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SETH'S BOOKS

Seth Godin has written 12 bestsellers that have been translated into 33 languages

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all.marketers.tell.stories

All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing

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free.prize.inside

Free Prize Inside

The practical sequel to Purple Cow

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linchpin

Linchpin

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

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meatball.sundae

Meatball Sundae

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

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permission.marketing

Permission Marketing

The classic Named "Best Business Book" by Fortune.

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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.

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purple.cow

Purple Cow

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

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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.

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survival.is.not.enough

Survival is Not Enough

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

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the.big.moo

The Big Moo

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

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the.big.red.fez

The Big Red Fez

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

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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.

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the.icarus.deception

The Icarus Deception

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

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tribes

Tribes

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

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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.

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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.

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we.are.all.weird

We Are All Weird

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

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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.

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THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin




All Marketers Are Liars Blog




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Despite, in spite of, because... three ways to manage creativity

The people you hire will do creative work despite your management style, sometimes.

Or they might do it in spite of your approach, rarely.

But the most likely way to get the work you seek is to earn it, to have people bring their best ideas forward because of the leadership and guts you bring to the table.

You can't demand creativity, not for long. You can earn it though.

I am not a cobbler

... but that doesn't mean I'm unable to choose well made and comfortable shoes.

You might not be a writer, but that doesn't mean you can't read.

You might not be a chef, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy your dinner.

You might not be a scientist, but that doesn't mean you're unable to understand the scientific method and accept a well-discussed thesis.

You might not be a programmer, but that doesn't mean you can't use Excel or the internet.

You might not be the boss, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't care about what happens next.

And you might not be a political scientist, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't vote.

Vote tomorrow. Even if it's for a person who is sure to lose (especially if it's for a person who is sure to lose). If non-voters started voting for outliers who live their morals, our democracy would change completely in less than a decade.

But not people like you

We're hiring, but not people like you.

I'm looking for a doctor, but of course, not someone like you.

We're putting together a study group, but we won't be able to include people like you.

Redlining is an efficient short-term selection strategy. At least that's what we tell ourselves. So the bank won't loan to people in that neighborhood or people with this cultural background, because, hey, we can't loan to everyone and it's easier to just draw a red line around the places not worth our time...

The challenge with redlining, beyond the fact that it's morally repugnant, is that it doesn't work. There's a difference between "people like you" and "you." You, the human being, the person with a track record and a great attitude and a skillset deserve consideration for those things, for your psychographics, not your demographics.

When there's not so much data, we often resort to crude measures of where you live or what you look like or what your name is to decide how to judge. But the same transparency that the net is giving to marketers of all sorts means that the banks and the universities and the hiring managers ought to be able to get beyond the, "like you" bias and head straight for "you."

Because 'you' is undervalued and undernoticed.

When we say, "I don't work with people like you, I won't consider supporting someone like you, I can't invest in someone like you," we've just eliminated value, wasted an opportunity and stripped away not just someone else's dignity, but our own.

What have you done? What do you know? Where are you going? Those are a great place to start, to choose people because of what they've chosen, not where they started. Not because this will always tell us what someone is capable of (too many people don't have the head start they deserve) but because it is demonstrably more useful than the crude, expensive, fear-based shortcuts we're using far too often.

In a society where it's easier than ever to see "you," we can't help but benefit when we become anti-racist, pro-feminist, in favor of equal opportunity and focused (even obsessed) on maximizing the opportunity everyone gets, early and often.

Organizing for growth

Maybe it’s (finally) working. Maybe demand is up, opportunities keep presenting themselves and people want to work with you.

So why are you so stressed out? It might be because different organizational choices lead to different paths for growth.

Consider a house painter. His business has always been okay, but thanks to his skill and a local building boom, jobs keep showing up.

The traditional method: He lays out the money for paint, he does the work, he sends a bill, and soon, he gets paid.

The good news is that as a freelancer, he's super flexible and can withstand tough times. But in this environment, all sorts of trouble hits. First, there's a cash flow issue. New jobs mean more need for paint and materials, but he has to lay out his own cash to pay for it. Second, new jobs mean more work, but he's the best (and the cheapest) employee, so he ends up working way more hours. No cash, no time, no joy.

An alternative is for the painter to create a scalable system. He could require a down payment on every job, an amount calculated to cover all of his cash costs. Second, he could spend the time to build a pool of journeyman painters, a Rolodex of talent ready when he needs it. In this scenario, the painter becomes a foreman, not a painter any longer.

Or, consider one step beyond that, in which the painter hires several foremen, each responsible for his own Rolodex. Now, the painter is a CEO, a salesperson, the architect of a brand, an organization and its growth. But that still involves a lot of risk as he scales.

The last structure I'll point out is the idea that the painter could refine his system and instead of dealing with homeowners, he could find partners, and license them the system. The system might include his brand name, his sales approach, a computerized, data-driven direct marketing program and most of all, a rule book that lets people who don't have his initiative enter this business. By charging every partner who joins an upfront fee (this is how franchises work) as well as a share of their income, he can grow from state to state, building a nationwide painting behemoth.

There's no right answer. Not everyone should run a national painting franchise business. The key insight is to feel the pain that an organizational choice leads to and fix that instead of merely chasing demand and embracing each opportunity (no matter how juicy) as it comes along.

The key things to focus on, I think, are:

Cash flow

Demand enhancement

Increasing the ability to keep your promises by investing in a pipeline of talent

And most of all, reminding yourself why you're doing this in the first place.

Plasticity

Can you change?

Are you stuck with your habits, your knowledge, your weight, your fitness, your interpersonal skills? Is your future a slightly different rerun of your past?

We spend an enormous amount of time and money seeking to reinvent and upgrade ourselves, working to give up something, start something, build something or change something about who we are and what we do.

And we usually fail.

It's tempting to say, "this is who I am, habits are hardwired, it's in my DNA, I'm going to live with it." Tempting, and an easy way out. 

Change is hard, sometimes nearly impossible. But if even one person as far behind as we are has dug in and done enough work to finish that marathon, to change that habit or to learn that skill, it means that it's not impossible. Merely (astonishingly) difficult.

Knowing that it's possible is 86% of the project.

Decoding Apple as a luxury tools company

Hundreds of years ago, Hermes and Louis Vuitton started out as luxury makers of tools. If you needed a saddle or a suitcase, they offered an extraordinary option, both elite and useful.

Over time, they shifted gears, no longer competing on whether or not their luggage was the most useful, or their saddles the most efficient. They competed on luxury, which is a fundamentally different promise than the optimal design of a tool.

Patagonia is still a luxury tools company. The coats they sell cost more, but some professionals choose them regardless of brand, because in addition to tribal affiliation and the placebo that comes from buying a luxury good, they're still extraordinarily functional.

High end consulting and design firms also sell luxury goods. So do many conferences and elite restaurants and travel destinations. A big part of what you pay for is the story, the experience and the process, not the advice or the logotype or the learning you end up with...

Over the last year, Apple has heavily invested in the luxury component of their future. They've hired executives from Burberry and the Swiss watch industry and re-committed to their luxury-structured retail stores as well.

The challenge they face, the challenge you'll face if you choose to try to combine function with the top of the market, is that eventually, these two paths diverge. When Apple dumbs down Pages or Keynote or allows open bugs to fester for months or years, they're taking the luxury path at the expense of the tools path. Compounding the impact, when systems are upgraded, they often choose to break some of the utility and UI that their tool-using customers rely on. (When tools evolve and get more complicated, the cost of keeping the bugs out goes up. You must either choose to invest in improving the efficacy of the tool or in making it prettier/more luxurious/more popular. It's hard to do both.)

Do we change this system font because it matches our look or because it's more efficient? Do we sell these headphones because they sound better or because they carry a powerful tribal effect? Do we fix these bugs or build something new?

The tension of tools/luxury sounds like this: On one hand, you might hear, "you've lost your cachet," or, "the fit and finish isn't there," or, "I'm seeing the hoi polloi buying the brand at H&M and on the street, it's peaked." This is what happened to Uggs and to countless other brands before them. On the other hand, the tool maker fears hearing, "your analysis isn't crisp," or, "the food isn't as good as it used to be," or, worst of all, "there's a new guy making something that works better."

The luxury maker doesn't really fear hearing that her food isn't cutting edge. On the other hand, she lives in fear that she won't be seen as an essential choice by the fashionable elite. And the tool maker works to avoid the opposite problem.

Those tensions have undermined many large ad agencies recently, as they wrestle with how to help their clients do authentic social media at the same time they have to support the overhead and corporate-luxury positioning that TV enabled.

Honda cars are tools that have been painstakingly evolved over the years to function exactly as promised. But the brand is boring and profits aren't commensurate with how well they've solved the problem they set out to solve. On the other hand, few Jimmy Choo customers complain about their inability to run a marathon in profitable high heels.

It's possible (but unlikely) that Apple will become the first long-term cutting-edge tool maker that simultaneously exists as a profitable luxury brand. It's unlikely that your firm will pull that off as well.

At some point in the evolution of every luxury brand, the users who care more about tools than about luxury begrudgingly shift away to more functional options. Not all at once, but it has always happened (so far).

This is not a promotion

The internet and big media are wrestling with chokepoints.

Cable TV companies, for example, are a natural monopoly in the home. Everyone only has one provider. If the provider has an argument with a TV network, they kick them off, the signal doesn't get through, the viewer gets nothing.

One of the arguments behind the common sense of net neutrality is that chokepoints and tollbooths aren't in the interest of the users.

Now, of course, online stores, if they get big enough, can act as chokepoints. And so can Google.

If you're used to getting this blog delivered for free to your gmail account, it might be missing (I understand the irony in telling you this via a medium you no longer get). That's because Google unilaterally misfiled my daily blog into the promotions folder they created, and I have no recourse and no way (other than this post) to explain the error to them...

(But you do: follow these instructions to get it back). Here's a video on how to do something you never should have had to do...

And it's not just my email that's misfiled. I just discovered that the Acumen course I'm taking online is showing up unbidden in the same promotions folder...

Permission marketing is about delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who want to get them. It's a disservice to reader and writer when an uninvited third party decides to change that relationship.

PS there are lots of ways to follow this blog for free. My favorite is RSS, which has no chokepoints.

But what do *you* do?

Do you make your own paper? Do you start with wood pulp and mix and bleach and set and produce the sheets you use? My guess is that you save time (and a lot of money) and just go to Staples and buy a ream or two.

The theory of the firm shows us that when people work together in an institution, they are able to produce more than if they work separately. Ricardo makes it obvious that if one person mixes the dough while the other bakes the loaves, they'll get more done than if each did the whole job.

This explains one reason why big companies keep getting bigger. They gain economies of production and marketing as they specialize their workforce.

But what about the small enterprise, the freelancer, the soloist?

The web now makes just about every task outsourceable with a click. Not only don't you have to make your own paper (or hire a paper maker) but you can have someone process payroll and bills, design a website, answer customer calls, schedule appointments and a thousand other things you used to need to do on your own.

Which leads to the key question: When you can outsource everything, what do you do? When you can choose the kind of value you create, you are also choosing what you're going to outsource and what you're going to do yourself.

Here are three reasons to do something as part of your work, from worst to best:

0. Because you are the cheapest available worker. Because you need to do something, and it's more profitable for you to do this task than to pay someone else to do it. Because you can't find something more beneficial or profitable to do.

1. Because people (clients) will notice when you do it. That might mean that they notice your presence, or they notice the unique nature of what you create (your art) or they will notice that you've learned something doing this when it leads to you doing something great later on. Mario Batali doesn't cook for 99% of his customers (physically impossible), and they can't tell. And he doesn't design 99% (or 5%, I have no idea) of his recipes, because we can't tell. In fact, the only thing people can tell is that it's him on the TV, and that his decisions are guiding what his organization does next. 

2. Because you love it. Because the work matters to you, and this task, right now, is the best version of the work you can find.

Every time you hire yourself to do something (make paper, pay a bill, change a logo design), you've just decided not to do something else instead.

The first step: your job is to make decisions about what you do. And my guess is that what you do is make decisions.

Solving the popular problem

"Do you know the head of FIFA?"

"I have come up with a way to speed up airport security dramatically..."

"How come the people in script development at Warner won't get back to me about my Matrix idea?"

If you're intent on making an impact by developing and marketing a big idea, two things to keep in mind:

a. avoid trying to contribute solutions to a popular problem. It's too crowded and the people you're trying to help are almost certainly not open or eager to hear from you. Their attitude is the most important factor in whether or not your idea gains traction, so if the door is closed, you're better off solving a different problem, a problem that's a lot less sexy but far more important and profitable for all concerned.

b. avoid seeking out the figurehead, the Richard Branson/Marissa Mayer person who appears to be in charge, just waiting for you to raise your hand with your great idea. You'll just waste everyone's time and get frustrated as well. 

Popular problems and figureheads represent shortcuts. Shortcuts in how you think about your project and shortcuts about finding acceptance. But all the work worth doing is about taking the long way.

Munchausen by Proxy by Media

MBP is a particularly tragic form of child abuse. Parents or caregivers induce illness in their kids to get more attention.

The thing is, the media does this to us all the time. (Actually, we've been doing it to ourselves, by rewarding the media for making us panic.)

It started a century ago with the Spanish American War. Disasters sell newspapers. And a moment-by-moment crisis gooses cable ratings, and horrible surprises are reliable clickbait. The media rarely seeks out people or incidents that encourage us to be calm, rational or optimistic.

Even when they're not actually causing unfortunate events, they're working to get us to believe that things are on the brink of disaster. People who are confident, happy and secure rarely stay glued to the news.

The media is one of the most powerful changes we've made to our culture/our lives (I'd argue that the industrial revolution and advances in medicine are the other two biggest contenders). And yet because we're all soaking in it, all the time, we don't notice it, don't consider it actively and succumb to what it wants, daily.

Steven Pinker's brilliant book makes it clear that the world is safer than it's ever been. A large reason his thesis feels wrong to so many is that the media wants us to think that we're on a precipice, every day. Paradoxically, the cultural-connection power of the media is one reason why things are actually safer. [Check out Matt Ridley's optimistic take as well].

I'm fascinated by this paradox. By connecting us, by integrating cultures and by focusing attention on injustice, the media has dramatically improved the quality of life for everyone on the planet. At the same time, by amplifying the perception of danger and disaster, the media has persuaded us that things are actually getting worse. It creates a reason for optimism and then makes a profit by selling pessimism.

I don't think the media-industrial complex has earned the pass we give it. They built what we wanted, they built what worked, but the race for attention often is conflated with a race to the bottom. It takes guts to say, "no, we're not going to go there, even if the audience is itching for it."

We're the media now, and we can do better.