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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: 2016-12-08T04:46:00-05:00

 



"Missed it by that much"

2016-12-08T04:46:00-05:00

Here's an interesting choice that most people leave unmade: How comfortable are you engaging in projects where there's a likelihood that you'll lose by just a hair? What makes a project worthwhile and interesting is that it might not work....

Here's an interesting choice that most people leave unmade:

How comfortable are you engaging in projects where there's a likelihood that you'll lose by just a hair?

What makes a project worthwhile and interesting is that it might not work. All the this-is-sure-to-work projects are taken.

Given that you're taking a risk, what kind are you up for?

Are you seeking out areas where there's no competition, true longshots where few people see you fail?

Or are you okay with the daring near misses?

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Catching up on your reading

2016-12-07T11:11:49-05:00

Joi Ito and Jeff Howe have a new book called Whiplash. Joi's the head of MIT's Media Lab and an extraordinary thinker. Jeff brings the ideas and the lessons of the Lab to life. This is a big think, well...        Joi Ito and Jeff Howe have a new book called Whiplash. Joi's the head of MIT's Media Lab and an extraordinary thinker. Jeff brings the ideas and the lessons of the Lab to life. This is a big think, well worth a deep dive. The Knowledge, Steve Pressfield's new book, is put together like a Swiss watch. Every single word, every scene... it's a master class in what it means to get out of your own way and write a book that works. I am walking around the house, unable to put it down. In the last week, I discovered that at least two of my smart friends hadn't read Godel, Escher, Bach. They have now. You should too. Jenny Blake wants to help you manage your career. Bill Taylor will help you manage your organization's future. And Nancy Duarte will help you think differently about the way you communicate. Novels: The Windup Girl and Pattern Recognition are chock full of images and ideas that will stick with you for months. As we head toward the end of the year, I think you'll find inspiration in the work of people who show up and do the work. Daily. For decades. Jacqueline Novogratz and her classic book, The Blue Sweater continue to change lives.  As does Jim Ziolkowski's amazing true story. This is what happens when people step up, keep their promises and make things happen. And, if you're looking for the biggest possible book as a present or keepsake, this is the last minute to order my 18 pound collectible. It's shipping now...         [...]



Community standards

2016-12-07T03:46:00-05:00

"What's it like around here?" It's a fair question to ask about an office, a home, a town... "Why do people act like that, talk like that, treat others that way?" The only reason they do is because we let...

"What's it like around here?"

It's a fair question to ask about an office, a home, a town...

"Why do people act like that, talk like that, treat others that way?"

The only reason they do is because we let them. People can't violate community standards for long without being asked to leave the community. Either that, or the standards change.

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The other person is always right

2016-12-06T05:05:00-05:00

Always right about feelings. About the day he just experienced. About the fears (appropriate and ill-founded) in his life. About the narrative going on, unspoken, in his head. About what he likes and what he dislikes. You'll need to travel...

Always right about feelings.

About the day he just experienced.

About the fears (appropriate and ill-founded) in his life.

About the narrative going on, unspoken, in his head.

About what he likes and what he dislikes.

You'll need to travel to this place of 'right' before you have any chance at all of actual communication. 

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The myth of quick

2016-07-15T11:12:09-04:00

In his day job, The Wizard of Oz sold hokum. Patent medicines guaranteed to cure what ailed you. And none of them worked. Deep within each of us is the yearning for the pill, the neck crack, the organizational re-do...        In his day job, The Wizard of Oz sold hokum. Patent medicines guaranteed to cure what ailed you. And none of them worked. Deep within each of us is the yearning for the pill, the neck crack, the organizational re-do that will fix everything. Sometimes, it even happens. Sometimes, once in a very rare while, there actually is a stone in our shoe, easy to remove. And this rare occurrence serves to encourage our dreams that all of our problems have such a simple diagnosis and an even simpler remedy. Alas, it's not true. Culture takes years to create and years to change. Illnesses rarely respond in days to a treatment. Organizations that are drowning need to learn to swim. Habits beat interventions every time. Consider these boundaries... Avoid the crash diet. Fear the stock that's a sure thing to double overnight. Be skeptical of a new technology that's surely revolutionary. Walk away from a consultant who can transform your organization in one fell swoop. Your project (and your health) is too valuable to depend on lottery tickets. There are innovations and moments that lead to change. But that change happens over time, with new rules causing new outputs that compound. The instant win is largely a myth. The essential elements of a miracle are that it is rare and unpredictable. Not quite the reliable path you were seeking.         [...]



Pushiness

2016-12-04T04:49:00-05:00

Deliberate, focused, generous, confident, thoughtful, these are all good things. Being pushy isn't. Imagine you had a check for $100,000 made out to someone else. Someone you don't know but can reach out to. How hard would it be for...

Deliberate, focused, generous, confident, thoughtful, these are all good things. Being pushy isn't.

Imagine you had a check for $100,000 made out to someone else. Someone you don't know but can reach out to. How hard would it be for you to cajole this person to take the check from you and cash it?

We call someone pushy when they are trying harder for forward motion than we are. We call them pushy when they have more at stake, or more to gain, than we think we do.

It's easy to rationalize your pushiness, imagining that the other person really wants to do this project. And it's just as easy to minimize the value you add, hiding in a corner instead of bringing your value forward.

Pushiness is in the eye of the beholder. Generosity requires that we be aware of how the other person is feeling about the forward motion we're trying to make. 

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Understanding the backlist (for everything, including books)

2016-12-03T03:46:00-05:00

It really ought to be called the core list, because it's fundamentally misunderstood as something in the background, an afterthought. The backlist is the stuff you sell long after you've forgotten all the drama that went into making it. Book...        It really ought to be called the core list, because it's fundamentally misunderstood as something in the background, an afterthought. The backlist is the stuff you sell long after you've forgotten all the drama that went into making it. Book publishers make more than 90% of their profit from books they published more than six months ago. And yet they put 2% of their effort into promoting and selling those books. Editors, agents, salespeople all focus on what's new, instead of what works. It's more exciting, more fun and more hopeful to seek out and launch new books. It's the culture of many industries, particularly ones that are seen as creative. Nike and General Mills and the local freelancer all generate a bigger contribution with their classic stuff. It turns out that time spent on packaging, promoting and spreading the ideas in the core list is almost always a solid investment. There's a simple explanation: Successful backlist products have crossed the chasm and are selling to the mass market, the largest chunk of any market. These are people who don't buy a lot of books (or sneakers, or cereals) a year, but when they do buy one, they buy a popular one. And so, every year, year after year, millions of copies of Dr. Seuss books are sold. Not because they're new, but because that's what people buy. On the other hand, frontlist products, the new stuff, are bought by a smaller group, the early adopters, the people who like buying new books. These people are easier to reach, probably more fun to work with, but because they seek variety, they rarely all align and buy the same product. [FWIW, the readers of this blog and followers of my work are almost all in this category--focusing on early adopters is a fine way to build a platform for work you care about—it's something that I do on purpose. But it doesn't always make economic sense.] The way for an enterprise to build a core list, then, is to latch onto those frontlist titles that have proven themselves, to persistently and consistently work with the retail channel and the existing customer base to make them into classics—useful, reliable products or services that the masses can rely on. This takes discipline and effort—product creators like me find this difficult. But publishers of all stripes, the organizations that exist to bring new ideas and useful technologies to the world, need to dig in and do this work.  [Expiring today, Saturday: For the first time ever, Linchpin, one of my backlist books, is on promo on the Kindle. It's less than $2.]         [...]



The best way to stand for something

2016-12-02T05:38:00-05:00

The best way to build a brand that matters, a story that spreads, an impact that we remember, is to understand a simple but painful trade-off: If you want to stand for something, You can't stand for everything. "Anyone can...

The best way to build a brand that matters, a story that spreads, an impact that we remember, is to understand a simple but painful trade-off:

If you want to stand for something,

You can't stand for everything.

"Anyone can be our customer and we will get you what you want..." is almost impossible to pull off. So is, "we are the cheapest and the most convenient and the best."

It didn't work for Sears, or for Chevrolet or for Radio Shack. It definitely doesn't work for the local freelancer, eager to do whatever is asked.

Relentlessly trimming what's on offer, combined with a resolute willingness to say, "no," are two characteristics of great brands. And linchpins, too.

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Which kind of truth?

2016-12-01T05:45:00-05:00

Organic chemistry doesn't care if you believe in it. Neither does the War of 1812. Truth is real, it's measurable and it happened. Truth is not in the eye of the beholder. There are facts that don't change if the...        Organic chemistry doesn't care if you believe in it. Neither does the War of 1812.  Truth is real, it's measurable and it happened. Truth is not in the eye of the beholder. There are facts that don't change if the observer doesn't believe: The age of the Eiffel Tower. The temperature in Death Valley. The number of people in the elevator.  On the other hand, there are outcomes that vary quite a bit if we believe: The results of the next sales call. Our response to medical treatment. The enjoyment of music... If you believe that this wine tastes better than that one, it probably will. If you believe you're going to have a great day at work, it will surely help. Placebos work. We make two mistakes, all the time. First, we believe that some things are facts (as in true), when in fact, belief has a huge effect on what's going to happen. In the contest between nature and nurture, nurture has far more power than we give it credit for. In countless ways, our friends and parents matter more than our genes do. At the same time, sometimes we get carried away. We work to amplify our beliefs by willfully confusing ourselves about whether the truth is flexible. It makes belief a lot more compelling (but a lot less useful) if we start to confuse it with truth. But belief is too important and too powerful to be a suspect compatriot of the scientific/historical sort of truth.  We can believe because it gives us joy and strength and the ability to do amazing things. That's enough.         [...]



Plasticity

2016-11-30T04:19:00-05:00

It's possible that you're the way you are, that you do what you do, that you react as you react, and that it can never be changed. Believing this is incredibly sad, though. Each of us is capable of just...

It's possible that you're the way you are, that you do what you do, that you react as you react, and that it can never be changed.

Believing this is incredibly sad, though.

Each of us is capable of just a little more. A little more patience, a little more insight, a little more generosity.

And if you can do a little more, then, of course, you can repeat those changes until you've done a lot more.

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