Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

What I Love About Seth Godin

By Steven Pressfield | Published: March 2, 2011

What I love about Seth Godin is that every time he pitches a new idea to a big company, they throw him out on his butt. “That’s the craziest thing we’ve every heard. It’ll never work, you’re nuts, get the hell out of here!”

Poke

Poke The Box. Note Seth's unique style: no title on the cover.

Then Seth goes out and does it himself and sells a gazillion copies.

[Full disclosure: I’m now in business with Seth, in a new publishing entity of his called the Domino Project, partnered with amazon.com.  The first publication came out yesterday, authored by Seth, a manifesto called Poke the Box. Take a look on amazon. It’s terrific.]

What we can learn from Seth

If you’re a reader of this blog, you’re probably a lot like me. You’re a writer or an artist or an entrepreneur who’s trying to figure out how to a) do your work without compromising its integrity, and b) get it noticed in this crazy new world where everything’s free and nobody knows what’s going to happen from one month to the next.

If there’s any one person who does know how to navigate this nutty new world, it’s Seth.

Another thing we can learn

The other thing I love about Seth is that he has failed at a boatload of ventures. Seth has started publishing companies, internet companies, high-tech companies. How many have crashed and burned? Lots. But before the flames have even been extinguished, Seth has generated another idea and he’s off to the races.

Poke the Box is about that. It’s about starting. Not talking, not dreaming, not planning. Starting and doing. Finishing and shipping.

Poke the Box is an 84-page one-two punch–half kick in the ass, half cheerleading encouragement.

Seth’s message, in a nutshell, is this:

Switch from the slave mentality to the entrepreneurial mentality.

He believes that we have no choice any more. The world is changing in ways that will leave us behind if we don’t learn to function, at least partially, as artists and initiators.

What does this mean? It means acquiring a set of skills that they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School. Self-motivation, self-reinforcement, self-validation. Self-discipline. It means teaching ourselves a set of virtues (patience, perseverance, depth of work, focus, concentration) that we won’t learn on Twitter or Facebook. When Seth says “Start!”, that’s what he’s talking about. When he says “Finish!,” that’s what he’s talking about. When he says “Ship!”, that’s what he’s talking about.

Is the Domino Project the future?

domino

Movie studios have a business model that looks like this:

On the lot (or off) at Warner Bros. or Paramount or Universal are the offices of various producers. These producers are not employees of the studio. Rather, they each “have a deal” at the studio. The studio pays these producers’ rent and gives them a fund for development, meaning the acquisition of screenplays or ideas that will become screenplays under the supervision of the producing entity. In return, the producer gives the studio a first look at any project he’s working on. If the studio likes the project, it has the right to acquire it and make the movie with that producer. Jerry Bruckheimer has a deal at Disney. Clint Eastwood works with Warners. The studios obviously want to align themselves with proven talent, with moviemakers who can pick exciting projects and make them into boffo flicks.

Amazon is making the same bet with Seth.

Seth is Clint Eastwood. He’s Jerry Bruckheimer. He will find, commission or otherwise bring in properties of a certain type from various writers of his choosing.  (My project will be published 4/20 … I’m sworn to secrecy at the moment as to its subject matter, except to say that if you liked The War of Art, you’re gonna love this new one.) Amazon will then “make the movie.” No one else will have it. It won’t be in bookstores; it won’t be anywhere else on the web.

The new business model?

Is this a model for the future?

Will a thousand Seths bloom, bringing in thousands of other writers and artists? Or will others challenge this new system? Will Wiki or guerrilla formats evolve?

Is the Domino model a form of liberation for writers and artists? Will it emancipate them from the current gatekeepers?

Or is it only a sideshow? Will its payoff top out at ten percent of the market? 0.10 percent?

What about the music industry? Will its model evolve along similar lines? Will iTunes become the 600-pound gorilla?

I don’t know.

The only thing I know for sure is that, whenever the dust settles, into whatever form it finally settles, Seth Godin (and others who think like he does) will have already moved on to whatever’s coming next.

They’ll be starting, they’ll be finishing, they’ll be shipping. They’ll be poking the box.

Posted in Writing Wednesdays

16 Responses to “What I Love About Seth Godin”

  1. Martin
    March 2, 2011 at 4:05 am

    Anyone see the article on Huffington Post about Amanda Hocking, the independent author who is racking up big sales of her works after being rejected by numerous publishers?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/01/self-published-author-amada-hocking_n_829906.html

  2. March 2, 2011 at 6:13 am

    Steven,

    You and Seth Godin are visionaries and butt kickers.

    I’m glad you’re joining forces. Can’t wait to read your new book next month.

    Thanks for sharing the inspiration and the practical advice.

    Keep fighting the good fight!

    Chris

  3. March 2, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Steven, I’m ridiculously psyched about the new books! Absolutely can’t wait!

    And great post, by the way, especially about how Seth and others (Steven Pressfield) will already have moved on. So true. :)

  4. Matt Kuzma
    March 2, 2011 at 9:29 am

    So excited to read your new work, Steven. Finally read Bagger Vance last night and can’t wait to hit the links/go to battle.

  5. March 2, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    I loved war of art – totally thrilled to hear you’ve got new and similar work coming out

  6. March 2, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    This is music to my ears. Look forward to sitting down to read PTB.
    Loved your War of Art which I recently stumbled on. Thank you for making so much sense. The word resistance is taped to my computer and we have a stare off each morning.

  7. Sean
    March 2, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    The melding and mixing of ideas with you and Seth have been transformative for me and the way I approach my life. Reading Poke The Box through the lens of your writing about angels in The War of Art my only suggestion above is that,while, yes, we need self-validation and self-reinforcement, the “self” is broader than just us. We should turn to, rely on and gain reinforcement from God, or whatever higher power is part of our life.

  8. Tricia
    March 2, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Good point Sean.

    Ultimately it seems to me it is about not identifying with any venture/whatever – inner or outer – so that a greater good can benefit.

    (I haven’t read any of SG yet, but I certainly respond to his paradigm shifting energy.)

  9. March 2, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Very excited to see how The Domino Project evolves, and I’m busting my butt to become a part of the movement (or initiate my own).

    Sometimes Resistance takes the form of the beaten path, complete with gatekeepers and ruts. Thanks to Seth and Steven for blazing the trails and encouraging us to hack our own.

  10. March 2, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Big fan of the down-to-earth way that Seth comes across. It is obvious that he’s had his share of lumps also. But, his spirit stays strong.

  11. Abhishek Boinapalli
    March 3, 2011 at 3:46 am

    I dunno who you are dear seth,

    but your concept, new skills are not taught at HBS is cool . I too thought on same lines and started writing (my dream) few weeks back but I am not consistent. Probably after reading this article, I would become consistent and become big like you guys.

    I shall remember the log line of this post forever

    with warm regards
    arandomarticle.blogspot.com

  12. March 5, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    I love Seth Godin, and I love your blog too Steven. I don’t come here often, but everytime I do the post is always worth it. I’m excited about the work you’re doing with Seth and will look into PTB.

    Thanks.

  13. March 5, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Thanks for “The War of Art”. The point is true for business as well as the creative fields. I know, I’ve performed at a high level in both. I’m looking forward to your new book and will spread the word.

  14. Noah
    March 9, 2011 at 3:28 am

    And if you loved The War of Art you’ll love….. I’m sold.

  15. March 16, 2011 at 4:19 am

    I absolutely love Seth Godin. Just wish his ebooks (and yours too) from the domino project would be available for purchase for people in Singapore :(

  16. April 9, 2011 at 6:25 am

    This new book publishing model sounds very interesting. Having been working with “on the lot” producers over the last several years, I’ve become familiar with how the system works. I wonder if we will be seeing Barnes & Noble follow suit if the Domino Project gains traction.

    This is all happening at an interesting time for me as I have had to learn to function more as an artist and initiator, much like Steven states in his post. I’ve been a print production manager my whole career, but longed to be a full-time writer. I now have little choice but to pursue the latter after going through a lay-off and exhaustive, fruitless 2-year job search. In may seem weird to some, but I’m kind of glad it’s forcing me to invest far more heavily in being the writer I want to be. I’ll be sure to check Poke the Box out.