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Twitter: @thisissethsblog





Seth Godin has written 12 bestsellers that have been translated into 33 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

Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 08/2003

Should you teach the world a new word?

A long time ago, I was a "book packager." I didn't actually make the package that books came in... I was a producer of books, the way someone might produce a movie. Sometimes I wrote them, too.

What a confusion this name causes. When people asked what I did, my job title gave them too much (too little) information. I should have just told non-industry people I was an author.

Innovation involves making something that hasn't been made before, and one way to signal that you're doing something new is to give it a new name. But often, the new name gets in the way of people experiencing what you have to offer.

The iPhone isn't really a phone, it's actually not a very good phone at all, but calling it a phone made it easy for people to put it into a category. The category was expanded by the behavior of the iPhone, and now "phone" means something far more than it used to. "What do you mean your phone can't tell me how far away the diner is?"  Of course, this was an absurd thing to expect from a phone not very long ago.

Mario Batali calls himself a chef, but of course he rarely if ever sets up in a kitchen and cooks meals for strangers at minimum wage. But chef is a lot easier and simpler than a whole bunch of hyphens.

Your job might be like no other one like it in the world, but that doesn't mean you need a new job title. The short version: if you can happily succeed while filling an existing niche, it's far easier than insisting that people invent a new category for you. On the other hand, if you need (and can earn) a new category, that's a shortcut to becoming a category of one.

Choose a new name when it helps you achieve your goals, not because you're worried about some truth-in-taxonomy commission giving you a hassle.

(One more example: Tweet is a new word, a risk because it might have been rejected. In the opposite direction, Facebook took a big risk with the words, 'like' and 'friend' because they redefined them to mean something new, something a bit different. It paid off, certainly, but not without some thin ice. It doesn't matter if you're right, it matters if you are understood.)

Taking umbrage

The problem with taking offense is that it's really hard to figure out what to do with it after you're done using it.

Better to just leave it on the table and walk away. Umbrage untaken quietly disappears.

Doing what gets rewarded

If you're not happy with how institutions or people act, take a look at what they get rewarded for.

Until we change the rewards, we're not going to change the behavior, because people always have a reason. Even if the reason isn't our reason.

[Rewards don't always come in the form of cash, of course. And sometimes, non-cash rewards are internal narratives, not ribbons or praise.]

Is it time for a competitor to the Olympics?

I'll confess that I don't watch the Olympics, but you'd have to be living under a rock to be unaware of the corruption and the expense. An organization with no transparency, huge amounts of politics and a great deal of unearned power. 

I wonder what it would take to create an alternative?

Ford, Nike and Netflix each put up a few hundred million dollars. The games would be held two years before each corresponding Olympics, benefitting both athletes (who can't always wait four more years) as well as curling-starved fans (not to mention advertisers). (Ted Turner tried this a long time ago, but I think it's time to try again in a post-broadcast economy).

To reflect a world that actually has electronic communications at its disposal, the games would be held in ten cities at the same time (each sport centered in a specific city), not one, reusing existing facilities. With multiple time zones, the games could be held round the clock, and the logistical challenges of rebuilding a different city every time go away.

And to reflect a world engaged in social media, the games would be focused on abundance, on sharing, on permission, as opposed to straining to build a legal wall around what goes on.

(And in a Rollerball-like, post-sovereign twist, perhaps the teams are sponsored not by countries, but by companies, fraternal organizations and organized fans).

We'd need a new song, sure, and a name that over time would somehow gain ridiculous trademark rights, but hey, you need to start somewhere. 

Genes and memes

I have the K1a1b1a mutation in my genes, a mutation that happened a few thousand years ago. If you have it too, then you're probably one of the millions of people who are distant cousins of mine. Most of us are related, in fact, as we're all descended from just four different women.

Genes spread. The ones that spread, win.

People are not necessarily selfish, but genes are. They're selfish in the sense that the only genes that are around are those that were part of organisms that had grandchildren. We can't assign a personality to a simple bit of data like a gene, but if we could anthropomorphize, we'd say that the gene is looking for opportunities in the environment to exploit, seeking out advantages that help it get reproduced.

Seen this way, the millions and millions of years of slow evolution of species makes perfect sense. A mutation occurs, and if it confers an advantage on the organism that it is part of, that organism has more kids, the gene is spread. If it doesn't, it disappears. This is one reason you need a new flu shot every year--because the flu mutates over time.

Richard Dawkins took this idea and riffed (in a single chapter of The Selfish Gene) on how ideas follow similar patterns. Robert Kearns, for example, created the mutation we know of as the intermittent windshield wiper. Before his invention, all windshield wipers on all cars worked at just one or two speeds. After his invention started showing up on cars, though, other carmakers saw the idea and it reproduced, moving from a few cars to more cars, until, like an advantage spreading through generations of a population, it was on virtually every car.

Or, consider the growth of guacamole as an idea. In less than a generation, it went from an unknown delicacy (the first recipe I saw included mayo) to something commonplace. Tattoos have a similar if more permanent trajectory.

Ideas that spread win. Ideas don't have to be selfish to win, in fact, it turns out that the more generous the interactions an idea produces, the more likely it is to spread. (Back to guac: it spread partly because it's a party food, so people discovered it when others shared it...)

Seeing your business or your project as a multi-generational organism, one that you can mutate at will, is a useful way to help it grow. I've written about it here and here.

Done to us vs. things we do

Malaria, the atomic bomb, the McCarthy hearings, television's ubiquity, the decay of the industrial base--these are mammoth changes, changes that came from all around us, changes we had to withstand.

Today, we're faced with an entirely new kind of change--the changes we can choose to make, the changes that are available to us as opposed to changes that are forced on us.

While we still deal with top-down cultural change at work and at home, the degrees of freedom have dramatically shifted.

No one had to cajole you into living with the changes of the last fifty years, because here they were, like it or not. You had no choice. Today, most of the change—in media, in culture, in commerce—is there if you want it. You can choose to be a media company, a buyer, a seller. You can choose to go out on the long tail, choose to be weird, choose to enter the connection economy.

In many ways, this choice makes the change ever more difficult, doesn't it?

The future isn't so much about absorbing or tolerating change, it's about making change.

Too stupid to know better?

Frederick Taylor, father of 'scientific management', testifying before Congress a hundred years ago:

'I can say, without the slightest hesitation, that the science of handling pig-iron is so great that the man who is ... physically able to handle pig-iron and is sufficiently phlegmatic and stupid to choose this for his occupation is rarely able to comprehend the science of handling pig-iron.'

If you treat your employees like mushrooms (keep them in the dark and regularly throw crap on them), it's entirely likely you will get precisely the work you deserve in return.

I'm an elitist

(You might be as well).

The market isn't always right. It's merely the market.

Mass appeal is not always better than doing something that matters.

Increasing shareholder value is not the primary purpose of a corporation.

News with a lot of clicks isn't always important news.

Selling out to get popular is selling yourself short.

Lowering the price at the expense of sustainability is a fool's game.

Only producing tools that don't need an instruction manual takes power away from those prepared to learn how to use powerful tools. And it's okay to write a book that some people won't finish, or a video that some don't understand.

Giving people what they want isn't always what they want.

Curators create value. We need more curators, and not from the usual places.

Creating and reinforcing cultural standards and institutions that elevate us is more urgent than ever.

We write history about people who were brave enough to lead, not those that figured out how to pander to the crowd.

Elites aren't defined by birth or wealth, they are people with a project, individuals who want to do work they believe in, folks seeking to make an impact. Averaging down everything we do so that it becomes cheap and ubiquitous and palatable to all is a hollow goal.

Modesty and hubris

When you're seeking to succeed with your art, it's helpful to see how those before you have done it. And so the conference was invented. The ones where recently successful internet entrepreneurs tell their stories are particularly popular right now, but you can certainly find designers, novelists and others that are generous enough to talk about how they succeeded.

Some speakers at these events are brimming with false modesty. "I'm incredibly successful and happy, it happened really fast and I have no idea what I'm doing." The appeal here is the same that works for the lottery. Someone has to win, it might as well be you, it's easy, buy a ticket.

Some speakers, on the other hand, bring false hubris to the table. "This is incredibly difficult, I worked harder than you can imagine, and only a perfect storm of effort and connections that were created directly by me led to this moment."

The truth, of course, is a combination of both. "I worked really hard, back against the wall, thinking I was going to fail, almost did, and I got lucky." And that's like hearing that there's a lottery and the tickets are very expensive.

But it's true.

Two magical sentences missing from most job ads

If you're working to build a unique culture staffed with people who make a difference, consider:

"If you're not looking for a job, this might just be the job for you"

and, once the job is under consideration:

"You know, this might not be a good fit for you."

Most jobs seek the low bidder, the person desperate enough to work cheap, or to sign up right now, and most jobs stress that 'this is a great place to work' (implying 'great for everyone.')

When you staff a place with idiosyncratic miracle workers who in fact have plenty of other options, it's a lot harder to fill those jobs, but a lot more likely you'll build something extraordinary once you do.

Posting this on Valentine's Day is not ironic. As important work gets ever more personal, so does hiring... "Who's available?" is not a good selection driver for work or for life.

[The flipside of the situation is also true: I frequently see job descriptions that are basically impossible to fill as specced. If you can't think of a single individual that you've worked with over your entire career that would be the perfect fit for this job--and work on the terms you're prepared to offer--there's something wrong with the job you hope to fill. Wishing is not a strategy.]