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SETH'S BOOKS

Seth Godin has written 18 bestsellers that have been translated into 35 languages

The complete list of online retailers

Bonus stuff!

or click on a title below to see the list

alt.mba

altMBA

An intensive, 4-week online workshop designed to accelerate leaders to become change agents for the future. Designed by Seth Godin, for you.

ONLINE:

all.marketers.tell.stories

All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

free.prize.inside

Free Prize Inside

The practical sequel to Purple Cow

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

linchpin

Linchpin

An instant bestseller, the book that brings all of Seth's ideas together.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

meatball.sundae

Meatball Sundae

Why the internet works (and doesn't) for your business. And vice versa.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

permission.marketing

Permission Marketing

The classic Named "Best Business Book" by Fortune.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

poke.the.box

Poke The Box

The latest book, Poke The Box is a call to action about the initiative you're taking - in your job or in your life, and Seth once again breaks the traditional publishing model by releasing it through The Domino Project.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

purple.cow

Purple Cow

The worldwide bestseller. Essential reading about remarkable products and services.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

small.is.the.new.big

Small is the New Big

A long book filled with short pieces from Fast Company and the blog. Guaranteed to make you think.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

survival.is.not.enough

Survival is Not Enough

Seth's worst seller and personal favorite. Change. How it works (and doesn't).

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.big.moo

The Big Moo

All for charity. Includes original work from Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Peters and Promise Phelon.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.big.red.fez

The Big Red Fez

Top 5 Amazon ebestseller for a year. All about web sites that work.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.dip

The Dip

A short book about quitting and being the best in the world. It's about life, not just marketing.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.icarus.deception

The Icarus Deception

Seth's most personal book, a look at the end of the industrial economy and what happens next.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

tribes

Tribes

"Book of the year," a perennial bestseller about leading, connecting and creating movements.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

unleashing.the.ideavirus

Unleashing the Ideavirus

More than 3,000,000 copies downloaded, perhaps the most important book to read about creating ideas that spread.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

v.is.for.vulnerable

V Is For Vulnerable

A short, illustrated, kids-like book that takes the last chapter of Icarus and turns it into something worth sharing.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

we.are.all.weird

We Are All Weird

The end of mass and how you can succeed by delighting a niche.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

whatcha.gonna.do.with.that.duck

Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?

The sequel to Small is the New Big. More than 600 pages of the best of Seth's blog.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:


THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin




All Marketers Are Liars Blog




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Member since 08/2003

Big crew/little crew

Software projects work better with small teams.

On the other hand, it makes sense to have multiple teams of workers if you're paving a patch of highly trafficked highway.

Three reasons:

Coordination

Learning

Ramp up time

As we learned from the Mythical Man Month more than fifty years ago, software projects rely on coordination of work. As you add programmers, the work doesn't go faster, it gets slower. Ramp up time is expensive. And if the project involves learning as you go, then big teams waste far more time at the beginning while you're figuring things out.

On the other hand, it doesn't make any sense at all to have a single crew working on a paving project. If you need to close the road for two weeks as they work from one end to the other, you've cost the users of the road a fortune. Ramp up time for trained professionals is trivial, and there's no learning and not much coordination. Better to have five crews working on different sections and open the road after just one or two days.

Often, we default to a small crew because we don't believe we can afford a bigger one. But if the work is worth doing, it might be worth doing more quickly. It's easier than ever to find ways to scale project labor now.

And sometimes, we mistakenly choose to use a big crew, thinking that nine women, working very carefully in coordination, can have a baby in one month. Wishful thinking that ends up in disappointment.

If you want to see how a project got into trouble, look for how crew size was decided.

Before and after

When you put the right idea into the world, people can't unsee it.

It changes our narrative. The existence of your product, service or innovation means that everything that compares to it is now treated differently.

Once the fax existed, mail seemed slower. Once email was around, the fax seemed hopelessly analog.

Of course, these are once-in-a-lifetime tech innovations.

But at a smaller scale, the same thing happens when the first restaurant installs a salad bar, or the local insurance agent or real estate broker gets rid of voice mail and starts answering the phone on the first ring.

Once seen, they can't be unseen.

Unrequested advice, insufficient data, unexplored objectives

Your ideas and your feedback are worth more than you know.

But you might not be heard if you haven't been invited to chime in.

And you'll waste everyone's time if you base your advice on your assumptions, instead of what's actually happening.

Mostly, it's entirely possible that the person you're eager to help doesn't believe what you believe and doesn't want what you want.

Enrollment is the secret to education and change.

Accessorials cost extra

{not a typo}

In the trucking industry, they usually don't include the extra charges, unforeseen or not.

"Accessorials" not included. Which often leads to surprise down the road for those that don't expect them.

Tonu is another useful lesson. "Truck ordered, not used." Of course, when you ordered the truck, you expected to need it, and the fact that you don't isn't a bad thing. Sure, you have to pay for it, but it was a sunk cost, not an obligation.

All a clever way of pointing out that we often pay for options, for flexibility and the ability to do the appropriate thing at the right time. Even if you're not in the trucking business. 

Mass personalization is a trap

Dear seth ,

Of course I could have sent you a personal letter. A direct 1:1 connection between you and me, thanking you for what you did, or letting you know about my new project, or asking for your attention.

Instead, I'm going to hire someone to hand write the envelope in marker, but of course, I'm too busy to do that myself.

And I'll use the latest in digital handwriting fonts to make you think I actually wrote the note. But I'm not careful or caring enough to actually put good data into the mailmerge, so it'll only take you a second to realize that I faked it.

I know that I'm asking you to spend hours on the favor I'm asking, but no, I couldn't be bothered to spend three minutes to ask you.

There's an uncanny valley here, that uncomfortable feeling we get when we know we're being played, when someone mass customizes and tries to steal the value of actual person-to-person connection.

It's a trap because the more you do it, the more you need to do it. Once you start burning trust, the only way to keep up is to burn more trust... it's a bit like throwing the walls of your house in the fireplace to stay warm.

Don't waste your time and money on this. You're wasting the most valuable thing you own--trust.

Humanity is too valuable to try to steal with a laser printer.

Are you a genius?

In the latest episode of my podcast Akimbo, I riff about what it means to be a genius.

Hint: You are one.

 

 

PS more people are subscribing every day. It's short, free and sometimes fascinating. All the cool kids are doing it.

And two other podcasts for you: Reboot, a fine interview with my dear friend Jerry Colonna.

Three Boooks, a new podcast and a far-ranging interview with Neil Pasricha. 

ALSO! Half-price sale on my book Your Turn... when you buy the 5-pack you save 56% on each copy. Thanks.

The difference between time and money

You can't save up time. You can't refuse to spend it. You can't set it aside.

Either you're spending your time.

Or your time is spending you.

The triumph of everyday design

Luxury goods used to be better. Better than the alternatives.

The best-made clothing, the best saddle, the most reliable luggage. The top of the market was the place people who cared needed to go to buy something that had the highest performance.

Today, though, a Toyota is a better car than a Bentley. More efficient, more reliable. The Vertus phone was a joke, and no one needs a $200 mouse when a $9 one is faster and easier to use.

I spent some time at a high-end hotel on a recent gig. The light switches were complicated and didn't work quite right. The door handle was awkward. The fancy faucets sprayed water on whoever was standing in front of the sink. All expensive, none of it very well-designed.

As materials have gotten cheaper and easier to find, it's design that matters. And the market is demanding better design--which is easy to copy and easy to improve.

Expensive is not the relevant metric, utility is. 

"You were right all along"

There's a hierarchy in the adoption of new techniques and approaches, particularly in the b2b setting:

  1. You were right all along: The thing you were waiting for is here.
  2. All of the cool kids are using this now: Take a look at the folks who are already on board. That topic you didn't care about so much--you need to care about it now.
  3. Well, you were wrong, but don't worry about it, here's some cover: I know you said that this would never work, but it's working. The good news is that you can talk about how your open-mindedness lets you leap forward now.

It's almost impossible to get someone to try something new today if they also have to admit that they were wrong yesterday.

The problem with forced rankings

What's the best college in the US?

What about the best car?

Best stereo speakers? Best pizza?

The answer is always the same: It depends.

People hate that. "It depends" puts you on the hook, requires you to have priorities and a point of view. 

A forced ranking is freeing. It tells you exactly what to expect, and if things don't work out, well, blame the system. A forced ranking brings status along with it, because, apparently, if you care enough or are rich enough to have the best, then you must be the best.

When we compress 100 variables into just one linear measure, we add enormous amounts of editorial tweaking and lose a ton of nuance. If you want to study aeronautical engineering, Harvard isn't going to be a good choice. If you're gluten-free or diabetic, that pizza place might not work out so well for you. And if your definition of a good car includes safety, fuel efficiency or the ability to move your family around, that McLaren isn't going to make you happy.

Forced rankings abandon multiple variables, and they magnify differences that aren't statistically significant. "Well, there has to be one winner," they say, but of course, this isn't true. It's not a linear race, and the very concept of a single winner is forced.

When the US News college list started to get traction, plenty of college presidents spoke out in opposition. Over time, though, they discovered that being well ranked was profitable, and in an industry that touches billions of dollars a year, status leads to money and money leads to more status... Today, many colleges are intentionally gaming the system by changing what they originally stood for simply to move up. 

High rankings do more than distort the behavior of those that seek to move up. High rankings attract the sort of people who don't want to discover their own 'best'. Who want to be around others that care about high rankings. Who will run to the next high rank the moment the world changes. And those that are attracted to the winner of a forced ranking change the very tenor of the place they chose. So now, that restaurant that used to be special is merely crowded. Now the company that only keeps its top performers is a horrible place to work.

The biggest problem with a forced ranking is that it's forced.

Tactics without strategy is a scrum

When your timeline is an hour or a day, it's easy to get in the tactical groove.

But repeat that hour after hour, day after day, and all you're making is a mess.

This is bureaucracy run amok. This is busy-ness, not effectiveness.

What's the long-term plan? What builds on what? How do you build assets and leverage instead of merely keeping busy?

And how can you tell if it's working?

Easier said than done

But at least you said it.

It's a mistake to hesitate on the saying part. Because if you don't say it, it's unlikely to get done.

Dreams, goals and projects don't require a likelihood of success merely to be discussed.

Monopoly is the goal, monopoly is the problem

Every public company seeks, at some level, to be a monopoly, an organization with enough market power to dictate pricing, profits and the future of the market.

And monopoly is also a critical failure of capitalism. When monopoly occurs, when the customer no longer has a choice, prices go up, innovation goes down and mostly, consumers have no voice.

A key role of government is to create an environment where monopolies don't happen--and when they do, to intervene and eliminate them.

Choice is the key word in making markets work. No choice, no market.

Putting a value on a story

Walk through the diamond district in Manhattan and in the course of one block, at least a dozen men will stop you and ask if you're hoping to sell a diamond ring.

A few blocks away, Tiffany will happily sell you a diamond ring.

Buy a $7,000 ring at Tiffany's and walk over to one of these guys and you'll be lucky to get $1,000 for your new ring.

That $6,000 is what you paid for the story.

It's the cost of the box, the lighting, the salespeople, the architecture and most of all, the special feeling.

Do a blind taste test. In one glass, wine from a $10 bottle. In the other, wine from a $200 bottle. The untasted difference between the two is what you paid for the story.

The list goes on and on.

Just about everything we buy comes with a story included.

And yet, most creators, sellers and marketers don't invest enough, don't take enough care, and don't persist enough in making sure the story is worth what you paid for it.

Considering the buyout

Inyglaser0511

Is it ever okay to sell the rights to your work?

Milton Glaser was paid about $2,000 in expenses to create the I Love NY logo, one of the iconic marketing images of its decade. He later said, "I was very happy to do it. I was very happy about the consequences.”

Carolyn Davidson originally made $35 for designing the swoosh that Nike made famous.

Neither was paid enough, certainly.

It's tempting to reject the idea of a creative buyout on principle. After all, you're getting paid a relatively small amount for work that could end up in front of a billion people.

But there's a difference between art and illustration. Between commotion and expression.

Illustration has a client. The client may have an idea or a specific need. And the client is taking on all of the risk, doing all of the promotion. Of course, if it doesn't become a home run, the client isn't entitled to a refund. 

The artist, on the other hand, works for the muse. She's responsible for the execution, sure, but also the content, the market fit and the magic of what happens next. The artist is free to wander, and free to own the consequences.

Illustration is a bit like copywriting, corporate music, industrial photography--anything where you're doing your work for commerce, for a client, under direction.

As Milton Glaser has shown, being associated with dramatic success as an illustrator opens the door to even more success. It can fuel your art and create opportunities for higher leverage in your illustration work as well. Illustration can pay some bills at the same time it chips away at your obscurity problem.

When you're willing to do art, do art. Do it wholeheartedly. But the world needs illustrators too, and if it's a useful tool for you, embrace it.

Kurtosis is not a disease (but getting it wrong is painful)

The mass producers of the world (from ketchup to school) tried to persuade us that by grouping everyone into a tight bundle of normal, everything would become more efficient and we'd all do better. In stats, this is called leptokurtosis.

The race for leptokurtosis spread like wildfire. It implies control and reliability and compatibility. It insists that people who don't eat normal food are a pain in the neck, that folks who are differently abled and need an accommodation are somehow costing the rest of us something.

You can have any color car you want as long as it's black, and if you can't reach the pedals or read the fine print, well, maybe you shouldn't be driving.

What we've discovered, though, is that a platykurtic distribution is actually more efficient, more powerful and more fair.

Platykurtic? Yes, with wide, long tails. Like a platypus. Everyone welcome. Designed for humans, not a machine.

When we build an adjustable seat, when we make things that work for more and more people, we don't spend more. We get more.

Bigger to feel safer

Creative institutions get bigger so that they can avoid doing things that feel risky.

They may rationalize this as leverage, as creating more impact. But it's a coin with two sides, and the other side is that they do proportionally more things that are reliable and fewer things that feel like they might fail.

In other words, hiring more people makes their useful creative productivity go down.

This is not the way it works in a factory. When Henry Ford hired more people for the assembly line, productivity went up. Things got more efficient. More lines, more plants, more hands led to more productivity. The natural scale of the enterprise was large indeed.

But a creative studio, a marketing team, architects, strategists, programmers, writers, editors, city planners, teachers--the natural scale of the enterprise is smaller than you think.

This is a new law of organizations, and it's not well understood.

We hire more people to make it feel safer. To paper over the cracks, to please more people, to increase stability.

None of these things are why the creative institution exists.

While the bureaucracy may benefit from more scale, the work doesn't.

The pre-mortem

If you want us to take your new proposal seriously, consider including a pre mortem.

Include a detailed analysis of why your project might fail.

Specific weak spots, individuals who need to come on board, assumptions that might not be true...

If you've got a track record of successfully predicting specific points of failure before they happen, we're a lot more likely to trust your judgment next time.

Failsafe tip

The last thing to add to an important email is the email address.

Write the thing, save it as a draft, and, an hour later, put the email address in and then hit send.

It's not clear that you should send an important text, but if you're going to, write it in a notes app, then copy, paste and send.

Send it when you're ready, not before.

There's no 'recall' button.

How are you organized?

Any organization of more than two people has a structure, intentional or not.

It might be a hub and spoke,

a ladder,

a pyramid,

a lattice,

a hive,

a circle...

Each has an advantage. But the structure of your organization, your systems, your communication--when you work against it, nothing much happens.

Media out of balance

Successful media (let's define 'successful' as media that can make a difference, make a connection and possibly make a living) has four elements:

Attention

Enrollment

Trust and

Permission

Too often, particularly online, people just worry about the first one.

It's a race to go viral, to go low, to make a bunch of noise. The quick hit, the shortcut, the inflammation.

But attention is insufficient.

Enrollment means that your audience wants to go where you're going.

Trust earns you the benefit of the doubt.

And permission means you don't have to begin from scratch every time. You've earned some attention. The privilege of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages over time.

Selling acorns at the lumberyard

Without a doubt, your little idea is going to grow. We're rooting for your acorn to turn into an oak tree.

But bringing that acorn to the lumberyard, hoping to make a sale... you're wasting your time and their time too.

Most people are waiting for a proven, tested and popular solution.

Some people want to invest in acorns (but they don't go to lumberyards looking for them).

GDPR and the marketer's dilemma

On the twentieth anniversary of Permission Marketing, the EU has decided to write the basic principles of that book into law.

There are two ways to look at this.

  1. Lawyers and yield-maximizers can find ways to use fine print and digital maneuvers to get the same sort of low-grade tolerance and low-impact marketing they've always gotten. Industrialise interactions!  The marketing machine at their organization has an insatiable appetite for attention, for data and for clicks, and they will skirt the edges to get more than their fair share.

  2. Realize that the GDPR is a net positive for people with something to say, something to sell or something to change. Because the noise will go down and trust will go up. Embrace this insight and you can avoid the hit and run low-yield spam that marketers have backed themselves into.

Talk to people who want to be talked to.

Market to people who want to be marketed to.

Because anticipated, personal and relevant messages will always outperform spam.

And spam is in the eye of the recipient. 

In two simple words: Ask First.

There's a parallel here in environmental regulation. A hundred years ago, when governments first started paying attention to the effluent and poisons that corporations were dumping on their communities, some companies decided to stay where they were, to keep lobbying for 'relief' and to spend a lot of time and money fighting the change. Others decided to race to the top, intentionally becoming more efficient. It turns out that being clean pays for itself. The efficient path has proven, again and again, to be the smart one.

The EU is responding to consumers who feel ripped off. They're tired of having their data stripmined and their attention stolen. (Here's an episode of my podcast I did on this issue).

Marketers don't have to race to the bottom. It's better at the top.

Two bits of fame

Ogilvy & Mather was on line 1. (I actually only have one line, but it sounds cool to imagine that they could be on line 1).

The news was unexpected. They were calling on behalf of the AMA and inviting me to be inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame. I actually thought it would be more likely that I'd be invited to join the Roller Derby Hall of Fame.

The ceremony is on May 17th in New York. 

Also!

The Dip was on Billions on Showtime yesterday (note: Cable-TV language included):

How cold is the turkey?

If your customers had to stop using your product or service tomorrow, how much would they miss it?

How easy are you to replace?

How deep are the habits, how essential are the interactions?

Being missed when you're gone is a worthy objective.

A clean sheet of paper

The last few clues on the crossword are the easiest to decode... there aren't as many choices.

Over time, we let the grid at work get filled up, and spend our work day filling in the little tiny corners. We address the undone tasks or find the small improvements that are next on the list.

Sometimes, this tiny incrementalism leads to a big idea. But often, it's the freedom (and fear) of a clean sheet that opens the door to a different path forward.

Of course, the paper is never fully blank. We have countless assumptions about what our assets are, what's achievable and where we're comfortable. These assumptions could be suspended if we cared enough.

The best time to work with a clean sheet is long before you're confronted with one.

The moment of maximum leverage

It's the moment before it tips, that split second where a little effort can make a big difference.

We wait for this. For the day when participating will truly pay off, for the mechanical advantage that gives us the most impact for our effort.

It's a myth.

Maximum leverage is the result of commitment, of daily persistence, of gradual and insane and apparently useless effort over time.

When it works, it merely looks like we had good timing.

Inciteful

The right answer might not be the best thing you can say.

Perhaps it would be better if you could help your friend take action instead. The acts of finding and doing are almost always more useful than getting good advice.

Inciting action is often better than contributing insight. Better to move forward and figure it out than to stand still and believe you know the right answer.

The trap of listening to feedback

"If I listened to feedback, I would have quit on the first day."

You're devoting your life to making something important. Something helpful. Something that matters. Mostly, something that hasn't been done before, that's going to bend the curve and make an impact.

If you begin and end with surveys and focus groups, all you're going to do is what's been done before.

We're counting on you to trust yourself enough to speak your own version of our future. Yes, you'll need the empathy to put yourself in our shoes, and the generosity to care enough to make it worth our time and trust. But no, don't outsource the hard work of insight and creation to the rest of us.

That's on you.

About that tantrum

A note to the customer who just had a meltdown. To the groom without a perfect wedding, to the rental car customer who had to wait twenty minutes, and to the boss who's furious that the delivery wasn't as promised.

We heard you. We, as in the people you were seeking to impact, and we as in the rest of us as well, the innocent bystanders.

Actually, we heard you the first time. Ever since then, the only information that's being communicated is about you, not the people you're angry with.

You're demonstrating your privilege (because you need to have plenty of resources in order to waste so many on an emotional, non-productive tirade.)

You're demonstrating your entitlement.

You're demonstrating a surprising lack of self control. Toddlers have tantrums. Adults should solve problems.

And you're demonstrating your fear, most of all. The fear that fuels a narrative of being unheard. The fear that you're not good enough. The fear that this might be the last chance you get to make everything exactly perfect.

Working with the outside world is an act of communication and mutual respect. You deserve to be heard, but you don't have a right to have a tantrum.

Entrepreneurship is not a job

You don't apply. You don't get a salary. No one picks you.

Bragging about how much money you've raised or what your valuation is a form of job thinking.

Entrepreneurship is a chance to trade a solution to someone who has a problem that needs solving.

Solve more problems, solve bigger problems, solve problems more widely and you're an entrepreneur.

It's tempting to industrialize this work, to make it something with rules and bosses and processes. But that's not the heart of it.

The work is to solve problems in a way that you're proud of.