Every time I meet Seth Godin he changes my life.
He’s been on my podcast maybe 4-5 times. I forget. The time before this one was about a year ago.
Before the podcast started, he politely asked me if I wanted a glass of water.
I was the host! I should’ve asked him if he wanted a glass of water.
Then he got up and got me a glass of water. I thought to myself, how come I am never that polite to anyone?
It seems like a small thing: but I’ve been offering water ever since.
I confess now (sorry Seth) that I have an ulterior motive every time I ask him to come on my podcast. I secretly want to ask him for advice.
I’m always in a constant state of figuring out “what’s next?” For my podcast, for my creativity, for my writing, for the ways I express myself in the world.
So I listen to Seth and prod and poke in various ways to get the advice that I want.
Here are just a few things Seth told me.
ADVICE #1: DO A ONE MAN BROADWAY SHOW
Seth said to me, “You should do a one man Broadway show.”
He described to me the prices of the theaters (he said, “Did you know Carnegie Hall costs $20,000 to rent for a night and most Broadway theaters cost $7,000”).
He said, you have the stories and the followers… you can easily fill up the seats and entertain people. That should be your next thing.
Ok, if Seth says it, I’m going to do it. The very next day I met with two Broadway publicists and started the process.
I never thought I could do something like that. I thought I had to be CHOSEN to do a show like that.
But…shamefully, I did not even follow the advice of my own book and Seth had to remind me: I can choose myself.
ADVICE #2: HOW TO DO A QUALITY SOLO PODCAST
“You should try to do some solo podcasts occasionally.” No guest. Seth does this very well on his own podcast called Akimbo. He gave three guidelines.
• Say something that’s not obvious
• Support that point of view
• “If you can’t do it in 15 minutes, you probably can’t do it at all”
Ok, Seth, I’m going to do it!
Then we started to get into more general advice.
ADVICE #3: NEVER BE AFRAID OF CRITICISM:
If you don’t want to be criticized you have to be invisible, and fit in. Most people, in their day job, seek to fit in. The problem with fitting in, is that you’re not changing anybody.”
ADVICE #4: HOW TO MAKE A LASTING GOOD WORK
We live in a culture where people are worried about numbers: how many Instagram followers do you have? How many YouTube followers? How much in book sales?
If you have a million followers but say nothing meaningful, then what’s it all for?
Seth said on the podcast, “To make lasting, good work – find the 500 people who cannot go to bed tonight without telling someone else about what you do”
If you find those 500, they will want to share your work.
I always find that the posts or podcasts or videos that get the most views are the ones that people have shared the most. It’s not the number of people your post reaches, it’s the number of people who are so moved by it they want to share it.
“Don’t try to educate a million people to be your fans. Focus on a core few. When you choose your customer, you choose your future.”
ADVICE #5: WHERE DO ALL BREAKTHROUGHS COME FROM?
We always say, “There are no new ideas,” but this simply is not true. Every person I have interviewed has come up with new ideas and changed the world as a result.
But Seth put it succinctly: “All of the breakthroughs, and all of the magic, happens when you do things that might not work.”
It’s scary. I look at the things in my life: will I do a one man show? What if nobody shows up?
Should I do a solo podcast? What if it’s boring?
I look at my investments, my relationships, all of the projects I’m working on. None of them might work. And then what?
I’m feeling anxious just thinking about it. The key is, don’t make it about you.
Everyone is so goal-oriented in life: “I want a bestseller” or “I want to make a lot of money” or “I want to be famous”.
None of that is important.
I’ll let Seth have the final word on what is actually important:
“My opinion doesn’t matter, the skeptics’ opinions doesn’t matter, the critics’ opinion doesn’t matter. All that matters, is if you changed someone for the better in a way you’re proud of.”
Links and Resources
“This is Marketing” by Seth Godin
“Purple Cow” by Seth Godin
“Gracefully” by Seth Godin
“This Might Work” by Seth Godin
Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast “Revisionist History”
Kevin Kelly’s article “1,000 True Fans”
“The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell
“Freakonomics” by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt
“Choose Yourself” by me, James Altucher
Howard Schultz (founder of Starbucks)
Ayn Rand (author of “Atlas Shrugged”
Wharton Business School
Adam Grant author of “Originals”
“The War of Art” by Stephen Pressfield
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (a Netflix documentary)
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