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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

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

Meatball Sundae

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

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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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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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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




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« February 2010 | Main | April 2010 »

Let's spend a (very leveraged) week together

For a year, people have been asking for a sequel to the free alternative MBA program I ran in early 2009. Here it is. Like the last one, it is also free, but it's different, so please read on for the details.

I'm planning on inviting eleven people to an intensive five-day session in New York. This program is designed exclusively for people who:

  • Already have a job
  • Want to do more in that job
  • Can spend five days at my office with their boss's blessing
  • Take initiative as a matter of course
  • Are willing to work really hard and read a lot too
  • Do work that makes the world a better place

You have to have all six, without exception. If you think you would benefit from a rigorous re-thinking of what it means to contribute at work, if you want to take your strong connections and intuition and amplify that, I hope you will consider this program.

Call it the leveraged-nano-MBA for lack of a better name yet. Every day will be spent around my desk, either learning from me, going over case studies, discussing real life situations or working on a project of your choice. The only benefit I get is helping eleven very cool people leverage their jobs doing good. All the details and the application can be found right here.

I'm limiting the program to people at non-profits doing important work (or for-profits that leave a significantly positive impact on their communities). I know this is subjective, but I've found that people who are doing work that they're proud of have already made an important choice.

Applications are open from now until March 31st at noon EST. Late applications will be deleted unread.

For those of you that can't get to New York or want a digital version, I'm afraid that there won't be one. Most of my work is digitally available, but this is an intimate exchange of learning and ideas.

Just because it's free doesn't mean it will be easy, and just because it's short doesn't mean the lessons won't last. I truly want to help people who are doing work that matters, and this feels like a good way to do that. If this is for you, I hope you'll apply. If you can run a program like this, I hope you will. And if neither is possible, I hope you'll find some books and blog posts that help you achieve your goals.

SFW

Everybody knows what NSFW means. It's not safe for work if a link contains misogynistic videos, or various curse words or insane prattling sure to upset the boss and your co-workers.

But what about safe for work? Have we thought too much about what's safe?

Is it SFW to criticize a plan your boss loves?

Is it SFW to ship a product without having every single possible meeting beforehand?

Is it SFW to engage with your customers honestly?

Perhaps it's time to revisit what's safe where you work.

Do you make slush?

A few months ago, the Journal wrote a piece about the demise of the slush pile, that undifferentiated mass of unsolicited ideas from authors and screenwriters in search of a publisher or studio.

They missed the point.

In the words of Michael Brooke, "I'm not interested in creating slush."

If you have something good, really good, what's it doing in the slush pile?

Bring it to the world directly, make your own video, write your own ebook, post your own blog, record your own music.

Or find an agent, a great agent, a selective agent, one that's almost impossible to get through to, one that commands respect and acts as a filter because after all, that's what you're seeking, a filtered, amplified way to spread your idea.

But slush?

Good riddance.

When a freelancer changes the game

Often, businesses hire freelancers (writers, photographers, process consultants, trainers) to solve a specific problem for the lowest possible cost. And a good freelancer at the right price is often the right approach.

Sometimes, though, you spend more and get something great. You seek out and find a linchpin who combines inspiration and professionalism and initiative and pushes back on your quest for average. When you interact with someone like that, you might pay more but you get far more than you paid.

I recently did a photo shoot with my friend Brian, and from the moment I walked into the studio, I discovered that he and his lighting guru were relentlessly pushing to change my perception of what was possible at the same time they were focused on overdelivering on the project. They had little interest in settling on merely doing a good job.

There's a lot of pressure for freelancers to fit in, conform and comply. It seems easier to generate new business that way. That's not really true. It's easier to become an easily-described commodity that way, but the person who's willing to push themselves out to an edge that matters is on the only path that actually leads to success.

And then it's up to the client to care enough about the project and in making a difference to have the guts to hire you.

First and never

I met a new addition to the family the other day. She was eleven days old.

It was the warmest day of her whole life the day I was there. And she had just eaten her biggest meal ever.

Firsts are fun and exciting and it's neat to keep topping ourselves.

I've also come to grips with the fact that I'm never going to eat tuna ever again, and that I'm never going to be able to easily walk onto a shuttle flight at the last minute and just show up in Boston. Never is a lot harder than first, but I guess you get used to it.

The internet is like Ice 9. It changes what it touches, probably forever. We keep discovering firsts, the biggest viral video ever, the most twitter followers ever, the fastest bestseller ever... And we constantly discover nevers as well. There's never going to be a mass market TV show that rivals the ones that came before. There's never going to be a worldwide brand built by advertising ever again either. And Michael Jackson's record deal is the last one of its kind... And there may never be a job like that job you used to have either.

Revolutions are like that. They invent and destroy and they only go one way. It's like watching a confused person in a revolving door for the first time. They push backwards, try to slow it down, fight the rotation... and then they embrace the process and just walk and it works.

Anxiety is nothing...

but repeatedly re-experiencing failure in advance. What a waste.

[and a bonus from George Orwell: "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."]

Not for me

A worthwhile discipline: when giving feedback, separate "not for me" from "not for anyone."

If someone brings you a business plan for a power plant that will use perpetual motion as a power supply, it's fair to say, "this will never work, it's impossible."

If someone brings you a business plan for a chain of hot dog sushi restaurants, it's fair to say, "this is disgusting, I will never go here," but not helpful to assume that it won't work anywhere under any circumstances.

You can say you don't like a book or a movie or a political candidate, but without more data, it's impossible to say that it won't succeed, get great reviews or even get elected.

Brilliant editors and venture capitalists have the ability to get excited about a project that perhaps doesn't match their taste--or to criticize it based on experience, not selfishness. This is a really valuable skill, as it requires empathy, experience and judgment, not just the knee-jerk ability to pontificate.

Driveby culture and the endless search for wow

The net has spawned two new ways to create and consume culture.

The first is the wide-open door for amateurs to create. This is blogging and online art, wikipedia and the maker movement. These guys get a lot of press, and deservedly so, because they're changing everything.

The second, though, is distracting and ultimately a waste. We're creating a culture of clickers, stumblers and jaded spectators who decide in the space of a moment whether to watch and participate (or not).

Imagine if people went to the theatre or the movies and stood up and walked out after the first six seconds. Imagine if people went to the senior prom and bailed on their date three seconds after the car pulled away from the curb.

The majority of people who sign up for a new online service rarely or never use it. The majority of YouTube videos are watched for just a few seconds. Chatroulette institutionalizes the glance and click mentality. I'm guessing that more than half the people who started reading this post never finished it.

This is all easy to measure. And it drives people with something to accomplish crazy, because they want visits to go up, clicks to go up, eyeballs to go up.

Should I write blog posts that increase my traffic or that help change the way (a few) people think?

Should a charity focus on instant donations by texting from a million people or is it better to seek dedicated attention and support from a few who understand the mission and are there for the long haul?

More and more often, we're seeing products and services coming to market designed to appeal to the momentary attention of the clickers. The Huffington Post has downgraded itself, pushing thoughtful stories down the page in exchange for linkbait and sensational celebrity riffs. This strategy gets page views, but does it generate thought or change?

If you create (or market) should you be chasing the people who click and leave? Or is it like trying to turn a cheetah into a house pet? Is manipulating the high-voltage attention stream of millions of caffeinated web surfers a viable long-term strategy?

Mass marketing used to be able to have it both ways. Money bought you audience. Now, all that buys you a mass market is wow and speed. Wow keeps getting harder and dives for the lowest common denominator at the same time.

Time magazine started manipulating the cover and then the contents in order to boost newsstand sales. They may have found a short-term solution, but the magazine is doomed precisely because the people they are pandering to don't really pay attention and aren't attractive to advertisers.

My fear is that the endless search for wow further coarsens our culture at the same time it encourages marketers to get ever more shallow. That's where the first trend comes in... the artists, idea merchants and marketers that are having the most success are ignoring those that would rubberneck and drive on, focusing instead on cadres of fans that matter. Fans that will give permission, fans that will return tomorrow, fans that will spread the word to others that can also take action.

Culture has been getting faster and shallower for hundreds of years, and I'm not the first crusty pundit to decry the demise of thoughtful inquiry and deep experiences. The interesting question here, though, is not how fast is too fast, but what works? What works to change mindsets, to spread important ideas and to create an audience for work that matters? What's worth your effort and investment as a marketer or creator?

The difference this time is that driveby culture is both fast and free. When there's no commitment of money or time in the interaction, can change or commerce really happen? Just because you can measure eyeballs and pageviews doesn't mean you should.

In the race between 'who' and 'how many', who usually wins--if action is your goal. Find the right people, those that are willing to listen to what you have to say, and ignore the masses that are just going to race on, unchanged.

But it's better than TV

At the local health food store lunch buffet, they offer stir fried tempeh.

I never get it. Not because I don’t like it, but because there are always so many other things on the buffet that I prefer.

That's why I don't watch TV. At all. There are so many other things I'd rather do in that moment.

Broadcast TV was a great choice when a> there weren't a lot of other options and b> when everyone else was watching the same thing, so you needed to see it to be educated.

Now, though, you could:

  • Run a little store on eBay
  • Write a daily blog
  • Write a novel
  • Start an online community about your favorite passion
  • Go to meetups in your town
  • Volunteer to tutor a kid, in person or online
  • Learn a new language, verbal or programming
  • Write hand written thank you notes each evening to people who helped you out or did a good job
  • Produce small films and publish them online
  • Listen to the one thousand most important operas
  • Read a book or two every evening
  • Play a game of Scrabble with your family

None of them are perfect. Each of them are better than TV.

Clay Shirky has noticed the trend of talented people putting five or six hours an evening to work instead of to waste. Add that up across a million or ten million people and the output is astonishing. He calls it cognitive surplus and it's one of the underappreciated world-changing stories of our time.

Books you don't need in a place you can't find

David points us to the Montague Bookmill. This is the bookstore of the future, because it's not a business trying to maximize growth and ROI. No, it's a place, an attitude, an approach to an afternoon. They don't sell every book, they don't even pretend to.

Just as vinyl records persist, an object of joy for some listeners and a profitable cottage business for some sellers, bookstores are going to become like gift stores. The goal isn't a commodity transaction with maximum selection at minimum price, the goal is an experience worth seeking out and paying for.

We're going to see more and more of these newly archaic industries turn into lifestyle businesses, which is what they used to be before Wall Street showed up.

[PS...US readers should change their clocks!)

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