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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


An intensive, 4-week online workshop designed to accelerate leaders to become change agents for the future. Designed by Seth Godin, for you.



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

How many hops?

Some things, like your next job, might happen as the direct result of one meeting. Here I am, here's my resume, okay, you're hired.

But most of the time, that's not the way it works.

You meet someone. You do a small project. You write an article. It leads to another meeting. You do a slightly bigger project for someone else. You make a short film. That leads to a speaking gig. Which leads to an consulting contract. And then you get the gig.

How many hops does the ball take before it lands where you're hoping it will?

If you're walking around with a quid pro quo mindset, giving only enough to get what you need right now, and walking away from anyone or anything that isn't the destination—not only are you eliminating all the possible multi-hop options, you're probably not having as much as fun or contributing as much as you could either.

Overpinnings when the underpinnings go away

Years ago, most middle class people had a huge, expensive piece of furniture in their living room. It played music and captured radio broadcasts.

The high-end stereo business was the overpinning built on this underpinning. "If you're already going to the expense and trouble of making music at home, why not spend a bit more time and money and have it sound fantastic?"

Of course, most people have solved their music problem, and they didn't need a piece of furniture to do it. The underpinnings that the industry was built on have disappeared.

The same is true for the typical bookstore. "If you're already spending a little bit of time and money reading books to stay informed, why not spend a bit more time and money and be really smart?"

The typical adult isn't relying on books for this sort of information any more, so the upgradeable base is much smaller.

Or consider the fountain pen (overpinning the ballpoint), the fancy vacation house (overpinning the motel replaced by vrbo and airbnb), or the fancy suit (overpinning the cheap suit). It's even true for laser printers and cigarettes.

These luxury categories don't go away as fast as the thing they depended on, because they were never mass items, so it's possible to survive on much less demand. But in order to thrive, the creators of these products need to shift their story, their posture and the value they deliver to their audience.

Mobile blindness

You don't need a peer-reviewed study to know that when people surf the web on their smartphones, they're not going as deep.

We swipe instead of click.

We scan instead of read. Even our personal email...

We get exposure to far more at the surface, but rarely dig in.

As a result, the fine print gets ignored. We go for headlines, not nuance. It's a deluge of gossip and thin promises, not the relatively more immersive experience of the desktop web.

And of course, the web was a surface treatment of a day spent with books and in uninterrupted flow on a single topic.

It's not an accident that blog posts and tweets are getting shorter. We rarely stick around for the long version.

Photokeratitis (snow blindness) happens when there's too much ultraviolet--when the fuel for our eyes comes in too strong and we can't absorb it all. Something similar is happening to each of us, to our entire culture, as a result of the tsunami of noise vying for our attention.

It's possible you can find an edge by going even faster and focusing even more on breadth at the surface. But it's far more satisfying and highly leveraged to go the other way instead. Even if it's just for a few hours a day.

If you care about something, consider taking a moment to slow down and understand it. And if you don't care, no need to even bother with the surface.

The beat goes on

That's what makes it the beat.

There are other things that stop. That start. That go faster or slower. 

But don't worry about the beat. We can't change the beat. The beat continues.

When we're watching it, it continues, and when we're distracted, it continues. Beat by beat, day by day, it continues.

Awareness of our forward motion, of the tick and tock as we move from yesterday to tomorrow... it gives us perspective and patience if we let it. Or it can stress us out. Up to us.

Look, there goes another one.

What will you do with the next one?

Getting the default settings right

We know that the default settings determine the behavior of the group. Organ donation, 401k allocations, the typeface on our word processor--the way it's set to act if we don't override it is often the way we act. Because often, we decide it's not worth the effort to change the setting today.

Which means that examining your settings now and then is worth the effort:

Don't speak unless asked vs. don't keep quiet with a suggestion.

Look for the downsides vs. look for the upsides.

Do the minimum vs. do the maximum.

Don't ship until perfect vs. ship and learn.

The benefit of the doubt vs. skepticism.

Trusting vs. wary.

Inquiry vs. sarcasm.

Speed up vs. slow down.

Generous vs. selfish.

We all have defaults. Are yours helping you?

[PS it's definitely not too soon to mark the next altMBA on your calendar. It works. That's why every session we've done has been fully enrolled. Check it out if you can.]

Yes, there's a free lunch

In a physical economy in which scarcity is the fundamental driver, eating lunch means someone else gets less.

But in a society where ideas lead to trust and connection and productivity, where working together is better than working apart, where exchange creates value for both sides...

Then the efficient sharing of ideas is its own free lunch. 

All of us are smarter than any of us, so the value to all goes up when you share.

"What does this remind you of?"

That's a much more useful way to get feedback than asking if we like it.

We make first impressions and long-term judgments based on the smallest of clues. We scan before we dive in, we see the surface before we experience the substance.

And while the emotions that are created by your work aren't exactly like something else, they rhyme.

It could be your business model, your haircut or the vibrato on your guitar.

"What does this remind you of" opens the door for useful conversations that you can actually do something about. Yes, be original, but no, it's not helpful to be so original that we have no idea what you're doing.

Everyone has an accent

The fact that we think the way we speak is normal is the first clue that empathy is quite difficult.

You might also notice how easy it is to notice people who are much worse at driving than you are--but that you almost never recognize someone who's driving better than you are.

We make our own taste, and call it reality

Most of us say, "this is better, therefore I like it."

In fact, the converse is what actually happens. "I like it, therefore I'm assuring you (and me) that this is better."


The latest episode my Akimbo podcast is about hits. (Click then scroll down to see all the episodes, or, even better, subscribe for free...)

The hit that sweeps an industry, like a thresher through a wheat field. The one that everyone is talking about. The lines down the street, the box office record, the career maker.

Isn't that what creators dream of?

There are three ways a hit happens:

  1. Many people who love a particular medium (music, the theatre, books) coalesce around a single new title.
  2. Many people who rarely spend time in that medium make this title the one thing they're going to engage in.
  3. A few people consume that title over and over again.

It's rare to invent something that works on all three levels. Black Panther is not like the DaVinci Code which is not like the Grateful Dead.

You can build something that the cool kids love. You can build something that the bystanders love. Or you can build a cult favorite. Best to do it on purpose.

[PS we're going to record an episode of Akimbo today. The episode is going to be about 'live' and of course, we're going to record it live at 10 am ET. Feel free to tune in and join us.]

[Also, Bernadette's new book is now available. It's worth your time.]

300 seconds

Not stalling.


How many decisions or commitments would end up more positively if you had a five-minute snooze button on hand?

Esprit d'escalier* isn't as hard to live with as its opposite. The hasty one-liner, the rushed reaction, the action we end up regretting--all of them can be eliminated with judicious use of the snooze button. It's a shame there isn't one built in to our computers when we're communicating online...

When in doubt, go for a walk around the block.


*The feeling we get when we think of a witty response on the way home instead of at the dinner party, when it would have been the perfect put-down.

When well-meaning people can't see it the same way

Yes, there are a few people who are mendacious, who are not seeking what you're seeking. And yet, most of the time, there are plenty of good people who disagree with you--they want a good outcome, but the narrative they bring insists on getting there in a very different way. They have different glasses on and are using a different map as well.

People don't believe what you believe, and they don't know what you know. Some of the gaps:

Authority--because the world works better when things are coherent and predictable and someone is in charge
Freedom--because people free to speak up and find their own path are able to weave a civil society out of chaos

Affiliation--because being in sync and engaged with others makes for a happier life
Conformance--because doing what you’re told is safer and telling people what to do is easier

Inconsistent--Change is fine if it makes things better, even if you want to call me a flip flopper
Consistent--Because it’s safer to stand for something and not reconsider it

Hero—Someone needs to save the day
Bystander--There's too much on the line, and I'm not the one to do it this time

What will they say?--keep an eye on those that are watching me
What will my mom say?--doing the right thing, even if someone is looking, and especially if no one is

Belief--because it’s a narrative to quiet the chatter in our head
Proof--because science works

Change--because things can get better if we let them
The status quo--because change is risky

Civility--because we’re working to keep it all from falling apart
Conflict--because if you can’t handle it, get out of the way

The long haul--because none of it is worth it if we poison ourselves
The short run--because the long haul manages to take care of itself

Service--because our heroes sacrificed for others
Profit--because making a profit is the market’s way of rewarding service

The strongest--because the pack moves fastest if the strongest are supported and rewarded
The slowest--because we’re only as good as the way we treat the weakest among us

The cusp--because progress is interesting
The middle--because proven is better

Family first--because you take care of your own
Community first--because everyone is in your family

Emergencies--because this pain needs to be addressed right now
The long game--because the emergencies never end

Show your work--because finding an error in my math helps us both, transparency pays
Opacity—I don't need you cherry-picking an argument with me

Pay it forward--because someone did it for me
Put your own oxygen mask on first--because I might not get another chance

The big hill

There's a commuter shortcut near my house.

To make it work, you need to accelerate the SUV up a really big hill, breaking the speed limit by ten or twenty mph. Then roll a stop sign, avoid a few kids walking to school and gun it on the downhill.

All to save three minutes.

Meanwhile, the other commuters arrive at work with their psychic energy saved for the real work. The hard work of confronting the status quo.

The first shortcut is selfish. It wastes resources and engages in risk to help no one but the driver.

The other work, though, is priceless. Those are the hills worth taking.

[PS hint: There's another session of TMS coming up soon. If you have an idea worth spreading, it might be for you. We always alert our keep-me-posted list first with all the details. Find out more here.]

Where are the movie stars?

I'm sitting in a crowded lobby in Los Angeles, surrounded by 100 or so people. Not one of them looks like a movie star. No one has perfect hair, a perfect family, a perfect life.

I'm at a fancy conference in Boulder. There are a thousand CEOs and founders here. Not one is gliding through her day the way the folks on magazine covers are. Not one has a glitch-free project and the clear sailing that the articles imply.

And here, at the gym in Yonkers, I'm not seeing a single person who looks like he could be on the cover of Men's Health.

Role models are fine. But not when they get in the way of embracing our reality. The reality of not enough time, not enough information, not enough resources. The reality of imperfection and vulnerability.

There are no movie stars. Merely people who portray them now and then.


A traffic jam can teach us quite a lot about human nature.

In the US, when there's an accident on the side of the road, traffic in the other direction slows down. People voluntarily slow down and look over at the carnage.

This is nuts.

These very same people would never pay money to go to a movie filled with car wrecks that hurt real people. And yet, they do it from their car. It turns out we're very interested in things that are happening in real time, right next to us.

Not only that, but the jam created by this voluntarily slowdown can last for an hour or more. And yet, when it's your turn, when you get to the front of the line, instead of saying, "well, I got punished for the bad behavior of the 1,000 people ahead of me, I'm going to fix that and speed up now," we say, "hey, I paid my dues, my turn to look..."

And of course, the nature of variance means that human-controlled cars on the highway have to go much slower when they are closer together. And so the slowdown ripples backwards, because instead of leaving plenty of space so that they can all speed up quickly, we inch together, ensuring that the jam will take even longer.

Every time you think that the human beings you seek to serve are rational, profit-seeking, long-term decision makers, visualize a rubbernecking traffic jam.

Your kitchen table

You open the door and the vacuum cleaner salesperson comes in, and dumps a bag of trash in your living room.

Or a neighbor sneaks in the back door and uses a knife to put gouges on the kitchen table.

Or, through the window, someone starts spraying acid all over your bookshelf...

Why are you letting these folks into your house?

Your laptop and your phone work the same way. The reviews and the comments and the breaking news and the texts that you read are all coming directly into the place you live. If they're not making things better, why let them in?

No need to do it to yourself, no need to let others do it either.

Clark Kent's shoes

Back when Superman used to change into his outfit in a phone booth, the question was: where does he put Clark's shoes? Because even if he could compress them with his super strength, they'd be ruined.

Organizations that need to adopt different personas often get into trouble.

Consider ConEdison, which is completely failing here in NY during the recent storms (and of course, it's nothing compared to what people in Puerto Rico or other parts of the world have gone through).

On one hand, most of the time, they're invisible. They're a boring bureaucracy, optimized for stable jobs, predictable if not low-cost processes, mediocre customer service and average (or below average) user interface design. They're a monopoly and they act like one.

But then, when things break, they're expected to act like heroes, like people who truly care. They are expected to hustle, to find the edge of the performance curve, to really step up.

Unfortunately, their shoes don't compress very well.

We know it can be done. We see heroic organizations do great work. But ConEd doesn't.

John McAvoy, the CEO, is probably pretty good at steering a boring monopoly. I have no clue. But he hasn't built much in the way of heroic response capability. And every time something breaks, that becomes obvious. 

Small businesses sometimes wrestle with the opposite. They get their accounts by acting like heroes, performing miracles on an emergency basis. But when it comes time to regularly do the work, to show up and show up and show up, they don't have the resources or the patience to do so.

The opportunity is to choose. To truly embrace one and buy precisely the right kind of shoes.

The alternative is to invest the resources to have two teams that can do one or the other. And to tolerate the fact that when the other team is working, you're not at maximum efficiency.

Systems are a miracle. Until we try to force a system that's good at one thing to do another.

Then we just ruin our shoes and end up annoying everyone who trusted us.

(PS comic book geeks will recall that Clark's shoes were made out of a special kind of miracle foam that looked just like a boring Florsheim brogue but could be compressed into a really small ball. And of course, there's no such thing available to the general non-superhero management class, sorry).

In defense of redundancy

Saying it twice isn't a moral failing.

Repeating yourself, doing it in different ways, is a useful response to the distractions, browsing and scanning that your audience is hooked on.

It's not your fault that the world is cluttered and filled with distractions. If it's important, it's worth saying twice. 

PS new Akimbo episode today is about writer's block.

A flag or a constitution?

A flag is a signal. It's vivid, abstract and it represents memories and expectations.

A constitution is studied, dissected, challenged, amended, fought over. 

That next thing you're working on as you build your culture, your practice, your brand, which is it?

No sense arguing over the design of your flag. Better to focus on what it stands for instead.

The Bannister Method

Roger Bannister did something that many people had said was impossible.

He ran a mile in less than four minutes.

The thing is, he didn't accomplish this by running a mile as fast as he could.

He did it by setting out to run a mile in one second faster than four minutes.

Bannister analyzed the run, stride by stride. He knew how long each split needed to be. He had colleagues work in a relay, pacing him on each and every section of the mile.

He did something impossible, but he did it by creating a series of possible steps.

It's easy to get hung up on, "as possible." As fast, as big, as much, as cheap, as small... 

The Bannister Method is to obsess about "enough" instead.

Why is this interesting?

Interesting non-fiction often falls into one of three categories:

a. It's interesting because it's by or about a celebrity. People Magazine and various autobiographies appeal because they offer an intimate glimpse into someone you were already interested in. This is a lot of the appeal of social networks--famous to the family, telling their story.

b. It's interesting because an unlikely thing actually happened to a real person. Books about climbing Everest, starting a company or surviving drug dependency or a dysfunctional upbringing work because they happened to someone else, and we want to watch or vicariously experience what happened.

c. It's interesting because it's about us, the reader. These are books or blogs that offer a path forward, that talk about part of the human condition that you're currently experiencing, that offer solace or guidance or insight about what's happening and what's next.

We're all writers now. What makes you interesting?

Is snacking learning?

Why does a class last an hour? Why does a TED talk last 18 minutes? Why does an MBA take two years?

Could it be that the default lesson length has something to do with the cost of switching rooms, which makes it inefficient to have really short lessons? Or the high cost of physical space, which makes it expensive to have really long ones... Perhaps length is a function of switching costs and bureaucracy structure...

One side effect of the low switching costs and high availability of choice on the web is that people are discovering things in 600-second bursts. 

What would happen if we started to do this on purpose? Learn a math lesson, understand a social history movement, learn something about human nature, five minutes have gone by...

Or what if we chose to dive in really deep, deeper than the real world would ordinarily tolerate. Five hours on a topic that might only get three minutes on a typical curriculum... or a month-long interactive seminar designed to teach something that's almost never taught.

I don't think learning is defined by a building or a certificate. It's defined by a posture, a mindset and actions taken.

It's still early days in figuring out the best way to transfer knowledge. The length of a class ought not to be set in stone. (For the very same reason that meetings at work should never last an hour).

Delighting in sacrifice

In an instant-on, one-click shopping universe, the idea of sacrifice is pretty alien. When the world might end tomorrow, when you can get what you want now, when debt is easier than ever to go into, why even consider sacrifice?

Because it's the single best way to achieve your goals. Satisfaction now almost always decreases the reserves we have to build an asset for later. Investing in something worth building always requires you to avoid getting what you want today. Sacrifice might mean giving up an expenditure, but it can also be the bold step of having a difficult conversation now instead of later.

Regardless of the goal, sacrifices make it more likely that you'll get there.

The journey toward that worthy goal, though, is a key part of the goal itself. We are never certain we'll reach our goal, one significant reason that so few people persist. But if the journey involves sacrifice, we're paying for that goal, the goal we're never sure to reach, every day.

Hence delight.

The act of sacrifice, of foregoing one thing in our journey toward another one, one more generous, virtuous and useful, is actually a little piece of the satisfaction of the goal itself.

If it comes easy, it's not the same.

Bonnie's rules for being a better client

White space is your friend

No, you can't watch us work

Be open to things you didn't imagine

Be confident, not arrogant

Nothing takes a second

Don't be rude

Tell me the problem, not the solution

Decide who will decide

Have clarity of purpose


Bonnie Siegler has more than 60 in her delightful new book

Short-attention-span theatre

Being first is insufficient.

Google wasn't the first search engine. Facebook wasn't the first social network. Apple wasn't the first home computer, phone or smart watch. Amazon wasn't the first online bookstore.

Before Sonos, before Alexa, before Google Home, there was the HomePod. [pic 1, pic 2]

In 2004, Dan Lovy and I launched a device that could take the music on your hard drive and play it through your stereo. And some other stuff, too. You certainly don't own one. We were five years too early for early adopters and ten years too early for the beginning of the mass market.

I've jumped the timing before

You can see the same thing happen to inventors of online shopping carts, ad networks, auction sites, ad formats, file sharing, crypto applications, all of it... Even non-profits and musical styles.

I've embraced that pattern for years. Going first. It's thrilling. Not particularly profitable, but thrilling.

Too often, we come to believe that there's some sort of idea race going on. While some need the froth and magic of the new, it turns out that culture is changed by persistence most of all. Be an inventor if you choose, but don't expect that you'll be the one driving the bus once the masses decide to get on.


[The third episode of my Akimbo podcast is out today. It's about VF 145: The Square Tomato. The podcast is now one of the top 100 in the world, thanks to you.]

Low & Slow (vs. fear)

My sourdough rye bread failed. For the first time since I've been baking from this starter, this weekend's batch didn't work.

I know why.

I rushed it.

I didn't let the dough ferment long enough.

And then I made the oven hotter, in an effort to get the loaves finished so I could leave to meet someone.

That's not how great bread works. It's ready when it's ready, not when you need it to be.

Of course, the analogy is obvious. Much of the work we do as creators, as leaders, as people seeking to make change--it needs to ferment, to create character and tension and impact. And if we rush it, we get nothing worth very much.

There's a flipside.

Sometimes, we mistakenly believe that we're building something that takes time, but what we're actually doing is hiding. We stall and digress and cause distractions, not because the work needs us to, but because we're afraid to ship.

Impatience can be a virtue if it causes us to leap through the fear that holds us back.


[PS thanks for your support for Catherine Hoke's new book. Loyal readers like you made it a national bestseller on its first day--only Michelle Obama had a faster-moving book. If you didn't get a copy yesterday, I hope you'll check it out. It will change you in ways you don't expect. Here's a review that got posted yesterday:

Odds are, you've never been to prison...but as humans, we're masters at creating our own. Our prison may be the shame of our past, a desire for perfection or our need for acceptance. The walls might be the potential we haven't realized, a loved one we hurt or even a conversation we never got a chance to have.

By bravely sharing her personal story and the behind-the-scenes look at the important and generous movement she's leading at Defy Ventures, Cat Hoke gives us all a second speak up, to lead and to make a difference.]

"You can't be curious and angry at the same time"

The first time I met Catherine Hoke, she changed my life. That's what she does at Defy. She changes lives.

After more than a year of persistent nudging, I was finally able to persuade her to share her story and her wisdom in a new book.

I'm thrilled that it came out this morning.

Defy works with men and women who were formerly incarcerated. They work with business leaders who are used to being treated with respect and privilege. And they work with volunteers across the country.

Mostly, what Defy does, what Cat does, is help people understand that forgiveness is a powerful tool, one that's easily overlooked. That when you're busy holding a grudge, it's difficult to open your arms to the possibility that's all around us.

Alex Peck and I spent nine months helping Cat bring this book to the world. We've donated 20,000 hardcover copies to Defy, so that every copy sold contributes 100% to their important work.

I hope you'll buy a copy (or several) today. It's a game changer, and I'm confident you'll be glad you took the leap.

Here's an unsolicited note we got the other day:

I finished reading A Second Chance yesterday and immediately started it again. It is easily the most impactful book I have read in years, if not ever. I find myself continually referencing it in conversation and can't wait for others to be able to read it. I have a list of people I'm ordering it for. I've been giving out copies of What To Do When It's Your Turn for years and now I have a new book I can't wait to give to people.

Thank you, Seth and the rest of the team for your investment in Cat, Defy and this book. The work of Seth and the Domino Project have been tremendous influencers on my life and work for years and this book takes that to a whole new level.

Best regards,

Fun, urgent or fear-based

Most of what we do at work all day is one of these three.

Fun: It's engaging, it gives us satisfaction, people smile.

Urgent: Someone else (or perhaps we) decided that this paper is on fire and it has to be extinguished before anything else happens.

Fear-based: Most common of all, the things we do to protect ourselves from the fear we'd have to sit with if we didn't do them.

Not on this list: important.

A day spent doing important work is rare indeed. Precious, too.


A car is totaled when the cost of fixing it is more than the cost of buying a similar used car in good condition.

The broken car is a sunk cost. It doesn't matter how much you paid for it. It's a gift from the you of yesterday to the you of today. And it arrived broken, so broken that it's cheaper to buy a different one than to fix this one. Reject the gift from your earlier self. It's no gift at all.

Sunk costs are all around us. Commitments and engagements and assets that were hard to get, but are now totaled. They're gifts from the you of yesterday, and it's okay to refuse them.

The rigor imperative

When the project is emotional, or urgent, or loaded with resonance, it's easy to dispense with rigor. It is, after all, an emergency. No time for the process, for doing the hard part first, seeking best practices, or reverse engineering toward the desired result...

Of course, the opposite is true. If it's worth getting into a swizzle about, it's worth doing properly. 

Do the math, do the reading, do the budget. Do it right.

Noticed vs. missed

Will they notice that you've left?

There are lots of ways to be noticed. You can be loud. Argumentative. You can be sour, difficult, a bit of a diva. You can take umbrage at every opportunity, crack jokes at the expense of others, or merely scowl.

You can use hyperbole, drama and shame to get your way.

You can spam people, yell a lot, interrupt our day. You can create a scene, engage in a scandal and bully others. Your brand or your personality can be the one that we'd all prefer never to hear from again soon.


You could be the one we'd miss if you were gone.

It takes quite a bit of emotional labor to pull this off. Consistent effort to contribute, to see possibility and to be patient. If it were the easiest or most direct path to a short-term goal, everyone would do it.

Because we live in a world now based on connection and trust, because we work with our ideas and our emotions instead of our muscles, because our reputation is what we have to offer, the effort is probably worth it.

"Is the noise in my head bothering you?"

The monologue that runs in our brain is loud. It's heavy-metal loud compared to the quiet signals we get from the rest of the world.

All day, every day, that noise keeps going. It's the only voice that has seen everything we've seen, believes everything we believe. It's the noise that not only criticizes every action of every other person who disagrees with us, but it criticizes their motives as well. And, if we question it, it criticizes us as well.

Is it any wonder that projection is more powerful than empathy?

When we meet people, we either celebrate when they agree with us or plot to change or ignore them when they don't. There's not a lot of room for, "they might have a different experience of this moment than I do."

That noise in our head is selfish, afraid and angry. That noise is self-satisfied, self-important and certain. That noise pushes intimacy away and will do anything it can to degrade those that might challenge us.

But, against all odds, empathy is possible.

It's possible to amplify those too-quiet signals that others send us and to practice imagining, even for a moment, what it might be like to have their noise instead of our noise.

If we put in the effort and devote the time to practice this skill, we can get better at it. We merely have to begin.

Status roles

"I don't have much, but I have more than you do..."

The second episode of my podcast is out today, and it's the result of perhaps fifty blog posts I wrote but didn't post, because the topic is too important and it's too nuanced for something as short as a blog post.

Status roles are at the core of who we are. They change how we spend our time, our money and most of all, our imaginations.

We define ourselves in relative terms, not absolute ones. More stuff, more power, less this or less that. Who's up and who's down?

It's about the Godfather and professional wrestling, about business cards and politics.  It's about Baxter and Truman. And it's about how fiction works, and real life as well.

Everywhere we turn, we see status roles on display. Some people are moving on up, while others are moving down. This creates tension, drama and the need for resolution.

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