This is the second post in the Seth Godin meetup series. You can find the first post here. Stay tuned and sign up for my free newsletter so you don’t miss the next post in the series (hint: it’s about designing a website that converts, telling a story that sells, and building a brand that people remember).
If you’ve been following the blog, you know I attended a Seth Godin event last week.
Seth is the marketing and writing genius behind Poke the Box, Linchpin, Purple Cow, and over a dozen other best sellers.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of 21 insights, lessons, thoughts, and riffs from the first day of the event.
The main ideas are Seth’s, but I’ve taken liberty to expand and explain to make the content actionable. Enjoy!
1. On shipping
Make being on time and shipping on time a discipline. Never be late – never ship late. Set a date and commit to it. Once you’ve committed to the date rather than quality, the quality of your product will go up.
2. On finding an audience
Once you realize you’re a teacher, it’s not hard to find students.
3. On Freelancing versus Entrepreneurship
Freelancers get paid when they work (hours for dollars), entrepreneurs get paid when they sleep.
Here’s the thing: when you’re freelancing, the cheapest possible person to hire is YOU. This is dangerous. It means you’ll keep resorting to hiring yourself. And if you keep hiring yourself, there’s no one to focus on the vision or growth of the company.
So if you’re going to focus on being a freelancer, then hire someone to do the entrepreneurial aspect of your work (to manage resources and focus on growing and expanding the business) or get over your fear of doing it yourself.
4. On making stuff
People don’t know what they want, so don’t ask them. Build, ship, refine, repeat.
5. On selling to an audience
Your job isn’t to persuade or change peoples minds; your job is to amplify the people who already get the joke. The people that understand and appreciate your message – those are the people you should aim to please and delight, not the stranger who doesn’t get what you’re saying.
6. On being critiqued
Reviews don’t matter (good or bad). Comments don’t matter. If you worry about reviews or comments, you’re letting the lizard brain hold you back.
7. On Sales
Sales are a side effect of giving. If you give consistently and for a long time, when it’s time to offer something for sale (seminar, conference, book, product, etc.), people will be ready and willing to buy it.
Instead of trying to make a sales call (which immediately puts up a wall and makes the conversation antagonistic), take people to lunch.
8. On writing
If you’re going to write something, make sure it’s worth reading. Instead of worrying about the masses, worry about the small group of people who want to hear from you. The masses won’t read your book anyway – they’ve already read 50 Shades of Grey, their one book for the year.
Write your book only if you can say to yourself with certainty: this is going to blow the minds of 10 people. Now write out loud for these people.
9. On top 100 lists
Everyone wants to be on the Forbes 100 (everyone in that niche, who reads that publication); everyone wants to be on the Inc. 500 list (again, everyone in that market).
By creating a top 50, top 100, top whatever list, you make people who AREN’T on the list want to be on the list; you make people who aren’t number 1 try to be number 1 next year; and you make number 1 try to stay number 1.
Creating a list is a self-feeding marketing tactic. Use it if you can.
10. On ideas
You can’t protect an idea. If you’re worried about someone stealing your idea, stop worrying. It’s a complete waste – you can’t keep them from finding out eventually, so why worry?
Ideas aren’t scarce. What’s scarce is doing the difficult work to bring the idea to life (because someone will quickly take your place)
11. On relationships
Deep (meaningful, personal and few) is better than wide (shallow and many)
12. On writing and feeling like a fraud
It’s natural to feel like a fraud. It’s natural to be scared of what people might think of you. Instead of stressing out over this, ask yourself this question:
If people knew your story (fully exposed) would they still buy your book?
13. On choosing your direction
What do you want? Do you want more customers, more readers, more clients, more revenue per share, more revenue per customer, more buzz about your product, more growth….?
Decide what you want so you know where to go.
14. On doing hard work
When you’re more afraid of letting people down than doing the work, you’ll do the work.
15. On being an expert
Do you think Martha Stewart comes up with the apple pie recipe she makes on tv? She doesn’t worry about that; she simply curates. Her NAME is what makes money – people want the product because she uses the product. If she had someone else present the material, show it off, run the show, people wouldn’t want it.
We want to hear it from Martha, not Martha’s team.
If you want to be an expert (in this style, form or fashion), then you can’t build a team to tell people about products that they want YOU to tell them about.
16. On insiders versus outsiders
Whatever you’re building: you can’t have insiders if you don’t have outsiders. Don’t be afraid to make people angry or upset at what you produce. It’s important that those people exist – it means they are the outsiders and you can focus on delighting the insiders.
17. On sales and stories
Don’t end the conversation when someone says no to your sale. Instead, tell them a personal story. Tell them how you felt the same way, but then you found out a new piece of information that made you change your mind (I didn’t want to buy this new car, but then I took it for a test drive and found the comfort of the seats and the handling remarkable). Or explain how others felt the same way, but that was BEFORE they learned this new piece of information (ex: after they went for a test drive they changed their minds).
18. On writing blogs versus books
Writing a novel is a long, lonely journey with no immediate pay off. It’s only payoff, if ever, is after a long, long time. The feedback from your effort takes a while; you have to push for a long time to get any sort of response.
Blogs, on the other hand, have a short reaction time and almost immediate feedback (push, get response).
Regardless of the feedback time, don’t let “the lizard brain” neuter your storytelling (if the story you have to tell might offend people, don’t change it).
19. On interacting with people
People don’t want to hear what you do, they want to know what you’re passionate about, what you struggle with, and they want to be told a story.
20. On results
What results do you want (from your business, product, book, etc.)? The focus of what you measure will be your results (if you focus on revenue per share, you’ll increase revenue per share). Your results are the consequence of where you focus.
21. On becoming a stereotype
What is your super power?
Be remarkable. Be memorable. Be something and do something that many people will hate and that others can’t live without. The more you push to the edge, the more remarkable you become.
By becoming more stereotypical, you become the person to go to for that topic/niche/market.
Don’t water down your message.
Hope you enjoyed these nuggets of wisdom. If you did, I only ask 2 things:
1) Share this post with someone else (spread the love!)
2) Post a comment below and let us know how you’re using these insights to improve your business, brand, or blog (or whatever you’re working on!).
p.s. if you don’t want to miss the next post in this series, sign up for my free newsletter.
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