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February 23, 2008


Well, I guess it had to happen – Seth Godin and his technicolor dreamcoat are going under the microscope and it seems there are loose threads to pull. I admit I don’t have time to follow five hundred blogs a day (who does?) but the handful I do follow have gravitated around the uncomfortable revelation of the seemingly untouchable Seth Godin’s having weaknesses.

Godin recently pointed to a page of color choices that would “change your life. A lot. For the better.” I clicked through expecting something at least mildly earth-shattering, and found about a dozen nice color palettes.

Life: not changed.

I mention this only because it makes me just a little glad that Godin is not great at everything.

This post from Sonia Simone is almost timidly thankful for Seth coming out with something which didn’t quite cut it whilst this post from Olivier Blanchard goes to town on the guy.

John Moore – whom I ran into yesterday – posted these very cool little Seth Godin vignettes on his blog. At first glance, I thought “Cool! This is a really sweet idea.” I set out to check each one out… and… quickly realized that although the action figure and quote montage thing was indeed very nifty, the selection of Seth quotes was… well, surprisingly bad.

At first glance,it looks and sounds great… and it comes from Seth, so you put on your Seth filter and expect it all to be very wise and true and insightful… but not this time.

Frankly, having been a big fan of Seth’s work over the last decade, going back to his days penning killer editorials for Fast Company, this was a huge surprise.

Feeling like maybe I had stepped into some weird Twilight Zone episode where everything is backwards, or stepped through an alternate opposite dimension like in that Star Trek Episode where Spock sported a goatee and Captain Kirk was shagging all the female members of his crew, I quickly turned on the TV and flipped to Fox News to see if their version of the news made sense. (A true litmus test for alternate realities if you ask me).

Alternatively, if you happen to have more “conservative” propensities, getting your hands on a copy of “It Takes a Village” would certainly do the trick.

Anyway. Long story short: The Fox Box turned me off in about two minutes flat. Verdict: I hadn’t stepped into an alternate universe. Ergo: Seth Godin had indeed lost his friggin’ mind.

So, what do I think? 1) Seth is untouchable. He went from conversational to untouchable at a certain point and once that happens you may as well paint a target on your forehead with arrows pointing to it. He freely admits he doesn’t accept comments on his blog which probably doesn’t help (you can read, but don’t expect any feedback) but he posts in as regular as clockwork and if you want to see him and interact you can always sign up for any of the conferences he gives I suppose but that’s really not the same thing. He repeats the fact he doesn’t consult either so in the end you take what you can get.

2) He passed from the realm of marketing advisor to marketing guru. If someone is advising me it is a rational act of guidance and my role stays neutral so I can choose to do what I want with the advice after. If I am following a marketing guru it is an act of faith with all the ups and downs of any belief which becomes inevitably as fragile as glass. Now as much as I thought I was sure Seth would have balked at the idea of being a guru the line becomes very blurry because of this…


And, 3) Seth brought out the stupid doll thingy. I’m sure this seemed like a funky idea at the time and even if all the proceeds from the sales of the Seth figurine go somewhere charitable, it’s post-modern overtones which I’m sure ninety percent of art students in the nineties would have found cool, don’t really cut it in the world of business today. The fact it’s called “Marketing Guru” is almost ironic in the sense that no one really knows how to use irony, Seth included apparently. Sure, I suppose there are desks over at Google manned by the adulescents there who have the Seth doll propped up next to the USS Enterprise over their computers or from time to time have a play fight with Bart Simpson but not every office looks like this.


Don’t get me wrong, Seth’s is a blog I read everyday and whilst it continues to be interesting I will continue to read it but there are groans. There are many fantastic and intelligent ideas being thrown around the fringes of the A-Lists which are fuelling my desire for both knowledge and interaction and in this world of conversation maybe there are limits to how high trees will grow. We’ll see.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 3, 2008 9:58 pm

    Well, you know that I am a giant SG fan, so I suppose I must say a few words in defense. 🙂

    He doesn’t take comments but I have found that he is actually very good about replying to emails. The answer you’ll get will be pretty succinct, but he does answer. I would imagine he gets a pretty gigantic pile of email.

    I found the Archie McPhee thing quite hilarious. Maybe it’s the incorrigible GenXer in me.

    And I have never found SG very quoteable in short format. His shorter blog posts are the perfect Seth length–shorter than that and you don’t get the impact.

    But thanks for the link. 😀

  2. Tim permalink*
    March 4, 2008 8:09 am

    I still am curious about the comments thing. It does seem a little paradoxal for one of the most visible forces in the age of conversation which he will be in large part attributed with creating (or at least the termology), to not participate. I know the whole Squidoo thing means anyone can build a lens and maybe I’m missing something somewhere but I find it, well…curious.

  3. March 26, 2008 12:29 am

    Thanks for the read, has some thought provoking points.

    The whole issue of Seth taking comments, however, I think is very weak. I have sent Seth an e-mail in regard to posts (or even thoughts that weren’t related to his post) and he has always responded. A two way conversation exists. I think the larger downfall of Seth not allowing comments doesn’t come from us not being able to interact with him (we can), but because a lot of potentially extra insight or meaningful relationships lose that necessary bridge. When two intelligent people could otherwise be brought together but aren’t, that’s where the real loss is.

    As far as the marketing guru. I don’t see why not use the title. Seeing as how other people have been calling him a marketing guru for a while, why not take the message that other people have already been communicating and use it? People have control of the message more than a company or seth does.

    Bummer about the quotes not being so great.

  4. Tim permalink*
    March 27, 2008 7:43 am

    I’m not saying Seth isn’t an approachable nor affable guy. I, too have sent emails to Seth and have always received a prompt reply, I just said it’s curious he doesn’t put up comments considering the idea of ‘particpating in conversations’ is the new marketing catch phrase and he is one of the driving forces behind this way of thinking.

    Apart from that ‘guru’ is a highly dubious term which I would flee from if ever labelled with (which isn’t about to happen). Maybe mocking himself with the doll is Seth’s way of deflecting some of this guru stuff and I’ve read too much into it. One way or the other we will never know because we can’t leave him comments…

  5. May 29, 2008 4:04 am

    I did put him through the gauntlet, but I still admire the heck out of the guy. Without his Purple cows and other editorials in Fast Company, I would probably still be swearing by focus groups and advertising budgets.

    He should allow comments though.

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