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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

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

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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« October 2012 | Main | December 2012 »

Non-profits have a charter to be innovators

The biggest, best-funded non profits have an obligation to be leaders in innovation, but sometimes they hesitate.

One reason: "We're doing important work. Our funders count on us to be reasonable and cautious and proven, because the work we're doing is too important to risk failure."

One alternative: "We're doing important work. Our funders count on us to be daring and bold and brave, because the work we're doing is too important to play it safe."

The thing about most cause/welfare non-profits is that they haven't figured out how to solve the problem they're working on (yet). Yes, they often offer effective aid, or a palliative. But no, too many don't have a method for getting at the root cause of the problem and creating permanent change. That's because it's hard (incredibly hard) to solve these problems.

The magic of their status is that no one is expecting a check back, or a quarterly dividend. They're expecting a new, insightful method that will solve the problem once and for all.

Go fail. And then fail again. Non-profit failure is too rare, which means that non-profit innovation is too rare as well. Innovators understand that their job is to fail, repeatedly, until they don't.

Anticipation vs. anxiety

If we define anxiety as experiencing failure in advance, we can also understand its antonym, anticipation.

When you work with anticipation, you will highlight the highs. You'll double down on the things that will delight and push yourself even harder to be bold and to create your version of art. If this is going to work, might as well build something that's going to be truly worth building.

If you work with anxiety, on the other hand, you'll be covering the possible lost bets, you'll be insuring against disaster and most of all, building deniability into everything you do. When you work under the cloud of anxiety, the best strategy is to play it safe, because if (when!) it fails, you'll be blameless.

Not only is it more fun to work with anticipation, it's often a self-fulfilling point of view.

Thank you, Zig

My teacher Zig Ziglar died this morning. He was 86. 

Thanks for teaching me how to sell and why it mattered.

Thanks for reminding me how much it mattered to care.

Thanks for telling us a fifteen-minute story about Johnny the Shoe Shine Genius, so compelling that I flew to the airport just to meet him.

Thanks for 72 hours of audiotapes, listened to so many times I wore out the cassettes twice.

Thanks for that one day we spent backstage together in Milwaukee.

Thanks for making goal setting so clear.

Thanks for elevating the art of public speaking, and making it personal, not something to be copied.

Thanks for believing in us, the people you almost never met in person, for supporting us with your voice and your stories and your enthusiasm.

Thanks for teaching so many people, people who will continue to remember you and to teach as well.

You'll be missed.

Avoiding "I'll know it when I see it"

This is a waste for the buyer and the seller.

When you have a business or individual waiting for you to bring them custom work, it can lead to an endless cycle of, "hmmmm not quite right." If the architectural drawings, high-heeled shoes or ad campaign doesn't meet their unstated standards, you're back to doing it again.

Sometimes you can make a handsome profit on all the fees you charge to redo things that indulge the ego of the customer, but more likely than not, your time is wasted until they're happy. If you have a client who feels the same way, you can work together to save time and money by being clear with each other about what's wanted.

I think helping a client say what they want before they see it is a worthy endeavor.

  1. Do it on purpose. When engaging with a new client, intentionally create an environment where personal taste is described in advance, and as much boundary-building as possible is done when it's cheap to iterate, not at the end when it's expensive.
  2. Demand benchmarks. The world is filled with things that are a lot like what you've been asked to create. So mutually identify them. Show me three other websites that feel like what you're hoping to feel like. Hand me a hardcover book that has type that reads the way you want yours to read. Walk me through a building that has the vibe you're looking for...
  3. Describe the assignment before you start. Using your words and the words of the client, precisely state what problem you're trying to solve. "We're trying to build something that does a, b and c, and not d..."
  4. Then, before you show off your proposal, before you hand in your work, restate the problem again. "You asked us to do a, b and c at a cost of under X. What I'm about to show you does a, it does b and it does c... and it costs half of X." This sort of intentional restatement of the scope of work respects your client by honoring their stated intent, at the same time it focuses your work on the stated goals.
  5. Make a decision about whether you want a reputation for doing this sort of focused work. If you do, don't work for clients who don't buy into the process. Over time, you'll earn the kind of clients you want.

Of course, this isn't going to work every time. Sometimes the client loves the power of saying no. Sometimes the client isn't articulate enough to describe what she wants. And sometimes the goal is magic, and no one knows how to describe that in advance.

Broken events

People who don't want to listen, being forced to sit through speeches that the speakers don't want to give.

If that sounds like a graduation or gala or corporate event you recently attended, I feel your pain.

If someone starts by telling a joke that they know is lame or starts going through all the tribulations they had finding something to say, if the audience is checking the time or secretly tweeting, then the event itself is broken. The speaker who discharges an obligation is not a speaker you are hoping to hear. 

Maybe obligatory speeches used to have a point, maybe they used to serve a vital function, but they no longer do.

Here's a thought: Let the students run their own graduation. Cancel any speeches that could easily be delivered instead via an interactive website. Put the credits and the thank yous into a beautiful document that you hand to everyone and switch the entire dynamic to:

People thrilled to be listening to people who are excited to be speaking.

Why not?

Four questions worth answering

Who is your next customer? (Conceptually, not specifically. Describe his outlook, his tribe, his hopes and dreams and needs and wants...)

What is the story he told himself (about the world, about his situation, about his perceptions) before he met you?

How do you encounter him in a way that he trusts the story you tell him about what you have to offer?

What change are you trying to make in him, his life, or his story?

Start with this before you spend time on tactics, technology or scalability.

Persuade vs. convince

An anonymous copyeditor working on my new book unilaterally changed each usage of "persuade" to "convince."

I had to change them all back.

Marketers don't convince. Engineers convince. Marketers persuade. Persuasion appeals to the emotions and to fear and to the imagination. Convincing requires a spreadsheet or some other rational device.

It's much easier to persuade someone if they're already convinced, if they already know the facts. But it's impossible to change someone's mind merely by convincing them of your point.

If you're spending a lot of your time trying to convince people, it's no wonder it's not working.

More here.

The decline of fascination and the rise in ennui

A generation ago, a clever idea could run and run. We talked about Space Food Sticks and Tang and Gilligan's Island and the Batmobile for years, even though there certainly wasn't a lot of depth. Hit movies and books stayed on the bestseller lists for months or even years (!)

Today, an internet video or an investment philosophy or a political moment might last for weeks or even a few days. It's not unusual for a movie or a book or even a TV series to come and go before most people notice it. Neophilia has fundamentally changed the culture.

The result is that there's an increasing desire, almost a panic, for something new. Yesterday was a million years ago, and tomorrow is already here. The rush for new continues to increase, and it is now surpassing our ability to satisfy it.

When that need can't be filled (which is not surprising, if you think about it) then we're inclined to declare that it's the end, the end of new ideas, the end of progress, the end of everything that's interesting. Spend a week or two watching TED videos and once you catch up, you might find yourself saying, "sure, but what's new now?"

If you're in the business of making a new thing, this churn may be an opportunity, because it's easier now than ever to send a hit up the pop charts, whatever sort of pop you make. But it comes at a price, which is that it won't last, and you'll quickly have to go back and make another one.

The real opportunity, I think, is in trying to build longer arcs. Now that the cycle of new is eating itself in a race to ever-faster, there's a bigger chance to make long term change by consistently focusing on what works (and what's important), not what's new and merely shiny.

What's important, what's always important, is useful change.

In a hurry to be generous

We're often in a hurry to finish.

Or in a hurry to close a sale.

What happens when we adopt the posture of being in a hurry to be generous? With resources or insight or access or kindness...

It's an interesting sort of impatience.

Vendor shout out

Yelp and other sites make it easy to honor a favorite restaurant. Amazon lets you praise the author of a book that touched you.

But what about the hard-working and insightful organizations we work with to make our businesses succeed? We spend all day with them, and bet our reputations on them, but it's not often we get to highlight the vendors who bring humanity to their work. It's so easy to focus on the broken software and the broken promises that take up so much of our time, but it turns out that it's the miracle workers that actually make our best work possible.

As I finish up my huge Kickstarter project, I wanted to share the names of some of the folks I counted on to make it work: 

Michael Quinn is a print broker who keeps his promises, no matter how complicated the job is.

Hugh Macleod is a genius.

Pirate's Press is my favorite choice for producing and packaging LPs. They care and it shows.

Alex Miles Younger runs Unozip, a graphic design firm that will both make you look good and help you enjoy the process.

Robyn and the team at Global are a patient and wise fulfillment house.

Dan runs a classic letterpress shop in Brooklyn, and does it with generosity and talent. Go take a class and bring your coworkers.

And Brian continues to deliver professional web work with his team at Viget.

I'm also delighted to be able to work with caring, insightful people like my copyeditor Catherine E. Oliver, my agent Lisa DiMona, librarian Bernie Jiwa, artist Lori Koop, connectrix Michelle Welsch, rights guru Teri Tobias and the editorial duo of Adrian Zackheim and Niki Papadopolous.

Every day I'm amazed that I have the privilege of doing the work I do, and I know that I wouldn't be able to do it without the combined efforts of literally thousands of people who do more than they have to. From the infrastructure that gives us the stability we need to dream to the person who says yes instead of no, I'm grateful. [Don't forget Arlo.]

I guess that's what we all we need. People with a point of view who do more than they have to.

And thanks to you, of course, for reading and for cheering us all on.

Thank you.

« October 2012 | Main | December 2012 »