Letters of Life


Despite the anti-American sentiment prevalent in today’s global village, one has to acknowledge that the Americans are still masters of The Spin. In other words, marketing. As abstract and vague as it is, the term marketing is no longer perceived as a corporate must-have, clever positioning, clever selling. In the alternate realities of cyberspace and social networking, everyone is marketing himself in new and subtle ways, even if it’s unintentional. It’s a state of mind.

Linchpin: “…an individual who can walk into chaos and create order, someone who can invent, connect, create, and make things happen.”

In Seth Godin’s new book, Linchpin, the American marketing expert discusses new mindsets needed in an everchanging socio-economic landscape. And sometimes, he says, in order to fully understand the changing rules of today, it’s necessary to look at our past. The following excerpt is taken from internet newspaper The Huffington Post, written by Gail Lynne Goodwin.

“Fifty thousand years ago, if you didn’t want to get killed by a Saber-toothed tiger, it was best to be in a village with other people. It turns out we’ve built a culture for ourselves in the last five to 10 years where the opposite is true. If you sound just like James Taylor no one’s going to listen to your music because they can listen to James Taylor. If you make a film just like Spike Jones, nobody’s going to watch it because they can just watch Spike Jones. Go down the list. If you fit in, we can ignore you. Being ignored means you don’t get any traction, you don’t get any job offers, you don’t get any revenue.

“On the other hand”, Seth says, “if you go to the edges, if you do something that feels risky, that’s remarkable — that’s worth talking about. Richard Branson, Cirque du Soleil — those things were risky — that’s why we know of them. If they had been boring, if they’d been clones, they would have had to be the cheapest or be gone, and cheapest is already owned by Walmart, so you have no choice left but to be risky.

Our world is changing fast.

“There’s a fundamental shift in our culture, bigger than anything since Henry Ford. . . . Being productive in the name of the factory, increasing the efficiency of the system, becoming an interchangeable part — it’s over. So what’s left? What’s left is to race to the bottom, which is no fun, or to climb to the top, which involves being artistic and original and surprising and thriving without a map and doing work that matters and makes a difference.”

Being artistic and original can be a new concept for many. Seth believes “We’ve brainwashed generation after generation to fit in instead of stand out. The lizard brain — the part of our brain that’s been around for a million years, rules our life when it shouldn’t. It causes us to make bad decisions. The fear of being laughed at is a real problem.”

Living in an earthbound, nuts-and-bolts culture like Singapore’s, how can I see myself as an artist?

A multi-blogger site, TrebuchetGroup, which reviewed Godwin’s book shared this learning point from Linchpin:
1. Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient.
2. If art is a human connection that causes someone to change his mind, then you are an artist.
3. The easier it is to quantify [what you do], the less it’s worth.

The reviewer added: “I like the surprises of art – when we show up with curiosity and openness and respect we can create something that’s never been made before, and that serves us both better than we can imagine.”
Seth shared some tips to remember when breaking out of the mold and thriving without a map:

1) Don’t worry about what other people think. “If you’re willing to be laughed at you’re way more likely to succeed.”

2) Living outside your comfort zone isn’t a bad thing. “When I feel the fear, I know that I’m doing something right. And if I don’t, then I’m probably doing something boring. For me, the fear is a signal that I’m on the right track.”

3) Marketing matters. “Everything is marketing. Marketing is not advertising. Everything you do, the stories you tell, the way you live your life -it’s all marketing.”

4) Do things that are scarce. “Things that are scarce are valuable. And what is scarce is respect, keeping your word and being transparent. What is scarce is originality, creativity and making a difference. What’s not scarce is fitting in, doing what you’re told and blaming someone else. If you want to create things of value, you should do things that are scarce.”

5) You don’t need anyone’s permission. “You probably should stop waiting for permission. If your excuse is, ‘My boss won’t let me’, well of course she won’t. Because what you’re saying to your boss is, ‘I want to do this cool thing and if it fails it’s your fault and if it succeeds I get the credit’. Who would give you that deal?” Don’t wait for permission- just do it.

Today is a turning point where we get to make the decision to embrace those crazy, out-of-the-box ideas and choose to go down a less well-defined path. It may be scary, it may be crazy- but it will also be where we can make a bigger difference. It’s a choice that we get to make individually. For me, I’m going to go embrace crazy and as Seth says, “Go make something Happen!” [Gail Lynne Goodwin]

1 Response »

  1. Thank you for sharing Seth’s information from our interview with your readers. It was fun to interview him. In the last few months I’ve been lucky enough to interview Richard Branson, Guy Laliberte, Peter Diamandis, Gary Vaynerchuk and many more “rock stars”. You’re welcome to read/hear their interviews at http://InspireMeToday.com.

    Thanks again for sharing the inspiration!



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