Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

What I Love About Seth, Part Two

By Steven Pressfield | Published: March 9, 2011

When I first started blogging, I wasn’t really hip to the ethic. That, I learned from Seth Godin. A blog is about giving. Or, perhaps more accurately, giving back.

Seth

Seth in his best suit, photo by Brian Bloom

A guy like Seth, who has started many businesses and failed and succeeded in about equal measure, has acquired a thoroughgoing education from the University of Hard Knocks. When Seth blogs, he shares that knowledge. He’s not asking for anything, he’s giving. But one thing I didn’t know about Seth was that he has also passed along that knowledge in an extraordinary free MBA program. 48,000 people visited the announcement page in 2009; 350 applied; one out of forty got in.

Here is Ishita Gupta (currently Do You Zoom’s “Director of Hoopla”), describing her tenure in this one-of-a-kind postgrad learning track:

The informal program that Seth ran was called the Six Month MBA, which was the alternative to traditional business school. It was the “un-MBA,” if you will. Not accredited by any institution, but the best real-life training any entrepreneur needs to start and learn about running a business. We covered basic business concepts—finances, cash flow, legalese of running a business—but it was more about the topics that really hold us back: fear, uncertainty, taking risks, how to evaluate if an idea is good or not, knowing that it’s not about the ideas but about doing the work. It was six months of terror and innovation, duality at its best, but it was certainly worth it. For six months, nine of us from all different backgrounds talked about what it meant to run a business, learned about business partnerships/joint ventures, how to “run” something on our own. We started up our own businesses while we were in the program. I started fear.less [Ishita’s monthly online magazine]. Although the seed had been planted in my head for many months, I really had the structure and resources—a business partner, time—to work on it during the program. So fear.less was created during that time. A lot about the magazine has evolved since then, the scope, the vision, etc. but none of it would have happened without the guidance and structure of the program and the people involved. During the program, I was like a USB drive—downloading and downloading information, only processing bits of it. I’m a slow processor and I like to marinate on things, so it was difficult for me, partly because entrepreneurs work fast and think fast and on the web things happen at lightning speed. It was a hard adjustment at first, as I wanted to grow and learn and really absorb things, and now it was ALL coming at me without let-up. Needless to say, I’m using all of those lessons now! The program was one of the hardest passages of my life (I cried every night for six months) and I definitely battled Resistance throughout it all. But it was one of the best and most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had, and so much has come out of it.

Here’s a link to a post about what I and my colleagues learned from the program.

Here’s a post that I wrote about it myself …

And here are programs that Seth has run after it: The “Nano MBA”—a six-day short version of the Six Month MBA—and the FeMBA, specifically for women entrepreneurs.

It’s not a “regular” thing for Seth to run programs like this, and I think both he and all of the participants gained so much, but I’m not sure it’s something he’ll continue. It certainly changed him and everyone in each program. I also think it was Seth’s way of sending the elevator back down to people because he was given great mentors and chances throughout his life. It’s about showing people that taking risks and seizing opportunities in life is a choice, and that in order to succeed, you gotta push yourself through sometimes uncomfortable places.

Thanks, Ishita. I feel a little guilty posting your account, because a lot of people who read it are going to say, “Hey, how do I get into this program myself?” I’m one of them. I’d love to apply. Sorry!

To attempt to make up for this tease, here’s a Seth Godin correspondence-course, micro-nano-MBA—borrowed from Poke the Box.This is all you or I need to know, in 123 words:

Starting implies (demands) finishing

What’s the distinction between carrying around a great idea, being a brainstormer, tinkering–and starting something?

Starting means you’re going to finish. If it doesn’t ship, you’ve failed. You haven’t poked the box if the box doesn’t realize it’s been poked.

To merely start without finishing is just boasting, or stalling, or a waste of time. I have no patience at all for people who believe they are doing their best work but are hiding it from the market. If you don’t ship, you actually haven’t started anything at all. At some point, your work has to intersect with the market. At some point, you need feedback as to whether or not it worked. Otherwise it’s merely a hobby.

Posted in Writing Wednesdays

13 Responses to “What I Love About Seth, Part Two”

  1. March 9, 2011 at 1:48 am

    “You haven’t poked the box if the box doesn’t realize it’s been poked.” is one of my favourite quotes from the book as well, Steven :) It has the ring of something that will keep on cropping up in my head for a long time…along with a little voice saying “Go on, poke it….” 😉

  2. March 9, 2011 at 3:26 am

    Wisest 123 words I’ve ever read.

  3. March 9, 2011 at 6:32 am

    Thank you for posting this post! I can gush about Ishita all day. Her magazine, fear.less, played a huge role in setting me to my own entrepreneurial path and getting through the heartache of a breakup actually.

    In the very first issue, I discovered Danielle LaPorte, who has amazing insight and wisdom about entrepreneurship from a spiritual perspective. Author and meditation teacher, Susan Piver wrote an article about relationships and love that was eye and heart opening.

    Last summer I met and worked with Ishita during Seth’s “Road Trip” workshops. Seth and Ishita gave me the opportunity to volunteer for the event here in DC. Ishita is a thoughtful and centered leader. She is so organized and knows how to get a team to bring their best (or really want to, in my case).

    Ishita is truly a Linchpin herself.

    • March 11, 2011 at 11:38 am

      Agree–Ishita is awesome. And so glad we connected via fear.less.

  4. March 9, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Steve -you rock! thanks for this post

    Jen Y – you are too too kind. thanks for the support and kind words, you have no idea how much it means!

  5. March 9, 2011 at 9:21 am

    I resonate with the phrase, “Starting means you’re going to finish.” Many people walk around with great ideas and never act on them. That concept of seeing something through to the end is what distinguishes the doer from the dreamer.

  6. March 9, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Thanks for sharing this – I read passages from Poke the Box to get me going before writing. Each entry is like a shot of get-off-your-ass juice.

    Steven — any plans to offer a Seth-like program for authors who are going pro?

    • March 9, 2011 at 9:32 pm

      Indeed, Jeremy, that exact thing is coming up in about five weeks — done with Seth. More to come …

      • March 10, 2011 at 5:58 am

        This is huge! Can’t wait, thanks Steven!

  7. March 9, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Having just finished ‘Poke The Box’ and ‘The War of Art’ both, it seems to me that bridging the chasm between not starting and starting is not only important for us as naturally creative individuals, but it’s critical for how industry and society is to move forward in these rapidly changing times.

    I love this post. You are both incredible ‘givers’! 😀

  8. March 9, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Steve, just had a wonderful conversation with Alex Miles Younger at the Domino Project. He told me about your upcoming book. Super excited for that. I’d be honored to have you as a guest on the Linchpin Podcast. Thank you for the post about Seth and for sharing Ishita’s SAMBA experience. I hadn’t heard that before.

    A fan,

    Andy

  9. March 10, 2011 at 5:52 am

    Well, starting demands a ending too. But you may not always reach the finish line first. Nevertheless it is better to complete the race than to quit in half way and better to quit half way than to quit even before starting.

    Not many people accept with it, but it is that way with me. I love every race I take whether I quit halfway or get going till finish line. So it is the love that differentiates .

  10. March 10, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Talked about you in the latest episode of our podcast Mr. Pressfield. Looking forward to your new book as part of the Domino Project. Thank you for helping me ship.