On a recent episode of The Tim Ferris Show, #177 to be exact, Tim played a follow up Q&A session from a previous podcast with Seth Godin and, as always, Seth’s insights were simply priceless.
If you’re not familiar with Seth Godin, I’d highly recommend you Google “Seth” and also subscribe to his blog. It’s the number one Google result for a reason.
I’ve since listened to the episode 3 more times and whilst taking notes for myself, thought it a good opportunity to share my summary of what Seth discussed. This one is completely Tim-free, which is unusual, but nonetheless one of the most information-dense podcasts ever. Helpful, practical information.
* Please note, unless explicitly stated, I am not quoting Seth Godin, but rather relaying what I took from him. I aim to be as accurate as possible throughout.
The Podcast Summary:
Before starting with the first question, Seth talks about the the meaning of true connection via the information put out by Tim.
In this opening he kicks off with a poster-worthy statement for any service-driven business.
Real connection comes from people who seek to contribute to the community first.
This is so important, and even though we hear all the time that “serving is key”, we often forget what this means.
I do at least. Maybe as a result of hearing it so often. Putting the community first and contributing with it’s needs as the number one priority, is what builds trust.
Genuine trust in your brand. You.
What’s the one thing that most marketers do wrong?
The single biggest, and most common, mistake is selfish, narcissistic behaviour. This put’s the marketer’s wants & needs first and, in doing so, interrupts/spams users. This behaviour is easy to justify & rationalise as they are playing the short game.
Successful marketers, the minority, don’t do this. They play the long game. Building a story/product that spreads because it’s remarkable and of value. Real connection by contributing to their tribe (following/community) first.
How do I build a tribe from scratch?
The idea that we have to build a tribe is wrong. Nike and Harley Davidson did not build their tribes, they simply service existing tribes of runners and bikers respectively.
To find your tribe you simply need to be able to define this in the context of:
“People like us do things like”
If you can define this, then you know who your tribe is.
What limiting self-beliefs did Seth overcome, and how?
As human beings we are programmed to avoid things at which we might be unsuccessful, incompetent etc.
This is a form of fear and it often puts us in a sour mindset.
“Why should I even bother?”
As a result of this natural risk-avoidance (primal danger), we tend to keep track of our failures, rejections and heartbreaks, rather than our successes, risks-taken and people influenced.
It all adds-up to limiting, fear-based, self-beliefs.
By making a conscious effort to track our successes, we can transform our self-image to a person capable of impacting the world in a positive way. Regardless of how many times we fail. Failures can also be defined as risks-taken.
Your own personal narrative isn’t something that’s done to you, it’s something you choose.
Opinion on Quality vs Quantity in the age of the Hustle obsessed? Can you win not being everywhere?
Of course you can. The real question is:
“Can you win being everywhere?”
No one is everywhere. Most people have never heard of you, Seth, Tim etc.
The idea of being everywhere is a trap.
A place to hide from failure.
It’s a trap that seeks to dilute, distribute and suck our content away from us in return for a ‘Like’ or a little heart.
Always ask yourself:
“What’s the smallest possible footprint I can get away with?”
”What’s the smallest group of people I can help?”
Smaller is achievable, yet more risky. It allows us to fail quickly, whereas the bigger, almost infinite, idea of being everywhere gives us a place to hide from failure.
The internet is filled with “shortcuts”, “life hacks” as such. About the “Long-cut”
Shortcuts hardly ever work. The ‘long-cut’, or long term game, is almost always the most direct route to getting where you want to be. It is the Beatles playing Hamburg for months. (Remember Outliers. 10,000 hours.)
This again comes back to the opening statement of:
“Real connection comes from people who seek to contribute to the community first.”
It’s always about what the tribe/community needs first. It’s not give and get.
The difficult part is doing work that matters. Not tricks & shortcuts. Play the Long-cut.
Opinions on schooling and Seth’s Alt-MBA
Public schooling is an artefact of the industrial age. It produces factory workers.
Being able to say “I can do this. Now pay me” is being replaced by:
A. People capable of solving interesting problems. Problems that cannot be ‘Googled’ or automated. (automation referring to the ability of solving the problem, not the solution itself.)
B. People that can lead.
Parents should embrace the idea of ‘free-range kids’. The lessons we remember is the ones learnt the hard way. Encourage kids to find things that don’t work or that they aren’t good at. By figuring it out they learn.
Apply this idea to serving your tribe and what becomes key is ‘enrolment’. People need to embrace your work for themselves.
Do you experience fear and how do you overcome it?
Fear NEVER stops.
It is hardwired into us and kept our ancestors alive, but lately, it is often incorrectly processed. e.g. Public speaking. There is nothing inherently dangerous about public speaking, but if feels dangerous. It’s a bug in our operating systems.
The large majority of us cannot make this fear go away, but we can dance with the fear.
We simply don’t need to overcome it, rather recognise and understand it.
When we learn to associate fear with producing meaningful work, we can do exactly this and once we understand this process we can use fear to gauge the quality of our work.
Ask yourself: “Why is this making me nervous?”
Nervousness is often pointing you where you should go.
How would you make an impact today?
Raising money is being touted as a goal. The definition of success. In reality, it’s only postponing the day where the company asks the customer for money.
Teach one person. Change one person. The smallest footprint.
Serving a bigger audience, with money raised, isn’t more difficult. It’s the same.
Companies need to learn to communicate with their customers in order to recognise the solution they can offer. Learning the long-cut.
The purpose is always to create value for a person that can pay you again and again.
What’s your Personal brand?
Humans don’t have logos. Your brand is the promise you make. Implicitly and explicitly.
Brands that keep their promises earn trust and awareness. You are your own brand and you cannot escape it. The best time to start working on your brand is 5 years ago, or if you haven’t, the next best time is NOW.
Your brand is the story you help people tell themselves, about you. Everything about you influences this story and most of it is unfair and fear-based, but you can help them with this story by creating expectations and by being authentic.
Be a meaningful specific not a wandering generality.
How do I decide what is essential, indispensable or useless?
Decide what the change is that your trying to make.
Do not allow the mainstream to opinion to push you towards average. </span>Great brands are built around the edges and if you decide to play here, you need to accept what comes with the territory.
On the Gig-economy.
Desire for the new eats it’s own young.
In the new gig-economy, you simply have to be better. Go the extra mile. When you know your customer better than your competition, they will choose you every time.
You can take responsibility of your work by making it more human and this will resonate with the customer.
How to pick projects?
It is important to decide who you are and what scale you want to be.
Simply ask yourself:
“Does this help my customers and does it move me closer towards the change I want to make in the community.”
That concludes the podcast and I hope you found it as valuable as I did.
I’d suggest you download the free PDF copy of this summary and review it periodically.
It’s an invaluable resource for staying clear on what you need to do and will help you build your personal brand by means of meaningful work.
You can also learn more about Seth’s concept of Tribes from his book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us.