Seth Godin: One Guy To Keep On Your Radar

Have you heard of Seth Godin?

The average subscriber to this blog might not be familiar with this name, but there is no real reason why you would be–admittedly, I was only referred to him in August, the month I returned to the U.S. from Singapore. There is, however, reason to get to know him.

If you find yourself reading a 90-page book in the next couple years, it will probably be because of him. Seth Godin is a marketing guru, as some label him, with twelve best selling books, some of my favorite including Linchpins and Tribes. But Seth wouldn’t introduce himself this way. He would probably say something along the lines of being in the business of spreading ideas. The current idea: the book publishing industry is changing.

In November, subscribers to Seth’s blog received an email stating that he would be holding his first ever Book Publishing Practicum to discuss how the industry facets are changing and how to lead the pack forward instead of succumbing with others to the resistance of change.

Last Tuesday, January 11th, the book publishing practicum took place in New York City. Held at the Helen Mills Theatre from 9am-3pm, the group of one hundred professionals ranged from agents to publishers and from first-time (may have been the only one) to best-selling authors.

The casual environment allowed for open discourse. We shared strategies on how to leverage industry changes and embrace the opportunity it opens. Seth spoke for only the first 90 minutes, allowing Q&A for the remainder of the day.

Those who do know Seth can imagine how it might be difficult to digest six hours with the leading marketer into one post without losing quality content. Here’s my attempt in three key takeaways. The lessons can be applied to any industry from a professional standpoint whether or not you ever intend to write a book. If these thoughts resonate with you, I encourage you to also check out his blog.

1) “The New Scarcity is Attention”

People have thousands of television channels to choose from, as do they have information sources and people to tweet via the internet. This abundance of information has caused attention to become scarce.

Once you do have the right to someone’s attention, care for it. Be clear on your intent and take purposeful action using permission to help lead them through an experience. These experiences involve promises. Be cautious of your promises and keep promises to those you respect.

Example: Southwest fosters and cultivates their attention through secret information and special offers. American Airlines over-promises and un-delivers.

”It’s a bold thing to do, to believe that attention is available to all of us.” -Seth

2) ”Enemy is obscurity, not piracy”

Know what you are trying to do and in your gut, where you are going. Ambiguous messages or actions that are difficult to understand will inhibit and unknowingly work against you.

Ideas are a means to a different end so make it as easy as possible to spread them. Don’t be fooled by the sense of prestige that books, speaking engagements, certifications give you. The need to be picked and validated for your idea no longer exists. You now have the capability to build your own assets.

People can find out the heart of any idea for free. Other things will come from it. Ebooks—another tool to spread an idea–are not just unprinted books. They are a new middleman between reader and writer. One person, one voice, no marginal cost.

Example: TED is not afraid of piracy.

”No one else is on the line if you’re really doing the work. It better be frightening. We admire those who stare into the abyss and keep going” -Seth

3) ”Figure out who your tribe is. Date, Engage, and Marry these people.”

Rush with deliberate speed to figure out who your tribe is. Understand what they want, care for them. They are your advocates. Report back to the group what they are doing. Do a better job to curate.

There is a difference between permission asset and a tribe. Be aware of the two and how you engage each differently. Use generosity and regularity to build a permission base. Be careful of where you charge as this will change expectations.

Once you have the attention of the tribe, you have the potential to relieve their isolation. Bring on a journey together.

Example: You can show someone how to meditate once but will they sustain the practice. Can you lead them through the process to keep them going?

”Only way to get someone to slow down is to show them something they didn’t expect, take them somewhere.” -Seth

My One Question to Seth:

“What if when listening to the tribe, they ask you for things that don’t necessarily go in the direction you want?”

His answer:

Figure out what resonates with them. Sometimes the tribe doesn’t know what they want. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to help them through the process, knowing what they will need before they do. Think of how to be in front of them when they aren’t looking for it. Where are they going to bump into it? Make a choice on your intention and purpose.

To Sum Up

Six hours later of impetuous thoughts, his advice to authors:

Ignore the New York Times Best Seller lists. Foster a slow book launch. Give them a reason to talk about it.

In efforts to spread this message, Seth is now leading The Domino Project, an idea for ten years running, with Amazon.

Questions to consider asking yourself and I have been asking myself for the past six days:

1) What value are you adding for your follower to keep them attentive? If you don’t keep them attentive, they will go somewhere else.

2) Are you trying to sell a book or change the way people think? Are you trying to get consulting or are you trying to start a movement?

3) Can you list out your tribe? Do you know what they want and the journey you are taking them on?

For another attendee’s recap, check it out here. Paul Roetzer is founder and president of PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency and PR firm.