Why Do We Trust Seth Godin?

By October 2, 2013 In The News
Why Do We Trust Seth Godin?

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not questioning his credibility. Hearing Seth Godin, author of numerous business bestsellers, speak last week about “Thriving in a Post Sandy Business World,” I was impressed.

I’m asking: What makes him so effective? He didn’t say much I haven’t heard before. We’re in a new economy, the industrial economy is over, competition is fierce, you must stand out to succeed, get past your fear, “fly closer to the sun.”

Godin presents his ideas so compellingly that he convinces. He says what we may not want to hear. He advised business owners ravaged by Superstorm Sandy to forget about “getting back to normal” and instead, “reinvent yourself.”

“I don’t have a map for you,” he said.

“There are no more good jobs where they tell you what to do and pay you more than you’re worth,” he said.

Ouch. He articulates truths we may already suspect, but we resist or simply lose sight of them. Like other talented speakers, preachers and teachers, he tells us what we may already know or fear is true, but in a way that’s irresistible. They make us laugh, they entertain, persuade, provoke and compel us to take action.

Smart marketing needs to do all that too. Be not just informational, but transformative–changing attitudes and behaviors.

Smart marketing can change a no into a yes.

An official from the NJ Small Business Development Center at Brookdale Community College, the sponsor of the event, asked Godin what to tell entrepreneurs who frequently ask: “How do I come up with new ideas for my business?”

You already know how to come up with ideas, he answered, but you let your fear of failure get in the way. When you’re under pressure, you choke and play it safe. He suggested spending time every week just brainstorming on paper.

On his blog and to the audience, Godin makes a crucial distinction between three viable business models:

  1. Geography
  2. Commodity
  3. Community

Community’s the most stable yet the hardest to develop. Building trust takes time.

Connecting is the hard part, Godin says, but it beats being in a race to the bottom with a commodity business.

Create a community people want to join, he urges. Information, the currency of communities, is worth more to customers than the commodity itself. People want to be in sync. We’re all smarter together.

The larger point I realized about Seth is he models what he’s suggesting, and thus elicits trust and credibility. He says don’t be afraid to fail, and lists his failures. He advises generosity, and hands out his expertise freely. People read his books and attend his talks, and beg him to take “selfies” with them in front of a crowded conference room.

Are you a Seth fan and why? Have you seen him speak in public? More importantly, is it still called a selfie if someone else is in it?