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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: 2017-03-25T04:37:00-04:00

 



Holding your breadth

2017-03-25T04:37:00-04:00

It's tempting to diversify, particularly when it comes to what you offer the world. One more alternative, one more flavor, one more variation. Something for everyone. We get pushed to smooth out the work, make it softer, more widely applicable....

It's tempting to diversify, particularly when it comes to what you offer the world.

One more alternative, one more flavor, one more variation.

Something for everyone.

We get pushed to smooth out the work, make it softer, more widely applicable.

More breadth, though, doesn't cause change, and it won't get you noticed.

Focus works. A sharp edge cuts through the clutter.

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Seriously vs. personally

2017-03-24T04:02:00-04:00

Professionals take their work seriously. The work matters, the impacts and externalities are real. On the other hand, we can't take it personally. When someone rejects an idea, or if a project doesn't succeed, we've learned a valuable lesson about...

Professionals take their work seriously. The work matters, the impacts and externalities are real.

On the other hand, we can't take it personally. When someone rejects an idea, or if a project doesn't succeed, we've learned a valuable lesson about strategy and about tactics, but it's not a reflection on our worth as a human.

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The reason we need the FDA (hint: it's marketers)

2017-03-23T07:09:45-04:00

Here's the original ad for Coca-Cola: French Wine Coca is indorsed (sic) by over 20,000 of the most learned and scientific medical men in the world . . . . . . Americans are the most nervous people in the...        Here's the original ad for Coca-Cola: French Wine Coca is indorsed (sic) by over 20,000 of the most learned and scientific medical men in the world . . . . . . Americans are the most nervous people in the world . . . All who are suffering from any nervous complaints we commend to use the wonderful and delightful remedy, French Wine Coca, infallible in curing all who are afflicted with any nerve trouble, dyspepsia, mental and physical exhaustion, all chronic wasting diseases, gastric irritability, constipation, sick headache, neuralgia, etc. is quickly cured by the Coca Wine . . . . . . Coca is a most wonderful invigorator of the sexual organs and will cure seminal weakness, impotency, etc., when all other remedies fail . . . To the unfortunate who are addicted to the morphine or opiate habit, or the excessive use of alcohol stimulants, the French Wine Coca has proven a great blessing, and thousands proclaim it the most remarkable invigorator that every sustained a wasting and sinking system. (Thanks to Adam Alter's urgent and powerful new book). John Pemberton, who wrote this ad, was addicted to the cocaine in the product and ultimately died from stomach cancer, an addict. Just six years later his son died from the same addiction. In a competitive environment, in which some marketers are rewarded for the short-term hit, the race to the bottom is inevitable. That doesn't mean it works, but it hurts. Self-regulation doesn't work in large markets that have easy entry, with many short-term competitive battles going on. Smart, ethical marketers understand that regulation actually helps them do their work. Regulation not only benefits the unsuspecting public, it benefits marketers, too. Without guardrails, they won't be able to stop.         [...]



To tell the truth

2017-03-17T10:33:23-04:00

Thirty years ago, Fleischmann and Pons announced that they were able to create fusion at room temperature. Scientists around the world began work in this new field, only to discover that they couldn't replicate the reported results. It turns out...        Thirty years ago, Fleischmann and Pons announced that they were able to create fusion at room temperature. Scientists around the world began work in this new field, only to discover that they couldn't replicate the reported results. It turns out that the original researchers hadn't told the truth. Millions of dollars and countless hours were wasted. Science is based on honestly and accurately reporting what happened. Not reporting an opinion or a point of view as much as actual events and theories that fit those events. But the same thing is true of the results you got from the direct marketing test you did yesterday. And the efficacy of a new cancer vaccine or economic policy. We need people to report what's actually true, so we can work with it. The same thinking applies to whether or not your product made money last month and what temperature it was in Cleveland on Tuesday. On the other hand, we don't expect the truth in a poker game, in the negotiation of the price of a new car or even in the stump speech of a political candidate. We signed up for shadings and hyperbole and some gamesmanship.  The key concept here, as usual, is enrollment. If the scientific community is enrolled with you in hearing the factual results of replicable experiments, then it's on you to engage with that honestly. If your co-workers are enrolled to hear the truth about the culture of your organization or the results of a new initiative, the entire system depends on you keeping up your end of the bargain. Living without accurate reporting of results, when it's what we expect, goes far beyond the ethical problem with lying. Like the toxic loans that led to the financial crisis of 2008, when lies are mixed in with the expectation for truth, the system grinds to a halt. We have to spend time filtering instead of actually getting our work done. It's an incredible privilege to have a role where you are expected to tell the truth. Your colleagues are trusting you, letting down their guard and enabling you to contribute highly-leveraged work.  It doesn't take much to break that trust and to degrade the efficiency of the entire system. Let's agree, in advance, about what we're going to hear from you.          [...]



Counting beans

2017-03-21T04:58:00-04:00

If you have to serve chili to 1,000 people, holding back just one bean from each person means you end up with a tidy savings, and almost no one is going to notice. If you run a call center and...        If you have to serve chili to 1,000 people, holding back just one bean from each person means you end up with a tidy savings, and almost no one is going to notice. If you run a call center and hire people who make a dollar less an hour, who are less supported, or less trained, or less caring, the impact on each interaction will probably seem pretty small. Of course, if you have a thousand operators, you just saved a lot of money. And, if you make cars and you figure out how to replace a bolt with a slightly less resilient one, very few drivers will notice, and if you make 200,000 cars a year, that might be enough to pay your entire salary. You've already guessed the problem. Some people will notice that the portions are a little skimpy. Some customers will be annoyed enough to switch to another company. And some people are going to die. When we add up lots of little compromises, we get to celebrate the big win. But overlooked are the unknown costs over time, the erosion in brand, the loss in quality, the subtraction from something that took years to add up. In a competitive environment, the key question is: What would happen if we did a little better?  Organizations that add just a little bit every day always defeat those that are in the subtraction business.         [...]



Three simple and difficult steps

2017-03-20T04:24:00-04:00

Get smarter. Hurry. Learn something new and difficult and valuable. Learn it today and continue learning it tomorrow. Solve interesting problems. Ignaz Semmelweis saw the same problem that others saw. But he took responsibility and solved it (worth a read)....        Get smarter. Hurry. Learn something new and difficult and valuable. Learn it today and continue learning it tomorrow. Solve interesting problems. Ignaz Semmelweis saw the same problem that others saw. But he took responsibility and solved it (worth a read). Care. More. This takes guts because it means you'll have to do something. If you can invest in these three assets, what happens to your leverage? Your value? Your choices? There are people who can cut corners better than you, work more hours than you and certainly work cheaper than you. But what would happen if you became the person who was smarter, better at solving problems and cared the most?         [...]



Showing up

2017-03-19T04:49:00-04:00

Some people show up when they need something. Some people show up before they need something, knowing that it will pay off later, when they need something. And some people merely show up. Not needing anything, not in anticipation of...

Some people show up when they need something.

Some people show up before they need something, knowing that it will pay off later, when they need something.

And some people merely show up. Not needing anything, not in anticipation of needing something, but merely because they can.

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Fear, failure and shame, oh my

2017-03-18T04:42:00-04:00

Fear runs deep. Fear used to keep our ancestors alive. Fear keeps you from taunting a saber tooth tiger. The thing is, most of us don't have to deal with tigers any longer. But the fear still runs deep. We...

Fear runs deep. Fear used to keep our ancestors alive. Fear keeps you from taunting a saber tooth tiger.

The thing is, most of us don't have to deal with tigers any longer. But the fear still runs deep.

We still feel the same feelings when we face possible failure, but now those feelings revolve around shame. Losing a videogame in private is fine, but asking a stupid question in a meeting is not.

Shame is the dream killer, because shame (or the possibility of shame) amplifies our fear of fear, keeps us from contributing and short circuits our willingness to explore.

As soon as we give it a name, though, as soon as we call it out, we can begin to move forward. Fear of shame unspoken is fear of shame amplified.

Be afraid of significant failure if you can quantify the downsides. But fear of shame is a waste and a trap.

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The half-life of a near miss

2017-03-17T16:27:00-04:00

How long does it take to forget how frightening it was? You fell off your bike and really skinned your knee. How many months or years go by before you're willing to ride a bike again? The stories we tell...        How long does it take to forget how frightening it was?  You fell off your bike and really skinned your knee. How many months or years go by before you're willing to ride a bike again? The stories we tell ourselves are powerful indeed. I got food poisoning as a kid and never again ate at the restaurant that caused it, even after the restaurant went out of business and was replaced by a totally different business, which then went out of business and was replaced again. There was no rational reason to avoid that particular building, but our myths run deep. On the other hand, sometimes we do have a rational reason to avoid a particular behavior, but our culture or outside forces or sheer force of habit causes us to forget. This episode of Dan Carlin's podcast is, like most of his work, extraordinary. In just over five hours, Dan will remind you about just how close each and every one of us came to dying because of nuclear weapons. It was a near miss, by every measure. And yet, within a generation or two, it's easy to forget. I hope we don't forget.         [...]



Is ignorance the problem?

2017-03-17T05:05:00-04:00

It's nice to think that the reason that people don't do what you need them to do, or conform to your standards, or make good choices is simply that they don't know enough. After all, if that's the case, all...        It's nice to think that the reason that people don't do what you need them to do, or conform to your standards, or make good choices is simply that they don't know enough. After all, if that's the case, all you'll need to do is inform them, loudly and clearly. So, that employee who shows up late: just let her know that being late isn't allowed. Threaten to fire her. That'll do it. The thing is, ignorance is rarely the problem. The challenge is that people don't always care about what you care about. And the reason they don't care isn't that they don't know what you know. The reason is that they don't believe what you believe. The challenge, then, isn't to inform them. It's to engage and teach and communicate in a way that shares emotion and values and beliefs.         [...]