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altmba

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.

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IN STORES:


THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin




All Marketers Are Liars Blog




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Member since 08/2003

Choosing your fuel

The work is difficult. Overcoming obstacles, facing rejection, exploring the unknown--many of us need a narrative to fuel our forward motion, something to keep us insisting on the next cycle, on better results, on doing work that matters even more.

The fuel you choose, though, determines how you will spend your days. You will spend far more time marinating in your fuel than you will actually doing breakthrough work. Richard Feynman was famously motivated by the joy of figuring things out. His scientific journey (which earned him a Nobel Prize) also provided him with truly wonderful days.

Here is a partial list, in alphabetical order, of narratives light and dark that can serve as fuel to push us to do work that others might walk away from:

  • Avoidance of shame (do this work or you'll be seen as a fraud/loser/outcast)
  • Becoming a better version of yourself
  • Big dreams (because you can see it/feel it/taste it)
  • Catastrophe (or the world as we know it will end)
  • Competition (someone is gaining on you)
  • Compliance (the boss/contract says I have to, and even better, there's a deadline)
  • Connection (because others will join in)
  • Creative itch (the voice inside of you wants to be expressed)
  • Dissatisfaction (because it's not good enough as it is)
  • Engineer (because there's a problem to be solved)
  • Fame (imagining life is better on the other side)
  • Generosity (because it's a chance to contribute)
  • It's a living (pay the writer)
  • Peer pressure (the reunion is coming up)
  • Possibility (because we can, and it'll be neat to see how it works in the world)
  • Professionalism (because it's what we do)
  • Revenge (you'll show the naysayers)
  • Selection (to get in, win the prize, be chosen)
  • Unhappiness (because the only glimmer of happiness comes from the next win, after all, we're not good enough as is)

They all work. Some of them leave you wrecked, some create an environment of possibility and connection and joy. Up to you. 

Just words

How about, just bullets, just diseases, just starvation?

The whole "sticks and stones" canard is really dangerous. When a stone gives you a bruise, it's entirely possible you will completely heal. But when a torrent of words undermine your view of what's possible, you might never recover.

Words matter. They can open doors, light a way and make a difference.

Say one thing at a time

I know, you might not get the microphone back for a while.

And I know, you want to make sure everyone understands precisely what went into your thinking. Not to mention your desire to make sure that everyone who hears you hears something that they'd like to hear.

But if you try to say three things, we will hear nothing. Because most of the time, we're hardly listening.

Ads, instructions, industrial design—they all work better when they try to say one thing at a time.

Three ways to add value

Tasks, decisions, and initiation...

Doing, choosing, and starting...

Each of the three adds value, but one is more prized than the others.

Tasks are set up for you. Incoming. You use skill and effort to knock em down one at a time and move to the next one.

Decisions often overlap with tasks. There are alternatives, and you use knowledge and judgment to pick the best one.

And initiation is what happens when you start something out of nothing, break the pattern, launch the new thing and take a leap.

When we think about humans who have made change happen, institutions who have made a difference, cultural shifts that have mattered, we must begin with initiation.

What value-add did you spend yesterday engaged in? How about tomorrow? 

Emotional labor

That's the labor most of us do now. The work of doing what we don't necessarily feel like doing, the work of being a professional, the work of engaging with others in a way that leads to the best long-term outcome.

The emotional labor of listening when we'd rather yell.

The emotional labor of working with someone instead of firing them.

The emotional labor of seeking out facts and insights that we don't (yet) agree with.

The emotional labor of being prepared.

Of course it's difficult. That's precisely why it's valuable. Sometimes, knowing that it's our job—the way we create value—helps us pause a second and decide to do the difficult work.

Almost no one gets hired to eat a slice of chocolate cake.

What Henry Ford understood about wages

Every time Ford increased the productivity of car production (in one three-year period, he lowered labor costs by 66% per car), he also raised wages.

Not merely because it's the right thing to do.

He did it because well-paid workers had more to spend. On houses, on clothes, and of course, on cars.

There's a positive ratchet here.

You can't shrink your way to greatness.

When you enable your workers (and your customers) to do more, connect more, produce more and get paid more, you create a positive system. The goal isn't to clear the table, the goal is to set the table.

The waitlist for the altMBA

Our twelfth session of the altMBA workshop is upcoming. We're only going to do it two more times in 2017, and if this is something you're thinking of doing one day, I hope you'll let us know.

You can sign up for our list here. You'll find out what we're up to and get first dibs on our application dates.

Our list of alumni keeps growing. More than 1,200 strong, it includes freelancers, a law professor, a scientist at the CDC, nonprofit executives, real estate agents, and startup founders. We have a high school principal in San Diego, a translator in Paris, and marketers at Microsoft, Warby Parker, Lululemon, Apple, Google and Zynga.

Our people are ruckus makers, contributors and leaders who have chosen to level up. I'm thrilled that they are taking the lessons of this 30-day intensive and using them to make change happen. I hope you can join us soon.

Stinginess in the connection economy

When six people are trying to split a pizza, some stinginess appears. After all, more for one person is less for the other five.

But in interactions that lead to connection, to shared knowledge, to possibility, it's pretty clear that there isn't a zero-sum game being played. In fact, the more enthusiasm and optimism people bring to the interaction, the more there is for everyone else.

You don't need to save up the goodwill and encouragement you offer to others. It will be automatically replenished, and it pays dividends along the way.

Groucho runs deep

Groucho Marx famously said, "I don't want to be a member of any club that would have me." Thanks to our connection economy, the membership rolls are now wide open, but the problem isn't declining.

There are so many communities that want you. So many opportunities to connect, to learn, to leap.

Some communities have skills and want to share them with you. And other ones need you to teach.

In the face of these opportunities, it's easy to say, "everyone's too smart for me," or worse, "I'm too advanced and I can't learn anything here."

The full Groucho is believing that you don't deserve to learn and you're not entitled to teach.

Of course, that's merely a form of hiding. Because connection leads to learning and learning leads to change and change is frightening. Easier, it seems, to push the opportunities away, say your Groucho Marx line and go back to doing what you were doing.

If you weren't afraid of change, what could you learn?

And if you weren't afraid of rejection, what would you teach?

Each of us is becoming, becoming something better or something worse. And we become what we teach and what we learn.

The middle of everywhere

If the railroad didn't make it to your town, or if the highway didn't have an exit, or if you were somehow off the beaten path, we wrote you off. Your town was in the middle of nowhere.

Now, of course, if wireless signal can reach you, you're now in the middle of everywhere, aren't you?

When time catches up

And it always does.

Bad decisions happen for one of two reasons:

A. You're in a huge hurry and you can't process all the incoming properly. But more common...

B. The repercussions of your decision won't happen for months or years. This is why we don't save for retirement, don't pay attention to long-term environmental issues, and, tragically, tolerate (or fall prey to) irrational rants about things like vaccines. It might be engaging or soothing to promote a palliative idea now, but years later, when innocent kids are sick and dying, the regrets are real.

A bad decision isn't only bad because we're uninformed or dumb. It can be bad because we are swayed by short-term comfort and ignore long-term implications. A bad decision feels good in the short run, the heartfelt decision of someone who means well. But there's a gap when we get to the long run.

Eula Biss has written a beautiful, honest book about this gap. About how we can fall into the trap of being well-meaning, emotional and loud in the short run, but how the truth of time changes the way we see things.

Our job as leaders (and we all are, in our own way) is to elevate the long run on behalf of those we care about, regardless how hard the marketing and tribal noise around us encourages to fall prey to instant comfort.

Everyone has feelings and opinions, but the future ignores them.

"It's not my problem"

But what if it was?

What if the apparently intractable cultural issues that you take for granted were instead seen as problems on your desk, things you could influence?

What if the rules others take for granted are seen by you and your team as standards you can change?

What if we take the responsibility instead of waiting for it to be offered?

Catching up with podcasts

Emma Gannon, with a focus on new careers.

Talking lawyers.

On marketing with the insightful Sonia Simone on Rainmaker.

Elin Barton on thin ice.

Reid and June have a new podcast about scale.

How we solved the altMBA with The Solution.

Talking writing with CC Chapman.

 

Possibility

This is not the same as reality. But without belief in the possibility, your reality is going to be severely curtailed.

We must avoid the temptation to begin with an analysis of what's easy, or what's probable, or even likely.

We can only do our work justice by examining what's possible, and then deciding if we care enough to pursue it.

Tension vs. fear

Fear's a dream killer. It puts people into suspended animation, holding their breath, paralyzed and unable to move forward.

Fear is present in many education settings, because fear's a cheap way to ensure compliance. "Do this," the teacher threatens, "or something bad is going to happen to you."

The thing is, learning is difficult. If it was easy, you'd already know everything you need to know. And if you could do it on your own, you wouldn't need the time or expense to do it with others.

But when we try to learn something on our own, we often get stuck. 

It's not because of fear, it's because of tension.

The tension we face any time we're about to cross a threshold. The tension of this might work vs. this might not work. The tension of if I learn this, will I like who I become?

Tension is the hallmark of a great educational experience. The tension of not quite knowing where we are in the process, not being sure of the curriculum, not having a guarantee that it's about to happen.

As adults, we willingly expose ourselves to the tension of a great jazz concert, or a baseball game or a thrilling movie. But, mostly because we've been indoctrinated by fear, we hesitate when we have the opportunity to learn something new on our way to becoming the person we seek to be.

Effective teachers have the courage to create tension. And adult learners on their way to levelling up actively seek out this tension, because it works. It pushes us over the chasm to the other side.

I've been running the altMBA for nearly two years, and in that time we've seen tens of thousands of people consider the workshop. Some of them see the tension coming and eagerly dive in. Others mistake that tension for fear and back away, promising themselves that they'll sign up later.

The ones who leapt are transformed. The tension pays off.

We're proud of the tension. We built it into the workshop from the start, because education is never about access to information, it's about the forward motion of learning.

You already know this workshop works. That's easy to check out. The hesitation comes from this very fact... that it works. That a change occurs. That the unknown is right over there, and to get yourself there, you have to walk through a month's worth of tension.

That's the best way I know to learn. And so that's the way we teach.

 

PS there are only two more sessions of the altMBA this year. Embrace the tension and apply in time for tomorrow's early priority deadline. 

Without a sail

A sailboat without a sail might float. 

For a long time, in fact.

But without a sail, it can't go anywhere, can't fulfill its function.

Floating is insufficient.

In defense of the tree emoji

The boom emoji gets a lot of play. It happened. It worked. We won.

Boom.

The tree emoji, on the other hand, celebrates the patient and generous acts of planting seeds, watering them, caring for them, and then, in a generation, you have a tree.

It doesn't even have a noise.

Simple growth. With patience. (I prefer the deciduous tree instead of the evergreen, because the leaves coming in and falling off are part of the deal). 

Put me down for the tree emoji.

🌳

Pre-existing conditions

We all have them.

By the time we get this far, we've got bangs and bruises, things that don't work quite right, experiences that have shaped us, sometimes for the worse.

It starts early. We're all born with them and into them. Sometimes we get lucky and we're surrounded by positive role models and people who believe in us, and other times we're stuck in an uphill climb that's unfair and unproductive.

But we all have them.

And all we can do is wrestle with them the best we're able. And realize that everyone else has them too, and give them the support they deserve.

And we just had a winner

The local market has a sign that says, "There was a $500 Lotto winner here..."

A cursory knowledge of statistics will help you see that this doesn't matter. It doesn't make it more likely or less likely that they'll have a winner today or even tomorrow.

And yet...

And yet sales go up after a big win. And to veer to the tragic, when a friend is struck with a serious disease, we're more likely to go to the doctor.

Because proximity is truth.

The truth of experience, the truth of immediacy, the truth of it might just happen to me.

That's why the media has been such a powerful force, because it brings the distant much closer.

And why small communities of interest and connection are still the dominant force in our culture. Because people like us, do things like this.

Defending myself (vs. offending my self)

The reason it's difficult to learn something new is that it will change you into someone who disagrees with the person you used to be.

And we're not organized for that.

The filter bubble and our lack of curiosity about the unknown are forms of self defense. We're defending the self, keeping everything "ok" because that's a safe, low maintenance place to be.

The alternative is to sign up for a lifetime of challenging what the self believes. A journey to find more effectiveness, not more stability.

[PS The discount on the Seminar expires today.]

The self-healing letter of complaint

You've been wronged. The service was terrible. You went unseen, disrespected and abused. You didn't get your money's worth. The software is sloppy, the people were rude, the entire experience was lousy.

A letter to the organization is called for. At the very least, you'll get an apology, some free samples, and maybe, just maybe, they'll fix the problem for everyone who comes after you. How generous of you to dig in and share the vitriol.

Better put a sharp point on it, personalize it and make it sting.

Here's the thing: Every angry word you write is only going to confirm the story you're already telling yourself, the story that's still making you miserable. The more spite you put into the note, the worse you're going to feel. You'll relive the event again and again. And, it's pretty certain, if a human reads the note, they'll now feel lousy too. They might go home and kick their dog, it's that visceral.

To what end? Is it going to increase the chances that change happens?

Here's a different tack, a selfish one that pays off for everyone involved:

Write the most positive note you can imagine. Write about how much the brand/service/government agency means to you. Let them know just how much you trust them, how much they've helped you in the past. Lay it on thick, that's okay, it'll remind you of why you care in the first place, and it will build bridges instead of tearing them down.

Then, say, "Here's what didn't work" or "But I have an important suggestion..."

And, without adding the hurt and anger that you feel, explain what went wrong. Explain it clearly, in a useful way, but give the reader the benefit of the doubt. Assume she knows that it didn't make you happy, that it completely ruined your wedding, that you're never ever going to return. Just leave that part out.

After all, if you didn't care about them, you wouldn't bother writing a letter, would you?

Two things will probably happen:

  1. When you hit 'send' you're going to feel better about yourself and the process you just engaged in, and
  2. It's more likely that the long-suffering recipient of your note will actually take action

We can change the stories we tell ourselves.

Introducing The Marketing Seminar

Can you make change happen?

For the last five months, I’ve been hard at work at something you might be interested in.

The full details are here. The video explains what we're building together.

Enrollment is open today, and closes on May 11th. The Seminar begins now and the discussion board will be open for the next six months.

Seats are first come, first served. I hope you’ll check out all the details. If you use the coupon code READY before end of day on May 5th, you’ll save $70 on the cost of enrollment.

Let's go.

When we understand

Modern marketing, the craft of getting ideas to spread, has split.

On one side are the roboticists. They test and measure and do what works. They do it with no interest in how people decide or what they believe or what story they tell themselves. Instead, they treat the human as an ant in an ant farm, a robot that does this or that. They're behaviorists.

On the other are those that seek to get to the heart of what makes us human. These marketers know that fear, shame, desire for gain and culture are the quartet that drive just about every decision. They know that Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand couldn't have been more wrong, and that truly understanding our narratives is the essence of doing work that matters, that connects, and that spreads.

There are ever more tools for folks who do the former, but the problem is that this is work that gets easier to automate and easier to hire for.

On the other hand, the ranks of people who understand, who understand well enough to lead, to decide and most of all, to see... there are never enough of these people doing the work that matters.

It takes patience and effort (but not focus groups) to develop this empathy. It's worth it.

[I've built a new course around this idea. Look for the details tomorrow.]

The thing about bananas

About half of all the bananas consumed worldwide come from the same tree.

Not the same type of tree. The very same tree. The Cavendish, which has no seeds, is propagated by grafting or cloning. Which means that they're all identical. If you're a mass marketer, pushing everyone to expect and like the very same thing, a thing with no variation and little surprise, this is good news indeed.

Until, of course, a fungus comes along and wipes out the entire monoculture.

It's tempting to want all your bananas to be the same. To have all your employees be clones of one another, your products to be indistinguishable commodities, each conforming to the dominant narrative of the day.

And if you're a freelancer, you're under huge pressure to be just like everyone else. It's easier to talk about what you do, easier to fit in, easier to be ignored.

But variation brings resilience and innovation and the chance to make a difference.

The unfairness (and wisdom) of paint

Repainting your house the same color it already was feels like a waste. It's a lot of effort merely to keep things as they are.

But if you don't do it, time and entropy kick in and the house starts to fade.

The same can be said for 1,000 elements of your organization, including your relationships with customers, staff, suppliers and technology. The way you approach your market, the skill you bring to your craft, the culture in your organization—it constantly needs another coat of paint.

Rust never sleeps.

[PS... delighted that I'll be speaking at the upcoming Convertkit event in June in Boise... Hope to see you there.]

Empathy is the hard part

The rest is mechanics. We're not wired to walk in someone else's shoes, it's not our first instinct.

Showing up with empathy is difficult, hard to outsource and will wear you out.

But it's precisely what we need from you.

Taking it for granite

Look around for a second.

Those bedrock institutions, the foundational supports you take for granted--they rarely last forever.

Nurturing and investing in the things we need and count on needs to be higher on the agenda.

Things that appear to be made of granite rarely are.

You go first

That's the key insight of the peer-to-peer connection economy.

Anyone can reach out, anyone can lead, anyone can pick someone else.

But if you wait for anyone, it's unlikely to happen.

It begins with you.

Save as draft

Is that a habit?

If your instinct is to publish, to share, to instruct, to give away, to engage and to put it into the world, then 'save as draft' is a rare thing.

On the other hand, if you find yourself noodling then putting aside, waiting for perfect, you're on track to be waiting for a very long time.

Ship.

[Tomorrow, Thursday April 27 is the first priority deadline for the next session of the altMBA. This is an intensive 30-day workshop that creates the habit of shipping. We help people learn to see, to take action, to make decisions and to cause change to happen. It might just be for you.]

And then we got bored

Six missions after Apollo 11 amazed the world by going to the moon, Apollo 17 was the last trip.

It fell off the cultural radar. Flying to the moon, driving around and getting back safely wasn't interesting enough, apparently.

And the miracle of the internet, which connects billions of people, instantly, is something we all take for granted after less than a generation.

Is it any wonder that your magnificent Facebook post or clever tweet isn't racking up ever more likes?

You look like you’re lying (when you’re nervous)

This is a significant bug in our culture and a glitch in our DNA.

When we're on the spot, giving a speech, or pulled over by a cop, we get nervous.

We sweat, talk too fast, constrict our throat, avoid eye contact, put on a half smile and do many of the things that people often associate with lying.

At the same time, because the con man (who might also be a politician or CEO) has figured out how to avoid these telltale signs, we give them the benefit of the doubt and they lie with impunity.

If you have good intentions, you have two options: You can either avoid getting nervous (which comes with practice) or you can work on the most obvious symptoms you display, intentionally diminishing them. Actors are better on screen than the rare famous person doing a cameo because the actors have been taught how to read their lines without all the telltale signs of lying. (Of course, reading lines is lying...)

If you're using a microphone, use it. No need to brace your body to shout. Talk more slowly. Intentionally make eye contact...

And don't lie. But you knew that part.

You shouldn't have to practice appearing to be truthful when you're being truthful. But you do. Because we're humans and we're judging you.

What does "science" mean?

To countless teenagers who had the wrong teacher in high school, it means, "a boring collection of right answers, categorized by topic."

Once we discover that some things we were taught aren't black and white any more (Pluto, DDT, infant formula), it's not surprising that people begin to go from bored to skeptical. About all of it.

Except that's not what science is.

Science is a process. It's not pretending it has the right answer, it merely has the best process to get closer to that right answer. Science is an ongoing argument, one where you show your work and make a prediction about what's going to happen next.

And you're not allowed to have magical faeries. Not allowed to change the explanation based on what just happened. You must begin again, from first principles, and make a new argument, and show new work, and make a better prediction.

Science isn't only done in the lab. Every one of us does it at work, daily.

Science isn't something to believe or not believe. It's something to do.

The best time to study for the test

... is before it's given.

The best time to campaign is before the election.

And the best time to keep a customer is before he leaves.