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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

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Member since 08/2003

« June 2010 | Main | August 2010 »

Information about information

The first revolution hit when people who made stuff started to discover that information was often as valuable as the stuff itself. Knowing where something was or how it performed or how it interacted with you can be worth more than the item itself.

Frito Lay dominates the snack business because of the information infrastructure they built on top of their delivery model. 7 Eleven in Japan dominated for a decade or more because they used information to change their inventory. Zara in Europe is an information business that happens to sell clothes.

You've probably already guessed what's now: information about information. That's what Facebook and Google and Bloomberg do for a living. They create a meta-layer, a world of information about the information itself.

And why is this so valuable? Because it compounds. A tiny head start in access to this information gives you a huge advantage in the stock market. Or in marketing. Or in fundraising.

Many people and organizations are contributing to this mass of data, but few are taking advantage of the opportunity to collate it and present it to people who desperately need it. Think about how much needs to be sorted, compared, updated and presented to people who want to choose or learn or trade on it.

The race to deliver this essential scalable asset isn't over, it's just beginning.

Upstream and downstream

Most of the time, we think of our job as a set of tasks that take place in a ---> [box] <---.

It turns out, though, that if we go upstream and alter the stuff that comes to us, it's a lot easier to do great work. And if we go downstream and teach people how to work with what we created, the final product is better as well. Now, it's more of a --> [   box   ] <--.

A doctor can consider her work in the box of the examining room. But if she figures out how to get people to quit smoking before they come in, her results are better. If she figures out how to get people to take their meds after they leave, same thing.

A designer who receives a better project brief will deliver better work. A manufacturer who figures out how to teach users to use the object properly will get better word of mouth...

Marketers, of course, can have the biggest box of all. So the stuff we think of as 'marketing' can be altered long before the person ever sees an ad, and have an impact long after they've got the product.

The challenge lies in spending a lot of time and money on the upstream and downstream parts of the work, instead of always assuming that your [box] is just what happens inside your cubicle, or as a direct result of your actions.

Two kinds of schooling

Type 1. You can take a class where you learn technique, facts and procedures.

Type 2. You can take a class where you learn to see, learn to lead and learn to solve interesting problems.

The first type of teaching isn't particularly difficult to do, and it's something most of us are trained to absorb. The first type of schooling can even be accomplished with self-discipline and a Dummies book. The first type of class is important but not scarce.

The second kind, on the other hand, is where all real success comes from. It's really tricky to find and train people to do this sort of teaching, and anytime you can find some of it, you should grab it.

The sad thing is that we often conflate the two. We think we're hiring someone to do the second type, a once in a lifetime teacher, someone who will change the outlook of stellar students. But then we give them rules and procedures and feedback that turn them into a type 1 teacher.

Even worse, we often pay as if we're getting the scarce and valuable type 2 teachers but we end up hiring and managing type 1 teachers.

I spend a lot of time in colleges and other teaching institutions. Over and over I see the same thing--organizations that have painted themselves into a corner, keeping themselves busy but refusing to do the difficult work of teaching people to see. The dean of one college was so stuck in his type-1ness that he couldn't even bring himself to participate in a session run by a gifted type 2 teacher.

Is there anything more important to you and your organization (or your kids or your town) than figuring out how to obtain and share the wisdom that real teaching can deliver?

The big sort

Kevin Kelly argues that the most important breakthrough in the history of mankind was the invention of language.

Before language, we were wild animals. After language, humans as a species took a huge leap forward. Language allowed us to coordinate, to teach and to learn.

The second great breakthrough on this axis was writing. Writing is language solidified. Writing permits language to travel through time or over distances. It ensures that ideas last more than one generation.

Now, we're on the cusp of the third breakthrough, one that is proving to be as powerful as the other two. And we're living through it, not reading about it history books...

We've taken the smartest and richest people on earth, hundreds of millions of them, and put them to work sorting and organizing and polishing data.

We're sorting everything. Not just which videos are imitations of other videos, but identifying local breakthroughs and spreading them around the world, highlighting problems or insights and leveraging them and connecting resources to each other in ways that create massive amounts of leverage.

Think about all those folks checking their Blackberry, upvoting Digg articles, retweeting links and connecting people to ideas online. Think about the human enabled filtering, a giant system working without obvious compensation.

Right now, the big sort focuses on finding clever viral videos, but it won't for long. The power of this coordination is so huge it won't stop with building Wikipedia and turning the founder of ChatRoulette into a millionaire. Instead, the big sort will relentlessly find and connect and spread ideas that generate productivity and impact.

So easy to talk about lunch

If you want to get things moving at a meeting or in an online forum, start discussing what to order for lunch. Even the most reticent attendee has something to contribute.

Same thing when you start discussing the logo for your new venture, or what to call the subcommittee on committees... Have you noticed how many people are willing to weigh in on redecorating your office?

It's so easy to speak up on the things that are trivial, defensible, matters of taste. So easy to imagine that you're a valuable contributor because you're willing to share your personal taste on a matter that's beyond reproach.

If I want your opinion, I'm going to want it for something where you might be wrong, for something that actually makes a difference and most of all, for something where you are putting yourself at risk. Not lunch.

Insubordinate... 50th anniverary free ebook

What’s the opposite of insubordinate? I guess it’s subordinate.

Which is better, I wonder. Is it preferred to do exactly what you’re told, to be clearly subordinate to the system, to the boss, to the short term demands of the organization--or are we better off doing the right thing instead?

As I think about the insubordinate people I’ve worked with over the last few decades, the answer is really clear to me.

I’ve written a personal addendum to Linchpin. Here it is, it's a free PDF. Insubordinate is a 40 page ebook, feel free to share. I couldn’t possibly include all the linchpins I’ve worked with over the years, but I think you’ll find that many of the examples in the ebook resonate.


It's not my birthday

Not any more.

Some of you may have discovered that today is supposed to be my birthday. No longer. I've never really liked birthday hoopla, especially mine, so I've given my birthday to Scott and the folks at Charity:water.

If you go to the special page they created and buy a well for a village that doesn't have one, you can supply clean water to two people for twenty years. If just a thousand of the readers of this blog do it, we could alter the lives of tens of thousands of people for a generation, and we could do it in just one day.  I'm not asking you to do it as a favor to me (that would be silly) but as a favor to you. Because it feels good and because $50 is a screaming bargain--100% goes directly to the well, zero overhead.

In general, I think trade is better than aid, and creating scalable investments that engage the developing world is the best shortcut to bring us all out of poverty. But without a stable infrastructure, none of that works, and water is a key building block in that platform. The key is creating a dependable, long-term supply that communities can count on, and you can be part of that.

I can't tell you how relieved I am to be done with my birthday. Maybe charity day will catch on, with lots of people giving away their birthdays, replacing noise makers and pointy hats. If you've got either the noise makers or the hats, or even digital birthday wishes, send them to Scott, not me.

Happy charity day.

And thanks.

Fans, participants and spectators

A good preacher ought to be able to get 70% of the people who showed up on Sunday to make a donation.

A teeny bop rock group might convert 20% of concert goers to buy a shirt or souvenir.

A great street magician can get 10% of the people who watch his show to throw a dollar in the hat.

Direct marketers used to shoot for 2% conversion from a good list, but now, that's a long shot.

A blogger might convert 2% of readers to buy a book. (I'm aghast at this).

And a twitter user with a lot of fans will be lucky to get one out of a thousand to click a link and buy something. (.1%)

Likes, friendlies and hits are all fast-growing numbers that require little commitment. And commitment is the essence of conversion. The problem with commitment is that it's frightening (for both sides). And so it's easy to avoid. We just click and move on.

I think there's a transparent wall, an ever bigger one, between digital spectators and direct interaction or transaction. The faster the train is moving, the harder it is to pay attention, open the window and do business. If all you're doing is increasing the number of digital spectators to your work, you're unlikely to earn the conversion you deserve.


Over the last few months, I've tried experimenting with leveraged ways to teach and engage, and I thought it would be worth doing a recap. The short version: digital tools make it easier than ever to create events and experiences that work--without the risky staffing and trappings and overhead that used to be required.

THE ROAD TRIP: In two weeks I'll be in DC for the second in a series of all-day interactive events. Minnesota is in August and Chicago is September. You can see video and photos from the first event in Boston here. (There are less than 12 full-day seats left in DC and perhaps six in Chicago...) The people I met in Boston were amazing, and the volunteers who pitched in made the event sing (I think you'll enjoy their page). The juxtaposition of a large group in the morning and a more intimate group for the rest of the day makes it interesting.

MEETUP: I've updated the original post with a few pictures. More are here. Some of the people who attended got together and independently created a slick magazine. I was honored to contribute a short essay.

THE NANO: Some feedback and learnings from the short, free one-week MBA program I ran a few months ago. Not sure when it will happen again, but I'll be sure to post on it if it does.

BOOK PAGE: It's been updated.

I think we've overlooked what a sea change has occurred in just a few years, when anyone with an idea can expose it directly to the rest of the world. What these events have in common is that they would have been impossible just five or ten years ago. The cost of entry is lower, and the access to the market is greater...

Low esteem and the factory

If you want to hire people to do a job, to be cogs in the system and to do what they're told, you might want to focus on people who don't think very highly of themselves.

People with low self esteem might be more happy to be bossed around, timed, abused, misused and micromanaged, no?

And the converse is true as well. If you want to raise your game and build an organization filled with people who will change everything, the first thing to look for is someone who hasn't been brainwashed into believing that they're not capable of great work.

A harried teacher might find it easier to teach a class to obey first and think second, but is that sort of behavior valuable or scarce now?

Industries that need to subjugate women or demonstrate power over one class of person or another are always on the lookout for people they can diminish. Our task, then, is to find people we can encourage and nurture until they're as impatient with average as we are.

The paradox is that the very people that are the easiest to categorize, to command and to dominate are the last people we want to work with.

« June 2010 | Main | August 2010 »