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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: 2016-09-25T04:54:00-04:00

 



Anxiety loves company

2016-09-25T06:49:24-04:00

Somehow, at least in our culture, we find relief when others are anxious too. So we spread our anxiety, stoking it in other people, looking for solace in the fear in their eyes. And thanks to the media, to the...

Somehow, at least in our culture, we find relief when others are anxious too.

So we spread our anxiety, stoking it in other people, looking for solace in the fear in their eyes.

And thanks to the media, to the microphone we each have, to our hyper-connected culture, it's easier than ever to spread our anxiety if we choose. And when someone who seeks power offers to hear our anxiety in exchange for attention or a vote, it gets even worse.

It's worth noting that there's no correlation between the real world and anxiety. In fact, it's probably the opposite--when times are good, people with a lot to lose start to get that itch.

Absorb the anxiety if you wish, spread it if you must, but understand that it's an invention, and it's optional.

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Looking for the trick

2016-09-24T05:42:00-04:00

When you find a trick, a shortcut, a hack that gets you from here to there without a lot of sweat or risk, it's really quite rewarding. So much so that many successful people are hooked on the trick, always...        When you find a trick, a shortcut, a hack that gets you from here to there without a lot of sweat or risk, it's really quite rewarding. So much so that many successful people are hooked on the trick, always looking for the next one. SEO, for example, had plenty of tricks as it evolved, ways in which a few worked to get rankings and links without deserving them. Or consider the act of publishing a book. One approach is to spend a lot of time and money tricking the system into believing your book is already successful, which, the trick says, will lead to it becoming actually successful.  Or the simple trick to avoid belly fat, lose weight, get a promotion, find dates or make money overnight. I could list a thousand of them, because the web is trick central, a place where, for a short while, the people apparently at the top of whatever heap you aspire to got there by finding and exploiting a trick. There's a meta-trick that's far more reliable. One that works over time and doesn't depend on avoiding being out-tricked: Make great stuff. Satisfy needs. Do the hard work that leads to growth which leads to investment on its own merit. It turns out that the trick-free approach is the best trick of all.           [...]



Skills vs. talents

2016-09-23T05:14:00-04:00

If you can learn it, it's a skill. If it's important, but innate, it's a talent. The thing is, almost everything that matters is a skill. If even one person is able to learn it, if even one person is...

If you can learn it, it's a skill.

If it's important, but innate, it's a talent.

The thing is, almost everything that matters is a skill. If even one person is able to learn it, if even one person is able to use effort and training to get good at something, it's a skill.

It's entirely possible that some skills are easier for talented people to learn. It's entirely possible you don't want to expend the energy and dedicate the effort to learn that next skill.

But realizing that it's a skill is incredibly empowering and opens the door of possibility.

What are you going to learn next?

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For the weekend...

2016-09-22T13:45:00-04:00

New podcast with Brian Koppelman Classic podcast with Krista Tippett Unmistakable Creative from 2015 And a video of Creative Mornings and their podcast The Your Turn book continues to spread. Have you seen it yet? Early-bird pricing on the huge...        New podcast with Brian Koppelman Classic podcast with Krista Tippett Unmistakable Creative from 2015 And a video of Creative Mornings and their podcast The Your Turn book continues to spread. Have you seen it yet? Early-bird pricing on the huge Titan collection ends in 9 days.         [...]



Widespread confusion about what it takes to be strong

2016-09-22T04:00:00-04:00

Sometimes we confuse strength with: Loudness Brusqueness An inability to listen A resistance to seeing the world as it is An unwillingness to compromise small things to accomplish big ones Fast talking Bullying External unflappability Callousness Lying Policies instead of...        Sometimes we confuse strength with: Loudness Brusqueness An inability to listen A resistance to seeing the world as it is An unwillingness to compromise small things to accomplish big ones Fast talking Bullying External unflappability Callousness Lying Policies instead of judgment ...and being a jerk. Well, once you put it that way, it's pretty clear that none of these things are actually signs of strength. In fact, they are symptoms of brittleness, of insecurity and of a willful disconnect from the things that matter. Individuals, organizations, brands and leaders all have a chance to be strong. And can just easily choose to be jerks. Because it is a choice, isn't it? I think it's up to us not to get them confused, and to accidentally trust the wrong behaviors or the wrong people. Strength begins with unwavering resilience, not brittle aggression.         [...]



Big fish in a little pond

2016-09-21T05:26:00-04:00

There's no doubt that the big fish gets respect, more attention and more than its fair share of business as a result. The hard part of being a big fish in a little pond isn't about being the right fish....

There's no doubt that the big fish gets respect, more attention and more than its fair share of business as a result.

The hard part of being a big fish in a little pond isn't about being the right fish. It's about finding the right pond.

Too often, we're attracted to a marketplace (a pond) that's huge and enticing, but being a big fish there is just too difficult to pull off with the resources at hand.

It makes more sense to get better at finding the right pond, at setting aside our hubris and confidence and instead settling for a pond where we can do great work, make a difference, and yes, be a big fish.

When in doubt, then, don't worry so much about the size of the fish. Focus instead on the size of your pond.

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Three things to keep in mind about your reputation

2016-09-20T04:49:00-04:00

Your reputation has as much impact on your life as what you actually do. Early assumptions about you are sticky and are difficult to change. The single best way to maintain your reputation is to do things you're proud of....        Your reputation has as much impact on your life as what you actually do. Early assumptions about you are sticky and are difficult to change. The single best way to maintain your reputation is to do things you're proud of. Gaming goes only so far. In a connection economy, what other people think about you, their expectations of you, the promises they believe you make—this is your brand. It's easy to imagine that good work is its own reward, but good work is only of maximum value when people get your reputation right, and they usually get that from others, not directly from you. It's logical, then, to care about how your reputation is formed. But it's dangerous, I think, to decide that it's worth spending a lot of time gaming the system, to consistently work hard to make your reputation better than you actually are. There is one exception: The most important step you can take when entering a new circle, a new field or a new network is to take vivid steps to establish a reputation. This is the new kid who stands up to a bully the first day of school, or a musician who holds off on a first single until she's got something to say. They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, but what most people do is make no impression at all. That reputation needs to be one you can live with for the long haul, because you'll need to. As the social networks make it more and more difficult for people to have a significant gap between reputation and reality (hence gossip), the single best strategy appears to be as you are, or more accurately, to live the life you've taught people to expect from you. Your reputation isn't merely based on your work, it's often the result of biases and expectations that existed before you even showed up. That's not fair but it's certainly true. Now that we see that the structures exist, each of us has the ability to over-invest in activities and behaviors that maximize how we'll be seen by others before we arrive. Be your reputation, early and often, and you're more likely to have a reputation you're glad to own.         [...]



Understanding taxonomy

2016-09-19T05:29:00-04:00

If you need to add a word to the dictionary, it's pretty clear where it goes. The dictionary is a handy reminder of how taxonomies work. The words aren't sorted by length, or frequency or date of first usage. They're...        If you need to add a word to the dictionary, it's pretty clear where it goes. The dictionary is a handy reminder of how taxonomies work. The words aren't sorted by length, or frequency or date of first usage. They're sorted by how they're spelled. This makes it easy to find and organize. The alphabet is an arbitrary taxonomy, without a lot of wisdom built in (are the letters in that order because of the song?). It's way more useful to consider taxonomies that are based on content or usage. Almost everything we understand is sorted into some sort of taxonomy. Foods, for example: we understand intuitively that chard is close to spinach, not chicken, even though the first two letters are the same. The taxonomy of food helps you figure out what to eat next, because you understand what might be a replacement for what's not available. Shopify has more in common with Udemy (both tech startups) than it does with the Bank of Canada (both based in Ottawa). Your job, if you want to explain a field, if you want to understand it, if you want to change it, is to begin with the taxonomy of how it's explained and understood. Once you understand a taxonomy, you've got a chance to re-organize it in a way that is even more useful. Too often, we get lazy and put unrelated bullet points next to each other, or organize in order of invention. For example, we teach high school biology before (and separate from) chemistry, even though you can't understand biology without chemistry (and you can certainly understand chemistry without biology). We do this because we started working on biology thousands of years before we got smart about chemistry, and the order stuck. The reason an entrepreneur needs a taxonomy is that she can find the holes, and figure out how to fill them. And a teacher needs one, because creating a mental model is the critical first step in understanding how the world works. If you can't build a taxonomy for your area of expertise, then you're not an expert in it.         [...]



The opposite of the freeloader problem

2016-09-18T04:52:00-04:00

Is the freegiver advantage. Freeloaders, of course, are people who take more than they give, drains on the system. But the opposite, the opposite is magical. These are the people who feed the community first, who give before taking, who...

Is the freegiver advantage.

Freeloaders, of course, are people who take more than they give, drains on the system.

But the opposite, the opposite is magical. These are the people who feed the community first, who give before taking, who figure out how to always give a little more than they take.

What happens to a community filled with freegivers?

Ironically, every member of that community comes out ahead. 

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The post-reality paradox

2016-09-17T14:06:51-04:00

Reality and rational thought have paid more dividends in the last century than ever before. Science-based medicine has dramatically increased the lifespan and health of people around the world. Vaccines have prevented millions of children from lifelong suffering and even...        Reality and rational thought have paid more dividends in the last century than ever before. Science-based medicine has dramatically increased the lifespan and health of people around the world. Vaccines have prevented millions of children from lifelong suffering and even death. Evidence-based trials have transformed the output of farms, the way organizations function and yes, even the yield of websites. It's possible to imagine a world of 6 billion people without the advances we've enjoyed, but you wouldn't want to live there. It's not just the obvious outcomes of engineering and scientific success. It's also the science of decision making and the reliance on a civil society, both of which require the patience to see the long term. For someone willing to engage in a discussion based on data, there is no doubt that this approach is working. It works so well, it’s easy to take it for granted, to assume that miracles will keep coming, that the systems will keep working, that the bridges and the water systems won’t fail and the missiles won't be launched. It's easy to lose interest in spreading these benefits to those that don't have them yet. At the very same time that engineering put us on the moon, post-reality thinking invented a conspiracy that it didn’t happen. When we get close to eradicating an illness, we hesitate and focus on rumor and innuendo instead. While reality-based medicine has ameliorated some of the worst diseases humans have ever experienced, quack medicines have been on the upswing for the ones that remain. The most famous doctor in the country, Mehmet Oz, is primarily known for blurring the lines. His gifted medical talents have saved lives in the operating room, but he’s just as likely to talk about a quack diet based on coffee beans. There's been huge forward progress in the science of medicine, but all the money and attention on placebos hasn't improved their outcome much. When Hillary Clinton lies, her standing decreases. But when Donald Trump lies, it actually helps his standing among his followers. That’s because he’s not selling reality, he’s selling something else. It’s confusing to outsiders, because he’s not working on the same axis as traditional candidates. The hallmark of post-reality thinking is that it watches the speech with the sound turned off. The words don't matter nearly as much as the intent, the emotion, the subtext. When we engage in this more primeval, emotional encounter, we are more concerned with how it looks and feels than we are in whether or not the words actually make sense. The irony, then, is that people who have been cut off from clean water, from things that actually work, from the fruits of a reality-based system that changed everything—these people are hungering for it, want it for their children. But for those that have taken it for granted, who have the luxury of using it without understanding it, the pendulum swings in the other direction, seeking an emotional response to economic and technical disconnects. The more that reality-based thinking has created a comfortable existence, the more tempting it is to ignore it and embrace a nonsensical, skeptical viewpoint instead. We used to be able to talk about science and belief, about what’s real and what we dream of. The and was the key part of the sentence, it wasn’t one against the other. If they are seen as or, though, if it’s belief (anger or fear) against/vs./or the reality of what’s here and what’s workin[...]