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10 Life And Work Lessons From Seth Godin

Brand | 20th Jun 2012

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Video Transcript

I’ve been an avid reader of Seth Godin’s books and his blog for many year now. What I wanted to do in this video is take the time just to highlight 10 points that I feel have personally helped me develop in marketing and as an individual as well. Hopefully, by sharing the things that I’ve learned from his work, you’ll also be able to develop your own marketing as well. Please leave any extra insights that you’ve read from Seth’s work in the comments below.

I’ve scattered the different things on Seth’s head here with his iconic forehead, as he likes to use on his blog and his books. Let’s start off with the Lizard Brain, which I read about in “Linchpin,” but which has been something he has been talking about for years. Essentially, the Lizard Brain is that natural part of us that says “no,” that says, “Don’t do that. You should be afraid of failure,” and just wants you to keep a status quo nice and steady.

Seth always says you should ignore the Lizard Brain, that you should try to push yourself to do new things and to not let that niggling part of your brain dictate what you do. It’s really sound advice. Often, when I’m looking at projects or especially when Ben comes to me with a new idea and says, “Should we do this?”, my instinct is to think, no we shouldn’t do that. We should focus on this and this. Only by going with these ideas and ignoring the Lizard Brain have we been able to achieve so many great things over the last few months. That’s part of his thinking.

Next, the idea of building a tribe was something I read about in the book “Tribes.” It essentially means that you should be a leader of either a small group of individuals in the organisation or people external to the organisation. You should build people who have the same values as you and who agree with the concepts that you have. They don’t have to agree with everything you say, but if you can combine people under a shared vision and have them work towards something, it works really well.

For example, with my book, I find like-minded people and ask them to review it or tell me what they think of it. I’m building a smaller tribe out there of people who can feedback to me. The important thing is that the tribe that I built is very honest. If they hate something, they will tell me and I can grow as an individual. There’s no point having a tribe of “yes” men.

Likewise, with the tribes concept is the idea that anyone can lead, so anyone can be a leader. You don’t have to be the top person in an organisation or have manager in your job title. You can be the lowest person in the organisation, and Seth gives plenty of examples of people, who are low down, who’ve still achieved amazing things because they found other people in the organisation or outside the organisation who share their values and who they can integrate into their project and their goals. No matter where you are, what your job grade or your salary, always be thinking about how you can lead, what you can do to leave your mark on that organisation.

Personal brand also comes out of this concept. The idea that alongside working for a company, you should also try and build your personal brand as well.

Now, what we do at Koozai is every employee has a Twitter handle, which is Koozai and then their name. Now, the great thing is, when they’re within the company structure, they can tweet during their day, they can interact with people online, and they can grow the company brand because of the Koozai part of their name, but also their personal brand as well, because every employee can take that Twitter handle with them when they leave and change it to a personal one, but still keep all the followers, all the relationships that they’ve built up over time. So the personal brand and the company brand are very much interlinked for us, and it’s one of the ways we’ve been able to become so well-known in such a really short time.

Gamify. Squidoo was one of my first experiences on gamification. When it first started, I became addicted to Squidoo, I really did. I was one of the top members and I reached about level 50. I would post every day. I would leave comments. I would interact on the forums. It was mainly because they had a system of points and a system of badges that people got when they unlocked things. Also, it was monetised. So the better you did, technically the more money you could make off of it. Although I never really made more than about $50 a month. The whole reason I fell for that idea was because of the gamification that Seth and his team had built into the platform. Now, when we look at ways we can develop our company, we’re starting to look at gamification, also for us and for clients. I think it’s just something that’s growing and growing and growing. Yes. Squidoo, I’ve got a lot to thank for.

The next idea is that you should write little and you should write often. I also point that to Squidoo. The idea of Squidoo is that anybody can write anything they want anytime. Unlike sites like EzineArticles, which have kind of gone way down, Squidoo seems to still do well after various updates. Anyone can go on and write any content anytime. Really, I think Seth’s vision for the site is what’s made it so successful. There are no moderators. You write stuff and it goes live straight away. The best content floats to the top naturally, and the worst content falls. There’s no editorial committee that says, “You can’t write” or “You’ve got to write about this.” Really you can do what you want on there, and it’s a really good message.

That’s why we have everybody here writing content for the blog every month. We’ve looked at everybody. We’ve never once thought, “You can’t write” or “You can write better than him, so you should write more.” We’ve tried to keep it even across the team, and I think that’s worked well.

Be weird. The good point in Seth’s book “We Are All Weird” is that your products and services are easier to copy now than ever. So you need to be weird. You need to have a differentiator, something that makes you unique. Part of that is to do with injecting a personality into your brand. Also the personal brand that your employees have, if it’s linked back to your company brand helps as well because your personal employees are building their brand, and the corporate brand grows as a result. So although products can be copied, people can’t be copied quite so easily.

Don’t be afraid of failure. This is also from “Tribes.” One of my favourite quotes in the book is that if you try something new and it fails, it’s very, very rare that you’re going to get fired, especially if you achieve some sort of buy-in initially. I think really that’s one of the key reasons I used to stop putting ideas forward or doing them, was because I thought they would get laughed at, or if they went wrong, I would get fired. I’ve come up with some crazy ideas in the past few years that have failed, and I’m still here. I’ve also come up with some really good ideas, which I never would have done if I hadn’t applied this sort of concept. So if you’ve got a good idea, tell somebody about it. Don’t just keep it in your head and ignore it. Again, it comes back to the Lizard Brain. You should always be thinking of ways to put your ideas out there and to ignore that niggling voice in the back of your head.

Nothing is ever defect free. That’s a concept from “Linchpin.” It’s very true. I try to be a perfectionist in everything I do and sometimes to the point of never really putting it out there and showing it to anyone. Although, I still have very rigorous tests, like spell checks, and everything I do goes through approval from three people if it’s a really important thing. By doing that process, we know that we are going to make some mistakes with what we do. We may have the odd typo, even if it gets proofread many, many times. That’s just life, and you’ve got to accept that there will be some defects in what you do. Sometimes there will be some failures, but you need to fix them. If it’s a major issue, you need to make it right. As long as it’s not a critical issue that damage your brand or
your reputation, you should just ship it and monitor the response, which is real easy to do now online.

The last point is to be judged or ignored, which is taken from Seth’s blog. I really like that as a statement. The more stuff we do and the bigger we get as a brand, the more people seem to negatively comment on what we do, and the more positive people comment on what we do. Just because of a handful of negatives here, you can’t ignore all the positive stuff over here.

When we started getting negative feedback for some content we did, we didn’t ignore what we did. No. We looked at the good comments and we decided to do more of it. The people who didn’t like it, we took their feedback on board and improved what we did. The bad reaction would have been to see a couple of negatives and to think, oh, we shouldn’t do that at all because people have said negative things.

Ultimately, I think what a lot of this is about and the main message for me is really just to try things, to be aware that they may fail, and to keep improving and refining yourself, both as an individual personal brand and the things you do in your corporate life as well. If you do that, I think you’ve really mastered a lot of Seth’s messages.

I’d like to thank Seth Godin for writing some really good stuff. I’d advise anyone to check out his blog and his books as well.

For more information on what we do at Koozai and to see some of the crazy experiments we’ve done as a result of this, visit Koozai.com or any of the social profiles below. Thanks for watching, and be sure to leave your comments on Seth’s work below.

Mike Essex About the author

Mike Essex

Mike Essex specialises in digital marketing and everything search. A recent project of Mike’s was featured on BBC News, Radio 5Live and the Times here in the UK, whilst also featuring on USA Today and ABC News in the US. He will be writing throughout the month about digital marketing and much more...

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