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Machine Generated Transcript

Seth Godin 0:06
This is marketing over coffee with Christopher Penn and John Wall.

John Wall 0:13
Good morning.

Welcome to marketing over coffee.

I’m John Wall.

Today, our guest has written over a dozen books bestsellers.

And he’s here with us today to talk to us about his latest, the practice Seth Godin.

Thanks for joining us.

Seth Godin 0:26
Well, with all the coffee you and I’ve been drinking, we are pretty caffeinated.

And you’ve definitely carved this wonderful, generous path.

And it’s always a pleasure to come back on the show.

John Wall 0:36
Thank you very much.

And this is we’re using squad cast, which I’ve been using for about a year now.

And so this is the first time I’m actually seeing you as we talk.

So this is a wonderful change.

It’s good to kind of see what’s going on the office, see where the everything gets made on your side.

Seth Godin 0:49
And for the people who are listening.

It’s worth noting that John has a neon on the air side.

I’ve always admired those but I have no need for one.

And there you are.

It’s lit up in everything.

John Wall 0:59
That’s to keep the kids out here.

What and check this out to Alexa, close studio.

There we go.

Okay, and Alexa live from New York.

Seth Godin 1:09
And Jeff Bezos, if you’re listening, you are listening.



John Wall 1:15
Now, in your acknowledgments you talked about the fact that you had conversations with Brian Koppelman on the moment, and then that affected a lot of what went into this book.

Is that where the book started, though?

Seth Godin 1:26
or How did this come around? I need a book started in 1977.

And it has been the subtext of so much of what I’ve done, which is, there’s a distinction a difference between knowing what to do, and trusting yourself enough to do it.

And having trafficked in the nonfiction how to space for a very long time.

What you discover is you tell people, you share with them the truth of how the world works, and they don’t do it.

And it’s not that there’s insufficient evidence, it’s that they’re we are telling ourselves a story of insufficiency.

We have been indoctrinated, we are trapped into believing that it belongs to someone else we are waiting to get picked.

We sabotage the work, we imagine that there’s a muse, we hold our breath, waiting for our turn.

And I just felt, as I was sitting in solitude in January, that it was a good chance for me to put down from what I’ve learned from Brian, from what I’ve learned from money in the creators workshop, what I knew about what it takes to trust yourself.

John Wall 2:36
And there’s also a big message in there about, you know, being an artist and the fact that kind of what you put out there, there’s a difference between a hack and a professional, you know, what you’re doing and why you do it.

When people start, where should they start with this.

Seth Godin 2:53
I think it’s important to take a moment to realize that 150 years ago, if you had a job in an iron mill, you were lucky.

And that if you live in Bangladesh, it’s entirely possible you’re hauling iron on the beach, away from some boat, that work, for many people still, to this day, is an oppressive, calculated industrial regime, that leaves no room for humanity.

And if you’re listening to this, you’re not in that category.

If you’re listening to this, you’re getting if you’re lucky enough to go to an office, three snacks, but you’re still getting the freedom to bring something else to work besides what’s written down for you to do that, if they’re giving you a list of everything you have to do all day, you don’t have a very good job, and they’re going to take that job away soon anyway, to someone cheaper than your computer.

For the rest of us.

We’re gonna figure out how to do this thing that I call art, even though it’s not a great name for it.

Because when I say art, people think of painting.

But there are so many things that we do that at the end of a good day, we say I had a good day, why did you have a good day? Well, because I got to bring some humanity to work.

And that humanity is really confusing, because on one hand, there is this body of work that says, humanity does not belong to us.

Humanity comes from outside of us is a lightning bolt, and you should be true to yourself.

And I dare say authentic.

I find all of this to be nonsense.

I think if you want to be a professional, you are doing it for someone else.

And if the thing you’re doing for someone else doesn’t appeal to them, and this is where the marketing part comes in, then you have failed.

And so we have this paradox chasm.

On one hand, if all you do is give the market exactly what it wants.

Then you’re basically running the World Wrestling League, right? That you’re just appealing to people’s baser instincts to make a nickel today.

I call that work a hack.

You can be proud of Being a hack, you’re getting paid to keep your promise.

But you’re a hack in the sense that you don’t take responsibility for any of your work.

You say, this is what the audience wanted.

And I gave it to them.

At the other extreme, is the person who is entitled, and who says, I’m going to make whatever I want to make, and the world better like it.

And that person, we call that person, a tortured artist, I think that person is hiding, they’re hiding, because it’s not art to you ship it.

And the purpose of shipping it is to help somebody else.

And if it’s not helping anybody else, don’t blame them, figure out how to develop the empathy for what that person was hoping for needed wished for, but didn’t know how to say.

And that is where brilliant marketing lies, brilliant marketing lies in being in between the two poles, to make something and be proud of it, but also to have made it with the empathy that the person you made it for is glad that you did.

John Wall 5:58
And so is it always just this struggle, then of you know, the artist is motivated to kind of just like you said, create what they want to create, and just throw it out there and feel maybe even that they’re owed for an audience when they’re not.

So is it always going to be a compromise for the artists, then how will that work?

Seth Godin 6:14
I don’t think it has to be a struggle.

I don’t think it has to be a compromise.

I think if you have insufficient domain knowledge, if you fail to see genre, if you don’t understand the market, or if you’re selfish and have no empathy.

Now you have a conflict.

But I don’t feel like Bob Dylan has a conflict.

I don’t feel like Patti Smith has a conflict.

I don’t feel I mean, I go down the list, Ray Charles didn’t have a conflict, because in their soul in their heart, those things are metaphors.

They had done enough homework that what they wanted and what the audience wanted were the same thing.

That’s the opportunity.

John Wall 6:57
Yeah, and doing the work that you know, doing your reading, you talk about that, as is something that needs to get done.

It seems like that’s one of the greatest challenges we face now is that it’s so easy to get information, but people just don’t take the time to dig in and really understand what’s going on.

And what’s the easiest way out of that.

Is there any other way? Or do people just have to show up and do the reading?

Seth Godin 7:18
Well, I think doing the reading is necessary, but insufficient.

I think you have to do the reading with curiosity.

And it’s the curiosity that gives us the spark to solve the artistic problem that’s in front of us.

So lots and lots of people had seen many plays, Bo and Samuel Beckett made Waiting for Godot.

Well, in that moment, he took a leap.

And he wrote a play that had never been written before.

It wasn’t an echo of the play that came out the year before it was fresh.

But he couldn’t have done that without a knowing what plays were like, and then be being curious about what happens if he breaks one of the rules about what a play is supposed to be like.

Because if you haven’t seen it, the spoiler alert is nothing happened.

And that’s not what’s supposed to happen in a play, something’s supposed to happen.

And so he said, What would happen if I made a play where nothing happened? Marcel Duchamp said, What would happen if I made a piece of art where I didn’t do anything to the thing I bought at the hardware store, break one rule, but respect the rest of genre, that but you can’t do that unless you understand the genre.

John Wall 8:33
Right? Yeah, it’s funny that path from beginner to master, you kind of have to use it learn all the rules before you figure out what you can break and where you can go.

We have to pause just for a second here, we want to thank blueshift for their support of marketing over coffee and their sponsorship of this interview.

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When you talk about the quality of the work that the artist does, you actually have three definitions of quality that you talk about.

But the third one creative magic.

Tell us about that and how that’s that changes the game.

Seth Godin 10:04
Right? And, you know, as marketers, we could talk about quality forever.

So let’s just talk about it for a couple minutes.

Because it’s super important.

It’s this word that people think they know what it means, but they don’t.

Quality could mean Deluxe, snus, a Rolls Royce, high quality an Hermes bag, right.

But it actually means meeting specification, it means reliably doing what you said you were going to do.

So a 1995.

Toyota Corolla is a better quality car than the 1995 Rolls Royce.

Because the Toyota Corolla is made to better tolerances, he keeps his promise to quality is meeting spec.

So those are two kinds of quality that we talked about law.

But the kind of quality that an artist seeks is not that they wrote To Kill a Mockingbird with no typos in it.

It’s that they wrote a book that we remember 80 years later, seven years later, that is the quality of creative magic.

And we need to be aware that all three things can coexist.

But they are not necessarily related to one another.

And in the book, I give the example of West Side Story on Broadway, which was a high quality production in two of the three respects.

And a block away was Hamilton, which was a high quality production in three of the respects.

And too often, if you work in any entity that charges money, people get hung up on the first two kinds of quality and they forget about the most important one, which is the quality of magic.

John Wall 11:38
Can you even be missing the previous two can it have so much creative magic that it still flies on its own in spite of not having quality? Of course

Seth Godin 11:45
it does.

And back to our favorite Nobel Prize winner, right, Bob Dylan, you can listen to him for free, so it’s not Deluxe.

And he sings out a tune.

And he sings differently every time so it doesn’t meet spec.

It is peculiar idiosyncratic, in and of itself, a genre that started with Woody Guthrie, that he then ran to 11.

But he doesn’t have the other two kinds of quality and proud of it.

John Wall 12:11
Now, you talk about having an authentic voice in the book, which is interesting, because you’re saying that the audience actually does not want authenticity, we see a lot of talk about transparency and authenticity.

But you’re saying that that’s actually not what people are looking for.

So what is needed besides authentic,

Seth Godin 12:27
consistent, right, like, so you and I have never spent any time together in person.

But I know that when I’m going to show up on your show, I will get a consistent version of you, I do not expect that I will show up and you will act in a completely different way.

Because you are bringing something to the table, which is feels like authenticity.

But if you fake authenticity completely and consistently, that’s good enough for every one of your customers.

Because the fact is, whenever we engage with anyone who’s marketing anything to us, we don’t want to know how their day was, we want the best version of them.

That’s what we signed up for.

We signed up the the best version of our lawyer of our surgeon of the person who’s cooking us dinner or whatever it is we just bought, please don’t tell me you’re having a bad day, I don’t care if you’re having a bad day, I want you to give me what you said, you’re going to give me and I want it to be consistent, and magic.

John Wall 13:22
Now you have a whole list.

There’s 45 ways that we sacrifice our work to our fear.

So there’s a ton of things on and this does seem to Steven pressfield is kind of famous for the resistance, and I can taste some of that in there as we go through that list.

But is this something that everybody just has to deal with? and having it listed gives, you know, it identifies the fear for them and gives them a chance to fight it?

Seth Godin 13:44
Yeah, I mean, the list is a little meta in that many of the items on the list contradict other items on the list.

Many things are on the list in the duplicative way, and some things are completely missing from the list.

There’s not 45 ways to hide, there’s 4 Million Ways to Die.

And I listed a bunch of them.

Because it turns out people don’t like it when you put your finger on their fear.

And inside the creatives workshop, this is something we see all the time.

So when I go through the lesson of hacks versus professionals, people get really offended at being called to hack, when in fact, it’s a choice.

And being a hack is fine.

And I make it really clear being a hack is fine, but they get offended because it’s putting a button on their fear.

And what I was trying to highlight is pressfield completely changed my life.

When I read the War of Art.

I sat up, it’s sitting right over there.

I sat up and I said Why wasn’t I told how is it did five years went by before I read this book, because once you see resistance, you’ll notice it over and over again.

And it afflicts me for hours every day, every single day.

I spent hours being afflicted by resistance, but once I saw it, then I could dance with it.

Instead of feeling like I was a bad person?

John Wall 15:02
And so what’s your challenge to the resistance? What resistance do you face the most? And how do you dance with it?

Seth Godin 15:10
If I measure minutes spent, it’s email, followed by Slack, I can spend four hours in email and slack to cycling around.

And at the end, I’ve quote, done my job, but created very little that only I could create.

And I need to make significant life decisions about those two things.

Because it is costing me my work.

And in a world where it is ever easier to either be a cog in the system or to outsource Whatever you need, outsource that choice, and how we deal with it with the resistance to create our own sense of being naked in front of the opportunity, which then becomes an obligation that’s challenging.

And, you know, capitalism has buried so much of that, with myth.

But this is what it comes down to is, once you have enough to eat, and some healthcare, then the question is, how will you choose to become peculiar and idiosyncratic? And the answer is, you can say No, I’d rather have a self storage unit filled with stuff.

And you can go be a hack, which is fine.

Or you can have a hobby, which is lovely.

And I’m in favor of hobbies, I have one or several.

And don’t ever try to make money from your hobby, because if you do, it’s not your hobby anymore.

Or you could seek to be the professional artists.

And that is the work that is fraught, because it requires empathy requires magic.

And it requires your commitment to a practice, as opposed to a guarantee.

John Wall 16:40
Now in working on your art, you had a phrase in there organizing a conspiracy is fuel for your art, and conspiracy, obviously, on everybody’s tongue right now is in the news and with elections coming up and things like that.

But talking about, you know, the conspiracy for your art,

Seth Godin 16:56

So there are no secret conspiracies, because human beings are too sloppy and erratic to keep a secret like that.

So if you’re chasing secret conspiracies about lizard people, that’s a form of resistance in and of itself, because you know, you will never find one.

And there’s plenty of really cool research on conspiracy theories, many of the people who have them believe in diametrically opposed conspiracy theories at the same time, where both cannot be true.

But with that said, real conspiracies are everywhere.

We have a name for that culture.

Real conspiracies are what happens when we are surrounded, by co conspirators by an audience, by promises made by industrial settings so that we can do what we do.

The book publishing industry is a conspiracy.

It’s a conspiracy with no one actually in charge in which a whole bunch of people have come together to do something that was impossible 600 years ago, right? And you need to find or organize a conspiracy in your life, that makes it more likely you will do the work you’re proud of.

Because if you were surrounded by that conspiracy, it’s way more likely to happen.

John Wall 18:05
There’s a great story in there about Robert Caro, who took years to do his book, The the power broker, can you tell us about that.

Seth Godin 18:12
So if you talk to people who love books, most of them will tell you that the power broker is the greatest act of biographical work of the 20th century exposed a really bad guy in great detail with a lot of dispassion.

But by the end, he’s demolished.

And Kara was a newspaper reporter.

And he sold the advance for this book for a few $1,000, figuring that he could finish it in six months or whatever.

And more than five years into it, he wasn’t even close to done his publisher, he, I think his editor died, he got a new publisher he was in, it was best it was it was gonna be a real problem.

His wife was losing patience.

While the New York Public Library has been in this really cool room in the New York Public Library for authors who needed to touch the books and had a lot of books, they had a secret room, you could get a key to and only 12 people got to key at a time.

And you can keep all your stuff there.

And it was a place to write.

It was a place to have access to your books without having to come back to the library every day and start over.

And somehow he gets the key.

And he walks into the room.

And he’s really nervous because he’s a fraud.

He’s an imposter.

There’s all these others, biographers and people’s reputations.

You have a key and Who’s he? He’s a failed newspaper reporter with years behind on his book.

And he’s there for a couple days.

And one of the authors whose name I cannot recall off the top of my head comes in and asks Cara the question that he had dreaded, and he said, What are you working on? And Kara says, I’m writing a biography of Robert Moses.

And then he says, And how long have you been at it? And Cairo, takes a deep breath and says five years and this guy Who had written great biographies looks him says only five years, it took me seven to write my book.

And suddenly, he was part of the conspiracy.

He was surrounded by fellow travelers, he was surrounded by people who got the joke.

And I remember that six times this has happened to me in my life, too.

It changes everything, because it makes your quest normal, because it makes your challenges acceptable.

And once you are surrounded by people who are on a similar journey, you’ll do better work than if you’re trying to just do it alone to prove every single person wrong.

John Wall 20:41
So you go into the book about at Stanford, you had started a conspiracy over there and how that worked.

But I’m interested now, you mentioned six other times are there any other of those that you’re willing to share?

Seth Godin 20:52
Right, so I tell this story, Tim Conley, it was his idea to start that conspiracy.

I remember, starting one of the first internet companies in the world, and being ridiculed by my peers, by banks, by people in my family, that it wasn’t gonna work, it wasn’t gonna make sense.

My employees at the book business, tried to dissuade me from the work I was doing.

And I remember flying out to California to going to this event, and the event itself was a total waste.

But everybody at the event was part of the conspiracy.

And in that moment, I was like, this is gonna work, I now have the resolution I need to get through the next two years, because it was never about I mean, making payroll was really hard.

But the hard part was feeling that alone.

And Fred Wilson, the the well known venture capitalists based VC in New York City, I was his first solo investment him and Jerry colonna started a firm, and the two of them invested in my company.

And again, it wasn’t the money so much as it was two smart people who did this for a living said, we we believe you, and go find those.

And they’re everywhere.

You don’t have to wait to get picked, you can organize it.

And if you organize it the way chip organize it at Stanford, it’s yours.

And it’s your conspiracy.

It’s not a secret.

It’s real.

John Wall 22:15
That’s amazing.

I didn’t know that you had worked with Fred and Jerry.

That’s just that’s kind of a different the VC thing people that follow that those guys, but so you were right at the start of that and how that ran? Yeah, that’s amazing.

Do you still work with those guys even do you talk to them about stuff?

Seth Godin 22:30
Oh, yeah.

I, after I sold the company to Yahoo, I became an honorary partner at the firm, I wouldn’t let them pay me.

And I went every Monday for a year to the partners meeting, and invented a bunch of businesses.

So I get to claim credit for things like Google Maps, even though all I did was write a memo about it.

And I talked to Fred or Jerry, every four to six weeks.

Plus Brad Feld, as well.

Brad did the due diligence on yoyodyne.

So I was 35.

Brad was 36.

And we would no one knew anything.

And like who’s this guy and he was great.

John Wall 23:04
That is fantastic.

I’ll have links in the show notes to all that stuff.

Because Yeah, Jerry colonna, Fred Wilson, Brad Feld, all VCs that you want to keep an eye on who have done a bunch of cool stuff and continue to do all kinds of neat things.

We’d also like to thank LinkedIn marketing solutions for their support of marketing over coffee.

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Let’s talk about obligation a little bit.

You talk about obligation of the community, and then, you know, who has an obligation to you? Or does anyone have an obligation to you?

Seth Godin 25:05
Right, so let’s do the second one first.

My friend Ron wrote a, a riff on this, and I repeated in the book, which is, as a marketer, as a creator, it’s really easy to get angry at the audience when they don’t appreciate what you’ve done.

Whether it’s Keith, Jared getting mad at people who are coughing during a performance to the marketer who has launched a product or campaign, and people either don’t get the joke was they don’t applaud enough, or they don’t buy enough to get angry, don’t they know how much I put into this, where’s their respect? It may be that in this school of entitlement you are entitled, but it’s not helpful to feel that way.

The way you feel is a choice.

And if you choose to feel that way, it’s not going to lead to the outcome you seek.

If you can begin by forgiving the audience, they’ll do what they’re going to do, and I can learn from it, they’re not obligated to get the joke.

Empathy will follow.

And that’s critical.

The flip side of it is you have an enormous obligation to the people who raised you, the system that helped produce you, the world that shares a planet with you, and obligation to make things better, by making better things.

And if that if knowing that you have that obligation helps you get back to work, then I’m glad I told you that, because we need you to get back to work because our culture is all we got.

The only thing that makes us different than a you know a pride of baboons is our culture, and our culture is from us.

So if you’re not happy with all the trolling, then become an anti troll.

And if you’re not happy with the way news is, then make new news.

And if you’re looking at the long overdue, focus on racial injustice in our world, well then go do things to make it go away.

And we’re not victims, and we’re not spectators.

That what it means to have access to this machine that you and I are talking on, is that you have access to more than a billion people for free anytime you want.

What will you do with it? Because we act like that’s normal.

It’s not normal.

It’s only happened the last 15 years.

Okay, now, what will we do with it? Because I don’t think it should be up to Mark Zuckerberg to decide what we do with it.


John Wall 27:36
you talked about how you went to this live event.

And that inspired you, you kind of met your tribe and what was going on.

And so tying that into today, we’ve had, you know, with everything going on with the pandemic, live events have kind of been wiped out.

You’ve been doing a lot of stuff, though, with education in a virtual only environment.

So what do you see, you know, happening with live events, and has this been a validation for everything you’ve been doing in New York educational activities,

Seth Godin 28:03
I refuse to take any happiness or validation from a worldwide pandemic.

I wish it never happened.

But we have learned a bunch of things.

First of all, more lives have been changed more deeply by the online workshops that we run into Kimbo, then almost anything I’ve done, you know, the advantage of writing a book that reaches a million people is you have a big funnel at the top.

But the number of people come out the bottom who are changed is never going to be a million, because a book is too easy to run away from.

And then the workshops were running like the marketing seminar and the alt MBA will start with 120 or 250 people.

And at the end, most of them will still be there and they will have been transformed.

You can’t do that in person.

You just can’t.

It’s too hard.

It’s too expensive to sit with a group of people for 100 days, day after day after day, how I mean, maybe Harvard gets to do that, but it costs billions of dollar.

And what we’re going to learn from this pandemic, when the vaccine comes around and people try to go quote back to normal is they will be out of the habit of going to a stupid trade show out of the habit of going to a not very good in person conference, you know, on the wall behind your lanyards from the 40 conferences you’ve been to.

And I think if you ranked the 40 from amazing them math, a lot of them would be met.

And you know, they sort of exist to maintain the conference industrial complex, and to keep the hotels full and to give keynote speakers like us a chance to make a living.

But if they’re not special, let’s not have them.

Let’s make them special again.

And a lot of people don’t want to do that.

It’s been interesting.

I’ve been doing a lot of virtual keynotes, and I know how to make a virtual keynote special.

I know how to make it interactive.

I know how to make it feel alive.

And more than half the people hiring me don’t want me to Because they’re just doing their job.

And their job is to cram a TED talk into a Zoom Room.

And like you really want to cram a TED talk into a Zoom Room.

That’s what I do.

And I Yeah, well, we can do better than that.

So I try to be subversive about it.

But industrialism is about compliance and coercion.

And we are still in this mindset of industrialism.

And the practice is sort of a call to can we get back to being human instead?

John Wall 30:28
So it’s interesting that you use those exact words, because I’ve totally seen that of the cramming the keynote into a zoom meeting.

I mean, people are so excited about these virtual events.

But it’s a whole bunch of webinars, and we had way too many webinars before this already started anyway.

So what you know, if you had a event manager that was smart enough to just say, do what you do, that’s going to be awesome.

What would you do? How could you make that a better thing?

Seth Godin 30:52
Well, we we’ve been working with zoom for five years, and they’ve added a bunch of features, because we can we have access to them.

The number one feature that is a game changer in zoom is the breakout room.

And the way you use breakout rooms, is we give people a prompt, sometimes it’s well produced, I haven’t pre recorded Other times, I just do it live.

And then the prompt, leads people into a breakout room of five people, which is a prime number, and we give them eight minutes to talk to each other in that setting.

You can’t say nothing, because there’s only five of you.

And you know, you’re gonna have to come back to the big room with some news.

And so in that moment, you are getting much closer to for other people than you have ever been at work.

Because at work, you’re just talking about the baseball game, right, you get into coffee going back to this, this is let’s get serious about this issue, because we’re gonna have to go back and report back.

And then we do it again, with a different group of five and a different group of five in a different group of five.

And two hours later, you have had face to face intimate conversations with almost everybody on your team about issues that matter.

And the amount of talking Seth Godin did is not very much, but you’ve been transformed.

Because you were pushed into proximity couldn’t happen in a hat in a Marriott couldn’t happen at a high it couldn’t happen in McCormick, it could only happen in Zoom Room and they could only happen live.

It’s that sort of transition that we are capable of.

But not if we assert that a Zoom Room is just like a meeting but without doughnuts.

John Wall 32:24
Right? So would you do it even with a huge crowd of like 200 and push them all into fives or

Seth Godin 32:29
it works better with 200, the biggest group we’ve ever done was 2400.

But in order to do that, we had to hack zoom and have multiple rooms and stuff.

It was a pain in the neck.

But zoom just increased at our request, the minimum the maximum number so now we can do it for 500 people with breakouts, I think.

But new tools are getting built really fast.

To make this even more likely, there’s someone just built an open source alternative to zoom.

And people are using it to do guided breakout.

This is the way school should work.

not pretending that we’re having classes at home because classes at home aren’t working.

But if you can figure out how to use breakout rooms and projects.

I’ve done it you can run we did a thing for free.

We did it twice called emerging leaders, where we invited graduating seniors and juniors from college whose lives were completely turned upside down because their internships and jobs who got 14 hours a day for five days, it was free.

We had people from more than 30 countries come yet to apply to get in.

And of the 101 people who were in it 99 finished 14 hours a day for five days, no certificates, no grades, no compulsion, everyone finished.

We were only with them for 30 minutes a day.

And the rest of the time they did project work.

And it was stunning.

It was just stunning to see lives changed like that.

This is totally doable right this minute.

John Wall 33:55

And so artists, so you give them some work, they go off in the side group when they come back? Do you use surveys to get the feedback from them? Or do you just grab one or two and let them provide their insights and everybody chimes in,

Seth Godin 34:08
every person had to do a project each day.

You worked with a group.

But your project was yours? So it was both How does this group helped me do well? How do I help them do well, and by 10 o’clock, the next morning, you had a hand in your project, which included one of the projects was a seven minute TED talk on any topic you want.

So if you’ve got 14 hours to make a seven minute TED talk, and you’ve got partners, you talk it over with them, you make a draft, you show it to them, you never make another draft, you show it to them back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

And then, you know, 100 people submit their seven minute TED Talks at 10am.

And we never looked at them.

Because it’s not about the great.

It’s not about coercion.

What mattered was they were showing it to each other.

Right that anybody who wanted to drop out and do less could but when people go surfing, they don’t How can I serve less? When they go skiing? They don’t say how can I ski less they went so they could serve? Well, they join this.

So they could become a better human being a different person with a different point of view, if you don’t have that enrollment, none of this works, none of it.

And so if you think about South by, you go to South by an Austin and not go to one of the talks, and say, Well, I went.

So what you don’t get any credit for going, you went because you want to do engage with people.

The problem is, is 800 people in the room you engage with nobody.

And so what we’re trying to do is lead to transformation, to be able to say to people, like everything else, this is a practice, this is a project, you can make it dramatically better if you are willing to walk away from convention and gain enrollment from people who want to go where you’re going.

John Wall 35:53
And then how would you roll that out to our existing educational system, you know, to elementary schools and colleges or Yeah, would it have to be he completely kind of built from scratch the ground up?

Seth Godin 36:03
No, if so, if I was a fifth grade teacher, well, how old is kid across the street? She’s Yes, she’s in fourth grade, I was a fourth grade teacher, I say, here’s the deal.

We’re going to be on camera together from nine to 10.

And then you’re going to be in a breakout room from 10 to 11.

This is today’s project.

And then from 11 to 12.

Come back and teach what you did to the other kid.

That’s how I would teach fractions.

I wouldn’t teach fractions by drilling and practicing people, I’d say, come back and explain to all the other kids What does one quarter mean? You go find things in your house prepared to put on a show teach us what one quarter means.

If you’re not good at video, fine, type it up, put it in the chat, right? You’re nine years old, you can do all of those things.

But we don’t build school that way.

School is about being a victim and being compliant.

Not about being a teacher, a coach, a leader, presenter and someone who’s wrong on the way to being right.

But in fact, that’s what life is when you’re done with school.

So why is it that what school it and you may have heard me rant about the Acton Academy.

They’ve based their stuff, I’m proud to say on some of my work.

But now there’s more than 100 act in academies.

It’s a school.

The typical acting Academy has 50 to 70 kids in it, and two adults.

And the first rule is, and one of the adults is in charge of sanitation is the custodian.

One of the rules is, if you ask an adult a question, they’re not allowed to answer you.

So we’ve got eighth graders teaching fifth graders, we’ve got every single kid doing whatever projects they want, reporting back to the parents and to the adult, what they’re doing.

And they just do that for 12 years.

And the question is, if someone has done that work for 12 years, is that who you want to hire? But do you want to hire someone who somehow managed to bluff their way into Bucknell?

John Wall 37:53
Yeah, I can.

It does it match is closer to what today’s world is, you know, just having to figure things out as you go figure out everything on the fly.

Yeah, that’s amazing.

We’ll have to include a link to that so people can find out more about that.

So is that all domestic us? Are they all over the place?

Seth Godin 38:07
I think they’re growing really fast.

And they’re in several countries.

I’m not endorsing them, because I’ve never been AC t o n.

I love public school.

I don’t think public school should go away.

But I think public school should push really hard to copy as much as they can.

My cousin is the principal of one of the most well regarded high schools in New York City.

And at the lab school, she does a very similar stuff, she has to deal with the fact that every single kid is welcome.

She has to deal with the fact that the building is overstressed.

But it’s the same mindset.

If you’re enrolled, we can teach you a lot.

But teaching someone to ride a bike against their wishes is almost impossible.

John Wall 38:46
That’s good news.

That’s it’s overlapping of the pandemic, both my kids are finally riding bikes.

It was a challenge to make that happen.

And yeah, they had a reason to finally

Seth Godin 38:55
for anyone who’s listening, you want to learn to ride a bike, take the pedals off,

John Wall 38:59
do the thing.


Seth Godin 39:01
if you take the pedals off the bike, most kids who are capable of riding a bike will learn how to ride a bike in a very short period of time.

John Wall 39:09
That’s good.

Now before we wrap up and get into a close with the practice, is there anything else that we didn’t get a chance to talk about that you think is something we should spend some time on?

Seth Godin 39:19
Well, why make it into a book, because, you know, a blog post in mind gets read by 10 times as many people as read one of my best selling books.

Books are a magical container.

Because it’s all there in one place.

It’s resilient.

But best of all, you can hand it to someone else.

It’s one thing to forward a link to somebody but you can’t hand them the thing that comes with the obligation of this is short, this is fast, this is fresh, and I need you to read this all in one place.

And I’ve only you know people talk about 20 books as a lot but I I could have written 60 books in the time it took me to write 20.

Because I write like I talk and I’ve practiced my talking a lot.

To pick a book is a big deal for me.

I’ve written, you know, the beginning of 100 other books no one will ever read.

I picked this book because it’s the book we need right now.

We need a lot of books right now.

We need books about optimism, about justice, about fairness.

But this one, I think, helps with all of those things.

Because it helps us realize, if we want to be on the hook, we can be on the hook and being on the hook is the best place to be.

John Wall 40:32
That’s great.

Now, we always talk about music, audio gear, and we get into kind of what’s going on over there.

One thing I had to ask you, though, in the book you talk about, you know, where communities go, and communities tend to have these places where they go, and you have the blue note in there.

Have you actually been to the blue? No, have you seen show?

Seth Godin 40:47
Yeah, many times, many, many times?

John Wall 40:50
I have not been down there.

So is that with any advice for somebody going to the blue? No, for the first time?

Seth Godin 40:54
Well, so New York City is losing a lot of jazz clubs.

But they still have them.

And Tokyo has a bunch.

But there aren’t that many places you can go to find this particular expression of art being shared, the tables are too tight.

They’re half the chairs are pointed in a direction that makes no sense whatsoever.

It’s slightly uncomfortable to sit there.

And that’s all part of the deal.

It’s all part of the deal.

Because you know that Charlie Parker was standing eight feet away.

And you know that Bill Frisell who’s by any measure one of the Great’s of all time, is going to be 10 feet from you in five minutes.

And like, unfortunately, it’s got to be a hobby, because how much could he possibly get paid for this, right? And you’re in this place where everyone else, except for maybe the occasional spouse gets the joke.

And, you know, I’m good friends with Patricia Barber, and Sevilla MAE.

And I’m lucky enough to know Christian McBride.

These are geniuses in our midst.

And, you know, it’s funny, I wrote a blog post about seeing Christian play at the blue note.

And there was this woman saying if I’m remembering it correctly, and she was projecting so much non involvement, she was so unenrolled in being there, that I really wish whoever she was with had said, what he says with that, and I wrote it on Christian’s behalf, because here’s this guy.

Truly a craftsperson who has paid every Jew has won Grammy Awards.

He’s playing in this little club, and this woman is doing everything she can to aim a forcefield at him.

And he wrote to me, and he said, I didn’t even know she was there.

And I learned so much from that, because it’s one thing to say, as a marketer, I’m making this for the audience.

But the important thing is to know who your audience is.

And Christians definition is, if you don’t get the joke, you’re not in my audience.

You might be sitting in the room, but you’re not in my audience, and learning to forgive the people who don’t get the joke.

so important.

That is one of the biggest takeaways from me in thinking about this for the last several years before I wrote it.

Forgive the people who don’t get the joke.

It’s not their fault.

might not even be your fault.

Just maybe, that it’s not for them.

Not right now.

John Wall 43:32
Now, you’ve always been a science fiction fan.

There’s been a lot of stuff going on.

I was going to ask you at Picard or discovery.

Have you been following any of the latest stuff on on that?

Seth Godin 43:40
Okay, let’s be clear.

There’s only one Star Trek and it’s not on TV right now.

John Wall 43:45
The original series ADLs and nothing.

Seth Godin 43:47

That’s, I mean, like, okay, the movie was pretty good.

It was in the spirit of the original one, the new movie, but I have no time for all this other extension stuff.

It’s fiction.

Star Trek to S is real.

It happened.

It’s real.

You know, I cried when Leonard Nimoy died.

Don’t talk to me about Picard.

I’m sorry,

John Wall 44:09
about the rest of that.

Well, another one I wanted to touch was comic books.

Have you seen the flash on CW at all? Are you intending?

Seth Godin 44:15
Well see, I don’t have a TV until recently, we got a TV for the pandemic, and I only watch it under duress.

So I am completely out of the loop on all good things on TV.

My friend, Brian makes billions.

So I watched billions.

Once a year, I watch all the episodes at once.

I find that linear storytelling in the television medium.

Every once in a while something great happens.

But a lot of the time, it’s just Well, we’re that hour ago.

And if that works great.

But for me, I’d rather listen to Christian McBride.

John Wall 44:48
Yeah, it can be a massive time suck the book the practice.

I’ll have a link to it in the show notes.

People can check that out.

Seth, thanks for joining us today.

Seth Godin 44:55
You’re meant it’s so much fun to talk to you.

Thank you for doing this.

And I hope one day I See you at a conference just so that I know that I went to a conference one day.

John Wall 45:03
Yeah, Canada, maybe the blue note would be bad.


Seth Godin 45:05
the blue note.

It’s a date.

I’ll see you there.

That sounds good.

John Wall 45:09
That’ll do it for this week.

Thanks for listening and enjoy the coffee.

Seth Godin 45:12
Thanks, John.

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