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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

« December 2010 | Main | February 2011 »

In and out

That's one of the most important decisions you'll make today.

How much time and effort should be spent on intake, on inbound messages, on absorbing data...

and how much time and effort should be invested in output, in creating something new.

There used to be a significant limit on available intake. Once you read all the books in the college library on your topic, it was time to start writing.

Now that the availability of opinions, expertise and email is infinite, I think the last part of that sentence is the most important:

Time to start writing.

Or whatever it is you're not doing, merely planning on doing.

Texting while working

Yes, you shouldn't text while driving, or talk on the cell phone, or argue with your dog or drive blindfolded. It's an idiot move, one that often leads to death (yours or someone else's).

I don't think you should text while working, either. Or use social networking software of any kind for that matter. And you probably shouldn't eat crunchy chips, either.

I don't think there's anything wrong with doing all that at work (in moderation). But not while you're working. Not if working is that the act that leads to the scarce output, the hard stuff, the creative uniqueness they actually pay you for.

You're competing against people in a state of flow, people who are truly committed, people who care deeply about the outcome. You can't merely wing it and expect to keep up with them. Setting aside all the safety valves and pleasant distractions is the first way to send yourself the message that you're playing for keeps. After all, if you sit for an hour and do exactly nothing, not one thing, you'll be ashamed of yourself. But if you waste that hour updating, pinging, being pinged and crunching, well, hey, at least you stayed in touch.

Raise the stakes.

Bill James and you

The guy who revolutionized baseball stats had a simple insight: past performance is a good indicator of future performance.

The stock market doesn't follow that rule, but an awful lot of human performance traits do.

The question one must ask before ignoring the past performance rule (if you're doing a job interview, say) is, "what am I replacing the Bill James rule with?" We need to understand how we're predicting the future if we're abandoning the idea of using the past as a guide.

If you believe that pleasant interviewing skills, a good handshake or the right outfit are a better predictor of future performance than what the person has actually shipped in the past, I think it's worth pointing out that you're nuts.

And if you're the one who's hoping to be interviewed one day, it seems as though the best way to market yourself isn't with a slick resume or the right suit. No, the most reliable form of self marketing is to have a long history of stunningly great work, shipped.

[Karen writes in to point out that many people break this rule, accomplishing something great right out of the box. And well they do. In fact, if you do it a few times, then, in Karen's words, "I'll just keep breaking the Bill James Rule, until I become proof of it."]

When was the last time you bought a tie?

My guess is not lately.

When you first got a fancy job, you had a tie shortage, and thus attention was paid to ties. You bought "enough for now." Then you solved the tie problem and moved on.

When you first bought an iPhone, you had an app shortage, so attention was paid to apps. You bought "enough for now." Then you moved on.

Music might be an exception (buying a new stereo doesn't often lead to a new music binge). But in general, some external event occurs that creates a fissure, an opportunity, a problem. We search, we buy, we're done.

The challenge, then, is to develop products that match what the market is looking for, and more important, to overtly and aggressively seek out the people in that situation and ignore the rest. Which is precisely what most marketers large and small are not doing right now.

RELATED: Many marketers I know have a great idea for a product or service that will target a segment of the market that doesn't know to look for the great idea. For example, you might want to sell a better, easier to use hatchet for women. The problem is that women, long accustomed to never being able to find an axe that they're comfortable with, have given up looking, perhaps several generations ago.

Alerting a market segment that isn't looking is a thousand times harder than activating a segment that just can't wait for your arrival. Since it's your choice, since the segment is up to you, why not pick one that is itching for you to show up?

Why I don't sell Kimchi

Wink kimchi Years ago, I put together a really cool plan to get into the artisinal kimchi business (with a tofu sideline, of course). What, you didn't know there was an artisinal kimchi business?

Here's the first draft of our packaging (click the picture to see the engaging copy).

Why did I stop before I really started?

Because distribution can define your business. The distribution that book publishers offered me seemed more highly leveraged, approachable and yes, fun, than the idea of driving from bodega to deli, hawking my wares.

Just about every business is limited (and thus valued) by its distribution, by the way it is able to get paid for what it makes. Direct mail is different than a salesforce which is different than retailers... And while the food business attracts tons of enthusiastic people, the distribution challenges are significant.

On the other hand, once you overcome the distribution hurdle in a difficult environment, you have the market all to yourself. The dip that's in between you and the amateurs (the dip you got through, congratulations) gives you insulation and enables your business to thrive.

As is so often the case, there's no right answer, there's just a choice.

The shell game of delight

Let's try a challenging thought experiment.

I'm going to pick a number between one and five, inclusive. I'm not going to tell you what it is. Now, try to guess. Focus hard, sharpen your senses, and see if you can guess what I'm thinking of...

Click on your guess (just one, please): one, two, three, four, five.

Cynics have already become annoyed at me. But most people, particularly if I added a little spin, would be delighted at their sensitivity and psi-power.

The point: you can easily create similar interactions in the way you do business with people. Setting up prospects, customers and bosses to be right is almost always worth the effort. It's so much more useful than setting people up to fail.

Why then, do we organize interfaces, manuals, contracts and relationships to have people fail merely because they didn't guess what we had in mind? When in doubt, make it so people succeed.

Eight Lessons from the life and work of Jack LaLanne

  1. He bootstrapped himself. A scrawny little kid at 15, he decided to change who he was and how he was perceived, and then he did. The deciding was as important as the doing.
  2. He went to the edges. He didn't merely open a small gym, a more pleasant version of a boxing gym, for instance. Instead, he created the entire idea of a health club, including the juice bar. He did this 70 years ago.
  3. He started small. No venture money, no big media partners.
  4. He understood the power of the media. If it weren't for TV, we never would have heard of Jack. Jack used access to the media to earn trust and to teach. And most of what Jack had to offer he offered for free. He understood the value of attention.
  5. He was willing to avoid prime time. Jack never had a variety show on CBS. He was able to change the culture from the fringes of TV.
  6. He owned the rights. 3,000 shows worth.
  7. He stuck with the brand. He didn't worry about it getting stale or having to reinvent it into something fresh. Jack stood for something, which is rare, and he was smart enough to keep standing for it.
  8. Jack lived the story. He followed his own regimen, even when no one was watching. In his words, “I can’t die, it would ruin my image.”

He died last week at 96. I don't think he has to worry about ruining his image, though.

Three ways to help people get things done

A friend sent me a copy of a new book about basketball coach Don Meyer. Don was one of the most successful college basketball coaches of all time, apparently. It's quite a sad book—sad because of his tragic accident, but also sad because it's a vivid story about a misguided management technque.

Meyer's belief was that he could become an external compass and taskmaster to his players. By yelling louder, pushing harder and relentlessly riding his players, his plan was to generate excellence by bullying them. The hope was that over time, people would start pushing themselves, incorporating Don's voice inside their head, but in fact, this often turns out to be untrue. People can be pushed, but the minute you stop, they stop. If the habit you've taught is to achieve in order to avoid getting chewed out, once the chewing out stops, so does the achievement.

It might win basketball games, but it doesn't scale and it doesn't last. When Don left the room (or the players graduated), the team stopped winning.

A second way to manage people is to create competition. Pit people against one another and many of them will respond. Post all the grades on a test, with names, and watch people try to outdo each other next time. Promise a group of six managers that one of them will get promoted in six months and watch the energy level rise. Want to see little league players raise their game? Just let them know the playoffs are in two weeks and they're one game out of contention.

Again, there's human nature at work here, and this can work in the short run. The problem, of course, is that in every competition most competitors lose. Some people use that losing to try harder next time, but others merely give up. Worse, it's hard to create the cooperative environment that fosters creativity when everyone in the room knows that someone else is out to defeat them.

Both the first message (the bully with the heart of gold) and the second (creating scarce prizes) are based on a factory model, one of scarcity. It's my factory, my basketball, my gallery and I'm going to manipulate whatever I need to do to get the results I need. If there's only room for one winner, it seems these approaches make sense.

The third method, the one that I prefer, is to open the door. Give people a platform, not a ceiling. Set expectations, not to manipulate but to encourage. And then get out of the way, helping when asked but not yelling from the back of the bus.

When people learn to embrace achievement, they get hooked on it. Take a look at the incredible achievements the alumni of some organizations achieve after they move on. When adults (and kids) see the power of self-direction and realize the benefits of mutual support, they tend to seek it out over and over again.

In a non-factory mindset, one where many people have the opportunity to use the platform (I count the web and most of the arts in this category), there are always achievers eager to take the opportunity. No, most people can't manage themselves well enough to excel in the way you need them to, certainly not immediately. But those that can (or those that can learn to) are able to produce amazing results, far better than we ever could have bullied them into. They turn into linchpins, solving problems you didn't even realize you had. A new generation of leaders is created...

And it lasts a lifetime.

The pleasant reassurance of new words

It's a lot easier for an organization to adopt new words than it is to actually change anything.

Real change is uncomfortable. If it's not feeling that way, you've probably just adopted new words.

Treat different customers differently

This is difficult if you also insist on treating every customer the same. Or treating every customer the best, which is a better way to describe a similar idea.

No, the only way you can treat different customers differently is if you understand that their values (and their value to you) vary. It's easier than ever to discern and test these values, and you do everyone a service when you differentiate.

Misjudging risk (and bad decisions)

The perception of risk is skewed when bad outcomes are vivid, personal and immediate.

Given the choice between working on the important and the urgent, the urgent almost always wins.

Given the choice between avoiding the rare but grisly outcome or doing the hard work to avoid the equally nasty, more subtle but more common outcome, we usually go for the grisly.

We do this sort of miscalculation all the time at work. We avoid the hard work on the long-term project in order to panic and rush about to avoid the possible vivid, immediate and personal risk on the short-term project, even if it's far less important.

(Think about this the next time you're in the security line at the airport).

This is one reason why the media is so complicit in many of the issues of the day... they take concepts that were previously abstract and relentlessly make them vivid, personal and immediate. It amplifies the risks around us and easily sells us on a cycle of dissatisfaction.

If you want to create action on the important, figure out how to make it vivid, personal and immediate.

Timing rewards

We can agree that promising a three-year old a new car when he graduates from college is probably an ineffective way to get him to stop sucking his thumb.

As we mature, it gets easier to trade satisfaction now for a prize later. However, the more risk involved in getting the prize, the less we value it. Frequent flyer miles, for example, began with the promise that if you flew an airline regularly for months (or even years) you'd get a free flight. The airlines oversold the miles and undelivered on the free flights, though, so the reward started to lose its perceived value--too much risk that you wouldn't get the prize you wanted. Many of the frequent flyers I know have ceased to 'save up' and now use their miles for upgrades, moving the benefit closer in time.

One of the many things the web is changing is our focus on now. It's increasing. Offering a reward in three months just isn't going to cut it. If you want me to get out of bed or brush my teeth or click on your link, there better be something waiting for me on the other side.

Launch it like Google

About a year after they were founded, Google was first mentioned in the New York Times. As an aside, in a non-news column.

Today of course, it seems like everything they do is instantly news. It's easy to forget that just about every major online service (eBay, Amazon, Paypal, Twitter, Facebook) launched in obscurity. Same with classic books, pop musicians and political careers.

The big splash might feel good, but it's clearly not necessary.

One way to look at the internet, mobile, web and tablets


It might be about the size of the screen and whether or not you're standing up.

Start at the bottom. For the first five years of the Internet, the most used function was email. Email remains a bedrock of every device and system that's been built on top of the internet, though sometimes it looks like a text message or a mobile check in. This is the layer for asynchronous person to person connection, over time.

Moving from left to right, we see how the way we use the thing we call the internet has evolved over time. We also see how devices and technology and bandwidth have changed the uses of the net and, interestingly, how a growth in mass has led to a growth in self-motivated behavior.

Early online projects were things like Archie and Veronica and checking in changes to the Linux code base. You needed patience, a big screen and a sense of contribution.

Layer on top of this a practice that is getting ever more professional, which is creating content for others to consume. Sometimes in groups, sometimes using sophisticated software and talented cohorts.

As we move to the right (and through time) we see the birth of online shopping. Still to this day, most online shopping happens on traditional devices, often sitting down.

The sitting down part is not a silly aside. Ted Leonsis theorized twenty years ago that the giant difference between TV and the internet was how far you sat from the screen. TV was an 8 foot activity, and you were a consumer. The internet was a 16 inch activity, and you participated. I think the sitting down thing is similar. You're not going to buy an armoir while standing on the subway.

Moving over in time and device and intent, we see the idea of consuming content. While tablets get their share of shopping, this is where they really shine. I think 2011 is going to be the year of the tablet, from the Kindle to the iPad to the thing we used to call a phone.

It's in the last two categories that these other devices, things that don't involve sitting down, are superior, not just a mobile substitute. The social graph is a very low bandwidth, peripheral attention interaction, perfect for this audience and this medium. And the last category--tell me where I am, where to eat, who's near me, what's the weather, get me a cab right now--is all about me and now and here.

I don't believe this is a winner take all situation, any more than one bestselling book makes all other books obsolete. I think different pillars work for different devices, and there will continue to be winners in all of them.

Cashing the check

A check in your wallet does you very little good. It represents opportunity, sure, but not action.

Most of us are carrying around a check, an opportunity to make an impact, to do the work we're capable of, to ship the art that would make a difference.

No, the world isn't fair, and most people don't get all the chances they deserve. There are barriers due to income, to race, to social standing and to education, and they are inexcusable and must fall. But the check remains, now more than ever. The opportunity to step up and to fail (and then to fail again, and to fail again) and to continue failing until we succeed is greater now than it has ever been.

As Martin Luther King Junior spoke about a half a lifetime ago,

"We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood -- it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, "Too late."

Self-destructive instructions

If you ever have to say 'lighten up' to someone, you've failed twice. The first time, when you misjudged an interaction and the other person reacted in a way you're unhappy with, and the second time, when you issue this instruction, one that is guaranteed to evoke precisely the opposite reaction you're intending.

I'll add "I was joking," to this list, because it's an incredibly lame excuse for a failed interaction.

One more: Raising your voice while you say, "You're just going to have to calm down!" (And I'll add librarians yelling at kids to be quiet...)

It's completely valid to come to the conclusion that someone else can't be a worthy audience, conversation partner or otherwise interact with you. You can quietly say to yourself, "this guy is a stiff, I'm never going to be able to please him." But the minute you throw back instructions designed to 'cure' the other person, I fear you're going to get precisely the opposite of what you were hoping for.

(Generally speaking, the word "oh" is so neutral, it's a helpful go to pause while you wait for things to calm down.)

The certainty premium

How much would you pay for an envelope that had a 50% chance of containing $10 and a 50% chance of being empty?

Over time and in bulk, probably $4.99. But certainly not more than $5.

Here's where it gets interesting: how much extra would you pay for a plane that was guaranteed to be always on time, or a surgery that was always guaranteed to work? Suddenly, the same math that helped us value the envelope doesn't work so well. That's because we're often willing to pay a significant premium to avoid risk.

"Works every time" is a great promise to make to your boss. And it's the secret to Fedex's original success. Plenty of people send things by Fedex that don't need to get there superfast. They just need to get there for sure.

Doesn't work if you have to slip in the word 'almost' though.

A culture of testing

Netflix tests everything. They're very proud that they A/B test interactions, offerings, pricing, everything. It's almost enough to get you to believe that rigorous testing is the key to success.

Except they didn't test the model of renting DVDs by mail for a monthly fee.

And they didn't test the model of having an innovative corporate culture.

And they didn't test the idea of betting the company on a switch to online delivery.

The three biggest assets of the company weren't tested, because they couldn't be.

Sure, go ahead and test what's testable. But the real victories come when you have the guts to launch the untestable.

Raising expectations (and then dashing them)

Have you noticed how upbeat the ads for airlines and banks are?

Judging from the billboards and the newspaper ads, you might be led to believe that Delta is actually a better airline, one that cares. Or that your bank has flexible people eager to bend the rules to help you succeed.

At one level, this is good advertising, because it tells a story that resonates. We want Delta to be the airline it says it is, and so we give them a try.

The problem is this: ads like this actually decrease user satisfaction. If the ad leads to expect one thing and we don't get it, we're more disappointed than if we had gone in with no real expectations at all. Why this matters: if word of mouth is the real advertising, then what you've done is use old-school ad techniques to actually undercut any chance you have to generate new-school results.

So much better to invest that same money in delighting and embracing the customers you already have.

Obedience and the GPS

My Garmin gave me a route to the airport, but I had a hunch it was mistaken. So I went my way.

As I turned left instead of right, I heard her voice hectoring me, beseeching me to go right.

And I confess, I felt terrible. I was disobeying. Not following instructions.

If it's gotten to the point where we are uncomfortable disobeying a 3 inch by 4 inch touchscreen, then you know we've been brainwashed. It's actually okay (in fact, quite possibly productive) to call out the Garmins, the bosses and the influencers in your life, and ignore them all you like.

Sarah Jones and me

Just announced: Tony award winner Sarah Jones and her many invented friends are going to interview (for lack of a better term) me on-stage at the Nuyorican in New York City on January 18th. There are just a few tickets available.

Sarah is a genius and an artist and a hero of mine. I'm thrilled to be asked. It'll certainly not be what you expect.

"I've got your back"

P18ButchCassidy These are the words that entrepreneurs, painters, artists, statesmen, customer service pioneers and writers need to hear.

Not true. They don't need to hear them, they need to feel them.

No artist needs a fair weather friend, an employee or customer or partner who waits to do the calculus before deciding if they're going to be there for them.

No, if you want her to go all in, if you want her to take the risk and brave the fear, then it sure helps if you're there too, no matter what. There's a cost to that, a pain and risk that comes from that sort of trust. After all, it might not work. Failure (or worse! embarrassment) might ensue. That's precisely why it's worth so much. Because it's difficult and scarce.

Later, when it's all good and it's all working, your offer of support means very little. The artist never forgets the few who came through when it really mattered.

Who's got your back? More important, whose back do you have?

Lost in a digital world

Allison Miller, aged 14, sends and receives 27,000 text messages a month. Hey, that's only about sixty an hour, every hour she's awake.

Some say that the problem of our age is that continuous partial attention, this never ending non-stop distraction, addles the brain and prevents us from being productive. Not quite.

The danger is not distraction, the danger is the ability to hide.

Constant inputs and unlimited potential distractions allow us to avoid the lizard, they give the resistance a perfect tool. Everywhere to run, everywhere to hide.

The advantage of being cornered with nowhere to turn is that it leaves you face to face with the lizard brain, unable to stall or avoid the real work.

I've become a big fan of tools like Freedom, which effortlessly permit you to turn off the noise. An hour after you haven't kept up with the world, you may or may not have work product to show as a result. If you don't, you've just called your bluff, haven't you? And if you do, then you've discovered how powerful confronting the fear (by turning off the noise) can be.

Ten years ago, no one was lost in this world. You had to play dungeons and dragons in a storm pipe to do that. Now there are millions and millions of us busy polishing our connections, reaching out, reacting, responding and hiding. What happens to your productivity (and your fear) when you turn it off for a while?

Consider the category of 'without apology'

A cop with a Surefire flashlight doesn't have to say to her partner, "I'm sorry my flashlight isn't so bright." It's made without compromise for people who won't compromise.

There are high margins in the business of high-end flatware, for people who don't want to apologize for the lack of an asparagus fork when they have fancy company over.

One of the most vibrant segments of the stereo business is the category of products that are ridiculously expensive (and really good).

Where's the cell phone headset that will appeal to people who don't want to apologize for the quality of their cell phone connection?

People will go out of their way to buy and recommend products that don't require an apology.

The sure-fire recipe for business success

Wait, I was confused. There's a sure-fire recipe for delicious chocolate chip cookies. There is in fact a magic formula.

For businesses, not so much. There isn't one secret, one process, one solution. Instead, there are a thousand or maybe a million.

It's not a jigsaw puzzle, it's a strand of DNA, easily rearranged and sometimes it even works.  For a while.

Two truths about juggling

1. Throwing is more important than catching. If you're good at throwing, the catching takes care of itself. Emergency response is overrated compared to emergency avoidance.

2. Juggling is about dropping. The entire magic of witnessing a juggler has to do with the risk of something being dropped. If there is no risk of dropping, juggling is actually sort of boring. Perfection is overrated, particularly if it keeps you from trying things that are interesting.

Hence the tricky part--you want to ship in a way that (as much as you can) avoids failure, but when failure comes, moving forward is more effective than panic or blame.


All you've got, all your brand has got, all any of us have are the memories and expectations and changes we've left with others.

It's so easy to get hung up on the itinerary, the features and the specs, but that's not real, it's actually pretty fuzzy stuff. The concrete impact of our lives and our work is the mark you make on other people. It might be a product you make or the way you look someone in the eye. It might be a powerful experience you have on a trip with your dad, or the way you keep a promise.

The experiences you create are the moments that define you. We'll miss you when you're gone, because we will always remember the mark you made on us.

There's a sign on most squash courts encouraging players to wear only sneakers with non-marking soles. I'm not sure there's such a thing. If you're going to do anything worthy, you're going to leave a mark.

Five ingredients of smart online commerce

While it might be more fun to rant about broken online forms and systems, we can learn a lot from sites that aren't broken as well.

Consider the Ibex store. Here are five things they do that make them successful online:

  1. They sell a product you can't buy at the local store. This is easily overlooked and critically important. Because it's unique, it's worth seeking out and talking about. Just because you built a site doesn't mean I care. At all. But if you build a product I love, I'll help you.
  2. They understand that online pictures are free. Unlike a print catalog, extra pictures don't cost much. Make them big. Let me see the nubbiness or the zipper or the way you make things.
  3. They use smart copy (but not too much).
  4. They are obsessed with permission. Once you sign up, you'll get really good coupons and discounts by email. Not too often, but often enough that my guess is that they make most of their sales this way. 25% discount on a product just like a product you love--just before Valentine's day? Sign me up.
  5. They aren't afraid to post reviews. Even critical ones.

No site is perfect, of course, and I hesitate to tell you that this one is. I'm sure there are glitches and your mileage may vary. But the checkout is simple and the customer service, while not trying to be Zappos, is pretty good too.

Penguin Magic, I just realized, follows all five of these rules as well. While the site is very different in look and feel (and has a different audience), they're using the same principles.

The amazing thing to me is that none of this is particularly difficult to do, yet it's rare. The state of the art of online retailing is moving very very slowly.

In defense of RSS

Lots of buzz today about RSS (dying or not dying).

If you're not using it, can I strongly suggest you give it a try? I use Newsfire. Not sure the particular readers matters, though.

Here's what you need to know:

  1. It's not particularly difficult to keep up with 200 blogs you care about in less than hour using an RSS reader.
  2. RSS provides home delivery. Instead of remembering where to click, or waiting for a post to get all buzzy and hot, the good stuff comes to you. Automatically and free.
  3. Subscribing to a blog is easy. Just click here for my blog, for example. In Newsfire, you can paste the URL of any blog and it automatically finds the RSS feed for you.

RSS is quiet and fast and professional and largely hype-free. Perhaps that's why it's not the flavor of the day.

Making meetings more expensive

...might actually make them cost less.

What would happen if your organization hired a meeting fairie?

The fairie's job would be to ensure that meetings were short, efficient and effective. He would focus on:

  • Getting precisely the right people invited, but no others.
  • Making the meeting start right on time.
  • Scheduling meetings so that they don't end when Outlook says they should, but so that they end when they need to.
  • Ensuring that every meeting has a clearly defined purpose, and accomplishes that purpose, then ends.
  • Welcoming guests appropriately. If you are hosting someone, the fairie makes sure the guest has adequate directions, a place to productively wait before the meeting starts, access to the internet, something to drink, biographies of who else will be in the room and a clear understanding of the goals of the meeting.
  • Managing the flow of information, including agendas and Powerpoints. This includes eliminating the last minute running around looking for a VGA cable or a monitor that works. The fairie would make sure that everyone left with a copy of whatever they needed.
  • Issuing a follow up memo to everyone who attended the meeting, clearly delineating who came and what was decided.

If you do all this, every time you call a meeting it's going to cost more to organize. Which means you'll call fewer meetings, those meetings will be shorter and more efficient. And in the long run, you'll waste less time and get more done.

It's just better ketchup

In a discussion on why Heinz has such high market share for ketchup in the Pittsburgh area, one commenter posts, "It's just better ketchup. Their other products may be closer in quality to the competition, but for Ketchup nobody compares. When you go to a restaurant and they have a different kind, it feels you are eating at some cheap cafeteria."

This is really telling, but probably not the in the way Matt intended.

Heinz doesn't make better ketchup. Heinz makes better Heinz ketchup. There's a huge difference.

If you define ketchup the way most people do, you define it as, "the ketchup I grew up with." Or to be more specific, "the ketchup my mom served me, the one that I was allowed to serve myself when I turned three..."

One thing that marketers do is sell us a feeling, not a set of molecules or bits. When you spend $3 on a bottle of ketchup, that's what you're buying. And Matt and the rest of us are so brainwashed we rationalize it as 'better ketchup.'

That's not the way we do things around here

Please don't underestimate how powerful this sentence is.

When you say this to a colleague, a new hire, a student or a freelancer, you've established a powerful norm, one that they will be hesitant to challenge.

This might be exactly what you were hoping for, but if your goal is to encourage innovation, you blew it.

Insurgents and incumbents

Incumbents compromise to please the committee and bend over backwards to defend the status quo.

Insurgents have the ability to work without a committee and to destroy the status quo.

The game is stacked in favor of the insurgents, except--

They're under pressure from boards, investors and neighbors to act like incumbents.

It takes guts to be an insurgent, and even though the asymmetrical nature of challenging the status quo is in their favor, often we find we're short on guts. ... and then the incumbents prevail.

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