Marketing & Life Advice from Seth Godin

We compiled the best business, marketing, and life advice from Seth Godin’s podcast appearances to bring you all of his best lessons in one place.

10 Amazing podcasts. 1 Awesome post.

Key Takeaways

  • “If you don’t feel like an impostor, either you’re a sociopath, or you’re not trying hard enough” – Seth Godin
  • “I don’t believe you should do what you’re passionate about; I believe you should be passionate about what you do. Waiting for passion to show up means waiting for fear to go away, and fear is never going to go away.” – Seth Godin
    • Passion is a choice. You can DECIDE to be passionate about your work, and once you do, good things follow suit.
  • Everything is marketing – the product we make, the price, the location, the way we talk about it, the way we treat our employees
    • Marketing is the art of telling a story, that’s true, to other people to cause them to change their behavior
  • Writing block is invented, it’s make-believe
    • “Plumber’s don’t get plumbers block, writer’s shouldn’t get writer’s block” – Seth Godin
  • “If you just keep typing, sooner or later your brain will say ‘stop with the bad stuff, I’ll give you some good stuff’ because it’s not going to talk you out of not typing”
    • This is why he blogs every day – “I don’t blog because I have something to say, I have something to say because I blog”
  • The mistake that many people building something make is they get hung up on the feedback of people who it’s not for as opposed to being obsessed with the people who it is for
    • Don’t hide behind perfection. If your work has met your specifications, ship it. You can always upgrade it later.

About Seth Godin

Seth’s Favorite Books

  • Book #1 – The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World by Lewis Hyde
    • Seth & his team gave The Gift to many of the first few thousand people who participated in his altMBA program
    • “It’s about the muse, being a genius. It’s about culture. It’s about society. It’s about the fact that the thing that binds us together is that we are able to create something because we got a gift from who knows where. We can turn that thing we created into a connection. We can do it by sharing. As we share with one another, we open doors.” –Seth Godin
    • Particularly when he’s feeling burnt out, Seth gives The Gift a read
  • Book #2 – The Pursuit of Wow! Every Person’s Guide to Topsy-Turvy Times by Tom Peters
    • Tom is also the author of In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies, another book Seth enjoyed
    • “You don’t have to read many of the books I’ve written if you just read The Pursuit of Wow – Seth Godin
    • The main point of the book: People who care can make a difference and “business as usual” isn’t going to cut it anymore
    • Seth adds: “Thank you, Tom, for showing me that putting energy into the work really can pay dividends” 
  • Book #3 –The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson
    • “This is a book I wish I had written” – Seth Godin
    • “If you care how ideas spread in our culture and want to understand issues around scarcity and abundance, and how we pick what we want in an era where the gatekeepers have left the building, The Long Tail will help you see it” – Seth Godin
  • Book #4 –Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore
    • Crossing the Chasm helps us understand that it’s a false myth to believe we can start with an idea for a few people and ride it from early adopter to early majority to late majority to laggard” – Seth Godin
  • Book #5 – Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts by Annie Duke
    • “The first chapter alone will change your life” – Seth Godin
    • The books main point: Decisions and outcomes are different – a good decision may very well lead to a lousy outcome (but that doesn’t mean it was a bad decision)
  • Book (Poem) #6 – B by Sarah Kay
    • B is a simple poem from a mother to her daughter, and I have to confess, I get choked up every time I read it” – Seth Godin
    • “If you have a mother, if you have a daughter, this is a great gift to share with them”
  • Book #7 –The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz
    • Ever since meeting her, Jacqueline has had a profound impact on Seth’s life
    • The Blue Sweater is the true story of how one woman has decided to change philanthropy, capitalism, development, and the way 2 billion poor people… engage with markets, engage with the privileged part of the world, and engage with each other” – Seth Godin

If You Don’t Have Impostor Syndrome…

  • “If you don’t feel like an impostor, either you’re a sociopath, or you’re not trying hard enough” – Seth Godin
  • “Of course you’re an impostor. You are making an assertion about the future that you cannot possibly know is true – that your work will touch someone, that your effort will somehow pay off, that you see something others don’t see. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t, but in the act of asserting it, damn straight you’re an impostor.” – Seth Godin
  • The goal: Allow your impostor syndrome to “sit next to” your passion for doing good work
    • In other words, fear & impostor syndrome will ALWAYS be present; learn to act in their presence

Be A Professional

  • Doing what you love is for amateurs, loving what you do is for professionals
  • Amateurs show up when they want to and make what they want to make. Professional show up when they’re supposed to and do what they need to do.
  • You don’t have to go pro in your hobbies. But if you want to, it will require a different perspective:
    • “If you’re going to be a pro, it means you need to understand the state of the art, it means you need to raise the bar, you need to understand who it’s for and what it’s for and what change do you seek to make.” – Seth Godin

Forget Following Your Passion

  • “I don’t believe you should do what you’re passionate about; I believe you should be passionate about what you do. Waiting for passion to show up means waiting for fear to go away, and fear is never going to go away.” – Seth Godin
    • Passion is a choice. You can DECIDE to be passionate about your work, and once you do, good things follow suit.

Seth’s Creative Practice

  • Seth has written for his blog every day for the past 11 years… 11 YEARS!!
    • “My blog is a cheap way to have a discipline to say, ‘I saw this today. I think it’d be better if you saw it too.’ It’s a way to help this group of people get to where we all said we wanted to go.” – Seth Godin
  • “The thing that I do that’s hard, I started doing long before I had a blog” – Seth Godin
    • Seth elaborates:
      • Asking why (detailing the why behind everything you do)
      • Showing up long before you’re sure something is going to work

Marketers Aren’t Born, They’re Made

  • Almost everything is made, there are very few skills that you are born with
  • Everything is marketing – the product we make, the price, the location, the way we talk about it, the way we treat our employees
    • Marketing is the art of telling a story, that’s true, to other people to cause them to change their behavior
      • It helps to have the intention, to do it on purpose, and to work with people who want to be marketed to – all these make you a better marketer

Writer’s Block Doesn’t Exist

  • Writing block is invented, it’s make-believe
    • “Plumber’s don’t get plumbers block, writer’s shouldn’t get writer’s block” – Seth Godin
  • “If you just keep typing, sooner or later your brain will say ‘stop with the bad stuff, I’ll give you some good stuff’ because it’s not going to talk you out of not typing”
    • This is why he blogs every day – “I don’t blog because I have something to say, I have something to say because I blog”

Advice for Creators

  • The mistake that many people building something make is they get hung up on the feedback of people who it’s not for as opposed to being obsessed with the people who it is for
    • Don’t hide behind perfection. If your work has met your specifications, ship it. You can always upgrade it later.
  • If the voice in your head is shaming you for not being good enough, you need to figure out how to undo that internal narrative
    • When you start to hear negative thoughts and voices in your head, become aware of it and stop it
  • Learn the separate the feedback of your idea is bad from you are a bad person–those are two completely different things

How to Measure Success

  • Traffic doesn’t equal audience
  • “Don’t be a wandering generality, be a meaningful specific” – Seth Godin
  • The point of creative work:
    • Ship your work to people who might benefit from it
  • The end goal: the only reason to do creative work is to ship it, to create change- but some people don’t want that responsibility
  • If you’re writing for your own pleasure = artful hobby
  • Social media has created mob environments because it’s so easy to say something
  • “Social media’s mess has been created by their aversion to boundaries”- Seth Godin
  • But people need to take responsibility for what they write
  • “Don’t write because you’re inspired, write and become inspired”- Seth Godin

Hard Earned Life Lessons

  • People are fueled by completely different things. A CEO may be fueled by equity whereas an employee may not care about it.
  • Living your life through the mindset of “It’s just business” is a horrible way to go. Don’t cross or cheat people for money, status, or anything else.
  • Embrace the fact that having 1,000 true fans is more than enough to make a living. Often seeking more fans is just you wanting to play status games.
  • If you try a lot, you will fail a lot.
  • Figure out the failures of your judgment and the failures of not persisting long enough.
  • Start a business you can push downhill. Not like Sisyphus.
  • If you spend 2 hours a day looking your kid in the eye, talking to them, and solving interesting problems you will raise a very different child than someone who doesn’t

Change Your Internal Negative Story

  • Your past doesn’t define you–The things that happened in your past did happen, but you don’t have to lead with them
    • Don’t spend time reminding yourself of what you aren’t good at because it will only reinforce the story you tell yourself
      • Instead, start your narrative with positive attributes about yourself or by sharing things you’ve accomplished in life
  • Start the creative project (blog, podcast) you’ve been wanting to do, but do it under an anonymous name 
    • Don’t read the reviews 
      • If you do this, you can begin your story by saying, I’m a writer, podcaster, blogger, and so on
        • Perhaps, one day in the future you’ll make your project non-anonymous or someone might pay you to create something
          • “The best way to tell our story is to live a new story” – Seth Godin

Spend More Time Reading Books

  • Seth doesn’t watch any live television and doesn’t think most people should.
    • This allows you to explore other media at those times.
  • He does not have the patience for reading literature, he is more into engineering.
  • People send him books in the mail before they are published, so sometimes he reads them and likes those.
  • He prefers to read books on paper instead of the Kindle, unless he is traveling.
  • He is afraid that future generations don’t have a place for books in their culture except in school.

Sources

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Notes By Alex Wiec

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