The Tim Ferriss Show: Seth Godin on How to Say “No,” Market Like a Professional, and Win at Life

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Key Takeaways
  • Seth doesn’t go to meetings, he doesn’t watch TV, and he doesn’t scroll Facebook or Twitter
    • Think about how much extra time he has each day because of this
  • “Authenticity is totally overrated”
    • Be a professional, do what you say you’re going to do
  • Find areas in your life, where you can make one decision, that will prevent you from having to make hundreds or thousands of decisions in the future
    • An example for Tim – If anyone tries to rush him to make a decision very quickly, the answer by default is no
  • Seth’s advice for freelancers
    • Find better clients
    • The way you get better clients – turn down lesser clients
    • “If you have a lousy client, fire them, even if it means you’ll be doing nothing, so you can go back to looking for better clients”
  • As a company/entrepreneur etc. you should EASILY be able to say: “This is a ___ that does ___ for ___.”
  • Find your smallest viable audience, and serve them well
  • The 3 sentence marketing promise
    • “My product is for people who believe ___. I will focus on people who want ___. I promise that engaging with what I make, will help you get ___.”
  • “People will pay for trust, experience, something to talk about, scarcity, and the way it feels to be part of something”
  • Writer’s block is a myth
    • “I’ve written 7,400 blog posts, and I’ve done 4 perfect ones”
    • “If you put enough bad ideas into the world, sooner or later your brain will wake up, and the good ideas will come”
    • “No one gets plumber’s block. They simply do the work. I write daily because I’m a professional, and this is what I do.”
Intro
How does Seth handle the feeling of being overwhelmed?
  • Feeling overwhelm is a systems problem
    • “Drinking from a fire hose is a really bad way to get hydration”
    • “I don’t let the world erect boundaries for me, I erect my own boundaries”
  • Seth doesn’t go to meetings, he doesn’t watch TV, and he doesn’t scroll Facebook or Twitter
    • Think about how much extra time he has each day because of this
    • People go to meetings 3,4,5,6 times a day – no wonder they feel overwhelmed by the important work
      • The fact is, most meetings don’t need to be had – a short email would do the trick
The World’s Worst Boss
  • This is one of Seth’s blog posts
    • “Even if you’re not self-employed, your boss is you. You manage your career, your day, your responses. You manage how you sell your services and your education and the way you talk to yourself. Odds are, you’re doing it poorly. If you had a manager that talked to you the way you talked to you, you’d quit. If you had a boss that wasted as much of your time as you do, they’d fire her. If an organization developed its employees as poorly as you are developing yourself, it would soon go under.”
  • “We feel like we’ve made commitments, or we’re under someones thumb, or it’s not up to us…but it is up to us – how we make those choices, determines our days”
How does Seth choose which projects to work on?
  • The number of places where you can do work for free, is close to infinity.
    • The number of places where you can get paid a little to do work…is large.
  • “As the CEO of you, you have to ask yourself, ‘Is this a commitment I want to make?‘”
  • “The choices that I’ve made, of saying yes, or no, to doing a project, are at the heart of my career. It’s not the work, so much as deciding to do the work, and deciding which work not to do.”
  • “Life is a series of short terms, that make up the long term. But if all you’re doing is maximizing in the short term, you’re going to break the system, because the system is not the short term, the system is the life you’ve chosen to live.”
The Difference Between Long Work and Hard Work
  • Check out this blog post by Seth
  • If you’re someone who’s billed hourly – that’s long work
    • Places like Fiverr reward long work – “The 12th hour doesn’t get you more than the first hour did, it’s just one more hour”
  • “Hard work is frightening. We shy away from hard work because inherent in hard work is risk. Hard work is hard because you might fail. You can’t fail at long work, you merely show up. You fail at hard work when you don’t make an emotional connection, or when you don’t solve the problem or when you hesitate.”
    • People willing to do the hard work are the ones toiling with no obvious applause, where there’s no guarantee the work will be a crowd-pleaser, and confronting things that feel risky, because they understand that over time, they’re not risky – they’re actually useful
    • Hard work is making a mess, in order to slowly organize it into the thing that over time, will feel like the right thing
    • “You’re no longer on the clock – you’re creating value merely by what you’re producing, not because someone has a stop watch measuring how many hours you’re working.”
How does Seth manage to keep his own self-imposed deadlines?
  • Seth made a decision a very long time ago that he would never miss a deadline – it’s that simple
  • “Authenticity is totally overrated”
    • Think about it – Do you want an authentic surgeon, who might say, “I don’t really feel like doing knee surgery today”…NO – you want a professional, who shows up no matter what they feel like
    • Be professional, do what you say you’re going to do
One Time Decisions that Remove 100 Future Decisions
  • Some advice – find areas in your life, where you can make one decision, that will prevent you from having to make hundreds or thousands of decisions in the future
  • Examples for Tim…
    • If anyone tries to rush him to make a decision very quickly, the answer by default is no
    • Tim no longer does any speaking engagements
      • When he did do them, he used the following rule: Every time a company paid him a new speaking fee that was a new high for him, that became the new standard price
    • He doesn’t do book blurbs
  • For Seth…
    • He has come up with a set of strict rules, about what he will, and won’t do, work wise
    • Seth has done the same thing for other areas in his life….
      • He made the decision to never eat meat 20-30 years ago
      • He’s also never done drugs – after deciding not to, long ago 
    • He decided long ago what he would charge money for, and what he would do for free
      • Any public speaking – he charges for
      • His blog posts will always be free
      • He blurbs books for free – (he’ll consider it – as long as the book is good)
        • He has a sub rule – If you don’t have a publisher, he won’t blurb your book (otherwise he’d have to deal with HUGGGE amount of requests)
What advice would Seth have, for people who have difficulty saying “no”, or turning things down?
  • Seth tells us about the Lizard Brain – “The vast majority of what we choose to do, is done in the subconscious, and we make up the narrative afterwards.”
    • The voice in our head is almost like a press secretary – who explains to the media, without knowing exactly how, why what we just did was very smart
  • If you have difficulty saying “no”….it’s because you haven’t trained for how to deal with the chemicals that run through your brain when you’re confronted with things having to do with sufficiency, insufficiency, shame, fear, fitting in, and standing out
  • Seth recommends writing out 3-4 paragraphs that are thoughtful/generous/insightful about why you’re saying no
    • Do this once…and have it for when you need to say no in the future
    • A cool way to do this – use the program TextExpander
      • You can program it, so any time you type “& no”, your 4 paragraphs will be pasted
Seth’s Advice for Freelancers
  • Find better clients
    • Better clients, challenge you to do better work
    • Better clients take your better work, and run with it
    • The way you get better clients – turn down lesser clients
      • This way, you’re freed up enough to do the hard work necessary to be appealing to a better client
      • “If you have a lousy client, fire them, even if it means you’ll be doing nothing, so you can go back to looking for better clients”
This is Marketing
  • The thesis – “Nowadays, each one of us has more power than Proctor and Gamble did 50 years ago. Each one of us, with a keyboard, is connected to more than a billion people. We’re responsible for what we do with that power.”
    • If we want to, we can do work that matters, for people who care
    • We can make things better, by making better things
  • There’s a group of people who need you – who need the change you want to make
    • Find that group and delight them
    • Then they’ll engage with you – and tell many others
    • These people are your smallest viable audience – serve them well
  • Examples of highly niche companies, doing the above
    • Penguin Magic (they’re a multi million dollar company)
      • They focus on selling products to amateur magicians
      • They asked: “What would be the perfect website, for an amateur magician?” – And that’s what they build
      • They obsessed about that niche, and ignored everyone else!
  • As a company/entrepreneur etc. you should EASILY be able to say: “This is a ___ that does ___ for ___”
Pricing
  • Tim knows of so many entrepreneurs who are really gifted, and doing things well, but they refuse to charge more than the bare minimum because they want everyone to be able to afford their product
    • “The idea that people can’t afford it, is crazy talk”
  • Look at dog food
    • The price of dog food has gone from $2-3/lb, to $45/lb, for keto dog food in the last 10 years
    • “You’re not trying to make the dog happier, you’re trying to make the dog owner happier. The dog owner is happier spending more money. Not all dog owners….just the dog owners who are spending more money – that’s who the product is for.”
  • Example – the restaurant noma
    • It’s one of the most famous (and expensive) restaurants in the world
      • Check out this Business Insider article about what it’s like to eat there
    • The dishes are EXPENSIVE
      • But it doesn’t matter – there are people who can afford to eat there, and they will find it…and they’ll love it …noma is for THEM
  • Price is a story
    • People pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for certain speakers, when in reality, Joe Schmo could probably give them same speech
      • Arnold Schwarzenegger charges $200k+ for a speaking gig
      • The companies that pay that, aren’t buying the speech, they’re buying the story that they have enough money to afford a speech given by Arnold
The 3 Sentence Marketing Promise
  • More from This is Marketing
    • “My product is for people who believe ___. I will focus on people who want ___. I promise that engaging with what I make will help you get ___.”
  • An example: Apple
    • Apple says something along the lines of …”For people who define their status among their peers by the device that they use, and who will get pleasure by being able to demonstrate to their peers that they have the resources to get the latest one….Well, we have the latest one – Get in line if you want one”
      • Apple sells luxury good, which raises the status of users – that’s their business model
    • “Every successful company does this” – in some way or another
      • “There is almost nothing, that launched to the masses”
  • Example – Seth talks about his first experience with Uber
    • “I didn’t use Uber because I had no other way in NYC to get 20 blocks across town. I used Uber, because I’m the type of person who got pleasure from taking a magical electronic device out of my pocket, pressing a button, and having my friends agog at the fact that a minute later a vehicle showed up right where we we’re standing. That feeling is what I bought, the first time I used Uber.”
  • Example – Tim tells about Franklin Barbecue in Austin Texas
    • They open every day at 11am, and sell out by 12 – there are lines out the door every day
      • People start lining up at 6am
    • Could they just make more food? Sure – but they don’t want to.
    • Seth brings up a good point – You’re not buy the superior BBQ taste
      • What you’re actually tasting, is what it took to get it – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Those steps make the BBQ taste better.
      • “People will pay for trust, experience, something to talk about, scarcity, and the way it feels to be part of something”
Find Your Students
  • Know that you are needed…that someone in worse shape than you, is struggling, and you have something to offer them
    • “You are doing what you do, because someone else needs you” – Someone else would miss you if you were gone
  • Ask yourself – “Where are my students?”
    • “Stop thinking about the people you are marketing to. Where are the people who are enrolled in this journey who I have a chance to teach? If I’m a teacher, and the student is coming along for the ride, all I have to do is take them where they said they wanted to go.”
The Single Best April Fools Joke in the History of the Internet…
  • Was written by Tim…according to Seth
    • The original post said – “I have a confession to make. I don’t write this blog. I outsource it as part of my four hour work week agenda, and this blog is written by someone else.”
  • Seth also had a good one
Writer’s Block is a Myth
  • “The best way to defeat writers block, is to get really bored”
  • “What people get stuck on, is not that they’re out of ideas, it’s that they think they’re out of good ideas. Everyone has bad ideas. My only argument is – if you put enough bad ideas into the world, sooner or later your brain will wake up, and the good ideas will come.”
  • The bad boss problem – your bad boss (aka you) won’t let you ship anything, because he/she is insisting on perfect
    • “I’ve written 7,400 blog posts, and I’ve done 4 perfect ones”
    • “Keep making the work with generosity, and then you’re lizard brain will give up on sensoring you”
  • “No one gets plumber’s block. They simply do the work. I write daily because I’m a professional, and this is what I do.”
    • Decide you are going to do the work – and do it – no matter what you feel like day in and day out
  • “You don’t get better by getting rid of typographical errors, or being more realistic in your paintings…you get better by serving the needs and wants and desires and dreams of the smallest viable audience you sought to serve”
Wrapping Up
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