago when there were just a few blogs to choose from. And people visiting technorati are far more likely to read and discover a blog than someone who stumbles onto a blog link on, say, eBay.

And tuna? Tuna sells best in the fish store, lying next to the other, lesser fish, on ice.

Too often we're beaten down by comparison shoppers and companies issuing RFPs and commodity buyers who won't take the time to hear our story. Too often, frustrated marketers believe that they'd do better if they just didn't have any competition.

In fact, the proximity effect can work in your favor. It usually does if your product or service is special. The proximity effect gives the consumer confidence. It creates a category where no category existed before. It lets you sell the difference, as opposed to the whole thing.

At a bar, you don't have to sell vodka. You should have to sell why your vodka tells a better story than the other guy's vodka.

Online, this effect is profound. Search engines add value when they present a collection of choices... because your proximity to the "competition" for your reader's attention benefits both of you.

Squidoo samples

When I published everyone's an expert, I promised that today we'd publish some sample lenses. So we did. Included, you'll find a job seeker, an entrepreneur and an activist. I've also included the first draft of my lens, which I built with our lensbuilder tool, not using Photoshop as a mockup tool. See: Squidoo: sample lenses.

The beta starts today, and this seems as good a time as any to thank the four summer interns who took a risk and worked with me for two months on this: Aaron Sagray, Greg Narain  Harper Reed and Corey Brown. Corey's joined our team full time. We did this as an intense, focused exercise, building out every page, every bit of logic and wireframe in a short window... giving us the base to evolve from.

Since August, the astounding Squidoo team has included Corey, Gil Hildebrand, Jr., Megan Casey and Heath Row. These guys have been amazing. You can read about them (and see their lenses) and about board members Tom Cohen and Lisa Gansky on the Squidoo site once we open it to the public in a few weeks.

Understanding the Long Tail

Telarium... really understanding it:

Twenty years ago, probably exactly twenty years ago today, I ran this ad as part of my job as Product Manager at Spinnaker Software. It was my first big ad on someone else's nickel, and while it was filled with compromise and not particularly good, it was my first one.

So, how'd I find it?

Someone is selling it on eBay. (Not any more, I bought it for $5). This guy buys old magazines and sells them online, one page at a time!

Is there a buyer for every page, for every ad, for every headline? Nope. Doesn't matter. Because for this ad, for this page, here I was.

Sort of changes the way one might think about things.

Setting the record straight on Yak Shaving

Turns out it was coined by Carlin J. Vieri, Ph.D. The details are here: Yak Shaving. (Carlin was amplifying my post on how you find yourself doing something you shouldn't be doing just because you think it might be necessary to do the thing you are doing.

Let it be sloganized

Ed sends us to: The Advertising Slogan Generator.

The new rules of naming

For a long time, I didn't like my name. I spent more than 30 years spelling both my first and last name in school and on the phone. It didn't help that I had a little trouble with my S's when I was a kid.

Of course, now I think it's fantastic that my grandfather overruled my mom when she wanted to name me Scott. (I think he had an issue with the branding of a type of toilet paper, but that's a different story).

Scott's a tough name in the Google world. Mark is even tougher. Michael is probably toughest of all.

We went through a lot of hoops in naming Squidoo.  I realized as I was explaining the process to a friend the other day that the same logic applies to any product or service or company in our bottom-up world, so here goes:

A long time ago, the goal of a name was to capture the essence of your positioning. To deliver a USP, so you could establish supremacy in your space just with your name. International Business Machines and Shredded Wheat were good efforts at this approach.

It quickly became clear, though, that descriptive names were too generic, so the goal was to coin a defensible word that could acquire secondary meaning and that you could own for the ages. That's why "Jet Blue" is a much better name than "Southwest" and why "Starbucks" is so much better than "Dunkin Donuts".

"Naming companies" flourished, charging clients hundreds of thousands of dollars to coin made up words like Altria.

Then domains came along. Suddenly, people were charging (I'm not making this up), $300,000 for The idea was that if you could grab a domain name (there's only one in the entire world), then people could easily find you.

I think many of these rules have changed, largely because of the way people use Google.

If you want Jet Blue or ikea or some other brand, you're just as likely to type the brand into google as you are to guess the domain name. In essence, we've actually added a step in the process of finding someone online. (How else would anyone find

This means that having the perfect domain name is nice, but it's WAY more important to have a name that works in technorati and yahoo and google when someone is seeking you out.

Sort of a built-in SEO strategy.

Flickr is a good name. So is 37signals. The design firm Number 17, however, is not. Answers, About, Hotels and Business are all fine URLs, but they don't work very well if someone forgets to put the <dot com> part in. Do a Yahoo search on radar and you won't find the magazine or the website in the making, and do a search on simple and you won't end up at the very expensive domain.

If you're trying to make your way as a blogger, calling yourself Doc or Scoble or Seth is a much simpler way to establish a platform than calling your blog "Mike's Blog".

Sound obvious? Of course it does. But books still get titles like "Chip Kidd, Work: 1986-2006, Book One".

So, that was the first task. Find a name that came up with close to zero Google matches. The only English language matches I found for Squidoo were for a style of fishing lure (we bought 6 gross, more on that later).

If I had a choice between a killer domain with a generic word in it or a great word that led to a less than perfect domain, I'd take the first, second every time.

The second thing that's happening with the explosion of made-up unique names is that the very structure of the word now communicates meaning. Web 2.0 names often have missing (or extra) vowels. The "oo" double o is a great way to communicate a certain something about a net company.

"HRKom" doesn't sound like the same kind of company as, say, "Jeteye". This is all very irrational, artsy fartsy stuff, and it's also important.

Altria and Achieva and Factiva and Kalera all sound like companies invented by naming firms. Which is a fine signal to send to Wall Street, but nothing you'd want to name your kid or your web 2.0 company.

The shift, then, is from what the words mean to what the words remind you of. The structure of the words, the way they sound, the memes they recall... all go into making a great name. Starbucks is made of two words that have nothing at all to do with coffee (except for their profits!) and the reference to Moby Dick is tenuous for most of us. But over time, the shape of the letters, the way they sound and the unique quality of the word makes it close to perfect.

So, using the fantastic NameBoy service (also a great name), I found thousands of available domains that managed to sound right and were unique. It took more than a month. Along the way, I almost bought but the owner (who has a charter boat in the Cayman Islands) wasn't budging.

The last thing to tell you is this: you need to sell a name internally. There are two things you should keep in mind:
1. don't use a placeholder name. People will fall in love with it. Find your name, use that name and that's it.
2. don't listen to what your friends and neighbors and colleagues tell you about a name. We had a placeholder name (yikes), I had to change it and everyone hated the new name. For weeks! Now, it feels like it couldn't be anything else.

The entire point of "secondary meaning" is that the first meaning doesn't matter at all (especially since you picked a name with no meaning to begin with). Over time, a surprisingly short time, your unique word, especially if it sounds right, will soon be the one and only word.

"I Just Like It"

The car section of tomorrow's  New York Times features a review of the new Pontiac Solstice. The reviewer compares this convertible to its closest competitor, the Mazda Miata. He finds that the Miata is faster, lighter, better equipped, more ergonomic inside, with an easier to use convertible top and better gas mileage.

He then goes on to rave about the obviously (by the numbers) inferior Solstice.


For the same reason you've ever lost any sale your organization has ever been up for. Because the customer liked someone else better.

Winners from the last round

It seems as though the Net's obsession with the next big thing is neverending. Today, I got a great reminder of how great the last big thing could be.

I visited with Scott and company at Meetup: Organizing Local Interest Groups.

These guys are rocking. The numbers are astounding (who knew that not only did people enjoy pugs as pets, but they actually pay to belong to a pugs club?) but more important, the connections that meetup fosters are truly important.

Congrats to a real company serving a real need--and generating revenue at the same time.

Worth a look.

About the Squidoo Beta

I've gotten some mail on this, so I wanted to clarify.

The private beta begins on Monday. We'll be inviting about 300 randomly selected people by email. If you don't get invited, don't fret. We're ensuring that earlybirds don't claim all the good urls... Then, as the test proceeds, every day we'll invite some more people until the entire list of secret beta volunteers is online... soon after that, we'll open up the beta to the public. (and yes, you can still sign up: Squidoo Secret Beta)

Hope that helps!

What if everybody read it?

No, not you. You already read books about leadership and business and change. I'm talking about your colleagues, the ones who count Who Moved My Cheese as their last book about business.

Today is World Big Moo day. Today's the day to visit or The Big Moo Page  and buy 100 or 1,000 for everyone. No, it's not the coherent narrative you usually look for from Guy or Tom or Malcolm. But yes, it's just the right sort of buffet to get everyone talking.


Take a look at this picture. That's part of the work of The Acumen Fund.  That's one of the charities that benefits from 100% of author royalties.

Thanks for making change happen.

Repaired Liars recommended reading list

Link: 800-CEO-READ Blog: More Reading from All Marketers Are Liars. Thanks, Todd.

PS Todd's new book is out. Worth a look:  The More Space Project (Astronaut Projects).

PPS Dave Balter's new book is out soon as well. Take a look at Dave's bzzagent blog: Inside BzzAgent - BeeLog. It's a fascinating example of a CEO blog that actually works. It works (at least it works for Dave and for his readers) because he's doing the whole thing 'out loud.' It's a very public way to talk about what's usually very private--the innards of a business. And judging from the results, it's working.

PPPS Tomorrow is "buy 1,000 copies of The Big Moo Day." Refreshments will be served.

Fools, money, parted

David Troup recommends: Spam Stock Tracker - tracking how much money people can lose with penny stocks from spam..

More on the Soup Peddler

John Moore continues his riff on the Soup Peddler.  Brand Autopsy: Food and Wine ... and The Soup Peddler!. Take a few minutes and browse his recent posts while you're there...

Thanks to you

NewschoolHere's the first school built as a result of sales of The Big Moo. I'm aware that I'm posting about this book more than anything I've ever worked on before, but when you see pictures like this, I think it makes it worth it.

Thanks to my 32 colleagues who are donating all their proceeds to charity. More schools to come.


And here's a look at the village in Nepal (more than 275 families) that will have their lives changed forever. It would be okay with me if you bought 1,000 more copies..

Tires are a commodity?


Nope. Erik Severin points us to Burnout, tire roasting cool pictures, Fast Cool Cars.

Turning a noun (tires), into a gerund (drifting, peeling, moving, red).

PS Diego beat me to it.

Jeff Jarvis on Squidoo

Link: BuzzMachine: Squidoo.

Said it better than I did. Thanks.

No accounting for taste

Today's Big Moo review teaches a lesson: Solopreneurial Tendencies: It's the Big Moo Review.... When I handed in the manuscript, five different people read it and gave me feedback. And every single person disliked a few of the entries.

The thing is, the entries they didn't like were completely different. In fact, the chances that an entry would be beloved by someone dramatically increased when it turned out that someone else didn't like it.

Sharilyn picked out her favorite entry. And yes, it was one of the entries an earlier reader said, "didn't really work for me."

Edges. Again.

The best customers leave first

The New York Times reports that newspapers are in even more trouble that we thought. The Philadelphia Inquirer lost 30% of its subscription base in the last twenty years.

For just about any venture, it's the first customers that pay the rent, and the last ones that make a profit. It's hard to imagine anyone going back to newspapers, isn't it?

Sunday pictures

Literary_agentOutside a major book event in NYC last week.

Defaced_laptopJoi Ito began defacing his laptop several years ago. I finally got the nerve up last week. Here's one I saw at a conference last week.

This is an important breakthrough, because it finalizes the transition of computer from heavy iron into personal (disposable) fashion statement.

Justanotherdeli_1Well, telling the truth is a good thing, but I'm not sure it's working, at least not in this case...

Another Moo review

Thanks! Link: Fresh Glue: Good enough...or remarkable?.

The next free ebook (Squidoo!)

Everyone's an Expert (about something).

How do you get more people to visit your site?
or buy your product?
or donate to your charity online?

How do you get your ideas to spread?

If you work on the web, this is one of the biggest questions you wrestle with. It has led to SEO and to AdWords, to banners and to online copywriting, to blogs and to tags...

This is an ebook about getting more by presenting less.

Here’s my short take on what you’ll find in the ebook:

“For a long time, the web has been about more. More links, more traffic, more hits, more choices. In the face of all that more, many sites (and most surfers) are not getting what they want. This free ebook proposes a different way of achieving your goals: less.”

The ebook outlines a technique that will increase PageRank, user satisfaction, clickthrough and the spread of your ideas, whatever those ideas are.

I'm excited enough about this idea that I've spent the last 5 months assembling a team that is building a platform called Squidoo. My goals? To raise a lot of money for the charities of your choice (or for you) at the same time we make it easier for you to spread your ideas. And to do both of those things while making it easier for people to find what they're looking for online.

It doesn’t matter if you use Squidoo or not… the idea of a lens makes sense whether you post it yourself or let us host it for you.

Squidoo isn't ready yet. Our very limited size beta test starts on October 17th, and we'll be adding people a few hundred at a time after that. So, if you decide to sign up, please be patient. And if you're in a hurry, go build your own lens! Less, this time anyway, really is more.

Download Everyone is an expert2.pdf

(another) Big Moo Review

as promised.

Link: The Big Moo (Reviewed at

I think I'd describe this book as a collection of the very best blog posts from the very best authors on business. Pithy, inspiring and fun.

Abundance and the TBR

If you've got a pretty good job (and I assume you do) that probably means that you get to do a fair amount of self-management. If you're installing eyelets at a Nike factory, they measure your output to the tenth of a second. I'm not talking about that. I'm writing this for people who are given the freedom to solve problems or create opportunities at work.

Like most things, there's a spectrum of approaches. In this case, I think the two ends of the spectrum are an approach of Abundance and an approach I call Technically Beyond Reproach (TBR).

Abundance means that you look at every problem spec and figure out how to make it bigger.
TBR tries to make it smaller.

Abundance means that you spend a lot of time imagining how you will overdeliver.
TBR means you start from the beginning making sure that the work you do will either meet spec or you'll have a really good excuse.

Entrepeneurs have a hard time with the TBR approach, because it has never ever worked for them. VCs and customers and competitors give few bonus points for excuses, even really good ones, so the only approach that wins is the abundance one.

An abundant-approach employee shows up early so she won't need the "train was late" excuse on the day of the presentation. The TBR employee gets a note from the Metro. (true story).

An abundant-approach minister grows his church from 200 families to 3,000 by constantly reinventing what he does all day. A TBR minister does a very good job of consoling the sick and writing sermons.

Is there something wrong with the TBR approach? It depends what you want. If you want to grow, TBR won't get you there. (The Purple Cow was not about being garish or outlandish. It was, I know realize, about thinking abundantly). Yes, I probably want my airline pilot to be TBR, at least most of the time. But no, not the chef at the restaurant.

There are whole industries built around TBR thinking. The wedding business for example, charges extra so the bride and her mom will be blameless. The "top" colleges offer an expensive degree that is also beyond reproach, "Hey, it's not my fault... I paid my dues, went to a great school..."

The fascinating thing about the transparency of the Net is that it makes it easy to measure the differences between the two approaches. There are a bazillion blogs, and technorati makes it easy to see which ones have popped. And those are? Those are the ones that didn't follow the blogging manual, that didn't diligently do what they were supposed to do, but instead, they were run with an abundance mindset. The blogger chose to answer a bigger question, in a bigger way.

I think what it comes down to is the first question you ask yourself when you see an opportunity or a challenge.

Is it, "How can I make this bigger, do it faster and change the outcome for all of us?"
or is it
"If this doesn't work, will I get in trouble or will I be okay?"

Matt Blumberg on the Big Moo

Link: OnlyOnce: Book Shorts

It has some great reminders about how easy and inexpensive it can be to be remarkable in business.  Wisdom like "Criticism?  Internalize it," and "Get great ideas about your business from new employees," and "How would you run your business if you relied on donations from your customers in order to survive?" are all insightful and thought provoking.

Tim O. on Web 2.0

Well, the slide has been viewed more than 18,000 times so far, but here are some highlights in text:

Tim O'Reilly, in summarizing a brainstorming session at Foo, lists the following attributes of a classic Web 2.0 company:

Attitude, not technology
The Long Tail
Data is the "intel inside"
Perpetual Beta
Right to Remix (some rights reserved)
Software that gets better the more people use it
Emergent user behavior not predetermined
Granular addressability of content
Rich user experience
Small pieces loosely joined  (web as components)
Trust your users

This is by no means a complete list, but it represents a way to think about what you build online (and, imho, offline as well.) And it reminds me of big thinkers like David Weinberger and Lisa Gansky. Web 2.0 isn't new, but it's now.

Simple, useful and free

Worth a look: Collaborative writing software online with Writeboard. Write, share, revise, compare..

Meryl on Moo

Another review of The Big Moo. Review: The Big Moo. (second in a series.)

The book does what it sets out to do: motivate the reader to get out there to put ideas to work to develop a remarkable organization that gets everyone buzzing.

When comments work

Aaron points us to Music: Ocean's 12 [SOUNDTRACK].

Notice that the soundtrack has 71 reviews... and that the best loved review has 588 positive votes.

And that almost all the reviews are about a song that isn't even on the album!

Countdown to October 14

Every day for the next couple weeks, I'm going to feature a blogged review of The Big Moo. So, the easiest way to get on my blog, if that's your life dream, is to write a review and send me the link. The book is by 33 of us and all author proceeds go to charity, so I'm breaking my blog rule and actually flogging something on my blog. But gently.

We'll start at at the top with a review from the president of the biggest business book seller in the US: 800-CEO-READ Blog: Jack Covert Selects: The Big Moo.

You need to read all the stories. Some of my favorites are “Tuesday with Shecky: a Play in Three Jokes” and “Panic at Inappropriate Times” which contains one of my favorite last lines, “Panic early, not late, and your fire drills will actually pay off.” I believe in this book enough to issue my second “I guarantee you will like this book or your money back” promise. I know I’ll be rereading this book.

Being purple with variety

Cerealchoice"Six kinds of cereal isn't enough?"

I can hear your grandmother now.

Of course it's enough. Six varieties of cereal is more than enough to cover our breakfast needs.

But what about our wants? Our fancy? Our desire to be overwhelmed with specialness?

Here's a hotel, working hard to turn the most profitable meal of the day (breakfast, by a longshot) into something even more profitable.

They get pretty good turnover. The cereal is sealed. So why offer only six choices as part of the $17 "buffet"? Why offer just one kind of tea? One kind of bread that you toast yourself?

The cost of offering 40 kinds of cereal is close to zero. The cost to offering 100 kinds of tea is about the same. No, we don't need it, but we don't need to eat in the hotel either. And yes, you'd be sure to tell people about it. "Hey, you know what I had for breakfast? A mixture of Cap'n Crunch, Quisp (who knew they even made Quisp any more! and Honeycomb!! And I had it with chocolate soymilk and M & Ms on top."

You get to be a kid again for less than twenty bucks.

Of course, once everyone starts using variety as a tool to be remarkable, it won't be remarkable any more. But for now, and for a while to come, buy more cereal.

Updated time for my speech on Friday

The folks at eComXpo have been incredibly flexible about dealing with my travel schedule this week. My talk online is now scheduled for Friday, October 7 at 10:20 CST. This, as far as I can tell, is 8:20 am in Arizona and California and 11:20 in New York and 4:20 in London, UK, because they are still on British Summer Time.

Remind me one day to tell you the amazing history of time zones.

Anyway, find out details, free tickets, etc. at: Seth's Blog: Live online. You'll need fast access, IE and a PC.

actually, it's how you tell it

Via boingboing, here's the movie West Side Story, remixed.


What could you remix?

« September 2005 | Main | November 2005 »