Last week, author, entrepreneur, and marketing professional Seth Godin spoke on a webinar sponsored by the TAS Group, a sales training organization. As the TAS group said in their event description, “Seth Godin, bestselling author of 13 books, will challenge you to think along the edges of the box (because outside the box, not much gets done) as he brings his legendary point of view to the notion of selling smarter and managing better.
I took a look at his latest book “We Are Weird”, and here are a couple of lines from the description: “People with more choices, more interests and the power to do something about it are stepping forward and insisting that the world work in a different way. By enabling choice we allow people to survive and thrive.” Click here to read more about or purchase his book from Amazon.
Despite the fact that this was a sales-positioned webinar sponsored by a sales training organization, the message was universal. My notes are below, but he was a fantastic speaker and I fear that I won’t be able to do him justice in this format. I encourage you to learn more about Mr. Godin by reading his blog or purchasing one of his books.
Competence is no longer scarce.
Long ago, humans were hunter-gatherers. Then we progressed to farming as a way of ‘making a living’. From there, we found ourselves in pursuit of “jobs” or places where we could go to follow instructions in exchange for money. Henry Ford took the concept even further by perfecting the notion of interchangeable parts. While he is famous for his assembly line production of affordable automobiles, the people working on the assembly line were just as interchangeable. The result was a management culture of compliant cogs that were easy to replace.
The message to us today is that once your job can be captured, it can be outsourced to someone who will do it for less. The way to succeed is not by fitting in more, but by taking risks and acting in such a way that you connect with people, reach people, and change people.
Connectivity is key.
Tribes are groups of people organized by culture, language, community and goals. They are very connected – even today when people seem to be increasingly making use of social media to connect with people they have never met. Some tribes are built, the way Nike built the tribe of long distance runners, and others are just waiting for a leader to find them, as was the case with teenagers and The Beatles.
Mr. Godin made the distinction between leading and managing:
Leading is going somewhere new with the support of the tribe to get you there
Managing is doing what you did yesterday faster and cheaper
Become a trusted conduit to the rest of your tribe(s) by looking for and making connections among the members – not because you will benefit in any immediate way, but because it is the right thing to do.
One individual who cares can create change.
Mr. Godin illustrated this point by sharing the story of the SPCA in San Francisco. Originally, the mission of the SPCA was to catch and euthanize all wild animals in their area. Nathan Winograd worked in the San Francisco SPCA, not as a leader, and he decided that he had seen enough. He reached out to the community and before long has raised sufficient funds to start the first ‘no-kill’ shelter in the U.S. He went on to replicate this success in New York, North Carolina, and Nevada.
Your rank/role is not what defines your ability to be an agent of change. Limitations are not an excuse for lack of innovation.
I will sum up my notes with a little experiment Mr. Godin led during the life webcast. I don’t know where you are as you read this blog post, but humor me and really try this.
Raise your right hand as high as you can.
Now raise it a little higher.
Why were you holding back?
Keep that feeling of being able to extend your arm another half inch with you as you complete your tasks today. Be sure that there is no distance left to stretch, because you may not get a second opportunity to try.