5 classic Seth Godin posts I think about all the time
Seth Godin has written a blog post every single day for over 7000 days. You don't be that consistent without getting VERY GOOD at writing. Here are five of his best:
Post 1 - “Snooze is a trap”
There’s a button on my email program that allows me to postpone an incoming email to a future day.
Sort of like a snooze button.
The snooze button is a trap. It’s a trap because not only do you have to decide later, but you just expended time and energy to deciding to decide later.
Do it once, move on.
‘Decide once’ is a magical productivity commitment.
There is a certain class of decision that benefits from time. Decisions where more information is in fact useful.
But most of the time, we’re busy making decisions that should be made now or not at all. You end up with a ton of decision debt, a pile of unanswered, undecided, unexplored options. And you’re likely to simply walk away.
If you open an email, you’ve already made the commitment to respond and move on. Not to push it down the road.
In or out, yes or no, on to the next thing.
Snooze is not for you.
Post 2 - “Creating a useful spec”
If you want someone to help, you’ll do better with a spec. It lists just four things:
What is the problem to be solved?
How are we going to solve it?
How can we test that the thing we built matches what we set out to build?
How will we know if it’s working?
While there are only four steps, the specificity of each step is essential. The spec for a 787 jet, for example, leaves very little room for argument about what’s being created. On the other hand, “I’ll know it when I see it,” isn’t at all helpful.
If you’re not spending at least 5% of your project budget on the spec, you might be doing it wrong.
Post 3 - “Go find a ladder”
While it might be fun (or appear expedient, or brave, or heroic) to try to scale a cliff with no tools, it turns out that ladders are a more effective way to level up.
When it’s time to drive a nail, a hammer is a lot more useful than a rock. Even if you have to invest in obtaining one.
Often, we spend most of our time throwing ourselves at the wall instead of investing the time to find a useful ladder instead.
Perhaps, instead of restating our audacious goals, we can spend more time finding useful tools–insights, skills, trust, attention, access–instead. It’s worth the search.
Post 4 - “The minimizing coin”
If your habit is to clear your throat, apologize a few times, minimize the quality of the work you’re about to share and in general, apologize for the assertions you’re about to make…
you probably realize that this is not an effective way to give a talk, lead a class or have a strategic discussion.
Consider carrying a coin in your pocket, one that’s large, or in a foreign currency.
Every time you feel like you need to minimize your contribution, simply stop and turn the coin over. You can count that as your obligation fulfilled.
And then you can get back to work.
[This isn’t simply an analogy. It actually works.]
Post 5 - “When your project isn’t making money”
When your project isn’t making money It might be:
That you’re losing money on every sale.
(Which means that each and every item you sell, every service you perform, costs you money. Bigger won’t make you better…)
Because you’re not charging enough.
(Low price is the last refuge of leadership that doesn’t have the guts to make a great product and tell a true story to the right people)
Because you’re selling to the wrong people…Choose your customers, choose your future.
(Some customers want to pay more than others, and some customers want to get more—of something—than others)
Because it costs you too much to make what you sell.
(Your factory processes may be unsophisticated)
Are you aware of work in process, cash flow and cycle times? Are you doing custom work in a batch business, or vice versa?
Your supply chain may be undeveloped.
What are you outsourcing? Is the time and money you spend on every step rewarded by the customer you serve?
Your people might not be motivated or trained to be efficient.
(Because people do what they want, and they respond to training and respect and opportunity)
Your debt service might be too high
(And that’s a hard one to fix)
Your competition might do the work in a totally different way, one that you can’t compete with unless you change significantly.
(Systems thinking matters)
It might be that your costs of acquiring a new customer are more than that customer is worth
(Because your marketing message is incorrect)
Because there’s a mismatch between your story and the worldview of those you seek to serve.
Because the people you seek to serve don’t think they need you.
Because it costs too much to tell these people you exist.
Because the people you seek to serve don’t trust you.
Because you’re lying when you make promises.
Because you’re overspending or underspending on marketing.
(often, it’s the underspenders that are in real trouble)
Because you’re focusing on the wrong channels to tell your story.
(just because social media is fun to talk about doesn’t mean it works)
Because you don’t have a connection ratchet, a business that leads to a network effect, where success begets more success because the more people use you, the more they want their friends and colleagues to use you as well.
Because your product isn’t sufficiently developed.
Because the people you seek to serve don’t talk about you, thus, you’re not remarkable.
Or the people you seek to serve don’t like to talk about anyone, and your efforts to be remarkable are wasted.
Because your product doesn’t earn traction with your customers, they wouldn’t miss you if you were gone–the substitutes are easy.
Because even though you’re trying hard, you’re being selfish, focusing on your needs instead of having empathy for those you seek to serve.
It might be that your scale is wrong.
You may have created an organization that’s profitable at a much bigger (or smaller size) but the mismatch between your overhead (all that rent, all those people, all of those services you pay for) and your total sales is way off.
It’s smarter than ever to be very small–but occasionally, there are significant rewards for being the efficient giant.
It’s rare that being in the middle is the Goldilocks happy medium you were hoping for.
That’s it, that might be all of it.
Either your marginal costs are too high compared to your price, or the fixed price of marketing is too high, or your overhead is too high (meaning your sales are too low for the size of your organization).
Within those three areas, there are many sub-riffs:
It might be that you’re too early to the market.
There are early adopters, certainly, but maybe not enough, or not willing to pay your price…
Being too early also means that your costs are higher and your forward motion is slower.
And it might be that you’re too late.
Which means that the people who were interested, interesting and willing to pay extra already have their needs met, and all you’re left with is bottom-fishing, bargain-hunting late adopters.
It might be that you’re slow moving when those you seek to serve want speedWhat you make isn’t usually as important as how it makes your customers feel.
You might not be focused enough on a specific segment of the marketplace, a place where you can cross the chasm and reach the customers who are waiting for a tested and proven option.
It’s possible you say ‘yes’ when you should frequently be saying ‘no’.
You may have a staffing problem, with senior people doing their job instead of working on the mission of solving interesting problems and scaling up their tactics.
It’s likely that you’re being reactive, doing what the market tells you instead of bending the market in the direction you want it to go
(But, it’s almost as likely that you’re spending too much time and energy bending the market in a way it’s not eager to bend, and if you spent more time fitting into the slot that’s being offered, you could generate the traction you’re looking for.)
A lot of this is called “marketing” but too often, when faced with problems like these, we end up spending time shouting, hyping and cutting promotional corners instead of doing the hard work of understanding what we make, how we make it and who we make it for.
I know this is a long list.
But the good news is that once you find what’s broken, you can fix it.
(All content in this article by Seth Godin. You should check out his blog!)
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