Seth Godin is full of ideas. Millions of people have read his work, among them Unleashing the Ideavirus, Linchpin, Permission Marketing and We Are All Weird—just a few of 18 (yes, 18) international best-sellers. And it makes sense, because he’s a marketing guru, an expert on how to spread ideas. He is the man behind the iconic and wildly popular blog Seth’s Blog, which, mind you, is the No. 1 search result when you type “seth” into Google (and that’s out of about 136 million results).
So how did he do it? How did he become a legend? Getting him to answer that, or to talk about anything other than ideas, could have been a challenge—he says he doesn’t like to talk about himself because it “doesn’t do much good.” But between sips of tea and whimsical stories, he actually revealed quite a bit about how he got to where he is today.
So if you have ideas you want to share with the world, you would be wise to take a few tips from the master marketer himself. Here’s what Seth Godin can teach you:
1. You can’t hack success.
Success can’t be about making money fast—that, Godin says, is a “race to the bottom.” But people enter that race because it’s easier than working hard to create something, release it to the world, and say, “Here, I made this.”
“The purpose of being creative, the purpose of solving problems is so that you can generously give those insights away,” Godin says. “The goal is to have work that no one else can do that’s so important to other people that they will happily pay extra for it because no one else can do it.”
The people who try to hustle or hack their way to success never make it. But the people who set out to change culture in a positive way, to make a difference, do.
2. Creativity is not the goal.
Someone who’s known for his ideas must devote all of his time and energy on fostering innovation and creativity, right? Wrong.
“I don’t think creativity is the goal. I think the goal is connection and trust,” Godin says. “If you have a lot of connection and trust, you will never have trouble making a living, you will never have trouble making a difference.”
Can you connect people and ideas and make a difference? That’s what matters—and that’s what you should be after.
3. Do scary work.
Did you know Godin’s books have been rejected more than 900 times? Instead of giving up, though, Godin fights rejection with the theory of “the dip”—the low point that any project will have, even work you love doing. The problem is that people lack the commitment to get through it.
“Either start a project knowing where the dip is, planning and organizing to get through the dip, or don’t start the project at all.”
Instead of starting many endeavors, he takes a step back and realizes he’s not willing to get through the dip of all of those various things, which keeps him focused on his writing. Once you commit and work through the dip, he assures us the reward is worth it.
“Getting through to the other side, to be the best in the world, is underrated.”
4. Don’t seek reassurance.
For those trying to figure out their next step, Godin has one piece of advice: “Don’t seek reassurance. Reassurance is futile. I can’t give you infinity reassurance—and that’s the amount of reassurance you think you need,” he says.
“Understand that feeling is what work feels like. You don’t have to dig a ditch for a living anymore. It’s not your muscles that are going to get tired.”
It’s the uncertainty, the mental and emotional fatigue, you feel when you are innovating, it’s the uncharted, scary work that is the most rewarding.