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Preview: Seth's Blog

Seth Godin's Blog on marketing, tribes and respect



Seth Godin's riffs on marketing, respect, and the ways ideas spread.



Updated: 2017-04-25T04:32:00-04:00

 



And then we got bored

2017-04-25T04:32:00-04:00

Six missions after Apollo 11 amazed the world by going to the moon, Apollo 17 was the last trip. It fell off the cultural radar. Flying to the moon, driving around and getting back safely wasn't interesting enough, apparently. And...

Six missions after Apollo 11 amazed the world by going to the moon, Apollo 17 was the last trip.

It fell off the cultural radar. Flying to the moon, driving around and getting back safely wasn't interesting enough, apparently.

And the miracle of the internet, which connects billions of people, instantly, is something we all take for granted after less than a generation.

Is it any wonder that your magnificent Facebook post or clever tweet isn't racking up ever more likes?

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You look like you’re lying (when you’re nervous)

2017-04-24T04:08:00-04:00

This is a significant bug in our culture and a glitch in our DNA. When we're on the spot, giving a speech, or pulled over by a cop, we get nervous. We sweat, talk too fast, constrict our throat, avoid...        This is a significant bug in our culture and a glitch in our DNA. When we're on the spot, giving a speech, or pulled over by a cop, we get nervous. We sweat, talk too fast, constrict our throat, avoid eye contact, put on a half smile and do many of the things that people often associate with lying. At the same time, because the con man (who might also be a politician or CEO) has figured out how to avoid these telltale signs, we give them the benefit of the doubt and they lie with impunity. If you have good intentions, you have two options: You can either avoid getting nervous (which comes with practice) or you can work on the most obvious symptoms you display, intentionally diminishing them. Actors are better on screen than the rare famous person doing a cameo because the actors have been taught how to read their lines without all the telltale signs of lying. (Of course, reading lines is lying...) If you're using a microphone, use it. No need to brace your body to shout. Talk more slowly. Intentionally make eye contact... And don't lie. But you knew that part. You shouldn't have to practice appearing to be truthful when you're being truthful. But you do. Because we're humans and we're judging you.         [...]



What does "science" mean?

2017-04-18T19:34:58-04:00

To countless teenagers who had the wrong teacher in high school, it means, "a boring collection of right answers, categorized by topic." Once we discover that some things we were taught aren't black and white any more (Pluto, DDT, infant...        To countless teenagers who had the wrong teacher in high school, it means, "a boring collection of right answers, categorized by topic." Once we discover that some things we were taught aren't black and white any more (Pluto, DDT, infant formula), it's not surprising that people begin to go from bored to skeptical. About all of it. Except that's not what science is. Science is a process. It's not pretending it has the right answer, it merely has the best process to get closer to that right answer. Science is an ongoing argument, one where you show your work and make a prediction about what's going to happen next. And you're not allowed to have magical faeries. Not allowed to change the explanation based on what just happened. You must begin again, from first principles, and make a new argument, and show new work, and make a better prediction. Science isn't only done in the lab. Every one of us does it at work, daily. Science isn't something to believe or not believe. It's something to do.         [...]



The best time to study for the test

2017-04-22T04:29:00-04:00

... is before it's given. The best time to campaign is before the election. And the best time to keep a customer is before he leaves.

... is before it's given.

The best time to campaign is before the election.

And the best time to keep a customer is before he leaves.

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Who are we seeking to become?

2017-04-21T04:29:00-04:00

We get what we invest in. The time we spend comes back, with interest. If you practice five minutes of new, difficult banjo music every day, you'll become a better banjo player. If you spend a little bit more time...

We get what we invest in. The time we spend comes back, with interest.

If you practice five minutes of new, difficult banjo music every day, you'll become a better banjo player. If you spend a little bit more time each day whining or feeling ashamed, that behavior will become part of you. The words you type, the people you hang with, the media you consume...

The difference between who you are now and who you were five years ago is largely due to how you've spent your time along the way.

The habits we groove become who we are, one minute at a time. A small thing, repeated, is not a small thing.

[And the same thing is true for brands, organizations and movements.]

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There is no 'the industry'

2017-04-20T05:10:00-04:00

It's easy to say that, "the industry is to blame," or "the industry doesn't understand this." But because no one is charge, because there's no coherent enforcement method, this is merely a shorthand. There is no industry, no economy, no...

It's easy to say that, "the industry is to blame," or "the industry doesn't understand this."

But because no one is charge, because there's no coherent enforcement method, this is merely a shorthand. There is no industry, no economy, no market. Only people.

And people, people can take action if they care.

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Complicated problems rarely require magical explanations

2017-04-19T03:01:00-04:00

One clue that someone doesn't understand a problem is that they need a large number of variables and factors to explain it. On the other hand, turning a complex situation into something overly simple is an even more common way...        One clue that someone doesn't understand a problem is that they need a large number of variables and factors to explain it. On the other hand, turning a complex situation into something overly simple is an even more common way of demonstrating ignorance of how the system works. What we're looking for isn't the number of countable variables. It's the clarity of thought. The coherence of the explanation. The ability to have that explanation hold water even if small inputs change. The explanation might be long, but it makes sense. Too often, the overly simplistic explanation is just a form of hand waving. We beg the question because we mention the simple explanation plus the miracle. It's the miracle, the homunculus, the little man in the machine, that actually holds the answer, and punting on explaining it is lazy. We use magic to kick the explanation down the road, making it not simple, but obtuse. [Examples: Magical faeries. Conspiracy theories. Science denialism. Simplistic views of marketing or culture...] A useful description is one that can be tested, expanded and makes accurate predictions. A lazy one just makes us feel better until we actually have to engage with the system in a useful way. It's entirely possible that you're trying to work with a complicated system, one that can't be boiled down to a simple catch phrase. That's okay. Clarity is still possible. If you've committed to only working in systems that are simple enough to be explained in sixty seconds on cable news, you've opted out of making the impact you're capable of.         [...]



Avoiding the good/great chasm

2017-04-18T05:08:00-04:00

You can be good at Twitter in about five minutes a day. Spending ten minutes doesn't make you twice as good... in fact, there's probably little measurable improvement. To be great at Twitter might take five hours of daily effort....        You can be good at Twitter in about five minutes a day. Spending ten minutes doesn't make you twice as good... in fact, there's probably little measurable improvement. To be great at Twitter might take five hours of daily effort. All the time in between five minutes and five hours is wasted. You're in a chasm with no measurable benefits. We see the same thing happen with your Yellow Pages ads or your customer service. Showing up takes some effort and it often pays off. Showing up a bunch more is often worthless. If you want to truly be great, you're going to have to do things most people couldn't imagine. That's what makes it great, after all. The scarcity of it. This is the underpinning of the Dip. Don't get caught doing more than you need to but less than you want to.         [...]



Compared to what?

2017-04-17T04:06:00-04:00

A quick look at Yelp reviews will show you that NY restaurants are not quite as good as those in some suburbs. This, of course, makes no sense. New York is insanely competitive, with a ton of turnover and a...        A quick look at Yelp reviews will show you that NY restaurants are not quite as good as those in some suburbs. This, of course, makes no sense. New York is insanely competitive, with a ton of turnover and a very demanding audience. A fast casual restaurant in Shaker Heights can coast for a long time, because... it's better than the alternatives. Thanks to marketing, the media and our culture, we spend a lot of our time comparing before we decide whether or not we're happy. Turn back the clock just 60 years. If you lived in 1957, how would your life compare to the one you live right now? Well, you have access to lifesaving medicines, often in pill form. You can choose from an infinite amount of entertainment, you can connect with humans all over the Earth, for free, at the click of a button. You have access to the sum total of human knowledge. You have control over your reproductive cycle. You can eat sushi (you've even heard of sushi). You can express yourself in a thousand ways that were forbidden then... That's in one lifetime. But we don't compare our lives to this imaginary juxtaposition. Instead, we hear two things from the media we choose to engage with: Other people have it better, way better. And, it's going to get worse. Add to that the idea that marketers want us to believe that what we have now isn't that good, but if we merely choose to go into a bit of debt, we can buy our way to a better outcome... Comparison leads to frustration which sometimes leads to innovation. More often than not, though, frustration doesn't make us happy. It only makes us frustrated. If a comparison isn't helping you get to where you're going, it's okay to ignore it.         [...]



The bingo method

2017-04-16T03:36:00-04:00

You might need help to turn an idea into a project. Most of the time, though, project developers walk up to those that might help and say, "I have a glimmer of an idea, will you help me?" The challenge:...        You might need help to turn an idea into a project. Most of the time, though, project developers walk up to those that might help and say, "I have a glimmer of an idea, will you help me?" The challenge: It's too challenging. Open-ended. To offer to help means to take on too much. And of course people are hesitant to sign on for an unlimited obligation to help with something that's important to you, not to them. Consider the bingo method instead. Build a 5 x 5 grid. 25 squares. Twenty-five elements that have to be present for your project to have a chance. If it's a fundraising concert, one of the grids might be, "find a theater that will host us for less than $1,000." Here's the key: Fill in most of the grids before you ask someone for generous help. When nine or twelve of the squares are marked, "done," and when another six are marked, "in process," then the ask is a lot smaller. A glimpse at your bingo card indicates that you understand the problem, that you've highlighted the difficult parts and that you've found the resources and the knowledge necessary to complete most of it. You've just asked a much easier question.         [...]