Archives For Seth Godin

Seth Godin quote on life, vocation and vacation

Are you compartmentalizing you your vocation from your vacation?

Do you live to work or work to live?  Or is there a third option?

Seth Godin speech

Seth Godin and Kenny Jahng headshot


This past week, I had the delight of traversing the 2/3 Downtown Express subway to Tribeca and see Seth Godin speak for several hours.  The event was called “Pick Yourself.”

Tickets for Seth Godin Live in Tribeca May 16, 2012

A little bit unusual in format, but interesting enough that it had potential — Seth spoke for an hour or so walking through a several of this trademark stories, and then opened up the rest of the time to questions from the audience.

The upfront talk ended up circling around this one point — Stop waiting for the tyranny of waiting to be picked.  And simply, Pick Yourself.   Yup, you.

Seth Godin in New York City Live - talking about being remarkable

As an advisor to entrepreneurs, I agree that I’ve seen first hand how lacking the courage, initiative or persistence is a common denominator across most of the group that thinks of themselves as one…but consistently has trouble delivering.

Personally, I would have rather heard him talk straight for the entire day, instead of riffing off of random trajectories in thought from the diverse crowd.  But I did note that over time, it was interesting to see how Seth would literally say, “I’m not going to answer your question, but answer what I think would be a better question instead,” and then proceed to resurface some of the core axioms that roots everything he does.

Useful?  Sure.  Directly practical to the person offering the question?  Debatable.

Seth Godin answering audience questions in New York during his Live event in Tribeca


Here’s a nice little video interview that gets the point across:


What you get when you listen to Seth Godin from 9:30am — 4pm

As one of the tools to help me sort things out, I’ll use this space for a little journal-“ism.”  I suspect that I’ll revisit the topic a couple of times as I try to connect the dots with things going on in my own sphere.  So here goes:

  • Seth is calling your bluff.  Define the ultimate problem and solve it or just fail.  One of the exercises during the day was to define our business PROBLEM on a card that was handed out.  And then discuss it with a fellow Seth Godin fan next to you to see if you can diagnose it and come up with the next step for a SOLUTION.  Much of the day, including this exercise served to basically let you articulate what is keeping you from success objective.  But by defining it and making it a tangible external problem (with associated potential solution), Seth basically is basically forcing the issue and calling your bluff.  The reason why you’re not doing what you know you have to do in order to succeed in a radical way, is not because of all these other hypothetical issues.  It basically is because you have a lizard brain that thrives on inertia.  So if we can solve THIS problem, then you’ll be a rock star in your industry?  Really?  OK, let’s push forward and solve that problem then.

Seth Godin Pick Yourself Exercise -- Define your problem

Seth Godin fail fast or fail forward or perhaps. . . succeed


  • The title of the event was “Pick Yourself” – that’s code for “you now have permission to go off and do it.”  Seriously, Seth said so.  A lot of this feels like the natural extension of Tribes.  A large part of the reason why I’ve been able to do some really interesting stuff over the years is because this notion of “pick yourself” was instilled in me early on in my childhood.  I was very fortunate to have and teachers/advisors within my primary school years to really apply an approach that empowered me and my peers.  Looking back, some of us were given a huge amount of responsibility at a very young age for extracurricular activities.  The result was understanding that if you want something that doesn’t exist yet, just go create it.  If something isn’t optimal, you can improve it.  If you want something big to happen, convince, sell, evangelize and lead a following.  This Pick Yourself stuff ain’t new, but it’s still always good to hear the same charge to crowd once in awhile.

Kenny Jahng's copy of Seth Godin's Pick Yourself Manifesto


In case you want the actual text of the Pick Yourself Manifesto by Seth Godin, here it is, nice and clean:

Pick Yourself


You want the authority to create, to be noticed and to make a difference? You’re waiting for permission to stand up and speak up and ship?

Sorry. There’s no authority left.

Oprah has left the building. She can’t choose you to be on her show because her show is gone. YouTube wants you to have your own show now, but they’re not going to call you.

Dick Clark has left the building. He’s not going to be able to get you a record deal or a TV gig because his show is long gone. iTunes and a hundred other outlets want you to have your own gig now, but they’re not going to call you either.

Neither is Rodney Dangerfield or the head of programming at Comedy Central. Louis CK has famously proven that he doesn’t kneel to the tyranny of the booker — he picked himself.

Our cultural instinct is to wait to get picked. To seek out the permissioin, authority and safety that comes from a publisher or talk show host or even a blogger saying, “I pick you.”

Once you reject that impulse and realize that no one is going to select you — that Prince Charming has chosen another house  — then you can actually get to work.

The myth that the CEO is going to discover you and nurture you and ask you to join her for lunch is just that, a Hollywood myth.

Once you understand that there are problems just waiting to be solved, once you realize that you have all the tools and all the permission you need, then opportunities to contribue abound. Not the opportunity to have your resume picked form the pile, but the opportuniyt o lead.

When we take responsibility and eagerly give credit, doorss open. When we grab a microphone and speak up, we’re a step closer to doing the world we’re able to do.

Most of all, when you buckle down, confront the lizard and ship your best work, you’re becoming the artist that you are capable of becoming.

No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself.


  • The web is not a broadcast medium.  It is the first to do both — transmit AND receive.  That brings a lot of new conundrums with it including new expectations based on new possibilities.  Social media is not about tools.  It is about connections.
  • Don’t just define success.  Define ‘failure’ before you start.  Now, when you reach that point, you can STOP.  LEARN. and then move on to the next enterprise.  This is an echo of what I find myself teaching coaching clients early on.  We need to fail quickly.  So that we can fail forward.  What we do is never going to be the big thing on the first try.  second try.  third try.  So we need to figure out if what we’re doing now is it or not.  We need to move it with such velocity so that we can quickly know if it is a failure.  If it is, pick up the next thing and move on.  If not, then move forward faster till you find the answer.
Seth Godin being remarkable
Seth Godin storytelling
[event photos creative commons Seth Godin squid11 on Flickr]

Those are my four big ideas so far from Seth’s talk and Q&A.  Nothing earth-shattering.  I’m sure I’ll have more to articulate in the weeks and months ahead.  But something to be used as an excuse to take up that fight against the lizard brain and figure out how to *ship* as soon as possible.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM SETH GODIN RECENTLY?  Have you read Linchpin, Tribes, or any of his other books?  Go ahead and write that reflection down in the comments below and see where that will lead you.

This spring has been an amazing sequence of events for me.

The next one on the docket?  Seth Godin Live in Tribeca, NYC on May 16 — yup an all day event with Seth Godin himself.

So I’m ordering up a set of new custom business cards for the event and pulling out some of the good old Seth Godin books, etc.

There’s a bunch of interesting people that are sure to be there, so it should be a great place to connect with some amazing new friends too — hopefully there will be some actual project collaboration, perhaps even before we leave the event.


Discounted ticket to Seth Godin Live in Tribeca Event in NYC May 16

If you’ve never read any of Seth’s books or heard him speak, here’s a little taste of Seth at TED:

Are you going to the Seth Godin event?  Let me know in the comments below — let’s meet up!

What would you ask Seth if you had the chance?  Let me know in the comments below — if it’s a good one, I’ll ask it if I get a chance!

Wanting to go to the Seth Godin Live event?  I have an extra ticket — let me know in the comments below and you can have it for $300 if it’s not taken yet.  Share what you do and where you’re coming from.