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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: 2017-12-15T04:35:00-05:00

 



Better instincts

2017-12-15T04:35:00-05:00

"Go with your gut," is occasionally good advice. More often, though, it's an invitation to indulge in your fear or to avoid the hard work of understanding the nuance around us. Better advice is, "invest in making your gut smarter."...        "Go with your gut," is occasionally good advice. More often, though, it's an invitation to indulge in your fear or to avoid the hard work of understanding the nuance around us. Better advice is, "invest in making your gut smarter." The world is a lot more complex than our gut is likely to comprehend, at least without training. Train your gut, get better instincts. How do this? Practice going with your instincts in private. Every day, make a judgment call. Make ten. Make predictions about what's going to happen next, who's got a hit, what designs are going to resonate, which videos will go viral, which hires are going to work out. Write them down or they don't count. It makes no sense to refuse to practice your instinct and to only use it when the stakes are high. Expose yourself to more deal flow. If you want to have better instincts about retail, go work in a retail shop. Then another one. Then a third one. If you want to have better instincts about hiring, sit in with the HR folks or volunteer to help a non-profit you care about do screening of incoming resumes. Figure out how to talk about your instincts so that they're no longer instincts. A thinking process shared is inevitably going to get more rigorous. Ask your colleagues to return the favor, by challenging each other to expose their thinking as well.         [...]



Different people hear differently

2017-12-14T04:53:00-05:00

What you say is not nearly as important as what we hear. Which means that the words matter, and so does the way we say them. And how we say them. And what we do after we say them. It...

What you say is not nearly as important as what we hear.

Which means that the words matter, and so does the way we say them. And how we say them. And what we do after we say them.

It takes two to be understood. Not just speaking clearly, but speaking in a way that you can be understood.

Empathy is not sufficient. Compassion is more useful, because it's possible to talk to someone who is experiencing something that you've never experienced.

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Actual shortcuts often appear to be detours

2017-12-13T04:58:00-05:00

The crowd doesn't understand this. They're always looking for a shortcut that looks like a shortcut. If you're merely following them, you probably won't get anywhere interesting. It's the detours that pay off. [PS speaking of shortcuts that look like...

The crowd doesn't understand this. They're always looking for a shortcut that looks like a shortcut.

If you're merely following them, you probably won't get anywhere interesting. It's the detours that pay off.

[PS speaking of shortcuts that look like detours, congratulations to Tom Peters, godfather of the business book industry, our George Washington, Simón Bolívar and Ada Lovelace rolled into one, for winning the coveted Jack Covert award. When Tom launched In Search of Excellence, his plan wasn't to invent an industry. It just turned out that way.]

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The drip

2017-12-12T04:56:00-05:00

Change, real change, is the result of focused persistence. It's easy to get a bunch of people sort of excited for a little while. The challenging part, and the reason that change doesn't happen as often as it should is...        Change, real change, is the result of focused persistence. It's easy to get a bunch of people sort of excited for a little while. The challenging part, and the reason that change doesn't happen as often as it should is that we get distracted. Today's urgent is more urgent than yesterday's important. The concept of breaking news and the crisis of the day proves my point. If the world ended every time Wolf Blitzer implied it would, we would have been toast a long time ago. The organizations that actually change things are the ones that have a time horizon that's longer than 36 hours. There are very few overnight successes. Very few entrepreneurs, freelancers, non-profits, candidates, spiritual leaders, activists or people in a successful relationship that got there with thunder and lighting. It happens with a drip. PS this post is intentionally disfigured in honor of Break the Internet. I'm annoyed that we have to continually fight this fight, but it just proves my point. Drip by drip. Keep showing up. If it matters, keep showing up.         [...]



More like us

2017-12-10T11:15:38-05:00

When we come to a fork in our personal or professional or civic life, we get to make a choice. And often that choice is easier when we have a benchmark, a model to follow. You can decide to get...        When we come to a fork in our personal or professional or civic life, we get to make a choice. And often that choice is easier when we have a benchmark, a model to follow. You can decide to get an advanced degree in physics to be more like Elon. Or go to RISD to become the next Deborah Berke. Your company can offer open books and a sense of mission to employees to become more like Askinosie. Or create a professional work environment to be more like USHG. Or choose to level up your design chops to be seen as more like Ideo. Environmentally, who do we seek to emulate? A gas spill in Alabama that goes unreported and sickens people for a decade? Or a cleanup that leads to new jobs? Politically, which countries do we seek to emulate? When it comes to free speech, net neutrality or the FDA or EPA, who are we trying to follow? More like or less like what outcomes? Once we see where we're headed, in every one of these decisions, we could choose to be more like us. To get back to first principles, to understand why we bothered showing up in the first place. To become the one we always wanted to be.         [...]



A point of view

2017-12-10T04:20:00-05:00

That's the difference between saying, "what would you like me to do," and "I think we should do this, not that." A point of view is the difference between a job and a career. It's the difference between being a...

That's the difference between saying, "what would you like me to do," and "I think we should do this, not that."

A point of view is the difference between a job and a career.

It's the difference between being a cog and making an impact.

Having a point of view is different from always being correct. No one is always correct.

Hiding because you're not sure merely makes you invisible.

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Rules for working in a studio

2017-12-09T04:46:00-05:00

Don’t hide your work Offer help Ask for help Tell the truth Upgrade your tools Don’t hide your mistakes Add energy, don't subtract it Share If you're not proud of it, don't ship it Know the rules of your craft...        Don’t hide your work Offer help Ask for help Tell the truth Upgrade your tools Don’t hide your mistakes Add energy, don't subtract it Share If you're not proud of it, don't ship it Know the rules of your craft Break the rules of your craft with intention Make big promises Keep them Add positivity Let others run, ever faster Take responsibility Learn something new Offer credit Criticize the work, not the artist Power isn't as important as productivity Honor the schedule You are not your work, embrace criticism Go faster Sign your work Walk lightly Change something Obsess about appropriate quality, ignore perfection A studio isn’t a factory. It’s when peers come together to do creative work, to amplify each other and to make change happen. That can happen in any organization, but it takes commitment.         [...]



Where would we be without failure?

2017-12-08T05:01:00-05:00

Failure (and the fear of failure) gives you a chance to have a voice.... Because failure frightens people who care less than you do.

Failure (and the fear of failure) gives you a chance to have a voice....

Because failure frightens people who care less than you do.

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Modern laziness

2017-12-07T04:52:00-05:00

The original kind of lazy avoids hard physical work. Too lazy to dig a ditch, organize a warehouse or clean the garage. Modern lazy avoids emotional labor. This is the laziness of not raising your hand to ask the key...

The original kind of lazy avoids hard physical work. Too lazy to dig a ditch, organize a warehouse or clean the garage.

Modern lazy avoids emotional labor. This is the laziness of not raising your hand to ask the key question, not caring about those in need or not digging in to ship something that might not work. Lazy is having an argument instead of a thoughtful conversation. Lazy is waiting until the last minute. And lazy is avoiding what we fear.

Lazy feels okay in the short run, but eats at us over time.

Laziness is often an option, and it's worth labelling it for what it is.

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The minimum critical mass

2017-12-06T09:07:47-05:00

For your idea to spread, your app to go viral, your restaurant to be the place, it's likely you'll need to hit critical mass. This is a term from physics, describing the amount of plutonium you need in a certain...        For your idea to spread, your app to go viral, your restaurant to be the place, it's likely you'll need to hit critical mass. This is a term from physics, describing the amount of plutonium you need in a certain amount of space before a nuclear reaction becomes self-sustaining. Once enough people start driving your new brand of motorcycle around town, it's seen by enough people that it becomes accepted, and sales take off from there. Once enough people who know enough people start talking about your new app, the touchpoints multiply and organic growth kicks in. Once enough readers read and engage with your book, it's no longer up to the bookstore to push it... people talking to people are the engine for your growth. It's sort of the opposite of Yogi Berra saying, "No one goes there, it's too crowded." When you hit the right number of conversations, the buzz creates its own buzz, popularity and usage creates more popularity and usage. The thing is, though, most marketers are fooling themselves. They imagine that the audience size necessary for critical mass is right around the corner, but it's actually closer to infinity. That, like a boat with a leak, you always have to keep bailing to keep it afloat. If you don't design for a low critical mass, you're unlikely to get one. This is why most apps don't ever take off. Not because they weren't launched with enough fanfare, not because the developers didn't buy enough promotion or installs—because the r0 of virality is less than one. Because every time you add 10 users, you don't get a cycle that goes up in scale, you get one that gradually decays instead. The hard work of marketing, then, isn't promoting that thing you made. It's in building something where the Minimum Critical Mass is a low enough number that you can actually reach it. Facebook, one of the finest examples available, only needed 100 users in one Harvard social circle for it to gain enough traction to take the campus, and then jump to the Ivy League, and then, eventually, to you. My book Purple Cow was seeded to about 5,000 readers. That was all the direct promotion it needed to eventually make its way to millions of readers around the world. How many people needed to start carrying a Moleskine or selfie stick or a pair of Grados before you decided you needed one too? Yes, of course, sometimes the route to popular is random, or accidental. And betting on lucky is fine, as long as you know that's what you're doing. But the best marketers do three things to increase their chances: They engineer the product itself to be worth talking about. They create a virtuous cycle where the product works better for existing users when their friends are also using it, or a cultural imperative where users feel better when they recommend it. They choose their seed market carefully. They focus on groups that are not only easy to reach, but important to reach. This might be a tightly-knit group (like Harvard) or a group that shares a similar demographic (like the early readers of Fast Company) or a group that's itching to take action... They're hyper-aware of the MCM and know whether or not they have the time and the budget to reach it. Making your MCM a manageable number is the secret to creating a hit.         [...]