Seth Godin

For Those Who Are Ready

Are you manipulating or inspiring your customers?

 Two opportunities to amplify your work under the guidance of experts that I highly recommend.

Seth Godin is offering an online class title the The New Business Toolbox for entrepreneurs on SkillShare right now!  The course is composed of eight parts with meaningful assignments and resources, and it is self-paced.  I flew across the country a year ago to attend a rare one-day event with Seth and continue to be influenced by that session.  So here is an opportunity to make a small investment in yourself and amplify your passion into a business or even confirm the enterprise you have already launched.

Secondly, Chris Guillebeau is presenting a new two-day gathering titled Pioneer Nation in Portland, Oregon for individuals trying to launch a small business or project.  This is ideally suited for those with a passion who are looking to put their talent into the marketplace.  Pioneer Nation is a smaller and more intimate gathering than World Domination Summit which I have blogged about in the past.  Each time in attend one of Chris Guillebeau’s events I leave inspired and ready for action.

A Journey to Assumption

Seth Godin reminded us of the importance of understanding.  He exposed our fundamental desire to rely on assumptions.  Our need to establish certainty overrides exploration of the unknown.

If we have never been to Paris, do we assume we have seen the City of Lights once we land at Charles de Gualle Airport?  Can we check Paris off our travel bucket list after a stroll down the Champs Elysees?  Is a day in the Louvre Museum sufficient?  A meal at a cafe?  Batobus ride on the Seine? Visit to the La Tour Eiffel?  

The answer is unique to each of us.  We have our own parameters.  A visitor with a single day in Paris may feel equally certain about their view as an expat who has lived on the Left Bank for months.  Understanding comes in connecting our points of reference to build a more detailed narrative.  Assumptions are easy.  Adventures provide pathway to test our assumptions.

Being Heard

What if we included Seth Godin’s blog post entitled, ‘The complaining customer doesn’t want a refund‘ as a preamble to all customer service communications.  Can we really be compensated for time lost or aggravation experienced?  We are worth far more than a credit for a future flight or balance towards a future transaction.  What good does a voucher do if the hyperlink to a better experience remains broken?  What we really want is to be heard and know that enduring a less than ideal interaction made the next person’s experience better.  Change for those who follow us is worthy of conversation.  However, we have been taught (and encourage) a transactional relationship.  We accept $xxx and say we will forget the interaction ever happened.  Except we do not forget.  It becomes our story.  We continue to tell the story with impunity with no confidentiality agreement signed.  The cost to the service provider is actually much higher than the goodwill coupon.  The company paid us to win back our loyalty and we got to keep our story.  What if an organization really heard us and took measurable and transformational steps to improve based on our feedback?  The pot hole did not get an orange traffic cone but was actually repaved.  We would tell a completely different story if we were heard and that story would be remarkable.

Circle of Safety

Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle has served as the headwaters from which highly inspired individuals have articulated their purpose and launched ambitious expeditions.  I recently attended a session with Simon in New York City to gain insight into the next chapter.  Simon previewed the Circle of Safety.  The concept was simple to grasp and highly applicable.

The Circle of Safety has a strong overlap with Seth Godin’s philosophy of Tribes.  A fundamental driving force for humans over time is the need to survive which generates a need for safety.  In the caveman era, those who got the most to eat were expected to be the first and most potent line of defense when danger appeared and threatened the welfare of the collective.  In exchange for the prime position after the hunt, the strongest and biggest were charged with the survival of the entire group.  It was part of the leadership agreement.

We see this same dynamic on a daily basis.  We interact with people who provide a Circle of Safety for us or test our circle.  Southwest Airlines is an ideal illustration.  They have intentionally created a Circle of Safety for their employees, inclusive of the gate agents and luggage handlers.  These individuals are in the circle and therefore can execute their best work.  Try a legacy airline where many a gate agent is left to protect their job and therefore is left to survive each encounter.  Southwest would rather have a disappointed customer patronize another airline before they disrupt the Circle of Safety for their employees.  Simon’s refrain is that the strongest organizations protect the people on the edges, not just those in the executive suite.

If we are hoping to inspire others, we must offer a secure place from which to feel human and facilitate genuine interactions.  If the employees are authentic then customers feel safe to interact with each other.  Notice the social candor during the Southwest boarding process versus a legacy carrier.  Southwest passengers actually talk with each other and smile.  Rare is the same experience on other domestic airlines, unless the journey has become so fraught with obstacles that passengers are placed in survival mode and start forming temporary Circles of Safety to overcome that which threatens them.  If we wish for members of our tribe to go forth and act as ambassadors, advocates, or even askers, we must provide a safe place from which they can launch their journey.  Transformational acts come when we feel powerful and want to leverage this privelaged opportunity to help others.  

How big is the Circle of Safety in your enterprise?  Does it extend to the edges or is there an inner court?  What would your members, volunteers, and customers say?  What is the most inspiring or innovative act a member of the tribe has performed on behalf of the cause?  Have they deconstructed what allowed them to undertake such a quest?  As social animals the greatest bond in conceiving a human Circle of Safety is our ability to provide for others.  If we wish to do our best work we must have a mindset that is more expansive than just surviving.

Humanity in Action

“When students are given permission to be their best selves, they take it, just as you and I would like to do,” Seth Godin’s blog post on bullying.


Bullying is a hot topic, one many of us have experiences personally or been in its proximity   We see it daily to some degree and mostly allow it to proceed without comment.  If we see a baby with a lit cigaret in its mouth we take action.  Tabaco and young lungs are not compatible.  The same with an intoxicated driver fumbling with their keys trying to get into a vehicle to drive home.  Most of us act by helping the driver make a better choice.  So why do we circumnavigate bullying without a comment? I suggest change comes not from the hierarchy but from those who are members of the tribe.  If we want standardized testing reform in education, dramatic change will not come from the educational leaders but rather the students.  Standardized test only work when the students obediently take the test.  If a critical mass of students opt out of the SAT process, then universities and those who rely on test scores as the ultimate metric would be forced to consider new forms of assessment.  Perhaps genuine and creative ones like a portfolio of student’s selected work where their talents are genuinely revealed.

As parents, educators, trustees, and community members we have failed to build a culture that promotes respect.  True change may be left to the students.  They are the risk-takers, the innovators, and the remarkable few who say aloud what many have thought but dared not risk in a public setting.  It is time we give the students the stage and allow them to design the expectations of respect in action.  Our greatest gift to the bullying culture may be to step aside an allow those that have endured its heavy weight to demonstrate humanity in action.

Sometimes You Just Need To Do It…

Two great articles that articulate the challenges we face each day and the barriers that can push us off-course.

The first is a very funny article by Jay Goltz.  His obsession with delegation is fraught with unexpected results.

The second is thought guru and innovator Seth Godin’s encapsulation of the essence of everything we do.  

The difference between a day where I thrive or survive is predicated on my ability to ask better questions and make better decisions.  How do you thrive?