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Seth Godin's Blog on marketing, tribes and respect



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



Updated: 2017-02-26T05:13:00-05:00

 



The why of urgent vs. important

2017-02-26T05:13:00-05:00

You know you should be focusing on the long-term journey, on building out the facility, signing up new customers or finishing your dissertation. But instead, there's a queue of urgent things, all justifiable, all requiring you and you alone to...

You know you should be focusing on the long-term journey, on building out the facility, signing up new customers or finishing your dissertation.

But instead, there's a queue of urgent things, all justifiable, all requiring you and you alone to handle them. And so you do, pushing off the important in favor of the urgent.

Of course, everyone has this challenge, but some people manage to get past it. Even you, the last time you made a major move forward. Think about it--those urgencies from a few years ago: who's handling them now?

The reason we go for urgent is that it makes us feel competent. We're good at it. We didn't used to be, but we are now.

Important, on the other hand, is fraught with fear, with uncertainty and with the risk of failure.

Now that you know why, you can dance with it.

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The smoking lounge

2017-02-25T05:35:00-05:00

They still have one at the Helsinki airport. No one in the lounge seems particularly happy to be there. Perhaps they enjoyed smoking when they first started, but now, it sure looks like they realize that it's expensive, unhealthy and...

They still have one at the Helsinki airport.

No one in the lounge seems particularly happy to be there. Perhaps they enjoyed smoking when they first started, but now, it sure looks like they realize that it's expensive, unhealthy and a bit of a hassle. Something they feel compelled to do.

The thing is, there are a few people near the lounge busy checking their phones, and they seem just as unhappy about what they're doing.

I wonder when we're going to start building social media lounges?

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"Hit the red button"

2017-02-24T04:38:00-05:00

Everyone on your team should have one. When we hit the button, it instantly alerts the CEO or someone who willingly takes responsibility for what happens next. And then the question: What are the circumstances where an employee should (must)...        Everyone on your team should have one. When we hit the button, it instantly alerts the CEO or someone who willingly takes responsibility for what happens next. And then the question: What are the circumstances where an employee should (must) hit the red button? Consider: A sexual harassment complaint A customer leaves over poor service There's pressure to ship inferior or dangerous products The wait in the customer service queue passes 8 minutes Any other combination of bribery, racism, dumping of effluents, breaking promises, cooking books, lying to the public, etc.... If you don't have a button, why not? The red button makes it clear to your team that they should either solve important problems on the spot or let you do so, and that not treating a problem seriously is not an option. And if you don't treat your project seriously enough to have a button, if there isn't a culture where you want people to either fix these sorts of problems or get them looked at immediately, why not? We can compromise our way into just about anything. At least do it on purpose.          [...]



Over/with

2017-02-17T16:21:45-05:00

You connect with someone. But you exert power over someone. You can dance and communicate and engage with a partner. It's a two way street, a partnership. On the other hand, you either exert control over someone, or you are...        You connect with someone. But you exert power over someone. You can dance and communicate and engage with a partner. It's a two way street, a partnership. On the other hand, you either exert control over someone, or you are under their control. If you want to be an Olympic wrestler, you need to be comfortable (not necessarily in favor of, but willing to live with) the idea that you will spend time under. For thousands of years, we've built our culture to teach people to not only tolerate a powerful overlord, but in a vacuum, to seek one out. We build school around the idea of powerful teachers, coaches and authority figures telling us what to do. We go to the placement office to seek a job, instead of starting our own thing, because we've been taught that this is the way it works, it's reliable, it's safer. And so we're pushed to begin with under, not with. The connection economy begins to undermine this dynamic. But it's frightening. It's frightening to have your own media channel, your own platform, your own ability to craft a community and 1,000 true fans. So instead, we seek out someone to tell us what to do, to trade this for that. I think it's becoming clear that power doesn't scale like it used to. Too many unders and not enough withs. But, each of us can change our perspective, as soon as we're ready. Find your with.         [...]



Drawing a line in the sand

2017-02-22T05:47:00-05:00

There are two real problems with this attitude: First, drawing lines. Problems aren't linear, people don't fit into boxes. Lines are not nuanced, flexible or particularly well-informed. A line is a shortcut, a lazy way to deal with a problem...

There are two real problems with this attitude:

First, drawing lines. Problems aren't linear, people don't fit into boxes. Lines are not nuanced, flexible or particularly well-informed. A line is a shortcut, a lazy way to deal with a problem you don't care enough about to truly understand.

Most of all, drawing a line invites the other person to cross it.

Second, the sand. Sand? Really? If you're going to draw a line, if you're truly willing to go to battle, you can do better than sand.

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Squeezing the last minute out of a session

2017-02-21T04:22:00-05:00

It's too late now. If you're the moderator of a panel and you want to rush through one more question... Or if you're the speaker and you need to race through three more slides... Or if you're a writer or...

It's too late now.

If you're the moderator of a panel and you want to rush through one more question...

Or if you're the speaker and you need to race through three more slides...

Or if you're a writer or designer and want to add just one more idea...

Or if you're the teacher and there's just one more concept to talk about even though the bell's about to ring.

Too late.

End with a pause.

End with confidence and calm and yes, please respect your audience enough to not expect that cramming is going to help us or you.

No one, not once in the history of timers, has ever said, "I'm really glad that they went over by thirty seconds, huffing and puffing and begging for attention. That was the best part, and I respect them for cramming it all in."

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Our worldview casts a shadow in the words that resonate

2017-02-16T10:31:22-05:00

One reason it's difficult to understand each other is that behind the words we use are the worldviews, the emotions and the beliefs we have before we even consider what's being said. Before we get to right and wrong, good...        One reason it's difficult to understand each other is that behind the words we use are the worldviews, the emotions and the beliefs we have before we even consider what's being said. Before we get to right and wrong, good or bad, effective or ineffective, we begin with worldview.  They affect the way we choose a car, engage in a conversation or vote. These cultural and learned worldviews alter the way we see and hear and speak. Words like: Fairness, change, interference, freedom, responsibility and opportunity trigger different reactions based on worldview. It's always easier to encourage action based on an existing worldview than it is to change that view. The columns below don't line up for everyone (or anyone), but instead highlight different instincts on different axes on how each of us see the world in any given moment... An all-powerful authority Treat others as you'd want to be treated Confidence, results, right now, right later Exploration, truth, working toward perfect, always a little wrong Self-respect, power, agency, taking space Role awareness, dignity, giving space, flexibility Deserve, entitled, keep Share, distribute, invest Effects Side effects Ends and means Means and ends Getting things done Listening, speaking up and being heard Patriotism, nationalism, the homeland Community, ecology, the system Power, authority, compliance, respect, status Fairness, hope, justice, connection, healing Profit-seeking Public utility Intuitive Informed Realism, denial Optimism, pessimism Rewards, incentives, victory, spoils Equity, fairness and the alleviation of suffering Urgency, triumph, security, impulse Self control, long-term thinking, wisdom Vengeance Forgiveness Zero-sum Win-win Once we understand the landscape that someone sees, we have an easier time using words and images to fill in that landscape, to create a story that they can hear and understand, and, perhaps, we can make change happen.         [...]



The opposite of "more"

2017-02-19T05:17:00-05:00

It's not "less." If we care enough, the opposite of more is better.

It's not "less." 

If we care enough, the opposite of more is better.

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Interesting problems

2017-02-18T04:02:00-05:00

Being locked out of your car is not an interesting problem. Call five locksmiths, hire the cheap and fast one, you'll be fine. And getting a script written or a book cover designed isn't that interesting either. There are thousands...        Being locked out of your car is not an interesting problem. Call five locksmiths, hire the cheap and fast one, you'll be fine. And getting a script written or a book cover designed isn't that interesting either. There are thousands of trained professionals happy to do it for you. On the other hand, if you need a script that will win awards, sell tickets and change lives, that's difficult. And interesting. Or if you need a book cover that will leap off the shelf, define a segment, make a career—that's hard as well. An interesting problem is one that's never been solved in quite this way before. It's not always going to work. The stakes are high. It involves coloring outside the lines. Most solution providers (freelancers/firms/professionals) shy away from the interesting problems. There's not a lot of firm ground to stand on. There's more apparent risk than most people are comfortable with. It's too easy to shy away and pull back a little. But... And it's a big but... The few who are willing to engage in interesting problems are worth working with.         [...]



Power and reason

2017-02-17T04:06:00-05:00

A fish is not like a bicycle, but they're not mutually exclusive. You can have both. Part of our culture admires reason. It celebrates learning. It seeks out logic and coherence and an understanding of the how and the why....        A fish is not like a bicycle, but they're not mutually exclusive. You can have both. Part of our culture admires reason. It celebrates learning. It seeks out logic and coherence and an understanding of the how and the why. At the same time, there are other people who seek out influence and authority. Either to exercise it or to blindly follow it. Sometimes, they overlap. Sometimes, power is guided by reason. But that's not required, not in the short run.  And sometimes, reasonable, informed people wield power. But again, as a visit to a university's English department will show, not always. It's tempting for the powerful to argue with those that admire reason, pointing out how much power they wield. And it's tempting for the well-informed to argue with those that have power, pointing out how little reason they possess. But just as a fish isn't going to stop you from riding a bicycle, these arguments rarely work, because power and reason don't live on the same axis. Listening to someone argue from the other axis is a little like watching TV with the sound off. It might look normal, but it is hard to follow. Before we engage, we need to agree on what's being discussed.         [...]