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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

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

"Book of the year," a perennial bestseller about leading, connecting and creating movements.

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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

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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Handshakes and contracts, the future and the past

If you lease a car, borrow money for school or engage in some other complex transaction, there's a contract to sign. It's filled with rules and obligations, and the profit-maximizing finance organization does everything it can to do as little as it can (and make you responsible for as much as it can). This sort of contract has evolved into a battle, an effort to get something now and deliver as little as possible later. Loopholes and fine print are there for a reason, and it's not to make you happy. Contracts like this are about the past. "We agreed on this, go read your copy, we don't care so much that you're annoyed, goodbye."

A handshake deal, on the other hand, is about the future. Either side can claim loopholes or wriggle out of a commitment, but the consequence is clear—if you disappoint us, we won't be back for more. The participant in a handshake deal is investing in the future, doing more now in exchange for the benefits that trust and delight and consistency bring going forward.

It might pay to write your handshake deal down, to memorialize the key promises in an email. If your goal is to delight and to exceed expectations, the more clear you are about the expectations, the more likely it is you'll exceed them.

But it also pays to hesitate when you (or your advisors) start pushing to transform the handshake about the future into a contract about the past. "I'm hoping to do this again with you," evokes a very different reaction than, "but you said..."

Taking the plunge

Maybe that's the problem.

Perhaps it's better to commit to wading instead.

Ship, sure. Not the giant life-changing, risk-it-all-venture, but the small.

When you do a small thing, when you finish it, polish it, put it into the world, you've made something. You've committed and you've finished.

And then you can do it again, but louder. And larger.

It's easy to be afraid of taking a plunge, because, after all, plunging is dangerous. And the fear is a safe way to do nothing at all.

Wading, on the other hand, gets under the radar. It gives you a chance to begin.

Biggest vs. best

There's not much overlap.

Regardless of how you measure 'best' (elegance, deluxeness, impact, profitability, ROI, meaningfulness, memorability), it's almost never present in the thing that is the most popular.

The best restaurant, Seinfeld episode, political candidate, brand of beer, ski slope, NASDAQ stock, you name it. Compare them to the most popular.

Big is a choice. So is best.

"Desire is full of endless distances"

Just one more level on this game, she says. Once I get to level 68, I'll be done.

Just one more tweak to the car, they beg. Once we bump up the mileage, we'll be done.

Just one more lotion, she asks. Once I put that on, my skin will be perfect and I'll be done.

Of course, the result isn't the point. The mileage or the ranking or slightly more alabaster or ebony isn't the point. The point is the longing.

Desire can't be sated, because if it is, the longing disappears and then we've failed, because desire is the state we seek.

We've expanded our desire for ever more human connection into a never-ceasing parade of physical and social desires as well. Amplified by marketers and enabled by commerce, we race down the endless road faster and faster, at greater and greater expense. The worst thing of all would be if we actually arrived at perfect, because if we did, we would extinguish the very thing that drives us.

We want the wanting.

[HT Robert Hass]

"Google it!"

The job is no longer to recite facts, to read the bio out loud, to explain something better found or watched online.

No, the job is to personally and passionately make us care enough to look up the facts for ourselves. 

When you introduce a concept, or a speaker, or an opportunity, skip the reading of facts. Instead, make a passionate pitch that drives inquiry. In the audience, in your employees, in your customers...

The only reason people don't look it up is that they don't care, not that they're unable. So, your job is to get them to care enough.

[You can even send them to DuckDuckGo, if you can handle three syllables.]

Famous to the family

There is famous and there is famous to the family. Cousin Aaron is famous to my family. Or, to be less literal, the family of people like us might understand that Satya the milliner or perhaps Sarma Melngailis or Peter Olotka are famous.

And famous to the family is precisely the goal of just about all marketing now. You don't need to be Nike or Apple or GE. You need to be famous to the small circle of people you are hoping will admire and trust you. Your shoe store needs to be famous to the 300 shoe shoppers in your town. Your retail consulting practice needs to be famous to 100 people at ten major corporations. Your Wordpress consulting practice needs to be famous to 650 veterinarians or chiropractors. Famous the way George Clooney and George Washington are famous, but to fewer people.

By famous, I means admired, trusted, given the benefit of the doubt. By famous, I mean seen as irreplaceable or best in the world.

Here's how to tell if you're famous: If I ask someone in your community to name the person who is known for X, will they name you? If I ask about which store or freelancer is the best place, hands down, to get Y, will they name you? If we played 20 questions, could I guess you?

Being famous to the family is far more efficient than being famous to everyone. It takes focus, though.

Famous to the family (of boardgame fans) is the key to making my friend Peter's Cosmic Encounter Kickstarter hit its goal. Or Ramon Ray's new magazine getting traction. Famous to the family is what this IndieGogo needs in order to change kids' lives. And failing to be famous to the family is precisely why most Kickstarters fail.

[HT to me, I wrote something about this three and a half years ago, but I forgot, and so did most people I talk about this with, so here it is again.]

"Let's go around the room"

If you say that in a meeting, you've failed. You've abdicated responsibility and just multiplied the time wasted by the number of people in the room.

When we go around the room, everyone in the room spends the entire time before their turn thinking about what to say, and working to say something fairly unmemorable. And of course, this endless litany of 'saying' leads to little in the way of listening or response or interaction or action of any kind.

The worst example I ever saw of this was when Barry Diller did it in a meeting with 220 attendees. More than two hours later, everyone in the room was bleeding from their ears in boredom.

Leaders of meetings can do better. Call on people. Shape the conversation. Do your homework in advance and figure out who has something to say, and work hard to create interactions. Either that or just send a memo and cancel the whole thing. It's easier and probably more effective.

No one to say no

In a world that lacks so many traditional gatekeepers, there are fewer people than ever to say no to your project, your idea, your song. If you want to put it out there, go ahead.

On the other hand, that also means that there are fewer people who can say yes. That's now your job too.

If you work in an organization, the underlying rule is simple: People are not afraid of failure, they’re afraid of blame.

Avoid looking in the mirror and saying no. More challenging: practice looking in the mirror and saying yes.

Put a frame around it

Wrap it in a bow

Serve it on ice

What's worth more, the frame or the poster? It turns out that a well-framed bit of graphics is often transformed, at least in the eyes of the person engaging with it. It might be the very same beautiful object that was thumbtacked to the wall, but it sure feels different.

And an unwrapped piece of jewelry is worth far less without the blue box, isn't it?

The wrapper isn't everything, it might not even be the point. But it matters.

"How should I judge this," is something we ask ourselves all the time. When you make the effort to give us a hint, we'll often take the hint.

Avoiding magical thinking

There's a relationship that's easy to imagine but actually incorrect: We often come to the conclusion that in order to make something magical, we'll need magical events to occur to get there.

Building a startup is hard. Publishing a great book successfully is quite difficult. Launching a non-profit that matters is a Herculean task. I hope you will do all three, and more, often.

But while your intent is pure and your goal is to create magic, the most common mistake is to believe that the marketplace will agree with your good intent and support you. More specifically, that media intermediaries will clearly, loudly and accurately tell your story, that this story will be heard by an eager and interested public and that the public will take action (three strikes).

Or, more tempting, that ten people will tell ten people to the eighth power, leading to truly exponential growth (some day). Because right now, you've told ten people and they have told no one.

Or, possibly, that you will call on businesses and offer them a solution so powerful that they will pay you at that very first meeting, generating enough cash flow that you will be able to immediately hire more (and better) salespeople to grow your organization exponentially.

All great organizations make change. Change is hard. Change takes time. In markets that matter (meaning not gossip, not snark, not spectator sports), people rarely tell dozens of other people about what they've discovered. And action is taken, sometimes, but not as much as you deserve.

No, you'll need to work hard to create something magical, and a big part of that hard work is relentlessly eliminating all magical thinking from your projections and your expectations of how the market will react.

Only count on things that have happened before, a funnel you can buy and time you can afford to invest. Anything more than that is a nice bonus.

[HT, worth reading: Aaron]