Interesting Business Authors Part 1: Seth Godin
Customers who visit the North York Central Library may overlook the business department (4th floor!) as a place to find thought-provoking, fascinating authors. I may have done the same thing until I started working here six months ago. Now, I've discovered there are many compelling business writers represented on our shelves. I would like to introduce some of them in a series of periodic blog posts.
My first great author is Seth Godin, whom I discovered after thumbing through his latest book The Icarus Deception. After reading just a few pages I knew I had encountered an intriguing writer. This book challenges the traditional thinking about what makes people successful, especially in the post-industrial age.
In a nutshell, The Icarus Deception shows us how we can thrive in an economy that rewards workers who challenge the status quo, rather than those who are compliant. Godin says his book is for anyone who has been "seduced into being invisible" by staying "huddled together waiting for instructions". He theorizes that while the industrial economy cherished submission, we are now in a connected economy that prizes achievement--which is accomplished by standing out, not by fitting in.
In our new society, he argues, we must create ideas that inspire, catch on, and connect people. This new economy encourages us to be artists in our professions. Art, he says, is an attitude and way of working that requires us to reject the things that made us feel safe (e.g. the corner office after a life spent loyally working for the company) in favour of taking risks that will build bridges between people and generate value.
Seth Godin is certainly a prolific author: he has written 17 books and writes one of the world's most successful daily blogs, called Seth's Blog. His book Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck, is a collection of his blogs, or "provocations" as he calls them, written over six years. It's the type of thing you can read a bit at a time because it takes time to absorb his ideas.
Godin is not only a writer, he is also a successful businessman. He has launched several ventures, including an online company called Yoyodyne, which he is reported to have sold in 1998 for $30-million.
In the world of marketing, Godin is considered a guru. On the topic of marketing in the new era, he offers this advice: "Marketing isn't expensive anymore…it takes more guts than money." He says in the "old days" one needed to work for an established company with millions of dollars to spend on splashy campaigns. Now, he advises people to start their own "gigs". Even if you're 12 years old, he says, start a store on e-bay and you'll learn everything you need to know about digital marketing.
Godin, who holds an MBA from Stanford University, also writes a great deal about how education needs to change to adapt to the new economy. Throwing more money at the education system is not his answer. He writes about the Harlem Village Academy which, with less funding and a less privileged student body, attracts the most talented teachers by cultivating a culture of ownership, freedom and accountability which is then passionately transferred to the students.
It would take me oodles of space to introduce Godin's many theories. You're better off reading his books, which will give you a different viewpoint about leadership, change, marketing and how ideas spread.
Check out some of the many other books by Seth Godin: