Tag Archives: Seth Godin

This Might Not Work

Front Cover PTB 210x300

I’m a little more than halfway through Seth Godin’s new book “Poke the Box” and I’m duly intrigued.  It’s funny because it’s a pretty short book and the text is not densely packed onto each page, but it would be a terrible mistake to think this implies the thoughts contained therein are as thin as the book itself.  OK granted, I read it on a Kindle so there is no thickness to the book to begin with, but you get my meaning.  Sheesh… cut me some slack!  OK, where was I again?  Oh yes… Mr. Godin.

The driving concept behind the book is summed up in one word: initiative.  The secret sauce that makes things go and people stop their hand-wringing to actually START something.  The magic of the book is how Godin goes far beyond just blandly discussing initiative and why it’s important to more of a call to action.  Huh… it’s like an initiative for initiative in a way.  I think I just blew my own mind right there.

I am going to get back to reading the book some more tonight, but 4 little words he stresses in the book really jumped out at me: “This might not work.”

What’s the power of such a simple sentence?  The fact that it’s a pivotal idea you need to get comfortable with… or at least more comfortable with… so you can fully immerse yourself in a mindset of being a starter.

We all tend to want perfect and we want it now and on the first try, damn it.  And if we cannot have it?  Well then hell, we better wait and plan and scheme and spend oodles of time creating charts on how when we finally get around to starting… ohh at that glorious moment, all will be PERFECTION.

Except it never is.

This all calls to mind one of my favorite quotes from General George S. Patton: “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

Therein lies the truth of it all… that it’s a very rare time where inaction is better than action of some kind, shape or sort.  This clearly assumes at least a modicum of reasoned thought about what action to take, but certainly not the kind of endless procrastination masquerading as deep reflection that a lot of people do… and I clearly place myself into that big ugly mess.

Tomorrow I begin using the season of Lent as my own way to spur on the action I’ve avoided.  I’m giving up Facebook.  I’m spending more time in person with friends and family.  I will struggle mightily to get this damn blog in order.  Heck, I even had my very first blog post go up today on my new work blog,  about which I am endlessly excited, especially because I decided to just push it forward and see what happens.

Here’s to a good 40 day run, made up of what I hope to be a string of single day mini-runs.  It might not work, but I’m starting to get comfortable with that… or at least as comfortable as I can be.

The Lemonade Stand Experience

lemon1Seth Godin is a pretty gosh-darn interesting guy.  My proof?  He’s generally acknowledged as the creator of permission-based marketing (i.e. you give someone permission to market to you based on your preferences and interests) and author of the book “Purple Cow”.  Let’s be honest people… purple cows are just de facto interesting.

Seth also does a pretty cool blog and his post from a few days ago is pretty thought-provoking.  It’s analogy of the most classic form of childhood entrepreneurial dreams: the lemonade stand.  The analogy compares two lemonade stands with profoundly different approaches to selling their cold, tart and refreshing products.

The first stand is very typical: a fold-out table and $1 to buy a cup of lemonade.  Pretty straightforward.

The second stand is a different matter entirely:

The other stand is different. The lemonade is free, but there’s a big tip jar. When you pull up, the owner of the stand beams as only a proud eleven year old girl can beam. She takes her time and reaches into a pail filled with ice and lemons. She pulls out a lemon. Slices it. Then she squeezes it with a clever little hand juicer.

The whole time that’s she’s squeezing, she’s also talking to you, sharing her insights (and yes, her joy) about the power of lemonade to change your day. It’s a beautiful day and she’s in no real hurry. Lemonade doesn’t hurry, she says. It gets made the right way or not at all. Then she urges you to take a bit less sugar, because it tastes better that way.

Pretty different approach eh?

While the first scenario was about the selling of a product, the second was clearly the selling of an experience and also a connection.  There was something that causes a connection between the person providing the lemonade and you as the person soon-to-be enjoying it.

Seth’s essential question is which of these two aspiring entrepreneurs will end up better in the long run?

I thought about this one for a little while, even though it’s pretty clear which way Seth was going on his post.  Honestly, I was trying to think of whether I could refute it… not because Seth would even care, but just to see if I could.  But truthfully?  I really couldn’t because I do believe in the power of connection provided by the second example.

Perfect examples. Even though I know it costs more to shop for suits at Brooks Brothers, that’s where I went before starting up my new job to pick up a new navy suit and 2 pairs of dress slacks.  There is something about the professionalism and sheer classiness of how you are treated as a customer that makes the experience worthwhile.  It’s less a business transaction and more the feeling that you are being properly fitted for a high quality garment.  The measurements are precise and the tailor checks every fit point like a master craftsman.  I know I am walking out of that store with something that will last me an inordinately long time, it will have a perfect, classic fit and will look sharp whenever I wear it.  That’s all part of the experience they bring.

The takeaway from all of this, for me, is not simply about making the provision of an experience part of a marketing effort (although I do enjoy that concept).  For me, it’s bigger than that because what creates the experience here (even if you remove it from some kind of commercial context) is the joy, interest and passion of the person providing it.  This all works because there is someone who truly cares about the thing they speak about, whether it be the lemonade in Seth’s analogy or the Brooks Brothers salesperson in mine.  You can’t fake it.

It’s probably one of the more fundamental way to have a positive effect on others – to share your joy and your passion with them.  It’s an amazing way to connect with people because when you bring your true joy forward, most people cannot help but share in your excitement to some degree… even if they never shared that same interest in their lives.  Most people (except for you crotchety and cynical bastards) enjoy enthusiasm and find it kindles your own.

Now if I can just figure out a way for everyone else on the Interwebz to see how gosh-darn cool my blog is, THEN I could be getting somewhere.