Jan. 6, 2023

Listener Favorites: Seth Godin | The Emotional Journey of Shipping Creative Work

Listener Favorites: Seth Godin | The Emotional Journey of Shipping Creative Work

Seth Godin tackles the emotional journey of shipping creative work. He shares his incredible insight that will help you navigate this journey from wherever you are to wherever you need to be.

We are joined by Seth Godin, prolific author, entrepreneur and former business executive, for yet another fascinating conversation. This time, Godin tackles the emotional journey of shipping creative work. He shares his incredible insight that will help you navigate this journey from wherever you are to wherever you need to be.


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Srini: All right, Seth. welcome to the unmistakable creative
Seth Godin: Such a treat. Great to talk to you again.
Srini: Yeah. It's my pleasure to have you here. So you have a new book, The Practice, which I absolutely love and resonated with so much. It was so relevant to my audience and it had a lot of overlap with the kind of way that I've worked. But before we actually get into the book, I want to start by asking you a question that I know the answer to partially, because you shared some of it with me the
Srini: and that was what did your parents do for work? And how did that end up shaping and influencing the choices you've made throughout your life and career?
Seth Godin:I think of my parents every day, I miss them both. I think we have to be careful before we honor them by talking about them, to realize it's a trap to imagine that a childhood is destiny.
Seth Godin: And, I won the birthday lottery. I am a child of privilege, super lucky in so many ways, but plenty of other people who have done art who have made a contribution who have shown up and led. Didn't have what I had. And there are other people who had more than I had who haven't done anything. I was raised to expect that it was normal to dive deep into the community.
Seth Godin: My dad was the volunteer head of the United Way in Buffalo. My mom was the first woman on the board of the art museum. Buffalo is a small town and they were both pillars in that community. We regularly had 20 or 30 people over for dinner in our little kitchen. People I'd never met and would never meet again because connection was really important.
Seth Godin: And it was just understood that if you could contribute and lead, you should. And, my dad's day job was, working for a company that made very complicated engineering devices. And then the CEO of the company hurt his back in a skiing accident. And they started a line of skis and ski bindings.
Seth Godin: And at the age of 14 and a half, I became their head of marketing, basically writing ads and making decisions and stuff, which was surreal and quite fun. Yeah.
Srini: It's funny because we live in a world now where those kinds of opportunities are available to so many people and so many kids it's so different.
Srini: When you talked about privilege, I couldn't help but think of the interview that David Letterman did on a show with Barack Obama, where they talked about luck and, they both looked at each other and they said, look, there are plenty of people who've worked as hard
David Letterman looked at him and said, I have been nothing but lucky. and that always stayed with me because I think that we are not quick to acknowledge privilege. Like I look at even the life I lead, I'm the son of a college professor that is a very privileged life. Whether I recognize it or not, my parents weren't rich, but I grew up.
Srini: Yeah. Upper middle-class fairly educated. And there's no question as to whether I was going to go to college or any of those things. And I don't think that we acknowledged that. And I think that when that's one thing I've noticed more and more over the last couple of years as I've consumed content, do you want to look at the people that are in our peer groups?
Srini: I think that's one of those things that is often overlooked.
Seth Godin: I think we at what store are we going to tell ourselves? Letterman's story of luck is fuel for him to not waste the shot. I was doing some work with acumen in rural Kenya and, the typical small holder farmer. There has half an acre and, I got to be friends with this woman named Lucy.
Seth Godin: And Lucy, has a taxi company, a tree farm and, productive field that earns her $3,000 a year, which is enough money to put all her kids to private school and her next door neighbor with the same land has none of those things because compared to you and I, Lucy has no privilege whatsoever, but the story she tells herself, the story she told me is.
Seth Godin: If I can find an opportunity and explore it at low risk, I'm going to do it because I'll find something that will help for me and my kids. And she showed me that under her bed, she keeps a cigar box with 1 million Kenyan shillings in it. She's a millionaire. And when did she become a millionaire? I think she became a millionaire the day
Seth Godin: She decided to try a different kind of seed because everyone else around her was like, we have to use the seed we've always used. And she was like, it's only going to cost me $4 to find out. I'm going to give it a try. Yeah.
Srini: Okay. What's interesting is I asked people on Facebook, I said, Hey, I'm interviewing Seth. What questions do you have for him? And when I looked at the questions, what struck me most was how often people wanted a very specific answer, a very specific tactic. And I know your books having read them. You never give us a map. You always give us a compass, which is my favorite thing about your books, because you force us to go figure out things for ourselves.
Srini: And I think that ties perfectly into something that you say early in the book, you said the industrial system that brainwashed us demands that we focus on outcomes to prove that we followed the recipe. And yet knowing this, knowing that. In any recipe, any formula, there's one variable that will throw it off.
Srini: And that's you. And yet people still want to know, like the kinds of questions I got were like, what does Seth think about TikTok for marketing? I was like, that's a terrible question for Seth in my mind. No offense to the person who asked it, because I can tell you, he's going to think that question is nonsense.
Srini: But what I want to know more importantly is why people still want the map, even though they know that they're the variable that throws it off.
Seth Godin: We were brainwashed into wanting a map. Why did that happen? It happened because mapmakers need customers. And so from the time that we're in first grade, it becomes very clear that the way to move forward is to comply.
Srini: Ah, it's funny because I think about that often. if that was largely the message of my first book was, don't follow what everybody says you should do for very much that reason, because there's no way you went best will become a pale limitation of what other people do yet.
They depend on that. The thing that what I love about outcomes, particularly when it comes to you, I know that one of the things that you say over and over when it comes to the projects that you work on before you even start is this might not work. And you seem to have developed this very remarkable capacity to manage your emotions and not let, Loss aversion, or sunk costs make you pull out of a project and it's taken me a long time to get to that.
So you, we pulled the plug on an event and you do, we were trying to plan a conference and I could see the writing on the wall. I was like people aren't buying tickets and thank God that turned out to be a blessing this guys, because, given the situation that we're in,
How does somebody develop that? Because I think that even in my own book launches, I wrote a book called an audience of one, which has a lot of overlap with the idea of the process. And yet over and over in interviews, like I found myself saying, yeah, I'm sure the message is lovely, penguin probably be much happier if this was reaching an audience of millions. And I'm like, I wrote the book and my sister called me and she said, you want, you don't even believe what you wrote.
Seth Godin: Yeah. we're all frauds, but that, My business. If it's a business would be 20 times bigger. If I did what the audience wants me to do
if I don't run the all-time any more, but the alt MBA, which I founded, if we just gave people things they could take notes on and techniques and paraded gurus around.
If we had all sorts of masterclasses and entertaining, all of the things the audience wants. Dramatically boost how you succeed, how many books you sell. So it's not a surprise to me that many of my peers give the audience what the audience thinks it wants. And, I am fortunate in that. I failed enough times early in my career that I had the luxury of not needing a home run right now.
And I don't want to have a short-term Homeland. I've written 7,500 blog posts and not one of them has won the internet. Not one has been the most popular of the day. That's on purpose because I'm looking for a practice and a journey, not a quick hit. So to answer your question. The subtitle of my book is shipped creative work and the least sexy of the three words is work.
But what does it mean to do our jobs? Because you and I don't dig ditches for a living and we don't have to, sanitize a public bathroom for a living. We are super fortunate in that we get to do something that many people would do as a hobby. And the difference between the way you and I do it.
And someone who was doing it as a hobby, does it. Is, we have to show up even when we don't feel like it. And we have to show up in a way that is consistent, not authentic. And for me, a big part of being in the media for 35 years and of exploring around the edges is the discipline of. Not freaking out when it's not working the discipline of ignoring sunk costs inside.
Seth Godin: I'm a wreck, but this is what, this is the work. And you can either sign up for the work or not.
Srini: Yeah. so I want to come back to the authenticity piece, cause that really struck me when I was reading the book. But yeah. There's one thing I wanted to ask you about, you said, if we believe that it's not our turn, that we're not talented enough, we'll do whatever we can to make this story come true.
Srini: We'll sit back and wait to be chosen. Instead. Now I had a really interesting experience and that I ended up, self-publishing a book that got me picked by penguin and I got to write two books. And for the last two years, I've sent proposal after proposal for the book I want to write to Lisa only to have her tell me.
Srini: No, this is not ready. I can't sell it. And I, that was such an odd paradox to me because the very thing that got me the opportunity was that I wasn't waiting to be picked. And yet here I am again. And I finally decided I'm like, what am I doing? Why am I waiting for them to say yes, when the very thing that opened that door was the fact that I decided that I wasn't going to wait anymore.
Srini: And I thought to myself, that's so strange that I understood it. I got picked. And yet I'm back waiting to be picked again. So why in the world would something like that happen?
Seth Godin: there are two parts to what just happened. The first part is you not getting picked when you obviously have something to say.
Seth Godin: And the second part is you listening to that and not picking yourself. After I, I was a Ted speaker. And a best-selling author. I went through a period where I was very frustrated because they keep telling you, wait till you get to the other side. And then when you get to the other side, all these things open up for you.
Seth Godin: But in fact, the things I wanted to do the most didn't, and it doesn't matter that you got picked randomly accidentally intentionally once it's no promise that now the world sees. The world sees things the way they are. And so part of what it means to be a consistent and persistent creator is to not play covers, to not be, a parody or a sequel to yourself, but to reinvent.
Seth Godin: And so if we look at the career of Herman's Hermits or Paul Revere and the Raiders and Conquistador and compare them with Neil Young, it's because Neil Young has regularly and repeatedly chosen to do something that seemed non-commercial, chosen to do something that made it hard to pick him. And he did it anyway. That Joni Mitchell, who just came out with an archive collection, intentionally destroyed her standing with most of her fan base. So she could get back to making the music she wanted to make instead of being a parody or a cover of Joni Mitchell. And the world is telling you something really clearly, which is don't keep sending proposals. You've got your fans. You've got the thing you want to say, ship the work.
Srini: No, that's what I realized. I came to Australia and one day it was like, I've been writing this book and I was talking to my roommates. I said, you know what? I'm done. I am done waiting for Penguin to say yes, because that's what happens when you read too many Robert Greene books, you become the person who starts to think in power dynamics. I'm like, wait a minute. What am I going to get from you? I'm going to get a temporary windfall. And you're going to make me design the cover your way. You're going to make me write the book you want me to write? I was like, I don't need to do that anymore.
Seth Godin: Correct. Yeah. As soon as you start acting that way, the chances of you getting picked way up.
Seth Godin: Yeah.
Srini: let's talk specifically about education. You brought up the alt MBA. I think the other thing I admire about the way that you approach your work is you are willing to look at large systemic structures and basically break them or challenge them. the MBA has always been the default.
Srini: I know, cause my cousin Rama, who actually you met in person, because I remember she sent me a picture, said she went through the alt MBA. She got promoted to her job. She's at her job. And now she's literally like one step away from being. CEO of a company. I told her, I was like, you want to be CEO of company, go start your own.
Srini: I know you want to, and you're smart enough, but, what's interesting to me, you could, and the reason I brought this up is this was something that, one of the questions that I actually thought was worth asking was a woman in my audience asked about education, particularly in the wake of what is happening now, high school seniors didn't get to experience graduations, prom, sort of the rites of passage that any American kid goes through in high school.
Srini: Not that I went to the prom, but that's a whole other story. One, how are we going to change this? Cause, I asked you this last time when you had just really stopped stealing dreams, but now you have this backdrop of COVID, just structural challenges all across society from climate to race relations, to everything we can possibly imagine.
Srini: So when you think about education now, what do you think the future of it is going to look like?
Seth Godin: The terminology means a lot here. So let's do that first. Yeah. Education and learning aren't the same. They pretended they were for a very long time and they're not. And there are a lot of people who are suffering right now from many of the things you just described.
Seth Godin: And then it got worse because the kids are home and they're not learning anything, it got worse because there's so much uncertainty about lost years of development and learning. And it got worse because we don't have a plan for how to use this magic tool that we've all built over the last 20 years to create more learning.
Seth Godin: And once kids started staying home, it ripped the curtain down from the wizard of Oz and made it clear to parents. There was no learning happening at school. There was just education and education is preparing for a test, doing what you're told, learning to comply. That school was invented as you and I have previously discussed to train factory workers to get ready to go do a job.
Seth Godin: And there are no good jobs like that anymore. What we need are people, like your cousin. So we need people like your cousin who are going to figure out what the question is, nevermind look up the answer. And that takes learning. You learn to ride a bike. You learn to walk, you learn to juggle. You learn to do everything in your life.
Seth Godin: That's important. Education is reserved for this very thin slice certification and credentialing. And I'm just like, we have this best, this moment here where we can take a deep breath and say, you know what? Access to information is now free. Anywhere in the world. If you have a phone, you have access, what are we going to do with it?
Seth Godin: And what we should not do with it is build a new regime appliance. And what we should do instead is self-directed, student-based learning.
Srini: speaking of compliance. So I think that was literally, we were probably my favorite line in the book was when you said the system established credentials to maintain the consistency of our industrial output.
Srini: But over time, they've expanded to create a roadblock, a way to slow down those who would seek to make change. And of course, you wrote specifically, I don't want a doctor, my sister being a doctor, who is not credentialed funny enough, by the way, you might not know this, but the first two years of med school are freely available on iTunes.
Srini: My sister told me half her classmates used to actually. Listen to lectures on iTunes instead of coming to class. and I think the reason that struck me so much was I'm a published author who was failing reading in the fourth grade. that has always been strange, but I think that people in their minds still think this, and another story related to this, I had a friend when we were undergrads at Berkeley, at Berkeley, when you apply to college, you don't just get in, you have to apply to your major when you get there, because it's such a big school.
Srini: And of course there are all these rules about the GPA that you need to have. And all of that, he. Completely ignored the rules. He went to the business school, he took all the classes in a week before graduation. He walked into the Dean's office and he said, my parents are coming. I've taken all the classes.
Srini: Are you going to let me graduate or not.
Srini: And she had no choice. And what always struck me about that story was we thought that these rules were actually real, but they were all made up. And so I wonder what it is that would make my friend do something like that. And somebody be like, at that time, I never dared question those rules.
Srini: I thought, okay, this is the system. These are rules I have to play by. And I always loved that story because it taught me the importance of looking at systems and saying, okay, wait a minute. This is not real. It's malleable. I can break this if I want
Seth Godin: David Graber wrote a book about your, about bureaucrats and he in many ways celebrated them that they can lead to a senior society. The mistake your friend made was having a single point of failure in his plan. That one bureaucrat who cares more about structure than the person in front of him could have ruined four years of his life.
Seth Godin: The best way to challenge the system is to not address a plan that has a single point of failure. You need to be able to come at it in multiple ways. So the MBA has had 5000 people graduate. That's more than Stanford business school. And we told a million people about it. So 5000 out of a million said yes,
Seth Godin: If you can have the privilege to talk to a million people, you'll find 5000. Not one person could have stopped it. I just needed some people to say yes
Srini: Yeah, okay. So that's actually really a great point because I think that, you talked a lot about, the smallest viable audience and this is marketing and yet over and over, I see people obsessing about, reaching more people, growing my following, getting a bigger audience, And, I think the line, I remember I, and I'm paraphrasing it, but you said, resisting the temptation to reach an audience so large that you eventually reach people who hate your work, which is inevitable. I've realized if you have any book and it's funny, cause we'll talk about criticism in a second, but that's inevitable yet people feel this endless need for approval and validation from people.
Srini: They don't even know
Seth Godin: How do they let go of that? Because the people they know, they figure are lying to them.
Srini: Yeah.
Seth Godin: Yeah. We had someone drop out of the marketing seminar, almost nobody drops out and this person dropped out and they said, I've taken 15 of the lessons. And you keep talking about the smallest viable audience and doing work that people care about.
Seth Godin: But I want to just know how to get the word out. I'm like, so we did what we said we were going to do very precisely, but you want something else here? Congratulations. You can have a refund because this idea of getting the word out. Is fairly recent and very misguided. You could not get the word out in a small Swiss village in 1870 because the a hundred people in the village were all the people you were ever going to have as customers.
Seth Godin: Anyway, when you opened your little bakery, that's who it was for. And newspapers and then television made it so that there was this other thing that every once in a while could gain traction, which is everyone drives a Ford. Everybody wants this thing and you, we celebrate those folks, But it's a lie.
Seth Godin: And if we look at any home run, modern success of the last 10 or 15 years with the exception of Google, it's not about the network effect, They have succeeded with a very tiny audience. So a company like Tesla, which, number one best selling luxury car in California to a rounding error, no one in the United States has a Tesla.
Seth Godin: It's less than 1%, right? Fewer than one out of every 300 people has a Tesla yet it becomes the most valuable car company built in the last 50 years because that's enough. And it's enough if you're trying to make an impact yeah. With your podcast or whatever it is, as you seek to do to have a thousand, 10,000, maybe 50,000 people who care about you, it's enough.
Seth Godin: So tell me again, why you want more people. You want more people so that you can get off the hook, because if there's a long list of people, you don't have to worry about anybody, but if it's a small Swiss village, You care way more about serving the
Srini: Yeah. I love that because I remember WBZ did a podcast on the making of Oprah.
Srini: I don't know if you remember this, but one of the things the producers said was that there will never be another Oprah because the media landscape simply doesn't allow for it because it's what you say about, 500 to 500,000 channels. I said, if you've got such a fragmented media landscape, inevitably, what you're going to have.
Srini: Is the demand for attention goes up. And the supply of it is, also skewed like there's economics of supply and demand when it comes to attention. And people don't think about that. And I said, like you're better off having the attention and loyalty of, a small group of people who care about everything you do, as opposed to a large group of people who are lukewarm and yet.
Srini: People, I think for some reason, maybe because of ego, whatever it is, they're like, Oh, I want to have a million followers on Instagram. And I had a friend who told me, he said there was a girl on Instagram who had been, trying to start a fashion brand. She had a million followers and somebody said, we'll invest if you can sell 30 t-shirts and she couldn't move 30 t-shirts
Seth Godin: yeah.
Seth Godin: Yeah. And I'm not surprised at all about that. And the media is fueling this and the media is suffering from it at the same time, the same things going on in the Valley. When people go to raise money, which is, I raised $10 million. My company is better than your company. Cause you only raised a hundred thousand dollars.
Seth Godin: no, your business is not raising money. Your business is serving your customers and deciding who your partners are going to be. It's not the most important thing. The most important thing is would your customers miss you if you were gone?
Srini: Yeah, let's talk about, imposter syndrome. This is something that comes up over and over.
Srini: Like we did a survey of our audience recently to find out what their biggest obstacles were and often the obstacles and the dream had nothing to do with youth with each other, which was always shocking to me that somebody said, Oh, I want to write a book. The obstacle is COVID. I was like, you don't actually need a virus to be dealt with, to write a book.
Srini: You just need to pick up a pen and start. And so that really struck me, but imposter syndrome. So let's talk about those two things. One is this imagined obstacle that we treat as if it's real, but you say when we embrace imposter syndrome, instead of working to make it disappear, we choose the productive way forward.
Srini: The imposter is proof that we're innovating, leading and creating, and yet people hate the idea that they're faking it. I started writing about the sisters. I said, you know what? I have no idea what I'm doing. I've been making it up all as I've gone along, not credentialed. Like I said, almost failed reading in fourth grade, but I had Indian parents who don't believe their kids have learning disabilities, just lousy teachers.
Srini: so they didn't buy it. and I didn't know the first thing about starting a podcast I've had friends with, can you tell me how to grow? I was like, I don't know. I just started it. I really couldn't tell you anything. no, that's one of the reasons I won't teach a course on podcasting. I was like, I'll teach a co course on how to interview, but I will not teach a course on how to market and grow a podcast because I can't tell you how I did it.
Srini: I had a lot of advantages that I can't replicate for somebody else. Like a ten-year headstart.
Seth Godin: Yeah.
Seth Godin: So the late Zig Ziglar, who was my friend and teacher coined this phrase, the obligating question. What he said is if you're a sales person, objections are your friend. When someone says I won't do this because of blank, you've just learned a lot
Seth Godin: . They've told you a truth. If you answer two or three objections and the person still doesn't say yes, something else is going on, they're not telling you the truth. And the way you answer the
obligating question is with a different question. When someone says, Oh yeah, this car is really nice.
Seth Godin: but I needed to be read right. If you say to them, if it came in red, are you ready to buy it today? You will now get the real truth. Oh no. I can't. Because blank and two or three to drill down, you're going to get to the real truth. So I really want to publish a book, but COVID okay. So if COVID was cured, how long after that, would your book come out?
Seth Godin: and now we're going to get to the truth and the truth is. I'm afraid that almost every single objection. If we go far enough up the ladder, I'm afraid. I'm afraid that if I buy an expensive car, karma will come back to haunt me. I'm afraid that my wife will be really upset with me.
Seth Godin: I'm afraid that I'll feel stupid after I buy this car. I'm afraid that I'll lose my job. I'm afraid. I'm afraid. I'm afraid of all the way up to then I'm going to die. That's the fear. For good evolutionary reasons why deep, we should call it out. I'm afraid to write a book. Okay. Why? Because I'm a fraud because I'm not sure it's going to work because I've never done this before.
Seth Godin: And if I put myself on the hook, particularly for a small audience and say, I'm going to write a book for the ages and it doesn't win a Pulitzer and it isn't a best seller. They'll know I'm a fraud right now. I'm the only one who knows. I'm a fraud. I'm afraid. And so in the face of that, most people who do what you and I do, reassure people and say, don't worry, it's all going to be okay as persist.
Seth Godin: And that doesn't make the feeling go away. My answer is good thing. You feel like a fraud because you are one. You feel like a fraud because you've never written this book before. I've never been on this podcast talking this way to you before I'm making it up as I go along. What else could we do?
Seth Godin: And so if you can do anything innovative, creative, important, generous for the first time, your fraud acting as if hoping for the best and acknowledging it is like a runner acknowledging that he or she is going to get tired. Yup. You're going to get tired. That's what the marathon is for. Figuring out where to put the tired and creative work is about figuring out where to put the fear.
Srini: So I think that makes a perfect segue to talking about criticism. I, your quotes on criticism of bins, the ones that have really informed how I deal with it, to the point where I don't read emails that are obnoxious anymore. so you say most criticism, most criticism shared in the internet age is useless or worse, harmful.
Srini: It's useless because it often personalizes the criticism to be about the creator enough to work. And it's useless because most critics are unskilled and generous and ungenerous. And I remember very distinctly, I can only quote one review from him. Any of my books to you by heart. And it's from the book that has the most five star reviews.
Srini: It was a self-published book that became a wall street journal, best seller. And it's from the woman who said, I hope this guy is a better surfer than he is a writer. And I'll never forget that, but I couldn't tell you any other review. and. What I wonder, like why in the world would anybody intentionally seek out criticism?
Srini: And then one other story on top of that, I just, in the middle of reading a biography about George Lucas and when he screened star Wars for the first time he had Steven Spielberg and Brian de Palma over and Brian de Palma was ruthless and just tore it to shreds. And then he offered to help him rewrite it.
Srini: So one, because I think this is something that I've realized is that creatives are really sensitive when it comes to feedback on their work. I remember even a woman in our community. I was like, you have to learn to take feedback that is sometimes difficult. Cause you know, you and I worked with, Robin Dellaveau and I remember when Robin came to me, she said, I'm going to be tough.
Srini: And I remember the first month. It took me a month to stop taking her feedback personally and realize that, wait a minute, she is doing the job that I hired to do. And Robin doesn't sugarcoat feedback and she doesn't come, Oh man, when it's good, she just says, good. And this is, she's very straightened, correct.
Srini: And to the point, and yet my book would never have been as good as it became without her. Like I wrote a much better book because I was willing to do that yet. I noticed so many people are too sensitive to be able to handle that.
Seth Godin: So you've nested a whole bunch of things together that are really important.
The first one is most of the feedback you get is from an amateur who is mostly telling you it wasn't for them. They're not willing to own it with that simplicity. So instead they criticize your surfing skills. But basically what they're saying is this wasn't for me. Okay. Thanks for letting me know.
Sorry. I wasted your time. You're a vegetarian, I made short ribs. Sorry. Thanks for letting me know. You don't have to criticize me or the short ribs. You just have to say, I'm a vegetarian. We're done here. Then people who do give feedback and criticism, few of them are professional. Robin is one
Robin and I worked side by side for 10 years and it takes a lot of practice to be a professional at giving feedback. If you meet one of those people, You should treasure every single thing they say about your work and you should ignore everything they say about you, because that would be a mistake for them to say anything about you. But about this work on this page, we use this word instead of that word, but what happened if you use this word instead, that's a gift and you don't have to take the gift, but, it will make you better.
Srini: Yeah. Yeah. it's funny because I think most people are so resistant to receiving that sort of criticism, from other people. So one of the other things you said in particular here, that it really struck me is that our narrative informs our choices, our commitments, and most of all, our ability to make a difference.
Srini: The culture is the frame we use to interpret the world around us. What I wonder is what narratives limit people and how do they change them? Because I see this over and over like people. perfect story is I don't have enough people in my audience. That's one narrative. We can use that as a perfect example, because we were just talking about that.
Srini: and that can become an excuse, not to do anything.
Seth Godin: Yeah. But what's behind that narrative because if I said, if your audience was twice as big, then what would happen? That the narrative I think is much deeper than that. And the narrative comes back to fear. It could be the divas narrative of how dare they don't.
Seth Godin: They know who I am, or it could be the, or that, which is never going to amount to anything. They're both basically the same thing, which is, I don't see myself succeeding at this. And that narrative can take 4,000 forms, including not enough. People are listening to my podcast. Okay. But what could you do to become a value, not to manipulate the marketplace so that more people listen to your podcast, but simply to create something that the people who do listen to it will eagerly tell their friends about.
Seth Godin: Because one of the other things I say in the book is you're probably not as big as you think you are yet. You're probably not nailing it as hard as you think you do, but you can add the word yet. And as soon as you had the word yet, that's super optimistic. Cause it means you can be better tomorrow.
Srini: I think I learned that lesson the hard way, right?
At the very beginning of this, cause this was 10 years ago when we started and I remember it very distinctly thinking to myself, Oh, we're going to interview all these well-known people. They're going to share interviews with their big audiences in every interview go viral two months later. It's this is not true.
The people who made our audience grow or our listeners, which is why we have a policy of just because you're famous. It doesn't mean we're going to say yes. I've turned down very well known people that you and I both know. And I'm sure I've made them very upset because everybody says yes to them.
And I've said no, because I look for stories that I find interesting more than anything else, which I think this makes a perfect segue to, Talent and skill. You say many people have talent, but only a few care enough to show up fully and earn their skills. Skill is rare than talent skills. Earn skill is available to anyone who cares enough and I can't help.
But think of Robert Green's book mastery. When you say that, 10 years, 10,000 hours, the time that it takes to develop the skill required to mastery and whether or not people want to do that. Now, why is it that we have this sort of talent myth that perpetuates
Seth Godin: what a great way to be off the hook?
Other people have talent, you don't right. I wanna, the 10,000 hour rule, can we just start with the one hour rule? Because in one hour, could you get better at something? If you ca You've just taught yourself a huge lesson. And the thing about narratives is the way we change them is by changing what we do, not the other way around.
Don't wait for your narrative to change, and then you'll do the work when you do the work, your narrative changes. And so go spend one hour to get significantly better at the smallest thing you can imagine. And then you will realize two hours will get you even better at something else and down the path you go.
And so I haven't listened to your ten-year-old podcast. I don't know when the last time you did, but I'm guessing you're way better. Got it now. And you're really good at it now, because every time you listened, you learned and you got better at it for the next time. And yeah. What are optimistic way to view the world?
On the other hand, talent is insulting. If you say to a skilled person you're really talented at interviewing. the answer is no, not, I wasn't born, able to interview anybody. I worked for this. And so can you.
Srini: Yeah. So in the interest of time, I had one question that came in from the start. Unfortunately, I don't think we're in real Alaska, cause I know you've got a hard stop.
Srini: Okay. he said that he wanted to know this was from Dave Delaney. He said, ask him to share his best canoe story from Algonquin park, which I have no idea what that means, but
Seth Godin: everything, That I do when I'm doing my best work, reminds me of where I learned to teach up North of Toronto in Algonquin park, Canada. Canoes are 16 foot long wooden boats that, were made by the Chestnut canoe company made out of Cedar covered in canvas and to take an 11 year old kid and put them in a boat that big by themselves and teach them how to have complete control over everything that boat does changes a kid's life.
It's not about canoeing. It is about breathing and posture and possibility and enthusiasm and enrollment because you can't force someone, you can't educate someone to do this scary thing. They can enroll and choose to learn this thing. And I guess the lesson that occurred to me just recently is this, when you get in the boat and you pull the paddle backwards, you see those little whirlpools in the water.
Seth Godin: And I w I was there as recently as, the summer before last 42nd summer. where's the water go? When you pull the paddle, where's the water go? And they're like, it comes all the way to the shore. Yeah, no, that is impossible. The water would weigh more than a million pounds that you just pushed.
In fact, when you paddle a canoe, the water doesn't move. The water is staying still and you are prying against the water and the canoe is moving and understanding that you are the bridge between this still thing that you do not have enough leverage to change. And this other thing that you're capable of moving forward.
Is a game changer because we are surrounded by this culture. And none of us with all the leavers, we have contains the whole culture. We can't get the culture to be the generous, resilient, fair thing. We'd like it to be in one day, but we can lean against it and move our canoe and we can move it in the direction.
: We want to move it if we're enrolled, if we believe, if we try. And so it took me 42 summers to figure that out. But. That's my riff. Yeah.
Srini: Great. I want to finish with my final question, which is how we finish all our interviews, which I think will be a perfect way to also bring us full circle with the question of authenticity.
What do you think it is that makes somebody or something unmistakable? Because your take on authenticity was one of the most counterintuitive that I'd ever seen.
Seth Godin: Some people are unmistakable without realizing that they set out to do They're super Letterman. Lucky. And professionals on mistaken bill on purpose, and they have dealt with their fear danced with the fact that it's probably not going to work and done it anyway, because it's the most generous way they can make a difference in the world.
I don't know how to get lucky. I just know how to be a professional. And I think your insight, that single word unmistakable, brilliant, because it's a choice. And if people make the choice, they can make things better.
Srini: Amazing. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to join us and sharing your wisdom and your insights with us. as always, of course, I'm sure unless they've been on the moon for the last 10 days, like they probably all know where the book is because it's showing up everywhere, but just in case, where can people find out about your book, your work, everything else that you're up to.
Seth Godin:
You can get a A free sample at Seth's dot blog slash the practice. The B Corp that's now independent of me is called the aKimbo. You can find it at it, akimbo.com and you can find 7,500 of my blog posts by typing Seth into duck go, or your favorite search engine.