You can’t make ‘Art’ if you are not willing to fail – Interview with Seth Godin on The Icarus Deception

Seth Godin Interview The Icarus Deception

At the end of last year, I set myself a number of goals for this blog. One of which was to interview Seth Godin.

So, today I’m excited to share with you a recent interview I conducted with Seth about his new book project: The Icarus Deception. Seth is a bestselling author and a legend when it comes to marketing and business thought leadership. In our interview we talk about his latest book, the interesting way that he got it funded, why it is important to take risks and what is changing around us.

Seth Godin The Icarus Deception

This interview follows my recent interview (Commitment, clarity and fanatical customers and employees – Interview with John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing) and makes up number forty-one in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things and helping create businesses that customers love.

I’ve intentionally tried to keep the highlights brief in this interview as I want to encourage you to listen to the conversation that Seth and I had. If you don’t have time now please download the podcast and listen to it later. Alternatively, you can now subscribe to the whole podcast series via iTunes here.

Below are highlights from our interview:

  • Seth has a new book coming out at the end of the year called The Icarus Deception.
  • What’s he’s tried to do for his whole career is take his own advice. So, with Permission Marketing it was marketed using permission marketing, for Unleashing The Idea Virus he gave the book away to create an idea virus and Purple Cow came in a milk carton as it was one way to make the distribution and marketing of a book remarkable.
  • The Icarus Deception is about one short sentence: ‘This Might Not Work’
  • The book is about how, in this connected economy and world of ours, we need more and more people to create ‘Art’ – not decoration or painting – but things that connect with other people and make change happen.
  • But, you can’t make ‘Art’ if you are not willing to fail.
  • Therefore, Seth used Kickstarter to get his book project funded for two reasons:
    • One, it might not work as it had never been done before and not getting the book funded, especially as a well-known author, was a risk and would be a very public failure; and
    • Two, to establish to other authors that it can be done.
  • The project, however, did get funded and reached it’s target of $40,000 in around 3 hours!
  • Overall, the project generated 4,242 backers at various levels who funded the project to the tune of $287,342. I’m proud to say I was one of the backers too.
  • In the process Seth ended up writing/putting together not one but four books in total.
  • In the Industrial Economy, only a few people were responsible for the design and creation of new things. However, in our technology rich and connected economy, we can all be on the design side of things, if we choose to be.
  • That is a huge shift as most of us were raised to do what we were told and not to figure out what to do next.
  • It’s always been wrong to take away the dreams of our young people and we have been doing that for decades in the way we educate people to be employees. However, this is no longer just wrong it is also foolish.
  • Most learning involves a map or a compass. Seth is in the compass business and not the map business.
  • Not giving people a map is intentional because if you give people a map then it becomes ‘paint by numbers’ and it’s not ‘Art’ anymore.
  • The cost of failing these days is incredibly low and the main reason that prevents people from trying is fear.
  • We are taught that when the stakes are high we should back off. But, part of what The Icarus Deception argues is that when the stakes are high, backing off is the worst thing that we could possibly do.
  • One piece of advice: Fly closer to the sun!
  • Build an environment/life where it is clear that failing is cheap, failing is not fatal and where you can learn how to, in small steps, start doing innovative or unique work. Once you do that you will be on your way.
  • It’s only after you do it in a small way will you get a chance to do it in a large way.
  • Now, go do something that scares you!

About Seth (taken from his website)

Seth Godin Interview The Icarus Deception

Seth Godin has written fourteen books that have been translated into more than thirty languages. Every one has been a bestseller. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything.

American Way Magazine calls him, “America’s Greatest Marketer,” and his blog is perhaps the most popular in the world written by a single individual. His latest book, We Are All Weird, calls for end of mass and for the beginning of offering people more choices, more interests and giving them more authority to operate in ways that reflect their own unique values, and Seth once again breaks the traditional publishing model by releasing it through The Domino Project. His recent Kickstarter for his newest book (The Icarus Deception out in January 2013) broke records for its size and the speed that it reached its goal.

As an entrepreneur, he has founded dozens of companies, most of which failed. Yoyodyne, his first internet company, was funded by Flatiron and Softbank and acquired by Yahoo! in 1998. It pioneered the use of ethical direct mail online, something Seth calls Permission Marketing. He was VP of Direct Marketing at Yahoo! for a year.

His latest company, Squidoo.com, is ranked among the top 125 sites in the US (by traffic) by Quantcast. It allows anyone (even you) to build a page about any topic you’re passionate about. The site raises money for charity and pays royalties to its million plus members. Read his full bio here

You can order a copy of The Icarus Deception from Amazon here.

Comments

  1. Hello Adrian
    I am reminded by the example of Mohammed Younis and what eventually became Grameen Bank. He did not even set out to do anything grand. He simply set out to do something small – to make a difference to some women in a local village. And, eventually he created a huge bank and won the Nobel prize.

    The following spoke to me as it is the way I strive to work especially with those who are working for me or with me:

    - Most learning involves a map or a compass. Seth is in the compass business and not the map business.
    - Not giving people a map is intentional because if you give people a map then it becomes ‘paint by numbers’ and it’s not ‘Art’ anymore.

    Maz

    • Hi Maz,
      Thank you for that and I am pleased that what Seth said spoke to you. I’ll tell you what. I just received my package of books as part of my involvement in funding The Icarus Deception Kickstarter project and because you were the first to comment if you send me your home address I’ll send you a copy of one of the books as a gift from me. Is that ok?

      Adrian

  2. Adrian,

    Seth says “This Might Not Work”

    I guess landing the interview is the proof of the pudding, that sometimes it does.

    Well done

    James

  3. That is an amazing interview written here. Is this actually a way to illude people?

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