For many of us, it’s not often you get to meet a person who’s your hero.

On 3 November 2015 I was fortunate enough to participate in Seth Godin’s workshop in London. That day I meet one of my heros.

Seth Godin’s books, talks and courses have taught me much more than marketing, entrepreneurship and leadership. He has shown how they can be done with fun, honesty and integrity.

Rather than delivering a prepared talk, Seth ran the event as a four hour Q&A session, answering the audience’s questions.

As you’d expect, Seth shared a lot of great ideas at his workshop in London, which I wanted to share with you in this post.

Seth Godin London - photo by Rajesh Taylor

Seth Godin London – photo by Rajesh Taylor

[Please note this isn’t a recap of the entire event, but rather it’s a summary of some of the ideas which resonated with me.]

And with that, here we go…

Where good ideas come from

Seth talked about how his good ideas come from generating lots of “REALLY bad ideas” first. Through the process of taking time to write each day, he generates lots of ideas, and can then pick the best ones.

As a professional he faces fear daily, and shows up to write. His process isn’t to wait for the good idea to arrive, but instead to practise his discipline of writing each day. And through that practise of showing up, the ideas come.

If you’ve read his books, you know he has also an amazing ability for noticing things that many people don’t see. Empathy and understanding the worldview of others make up the foundation for this skill.

How to overcome fear and do important work

Seth wants people to understand that in many industries the cost of being wrong has gone done.

He retold the story about when Ford launched the Edsel, and it flopped, the cost of being wrong was huge. Contrast this with Instagram implementing new features to see what works and what doesn’t, the cost of being wrong is much lower.

Seth stressed that with technology we can now have more “micro interactions” to try things out, to see what works. With the cost of being wrong being lower, we should be less afraid to try things.

When taking on something new and scary, he stressed that it’s important to act with generosity and confidence.

These two things can’t be outsourced

Businesses need to think about how they’ll build trust, and what they’re doing to earn attention.

“The person or entity that get the most trust, will get the most customers, and make the most money.” #sethinlondon pic.twitter.com/UckZgeS4CR

— Mitesh Sheth (@miteshsheth78) November 3, 2015

We all want to be seen and treated with dignity.

The importance of stories

Customers buy the story they tell themselves. We all do this as customers, which highlights the role that emotion plays in our purchase decisions. If faced with a higher priced offering from a company, a buyer may be thinking ‘what will I tell my boss?’ Does their worldview tell them that a cheaper option is good enough, or do they want the peace of mind associated with a higher priced ‘safe’ choice? For a client who values quality and peace of mind, they may just need to be reminded their reputation is on the line, and asked whether that’s a chance they’re willing to take. Stories need to resonate with your customer, and be true (something Volkswagen overlooked). Your worldview determines what you buy, just as your customer’s worldview determines what they will buy. Do you know your customer’s worldview?

How to build a tribe

Seth felt that your scale should be as small as you can live with. The idea being that you should start small, and then grow. For example, start by making a small fire, then build it (rather than trying to create a large fire from the start). When you don’t know which market to target, start with experiments and see what happens and learn from what works and what doesn’t. When building a community, if you focus on helping your customers achieve their dreams, your tribe will grow. Focus on bringing people together who share your vision – “people like us do things like this”.

On criticism

It’s important to shun the non-believers. Don’t allow them to get to you if you know you’re doing work that matters, and matters to your customers.

Worldviews Drive Behaviour

When communicating with prospects or customers, think about the change you want to encourage them to make. But we need to remember we can’t change someone else’s worldview, and shouldn’t try selling a story to people who don’t share the worldview you’re addressing. One attendee asked how a business can compete with lower priced competitors. He encouraged the audience not to focus on selling things cheaper (the ‘race to the bottom’) but rather to focus on where you can add value and differentiate.

“The problem with the race to the bottom is that you might win” #sethinlondon @ReceiptBank pic.twitter.com/8xVgn7kvSU — Jose Nunes (@Receipts_Jose) November 3, 2015

Sometimes you will need to tell prospects that ‘this is not for you’ if their worldview is different.

It’s also important to remember where your target customers are in the product adoption lifecycle. Worldviews differ at each of these stages, and a product which appeals to the late majority (for example) may no longer appeal to the early adopters.

Other thoughts from the day

Seth is known for being generous in many ways, and certainly displayed that at the event. Attendees were given some of his books, and other keepsakes to remember the event. Unexpected bonuses (such as these) are always a nice touch and leave people with a positive feeling.

Seth also enabled the tribe to connect with each other. He had a Slack group created for the event so that attendees could network, share and collaborate online. The Slack group was created one month before the event, and will remain available for one month following the event.

Seth’s event in London also highlighted how powerful a tribe can be. Simply using the reach he has through his blog and email newsletter, he had asked his tribe if they would be interested in attending an event if he held one in London. People responded, giving him a sense of the level of interest. An event was set up relatively quickly, and the tribe quickly assembled to attend.

What does all of this mean for you?

I hope as you’ve read this summary you can see the implications for your business. They’re huge.

I imagine you and I face similar challenges – we need to think about how to build trust and earn attention.

We need to focus on the worldviews of others to better understand who will (and won’t) want our products or services. To have empathy and understanding with how they think. By doing this, we become better marketers, sales copywriters and entrepreneurs.

We need to face fear and do the important work that matters to our customers and the world. To remain focused on our goal, and shun the non-believers. And to have the confidence to say ‘this may not be for you’.

“Go make a ruckus” – Seth Godin

About The Author

Eric Moeller

Eric Moeller is the Managing Director of Copy Dojo, an agency which helps startups improve their sales copywriting to rapidly grow their business. He has two decades of experience in high tech marketing and product management. Eric has an MBA in marketing, and completed Seth Godin's altMBA in the summer of 2015.

1 Comment

  • Keeley Tillotson

    Reply Reply January 28, 2016

    Hey Eric – Hello from an AltMBA-er checking out your blog.

    Really interesting observations: Life is not a focus group, and avoiding the race to the bottom. There are easy to forget in the grocery world with so much cost-cutting and personal tastes.

    Seth is kind of a genius.

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