Seth Godin, My Imaginary Mentor
Whenever I talk about Seth Godin in social channels, I usually get feedback from three kinds of people:
- People who don’t know who he is. (Understandable…though dude does have his own action figure. That alone makes him worth Googaling).
- People who are raving super fans that want to talk with me about how much they just “Love, love LOVE him!”
- People who are super haters that try to bait me into having arguments about his books, speaking fees, or tightly controlled engagement in social media.
Invariably, in all these exchanges the question arises, “What do you think of him?” — which is something I have a hard time explaining in 140 characters or less.
You see, I am a different breed of Seth Godin fan.
I don’t love Seth for what he says, but for how he behaves. And that is something I have been studying very closely in my own little “mastersclass of awesome” for many years.
From him, I have learned a number of great lessons that I’ve never been able to find a real life mentor to teach me.
Seth Godin is well known for being a prolific writer, something that takes discipline to maintain. As he mentions in his book Linchpin, sometimes you need to accept that your work is as good as it’s going to get and just ship that sucker out the door.
I try to remember this mantra every time I try something new and it flops — which happens a lot because I try new things constantly and I work with social media, which is unforgiving in its acceptance of perfection and preciousness.
Instead of letting the flops derail me, I’ve learned to just pull my bruised ego off the ground and remind myself, “At least I got it shipped.”
Don’t fix what ain’t broke.
One common beef the haters have with Seth is that they think he says the same thing over and over again in his books and blog.
Know what? People keep reading and buying what he writes…over and over again. So maybe, just maybe, he’s doing that on purpose.
What I like about the Seth formula is that it’s a formula – he knows what works, so he just focuses on working it. He’s become the go-to educator for a business school of hard knocks that is never empty of new students.
(Case in point, the enlightening moment when I heard Seth tell 600 people to think for themselves and not just write down everything they are told…a quote which they then collectively dipped their 600 heads in unison to frantically scribble down. I believe this is what is known in the publishing world as, “A prime market for the next book.”).
I expend a lot of energy trying to invent a purple cow for every one of my clients, even when most of them only asked, earned and paid for a good ole Guernsey one. Maybe if I could master this lesson of Seth’s I’d be a whole lot more successful and a lot less exhausted.
Make your own rules.
Oh my, has there been so much fussing online about Seth’s new Domino Project.
Yep. That’s right. Seth threw his clout around to make some new rules for the publishing industry. And yes, those rules will likely end up benefiting Seth most of all.
But you know what? Last I checked, Seth never signed up to be a mentor to all the writers of the world.
He’s a smart businessperson, so he did what was smart for his business. If you wish the rules were different, then maybe you should think about going out and making some rules that benefit your business, too.
A large majority of the industry celebrities I’ve worked with have been quite…um….unlikeable. It’s as if they are so laser focused on clawing their way to the top that they disregard any offers of hospitality and kindness extended to them that are not clearly emblazoned with dollar signs.
Seth Godin is among the few delightful exceptions I’ve encountered to this rule.
“But he gets paid an obscene amount of money to show up at events,” the haters like to cry. “He should be nice for that much money!”
He should be, yes. But that doesn’t mean he has to be (case in point, the endless parade of Hollywood divas and rock stars who have made a career of pocketing loads of cash for appearances where they behave like asses). And yet ,Seth chooses to be nice anyway.
Who’s your imaginary mentor?
Recently a woman tweeted that I was “the Seth Godin of social media,” which was about the nicest compliment I’ve ever received. So, I guess all that studying has made an impression.
(However, the compliment also made me flabbergasted, flustered and a wee bit uncomfortable — so clearly I’ve got a long way to go before someone’s going to make an action figure of me.)
What about you? Do you have an imaginary mentor? Do you have a real one?
Class is in session folks, and I’d love to hear your report.
I can appreciate and respect Seth. Really like some of his thoughts and enjoy his books. Love him? No.
What I do love are your stories about meeting/knowing Seth! Those crack me up! :o)
Very interesting. I would have totally put you in the “seth lover” category. So who’s your imaginary mentor, then? (If you can find time for such a thing…lordy woman, you never stop moving 🙂
I would buy an action figure of you!
I’d buy an action figure of you too, darlin 🙂
I view both yourself and Kary as my mentors. Seriously. You both took a chance on me right out of college and launched me head first into this social media world. I have learned so much about social media, what I want to do in my career, who I would like to work for/with, and why this industry is so exciting to be a part of. I love watching you both from afar and being your cheerleader, because for real, you are phenomenal women and I think the world needs to know that.
PS I’d totally buy an action figure. Duh.
Dammit Rachel. Now you’re going make me get all weepy. 🙂
Thank you. That’s a lovely thing to say. You’re pretty phenomenal too.
I’d rather have my own cheerleader than an action figure any day.
Thank you, Rachel. I echo what Jen said about the weepy. Proud to know you and see you making a place for yourself in the industry.