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Seth Godin is one of the best entrepreneurs of our generation. What made him successful is his unique understanding of our zeitgeist: what makes us tick, what inspires us, and eventually, what makes us click. He has helped the marketing arms of businesses such as Microsoft and Volvo.
The most important aspect of his career, however, are his books. During his long prolific career as a writer, he has inspired individuals to make drastic, positive changes in their professional lives.
Seth Godin was born on July 10, 1960 in New York. Little is known about his childhood, but he received a degree in Computer Science and Philosophy in 1979 from Tufts University. He took up a Master’s degree in Business Administration in Stanford.
He worked for Spinnaker Software, a pioneer in the educational software market. He stayed in the company for 3 years. Afterwards, he decided to start his own company called Seth Godin Productions, a book packaging company that started in his apartment in New York.
Yoyodyne and Initial Success
In 1995, Godin let go of Seth Godin Productions to start Yoyodyne, the company that redefined direct marketing for businesses all over the world. He used games and other fun online activities to help connect consumers to businesses. He grew the business to $30 million, and then sold it to Yahoo! In 1998.
His career as a writer began around this time. He published his first book, Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers in 1999. Godin introduced a novel idea: asking for the consumer’s permission before pitching products or services.
He saw the Internet as a sturdy bridge that connects businesses to people’s personal needs, wants, and preferences. The book reflected a deep insight into the modern consumer’s psyche. This book established Godin’s place in the field of marketing.
Godin’s goal was to connect, and to do this, he knew that businesses had to do away with interrupting and scaring away potential customers.
Godin is one of the forefathers of modern marketing. His book, Unleashing the Ideavirus, published in 2000, established this. In this book, he discussed the value of launching “viral” campaigns that has the potential for “infection”. It was the birth of viral marketing as we know it today. In it, he stressed the importance of good, novel ideas that could be executed through technology. He offered the book for free.
His strongest suit is a unique view on technology and consumer psychology. But the vehicle for his success was his talent and passion for translating ideas into tangible courses of action.
In 2003, Godin published Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable. He digs deeper into the idea of good concepts, and teaches readers to find what makes them remarkable. His main message? Don’t be afraid to be outrageous. Never settle for “just OK”.
This will be Godin’s work: understanding the undercurrents of success and pinning it down to a process. He published All Marketers are Liars in 2005, to explore the idea of selling as truthful storytelling. He says that success in marketing lies in finding an authentic truth that your target consumer should relate to.
Godin’s Legacy: Turning Ideas into Action
Godin launched Squidoo in 2006, a platform for individuals to create highly customizable pages that will appeal to their audience. The platform gave people an incentive: a chance to eventually monetize their pages through affiliate marketing. HubPages eventually acquired Squidoo in 2014.
Seth Godin’s legacy is innovation through understanding. He understood what people wanted and needed; and created platforms to address these needs. He harnessed the potential and power of the Internet to help businesses connect to their consumers in a personalized way. To Godin, the key to success is to find out what makes you unique, and to frame it in a way that your target audience relates to your narrative.
His books can be condensed into one main idea: effective marketing is simple. It is revolutionary because a lot of companies have sacrificed it in the name of profit. It’s this: treating consumers like individuals. He introduced the idea of giving the consumer a choice, instead of bombarding them with messages and images. The goal is quality, and not quantity—giving your audience a chance to seek you out by giving them high quality content that is worth their time and click.
This has redefined marketing by continuously innovating to give every consumer their time’s worth.
Another thing he is known for? Hard work. He never stops producing high-quality content. So far, he has published 17 books, most of which are bestsellers and award winners. He continues to share insights in his personal blog page and his podcast, CreativeMornings.
Here are the best Seth Godin quotes on being exceptional:
Seth Godin Quotes
“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.” – Seth Godin
“Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work.” – Seth Godin
“Learning is not done to you, it is something you choose to do.” – Seth Godin
“Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.” – Seth Godin
“A woodpecker can tap twenty times on a thousand trees and get nowhere, but stay busy. Or he can tap twenty-thousand times on one tree and get dinner.” – Seth Godin
“If failure is not an option, then neither is success.” – Seth Godin
“The challenge with being an initiator of projects is that you are never, ever done.” – Seth Godin
“The people who are the best in the world specialize at getting really good at the questions they don’t know.”- Seth Godin
“The problem with competition is that it takes away the requirement to set your own path, to invent your own method, to find a new way.” – Seth Godin
“Leaders lead when they take positions, when they connect with their tribes, and when they help the tribe connect to itself.” – Seth Godin
“Persistent people are able to visualize the idea of light at the end of the tunnel when others can’t see it.” – Seth Godin
“Passion isn’t project-specific. It’s people-specific.” – Seth Godin
“The librarian is the interface between reams of data and the untrained but motivated user.” – Seth Godin
“The desire to fail on the way to reaching a bigger goal is the untold secret of success.” – Seth Godin
“The job isn’t to catch up to the status quo; the job is to invent the status quo.” – Seth Godin
“Skill and attitude are essential. Authority is not. In fact, authority can get in the way.” – Seth Godin
“Marketing is the name we use to describe the promise a company makes, the story it tells, and the authentic way it delivers on that promise.” – Seth Godin
“Mediocre is merely a failed attempt to be really good.” – Seth Godin
“Selling is about a transference of emotion, not a presentation of facts.” – Seth Godin
“Our culture works hard to prevent change.” – Seth Godin
“Art is the unique work of a human being, work that touches another.” – Seth Godin
“Strategy is empty without change, empty without passion, and empty without people willing to confront the void.” – Seth Godin
“Anyone who says failure is not an option has also ruled out innovation.” – Seth Godin
“All marketers are storytellers. Only the losers are liars.” – Seth Godin
“If it wasn’t a mystery, it would be easy. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be worth much.” – Seth Godin
“Marketing is our quest to make change on behalf of those we serve, and we do it by understanding the irrational forces that drive each of us.” – Seth Godin
“The next time you catch yourself being average when you feel like quitting, realize that you have only two good choices: Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.” – Seth Godin
“In your career, even more than for a brand, being safe is risky. The path to lifetime job security is to be remarkable.” – Seth Godin
“The habit of doing more than is necessary can only be earned through practice.” – Seth Godin
“People settle. They settle for less than they are capable of.” – Seth Godin
“The reason you might choose to embrace the artist within you now is that this is the path to (cue the ironic music) security.” – Seth Godin
“Being surrounded by educated people makes democracy stronger, and it benefits our entire economy.” – Seth Godin
“Group projects are the exception in school, but they should be the norm.” – Seth Godin
“The challenge is this: training creative, independent, and innovative artists is new to us.” – Seth Godin
“Your job isn’t to do your job. Your job is to decide what to do next.” – Seth Godin
“Creating value through interaction is far more important than solving a consumer’s problem in thirty seconds.” – Seth Godin
“We believe what we want to believe, and once we believe something, it becomes a self-fulfilling truth.” – Seth Godin
“The easiest thing is to react. The second easiest thing is to respond. But the hardest thing is to initiate.” – Seth Godin
“This is an addictive pastime. You take no real risk, touch the world, and it responds. Repeat.” – Seth Godin
“The challenge is to focus on the work, not on the fear that comes from doing the work.” – Seth Godin
“Creating ideas that spread and connecting the disconnected are the two pillars of our new society, and both of them require the posture of the artist.” – Seth Godin
“The challenge, it turns out, isn’t in perfecting your ability to know when to start and when to stand by. The challenge is getting into the habit of.” – Seth Godin
“So sure, start with a slogan. But don’t bother wasting any time on it if you’re merely going for catchy. Aim for true instead.” – Seth Godin
“It’s clearly more fun to make the rules than to follow them.” – Seth Godin
“Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost always fails because it’s too late.” – Seth Godin
“I define anxiety as experiencing failure in advance.” – Seth Godin
“The secret to being wrong isn’t to avoid being wrong! The secret is being willing to be wrong. The secret is realizing that wrong isn’t fatal.” – Seth Godin
“If you can’t state your position in eight words, you don’t have a position.” – Seth Godin
“An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it personally.” – Seth Godin
“The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.” – Seth Godin
“If you are deliberately trying to create a future that feels safe, you will wilfully ignore the future that is likely.” – Seth Godin
“How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?” – Seth Godin
“At the age of four, you were an artist. And at seven, you were a poet.” – Seth Godin
“Soon is not as good as now.” – Seth Godin
“In a battle between two ideas, the best one doesn’t necessarily win. No, the idea that wins is the one with the most fearless heretic behind it.” – Seth Godin
“Transferring your passion to your job is far easier than finding a job that happens to match your passion.” – Seth Godin
“Change isn’t made by asking permission. Change is made by asking forgiveness, later.” – Seth Godin
“Reject the tyranny of picked. Pick yourself.” – Seth Godin
“Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.” – Seth Godin
“Leadership, on the other hand, is about creating change you believe in.” – Seth Godin
“How was your day? If your answer was “fine,” then I don’t think you were leading.” – Seth Godin
“I think art is the ability to change people with your work, to see things as they are and then create stories, images, and interactions that change the marketplace.” – Seth Godin
“Art is never defect-free. Things that are remarkable never meet spec, because that would make them standardized, not worth talking about.” – Seth Godin
“As soon as we associate reading with a test, we’ve missed the point.” – Seth Godin
“Believe that giving up is the same thing as being realistic.” – Seth Godin
“The combination of passion and art is what makes someone a linchpin.” – Seth Godin
“An individual artist needs only a thousand true fans in her tribe. It’s enough.” – Seth Godin
“Strategic quitting is the secret of successful organizations.” – Seth Godin
“We do not need to teach students to embrace the status quo.” – Seth Godin
“The best way to be missed when you’re gone, is to stand for something when you’re here.” – Seth Godin
“Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt.” – Seth Godin
“What is school for? If you’re not asking that, you’re wasting time and money.” – Seth Godin
“The people who skip the hard questions are in the majority, but they are not in demand.” – Seth Godin
“You have everything you need to build something far bigger than yourself.” – Seth Godin
“You get to keep making art as long as you are willing to make the choices that let you make your art.” – Seth Godin
“Stick with the Dips that are likely to pan out, and quit the Cul-de-Sacs to focus your resources.” – Seth Godin
“You will never become a category of one if you run with the pack.” – Seth Godin
“When we try to drill and practice someone into subservient obedience, we’re stamping out the artist that lives within.” – Seth Godin
“Sometimes, we’re so focused on being consistent that we also lower the bar on amazing.” – Seth Godin
“A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” – Seth Godin
“Extraordinary benefits also accrue to the tiny majority with the guts to quit early and refocus their efforts on something new.” – Seth Godin
“Don’t worry about your stuff. Worry about making meaning instead.” – Seth Godin
“Scarcity, as we’ve seen, is the secret to value. If there wasn’t a Dip, there’d be no scarcity.” – Seth Godin
“Going out of your way to find uncomfortable situations isn’t natural, but it’s essential.” – Seth Godin
“How we respond to the opportunities and challenges of the outside world now determines how much the outside world values us.” – Seth Godin
“Extraordinary benefits accrue to the tiny minority of people who are able to push just a tiny bit longer than most.” – Seth Godin
“She solves problems that people haven’t predicted, sees things people haven’t seen, and connects people who need to be connected.” – Seth Godin
“In every organization everyone rises to the level at which they become paralyzed with fear.” – Seth Godin
“The one path that never works is the most common one: doing nothing at all.” – Seth Godin
“Success comes from doing the hard part. When the hard part is all you’ve got, you’re more likely to do it.” – Seth Godin
“Faith is underrated. Paradoxically, religion is vastly overrated.” – Seth Godin
“Everyone is lonely. Connect.” – Seth Godin
“Great bosses and world-class organizations hire motivated people, set high expectations, and give their people room to become remarkable.” – Seth Godin
“The number one thing to steal from your competitors: Wisdom.” – Seth Godin
“Correct is fine. But it is better to be interesting.” – Seth Godin
“You can’t win by being more average than average.” – Seth Godin
“Marketing is the act of telling stories about the things we make—stories that sell and stories that spread.” – Seth Godin
“Life’s too short to fight the forces of change. Life’s too short to hate what you do all day. Life’s way too short to make mediocre stuff.” – Seth Godin
“All coping does is waste your time and misdirect your energy. If the best you can do is cope, you’re better off quitting.” – Seth Godin