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All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing

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Free Prize Inside

The practical sequel to Purple Cow

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

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The classic Named "Best Business Book" by Fortune.

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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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Small is the New Big

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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

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The Big Red Fez

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

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The Dip

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

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The Icarus Deception

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

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Tribes

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Unleashing the Ideavirus

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

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V Is For Vulnerable

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?

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THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin




All Marketers Are Liars Blog




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« February 2011 | Main | April 2011 »

Bring me stuff that's dead, please

RSS is dead. Blogs are dead. The web is dead.

Good.

Dead means that they are no longer interesting to the drive-by technorati. Dead means that the curiousity factor has been satisfied, that people have gotten the joke.

These people rarely do anything of much value, though.

Great music wasn't created by the first people to grab an electric guitar or a synthesizer. Great snowboarding moves didn't come from the guy who invented the snowboard... No one thinks Gutenberg was a great author, and some of the best books will be written long after books are truly dead.

Only when an innovation is dead can the real work begin. That's when people who are seeking leverage get to work, when we can focus on what we're saying, not how (or where) we're saying it.

The drive-by technorati are well-informed, curious and always probing. They're also hiding... hiding from the real work of creating work that matters, connections with impact and art that lasts. I love to hear about the next big thing, but I'm far more interested in what you're doing with the old big thing.

Seven questions for leaders

Do you let the facts get in the way of a good story?

What do you do with people who disagree with you... do you call them names in order to shut them down?

Are you open to multiple points of view or you demand compliance and uniformity? [Bonus: Are you willing to walk away from a project or customer or employee who has values that don't match yours?]

Is it okay if someone else gets the credit?

How often are you able to change your position?

Do you have a goal that can be reached in multiple ways?

If someone else can get us there faster, are you willing to let them?

No textbook answers... It's easy to get tripped up by these. In fact, most leaders I know do.

Your SXSW agenda (or any conference, for that matter)

It costs a ton of time and money to go to something like SXSW. Other than having a blast, why go?

Here's an interesting way to think about it, something I've used to change the way I attend events (I don't do many, and won't be there, so have fun without me):

Think back a year ago to the last time you went. What do you remember?

Do you remember the presentations that were later on videotape? Do you remember the special screenings of movies? Do you remember the crowded cocktail parties? Bumping into a net celebrity?  I don't.

So I don't do them. At the last TED, I didn't attend a single session. They're fabulous, but I can always watch them later, on video.

Instead, I focus on what I do remember: the engaged conversations. The one on one discussions of what someone is working on. Helping a friend design a book cover or solve a thorny entrepreneurial problem. Sneaking out to go to a taco stand for lunch with a very cool CEO...

These are the reasons it is worth going. (At least for me). So do more of that, I think.

This isn't easy to do. Most conferences are organized around mass, not around individual interactions that last. It takes an effort to seek out conversations that matter.

Will people miss you if you don't show up next year? Why?

Relentlessly smaller

Some people work overtime to make their jobs smaller.

If your job is smaller you're less likely to make a mistake and more likely to please your boss.

But that's a pretty dumb bargain. You're exchanging your upside, energy, opportunity, growth and excitement for the freedom from thinking and a decrease in self-induced anxiety.

What a shame.

Unskilled labor

Perhaps it's time for a new definition.

Unskilled labor is what you call someone who merely has skills that most everyone else has.

If it's not scarce, why pay extra?

Skills matter. The unemployment rate for US workers without a college education is almost triple that for those with one. Even the college rate is still too high, though.  On the other hand, the unemployment rate for skilled neurosurgeons, talented database designers and motivated recombinant DNA biologists is essentially zero, despite the high pay in all three fields.

Unskilled now means not-specially skilled.

Assuming goodwill

Productivity comes from interactivity and the exchange of ideas and talents.

People are happiest when they're encouraged and trusted.

An airport functions far better when we don't strip search passengers. Tiffany's may post guards at the door, but the salespeople are happy to let you hold priceless jewels. Art museums let you stand close enough to paintings to see them. Restaurants don't charge you until after you eat.

Compare this environment of trust with the world that Paypal has to live in. Every day, thousands of mobsters in various parts of the world sit down intent on scamming the company out of millions of dollars. If the site makes one mistake, permits just one security hole to linger, they're going to be taken for a fortune. As a result, the company isn't just paranoid--they know that people really are out to get them.

This is the fork in the road that just about all of us face, whether as individuals or organizations. We have to make an assumption about whether people are going to steal our ideas, break their promises, void their contracts and steal from us, or perhaps, that people are basically honest, trustworthy and generous. It's very hard to have both postures simultaneously. I have no idea how those pistol-packing guys in the movies ever get a good night's sleep.

In just about every industry (except electronic money transfer, apparently), assuming goodwill is not only more productive, it's also likely to be an accurate forecast.

Trust pays.

Herbs

Thyme is cheap. Twenty five cents worth is plenty for a family of four.

Hang out at the market and watch people buy expensive fish, chicken or beef to cook for a family gathering. Almost no one is buying fresh herbs. What's that about?

I guess that the main course is so expensive and so much work and so apparently foreboding and complex that most people believe they can't be bothered with the effort of adding herbs. Herbs would change everything. A twenty-five cent investment would transform a simple but expensive dinner into something really great.

"What! I don't know how. It's not worth the effort. I'll screw it up. Isn't this expensive piece of fish enough? I'm too busy. Hey, it's just dinner..."

Metaphor alert: your marketing is missing herbs.

Famous to the family

The way my family plays 20 Questions is that one person silently chooses a famous person and then everyone in the car has 20 yes or no questions to figure out who it is.

A variation that was briefly popular was to redefine "famous" as "famous to the family." You could announce that you had chosen this variation and then pick, say, Ziggy the painter. Zigmund might not be known to the public or the history books, but in our family, he's famous.

I'm fascinated by a new category, though. "Famous to the tribe." Is Xeni Jardin famous? Merlin Mann? What about Anne McCrossan? Never mind that Warhol thing about 15 minutes...

Everyone is famous to 1,500 people.

Some people are even famous to 3,000.

And that's a fascinating new phenomenon. When there are 3,000 or 10,000 or 500,000 people who think you're famous, who are willing to play 20 Questions where you are the answer...it changes things. We're not really prepared for a culture where a million (or a billion) people are valid answers in 20 Questions.

The race to be slightly famous is on, and it's being fueled by the social and tribal connections permitted by the net. We give a lot of credit and faith to the famous, but now there are a lot more of them. Over time, once everyone is famous, that will fade, but right now, the trust and benefit of the doubt we accord the famous is quite valuable.

Consider: Gary Vee's new book is out today.

Is that enough to know? You bet it is. The tribe (whichever tribe you're in) is always chewing on the next thing, discussing the next idea, processing, absorbing and moving on. Is there any way that a new book from Gary isn't going to be on our tribe's list? He's famous to the family.

Empathy

"If I were in your shoes, I know what I would do."

Marketers can't do their jobs without understanding what a prospect wants, talks about or is interested in.

And managers (and leaders) are ineffective when they're unable to imagine life through someone else's eyes.

The problem is this: if you were in my shoes, I wouldn't be me, I would be you.

As soon as you bring your beliefs, expectations and worldview to the table, you've lost the ability to imagine what someone else would do in this situation. All you're doing is imagining what you would do.

The next time you're puzzled by the behavior of a colleague or prospect, consider the reason might have nothing to do with the situation and everything to do with who is making the decision and what they bring to it.

Cascade of broken promises

... a cautionary tale. It's always easier to make a promise than it is to keep one, and if you're not careful, it compounds.

I got my new Macbook Pro the other day. It comes with Migration Assistant, a flawed piece of software that promises to easily transfer years of old data from one machine to another.

The software failed. (Promise broken). Having paid $99 for the One to One service (which promises individual hour long sessions), I make an appointment and head over to the store. Nate, the promised guide, doesn't know how to fix it, because, despite the promise, he's not trained to do so. He hands me over to a genius, Michael, who hears my story and promises to personally handle it (it takes ten hours to do the transfer, he'll watch over it and make sure it goes well.) He actually looks me in the eye and says, "I promise to personally handle this."

The next day, the phone rings. It's Aideen, who has the case, doesn't know who Michael is and doesn't know what to do. She leaves a message. I call back, talk to someone at the store who insists that Aideen isn't available but that someone will call me back within thirty minutes. He says, "I promise that someone will call you within thirty minutes." An hour later, no one has called back.

It goes on and on. Every employee means well. Every employee is overwhelmed by incoming traffic, most from people who have already had their promises broken. Every employee has discovered that it's easier to make a promise and pass it along than it is to either tell the truth or keep the promise.

The cascade starts with the product. When your brand makes promises it can't keep, your overworked staff bears the brunt.

[After reading some email... to be quite clear: a., this isn't a rant about Apple, it's a lesson for every organization, and b., don't worry about my Mac, we'll get it sorted...]

« February 2011 | Main | April 2011 »