Episode 38: Seth Godin, Leader of the New Marketing Movement on Authenticity, Google Dicing and Orange Rubber Squids
Business Week calls him "the ultimate entrepreneur for the Information Age." Meet Seth Godin, author of 10 seminal books on marketing including his latest, "Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing Out of Sync?" Best known for his NY Times and WSJ bestseller "Purple Cow" and for coining the phrases ideavirus and permission marketing, Seth shares with Susan the 14 trends no marketer can afford to ignore including authenticity, atomizing the world, the impact of infinite channels, the end of the advertising "big idea" and how to manage the "new gatekeepers." Meatball Sundae is more than a marketing book, it permeates business strategy entirely. From spreading your ideas via the web rather than your mass advertising to understanding that you are now in the business of "soft qualities" to create differentiation, Seth gives actionable advice you can use to rethink your business strategy today.
Seth talks about the best thing about living right here and right now, his best tips for making a powerful presentation and how social networking will evolve. He shares the one book he's most recommended to his friend and one of the books that has changed his life and why "The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional & Personal Life by Ben Zander. You'll end this show with hope and action items that will drive your life and your career forward in a powerful way.
Susan Bratton: Welcome to “Dishy Mix”. I’m your host, Susan Bratton and on today’s show you’re going to get to meet Seth Godin. “Business Week” calls him the “ultimate entrepreneur for the information age.” And many of you know him as an author, a blogger, a speaker and an entrepreneur and really potentially the leader of the new marketing movement. The highlights of today’s show are:
Seth Godin: The beauty of writing books is you can tell people you have a job but you’re allowed to do whatever you want all day long.
Well I think my thesis is this. In the 20s and 30s when factories were so important all a company did was make stuff and if you were the head of manufacturing you were running the company. Henry Ford triumphed because he understood how to manufacture cars better than anybody else. Well, we now live in a world where manufacturing is trivial and owning a factory is an impediment, not an advantage in many cases. So as a result, the core competency of an organization is the whole grab bag of tools that I call marketing. And what it is at its core is the idea that companies in the future are about connecting people to each other and people to the organization, not about making average products for average people and selling them en mass, which is what I call meatball.
Well, in “All Marketers are Liars”, I talk about this, the fact is what people buy when they buy something is not the Widget or the Specs or the SyncoTime or the cost and performance ratio. What they’re buying is the story. Part of it comes from the way you think about DNA. One skin cell is enough to recreate a whole human. You have to make it so that every piece of what you do can live and die on it’s own and communicate a lot of your story.
Susan Bratton: On today’s show we’re going to talk about Authenticity, “Google-dicing”, Infinite channels, AA (which in this case means After Advertising) The Art of Possibility, and maybe we’ll talk about the Last Orange Squid.
Ok, Let’s get Seth on the show!
Susan Bratton: Welcome Seth.
Seth Godin: Hi Susan. Thanks for having me.
Susan Bratton: Well, it’s my pleasure after many years of pursuit you’ve finally relented and allowed me to interview you.
Seth Godin: I think this is underrated.
Susan Bratton: Absolutely. I’m all about that man! [Laughs]. A couple of weeks ago we had Steve Wozniak. It took me a year to talk him in to coming on the show and he did such a great job and opened up so much we had to have a two-part episode, so it’s definitely worth the time.
So you are, as I said in my opening, you’re an author. You’re the author of ten books. Well, and you told me maybe even 50. Is that because of the e-books and all the things that you’ve written?
Seth Godin: Well, my job before this and before the other thing was I was a book packager. Book packagers think of ideas for books and then make sure they get written. Sometimes I wrote the books myself; sometimes I hired people to write the books. But all of these ten, every word was written by me and these are my real books.
Susan Bratton: Nice. Well, it’s kind of like a venture capitalist. They think about market opportunities and then they go find entrepreneurs to create the businesses. So that’s what you were doing in the book world previously?
Seth Godin: Yeah, except I worked a lot harder than a venture capitalist.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, I can imagine and you probably still do. I can tell you are quite the hustler and full of fabulous ideas. I wanted to just go through the list of the books that you’ve written. Mostly because they just have such great titles. The latest book that we’re going to talk about on today’s show is “Meatball Sundae”.
Previous to that, and one I didn’t read and I am ordering it. I’m going to order this Seth. I don’t like to take free books. I always buy them because I want to support the authors. I didn’t read “The Dip”. And that sounds really interesting to me. Somehow I missed that one.
Before that you wrote “Small is the New Big”; “All Marketers are Liars” which I’d like to hear more about that; “ Free Prize Inside”; “The Purple Cow” which I think you’re probably most well known for; “The Big Red Fez”; “Survival is Not Enough”; “Unleashing the Ideavirus” which is one of the words that you’ve coined in the industry in addition to your “Permission Marketing” which was your first book and a word that you I think co-coined with Susan Storm?
Seth Godin: No, Susan’s terrific but I think I have to take credit for ‘permission marketing’.
Susan Bratton: There you go. I just got a press release that she joined some new company and she’s, I don’t know her but I thought “Oh wow, she co-coined that term!” [Laughs]
Seth Godin: No, Susan is terrific and anyone who has a chance to work with her or hire her should do so.
Susan Bratton: That’s great. Well, before that you were…before you started this torrent of book writing around the marketing space, you had founded a company called Yoyodyne, which was acquired by Yahoo. You didn’t last long there. You really left and started doing all of your marketing, thought, leader work, and writing. Is that right?
Seth Godin: Well, I was at Yahoo for about a year and while I was there I managed to help sell millions and millions of dollars worth of promotions and advertising. A bunch of things came to pass that needed me to be in New York. And so I sort of transitioned by doing speeches for Yahoo and then did speeches on my own and that led, “Permission Marketing” had already come out before then but that led to one after another because the beauty of writing books is you can tell people you have a job but you’re allowed to do whatever you want all day long.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, I like that too. Well, one of the things I want to do in the second half of the show after the break is talk to you about public speaking and get any tips that you have for our listeners because I bet almost all of our listeners have to do presentations of some kind. And I’m always asking great speakers to share their perspective on what makes a great speaker. So, we’ll get to that.
I want to start out with your latest book “Meatball Sundae. Is Your Marketing Out of Sync?” I read this book and it’s not a marketing book. It’s a business strategy book. It’s about how business is done in today’s world. But I understand that a lot of it has to do with how one markets. But you really went way beyond marketing in this book.
Seth Godin: Well I think my thesis is this. In the 20s and 30s when factories were so important all a company did was make stuff and if you were the head of manufacturing you were running the company. Henry Ford triumphed because he understood how to manufacture cars better than anybody else. Well, we now live in a world where manufacturing is trivial and owning a factory is an impediment, not an advantage in many cases. So as a result, the core competency of an organization is the whole grab bag of tools that I call marketing.
And so I would say that everything is marketing and so it’s impossible to have a good marketing book that doesn’t talk about what the entire organization does. Because I think great companies are run by marketers and think like marketers.
Susan Bratton: I would agree with you, as would everybody who is listening to you right now. One of the things that I really enjoyed was right at the beginning of the book when you talked about the Industrial Revolution actually having multiple segments. Would you just briefly go over that little bit of history with us because I think it gives us a really good historical perspective on what’s happening today in our Information Revolution?
Seth Godin: Well, the biggest thinkers in Silicon Valley and the most successful people have always seen cycles and they have built companies that weren’t about one little trivial tactic but about wholesale watershed moments in history. The Intels, and the Googles, and the Apples, and the Yahoos of the world. And I took that one step further and I said, “Guess what.” There have been four or five industrial revolutions: One about transportation: One about manufacturing: One about mass-marketing, mass media. Each time new winners are invented. Each time whole new organizations are built and new fortunes are created and new habits are built. And I’m arguing that we haven’t had an industrial revolution since 1940 when we shifted to mass-marketing in TV and I think we have one right now. It is populated by the tools of social marketing, the new marketing, Web II or whatever you want to call it. And what it is at its core is the idea that companies in the future are about connecting people to each other and people to the organization, not about making average products for average people and selling them en mass, which is what I call meatballs.
Susan Bratton: Exactly. So you are talking about the thinking of the AA age. We are in the AA age now. Talk about what that is and how meatballs are in the pre-AA age.
Seth Godin: Sure. Well before advertising, you know you had the local florist, you had word of mouth, you had carpenters you had journeymen. During advertising you had David Ogilvie and Proctor and Gamble. Well, after advertising is a whole different era and has a lot in common with the before advertising world but not a lot in common with during the advertising world.
Meaning: The things that made Gillette, and Proctor and Gamble, and Schick, and General Food’s giant winners 20 years ago are extraordinarily unlikely to work today. That doesn’t mean they are going to go out of business, we still need Jello, it just means they’re not going to grow, not the way that the web has taught us companies can grow. And the companies that are growing today are playing by fundamentally different rules. And the warning of the title is don’t mix those rules up with the old kind of companies because you’ll just waste money and make a mess. The promise of the book is that if someone had sat next to you in 1918 and taught you about mass marketing and assembly line, you could have created a dynasty. I think that we have to cut through a lot of the noise and the hype that’s going on right now and realize that we are in one of those moments again. Its up to us to either take advantage of it or regret it later.
Susan Bratton: In the book you’ve organized it into 14 trends that no marketer, and I believe and you believe no business owner or worker can ignore. I’m going to read those trends and then there are… let’s see, one, two, three, four, and five that I really want to get a little deeper on. So let me just read them for our listeners so they can get the real scope of this book.
In the first chapter of the book the trend that you can’t ignore is going direct to consumers, the change in the manufacturing process and the ceasing of the middleman and the distribution channel.
In the second one you talk about consumer generated content and having to deal with that as a business.
The third is about an authenticity of your story and I want to come back and talk about that one.
The fourth is about ad clutter and short messages and the power of such.
The fifth is of course the long tale, which we all know the power of and are learning even more every day the power of.
The sixth is outsourcing and virtual companies which of course we’re all aware of because we read about it all the time in the newspapers.
The seventh, which I want to get to, is Google-dicing or what you call ‘atomizing’ [laughs]
Seth Godin: You think it is molecularization..
Susan Bratton: It probably is [laughing]. Molecular…no it’s not. [laughs] Atomizing the world. The next one is consumer to consumer.
The tenth is leveraging the new scarcity. I think that’s an excellent chapter and I think our readers, our listeners will have to read the book to learn about what the new scarcity components are in business and to build your business around it.
I want to touch on this one in our talk today, the end of the advertising big idea.
The shift from mass to personal lives which we all see happening.
The new bell curve, which is fascinating and I have a sense that there might be something about that in “The Dip” although I’m not sure.
And number 14, the new gate keepers, the bloggers and I want to talk about that one. So you can see that this book, “Meatball Sundae” is really rich in isolating and crystallizing the changes that are happening in the market today so that you can compare your business to it and see if you’re tracking to the way you need to operate in today’s new marketing movement.
So let’s take the first one, authenticity. Tell us about that trend.
Seth Godin: Well, in “All Marketers are Liars”, I talked about this, the fact is what people buy when they buy something is not the Widget or the Specs or the SyncoTime or the cost and performance ratio. What they’re buying is the story. The way it makes them feel, the thing they can tell other people about. And stories are what sell and marketers tell stories. Well, you’re tempted if you are running for president or building a product or selling a service, to tell different stories to different people because if you tell each person the story that they need to hear, you’ll make more sales. The problem is people talk to each other now. The problem now is your speech gets recorded and put on YouTube and everyone gets to see it. The problem is that you can’t say you’re against sweatshops and then have one in India because people will discover it.
And so in a world where everyone is talking behind the scenes, you have to live your story. Your story actually has to be true. What we find is that companies that really care about what they do and live their story have no trouble keeping their story straight because they just tell the truth all the time. And that’s required now if you’re going to be examined from all angles.
Susan Bratton: And everybody’s looking at you in every way. and it lives on in your reputation. So let’s talk about the next one, which is Google-dicing or atomizing the world. It’s hard to say, atomizing the world.
Seth Godin: Before Google, you got to control the front door. You got to decide when someone interacted with you and in what way. You could take them from A to B to C to D. Now people start everything at Google. They type in what they’re looking for and they might end up on F or J or N. They can jump right through to the middle of what you do. What that means is first of all you don’t get to control your story. Secondly it means that you can’t make money from bundling the way you used to.
So the cell phone store down the street will sell you the whole kit for 200 bucks but if you need your power cord they’re going to charge you $29 for a new one. Well, I can go to Amazon and buy the new power cord for a penny, literally. So all of a sudden someone who could extract profit by holding things together discovers that Amazon and the others split it into tiny atoms and they have to play by different rules now.
Susan Bratton: So if you’re going to atomize your product offering, essentially if you’re in a service business creating a Chinese menu, what happens to your profitability if you can’t bundle it? How do you handle that?
Seth Godin: Well, part of it comes from the way you think about DNA. One skin cell is enough to recreate a whole human. You have to make it so that every piece of what you do can live and die on it’s own and communicate a lot of your story.
Number two is you need to think about what it is you’re selling people. If you are a commodity supplier, you’re in trouble because commodities will be trafficked. People will seek you out just for the few IDOs that you have and walk away on the ones you used to make a profit from. So the alternative is not be in the commodity business.
Fundamentally change what it is you sell and how you sell it so that what people buy from you, the story is experience; the product is something that you can happily sell them.
Susan Bratton: On a recent episode of “Dishy Mix” we had Dov Seidman on the show. He wrote the book “How” and his point of view is that everything is commoditized and that there is always someone who can do a better job at something than you and there are very few, in your case you used IDO as an example of a bastion of talent that’s un-duplicatable but that in general almost every business is entirely duplicatable, offshorable, [laughs] replicable, parts atomizable and all of those things that…
Seth Godin: I don’t believe that.
Susan Bratton: Ok, what he says the only point of differentiation is your ethics and your credibility and the way that you handle people and your conduct essentially. Your ethics and your conduct are the single most important differentiator in the market today.
Seth Godin: And that part is correct. The mistake, and maybe you’re misquoting him…
Susan Bratton: I could be.
Seth Godin: You said every business is a commodity. No. The business includes the way they treat people. The business includes its ethics and its story and its care and what it does. That is the business.
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Seth Godin: Every spec-able product is a commodity. Right? You can go on Engadget you can find ten companies that are making things that look just like IPhones right now. Once you can spec it, it will become a commodity unless you can surround it with the other stuff, the stuff we used to call the soft stuff. And guess what? All we pay for now is the soft stuff. That’s the business you are actually in. You’re in the business of the way you greet the people when they walk into your restaurant, you’re in the business of what you do when things break.
Susan Bratton: Yep, you’re in the business of the soft stuff. That’s well put. That’s a good quote. We’ll use that as a pull quote. You’re in the business of the soft stuff. Its so true. So you’re in complete agreement with Dov. Sounds like a book you might want to read. Or hey, you could just listen to the “Dishy Mix” episode. [Laughs]
So I want to move to infinite channels, which is another trend that we can’t afford to ignore. Tell us about that because so many people listening to the show today are in the media space.
Seth Godin: There are a couple implications. When I grew up in Buffalo, there were three channels, 2, 4 and 7. And then in the afternoons you could watch Ultraman on channel 29 but that was it.
And so if you advertised in two of those places you were going to get at least half the people who were watching television. Now, not only are there over 500 cable TV networks, but also there are over a billion channels on the web.
Every Google search is a channel. Every YouTube video is a channel. And with that many channels the chance of interrupting people who don’t want to hear from you is zero. It means that the Superbowl is less important. It means that all the ads you used to use to interrupt the few people who were likely to pay for what you had to sell are meaningless now in the long run because the very people you want to reach the most are the ones who are least likely to be watching the web.
And that instead you have to come up with a new strategy; one that embraces the long tail of media; one that isn’t dependent on hits but in fact can thrive by building a person asset, building a following, building your own channel. The fact is that my channel, the people who read my blog, is bigger than the million people who ever read fast company magazines. So I own my own magazine now and if I wanted to run ads on it I could. Everyone can own their own magazine. Everyone can have their own TV network. And if you wink before you build yours, it will be too late.
Susan Bratton: So one of the ways that you like to give people the option of building their own channel is through Squido. I think it’s a good time to talk about that.
Seth Godin: Well, Squido is now at about 150,000 people who have built 375,000 pages on every topic you can imagine. We allow somebody, for free, to build a page on any topic that they’re passionate about. It can include links and blog posts and Amazon books and YouTube videos. It can include polls and things people can link up and down and debates, etc. So if you build one of these channels, or many of our users have 100 of them or 200 of them, you can start curating what people are finding when they do a search.
So instead of someone having to stare at the Google search results and figure out what they want to click on and go back, they can go to what a human built. A human’s overview of what they need… what meaning they need to understand before they click through and take action. And then we turn around and pay a royalty to charity or to the person who built the page based on the activity of what those people take.
Susan Bratton: So why would someone not just build their own page on their own website. What’s the incentive to do it on Squido?
Seth Godin: Well, there are several. The first is there is a reason that authors want their books to be sold in the bookstore. Even though the bookstore is still going to be your competition, being mixed with other books increases your sales. The proximity affect kicks in and it becomes a magnet.
What happens on Squido is in addition to having millions of people coming every month, more than 7 million, looking at multiple pages we also are admired by the search engines which means that being on our site makes it more likely searchers are going to find you.
And then the last reason is you have better things to do than to set up the 50 modules of technology that we already have so that in just a couple of minutes and a few clicks you can set these things up and they are just going to work.
Susan Bratton: Got it. So one of the things that I noticed is that there is no Squido lens for “Burning Man” and there’s no Squido lens for Podcasting. [laughs}
Seth Godin: Well, go to it!
Susan Bratton: I might have to! So I’m really sad right now. I can’t believe that I’m sad about this. But I really had my hopes up that I would be able to get and orange rubber squid and I don’t know why. Like the last thing I want is some plastic piece of crap in my life, but I love your logo and I thought you had some squids left and when we were prepping for this interview today you told me you’re squid free.
Seth Godin: Well, what happened was before…we argued about the name Squido for about a month before…
Susan Bratton: I can imagine.
Seth Godin: I typed Squido into Google before we went and there was only one match. The match was a guy who makes fishing lures in Texas. I called him up and I said, “Is it going to be a problem if we call this thing Squido?” and he said, “No.” And I said, “Well, what is a squido?” and he said, “A squido is a unit. It’s a fishing lure that looks a little like a squid, sort of. He said he’d make us a batch but the color but the minimum order was like 2000. We only needed 20 of them but we had to buy 2000. We thought we’d never use them up but a couple of trade shows later they’re all gone
Susan Bratton: Well, I’m super sad about that. If anyone ever comes back to you, earmark it for me.
Seth Godin: You got it.
Susan Bratton: So we’re going to go to a break. I was hoping we’d get through all of these. I still want to talk to you about the End of the Advertising Idea and the New Gatekeepers because I think those are really interesting to the “Dishy Mix” listeners. Let’s go to a break and when we come back we’ll talk about that as well as about some of the other things you have going on in your world.
So stay tuned. This is Susan Bratton your host of “Dishy Mix” and we’re with Seth Godin: author, blogger, speaker, entrepreneur, and leader of the new marketing movement who is squidless. Stay tuned and we’ll be right back.
Susan Bratton: We’re back. And Seth Godin has joined us today with his latest of ten fantastic books is “Meatball Sundae-Is your Marketing our of Sync?”
Before we went to the break we were going through some of the 14 trends that no marketer can afford to ignore and the last two: the first is The End of the Advertising Big Idea. Seth, tell us what you mean by that.
Seth Godin: In the 1960s if you went to Bill Burnbock, he’d give you the Jolly Green Giant, or Charlie the Tuna. You could come up with a big idea in advertising that would pay for itself a million times over. I’m arguing that advertising doesn’t work so well anymore and big ideas aren’t important. What matters is big content. What matters is the IPod, or the IPhone or a video made by a kid in New Jersey singing a Numa Numa song, that the products and ideas themselves are the ones that are spreading, not the clever advertising crap encircled around them.
Susan Bratton: Right. No more are we building for the mass middle. We are building for a specific market place.
Seth Godin: Well, that but more important the medium of the web is more likely to spread the clever idea of the thing as opposed to spread the jingle or the clever execution of the commercial.
Susan Bratton: And let’s move to the New Gate Keepers. Tell us about that. Why is that a trend we can’t ignore?
Seth Godin: If we have infinite channels of communication it doesn’t matter if you know Ruthford Murdock. It doesn’t matter if you went to Harvard with the guy who now works at the New York Times because there are so many other channels that the gate keepers in the old channels have way less power than they used to.
But then there are new gatekeepers. There are people like Robert Scovill or the Boing Boing guys or whatever. People who didn’t used to be gatekeepers, and there are lots of them who serve their readers. And the minute they stop serving their readers and start catching up they won’t be gatekeepers anymore.
Susan Bratton: And how long do you think this trend will go on? Do you think this is just going to continue to bloom and bloom and bloom? Do you think there will be a rising up of some of the bloggers and the belgerts usurped into mainstream media? What do you think? Do you see mainstream media bringing up bloggers? My next edition is with Rafe Needleman. He is a professional journalist and has been for his entire career yet his title aat CNET is “chief blogger”.
Seth Godin: Every single 18 year old in America has a Facebook page so they’re all blogging already.
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Seth Godin: It may not be called a blog, but they’ve got their own page and that’s just going to get extended. So, sure, we love celebrities. We like gurus. We want people to be ones we can look to and croat and those people will be there for the first feature. But as Duncan Watt’s research shows, it’s not the Google blog that’s making the impact, it’s just the mass of the people, each of who is now a journalist.
Susan Bratton: Very interesting to watch what happens. And I want to talk a little bit about where social networking will evolve but I don’t want to forget to mention that if you’re listening today to Seth and you want a copy of “Meatball Sundae” you can actually get it for free because you are a “Dishy Mix” listener. The way you would do that is go to audiblepodcast.com/dishy and you can sign up. If you sign up for the audible listener’s club you get a free download.
You can choose it to be “Meatball Sundae” and you can listen to Seth’s book on essentially tape which would be IPod or computer now. We’ve got to get a new name for that. [Laughs]. Once you join that club you’re billed $14.95 a month which is about 2/3 the price of anything you could download on audible which is great. So you get a discount on your downloads going forward.
And even if you cancel within 14 days you’ll still get to keep Seth’s book or whatever you choose. So support my show, and support yourself at the same time and make Seth happy by reading his book or listening to his book.
All right, so let’s move on. I want to talk about social networking. We were just talking about reputation systems a little bit and I think that was…I’d asked you before the interview where you though social networking would evolve. What do you see the future of that looking like?
Seth Godin: The most important thing for listeners to understand is social networking is not about you. It doesn’t get used to sell products and it’s a lousy place to advertise.
If I had sat down and tried to invent the work medium that could be conceived of to attract the masses but be ineffective for advertising, it would be Facebook. No one goes to Facebook hoping to find a good deal on a new product and they don’t go to Facebook hoping that their friends will show them selling them something so that they can earn a commission.
And so it’s a mistake I believe to look at this social networking thing as an opportunity to do business the old way. I do believe that there’s a huge need among mankind and person kind to connect. That’s what we love to do more than anything else. So I think that businesses are going to have to understand that what they can do for a living is start connecting their customers to each other and to their business and more important to the people who work at their business.
Susan Bratton: So do you think that there’s an opportunity for there to be influencers that are connected through social networking that can have some impact for you as a…if you have a brand, if you have a product, could you find your influencers and in some way would there be a good way to leverage them in the social networking world?
Seth Godin: You don’t get to leverage people. People are people. They get to decide what they are going to do.
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Seth Godin: But, if I had to give you four words it’d be “Be like Ron Paul” You know, not necessarily be like Ron Paul in his view on this, that, and the other thing, but be like Ron Paul in the fact that he’s a leader who is going somewhere whether or not people follow him. And that approach has attracted a large amount of people who talk about him because they want to; not because they are getting paid to, not because it’s their job to. And that idea is critical because that’s the only way you’re going to be authentic. That’s the only way you’re going to be transparent.
Susan Bratton: That’s where I was going to go. I was going to say this goes right back to authenticity and the power of your story; the power of your beliefs; the power of what you stand for. And that people will galvanize around that naturally. And you’re right leveraging was a terrible word. Thank you. Keeping me on the straight and narrow. Seth Godin!
Seth Godin: No, I was not talking to you I was talking to the people who were listening.
Susan Bratton: No, that’s good. Absolutely. No, no, I love it. I wanted to stray into another thing that I asked you which was the book you most recommend to your friends. You recommend “The Art of Possibility” by Ben Zander. It’s about transforming professional and personal life. Tell us about that book too because I love transformational content as you know.
Seth Godin: There are a few books that have changed my life but that’s way up there. Ben and his wife wrote a book all about how he teaches and how she trains people to overcome the things that are holding them back. It’s a little bit about theater, but mostly it’s about not wasting the opportunity. Their words remain stuck in my head for months and then when they go away I read the book again.
Susan Bratton: Yeah. That sounds good. I’m ordering that one. That will be the next book I buy. It sounds fascinating. So, we only have a few minutes left. I just really wanted to have an opportunity to understand where you are in your world and your thinking. You’ve produced ten great books. You’re the most popular marketing blog in the industry. You’re a well known and sought after speaker. Are you happy? Is this what’s working for you? Do you love it or are you formulating the next version of Seth? Seth 3.0?
Seth Godin: Well, that one’s pretty easy to answer. Every single day I’ve been privileged enough to do this. I’ve been happy doing it every single day. And I’m in no hurry to have that end but the minute I try to put it in a bottle and keep it the way it is it would go away. So what I try to do is keep challenging my status quo and these status quo doing things that the people around me say aren’t particularly right like the Seth Godin action figure…
Susan Bratton: [Laughs] I like that.
Seth Godin: The journey is really the fun part for me. I have no doubt that I’ve had blog posts that are clinkers and books that some folks didn’t like and I will do something that doesn’t maximize (if that’s something that some people want to achieve, which I don’t) my income or ‘guruhood’ such as it is or whatever! But that’s not the point. The point is that everybody who is lucky enough to be on the front end right now, particularly in a position where you can spend your day listening to a phone call or making cool stuff on the Internet, has great potential. I think that it’s a mistake to waste it just doing the same thing you did yesterday.
Susan Bratton: So one of the things that you told me in getting ready for the interview was that it’s the best thing about living right here right now is that we have more choices, more wealth, more knowledge than any other generation ever before. But we need to take advantage of it, not squander it. What advice would you give us for not squandering it? How do you take advantage of everything that’s available.
Seth Godin: Well, I don’t know if I take advantage of everything that’s available. But just Wikipedia alone! If you had had Wikipedia in the year 1910 you’d be the smartest richest person on the planet. I think teaching other people whether they’re kids or adults about the resources that are out there and pushing them to figure out how to put those resources to use will help you figure out what you’re missing because it’s the practice of the process. Of seeing what ruts you’re in and getting out of those ruts and going in different directions that opens doors for people.
Susan Bratton: So I’m going to end this show with this final question for you. I promised our readers that I would talk to you about what makes you a successful presenter. I would really like some solid actionable tips. But I would also like you to tell the story of that moment that crystallized for you. When you really learned how to get up and motivate people.
Seth Godin: Astonishingly simple how to be great presenter-it’s not really hard- which is presentation is just the transfer of emotion. If all you’re trying to do is transfer content you should send an email or maybe a PDF file. The reason you are presenting to people in public is because you want to present the humanness of your message. If you’re not prepared to do that either because you don’t believe in what you’re saying or because you’re too afraid, I’m begging you not to do it. Don’t even get up. People would prefer it if you would just send them a memo.
But if you are passionate about what you are trying to communicate, then show the passion, not the bullet points. I don’t need your bullet points. You can just hand them to me. And the best speeches are speeches that people remember are never the speeches the CFO gave with a bunch of PowerPoint’s.
Susan Bratton: And so what was that one moment for you when you learned that?
Seth Godin: I was really lucky that I spent my youth in Canada in a National Park. In the summer camp that I helped run had people and 66 wooden canoes and a bunch of sailboats and some other things. More canoes than almost any place on earth actually. I was the canoeing instructor and the problem with canoeing is that its a17 foot long vehicle and if you put an 11 year old kid in it by themselves it’s a little tricky. But its not as fun as sailing. So my job was to stand up in front of large groups of people who were afraid or tired and persuade them with nothing but the force of my emotion and the sound of my voice to get into a 17 foot long vehicle (bigger than any bicycle they’d ever ridden) and master it. Doing that day after day and year after year I discovered in real time what worked and what didn’t.
Pretty much ever since then every time I go to talk to people I’m imagining, not that I want their money or the attention, I just want them to overcome the natural anxiety they have of getting into something that’s a little too big and help them find the competence to master something that I know they can do.
Susan Bratton: Well, and whether it’s a canoe or anything else that you have to tackle, it’s all about the same thing isn’t it?
Seth Godin: That’s right! We’re not short on information. We’re not short on facts. I think we might be a little short on confidence.
Susan Bratton: It’s a human condition, right?
Seth Godin: There you go.
Susan Bratton: It’s been really a pleasure to have you on the show today. I like all of your terse and pithy responses to all the questions I peppered you with. Thank you, Seth, thank you so much for that.
Seth Godin: The pleasure is mine. Thank you so much.
Susan Bratton: All right. You’ve been listening to Seth Godin who’s an author, blogger, speaker, and entrepreneur. Check out Squido. Get his book “Meatball Sundae” I guarantee you’ll enjoy the whole read. I sure did. And if you want to call me, you can call me about anything Dishy at 206 350-5333. My blog is DishyMix.com and you can find my show at ITunes and on personallifemedia.com.
I hope you have a great day. Thanks so much for tuning in to “Dishy Mix”. I’m your host Susan Bratton and I’ll see you next week.