Archive for the ‘Seth Godin’ Category
January 17, 2013
Thanks to Todd Schnick and for having Seth Godin and I on his Intrepid Radio Podcast.
We started off talking about the children’s book Seth and I made together, “V Is For Vulnerable”, but the conversation went way beyond that.
Seth, as always, was his very lucid self. As always, he’s pushing us to raise our game in the meaningful” and “creating art” departments.
My big takeaway was, that in spite of Seth being very successful and well-known in my circles, he really isn’t trying to reach “Everybody”, just the small few who are ready to hear it. It’s easy to think that everybody digs Seth’s message, that’s not actually true. Most people just aren’t ready.
But that’s OK. Though Seth fans are a definite minority, the good news is, that’s still enough people to make a huge impact.
We can all learn something from that…
Todd’s Show Notes:
1. “If Dr. Seuss wrote a book that would make a middle manager cry, that is what we set out to do.”
2. It is about being hopeful and brave again, like we were as children.
3. Making art is about being vulnerable to the world.
4. “If it is certain to work, it’s not innovation. And if it is not innovation, than it is not art.”
5. Too many organizations are afraid to say to the world “This might not work…” And that fear holds most back from creating art.
6. “Failure is something I look forward to, because it shows me I’ve gotten to an edge.”
7. “Work is love.” Or at least it should be.
8. Imbalance makes good things happen, and makes real, honest connection possible. And it’s that feeling of almost falling from imbalance, that you really begin to start feeling alive.
9. Hard work vs. Doing something that is hard, risky, meaningful.
10. How people apply “one-buttock playing” to their daily lives.
11. Hugh and Seth discuss the creative process in how they created this book.
12. “Surround yourself with people who are on a journey…and help them make that journey with more gusto. And to make more of a ruckus.”
13. Mattering, is more important than focusing on quality…And mattering, is doing something that cannot be specified…
Hope you enjoy. Thanks!
[Find out more about Seth here.]
December 21, 2012
Decades ago, before my first cartoons were ever published, I had this idea that my first published work would be a children’s book.
That didn’t happen, of course. After years in the cartoonist game, my first children’s book was only just published this month. “V Is For Vulnerable”. Check it out.
Though actually, it’s not a children’s book. It’s really a book for entrepreneurs, fiendishly disguised as a children’s book.
But Shhhhhhhh! Don’t tell anybody.
This is what I wrote in the dedication:
These drawings are dedicated to my nephews and nieces, all five of them. May these words resonate with you one day, and God Forbid that they never do. Lots of Love from Uncle Hugh
I meant every word to them, I assure you.
Heck, and it isn’t even my book, not really. My friend Seth wrote the thing, it was all his idea. I just illustrated it, long after the really hard work was already done.
That being said, I’m very proud of the work nonetheless. And even more proud that Seth chose me for the job.
There are many lessons about the nature of work, love and enterprise, that we are neglecting to teach our children…
… at our peril.
This must change, if we are to thrive long-term.
Hopefully this is a step in the right direction. Kudos to Seth for writing it, and to y’all for supporting it. Thank you.
July 6, 2012
[Thanks to Seth Godin for sending in these two photos: First, himself sitting underneath the “Dip” piece (he added the speech bubble himself) and then a “gapingvoid Wall” he has in his office of some of the the work I’ve done for him over the years. VERY Cool.]
[From yesterday’s newsletter:]
In 2007, when Seth Godin asked me to draw some cartoons for his little masterpiece, The Dip, I had no idea that an eighty-page book could touch so many people, so profoundly. If you haven’t read it, you must– and you can get a copy here.
Given the simple, yet powerfully insightful lessons of the book, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great for all of us Dip-fans out there to have all the cartoons inside a single hanging frame?” Something that would be a bit of a reminder — in the moments when you really need one?
It was so obvious, and Seth has them hanging above his desk [see above].
And yes, you can buy the cartoons individually as well, 11 x 14 prints on the main gapingvoid Seth page as well.
My books aren’t long, either, for similar reasons. It was The Dip that really clarified that for me.
June 29, 2012
Today in the newsletter we introduced four new “Linchpin” prints, based on, of course, Seth Godin’s seminal book, Linchpin.
[UPDATE: Big thanks to Seth for blogging it earlier today!]
Seth’s work is kind of like my own… Not everybody gets it, which is OK, because there are PLENTY of people who do.
And that’s a great place to be. Far better than waiting around for The Magic Success Unicorn (i.e. the big idea that everybody gets) to show up.
Thanks again to Seth. It’s was an honor to draw them, seriously…
[Check out the prints in gapingvoid’s very own Seth gallery etc.]
June 5, 2012
[Me holding it etc.]
[Close-up of the cow]
[My signature at the bottom.]
[Me and Seth signing the prints, July, 2009.]
[Visit the gallery here to purchase the print and/or view other prints from the gapingvoid “Seth Godin” series etc.]
This is my most ambitious print project to date, The “Purple Cow” edition. [Click here to see the backstory, click here to see the original 2009 promo etc.]
The book that first turned me on to Seth Godin’s work was, no surprise, “Purple Cow”.
It was a big Ah-Ha! moment for me. This enormous feeling of “Yes! Finally! This is the kind of space I want my career to live in!” That feeling, FINALLY articulated, after years in the career-hell desert. It was very liberating.
And so one day I decided to pay tribute to that feeling, by creating a hand-drawn Purple Cow print.
I figured, there’s got to be people out there who were as affected by that book as I was, so why not create something to celebrate that? It’s a very iconic book among my friends, so why not make an actual icon out of it? It was a no-brainer, really.
Basically, it’s the cover of the book, all drawn by hand, with my all-over squiggly style. It’s the largest print I’ve ever done, and it’s pretty intense. It also came with Seth Godin’s blessing (Thanks, Seth!)- it goes without saying, I wouldn’t have gone ahead without that.
One more thing: Of all the prints I’ve done, it’s the hardest one to capture via photography; posting on the Internet really doesn’t give it justice. That’s OK, that’s kinda what keeps it special, too.
Hope you like purple
UPDATE: Seth left a kind comment below: “There’s one on the wall of my office. It’s even cooler than Hugh says it is.” Thanks, Seth!
[Visit the gallery here to purchase the print and/or view other prints from the gapingvoid “Seth Godin” series etc.]
May 1, 2012
[Click on image to activate animation etc.]
This is one of the cooler “Social Object Factory” mini-projects we’ve done lately– a little animated Gif for Seth Godin’s lovely little book, Poke The Box.
[Yes. I know. We didn’t use my drawing style this time. The Factory is really about Social Objects, not about Hugh etc.]
One thing Seth and I always had in common, is that we both believe in writing short books. My personal rule is: All my books have to be short enough to be read on a plane ride between Miami and New York. And they are.
A book that makes you feel hopefully really inspired and really excited, that you close and put away satisfied, just as they’re dropping the landing gear, coming into La Guardia. It’s simple enough goal to aim for; certainly a lot less deluded than “Write the next ‘Sun Also Rises’ or ‘Ulysses’”.
Seth talks about his “short format” philosophy some more in a brilliant post, “Tracts and Books”:
The Communist Manifesto is 80 pages long. Certainly long enough to make an impact.
It has never taken me beyond a hundred pages to be persuaded. Sure, there are times when the pages after page 100 help me pile on, give me more depth and understanding. But a hundred (and usually fifty) is enough to get under my skin.
Or to steal heavily from George Bernard Shaw, “I’m sorry my last book was so long, but I didn’t have time to write a short one”.
It’s dirty little secret that most of my business-book author friends (and I have more than a few) will freely admit off the record: Most business books are lucky if people read more than the first hundred pages.
So why write more than a hundred pages? You tell me…
It’s never quite that simple, of course. There are as many ways to write a book as there are authors. If you want to spend the next seven years teaching junior college in order to be able to write the next Great American Novel in your spare time, that works too, go for it.
But if you’re just trying to get ideas to spread– if it’s the ideas that actually matter, not the book itself– I’d pay attention to what Seth is up to, very carefully.
Like I’ve said many times before about Media, we’re now living in the era of #CheapEasyGlobal. And thanks to that, I do honestly believe, it’s never been a more exciting time to be a writer.
Make of that what you will.
April 17, 2012
Look what my publishers just sent me. The first hardback copy of “Freedom Is Blogging In Your Underwear” [Kindle version here]. Awwww.… I’m so happy!
I love the purple cover… it’s kinda appropriate: It was after reading Seth Godin’s “Purple Cow” that the idea of writing books occurred to me. “That looks like fun, I can do that, I want a piece of that” etc.
The book is a love letter to the blog, of sorts. I think blogging matters, I think having your own piece of online real estate THAT YOU OWN YOURSELF (not Twitter, not Facebook, not Google+ etc), on YOUR OWN SERVER that YOU pay for, is important. But it’s an idea that’s kinda been lost in recent years. BLOGGING MATTERS.
So I wrote a book about it.…
May 1, 2011
Radio Litopia has a TERRIFIC audio interview with my friend, Seth Godin, on the future of publishing, and how his latest enterprise, The Domino Project, is attempting to embrace it.
Seth’s take on the future of publishing is similar to what I’ve been saying for a while: “The book doesn’t matter. The conversation matters.”
A book, as an object, has no inherent, objective power. Which is why it’s so hard to predict bestsellers, why you can’t judge a book by its cover.
The REAL power of a book comes from lots of people reading it and, MORE importantly, people talking about it.
Or as Mark Earls would say, what makes any object REALLY interesting (in this case, a book) is how it changes the human interaction around it, not the actual object itself.
Again, “The book doesn’t matter. The conversation matters.”
But this has always been the case.
A famous author has always been a global microbrand. A publisher’s power has always been in its ability to provide a platform for the author, not in its ability to chop down trees and create printed paper products.
And an author’s power has always been in her ability to affect human interaction through her writings, not in some magical, superhuman quality.
And of course, all the Internet has done is make these truths even more self-evident than they already were.
“The book doesn’t matter. The conversation matters.” That, my friends, is the future of publishing. The actual media– be it Kindle, iPad, hardpack, paperback, whatever– is irrelevant.
And if your publisher doesn’t really get that, then find another one. Seriously.
PS: Seth mentions me about eight minutes into it as a case study of what he’s talking about (Thanks, Seth!).
[Check out my two books here etc.]
November 18, 2010
This cartoon was sent out today in the newsletter. The idea was inspired by the book by my friend, Seth Godin.
Read Seth’s original 2005 blog post on the subject. It’s considered a classic.
We live in HUGELY exciting times. You do know that, right?
March 28, 2010
[This is the first of a series of guest blog posts, based around the “Remember Who You Are” riff I’m always going on about. Today’s post comes from my friend and mentor, Seth Godin, the great marketing author.]
Forget who you are
When most people say, “remember who you are,” what they’re really saying is, “remember who we think you are, remember who you were born to, don’t overreach, wait your turn, don’t get uppity.”
They rarely mean it the way Hugh means it. Hugh, I think, is saying that you are whomever you decide to be. That’s a statement of astonishing audacity, one that could only be said by an artist and understood by one as well.
I have no illusions about the mobility of our society. While it is far more flexible and open than some societies in the past, there are huge impediments to entering a different class.
And yet art in all its forms belies that. Art, whether it’s the drawing art that Hugh does or the business art that a great Wall Street trader does or the customer service art that Tony Hsieh at Zappos espouses… that sort of art isn’t limited by social boundaries. When you connect and change another human being, when you create upside wherever you go, then who you are is decided by you, not by them.
Let’s change the mantra, then, from “remember who you are,” to “decide who you are.”
Decide to be the generous, change-making, scarifying, delighting, over-the-topping dreamer you’re capable of being.
[Download the high-res “remember Who You Are” poster here.]
February 8, 2010
[The “Linchpin” Series– available over on the gapingvoid Gallery etc.]
Last month my friend and mentor, Seth Godin released his longest and probably most important book, “Linchpin”. I interviewed him about it here.
To celebrate the book, Seth let me design a portfolio of four fine art prints, inspired by the book, entitled “The Linchpin Series”. You can go check out over on the gapingvoid Gallery here.
What else is there to say? Seth wrote a great book. Like I said in my review on Amazon,
“And Seth then challenges us, the readers, to become linchpins ourselves. To make the leap. To become artists. To do emotional work, whatever the sacrifice may be. It’s our choice, and it’s our burden. Seth won’t be there to catch us if we fall, but to become the people we need to be eventually, well, we probably wouldn’t want him to, anyway.
Congratulations, Seth. You have penned a real gem of a book here. Rock on.”
I basically wanted to create a set of prints– “Cube Grenades” — to go on the office wall, as Linchpin “Idea-Souvenirs” to kick the viewer in the pants. “Remember Who You Are” and all that.
I hope you’ll pay the gallery a visit. Meanwhile, you can check them out below as well.
Thanks, Seth! I had a lot of fun drawing these. Rock on.
LIFE IS TOO SHORT (Linchpin 1)
Life is too short not to do something that matters, not to become a “Linchpin”. I know it, you know it, we all know it, so let’s stop futzin’ around at get on with it. Like Seth says, “Decide”.
INSANE ASYLUM (Linchpin 2)
Why do people become what Seth Godin calls “Linchpins”? Becasue to not do so would drive us crazy. Eventually we have no choice. And we’ve all been in worse places– when you know you’re capable of doing great things, being in “The Zone”, but every external marker out there indicates otherwise– that you’ll never get to do the “life’s best work” that you’re capable of. That your career will be nothing but drudgery and abuse, in exchange for what seems an increasingly meager paycheck.
And after being there long enough, the decision to become a Linchpin eventually becomes an easy one. But it can take time.
ALL ARTISTS ARE ENTREPRENEURS (Linchpin 3)
By Seth’s definition, an artist is not just some person who messes around with paint and brushes, an artist is somebody who does (and I LOVE this term) “emotional work.”
Work that you put your heart and soul into. Work that matters. Work that you gladly sacrifice all other alternatives for. As a working artist and cartoonist myself, I know exactly what he means. It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it.
THIS IS IT (Linchpin 4)
It’s easy to tell somebody to get into The “Linchpin” Zone. Much harder to live it. But fight like hell to get there, regardless, every friggin’ day, or else you’ll never make it.
You know you’re capable of doing great things, being in “The Zone”, but every external marker out there indicates otherwise– that you’ll never get to do the “life’s best work” that you’re capable of. That your career will be nothing but drudgery and abuse, in exchange for what seems an increasingly meager paycheck.
Yeah, it’s a painful place to be. But it doesn’t last forever, not if you don’t give up. Not if you don’t succumb to all the overpriced, “treadmill-enabling”, external markers of success– fancy houses, cars, schools, vacations and “stuff” that you can’t really afford, that you don’t really need nearly as much as the guy in the next cubicle says that you do.
THE LINCHPIN PORTFOLIO: ALL FOUR FOR $200.
What a deal, what a steal etc.All four, 11“x14” each, proper archival paper, inks and printing tech, all hand-signed by me, for the price of a moderately-OK-but-not-great meal for two in Manhattan. And of course, for hardcore Seth fanboys, there’s the “Purple Cow” print from early 2009.
January 21, 2010
[N.B. The “Ten Questions” archive is here.] [To read other people’s reviews, go to the Linchpin Squidoo page.]
My friend and mentor, Seth Godin has a new book out: “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?”.
As has become a regular habit with his last couple of books, to celebrate the launch I asked him ten questions, which he kindly answered below.
LINCHPIN: TEN QUESTIONS FOR SETH GODIN.
1. HUGH: OK, let’s get it over with– What is a “Linchpin”? What is the book about?
SETH: You’re a linchpin, Hugh. So are all those crazy people we can’t live without, people who bring art to work, people who reach out, make a connection, cause change to happen. The linchpin is the person who is indispensable, because they refuse to become an interchangeable part, someone who merely follows the manual. In the hardware store, the linchpin is a lightweight little piece that holds the wheel to the axle. Very difficult to live without.
2. In your book, Purple Cow, your message was “Everyone’s a Marketer, now.” In All Marketers are Liars, the message was, “Everyone’s a Storyteller, now.” In Tribes, it was “Everyone’s a Leader, now.” In Linchpin, the message surprised me: “Everyone’s an Artist, now”. Tell us about your thesis.
Artist doesn’t mean painter or cartoonist or playwright. Artist means someone willing to stand up, stand out and make change. In a stable environment, we worship the efficient factory. Henry Ford or even David Geffen… feed the machine, keep it running smoothly, pay as little as you can, make as much as you can. In our post-industrial world, though, factory worship is a non starter. Cheap cogs are worth what they cost, which is not much. In a changing environment, you want people who can steer, innovate, provoke, lead, connect and make things happen. That’s my thesis. This is a new revolution, and just as Marx and Smith wrote about the industrial revolution, I’m writing about ours.
3. A key term you used throughout the book was “Emotional Labor”. Please explain what that is, and why that matters to anyone wishing to become a Linchpin.
It’s emotional labor to insist that your publisher leave the sexy and dirty bits in your last book, even though it certainly would have been easier to take them out. It’s emotional labor to move to Texas even though it might be easier to just hang out with friends. It’s emotional labor to do the work even when you don’t feel like it. Mostly, I’m talking about doing the difficult work of bringing your very best self to each interaction, because to do otherwise is a mortal sin.
4. Obviously, we’re not all artists, in the strictest sense of the word. I’m a professional artist myself, and even I don’t much like using that term. But here’s Seth, trying to bust the definition of “Artist” wide open. I get the feeling this was not you trying to redefine the term in order to create controversy for the sake of being clever, but you are trying to challenge people to think about their work differently, to make them think about WHAT EXACTLY has to happen, for them to become a Linchpin. Yes?
Well, what should we call these people, these linchpins? I mean, we have a word for a painter who merely does derivative work: a hack. But what do we call a customer service rep or an insurance adjuster or landscape architect that changes the game, that elevates each interaction and that takes enormous emotional and professional risk with their work? I think they need a name, so I stole one. I call them artists.
5. One thing I find interesting about the book (and all your other ones, as well) is that you don’t offer any easy answers. You never say, “This is where the world is headed, and this is how WE ARE going to make it work”. Your shtick is more, “This is where the world is headed, and this is what YOU have to think about, if you don’t want to be thoroughly crushed.” And yet I still see people asking you, “Please tell me what to do to incorporate your kind of new, groovy thinking, WITHOUT ME having to change my life or my modus operandi in an way whatsoever. Please show me where the autopilot button and the cruise control are” etc. Do you find that frustrating? Is it happening more as your work gets more well known? Less?
Frustrating isn’t really the right word. I think it was sad at first, because it’s almost like the Wizard of Oz… Dorothy had the power all along, right? But now I view it as an opportunity. It’s so tempting to start drawing maps for people. It makes them happy and it makes me feel smart. But resisting that temptation is the right thing to do, because once someone does it on their own a few times, they become unstoppable. Watching that change occur is one of the highlights of my professional life. And in fact, every great teacher I’ve ever known seeks the same outcome.
6. If I had to describe your typical writing style (of which I am a huge fan, of course), I’d call it “Dryly understated, humorous, streetwise and lucid”. This book somewhat surprised me. It seems to have a more angry and more emotional tone than your previous books. Was that just me? Is your writing style becoming angrier in general, or did the inherent subject matter in the book just get you more riled up than usual?
It’s not angry, Hugh. It’s urgent.
I don’t think most people realize the precarious nature of our current situation, how close we are to the edge, and how little time we have to get our act together.
7. I’ve known you for a little while; we met right around the time that Purple Cow came out in 2003. Back then to me you were this articulate, entertaining and successful entrepreneur, who had just written this cool business bestseller. Then more books came out and I started seeing this more “author” sensibility emerging. You obviously enjoyed writing the books, and you obviously liked seeing people reading them and liked helping make change happen. But in this last year or so, I’ve seen your shtick become more “rabbinical” i.e. it seems you’ve gotten more interested in teaching people– younger people especially. Like you no longer care so much about your own success and “affecting change” yourself, but are more interested in teaching people how to become successful and affect change themselves. Am I close? Are you evolving?
I hope we’re all evolving. I think my mission is the same as it has been since that day on the canoe dock in 1978 when I decided it would be very cool indeed to help people achieve more than they thought they could. What has changed is my awareness of how the system pushes people like me to be manual writers. Publishers and others really want to give the market what it wants, and what it wants are Dummies books and fast easy change (Hey! It’s been a year… let’s elect a new senator!). Even now, the single best way to get a lot of blog traffic is to post a list of Ten Ways to… and make sure you mention Ron Paul, Apple Computer and the inherent difference between men and women. Try it, it works.
So I’ve experienced the feedback you get when you draw a map, and it’s nice, but the real win is helping people draw their own. To see the world as it is. That’s a lot more difficult. People need glasses, not a map.
8. I saw this in your last book, Tribes, and I see again it Linchpin. Though I’m sure there are tons of people who would prefer it if they were, your books are not instruction manuals. You’re not telling people what to “Do”. You’re telling people to “Decide”. A subtle difference, but it’s an important one. Please tell us more.
Oh, I don’t think it’s subtle at all. I think it’s a HUGE difference. We hate to decide. We avoid deciding. We hide from it.
Once someone decides, they almost always succeed (unless they want to win an Olympic medal or some other ridiculous prize awarded to just a few). The decision is the hard part, but we spend precious little time on it.
9. We have a mutual friend in New York, Fred, who is a tremendously successful venture capitalist. But as anyone who knows him well will testify, his success has diddly-squat to do with love of money and all its trappings, and everything, EVERYTHING to do with the fact that, quite simply, he utterly loves what he does. He just ADORES waking up every morning and clicking his heels on his way to work. I grew up in a pretty standard, middle class corporate family. Back in my parent’s day, “loving” your job was considered almost a taboo; something inherently detrimental to long-term personal career success, and the success of the company team. But there seems to be an underlying message in Linchpin that THAT THIS HAS ALL CHANGED. That if you don’t love your job, not only will you be a miserable wreck the rest of your life, but hey, you’re less likely to be successful in business, as well. Care to elaborate?
The amazing thing is that in every job, every one, there are people who hate it and people who love it. There are clock watchers on Sand Hill Road. There are people bussing tables at a coffee shop who race to work each day. The job is irrelevant, pretty much. It’s the decision.
Fred does great work as a VC because his motives are transparent, his judgment is excellent and he keeps his promises. All three are essential for him to love his job, and he does. Since he’s not willing to trade that joy for a few bucks, he sticks to his principles. And, here’s the cool irony, the more he does that, the more money he makes!
10. Of all the books you’ve written (and I love them all), this seems to be your most challenging. Your previous messages– Everyone’s a Marketer, Everyone’s a Storyteller, Everyone’s a Leader etc– though compelling enough, somehow seem far easier to digest compared the simple message in Linchpin: “Love what you do, or fail.” Why do you think that idea is STILL so difficult for so many people? Do you expect this book to be as well received as your previous ones? Does it matter?
If you had asked me four weeks ago, I would have been a happy pessimist. Happy because I wrote precisely the book I wanted to write, regardless of the consequences. I was literally ready for almost every one to hate it. And a pessimist because I’m pushing people awfully hard with this one.
But you didn’t ask me four weeks ago, you asked me today. And today is a few weeks after 2000+ of my readers made a donation and got a review copy and WOW. They get it. It’s working. It’s resonating.
My work is done here, as the saying goes. To unleash something like this on the world, to go out this far on a limb and have people support you and embrace you and run with it… it’s the most amazing feeling.
Thanks, Hugh, for giving me something to write about and for showing us all a way to live. We can’t do it without you.
[The best way to support gapingvoid is to sign up for the “Daily Cartoon” Newsletter.]
July 16, 2009
[Me and Seth signing the silkscreen…]
Got back to West Texas last night after almost a week on the road. A quick visit to Silicon Valley for the Techcrunch Party, then an equally brief visit to New York.
I was on the East Coast mostly to co-sign the Purple Cow print with Seth Godin.
That was a great afternoon, visiting his office in Westchester County. He’s a seriously interesting guy. We talked a lot about all sorts of things…
Other highlights were the #NYCtweetup- about 50 people came. Secondly, I got to meet my editing team at Penguin/Portfolio for the first time. They seem very happy with how the book is doing, so it was all good.
[Update: Galleycat, the publishing blog, also covered the print signing:]
Hugh MacLeod (right) became Internet-famous by drawing cartoons on the back of business cards and publishing them online at his Gaping Void blog. Along the way, he gained some valuable insights into marketing and creativity which he also happily shared with readers; that was enough to attract the attention of the Portfolio imprint at Penguin Group, which recently published MacLeod’s first book, Ignore Everybody.
Now, one of MacLeod’s friends (and inspirations) happens to be Seth Godin — if you’ve been reading GalleyCat long enough, you know we’re right there with him on that — and back in April, MacLeod drew a version of the cover to Godin’s Purple Cow (on a much bigger surface than a business card). “To me the book, as a totem, as an icon, represents a huge shift in thinking that came along, almost uninvited, back in the early 2000’s,” MacLeod emailed Godin shortly after. “The drawing represents [to me] my own ability to internalize it.” By the end of the month, he was taking orders for limited-edition prints which he flew into New York City earlier this week to sign alongside Godin. The pre-order price for the prints was $495, but if you want one now, it’ll set you back $1,100.
[Backstory: About Hugh. Twitter. Newsletter. Book. Interview One. Interview Two. Limited Edition Prints. Private Commissions. Cube Grenades.“EVIL PLANS”.]
April 30, 2009
[The Purple Cow print. 39“x28”]
A few days ago, with the blessing of Seth Godin, I announced the Purple Cow Print. Here are some more of my thoughts, in no particular order:
1. I wanted to create an icon for the world I currently live in. The internet-enabled, Marketing 2.0 world. Seth’s 2003 book, “Purple Cow” seemed to sum up that world for me best. Turning into a print i.e. an iconic version of the world he spoke about, was a no-brainer. You walk into somebody’s office and see that print on their wall, you have no doubt whatsoever which worldview he’s aligned to.
2. I learned this while marketing wine: What’s interesting is not the liquid in the bottle, or what vineyard it came from, but the conversations that happen around it. Same with art. I wanted to make a print that HAD NO CHOICE but to start a conversation. A conversation about what? Not the work of art per se, but what the thing that the icon represents– the ideas in the book.
3. It’s the biggest print I have made so far: 39x28”. That’s BIG for a print. That’s a lot of purple.
4. Though I used “Web 2.0″ tech to market it, in many ways the print was a statement AGAINST what Web 2.0 seems to have been evolving into these last couple of years… a place where the shiny new tools seem to matter A LOT MORE to people than the objects people were building WITH the shiny new tools.
5. Though I’m really, really unbelievably happy with the number of pre-orders we have gotten so far, I believe the print will be A LOT MORE interesting to A LOT MORE people once they see it hanging on other people’s walls. Once they see the molecules with their own eyes. Once THE REAL conversations begin. The central thesis to Seth’s book is “Be Remarkable”. I went all meta and used his book design as a starting point to create something remarkable myself.
6. Somebody asked me recently if the way I marketed my prints [i.e. via Web 2.0] was part of the artwork itself? Well, I believe that all art is informed by its social dimension, including the commercial bit. The fact that you bought the print off a blog, rather than from a traditional art gallery, does indeed inform the story behind it. But you can just as easily take that theory so far. In the end, it’s made of paper and hangs on a wall. Theory can be a distraction. sometimes.
7. One of my great cartoonist heroes, Charles Schultz, once said, “If I were better at drawing, I’d make paintings. If I were better at writing, I’d write books. So instead I draw cartoons”. That’s exactly how I feel about my own work. I don’t see my work hanging in the Louvre any time soon. What I do see, however, and what gets far more interesting to me with time, is how people use my work fro their own ends, for helping them find their own sense of purpose. Seth’s book, or this print, won’t change your life. ONLY YOU will change your life. It’s only the job of the artist or writer to maybe give you a nudge in the right direction.
8. I am insanely grateful to Seth Godin for allowing me to run with this idea. He rules. Thank you, Seth!
[Check out The Purple Cow print over at gapingvoidgallery.com.]
April 28, 2009
[UPDATE: A picture of me holding up one of the Purple Cow prints. They look UTTERLY AMAZING in real life…]
[“Purple Cow” Printer’s Proof, photographed straight on. Dimension: 39“x28”, Click on image to enlarge etc.]
[The original design. Click on Image to Enlarge etc]
A couple of weeks ago I posted a new cartoon, basically a re-working of the front cover of my friend and mentor, Seth Godin’s seminal 2003 marketing book, “Purple Cow”. Like I told Seth in an e-mail:
It has occurred me many times recently, that one reason MANY, MANY people in the world are currently suffering during this current recession/crisis/whatever, is simply because they didn’t follow the advice in Purple Cow.
That’s a bit simplistic, I know, but it still has a ring of truth too it.
ALL your books are great, but Jeeze, Purple Cow is the one that really got under my skin, which is really what inspired the big drawing I did. To me the book, as a totem, as an icon, represents a huge shift in thinking that came along, almost uninvited, back in the early 2000’s. The drawing represents [to me] my own ability to internalize it.
You and I both somehow managed to find a way to currently live in this Purple Cow/Hughtrain world now, that we wrote about 5+ years ago. But now I see that same world suddenly arriving for millions of people… and it’s cold & scary for a great many of them.
Which is why I now think people now need to read Purple Cow more than ever…
I read Seth’s book right about the same time I really started to “get” this whole blogging and Web 2.0 thing. Purple Cow was almost iconic to me.
Which is why it was easy for me to envisage it as an icon.
So with Seth’s blessing, I turned this icon into literally ANOTHER icon– a very large, purple, iconic, fine art print. A “Totem”, as it were. Like Seth said on his blog, when he first announced the print earlier today:
Totem poles have been around for a long time, because they work. We need a place to tell our stories, and a reminder of what to talk about.
On a professional level, the stuff Seth talks about in Purple Cow is still very relevant. Be remarkable, Everyone is a marketer etc.- is what to me, Web 2.0 was all about. It WASN’T about yakking on endlessly about the latest shiny object or the latest crazy web-celeb stunt. It was about getting interesting ideas, products and services out to market a lot more cheaply, quickly and easily than it ever was before before. THAT’S WHAT EXCITED ME.
And that’s what this “Totem” is ALSO all about.
The print will be co-signed by both me and Seth. A limited edition of 380.
You can a pre-order one below for $495.00 below by making $150 PayPal deposit. This offer is open only to the first 100 people who respond. Once they’re in production, you can purchase one at the retail price of $1,100.00 over at The gapingvoid Gallery, my new e-commerce website that launched officially today.
Seth and I are planning on having some sort of “Signing Party” in mid-June up in New York City, to sign the prints live. If you’re in town, I hope you can make it.
Thanks, Seth, this is going to be insanely great!
[The Small Print:]
1. The pre-order price is $495.00 for the first one hundred people who order. Once the prints have been co-signed by both me and Seth, the price reverts back to retail i.e. $1,100.00
2. It will be a limited edition of 380 serigraphs, plus artist’s proofs. All prints will be co-signed and dated by both me and Seth.
3. The prints will be shipped out circa July 1st, 2009, soon after the NY print party.
[Click on PayPal $150 Deposit]
4. To secure your pre-order, please use the PayPal button above to make a $150 deposit. The PayPal form will ask you for all your details [including your preferred shipping address], which of course we’ll have for our records. Why are we asking for a deposit? To weed out the spammers, flakes and trolls out there [This is the Internet, after all], leaving only committed buyers in the mix. No other reason.
5. When asked for your details, please include your real name, not just your business name. The shipper won’t deliver it otherwise.
6. We’ll email you a PayPal form for the outstanding invoice once the artwork is printed, packed and ready for shipping.
7. We’ll be printing these to the same high standards as always i.e. top-of-the-line inks and paper, approx 39″ x 28″ in dimension. Please note this print is quite larger than the earlier editions, so make sure you free up plenty of wall space!
8. Shipping & handling [approx $45 USA, $65 abroad] is not included in the price. The buyer is also responsible for any Customs & Excise outside the USA. We ship them rolled, protected in tissue paper, in extra sturdy, 5-inch mailing tubes. If you insist on having it shipped flat, we can certainly do that for you, but it costs extra and the risk of shipping damage is far higher.
9. If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me an email at email@example.com, and either Laura or me will happily answer them.
10. Thanks, as always, for your love and support!
April 1, 2009
[Click on Image to Enlarge etc]
This drawing was inspired, of course, by my friend, Seth Godin’s seminal book, “Purple Cow”..
I always loved both the words and the design of the book. This is my tribute to it.
The book came out in 2003. Since then it’s changed a lot of lives for the better, including mine. Since then its DNA has buried itself deep inside Marketing Theory everywhere. Long may it continue to do so…
October 8, 2008
10 Questions For Seth Godin
My friend and mentor, Seth Godin has a new book out, “Tribes”. As has become a regular gapingvoid tradition, to celebrate the launch I e-mailed Seth 10 questions, which he kindly answered below. Rock on.
1. For the benefit of gapingvoid readers not yet familiar with your work [all 14 of them], let’s get the main schpiel over and done with: From your perspective, what is “Tribes” about?
It explains why top-down, buzz-driven media is the past, not the future.
The world has always been organized into tribes, groups of people who want to (need to) connect with each other, with a leader and with a movement. The products, services and ideas that are gaining currency faster than ever are ones that are built on a tribe.
Barack Obama has one, John McCain tried to co-opt one. Arianna Huffington has built the most popular blog in the world around one. Harley Davidson and Apple are titanic brands for the very same reason. They sell a chance to join a group that matters.
The punchline is that the only way to lead a tribe is to lead it. And that means that marketing is now about leadership, about challenging the status quo and about connecting people who can actually make a difference. If you can’t do that, don’t launch your site, your product, your non-profit or your career.
I’d argue that you understand how to tap into this need, Hugh. Lots of people don’t like your work – screw them, we don’t like them anyway. The people who do like, who find that it resonates… it’s likely that we’ll like each other. You lead us to a place we want to go.
2. Your seminal bestseller from a few years ago, “Purple Cow”, made the assertion that “Everyone is a Marketer”. Though this would now be considered pretty standard doctrine for marketing geeks Everywhere, at the time I remember it seeming a pretty radical, new, challenging thought. In Tribes, it seems to me you’ve upped the ante by asserting that “Everyone is a Leader”. Care to elaborate?
Sure. The idea that everyone is a marketer is still hard for a surprisingly large number of organizations. Non profits (most of them) don’t see the world that way. Neither do traditional factories or many other businesses. But it’s so clearly true, I don’t even have to outline here how the product is the marketing, how the service is the marketing, how every human being who touches something is doing marketing.
Well, if we go a giant step forward and realize that it is for and about the tribe, that tribes – connected, motivated groups of people – are the engines of growth, then it seems clear to me that what marketing means today is leadership. If you’re boring or staid, no one will follow you. Why would they?
3. Anyone who knows you would consider you a leader, in your own unique way. And the same could be said for a lot of the people you personally hang out with. But it seems to me that this book was not written for those type of folk, but for people who have yet to really consider themselves as leadership material. It seems to me that the main thrust of the book is about trying to get them to make the leap from “Follower” to “Leader”. Is there any truth in that?
Everyone isn’t going to be a leader. But everyone isn’t going to be successful, either.
Success is now the domain of people who lead. That doesn’t mean they’re in charge, it doesn’t mean they are the CEO, it merely means that for a group, even a small group, they show the way, they spread ideas, they make change. Those people are the only successful people we’ve got.
So the challenge is: your choice.
4. As you well know, I’m fascinated with marketing, both for myself and for my clients. Looking over my work from the last couple of years, I increasingly see marketing [by that I mean, GOOD marketing] as a function of LANGUAGE and NARRATIVE. In other words, the art of marketing is figuring out a way to talk to people in the market in a manner they SIMPLY HAVE NOT been talked to before. And then when I’m reading your book, I keep thinking that, SO MUCH of being a leader is simply providing people with a good narrative to explain their actions. In other words, it’s far easier to lead if [A] You’ve got a great story that’s easy for you to share and [B], more importantly, you have a good story that is EASY for other people to share.
So much traditional marketing is built around the idea of “Merit” i.e. good quality, good prices etc. But the older I get, I keep asking myself, “What’s the story here? What’s the REAL story that people are GENUINELY going to want to tell other people?” Do you see Storytelling as a form of Leadership? How about vice versa?
In All Marketers Are Liars, my point was that people buy stories, not stuff, and it’s stories that spread, not stuff. An iPod made by Garmin wouldn’t be an iPod, would it? It’s the story and the affect and the whole aura that makes it worth $200.
I think you’ve hit the issue on the head. Leaders tell stories. Gandhi or King or Che or yes, Rush Limbaugh. They tell stories. The stories matter and the words matter. Of course OF COURSE the product has to live up to the story, the service has to be there, the story has to be true. But no story, not idea, no marketing.
5. We all have different things that motivate us, that gets us out of bed in the morning. Some people want money, some people want power, some people want fame and applause. You seem very driven “To Affect Change”, both on an individual level, and collectively within companies. Where does that drive come from? Were you born with it, or has it just grown with you over the years? Is it something that is still constantly evolving? If so, how?
It used to be a curse, but now I’m getting used to it.
I’m pretty impatient with things that are as they are instead of as they could be. I’m impatient with people who grumble and settle and then get old and die. I’m energized by people who see things differently and make changes happen. We’re all so lucky, what a sin to waste it.
6. When I finished reading “Tribes” I was both stunned and delighted in equal measure to see my name cited in the Acknowledgements section as an influence in the creation of the book [Thanks!]:
“Years ago, Hugh MacLeod, the world’s most popular inspirational business cartoonist (who knew you could do that for a living?), drew a cartoon (his most popular one ever) with the caption, ‘The market for something to believe in is infinite’- as soon as I read it, I knew I wanted to write a book about that idea.”
Well, I certainly have some ideas about what that cartoon means to me, though I’d be curious to hear your individual take on it. What it says to you, personally. Thoughts?
That was the second title I had in mind for the book. And I was going to include the image itself, but then it showed up all over the web and so…
The point imho is this: You can’t drink any more bottled water than you already do. Or buy more wine. Or more tea. You can’t wear more than one pair of shoes at a time. You can’t get two massages at once…
So, what grows? What do marketers sell that scales?
I’ll tell you what: Belief. Belonging. Mattering. Making a difference. Tribes. We have an unlimited need for this.
7. Your books and blog posts seem to have one thing in common, they seem to be getting shorter and shorter with every passing year. I have no problem with that; I think people genuinely prefer short reads, over long ones. For people aspiring to publish their own books one day, what advice would you give them re. deciding on a book’s length?
Try to write a book or a blog post that can’t possibly be any shorter than it is.
8. I think aspiring writers have a lot of romantic illusions about “The life of an author”, which have little to do with the actual hard-nose reality of the publishing business. What do you think are the hardest lessons for a first-time author to learn?
Books are souvenirs that hold ideas. Ideas are free. If no one knows about your idea, you fail. If your idea doesn’t spread, you fail. If your idea spreads but no one wants to own the souvenir edition, you fail.
Book publishers don’t make authors successful (clarification: 175,000 new authors a year, 300 become successful because of publishers). Authors make themselves successful by earning the privilege of having a platform, by creating ideas that spread, and yes, by building a tribe. (Harry Potter anyone?)
9. You’re a busy guy. Besides writing books, you have paid speaking gigs, your blog to keep up, and your various start-ups and businesses to manage. When do you find time to write the actual books? Do you have a regular set time for working on it [first thing in the morning, say], or do you just somehow find the time whenever?
I don’t set out to write books. I don’t make time for them. They just force themselves on me. If I resist, the idea makes me miserable until I write it down.
I can go three or six months or longer with nothing, and then an entire book just sort of appears. If I have to grind it out, I’m not going to write it. That’s not true for everyone, but that’s what works for me.
10. You’ve been publishing your books for about a decade now. Obviously, in that time period there’s been a lot of changes in the world. But for the sake of simplicity, let’s narrow the field down a bit, to the “Purple Cow”, new-marketing world you’ve been happily residing in. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in this brave new world, since Purple Cow and IdeaVirus first hit the bookstores?
There’s no doubt that the biggest change is that most smart people now realize that the world has changed.
When I started, I was working in a status quo, static world, where the future was expected to be just like the past, but a little sleeker.
Now, chaos is the new normal. That makes it easier to sell an idea but a lot harder to sound like a crackpot.
January 22, 2008
Recently I did an interview of Seth Godin about his new book, “Meatball Sundae”. As Seth described it:
Meatballs are commodity products, built in a factory, advertised all over. Stuff we need. All the same. Average products for average people. Unremarkable, but important. The backbone of our world so far.
The sundae is the new marketing. Blogs and Facebook and google and crowdsourcing and all the stuff that we get excited about. It works great if you’ve got a social object or a purple cow. But put the sundae on a meatball and…
There’s a passage in the book that really got me thinking, all to do with ice cream:
Willie Wonka isn’t dead, but he’s bald
In the heart of the newly hip Union Square neighborhood in New York City is a brand-new landmark: Max Brenner [Chocolate by the Bald Man]. Max (I’m told that’s not his real name) purportedly runs a chain of incredibly expensive chocolate cafés based in Australia. He’s got almost a dozen shops there, with other outlets in Israel, Singapore, and the Philippines. The chain is profitable and growing fast.
This is the place to come if you want to order the Warm Chocolate Soup, which comes with crunch chocolate waffle balls, strawberries, and marshmallows and costs ten dollars. Or, for the ambitious, The Chocolate Mess, which is a warm chocolate cake eaten with spatulas straight from the pan, with a mountain of whipped cream, ice cream scoops, chocolate chunks, toffee cream, warm chocolate sauce, and possibly, toffee bananas. It’s $12.75 for one person or $37 for four.
Max’s is packed, with lines of up to thirty minutes for a table. And most tables are filled with adults, not kids.
Just down the street from a Max’s, you’ll find the much more reasonably priced Sundaes and Cones ice cream shop, which is pretty much empty.
If I want something ordinary, then it better be cheap. I can get cheap and ordinary by the gallon at Costco. On the other hand, today’s spoiled consumer is willing to pay almost anything for the exclusive, the noteworthy, and the indulgent.
Sundaes and Cones isn’t cheap and it isn’t expensive. The ice cream is delicious, but not revolutionary. They sell a good ice cream cone at a fair price. And that’s no longer enough.
A couple of days ago I wrote Seth the following e-mail:
Suddenly the thought occurs to me, that perhaps there’d be fewer ‘Meatball Sundaes’ out there if the Web 2.0-consultant-guru types spent less time trying to sell lucrative, hot-fudge-and-whipped-cream consultancy gigs to the meatball factories.
[Ice Cream Metaphor:] The thing that made Thomas and English Cut work so well was, well, he’s not selling meatballs. He’s not even selling Baskin Robbins. Heck, he’s selling something that makes even Ben & Jerries look kinda downmarket. And the hot fudge I bring to the table ain’t too shabby, either. On a good day, at least
Your passage in the book about the two ice cream shops in Union Square was totally correct. The trouble is, too many people are locked into the mass-market, neither-cheap-nor-remarkable bracket, so they’re not ready to listen to you properly yet.
I love your ideas, you know that, but I’m guessing it may take twenty, thirty, even fifty years for “Society” to fully absorb the brunt of your message. Luckily you have loads of smart, book-buying people out there who do get it…
We live in interesting times.
Seth wrote back to me the following:
THAT is the entire point of the book.
Phew! Someone got it!
Twenty years? Fifty years? Which is why Seth says what he’s talking about is not evolutionary, but revolutionary. Make of it what you will…
January 4, 2008
I’ve just got done finishing my friend, Seth Godin’s new book, “Meatball Sundae”, which his publishers kindly sent me a complimentary copy. I loved it. It was just great. Seriously.
As is our usual custom, I sent him ten questions [shown in italics], which he answered. Rock on.
1. For the benefit of gapingvoid readers: What’s a Meatball Sundae?
Meatballs are commodity products, built in a factory, advertised all over. Stuff we need. All the same. Average products for average people. Unremarkable, but important. The backbone of our world so far.
The sundae is the new marketing. Blogs and Facebook and google and crowdsourcing and all the stuff that we get excited about. It works great if you’ve got a social object or a purple cow. But put the sundae on a meatball and…
But the book is not so much a negative rant about the combination that DOESN’T work as much as it is a realization that we are in the midst of a revolution, the new industrial revolution, one that changes the two basic rules of business of the 1900s: Factories and advertising. Now, neither one matters so much. That’s the biggest change any of us has ever seen. What you going to do about it?
2. I may be wrong, but this book kinda reminds me of another book of yours, “Free Prize Inside”, in that a big part of its schtick seems targeted to people already working in [large] organizations. Am I the only one who’s spotted that?
Here’s my challenge: I want to change things. Sometimes, the best way to do that is to reach out to committed individuals and give them some ideas to run with. On the other hand, big changes, sea changes… those happen in larger organizations with leverage. So, my books have sort of struck a balance, sometimes emphasizing one more than the other. In this case, it’s clear that the digerati ‘get’ what’s going on with the new marketing. But we’re frustrated. I wrote this book to help us out. The phrase, “meatball sundae” is designed as a rallying cry, something to sneer at in a big meeting.
The book, in other words, is a tool.
3. There is a myth that all a writer has to do is sit at his keyboard, crank out some chapters, send them over to his publishers, maybe do an edit or two, and then wait for the checks to arrive. But as we’ve talked about before, there’s so much more to being a book author than just the book. Would you care to elaborate?
I think it’s possible, and for some people, even desirable to write a book the way you said. That might be a nice break! I view the book as the souvenir, the appropriately priced artifact of the idea. But it represents just a piece of fruit on the whole tree. The blogging and speaking and most of all, the endless conversations are the real work, the real craft and the part that I love to do. Even if books didn’t exist, I’d still do the rest of it.
4. As “Brand Seth” keeps on growing, how do find dealing with the “public” side of things? “Seth as Social Object”? Is it getting harder?
Facebook is pretty much the only hassle right now. I joined to check it out, but I don’t use it, and I end up disappointing a lot of people I don’t ‘friend’. I should just turn it off, I guess. (Once you friend someone, I figure, you really owe them quite a bit of interaction). Other than that, the challenge for all of us (not just me) is to make appropriate promises. Permission marketing goes both ways. If you hold yourself out there, at some level you’re giving people permission to contact you, to ask for things, to converse. I try to have bright lines (no consulting, no boards, no investing) so I don’t mislead people.
The thing is, I really enjoy the interactions. I just worry about overpromising and undelivering.
5. The fact that blogging changed your book writing style over time is well documented. Has anything come down the pike recently that’s affected your blogging style?
I have to be careful that I don’t watch the trackbacks and stumbles too closely. If I did, I’d write nothing but short posts about blogging!
6. A lot of your books seem to be continuations of conversations you started with your seminal book, “Purple Cow”. Meatball Sundae I’d say would qualify, as would “Free Prize Inside” and “All Marketers Are Liars”. But then your last book, “The Dip”, was about something relatively unrelated. Do you find yourself, as an author, often feeling pulled in two different directions?
I worry about Neal Stephenson and I worry about Robert Parker.
Snowcrash and Diamond Age were brilliant books, seminal stuff that actually changed the world. That gave Neal the power to pretty much write what he wanted, but what he wants to write, it turns out I don’t want to read. I think he lost a great opportunity and I feel the loss.
Robert Parker hit it big with Spenser novels, but every one is so similar, I can’t remember which ones I’ve read and which ones I haven’t.
I don’t want to be in either camp. So, I write what’s important to me, I write what I think will reach an audience and I write what I think will cause change. I honestly don’t worry a bit about sales. The selling of the book is just a tool to spread the idea to people who like buying a book.
7. With your book writing, your speaking gigs, Squiddoo and the myriad of cool free stuff you like to put other there on the internet, you’re a very busy guy. Because you’ve got so much going on, do you ever find that sometimes you don’t have enough time to fully investigate all the cool stuff you like to write about? Seems to me an author, if he wants to be successful, has really got to learn how to multi-task. Discuss.
Actually, I’m a multi-tasker who discovered that he could get away with it by being an author!
The web is like crack for someone with ADD, I’ll tell you that.
Jim Collins is the guy to go to if you went serious research and depth. I’m the guy who notices things.
8. A common complaint I hear is, most business books say everything they need to say within the first two chapters, with the rest being filler. You seem to like fighting this trend tooth and nail. Has it been an easy fight?
It’s a lot easier now, I’ll tell you! I won’t take full credit for the great business book diet, but for anyone who ever slogged through Michael Porter, I think you owe me one.
The last vestige of this is some of the second-tier book publishers who insist on books being long, organized, boring, vetted by peer reviewers and tiresome. They won’t last so long, I think.
9. With the advent of certain Web 2.0 media coming along in 2007– Facebook, etc, suddenly the “Blogging is Dead” meme keeps popping up all over the place. I think they’re kind of missing the point. You?
Who the hell knows what ‘blogging’ means? People say, “that’s not a blog because” it doesn’t have comments or because it has three authors or because it’s got video or who knows what… What’s a book? a blog? a speech? Who knows?
I think it’s entirely possible that the ego-driven, comment-driven water-cooler blog is being replaced by Facebook and Twitter. I don’t think, not for one second, that the inherently closed communities of social networks are a replacement for the idea-driven blog designed to be read by surfers, strangers and the masses.
10. Besides the fact that you pretty much OWN the word, “Remarkable”, I think if there’s one big idea you’ve gotten across to me, it would have be the fact that yes, when you think about it, Marketing is one of the most powerful things we human beings have ever invented, and yes indeed, it can be a force for good. Is perhaps one of the reasons the web attracts you is, it’s a place that validates this idea more quickly than other parts of the business world?
If I had real talent, I’d probably be a computer programmer (what I studied, but failed to understand, in college). Programmers need computers and compilers because without them, they can’t see if the program works. The web is a giant compiler for marketers. You can experiment here for less money, in less time, than anywhere else. If Al Gore hadn’t invented it, I’d be seriously bummed out.
[Seth’s Amazon.com page, for all his books can be found here.]
May 16, 2007
[One of the cartoons I did for Seth Godin’s new book, “The Dip”.]
Zakamundo left the following comment here:
Hugh, you say “there are some seriously smart, good people working [at Microsoft] who yes, can still change the world for the better”.
You may well be right. But the question that the recent court action poses, and the question that the comments on this thread suggests, and the question that even you appear defensive on, is this:
Can these people change Microsoft for the better?
Now it might be that Microsoft is great, and people don’t realise it — then ‘all’ MS needs is a good and consistent marketing exercise. But it is a big corporation, and its intended audience (um, almost everyone?) will have perceptions with significant inertia. And thats assuming MSFT can stay on-message all the time — can they aspire to match the impact and values of Apple’s marketing for instance?
Or it might be that Microsoft as a corporation is possessed by a corporate culture that generates external behavior that is jealous of others, patronising to its clients and bullying to those smaller. In which case the external audience’s perceptions are rooted in reality, and the Blue Monster crowd have a problem on their hands.
I spent 15 years working in investment banking (derivatives trading) — full of hugely intelligent, focussed people. Some were great, and really did want to effect positive change from within. What I found fascinating, and somewhat depressing, was the longevity and all-pervasiveness of the corporate culture — different at each of the 3 institutions I worked for, but persistent at each one.
One example I can give : I too tried to change organisations from within, and was a major sponsor of the ‘new’ communication tools of wikis, chat and blogs at the most recent bank that employed me. Huge amounts of my management time and effort went into this, and yet each time I took my foot off the gas, the use of these tools would evaporate. There was a rather obvious lack of overt senior management support for the use and distribution of these tools, and that company is still stuck in the email age.
The way corporate life works is that change needs to come from the top down, as well as the bottom up. Feverish activity in the middle is at risk of being wasted. I think it is a pleasant diversion to dream of a better, fairer worlds, with corporate charters drawn up as a response to Cluetrain manifestoes, but my experience and observation is that it’s just not how it works. Am more than happy to be proved or persuaded otherwise.
Sorry for the rant,
Here’s my reply:
No worries about the rant. That’s what the blogosphere is for
I disagree with you, though, at least partially. I think small changes can lead to big changes. Though exactly how is not always immediately obvious from the onset [And we have thousands of years of mythology– everything from Homer, to Jesus, to King Arthur, to Star Wars– telling us the exact same thing].
What I like about the Blue Monster [and what I’ve liked from the very beginning] is that nobody owns the conversation– Not me, not MSFT, not the anti-MSFT crowd, not the media. It has a life of its own– which is what keeps it interesting…
[This entry has been added to the Blue Monster series.]
May 14, 2007
[One of the cartoons I did for Seth Godin’s new book, “The Dip”. Read Guy Kawasaki’s excellent interview of Seth for more details etc.]
April 12, 2007
Congrats to my friend, Seth Godin on the release of his new book, “The Dip”. Also, thanks to his publishers, Portfolio for sending me complimentary copies of the book and the audio CD.
Hmmm.… the cartoons in it look somewhat familiar.
March 20, 2007
When I was in New York recently I paid my first visit to the Soy Luck Club, which I was turned on to by my favorite passage in my favorite Seth Godin book, “All Marketers Are Liars”:
The Authenticity of the Soy Luck Club
My number one hangout in New York is a hard-to-find little coffee shop run by Vivian Cheng. The Soy Luck Club has fast, free internet access, organic oatmeal cookies, soy shakes and really good tea. They’ve got comfortable chairs, a great staff and just the right sort of atmosphere.
Most people on the street walk right on by and don’t even notice the Club. Others, though, pause, take a quick look at the menu and the layout and people inside and then walk in as though they own the place. They’ve figured out — almost instantly — that this is their sort of place. The frame of Vivian’s story matches their worldview and they’re sold before they even order anything.
How does she do it? I know Vivian well enough to tell you that it’s not an intentional gambit on her part. The luscious pressed whole wheat bagels with banana and soy butter aren’t on the menu because she’s trying to trick someone into thinking the place is healthy and funky. It’s there because Vivian likes it and is proud of it.
Fortunately for Vivian she doesn’t live in Indianapolis. In Indianapolis, she wouldn’t be able to run a thriving business that so beautifully matches her sensibilities. But in this neighborhood of New York, it’s perfect.
The Soy Luck Club is authentic in every way because it reflects who Vivian is and what sort of place she’d like to hang out in. So, how does she grow?
She could try to grow by persuading people who don’t care about ambience and healthy foods and fluffy couches that this place is better than Starbucks. She could grow by persuading people to eat more soy so they don’t have a heart attack. Neither approach stands a chance of working. People don’t want to change their minds.
Instead, Vivian is growing by reaching out to communities that will choose to pay attention, to individuals who have a worldview that will embrace the story she’s trying to tell. A block away, the Equinox health club gives out discount cards to the Soy Luck Club. The assumption (a correct one) is that people notice a discount card if it’s given to them by someone they trust. Even better, people who pay good money to work out in the middle of the winter are significantly more likely to want to believe in a story of healthy nutrition right around the corner. So it grows.
Of course, Vivian will really have a home run once her loyal customers start telling stories to their friends — friends who might not share the worldview but are eager to do something that others are doing, eager to hang out at a place beloved by their best friends. That’s how Starbucks succeeded and how the Soy Luck Club will as well.
As a marketer, I think there’s more useful stuff in that one passage than there is in most entire marketing books out there. So for the benefit of my readers, I’m re-publishing it. Thanks to Seth for kindly giving me permission.
P.S. Yes, the bagels do rock.