Seth Godin-things that I learned from Him

Last year I wrote an article saying that mentors are overrated and that you should pursue finding heroes instead.

Mentors are scarce; heroes are abundant.

Mentors have to spend time with you; heroes don’t even have to know you exist.

Mentors have limited advice (usually, due to time constraints), whereas you can watch heroes all day on YouTube.

That’s something I learned from my ‘hero,’ Seth Godin.

















Here are ten other things I’ve learned from watching, reading, and consuming as much content as humanly possible created with, for, or by him.

The lessons are going to be short, and I’ll provide links to where I got them. Let’s go!

#1. Everyone is an artist

We have no other option.

Seth Godin is the author of more than 15 best-sellers. His books were translated into more than 35 languages. I’ve read many, but not all of them.

‘Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?’ is my favorite one. In the book, he describes the world in which we live today through an unusual lens — everyone is an artist. If you’re not, well, robots will replace you eventually.

In his definition:

Art — is a gift that changes the recipient.

Whether you’re working at a Starbucks, writing a blog post, or building a business, you can be an artist. You can do the hard work of emotional labor. You can connect. You can make an impact, even if it’s on one person only.

You don’t have any other choice.

#2. Quantify as little as possible in your life

There’s a trend to calculate everything in your life: how much money you’ve spent, how many hours you’ve slept, how many steps you’ve walked, and how many calories you’ve burned.

I get it.

But every time I did that, I felt like my life turned into an ongoing spreadsheet. And I HATE spreadsheets (but for some reason, I am good at them).

Seth Godin said in his interview with Tim Ferriss that he “calculates almost nothing in his life.” That made me feel better.

It’s OK to let go.

#3. Authenticity is overrated

There’s a tendency, especially among writers on this platform, to be vulnerable. But not being vulnerable as a way to connect with readers, but rather being vulnerable for the sake of being vulnerable. As a tactic.

I always felt that it was like an emotional strip club: you get undressed, and you get paid.

In an interview with The Futur, Seth Godin said:

Authenticity is overrated. Stories [that you tell] need to be useful, they need to make the point clear. Stories need to connect with the reader, not just make you feel good about yourself.

Don’t be a stripper.

#4. Just do your job

Imagine your sink is broken. You hire a plumber to fix it, and half-way through he stops and says:

Hey, I don’t really feel like doing this today…I think I am not inspired to fix your broken sink. Sorry, dude.

Boom! He’s fired.

A plumber has a job to do. So does an electrician. And so do you, whether you’re an entrepreneur, a writer, a blogger, or a designer.

Don’t overthink it. Just do your job.

(Here’s a clip where Seth Godin talks about a creative block being a myth)

#5. There’s no such thing as a writer’s block

When people say they have a ‘writer’s block,’ they’re afraid. The key here is to understand what they’re scared of.

I write like I talk and I’ve never seen anybody have a talker’s block. You don’t wake up and go like, “mmmm!” — as if you couldn’t talk.

What people are terrified, according to Seth, is not of writing — but of writing perfectly.

“Ok then,” he says, “Write poorly then. The question is not whether you have good ideas, but do you have bad ideas? Do you have any ideas?”

Because when you have an ongoing stream of ideas (even the awful ones), the good ones started to emerge. I’ve noticed this in my writing, and it helped me a lot.

#6. Know when to quit

Another great book I’ve read by Seth is called The Dip. The idea is simple:

  • You’ll hit ‘the Dip’ in everything you start.

  • Sometimes quitting is good, sometimes quitting is bad.

  • Know the difference.

Whenever you commit to anything (i.e., start a blog, a podcast, a business), the first few weeks are exciting. You’re onto something new, yay! But once that first reaction wears off, you start to get bored. Difficulties begin to arise.

You hit what’s called, ‘the dip.’

If you quit when it hits you — i.e., when it gets hard — that’s bad. The point of starting anything is to finish, and you’ve just sabotaged everything you’ve built so far.

But if the project or a venture you’re undertaking has led to a dead-end (know as cul-de-sac), and you see that it’s going nowhere — you should quit.

But not when it gets hard.

The realization for me in this lesson was how much wrong quitting I’ve done. I would start something new, and once the passion and the drive for a new thing went away, I would quit. That way, I couldn’t get anything done.

The antidote here is to stay for at least six months (I talk more about it here). Don’t quit, don’t look at results, and don’t waver. Then wake up in 6 months and see what happens.

#7. Blogging is about building trust

I’ve recently been to a big social media marketing conference in London. And most attendees were casually throwing in the term “attention economy,” and everyone else was quietly nodding as if it was code for something.

Ok, I get it. Attention is scarce, and some people (me) think we’ll get to the point when we can use attention as currency. That would be cool.

But when marketers ask each other to create something that would capture attention — all I hear is that I am going to be interrupted more by commercials.

Seth Godin wrote Permission Marketing in 1999, and the idea is this: to be heard, you’ve got to earn trust.

You’ve got to earn permission to send your message. And in today’s world, all commercial breaks are optional. I can pay YouTube and see none at all.

And to me, that’s what blogging is all about. You show up regularly with something valuable to say; you build trust. You show up the way you want others to show up for you. You don’t run around capturing attention.

Seth talks more about this in his interview with Marie Forleo.

#8. Ship

Advice is cheap. The person who gives advice doesn’t have as much ‘skin in the game’ as you do.

Whenever I have someone I look up to — somebody I learn from — I like to see what they do, not listen to what he says. Even in the interviews, I try to understand what he or she did (and why), rather than listen to advice.

And the thing I’ve noticed about Seth — is that he always puts his work where his mouth is.

He ships. He delivers. He creates.

He blogs everyday. He wrote 18 books. He is constantly creating new projects and businesses (the latest is AltMBA, check it out).

You can listen to advise, think and strategize all day long, but at the end of the day — have you shipped anything?

That’s the most important lesson I’ve learned from him.





#9. Don’t search for passion

There’s a lot of talk about finding your passion.

Seth Godin has an interesting take on this:

Don’t look for passion. Instead, become passionate about what you’re already doing. That way, you’re more flexible.

If Elon Musk was born 200 years ago, he would have found something to do. If Shakespeare lived today, he would blog. There are passionate people — not passionate things.

I like the way Seth motivates people just to pick something and do:

You stand by the carousel. And the horses are spinning. You’ve already missed one or two spins. Any horse is just as good as the other — pick one and go!

















#10. Give away gifts

Back to lesson #1, — everyone is an artist.

And if art is a gift that changes the recipient, you — the artist — is a gift-giver.

“What can I give as a gift?” you ask. I don’t know. What do you have?

  • An insightful blog post

  • A great business idea

  • A book

  • etc., etc., etc

Seth wrote Unleashing The Ideavirus and gave it away for free as a PDF. That book made him famous. That was his gift to the world.

What’s yours?

P.S. This post was my gift to you.

Larry Margison

Larry Margison

Business & Career Coach

Executive Contributor

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