Through his blog and his books, Seth Godin has long been one of my most important mentors; he's as outside-the-box and insightful as they come. I'd recommend Seth's blog to anyone. You often have to read a post twice before you fully understand what Seth is trying to show you, but that's because he tackles truths that aren't obvious - that take some mental digging to unearth. I'm honored that Seth took some time out to answer the following questions.
1. You majored in philosophy in college. Who's your favorite philosopher, and why?
A lot of people use this question to talk about someone who isn't a professional philosopher, but that's not really fair. So I need to say my former professor, Dan Dennett, one of the smartest and best published philosophers in history.
2. Name your favorite or most important lesson you learned from each parent.
My mom and my dad taught about leaping, about self-sufficiency and most of all, about doing work you're proud of. My mom was the first woman on the board of the Albright Knox art museum, my dad was the volunteer head of the United Way. I think of them and their work every single day.
3. Who is the person you write your books for?
I don't have a demographic in mind when I write, but I do have a psychographic. The curious, for sure, curious people who have a desire to step up and stand up and do work that matters. I fight the requests to write books filled with tactics and step by steps--the willingness for readers to figure things out is a key element for me.
4. What business book influenced you the most, and why?
The Republic of Tea, because it helped me understand the entrepreneur's journey. And Snow Crash and Kevin Kelly's Rules for the New Economy explained the Internet a generation ago. And Zig Ziglar and Tom Peters. And Brene Brown. And Pema Chodron. Too many to list, clearly.
5. All your books seem to have snappy titles and snazzy covers. and you're a book packager. I’m assuming you believe people judge books by their covers. Why do we bother with the phrase that says not to do that? Do you think appearance is undervalued today?
The phrase is, "don't judge a book by its cover" not "people don't judge books by their cover"!
I'm not a book packager any longer (book packagers don't make packages, they produce books by aligning writers and brands and publishers, etc.) but I care very much about the story that we tell in our dress, our speech, our covers, our typography, how our slides look--it's a myth to think that people don't judge you. They do, either that or they ignore you.
6. Would you agree that the last three big jumps in widely used technology were the internet, cell phone, and then smartphone? If not, what would you add? What do you think is next?
What's next is the internet of things, the ability for a $5 device to talk to other devices, to watch and listen and connect. The internet is going to get a lot smarter about what you want and where you are. The NSA, but on your side...
wow, six years ago...
7. Why do you think Jeff Bezos bought the Washington post?
a. it was a screaming bargain. Not just as a brand, but in terms of the audience that's left.
b. because it's a fabulous experiment, out loud, with high stakes. He's hooked on those sorts of projects.
I think Jeff has no desire at all to be the focus of attention, but that he cares very much about media, in all forms, and wants to experiment and learn.
8. Why don't you like sports?
I love sports. I don't like industrialization. I don't like make believe screaming by announcers who don't actually care. I don't like overdone computer graphics, stadiums named for companies that are wasting money in order to get box seats. I don't like corporate junkets to sporting events that aren't actually that interesting, and I don't like the faux scarcity that leads us to pay people 9 figures in a way that drives them to wreck their bodies along the way. And I think college sports are an incredible pyramid scheme, with unpaid, underprivileged students on the bottom, sharing in the false dream that one day they'll get rich playing a game they used to love.
But the act of playing or watching actual athletes doing something for joy is fabulous. Too bad it's harder to find than it used to be.
Did you know that the most successful people in the world never come up with an idea first? That’s because the most successful people do the best job of improving an already existing product or service.