Tag: Seth Godin

“Giving people what they want isn’t always what they want.” – Seth Godin

I want the “Save” button to work in my version of MS Word for Mac.  It’s irritating.  But getting the fix won’t change my opinion of the product one way or the other.  It just eliminates an aggravation.  What I really want is a new word processor experience but I don’t know what that is.  So I am left with comparing what I think I want to my existing experience with features and functions familiar to me.  I have limited my thinking to making the status quo incrementally better.

Napster changed the way people listen to music.  They were truly disruptive.  For good or bad things changed forever.  Yesterday, I asked a group of college students “who pays for music?”  One hand raised.  People want free music but do they really want the kind of music you can get for free?  We will find out soon enough.

Alex Osterwalder has a new book out called, “Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want “.  In it, he talks about observing how your customers interact with your product, not just giving it to them and taking credit for a new customer.  A product that gets put on the shelf is one nobody tells their friends about.

Free songs that sound like every other song and get listened to once on a streaming service will very likely not be what we call music in the future.  Is that what we want?  Really?


BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson



“Can you imagine Steve Jobs showing up for a paycheck? It’s nice to get paid. It’s essential to believe.” – Seth Godin

Sooner or later you will face a crisis of belief.  It seems to happen more often these days and it shows up everywhere.  A revered leader is dismissed over hubris and egotism.  A venerable church splits over a contemporary moral issue.  A veteran teacher struggles with a new job evaluation process.  A loyal employee is laid off due to a decision made in another city over numbers on a spreadsheet and shareholder value.

Crisis reveals hidden truth.  You learn what people really believe when their credibility is at stake and it’s surprising to learn how indifferent and selfish we tend to be.

Adjust your lifestyle to accommodate mobility and flexibility.  Save money in the good times.  When it all goes to hell, then go make your own meaning.  In fact, just go make your own meaning, period.

Read Tribes by Seth Godin

BloggingGazelle is publish daily by Shawn Carson



“Why do we value leadership, connection and grace? Because it’s scarce, and that scacity creates value.” – Seth Godin

True leadership is proven during crisis.  That’s the time when blame is assigned.  That’s the time when the faint of heart bail out.  And that’s time supporters decide what’s in their interest rather than the interest of the organization.

This is why leadership is scarce even if the requisite skills are there.  Few want to deal with the risk and the disappointment.

Our thirst for blame and our fear of risk lead us to sack the one responsible in the short term rather than doing the hard work.  Grace is an unknown virtue in the real time updates of our modern social construct.  The hard work is figuring out the complexity of the problem and discovering a better path.  It’s the failure that brings the learning.

A good leader that gets sacked can always take the learning to the next opportunity.  Those that remain are left to repeat history because the learning was rejected in favor of ego.

Read Grace by Seth Godin


BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“Urgency rarely leads to trust” – Seth Godin

It seems like entrepreneurship is sometimes like moving from one crisis to another.  Either you’re running out of money or the big deal with the key customer is falling through or perhaps the product still has to many bugs to ship.  And there’s always another week to put off starting the SBIR grant, until there’s not.

Urgency leads to desperation which is rarely attractive.  If people sense you are desperate, it’s a sign your company will not be around much longer, which only aggravates the situation.

There’s this list of things you should “always” be doing:

  • Selling – sell something as soon as possible.
  • Raising capital – don’t until you run out of money to start raising the next round.  Investors take their sweet time
  • Customer discovery – Talk to new customers every week
  • Innovation – “ideate” every day

There’s no easy answer.  There are great tools and concepts that help manage time.  Two I like are Jim Collins’ “Stop Doing List” and Steven Covey’s “First Things First” and of course the old fashioned To-Do list.  Learn to recognize the things that are urgent but not important.

There is also your team.  A great leader picks great teammates and delegates important tasks.  It allows the opportunity to focus.

The chaos never goes away though.  It is the nature of startups.  So there’s one skill you’ll have to master and be comfortable with:

Fake it till you make it!!!


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“Surprise comes from defying expectations.” – Seth Godin

Most of us have low expectations.  Perhaps it’s because of the way we are treated by the cable company or the airlines.  Perhaps it’s the lawyer commercials late at night.  The constant barrage of advertising tends to desensitize.  There is so much noise we can’t hear anything.

I’ve gotten used to standing in line to order a $12 salad and then having to buss my table even while they are sweeping the floor around my feet.  That’s why it’s really something when the server actually makes a recommendation without the standard “Well, it depends on what you like.”

The good news is people are primed for positive experiences, and they don’t even know it.  If you can solve a problem in a way people don’t expect, at the very least they will give you some of their attention.  If your product or service happens to inject a pleasant surprise, something the customer did not expect, then you will likely have a customer who will pass their excitement on to others.

My first iPod came in a brightly colored box that was a 6″ cube; a very unusual package in a world of plastic blister pack that is impossible to open.  I slipped off the sleeve and the box opened in half.  On one side read “Designed by Apple in California”.  The other half simply said “Enjoy”.  Of course I opened that side first and there….. there it was, my first iPod.  It was pure white and shiny.

I remember this some 12 years later because it was a beautiful surprise.  What is it about a product where the memory of opening the box outlasts the product itself?  And I have just passed that along to you.


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“The industrial age brought compliance and compliance brought fear and fear brought us mediocrity.” – Seth Godin

Great quote today from Seth Godin’s blog: http://sethgodin.typepad.com

We were taught from an early age that we are to behave in certain ways and believe certain things and dress in certain clothes.  This was all in preparation for a world that promised lifetime employment and being part of something bigger than oneself.

Loyalty was rewarded with promotions and annual bonuses.  Conformity was valued over creativity.  And if our children had trouble with this, there were medications available that helped them keep quiet and walk in a straight line.

If the rewards didn’t entice you to stay inside the box, then the fear of what would happen if you did was terrifying.  Loss of income and benefits, status and lifestyle were all threatened.  I remember buying my first home.  I told my supervisor and he said “That’s great.  The more in-debt you are, the more you love working for (insert your favorite corporation)”.  Thus the interstate highway to mediocrity was paved.

Now the truth is on the table.  We all have risk.  Sixteen years of dedicated employment is a negative on the income statement.  Traditional employment is going away.

HOWEVER!  We are all free now!  Free to think for ourselves.  Free to come up with great ideas and see if others would benefit from them.  Free to pursue wealth from our efforts – for ourselves.

And freedom from mediocrity.

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“People don’t buy paint. They buy painted walls.” – Seth Godin

Another way to say it is, “People don’t buy drills.  They buy holes.”

There are a lot of features available today in the common hand drill; battery operated, variable speed, reversible, etc.  Manufacturers use bright colors and interchangeable parts and price to try to differentiate their products.  But features are just one part of the value proposition.

A product is acquired to enable a customer to accomplish a goal.  The features that make that goal easier to attain are the ones that matter most.  The rest are eye candy.

Read Purple Cow by Seth Godin.

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“The economy isn’t broken. It’s different.” – Seth Godin

Times of changing cultures,  societies and economies are opportunities.  A whole new set of problems and needs that no one has thought of.  Problems that scream for solutions.

The music business has changed forever leaving musicians scrambling to figure out how to make a living.  New apps and services to assist them in this change are popping up.  Musicians now have to be entrepreneurs; learning how to be marketers and promoters and … well, business people.  The barriers to the audience are now obliterated. There are now numerous channels to distribute your music to your fans and the good thing is you can keep more of the money you make. The challenge is how to build the audience without the marketing and distribution channels of the record companies.  The cool thing is, you have the tools.

The same is true for a host of other businesses.  New challenges, new customers, new markets, new tools…

Those that try to hold on the the past will be left behind.  That’s why we need to embrace the change and relearn everything.

People still have problems and will pay for solutions.  Look around.


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“I wouldn’t change a thing, even the epic professional disasters, …” – Seth Godin

“…because every one of them is responsible for what I get to do now, and I can’t imagine a better gig.”

I just finished Seth Godin’s book, “The Icarus Deception”.  On the surface it’s about artists and the creation of art but it’s really about taking risks and how we have been indoctrinated over our lives to fear risk and in particular the opinions of other people.

Learning and perspective come through failure and failure is not usually fatal, in any sense.  Making art is about changing the status quo, and isn’t that really what entrepreneurs are all about; changing the world?

Read “The Icarus Deception” by Seth Godin


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Leadership is a choice. It’s the choice not to do nothing.” – Seth Godin

We often think of great leaders in terms of iconic figures who are captains of industry or heroes of war or quarterbacks of football teams.  They inspire their followers and the rest of us marvel as they “lead” toward a cause or goal.  They also give great speeches.

But I am coming to believe that leadership has much more humble and lonely origins.  It starts with a problem, perhaps one that affects a lot of people.  Most of us, when confronted with a problem, are content to suffer along, wishing someone would come up with a creative solution.  Maybe it’s a crappy service or a product that has defects.  Or maybe it’s a disaster or an oppressive culture.

The reason we tend to do nothing is the status quo is a powerful force that resists change.  It has everything to lose.  Change is hard.

The leader is the one who decides it’s no longer acceptable to remain in the status quo, if for no other reason than to change his or her personal circumstances.  Sometimes others take notice and join in.  That usually happens when they sense less risk.

So the leader is the one who decides there is a better way and sets about finding that way.  They take on the risk and find a solution.  Others then follow.

Oh, wait…

That’s what entrepreneurs do…

Read “Tribes” by Seth Godin


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson