This is my 100th post on Medium. For the last month or so, as I saw this number approaching, I debated internally what I would do for this monumental post. Last Friday I had the chance to meet with someone I’ve respected and admired from afar, for a long time.
Last week I had the opportunity to interview Seth Godin at his loft office in New York. It was incredible to connect with someone who has impacted my life and career in so many ways — many of which I desperately needed, though most likely didn’t know much of the time along the way.
(1. I’m giving away 1 of Seth’s books to 1 person who recommends this article on Medium in the 1st the first week — simply tap the green heart. 2. My interview with Seth is at the end of this article.)
Seth’s body of work speaks for itself — 18 bestselling books, he’s started and sold a number of successful companies, speaks all over the world and has fundamentally changed the way marketing is done in the 21st century.
- This Might Not Work: Seth is quick to tell you that most of the projects he starts fail — they don’t work. This idea has been liberating for me. It’s allowed me to to do just that — try things that might not work. I wrote an e-book a few years ago that nobody bought. I started a restaurant that, financially, wasn’t successful for a long time. I wrote blog posts that got ten reads, twelve reads or 100 reads. I’ve created Facebook ads that have done absolutely nothing, aside from drain my bank account. All of the things that might not work do two things: 1. It provides feedback for how to do it next time around which is incredibly powerful. 2. It drills into my brain the importance of having this mentality. It counterintuitively allows for you to become more confident and to continue to try new things, which is the only way to create anything in this world, and soon you develop a different perspective of the world and things start working — not all the time, but enough of the time to make it worth your time.
- The Power of Fighting Through The Dip: Seth wrote the first ever book on quitting — when to quit vs. when to keep persevering through any of life’s challenges. For years, I was in this place that he calls “The Dip” — it’s the long stretch between the starting and finishing line entailing an insane amount of work, with little to no reward in return. The Dip exists in any endeavor worth pursuing — a challenging university degree, creating a successful business, a marriage, and the list goes on. The Dip is when most people quit, because they don’t want to keep persevering through the challenging times, because in reality, there is no guarantee of success. When I read The Dip three or four years ago, I was in a dark place — I wasn’t reaping the rewards of my efforts and no one in my life understood why I was grinding so hard at making my career work— The Dip saved my career, allowed me to keep pushing through, and to not give up, just because things were hard. Hard doesn’t mean that it’s not going to work, it just means that it’s hard. If it’s not hard, what the point? Everyone would do it.
- The Opportunity We Have to Challenge the Status Quo: When the internet began sprouting up in the early nineties, Godin was right in the midst of it — he was an early user of Prodigy (pre AOL days). When he saw this instead of challenging the status quo and becoming an early innovator in the internet space, he did what he knew he could do — he did what was safe and easy and within his comfort zone — he wrote a book. They sold a few thousand copies and earned some royalties, but instead of seeing it as an opportunity to make some real change and noise in the world, he saw it as a chance to make a few bucks doing what he knew how to do best. To challenge the status quo and what we knew to be true in the world, requires stepping out of our comfort zones, in order to stretch our views and perspectives of the world. Seth has helped remind me that every day we have an opportunity — but what are we doing with it?
- You Can Have Anything You Want In Life, If You’ll Just Help Enough Other People Get What They Want: Seth talks a lot about the impact Zig Ziglar had on him in the early days, and the title of this 4th bullet is a quote of Ziglar’s that Seth talks about a lot. In our conversation, he reiterated the fact that he knows nobody that is trusted by a lot of people that isn’t thriving financially. The nature of earning trust from anyone, first entails giving them something for which they can trust. Seth is now incredible successful, but he hasn’t always been, at least financially. It’s no mystery that he’s been able achieve such success, in part because of the fact that he’s been playing the long game all along — he’s been helping people and providing value to as many people as he can, not because he has to, but because that’s who he is.
- What Authenticity Really Means: When Eric, my friend and I arrived at Seth’s office, we were buzzed in from the keypad in the lobby, took the elevator upstairs, and Seth was waiting for us there. We shook hands, and he walked us into the loft apartment that could have been one’s home, but was instead his office, and he introduced us to his small team there. He offered us espresso or tea, and some gluten free berry muffins from his wife’s bakery down the street, By The Way Bakery. From the moment we met, until we bid him farewell, Seth was the type of person you hope most to be. He actually is that person — and more. He’s thoughtful and generous and authentic. In a world where most people don’t live up to our expectations, especially these larger than life individuals, he’s exactly who he seems to be in his blogs, on stage and in interviews — Seth is a breath of fresh air. For much of the car ride back, Eric and I talked about how impressed we were with him — I think we both kept thinking that he didn’t have to be so thoughtful and in the moment with us, but he was. Then I thought, he did have to be that person — that’s who he is. Being who he is, is what has allowed him to make such a splash — to make a difference, and as he’d say, to make a ruckus.
- What to Do When It’s Your Turn (And It’s Always Your Turn): This is the title of Godin’s latest book. We live in a world that is shaped by people who have stepped up to the plate and taken a chance. Most people are too scared to step out on a limb, because of fear of the ramifications if something doesn’t work. Will my boss fire me? Will the market stop paying attention to me? Will my family and friends ridicule me? We let the lizard brain, the part of our brain that makes us scared to raise our hands in class and gets nervous or scared when we hit turbulence mid-flight, fearing a crash. These feelings keep us from doing our best work — instead of seizing up and holding ourselves back, we must, as Seth suggests, “Dance with the fear”. The fear and the uncertainty will never go away, but now more than ever, it’s your turn, it’s my turn, it’s all of our turns — what are we going to do with that? It’s time to step up to the plate and to hold ourselves accountable. We’ve been letting ourselves off the hook for too long. The
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