When I look back over my almost 20 years as an entrepreneur, I can point to pivotal moments where advice from Seth Godin got me to the next level. So, when I decided to devote an episode to succeeding as a solo entrepreneur, he was the logical choice.
For most of you, Mr. Godin needs no introduction. If you’re not familiar, Seth is the author of 18 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages.
He writes about the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership, and most of all, changing everything. You might be familiar with his books Linchpin, Tribes, The Dip, Purple Cow, and the one that started it all for me — Permission Marketing.
Tune in to this illuminating episode to hear Seth’s advice for succeeding as an entrepreneurial company of one. As always, Godin’s wisdom will spark the sort of serious reflection that can take you to your next level.
The Show Notes
- Seth’s Blog
- Seth Godin’s Top Tips for Freelancers
- Seth Godin’s altMBA
- Rate Unemployable at Apple Podcasts
Seth Godin on Succeeding as a Solopreneur
Seth Godin: I’m Seth Godin. I’m impatient and I’m unemployable.
Voiceover: Welcome to Unemployable, the show for people who can get a job, they’re just not inclined to take one — and that’s putting it gently. In addition to this podcast, thousands of freelancers and entrepreneurs get actionable advice and other valuable resources from the weekly Unemployable email newsletter. Join us by registering for our Free Profit Pillars Course, or choose to sign up for the newsletter only at no charge. Simply head over to Unemployable.com, and take your business and lifestyle to the next level. That’s Unemployable.com.
Brian Clark: When I look back over my almost 20 years as an entrepreneur, I can point to pivotal moments where advice from Seth Godin got me to the next level. So, when I decided to devote an episode to succeeding as a solo entrepreneur, he was the logical choice.
For most of you, Mr. Godin needs no introduction. If you’re not familiar, Seth is the author of 18 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages.
He writes about the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership, and most of all, changing everything. You might be familiar with his books Linchpin, Tribes, The Dip, Purple Cow, and the one that started it all for me – Permission Marketing.
Tune into this illuminating episode to hear Seth’s advice for succeeding as an entrepreneurial company of one. As always, Godin’s wisdom will spark the sort of serious reflection that can take you to the next level.
Unemployable is brought to you by the all new FreshBooks, easy accounting software for freelancers, coaches, and consultants. You’ve simply got to try it for yourself, and you can do that with this special unrestricted 30-day free trial. Just visit Freshbooks.com/unemployable, and don’t forget to enter Unemployable in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section.
Mr. Godin, how are you?
Seth Godin: How come a perfectionist gets a pass, a workaholic gets a pass, but someone who is seen as impatient is viewed as difficult or immature? What if you’re impatient to make things better or impatient to be generous or impatient to discover the next big thing? I think it’s not a bad idea.
Brian Clark: Interesting. You did throw me a bit with that impatient thing, but I knew with you there has to be an angle and you will reveal it when you feel ready.
What’s Changed Since We Last Spoke?
Brian Clark: It’s been a while since we spoke. It seems like a completely different world since then. I’m not sure what’s changed. Do you have any sense of that?
Seth Godin: Well, I was lucky enough to get to listen to our last one, and I didn’t remember saying any of the things I said, but it was really fun to listen to. I strongly urge people who haven’t heard it to pick it up, because I can’t possibly compete with that one. You were on a roll. Your questions were great, and I think we addressed a lot of stuff.
My answer to you about what’s changed is it’s important to separate the media industrial complex that’s always trying to create a frenzy and a panic and anxiety from the human condition. Because human condition doesn’t change as much as we might think.
At the same time, quietly behind the scenes, lots and lots of things are getting better as long as we’re willing to keep focusing our attention and our effort on moving them in the right direction.
Brian Clark: I’m with you on that, and that’s been the only way is to just stop absorbing everything. But as a 20-year Internet person, we kind of live off information and that’s a hard habit to break. I think it was a positive thing, for me anyway, to start reading more books, watch more good movies and just let things ride themselves, I suppose.
Seth Godin: Yeah. I got a question at a talk last week and someone said, “Yeah, I get that you don’t use Twitter or Facebook actively, but what about us? We work in the social media group and we have to stay up on how it works in the current thing.”
And I said, “Really? How many hours a day do you have to do that? Because it would seem to me that checking in for 20 compressed minutes a day would probably get you just as much data as 400 minutes of poking in every dark corner you can find for something that will get you incensed or upset or have to be corrected.”
As XKCD pointed out, there is always going to be a mistake on the Internet and we are never going to be able to keep even with it. The alternative might be to use social media, the minimal possible amount, and spend the rest of the time building stuff that other people decide is worth talking about.
What Are Your Thoughts on Being a Solopreneur?
Brian Clark: I think that’s right. So you mentioned our last talk, and that was specifically addressed towards the freelancers in the Unemployable crowd.
Today, I want to hit on the other side of the equation, more the solopreneur type. I don’t know if I like that word or not, but it is apt because there’s a distinction there between the “Raise money and burn through it” of the entrepreneurial, at least, the valley stereotype of such.
A friend of the show, Paul Jarvis, is a writing book called Company of One and I love that terminology. He’s a great guy. He lives that. He really is just one guy, leveraging his audience and network and making cool stuff and all the stuff that you’ve been preaching for as long as I can remember. You, specifically, have at times been quite critical of the need for scale like that’s all that matters, and it doesn’t.
Our friends over at Basecamp have a hugely lucrative company, but they’re not obsessed on growing. They’re obsessed about doing good work.
I wanted to hear what your thoughts are here in 2017 on becoming that person, or if you are that person, becoming satisfied with who you are and what you do.
Seth Godin: Okay. That’s a great topic for today. So, let’s dive in.
First, the key distinction is in the definition. A freelancer is somebody who gets paid when they work, who admires the craft of what they do. An entrepreneur is someone who seeks to get paid while they sleep, who’s trying to build something bigger than themselves — an enterprise that if they wanted to they could sell one day, because it’s the enterprise not merely an expression of themselves.
It’s possible to alternate between those jobs. But when you do both jobs at the same time, you’re in for a trap. And the trap is that the entrepreneur will hire the cheapest available, competent person and you know who that is — you.
So what you end up doing is hiring yourself all the time to work for free. And as a result, you get frazzled, because an entrepreneur who’s also a freelancer forgets that the job of the entrepreneur is to make decisions, not to make stuff.
When I’m a writer, I’m a freelancer. Every word that you read with my name on it, I wrote. I like that craft. I did a gig for American Express a few years ago and they said, “Our copywriter will give you all the cue cards.” And I think, “No, no, no, no. You can hire other people if you want that. If you want me, there are no cue cards, because that’s why I’m doing it, because I’m a freelancer.”
Whereas the entrepreneur — and I read Paul’s post the other day, congratulations to him on his book deal. But the entrepreneur says, “Oh, I can hire this freelancer and that freelancer and work with this organization and that organization and put the whole package together, and something will occur and benefits will happen for everyone involved.” That’s what solo entrepreneurs have to seek to do. They can’t just keep hiring themselves to do more and more work.
How Do You Avoid the Trap?
Brian Clark: Yeah. Let’s talk a little bit more about what you call the trap, because I’ve seen this time and time again. Your point is well-taken. I was this way pre-Copyblogger. This was my biggest fault. I would not delegate. I would do everything myself, even though that was making me miserable.
But the other thing that I see, especially people trying to move from freelance or even small agency, they always come to me and they’re like, “Brian, we want to do what you do. We want to make products. We want to sell SaaS services, whatever, software as a service, whatever the case may be.” And I’m like, “Okay, do it.” But they can’t turn down the next gig either.
I remember when I read Permission Marketing, and I was like, “Oh, so this is how it works.” First marketing book I ever read, thank you so much for that. I keep praising you for that, because really if I would have read some book from 1965, I might have been in trouble.
The first thing I had to sell at that time, just to support myself while I worked on the other business, was legal services as an attorney. And I was so good at marketing it that I could have built a law firm out of it. But I knew I didn’t want to practice law. How do you get out of that aspect of the trap?
Seth Godin: Well, you picked a great example, and I think lots of people understand what lawyers do all day. So a lawyer who gets good at marketing her services has exactly the problem we just described, which is that it’s tempting to work more hours and keep all the money.
Then when you’re out of hours, it’s tempting to hire other lawyers and be the general partner. But that doesn’t scale very well either, because then you’re busy spending all your time managing them as opposed to getting more clients. So you can’t scale that business.
The answer is to understand that one of the things you have to do as an entrepreneur is pick your clients. And if you’re picking yourself and you’re a bad client, then the whole thing’s going to go to hell.
What a good client would do is insist that you don’t sell legal services, but that you sell legal products. So, incorporation in a box, trademark law in a box, a simple form you can fill out to do X, Y, or Z. Something where you make it once or hire someone to make it once, and then you have the ability to sell it again and again. That takes discipline.
And you were correct that lots of agencies that want to make products lack the discipline, because they love making the first one, but they hate the dip that shows up after they sold 10 that makes it hard to get the 30.
In those moments when it’s not working so well, they say, “All right, what else can I make?” As opposed to doing what entrepreneurs are supposed to do — dig in and look for scale.
What Is the AltMBA Program You Offer?
Brian Clark: Let’s talk a little bit about the skillset that you see first and foremost is required of someone who wants to make it as a solo entrepreneur. I remember the freelance episode we did was sparked by the fact that you did a course for freelancers. You’re continuing on with that, which is great to see. I saw something about your marketing seminar.
I’m wanting to talk about the altMBA program though. Is that primarily just for business people or does it have a more entrepreneurial bend to it?
Seth Godin: About a third of the people work for big or famous companies, about a third of the people are freelancers and solopreneurs, and about a third of the people work for nonprofits or midsize companies. So it’s a tremendous cross section.
What Do the Freelancers and Solopreneurs Need to Focus On?
Brian Clark: Yeah. Got you. Okay, let’s focus on what you think that middle third really needs to understand and focus on.
If you ask me, I always start with the audience, which means find the people you want to talk to. Find out what’s important to them, what problems are they going to solve, and you go from there.
Seth Godin: I think that’s the second thing, and I agree with you.
The first thing is decide to be a professional. Learn to make good decisions. Learn to see the world as it is. Learn to tell a story that’s true, that resonates with other people.
All of those things have to exist before you have a shot at doing what we call marketing. You can be the best marketer in the world, but if you can’t do those things, you’re never going to get anywhere.
In the altMBA, that’s what we teach — those three things. How to ignore sunk costs and make smart decisions. How to see the world as it truly is, not what you’re hoping for. And then how to explain your point of view in a way that helps other people make good decisions.
Then, the big leap after you make that leap is the leap to empathy.
Here’s the way that we put it to people in the marketing seminar and in lots of the interactions I have with other people. Those people who aren’t buying from you, the ones who aren’t coming to the Copyblogger conference or the ones that aren’t listening to the podcast or the ones that aren’t doing X, Y, or Z, they’re not stupid and they’re not uninformed. They are right. They made a good decision to not buy from you.
Can you see why they are right to have done that? And if the answer is no, then you are completely lacking in empathy and it’s going to be really hard for you to serve the market you seek to change.
On the other hand, if you can say, “Oh yeah, because they’re not people like the people I seek to serve,” then you’re onto something. Because then you can figure out who the people you are seeking to serve are, what they’re like, where they hang out, what they need, and you can give that to them. And that willingness to be really specific is missing from a lot of struggling entrepreneurs, because they’re so desperate, they’ll just take anything.
How Do You Teach Seeing the World as It Is vs. How You Want It to Be?
Brian Clark: Let’s go back to your second precursor, because I think that’s the hang-up for a lot of people — seeing the world as it is instead of how you want to. I think when you meet people, you know what camp they fall in. It’s almost like it doesn’t take too long into the conversation to figure out if they’re grounded in reality or not. How do you teach that though?
Seth Godin: Well, I think it begins with learning how to speak about what you see. An example would be somebody who owns a small independent bookstore, who’s angry that people aren’t buying books the way they used to and doubly angry that when they do, they buy them from Amazon.
This person hangs on and persists in running their money-losing store day after day without fundamentally changing anything. Because they are from the school of “Say it louder, say it louder, sooner or later it’s going to work.” And that almost never works. It’s easier to just be angry and deny reality than to see what’s actually happening.
If you say to these people, “When was the last time you bought something from a store like yours?” “Well, I’m different. I was in a hurry, so I had to buy it on Amazon.” Even when their own behavior belies what they’re insisting on in the world, the need to find a safe place trumps all of that.
I think that the way we get around it is first by talking about how other people are falling into this trap, how our fellow travelers, this person, this person and this person are similarly deluded. Because once you start seeing the patterns, then it’s easier to see it in yourself. Because if you can name it, if you can number it, “Oh yeah, I’m doing exactly what they did the other day.”
That’s why studying business or studying marketing actually pays off. Not because you will read a case study about your business, but because if you see enough cases, they all start to look familiar.
Brian Clark: Modeling other business cases is a tried and true way of succeeding, but there’s more to it for those who are transitioning from a freelance business or a coaching business or consulting where you have clients, and I’ve done it before. The key is to make your existing business as efficient as possible, which gives you the bandwidth and the time to basically shift to a more entrepreneurial model.
Going back to another of your books Purple Cow, don’t you have to see the world for what it is in order to even have a shot at being remarkable outside of a fluke?
Seth Godin: Yeah. So, in Purple Cow, there’s again a big ego problem, which is people send me notes saying, “Please confirm that my product is remarkable.” And still, it’s been 20 years, 15 years, I still get notes like that. It’s not up to me to decide. I’m not the Prime Minister of Purple. It’s up to the consumer to decide. If they talk about it, then it’s remarkable. End of discussion. It’s not up to you, it’s up to the consumer.
We conflate how hard we worked, how much we have at stake, how important everything is with our right, the fact that we deserve to be seen as remarkable. But it doesn’t work that way.
The second half of it is a lot of people think, I mean, gimmicks, walking down Main Street naked. Well, walking down Main Street naked might get you talked about, but it’s not going to help you sell anything. For something to be truly remarkable in the sense I’m talking about it, we have to talk about it in a way that makes other people want to engage with it. Other people want to buy a ticket, want to get one for their home, etc.
When the “Will It Blend?” videos were going around on the Internet, the numbers prove that they were remarkable. Millions and millions of people saw Tom blending hockey pucks and iPhones in a blender. But the reason it was actually remarkable is because blender sales went up. And the reason blender sales went up was that once you saw that a blender could do an iPhone, you believed it could do a pineapple, and that was enough tier and trust, which was enough to turn a sale.
How Hard Is It to Get Noticed Today?
Brian Clark: On a related point, I guess the expansion of what we call content marketing has resulted in massive amounts of noise. Even the good stuff gets hard to find. Do you believe that’s true? Is it harder today than it was 10 years ago to get noticed?
Seth Godin: Well, you’re one of the grandfathers of content marketing, and it must pain you when people do stuff that’s banal and lousy and duplicative and derivative and call it “content marketing,” because it’s none of those things. It’s just mindless, ego-based blather, and we should call it that.
Actual content marketing, meaning things that people actually want to engage in, will always be a self-limiting, self-sustaining exercise. Because by definition, it’s content marketing if people want it. If there’s already content on that topic in the world that they know where it is, then they don’t want what you have. So you’ll have to come up with something better.
Same thing happened with permission marketing. Once people gave away permission in a given field, like my plumber has permission to call me and me to call him, I don’t need to look for another plumber. I’ve solved my plumber problem.
Well, the same thing’s true with content about buying an in-ground swimming pool. We’ve solved our in-ground swimming pool content problem, you don’t get to copy what the other guy did and get your fair share of attention. It doesn’t work that way.
Brian Clark: That’s interesting and you’re right. I am constantly still dismayed sometimes, but also I just love it when I see something that truly is remarkable in the sense that not only do I want to consume it, but I want to share it. I want to talk about it.
On one hand, I don’t see people being crass more than they used to be. That’s not a new strategy. It cracks me up that people think that. Because if you’re good — and you have to have talent, I think for this — a legitimate sense of humor that allows you to push boundaries and resonate instead of turning people off. Although you will obviously get rid of the people you don’t want.
How Did You Get Started?
Brian Clark: Something that also bothers me and it relates to you is when I try to tell people, “Here are some best practices that combined with value and combined with hitting it on the nose with what people want…” Just basically the stuff we teach. I’ll always get someone who’s like, “Well, Seth Godin doesn’t do that.” My response is always, “You’re not Seth Godin.”
Take us back, because in my mind I remember you began building what we now know of as SaaS blog and the huge audience that goes with it by giving away two free chapters of Permission Marketing. Is that right? Am I remembering that right?
Seth Godin: Sort of. I guess where I would begin is you actually have to be extraordinarily patient if you want to be impatient. And that’s how we understand what the two words mean.
What it means to be patient is to find the shortest direct path from here to there while avoiding mindless shortcuts, because the shortcuts aren’t really shortcuts. And impatient because you’re not going to shy away from the things that scare you, because you care so much about getting where you’re going.
So I patiently started building an email newsletter in 1992, which was 25 years ago. It stopped being an email newsletter sometime in the late ‘90s and started being what might be a blog. I can’t find that one anymore. Then I met Joi Ito and Jacqueline Novogratz about 11 or 12 years ago, and that’s when my blog appeared in the form it is now.
The thing about that journey is I have never once had a viral homerun, not once have I had something that was the most popular blank of its kind. I mean, the closest exception was Unleashing the Ideavirus, because I was the first person to do ebooks that way.
But in general, there are people who have had blog posts that have been seen 10 times as many times as mine, 100 times as many. Videos that have been seen 50 times as many. That’s fine, because I’m in the singles business. And showing up day after day is the way it’s been done.
Now Permission Marketing, I gave away four chapters. I still am giving away four chapters. I think if you write the freeadpermission.com, it might still work, but if you go to permission.com, it definitely works. And that was 20 years ago.
So, drip by drip, by drip. Any one of these things I do, yeah, on a good day, I’ll have a good launch, 10,000, 20,000 people, but the key is six months later when another 100 or 200 people show up. Because if you do that and do that and do that year after year with project after project, being as generous as you can, then you can call yourself a content marketer like me 10 years from now, because that’s my secret — I’m patient.
Brian Clark: Do I sense an upcoming project or book related to impatience?
Seth Godin: No, I just made that up 10 minutes ago, because he said I had to launch by saying a word, so there you go.
Brian Clark: Excellent. It can work though. It’s intriguing. You may have to flush this out.
Seth Godin: As soon as I decided that the format of books was really constraining, the ideas I’ve had for new books have gone up dramatically. There’s definitely a correlation there.
Brian Clark: That’s interesting. All right, I’m going to put you on the spot here at the end.
Seth Godin: We’re at the end already? This is great fun.
Brian Clark: It is fun. And probably people would keep listening, because it’s you, but if it’s me, they’ll just go, “Okay, that’s enough for Clark. We can’t have anymore.”
Seth Godin: Roll tape, I’m up.
What Does Someone Who’s Just Starting Need to Do?
Brian Clark: Well, let’s see what we can drag out of you then, because I want some impromptu top of mind advice. If someone’s out there, they’re just getting started, maybe they’re a freelancer trying to make the transition, what do they need to do?
Seth Godin: I think the shortest direct thing to do is find three people who are smarter than you and generous enough to be in some sort of mastermind group that will hold you accountable, where you can say out loud your delusions of grandeur and make promises that you intend to keep. The time spent doing that — not finding mentors, because I think that’s a bunch of hype — finding peers who will hold you accountable is the first thing.
Then the second thing is smallest viable market. Do not try to change the world. Instead, figure out how to make three sales. Figure out how to change the life of five people. Figure out how to be generous to nine people. Smallest viable market puts you on the spot, because if you can’t sell to nine people, you’re definitely not going to be able to build Uber.
How Do You Feel About a Paid Ecosystem of Support?
Brian Clark: You speak of mentoring and it’s interesting, because a couple of weeks ago I was a mentor at a very nice conference at the Four Seasons in Denver. Second time I’d been to it, and these things are popping up all over the place. It’s very expensive, but I’ve got to tell you that the attendees there were the smartest people that I’ve run across in a conference. Because they’re existing business owners and they understand that they’re paying money to access those people who can help them take it to the next level.
How do you feel about that though? Do you believe the paid ecosystem is correct? I mean, there is the idea that when you pay for something, you’re more likely to implement and value it.
On the other hand, what you alluded to is more like the old school — find generous people who will spend some time with you.
Seth Godin: Okay. Well, what I alluded to avoid is the old school form of mentoring, because I don’t think it’s a reliable transaction that scales over time. And the quest for the perfect mentor distracts people from what they ought to be doing.
I think there are people in your shoes at your level who can give as much as they get. That’s a different kind of relationship.
Now, in terms of these paid things, the kind of help somebody who is bringing in $2 million a year needs is different, and they are way more mature about advice. There are a lot of things that make an event like that much more likely to work.
If it works for you, by all means, go. And if you can organize one, organize one. And if you can get paid to mentor, please do.
But I think the vast majority of people who are listening to this aren’t in that category. And instead, maybe with a mentor, what they’re actually looking for is reassurance. Maybe what they’re actually looking for is someone, when it doesn’t work, they can say, “Well, Bob told me,” and I am trying to strip that away.
Let it go. Don’t seek it out. Reassurance is futile. There is no amount of reassurance that’s going to be enough.
Brian Clark: Yeah. I did not get paid to be a mentor, but I did get a free room.
Seth Godin: That’s unacceptable.
Brian Clark: Well, I’m the local talent. They needed someone from Colorado. No, I enjoy doing it if I can. But when someone cold emails me and says, “Will you be my mentor?” I’m like, “Really? I can’t do that.” I want to make sure I mentor my own kids first and foremost.
Is Community the Solution for Early Stage People?
Brian Clark: The last episode before this one, Tara Gentile is trying to create a business community, so much lower cost but still some investment monthly. Back to the virtual community thing, which I said in that episode was the original Internet buzzword. You remember in the ‘90s when that’s all we heard was “community.”
Seth Godin: I do.
Brian Clark: Do you think that is a solution to maybe early stage people?
Seth Godin: Here’s what happens. Learning, real learning is difficult, because it makes us feel incompetent before it makes us feel competent. In the moment before you learn division, you said to yourself, “I’m really stupid, I don’t know division.” The reason that education is compulsory is because the institutions don’t have the time or effort to go chase people down when things get hard.
Online learning (and we talked about this last time) has a huge dropout rate, because it’s difficult to keep people consistently engaged when things get hard. So my fear about long-term communities is unless you are really smart about building in social pressure, as soon as it gets real, people become absent.
If you can figure out how to get past that, then I think you’ve got a shot at delivering something useful. But it means that the organizer has to create an environment where it’s not just, “Go, go, go,” but it’s actually speaking truth to someone who needs to hear it.
Brian Clark: Yes, and I admire Tara for trying. I think this is a hard thing.
In my experience, from running — we have two membership communities, education plus the communal aspect of it. And there’s a lot of that, “Rah-rah, you can do it!” reassurance instead of speaking truth. That’s the unfortunate thing. People get mad when you tell them their idea sucks, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to hear it.
How do you solve that problem? I guess it’s going back to, “You’re going to pay me a lot of money and I’m going to be honest with you.”
Seth Godin: Yeah, I mean, a year ago, I paid some guy some money, he knocked me unconscious, cut me open with a knife, took part of my body out, and sent me home. And that’s why I went, because I needed surgery. That’s really different than what happens when you go to the donut store. And you’ve got to figure out, are you going to the donut store or are you going for surgery?
Brian Clark: Yeah, I like that. That’s a good analogy. I’m going to have to steal that.
What’s next, Mr. Godin? You’ve got to have something cooking, you always do.?
Seth Godin: I am deeper into transformative education than I have ever been. We’ve got The Marketing Seminar, the third one running right now, and I can watch it on my screen. We’re seeing substantial comments coming by every 60 to 90 seconds, and we’re getting notes three days into it from people who say, “This has already changed my life.”
That’s addictive to me, because I can scale this. Day-by-day, we’re building an institution, because I’m not in, I’m not live engaging with people. We’ve figured out a curriculum and a mantra and a method and it works.
What I’m racking my brain to do is figure out how not to be able to help 1,000 people at a time or 2,000, but 10,000 or 50,000, because that’s been my mission all along. And the public has voted. They said, “We don’t like buying paper books. We view it as a favor to the author.” I’m like, “Okay, fine. I like writing them, but if you don’t want it, that’s fine.”
Now I’m finding that people who are willing to raise their hand can find change. I would like to figure out how to make that widespread. I’d like to figure out how to help nonprofits with it. I’d like to figure out how to change our culture with it. To create people who are braver, who are kinder, to do all the things that authors always seek to do.
I don’t think we’re close to having the right answer, but we’re getting way closer than we were five years ago. So that’s what I’m spending most of my time on.
I have to tell you that I used to spend part of my time on my roller skiing, which is like cross country skis with wheels on them. But on Saturday, I fell off and I separated my shoulder. So if anyone wants to buy two pairs of lightly used roller skis, just let me know, they’re yours. I’m done. Sooner or later, you get old enough where you say, “I can work on software. I can’t work on wheels anymore.”
Brian Clark: I hope you’re not hurt too badly. That’s terrible.
Seth Godin: Well, the good news is I can still talk left-handed
Brian Clark: So we’ve been having this conversation for at least 10 years, since the first time we came in contact with each other, which is I’ve been teaching people to write and I’m the only person on the planet, or at least our industry, who hasn’t written a book.
Over time you have written many great books, but you started to push back a little against the format, but you kept going with it. And now I’ve got this gigantic book of yours right here. That thing is a coffee table monster, which is a souvenir.
Isn’t that the terminology that you started using for books?
Seth Godin: Yes.
Brian Clark: Yeah, it’s interesting. It sounds like maybe I just outlasted everyone and now books are done and I should focus on courses, which I love doing.
Seth Godin: Well, they’re not done. They still have all sorts of pristine value.
I wrote a book over the last nine months and it sat on my desk. And then I said, just because I am allergic to the process, “It doesn’t mean I shouldn’t share it.” So we printed up a bunch and we gave them to people as a surprise if they take The Marketing Seminar or the altMBA, they just get it in the mail. And that got it off my chest. I was done.
I’ve discovered I don’t need to see it on Amazon to be glad I made a book. And that souvenir is the same thing. There’s something special for me in touching it, but when it comes time to spread an idea, we know really well that a TEDx Talk spreads an idea, a certain kind of idea, better than a book.
I don’t think books are going to go away. I keep buying them. But it’s hard for me to sign up for the year and a half long process of working with a system that’s fighting itself so hard.
Brian Clark: Yeah, and the cognitive dissonance for me is I love books. I think I almost revere them, which is why there may be something going on subconsciously that says, “That’s not a good enough topic for a book.”
Seth Godin: Of course there is. And that’s why you should write one right away.
Brian Clark: We’ll see. Every time I come up with a book idea, I understand that it could be in a different format that’s more useful.
Seth Godin: But you need one. There’s no question. I think you should call it “Impatient”. I think you should dedicate it to me and you should get it done, because you’ve got four weeks. You could finish it in four weeks, and you could just have a book. Everyone should have his own book.
Brian Clark: And you’re going to write the forward.
Seth Godin: If you promise to write the book, I will break my rule. I’ve only written one forward for my hero Pema Chödrön. I will write a foreword for you if you actually write the book.
Brian Clark: All right, I’m going to have to mull that over. I’m not sure about the four-week thing, but all right.
Seth, thank you so much. It’s always a pleasure.
Seth Godin: It’s a pleasure.
Brian Clark: Yeah, this is great. Given that the world changed in between our last conversation and this one, maybe we should talk more often or change the world back.
Seth Godin: We’ll try and do both. How’s that?
Brian Clark: Excellent. Take care, Seth.
Seth Godin: Bye-bye.
Brian Clark: All right, Everyone, good advice. Put it to use. Find someone who will tell you the truth.
As always, thanks for listening – keep going.