And then you will die (and other Seth-isms)

Seth Godin Action FigureLast Thursday I had the unique opportunity to spend a day with Seth Godin. Now poke fun and call me a fan-boy (see picture for Exhibit A – my autographed Godin action figure) but it was an incredible day. We discussed taking action, deciding when to quit, the acceptance (and need) for failure, and being remarkable. What made the session so great was the intimate audience where just about everyone who wanted to was able to ask a question or two of Seth. I just wanted to post some of my notes from the day…

“Discounting is the last refuge of the marketer when there’s nothing left to do.” I think we’d all agree discounting is a slippery slope that can be habit forming for your customers and devaluing for your product. Seth also makes the important distinction that “Free is different than charging a penny… sampling brings permission to talk to them”.

“Find products for customers and NOT customers for products.” I don’t think anyone would disagree. I just like the way he phrases it.

On ROI – In my world we spend a lot of time talking about ROI. Both in terms of what we spend our marketing dollars on and also in terms of the ROI our solutions deliver for a clients. Seth’s response to the question of ROI – “That’s not the real question being asked. ROI is just an excuse to say no”. Bottom line, we as markters need to be better story tellers, not ROI givers. Don’t marginalize what you do down to an ROI number that can be poked and prodded.

Start a tribe. Ship something every day just to connect with other people who care.” He uses the word “ship” but he’s talking about creating something at the risk of failure or imperfection.

“It’s a mistake to present in a conference room where they’re trained to say no”. Couldn’t agree more. Change the context of the conversation, change their mindset and maybe you’ve got a shot.

“Get laughed at every single day. You can’t be a genius and not fail. So go be a failure”. In the US – The Self Storage market is about $6B. We just don’t like to give up on things. We talked extensively about failure and knowing when to quit. He also provides a great discussion of it in his book “The Dip”, which I highly recommend. Bottom line – we need to learn when to quit on things so we can move on to something that won’t keep us going in circles. If it’s not going to be remarkable, why put any more effort towards it?

“The devil doesn’t need an advocate, he’s doing just fine on his own.” His emphasis here was sometimes we just have to do it. Don’t make it perfect, because then you’ll never do it. The devil’s advocate is the tiny part of your brain sending off waves of fear and self-doubt.

Finally – FEAR THE DEER. More people are killed by deer than by sharks, but we have this visceral fear of Sharks. “Unless the worse case scenario ends with ‘and then I die'” you should tell that little voice in the back of your head to shut up.


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  1. #1 by Darren Poke on September 21, 2010 - 7:29 am

    I’m a big Seth fan, so I’m jealous.

    I love the fear the deer line at the end, so true.

  2. #2 by Kris Kaneta on September 21, 2010 - 8:32 am

    Darren – thanks for stopping by. It was a great day. If he makes a tour down under, I definitely recommend paying him a visit. Very engaging, candid and entertaining guy. Most importantly he was very thoughtful and strategic in his responses to people’s questions.

  3. #3 by Noah Fleming on September 21, 2010 - 8:47 am

    Fear The Dear! I forgot about that.

    Thanks for sharing your notes. I’m really enjoying reading other people’s take on the day.

    Sounds like you got a lot out of it. I sure did.


  4. #4 by Melissa Otterstrom on September 21, 2010 - 9:02 am

    You’re so lucky! The line on ROI caught my attention….you know that’s the world I live in! Anyway, it makes sense….”Don’t marginalize what you do down to an ROI number that can be poked and prodded.” Can’t tell you how many times the success of campaigns we execute is measured solely on $….and that number is really never big enough. Shouldn’t the “qualitative” things we uncover be just as valuable? Nice post, Kris!

    • #5 by Kris Kaneta on September 21, 2010 - 11:03 am

      The ROI piece was the one that stood out most to me too. How do we change the conversation? And at some point, the ROI should be a factor. At least in my mind. I’m still chewing on that one.

  5. #6 by Drew Rose on September 21, 2010 - 10:50 am

    Great collection of Seth-isms!

    Here were two of my favorites bits from the morning:

    “You’ll be fired if you don’t fail at least once.”

    “Try to put yourself out of business”

    …and a Seth-ism: “If it doesn’t spread, it’s not worth spreading.”

    • #7 by Kris Kaneta on September 21, 2010 - 10:59 am

      Drew – Yes! I forgot about putting yourself out of business. What a provocative concept. Thanks for sharing your thoughts from the day.

  6. #8 by fartheroutnearerto on October 20, 2010 - 9:46 am

    “Fear the Deer”. Love that. How often do we find ourselves getting treed by a Chihuahua? I also love the point about connecting with a tribe on a regular basis because almost everything we do in everything, including moving product, is relationship-based. As a recovering sales rep, I can tell you a couple hundred examples of clients who stayed with the rep instead of the company when the rep or the company made a change and left the rep hanging in the wind. It was the relationship that was the bond, not the name of the company that the rep was working through. Yeah, pricing and quality product matter, but everybody’s got an on-par competitor that wants that account, too. Tribe tips the scale. Even if all you’re doing is passing on good jokes (they do need to be good) once a week, or asking about somebody’s kid by name, or reminding them that you’re praying for them (gotta be the right fit for that); it seems to me that your doing maintenance on the thread that your product actually travels over. Tribe matters a lot, it seems to me. I just hadn’t thought about it in those terms.

    BTW – I don’t know Drew, but I really appreciate his Seth-ism about if it doesn’t spread, it’s not worth spreading. Unfortunately, rumors and innuendo spread on their own, too. Very true, though. Much to ponder today. Thanks!

    • #9 by Kris Kaneta on October 20, 2010 - 11:03 am

      Haha! Treed by a Chihuahua. Hadn’t heard that one before. Very good analogy.

  7. #10 by fartheroutnearerto on October 20, 2010 - 11:47 am

    Oddly enough, it’s an axiom that comes out of the special operations community. I have no original thought.

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