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About The Guest
Seth Godin is a renowned entrepreneur, speaker, and bestselling author known for his influential writings and captivating speeches. With the launch of his immensely popular blog and the publication of 20 bestselling books, including notable titles like “The Dip,” “Linchpin,” “Purple Cow,” “Tribes,” and “What To Do When It’s Your Turn (And It’s Always Your Turn),” Seth has made a significant impact on the business and creative world. His book “This is Marketing” quickly became a global bestseller, resonating with readers worldwide.
Apart from his accomplishments as a writer and speaker, Seth has also founded two successful companies, Squidoo and Yoyodyne, which was later acquired by Yahoo!. Through his work, Seth has focused on diverse topics such as effective marketing, leadership, the power of ideas, and catalyzing meaningful change. His insights and motivational approach have inspired countless individuals across the globe.
Seth’s achievements have been widely recognized, with notable honors including his induction into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame in 2013. In a remarkable turn of events, he was also inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame in May 2018, making him possibly the only person to receive this distinction in both fields. Seth Godin’s exceptional contributions continue to motivate and inspire people from all walks of life.
- 00:00 — Intro
- 03:09 — Seth’s Origin: From Passion to Purpose
- 04:39 — Decoding “The Song of Significance”
- 08:56 — Honeybees and the Power of Collaboration
- 14:30 — Breaking Free from the Assembly Line Leadership
- 17:27 — Nurturing a Stable Workforce: Tackling Transient Employees
- 19:52 — Balancing Individual Needs with Organizational Goals
- 24:38 — Mastering the Art of Hiring
- 28:09 — Unveiling the Difference: Tension vs. Stress
- 29:40 — Feedback Loops: Your Playbook for Growth
- 35:55 — Igniting Passion: Getting Employees to Care
- 41:02 — Rethinking Meetings: Solving the Time Dilemma
- 43:37 — Quantifying Meaningful Work: The Measure of Success
- 44:46 — Connecting with Seth Godin: Where to Find Him and His Book
- 45:33 — Redefining Success: Seth Godin’s Perspective
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What is the Success Story Podcast?
On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups, and entrepreneurship.
The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.
Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures, and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas, and insights.
He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their stories to help pass those lessons on to others through both experiences and tactical strategies for business professionals, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between.
Host of the Success Story Podcast: https://www.successstorypodcast.com
Machine Generated Transcript
work, people, organization, business, book, called, company, Shopify, built, Hubspot, podcast, bravo, create, hire, hive, song, selling, change, employees, manager
Scott D Clary, Seth Godin
Seth Godin 00:00
We didn’t say anything when the radiologist’s job was threatened by a computer that can read an x ray. But now, the systems are coming from the rest of us now selfish, narcissistic childish billionaires, buy companies and then fire people who work there for fun. Some organizations that understand that our job is
Scott D Clary 00:22
Be my guest is Seth Godin, an American author, entrepreneur, marketer and public speaker who has written 21 International bestsellers. His books have been translated into 38 languages, he writes one of the world’s most popular marketing blogs and the honeybee example, explain what that example is.
Seth Godin 00:38
So let’s start by explaining that humans are not a beehive is 15,000, individual creatures that are not actually individual. They’re very much like the neurons in the human brain turned inside out. If one bee sacrifices its life.
Scott D Clary How do you hire properly?
Seth Godin what I’m saying is if it’s easy to measure might not be important.
Scott D Clary 01:01
The song of significance. What does that actually mean? Welcome to success story. I’m your host Scott Clary success stories part of the HubSpot Podcast Network. Quick question before we get started. Did you ever play the game telephone as a kid you start with one message but as people share it, it gets more and more distorted sometimes work and feel that way but the last thing you want for your business is to get a distorted message across your team HubSpot helps you say goodbye to that chaos by helping you get all your teams on the same page. It’s all in one your customer facing teams will absolutely love it you track leads, deals support tickets, and everything in between all from one spot. You need to know what your sales team is up to done want to see how your marketing campaigns are performing. You got it covered HubSpot gives you and your teams all the vital customer info they need to create the best possible experience no matter where they are. Save yourself a headache see how powerful true connection can be give HubSpot a try your team and your customers will thank you later get started for free. email@example.com. Today, my guest is Seth Godin, an American author, entrepreneur, marketer and public speaker who has written 21 International bestsellers that have changed the way people think about work. His books have been translated into 38 languages. These books include Purple Cow tribes, linchpin and the dip. He writes one of the world’s most popular marketing blogs at Seth’s dot blog and hosts a podcast called The Kimbo. He has given two of the most popular TED talks of all time, and has been inducted into the American Marketing Association’s marketing Hall of Fame. He is also the founder of several companies, including the alt MBA Squidoo, a website where users created pages on any topic and yoyodyne, one of the first internet based direct marketing firms that was acquired by Yahoo in 1998. He is known for his innovative and unconventional ideas on how to spread ideas, build tribes and make a difference in the world. His latest book is The Song of significance, a new manifesto for teams.
Seth Godin 03:10
I think the magic optimist moment is that we have more than one of those. We have countless we don’t live in a Marvel comic book. In a Marvel comic book, a spider is required to bite you, for you to become Spider Man. And after that everything is ordained. So when I think about my life, I think about winning the parent lottery. Growing up in Buffalo, New York, I think about what happened to me in a canoe in 1977 teaching somebody that set me on the path of being a teacher. I think about meeting Fred Wilson and Jerry Kelowna and becoming Fred’s first investment as an independent VC. And building one of the first internet companies, I think about looking at the World Wide Web and thinking that’s a fraud that’ll never work, and losing billions and billions of dollars as a result. But for this book, for the song of significance, I think about Dan and Frankie, I think about being in a little place in Northern California and hearing about Jacqueline Freeman’s work, and the song of significant a song of increase, and learning about how the bees sing the song of increasing being completely transformed by their story. And by the analogy between bees and humans. And then everything that unfolded in the week that followed, that led me to realize that I had this book in me and I had no choice but to share it.
Scott D Clary 04:39
It’s very interesting when you dive into topics, you do them so thoughtfully. And that sort of tees up why you wrote this book, and I was going to be my next question to be quite honest. It’s why are you diving into this topic? Because from a very high level, it seems that we’re doing better at leadership and we’re doing better at building. It seems like it it seems like we’ve moved away from the command and control but I think that when you’re in organizations, I think that that’s very far from the truth. So what explain to the listeners the song of significance? What does that actually mean in 2023?
Seth Godin 05:13
Well, you know, there’s a fork in the road. And if you see a fork, you should take it. On one end is more industrialism. We didn’t say anything when the steam shovel made it hard to be a ditch digger. And we didn’t say anything. When the people working on the assembly line, were told to race robots. We didn’t say anything when the radiologists job was threatened by a computer that could read an x ray just as well as a mediocre radiologist could buy now, the systems are coming for the rest of us. Now cranky, solid and selfish, narcissistic childish billionaires, buy companies and then fire them for fun fire people who worked there for fun. And, you know, they basically toy with people and torture them, because they have power. And the problem with the race to the bottom is that you might win. And the alternative the fork in the road, is there are some organizations that understand that shareholder value. Tomorrow is not the point that humans are not a resource. Humans are people. And they’re the point, our job is not to get the last bit of value every day out of every individual by counting their keystrokes. Our job is to make things better.
Scott D Clary 06:33
And the example that you referenced is an extreme example, Do you not feel that on average, we’re not doing better work, we’re not building healthier organizations. I know that shareholder value is still top of mind for a lot of companies. But even you know, I look at one of the main examples that you bring up in the book is how tech got it wrong, I would have thought that tech would have been some of the more forward looking organizations that would have been adopting better practices, better leadership policies, treating people more like humans than just pieces of an assembly line.
Seth Godin 07:08
Well, sometimes they do. And then they get stuck because of VCs because of the stock market, because of scale. And, you know, I hear from people every day around the world in so many industries, when you get pitched by a publicist who is just churning a list and doesn’t care that they’re spamming you. And when you get called at home by a telemarketer who’s churning a list, and doesn’t care that they’re lying to you, or you talk to a vice president at a bank, who actually has no authority of any kind to do anything, even change the order of the bills, they’re handing you. They’re just doing their job to and the crank of the industrial engine persist. And yes, there are doctors who will take their time and look you in the eye. And there are clerks who will take their time and ask you a pleasant tree. There are people who will choose to be people at work, but too often it’s the exception. It’s not what they’re supposed to do all day. And so the reason that my publisher pushed this book up six months, which they’ve never done in all my years of working with them is that they have said this is a moment we need to talk about this. And we’re not what we’ve been doing for a long time is saying, we can be industrialists, we can have a manual and we can have free snacks and feel like we have agency. But in fact, you don’t get the end part because industrialists given their druthers, will act a lot like Elon Musk will act a lot like somebody who’s standing there with a stopwatch because the stock market makes them as opposed to, for example, the way that Google treated its first 500 employees, which is not what it’s like to work at Google today.
Scott D Clary 08:57
Now, you mentioned you mentioned the honey bee example. And I want you to explain what that example is and some of the similarities and how we can sort of take examples from honey bees, which is a wild example. And you’re gonna go into it in a second. But then I want to draw some parallels between the the adaptive and the thriving nature of the honeybees, and during their song of increase. And in the face of adversity. And then we can encourage similar resilience and forward motion and individuals and organizations promoting a sense of safety, psychological security, like all these different things that are good leadership techniques and tactics and strategy that we sort of will that you have originally seen in a in a in a beehive. So explain that to me.
Seth Godin 09:46
So let’s start by explaining that humans are not bees. That in fact, a beehive and I could share B trivia all day long but a beehive 50 is 15,000 individual creatures that are not actually Individual, they’re very much like the neurons in the human brain turned inside out. If one be sacrifices its life or is killed, the beehive persists, that they somehow managed to be organized without an organizer to exist in community without a leader. And that’s how our brain works too. There isn’t one neuron in your brain that’s in charge of everything. So, what Jacqueline Freeman wrote about when she wrote the song of increase was what happens to the bees at the end of a long winter. So that’s in May in the northern hemisphere. If they’ve survived and many hives don’t, they will have depleted much of their honey because the purpose of the honey of the honey in the hive is not to give people some plastic shape bear to squeezing their tea. The purpose of the honey is to sustain the hive when times are tough. But if they made it through the winter, and they have enough honey, just barely. The council maidens the women who run the hive will have a meeting and realize they have a chance to leap. And so they’ll do two things. The first thing is they’ll build a vertical egg chamber and asked the Queen to lay and fertilize the Queen egg, because there’s only one queen in a hive at a time. And the second thing they’ll do is they’ll instruct all the other maidens sometimes called worker bees to go out and collect as much pollen as they possibly can. And within just a couple of weeks, they will replenish all the honey that the hive was running low on and their baby queen will be about to be born and then something really cool happens, which is that within a 10 minute period of time, more than 10,000 bees, and the queen will swarm and leave the hive all at the same time. And go 200 meters away. That’s called the song of increase. What a daring leap to leave behind the honey, leave behind the new queen. Leave behind all the babies the pips and just go somewhere you’ve never been before. And then they only have three days to find a new place to live. And that leap is what permits bees to thrive and to evolve. And human beings who are not bees have been seduced by industrialism to sing the song of safety, to hunker down to watch a little bit more TV to buy a little bit more crap and just go to work tomorrow. And we are capable of more than that. We are capable of leaping into this void.
Scott D Clary 12:36
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Seth Godin 13:35
I am asking people through this book to have a conversation, to talk to the others and to simply say let’s get real, or let’s not play, to engage in a series of mutual commitments with bosses and with coworkers, with the people who work for you to say, I will not treat you disrespectfully. And you shouldn’t do the same to me, I will not call a meeting just to make sure you’re not out doing your grocery shopping and then lecture at you for half an hour when I could send a memo instead, I will not focus on obedience, I will focus on standards that it is possible to create change. And change is what makes us human change is where significance lies. That if all you’re doing is managing and repeating and repeating all that sort of important, but maybe someone else can do that.
Scott D Clary 14:30
You mentioned you mentioned in the book that this is a catch 22 And everyone’s hesitating to go first in this conversation. And I would so we’re trying to solve for this by getting a conversation going. But I would also I would also argue that many people don’t think they’re mistreating their employees. Many people are stuck in a legacy mindset and they may not even be aware that this is not the way that you should be leading. So what what does good look like what does an ideal organization shouldn’t look like so that we can sort of frame it. Why is the sounds silly to say that the why is the the assembly line mode of leading an organization not ideal.
Seth Godin 15:11
Okay, so there are very few villains here. Most people who are working hard, whether they are managers, bosses or employees are not seeking to do the wrong thing. I will leave several billionaires out of that discussion, but in general, they’re just doing their job. But their job was invented 110 years ago, that industrialism is a very specific way of being in the world. That was inconceivable before the 1800s and return on machines return on time, figuring out how to use a stopwatch, measuring everything, what made us all rich, it gets you a certain kind of productivity. But it’s running out of steam. It’s running out of steam, because now every car is really high quality. And now every car is made in pretty much the most efficient possible way. It’s being replaced by a creation of value that works a different way. So the project they did before this one, I was a volunteer for over a year, coordinating the work full time of more than 300 people in 40 countries to build the carbon almanac. Every one of us was a volunteer, we produced a book that’s been translated into Italian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Czech, and many other languages that one a worldwide award for design. It’s 97,000 words. It’s footnoted. When it came out, there wasn’t one significant error in the whole thing. How did 300 people produce in less than five months, a book like this, with nobody in charge, and nobody being told what to do? Well, that kind of leap is possible, when you get good people who are enrolled in a journey and get out of their way, when you have standards instead of obedience. So yeah, we still need managers, I want the people at the pacemaker factory, and the people who are, you know, doing surgery to be extremely structured in their management style. But if our job is to invent the future, we have to get beyond being mediocre, because GPT is better at being mediocre than we are.
Scott D Clary 17:27
Now, you know, when you mentioned that example, I think of Wikipedia. As an example of that, too, I think of Wikipedia and all the contributors and then checking themselves and then the output is quite good. But there’s a vision associated with Wikipedia, there’s there’s a, there’s a higher, there’s a there’s a higher calling for the people that contribute and spend their free time very much similar to what you just did. So I want to I want to understand your thoughts. An organization has to have that higher calling and that vision that permeates the people that work there. But simultaneously, you’re running up against the issue of people being very transient in their careers, and moving. So the organization wants to have a vision wants people to buy into it. But that person is only spending two years at that organization. How do you solve for that?
Seth Godin 18:12
Well, what’s the vision of the hillside elementary school? Right, that one of the most common jobs in the United States is school teacher, Lenny Levine, who was the kindergarten teacher at Hillside until he passed away. Every year started over from scratch. And the mission for a lot of teachers is follows a curriculum, earn tenure, do your job, because that’s what principals push them to do, because that’s what boards push principals to do. And Lenny said, Let’s Get Real or let’s not play. He said in my kindergarten class, the rules are going to be different. And I’m going to change these kids forever. And 25 years later, my kids still remember because you can choose to do that. And the receptionist at the doctor’s office isn’t the person who’s going to be sticking the scope up somebody’s nose. But she has a lot to do with whether someone’s gonna get better or not. And so the question is, how does she manage the office that’s her title office manager to create the conditions for possibility not just for the patients, but for the people who work there. So that it’s not a day’s work for a day’s pay. It’s a human being showing up not as a resource, but as the point because that’s what work is for once we figured out how to grow enough food and other resources to survive. What exactly is the point of going to work?
Scott D Clary 19:52
I’m just thinking I’m just thinking about another point that you brought up was balancing the needs of the business. This versus the needs of the individual. So let’s talk because I think, too, if we look back at your body of work, a lot of the work that you’ve done on marketing is to shift the focus from focusing on the organization to focusing on the customer. And then the point you bring up in this book is, as an organization, you’re focusing on the not the needs of the organization anymore the needs of the employee, and you sort of mentioned this a few times. So I think this all comes down to how do we how do we champion the needs of the individual or the employee, and again, look at them, like not just a piece of a company, but an actual human being? So what are the needs of the individual once they have their pay, and they have their food, and they have their shelter have satisfied Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? What does a person need in an organization?
Seth Godin 20:46
Well, I need to highlight one thing, which is I am not saying companies need to give some sort of economic value to their employees, because it’s the right thing to do. What I’m saying is, creating the conditions for growth and significance, actually helps the company achieve what it sought to accomplish in the first place. So if we can use Google as an example, and then I’ll try to be more specific in your question. Early on, when I was at Yahoo, Google was doing some really interesting things, it was a pretty small company, and then they were going to have to shut down. And the reason they were gonna have to shut down is not because they weren’t making any money, they had plenty of money in the bank, it’s because the amount of data they were trying to store was so large, that it was crashing their search engine, it was taking forever, to get results. And the laws of physics were involved here, you can’t just say let’s everybody work harder, because the fact is, the speed of light is the speed of light. And two engineers put in emotional labor and effort and figured out that if they just stored certain kinds of data on the outside of the hard drive, instead of on the inside ring of the hard drive, it spins faster on the outside, and they could get the data fast enough to keep Google from going out of business. Now, that sort of change doesn’t happen because some manager is offering people a bonus. Nor does it happen because you’re yelling at them. It happens because a human being is enrolled in the journey of trying to make a change happen, and what human beings want. And I surveyed 10,000 people in 90 countries, they want to be treated with respect. They want to exceed their own expectations for what they thought was possible. And they want to work with people that they like and respect. They want those three things way more than they want a promotion or title or salary. They don’t want to travel or get paid a lot compared to being able to show up as a human to do work that matters with people who care. And I don’t care if you run a sandwich shop that’s still going to pay off for you.
Scott D Clary 23:03
One example that you brought up I thought was interesting to that point. And, and I think this is the right context, correct me if I’m wrong, but the hairy Brighthouse example, where Hey, everyone, just want to take a second and thank the sponsor of today’s episode Shopify. You hear that? That’s the sound of another sale on Shopify, a beautiful reminder that another business dream just became reality. Shopify is the game changing commerce platform revolutionising millions of businesses worldwide, whether you’re selling unique fashion accessories, or health and beauty products, Home and Garden essentials, or anything in between Shopify simplifies selling online and in person letting you focus on successfully growing your business. Shopify covers every sales channel imaginable. From an in person POS system to an all in one e commerce platform. It even lets you sell on Tik Tok, Facebook and Instagram. It’s packed with industry leading tools, it gives you complete control over your business and your brand. You don’t have to master new skills, like learning how to design or learning how to code and you have 24/7 help and an extensive business course library. Shopify is there to support your success every step of the way. When I look to acquire an E commerce business, Shopify is not a nice to have. It’s a must have. It’s a platform that simplifies operations, but also provides access to insights and tools that can elevate any business. It’s been instrumental in helping me revolutionize the businesses I acquire and allow me to take them to new heights. Now it’s your turn to get serious about selling and experience, the power of Shopify. This is possibility powered by Shopify. This is what you have to do sign up for a $1 per month trial period at shopify.com/success story, all lowercase, go to shopify.com/success story to take your business to the next level today. That’s shopify.com slash success story, or it’s basically based on the movie, The Paper Chase and the professor’s cold calling on students, but everybody wants to be in this class. And it’s interesting because cold calling on students, it’s uncomfortable, it’s not something that you think people would want to subject themselves to. But this is the most wanted class that everybody wants to be in. So it shows that people, when given the opportunity to excel to excel and be in a group of peers that are also excelling, they’re going to take that opportunity.
Seth Godin 25:36
Well, it’s important to note that not everybody wants to be in the class. In fact, almost nobody wants to be in the class. But that’s enough. That if you’ve been indoctrinated from first grade, to ask, Will this be on the test to do the minimum amount of work? And to get by? Why would you want to be in a class where you get called that the goal is take an easy class. But if you’re thinking smart about this, college is costing you 50 6070 $80,000, a year that you’re going to be in debt for for decades or more? Why wouldn’t you want to go to a classroom where everybody else wants to be there, too. And that’s the magic of the Bright House approach, which is, some people want to be in a room with people who want to be in the room.
Scott D Clary 26:29
Now is this. So this, this speaks about? I don’t know if this speaks about the soft skills that you should be looking for? Because then this is this is an education for a leader saying how do I find the people that want to be in that room. And traditionally, I would only hire people that have the hard skills, and you dresses as well. But then at the end of the book, you have an encyclopedia of real skills, things that are soft skills, but as elite I’ve hired a lot of people, you’ve hired a lot of people, a lot of people listening to this have hired a lot of people, you can gauge some of this, but ultimately, it’s stressful when you’re hiring somebody to hire based on soft skills. So how do you hire properly? What do you what is your advice for the the manager or the leader, the director, or the VP that wants to incorporate this.
Seth Godin 27:18
So just to catch people up, what I’m saying is, if it’s easy to measure might not be important. If they went to a famous college, if they have the same skin color as you if they’re tall, if they’re charismatic, if they interview, well, if they can type a lot of words per minute, if they commit a lot of lines of code to GitHub, fine, but that’s not really what’s going to transform your organization. It’s loyalty, honesty, empathy, connection, possibility, the willingness to sit in the liminal state between here and there, lots of things that don’t show up on resumes. And what I have found, because I don’t know a better shortcut, is the only way to know that is to work with somebody. And the good news is, you can now work with somebody before you hire them. And so my ironclad policies, I only work with people I’ve worked with before. So if I’m going to work with somebody I haven’t worked with before I give him a project, and I pay him for it. And in the act of them working with you, you can see what it’s like to work with them. What do they do when something is difficult? Do they always need instructions? Do they give people the benefit of the doubt, if they’re not acting like the kind of person you want to work with? Don’t work with them.
Scott D Clary 28:35
So when I started my own business years ago, I felt like I was being thrown into the deep end. And there’s a podcast and I’m talking about in just a second that I wish I had when I was building anything from scratch the podcast, some of the startups that worked in it’s called the millionaire University podcast. It’s not just another business podcast with jargon in theory, the two hosts Justin Tara Williams, they’ve been there done that built their own multi million dollar business from scratch. This podcast is like having a personal mentor, a successful millionaire, giving you a masterclass each episode, they walk through highly tangible tactical business strategies that they have used in their own business, that will definitely make your life easier. They also bring on some of their own mentors that have helped them in their journey, as well as bring on new entrepreneurs that are figuring things out. And it’s kind of like a q&a classroom session. So if you are ready to take the next step in your business, you want to scale it to at least seven figures and beyond. You need to listen to the millionaire University podcast. They drop episodes every Monday and Thursday and they’ve also built a community around this podcast. So if you are an entrepreneur, go down this rabbit hole you can find their podcast, The Millionaire University podcast on Apple Spotify, wherever you get your podcasts. I wish I had something like this when I started my own business. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. Trust me. You won’t regret it. I love that. It’s so simple. It’s actually not that complicated when you break it down. Why did you feel it was important to highlight the difference between tension and stress?
Seth Godin 30:11
When I talk about tension, it makes people really uncomfortable, which is ironic, of course. Tension, if I want to shoot a rubber band across the room is only going to happen if I pull it backwards. Otherwise, it doesn’t go, no joke is funny. Without tension, that’s why it’s called the punch line comes at the end, right? When I say nah, nah, and you say, Who is there, there’s tension. As we wait for the next part. Tension is the essence of growth and learning, and all the sorts of things we try to create as marketers and leaders. Stress, on the other hand, is wanting to be doing two things at the same time here, and they’re away from here toward that I need to be at work, but I need to be at home, that I have no choice but to be in the spot because I’m bolted down. And I want to leave two different things at the same time. It causes our brain to read to output chemicals that don’t make us happy. So I’m in favor of reducing stress by the stories we tell ourselves by the choices we get to make by creating a fairer culture. But I’m also in favor of creating tension to produce outputs that we seek.
Scott D Clary 31:31
Another another lesson that I picked up from this that I think is a great lesson for any leader, it’s about feedback loops. And you mentioned two in particular, you mentioned Paul or falesia. And you mentioned Harry Acker. And the two feedback loops, they built, I guess, into the into the DNA of the organization, I didn’t know these stories. So I mean, Paul, he was Kinkos, Harry was sleepies. Maybe you could tell those stories, and then a little bit of a playbook for how to build feedback loops into organizations, why they’re so important. Because I think a lot of people, their desk managers, and they aren’t as active in the field as they should be.
Seth Godin 32:14
Yeah, this is great. And I got to witness them both firsthand, begin by saying that culture defeats strategy, every time. Culture is the way things are around here. Culture is how people make decisions when it’s not in the handbook or the manual, who is building the culture, in your organization, in your shop in the whole place, the culture is a choice. If you don’t make the choice, you still made the choice. But culture is a choice. So Paul, and he called the place Kinkos, because he had a big kinky haircut. Paul proudly told everyone he had dyslexia, he was virtually illiterate. And he built a company that he sold to FedEx for billions of dollars. And Paul told me that the way he built it was super simple. All day, every day, all he would do was visit stores. And he would walk into the store and say to the person behind the desk, what’s working. And they had to tell him something that the store had innovated little more bank that was working. And then he would tell all the other stores. And if they didn’t have an innovation, they got in trouble. So everybody there knew that the culture was try something what would happen if we had six business books in the front of the store, maybe they would sell. So one store tried that. And the next thing you know, it’s a very big line of business. And then one day I was in a mattress store and the phone rang. I never met Mr. Sleepy, he was old at that time. But the phone rang. And this clerk got really nervous because I guess the phone doesn’t mean very often in a mattress store. And he answers the phone. And I could hear from like across the desk, and the guy who’s talking doesn’t say hello, or anything just says what’s wrong. And if you didn’t have anything wrong with your store, you were in trouble. But if you could tell Mr. Sleepy, something that wasn’t ideal, it would get fixed. And that was the culture at sleepies. And so in both cases, we have somebody they don’t have to have their name on the door, who creates a culture of what things are like around here. And these acts of creating culture, change what people think of as normal, and what they decide to do next.
Scott D Clary 34:33
You know, I was listening to Alex for Mozi, who has become very popular very quickly and and he’s built a large business and I, I know that he has proactively gone out against his organization. And he’s basically said to any member of his team, try and replace yourself with AI. Try and replace any task you do with AI as it doesn’t matter what it is. And it’s almost encouraging. It’s good Think psychological safety, it’s encouraging people to feel safe saying, Hey, listen, this piece of the job, it’s redundant. My time is better spent somewhere else. And I don’t think a lot of leaders are asking that and giving the psychological safe space for their employees to do that. I don’t think a lot of employees are putting up their hand saying, hey, 50% of what I do is a waste of time. That’s a huge inefficiency.
Seth Godin 35:24
Yeah, no, I think it’s a great point. And it gets to standards versus obedience. So one of the things that happened during the pandemic is an urban legend started to spread of some people who are doing two jobs, both full time and for they say, right, if they could just juggle the Zoom meetings, no one would know they had two full time jobs. And the manager who cares about obedience, freaks out at that the same way, today, you could probably become way more productive. If with your own money, you hired a virtual assistant, and outsourced some of your work on Upwork. Because you could then hand in really well done spreadsheets or lines of code, even though you didn’t spend any time doing it at all. You’re just arbitraging it to the outside world. So the question is, is that, okay? Well, if someone’s measuring obedience, it’s not okay. Because what I paid for was your butt in a seat, and your fingers on the keyboard, and I’m measuring how you work. But if it’s standards, then what I’m measuring is, this is what we do around here. And how we do it is this better than good enough. And if it is, continue, you figure out how to solve the problem. And so if you can create an organization built on standards, employees who are enrolled in your journey will continue to make the organization better, because they will exceed standards. But if you build an organization that is based on obedience, then you have to watch everybody all the time.
Scott D Clary 36:59
Because that obedience model, that’s the low trust model, and I’ve seen this, I’ve seen this play out, I’ve seen companies install the the work from home monitors where they take a screenshot every few minutes. Actually, I know somebody that interviewed for a VP level job, I think it was about a $300,000 salary plus bonus, and it was still eight hours tracked on a computer screenshots every couple of minutes. And then I’ve seen companies take it to the nth degree where I think it was a call center. And this is just all anecdotal. They don’t have points to back it up. But you know, you hear the rumors of camera has to be on all day. You have the managers watch it like it’s just horror stories. Yep, it’s absolutely. How do you how do you get we touched on this a little bit, but I want to go a little bit deeper. Because we were speaking about getting employees to care and getting employees to buy into the vision. And we spoke about some good examples you spoke about, you know, the receptionist at a doctor’s office or individually, you mentioned mentioned that the at the school. But for somebody who’s hiring in a very boring, I put boring in air quotes boring industry, and they feel like they’re hiring, you know, sales reps, and there’s sales jobs all over the place. And, and people are coming and going and have high churn and they’re asking me, How do I get this particular employee and an unsexy industry and an unsexy job. And there’s no altruism associated inherently with selling software, right into an industry they don’t care about, how do I get that employee to care?
Seth Godin 38:38
Let’s get real again, or let’s not play, if I owned a car dealership, I would say, if you’re looking for a job easy and easy out, churning your way through a file and earning a certain kind of commission, here’s the phone number of four of my competitors, please go work. They’re eager to send you there. But if you want to put yourself on the hook, and you want to explore what it is to do a different kind of interaction with customers, and a different kind of transparency with your boss. Here’s how we do things around here. And this is what I need from you. And this is what you’re going to get from me. And I’m going to keep my end of the bargain. And if you don’t keep your end of the bargain, you will know it before I do. And if you want to get real, this is the kind of place we’re going to build together. Now does that mean everyone will want to be one of my customers? Of course not. The reason we have car salesmen the way they do is that many car buyers want there to be car salesmen like that. They want high pressure and deception because it works. That’s if it didn’t work. I guarantee you it wouldn’t be there. But we’re going to appeal to a different kind of customer. And in fact, Ike Sewell years ago, had a Cadillac dealership in Texas that was the number one Cadillac dealership in America because he did exactly the same thing. One of the things he did, and I Zig used to tell the story Ziggler Tom Peters, Zig, one of the things he used to do is every three months, the sales manager and the service manager had to switch jobs. Why would you do that? You would do it because then the service manager would hear all the promises the salespeople had been making about what service would do. And then the sales manager would hear about all the times people had been disappointed by the service people. And by creating this empathy by moving people around and professionalizing the work, it created a completely different kind of dealership. And if you went in to sell a Cadillac with a piece of paper and said, I think I can save $12 over your competitor, they would say you want to lift, go save $12 We’re not going to we’re not racing to the bottom
Scott D Clary 40:47
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Seth Godin 44:12
So meetings aren’t the problem meetings are the symptom of the problem. And the problem is we’re not able to ask our boss and our co workers, what is this for? And if you’re not able to ask What is this for whatever it is, then you haven’t made an agreement to be significant? If the question What is this for? If the answer is because we always do it this way, then it answers itself. So my friend Toby has a company with more than 5000 employees 10,000. And he also knows how to program he went in and deleted every regularly scheduled group meeting in the entire company. On a Sunday, just from everyone’s Google Calendar just disappeared. And then on Monday, everyone got an email and it said if you really We need this meeting back, you can have it. But why don’t you try it without for a while. He saves the company millions and millions of dollars in untold frustration. So if we can’t say to our boss, I see you have a meeting scheduled for an hour, what’s it for? Would it be easier if you recorded a five minute video and just emailed it to everybody? If you can’t have that conversation, then meetings aren’t really the problem. The problem is, you can’t even ask about it.
Scott D Clary 45:27
And the last thing I wanted to ask you, you make a wonderful reference about the focus on creating meaningful work like Mozart, as opposed to background noise like music. So how do you how do you quantify how do you how do you measure meaningful work? What is the new metric, as a business that we should be striving to attain?
Seth Godin 45:51
So music? In terms of number of years touched? It’s pretty popular, any elevators playing music? Not Mozart? But for me, the question is, did you make a change happen? Did you take a risk to do a generous act for anyone, that the goal of being significant is the smallest unit of change in a good way, for the smallest viable number of people, because then you get to do it again. Stop worrying about maths, stop worrying about average, stop worrying about scale, and worry about better instead. Because if you can create a better day, for everyone who interacts, the business part will take care of itself.
Scott D Clary 46:36
I love that now, if people want to go get the book, when is it coming out? I mean, you can drop all the socials that you want to drop. But where should they go get the book? What can they learn from the book outside of what we spoke about today? Who is this book for? I’m just give a little bit of a primer so that somebody is really locked into what they’re going to get from it, and then give some dates because I think I have the days when I’m in front of me. So
Seth Godin 46:59
right so we’re talking this coming out at the end of May, May 30. The book comes out if you go to Seth’s dot blog slash song. So Ng, there’s some videos there. For me. There’s a link to podcasts there. And there’s lots of ways to buy the book, you will not find me in most of social media, because I don’t want to be the product. I would rather do my work. And perhaps you could try that too.
Scott D Clary 47:22
I like that. Okay, last question. I ask everyone. And you know what? If you write a 22nd and 23rd and 24 I have no doubt you’re gonna keep writing books. Well, we’ll see how this answer changes as you release next book and next book and next book, but I asked everybody the same question. So after your career, after all your accomplishments, the businesses you built the books you’ve written, what does success mean to you?
Seth Godin 47:48
Sometimes if I’m good at what I do, the people I teach, teach somebody else, and I don’t need credit. I don’t even want credit. I just want to know that I made things a little bit better.