Seth Godin

An Original Among Common



Beachside buoys bobbing in the gentle swell.  Generic white versions spotted most frequently, random versions marked with colorful bands interspersed, and then the bust of a cowboy smoking a cigar.  Those walking along the shore stop to point and for a photo.  Alone this buoy is woth a glance.  Surrounded by a myriad of unremarkable buoys it is worth a picture and a remark.  Seth Godin amplified the value of surrounded by our competitors.     

What Matters

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Seth Godin is the master of keeping it simple. I borrow his expression ‘doing the work that matters’ frequently. Seth’s blog post simplifies the difference between choices and decisions and our confusing of the two. We encounter choices in our real-time wayfinding process. What if we streamlined our efforts by making quick choices, so we open bandwidth to focus on the decisions that matter. Make a game of choosing by spinning a wheel, asking the opinion of the next person we encounter, selecting the adventurous route, or going left. Decisions impact the work that matters and requires time and information. Which TSA security lane to stand in at the airport is a choice. Which person to join you for a month-long expedition is a decision. Make time for the decisions that matter, few remember how quickly you navigated TSA, but many benefit from your decision to commit to the mission.

A template for a spinning wheel if you are game to choose differently.


Two Groups


Seth Godin suggests that we can define super fans by identifying people who would miss us if our cause ceased to exist.  Said differently, who would contact us until they got answers when no one showed-up.  I believe there is a footnote to defining the super fans tribe.  There are those who would sincerely miss us and the remarkable services we provide.  A sub-group exists.  Individuals who believe we owe them something so they might continue to advance their own cause.  The super transactional tribe.  Those who confuse business, discounts, frequent flyer status for loyalty.  The people who interact with our cause because they get something that has less to do with achieving the mission than it does with inflating their standing.

These two groups run on parallel tracks when an organization is in growth mode.  It is hard to distinguish super fans from super transactors.  When the organizational lifecycle plateaus or a dips the interest of the two micro-tribes reveals itself.  Super fans inquire what fuel we need to continue the journey.  Super transactors fight to for the perks and benefits that came with their exchange of money for service.

Super fans and super transactors are powerful allies and critical to an enterprises success.  Understanding their motives is essential if we choose to embrace and reward them.  If we can only cultivate one tribe, super fans will endure longer than super transactors.

Seth Godin’s Freelancer Online Course


Quick action required if you want to take a self-paced online course taught by Seth Godin (and wish to benefit from the discount).  I signed-up and look forward to sharing observations.  I previously participated in his Skillshare course and found it very productive.  

Online courses are like a bike sharing program.  You can ride as far and as fast as you want.  Pick-up and drop-off when you please.  Or keep walking as a perfectly reasonable alternative.

Long Term Progress

Seth Godin’s asked: What are you willing to give up today in exchange for something better tomorrow? Next week? In ten years?

The immediate place this resonates on most social sector agendas is during the financial report.  How often has the balance sheet driven the mission of an organization?  When did doing what is right become the brave thing to do?  Are we perpetuating a problem so our coffers stay full or are we willing to tackle obstacles while acknowledging that our efforts may or may not work?

In my experience, while brainstorming during long-term visioning exercises the most frequent organizational wish list item: an endowment/reserve fund (bigger endowment if one already exists).  It is not always the first thing mentioned but once the words ‘endowment’ are put forth there is a chorus of support.  As if the idea of financial security is more important than solving the very problem/furthering the opportunity the enterprise was founded to address.  Protecting the organizational shield outranks the desire for great quest.  Yet, I am short on stories about the knights of the roundtable who stayed home and collected membership fees.

Some people will risk a lot in pursuit of long-term progress.  Embarking on the journeys that are uncertain.  This is the edge where we should be planning.  Being self-sustaing but unremarkable is not original.  Far too many groups have traveled the path and their legacy (at best) is a mountain full of treasure guarded by a dragon and off limits to almost everyone.

What are you willing to give up today?  Why does it matter?

Making Mistakes in Public


Read the Q&A section on Banksy’s website* and be prepared for simple responses.  

Question: Best and worst part of creating Street Art?

Answer: Make your mistakes in public.

What is worth doing, even if it contains mistakes?  What risks are we willing to take in order to connect an idea with a community that may care?  Who are we willing to disappoint in order to complete our quest?  

The opportunities that cause me the most anxiety are usually the ones that I need to explore.  I said ‘yes’ to a university experience even though I did not have all the answers and was bound to fail repeatedly in a classroom of strangers.  I agreed to work on consulting engagements that challenge my approach and yet I continue to look for ways to serve and add value.  Travel brings numerous opportunities to fail publicly and yet I continue to pursue a destination even when I make a wrong turn or plan poorly.  I participate in sports that provide moments physical pain.  My original front tooth lies somewhere on the side of the road in NH thanks to a cycling team crash in High School.  The very public mistake of inadvertently brushing my front wheel against another rider’s rear wheel left me more committed to my craft.

As Seth Godin reminds us, do work that matters.  I highly recommend Seth’s audio book, Leap First: Creating Work that Matters.  The development of the audiobook inspired the publication of Your Turn, which is equally engaging.  I have been handing out my extra copies to people who are trying to create change and are willing to succeed and fail in public.

I look forward to seeing our mistakes in public venues.  Our art matters.

* Banksy is not on Facebook or Twitter but his art continues to be discovered wherever he produces it.