When Seth Godin talks, people listen. It could have something to do with the fact that he’s written fourteen books that have all been bestsellers, or that his recent Kickstarter project broke records for its size and speed of reaching its goal, or it might be that his latest company, Squidoo.com, is ranked among the top 125 sites in the United States for traffic. Whatever it is, May’s CreativeMornings/NewYork was no different, and Seth blew the audience away with “truth bombs” that revolutionized the way we think about what we do, and how we have had it backwards all along.
It’s not our fault, though. Seth explained that we all grew up in an industrial world, an industrial economy where we were taught to do what we’re told and fill in the circle with a No. 2 pencil. “We’re not in the industrial economy any more,” says Seth, “we’re in the connection economy—and connection creates value.”
Three Things We Have Backwards:
1. Many people believe that great designers get great clients. It’s the other way around.
“How much of your day is spent working to get better clients versus pleasing the clients you’ve already got?” says Seth. “And is pleasing the clients you’ve already got the best way to get better clients?”
In Seth’s talk, he points out how we have this client/employee relationship totally backwards. We’re wasting time and selling out our souls trying to work for people to get paid, versus investing the time to find the client who is capable of giving the platform we deserve.
Patience is for the impatient.
Seth calls out the strategy most entry-level designers take when they first enter the workforce: taking anything and everything to scrap by. “When you just collect scraps, and more scraps, sometimes that give you a leg up, but sometimes that makes you a scrap collector,” says Seth.
He advises that we be patiently impatient, calling the myth of the overnight success just that, a myth.
The principle of leading up.
Seth tells us to look to artists or designers that we admire, and examine how their work is making an impact. More often than not, he says, they’re “doing it by leading the people who are ostensibly in charge to make better decisions. Leading those people to have better taste. Leading those people to have the guts to do the work they’re capable of doing.”
So, no, you’re not in charge, but none of us are. There has never been a time to take control and reverse this backwards thinking we’ve been trained to do. Now that you’re aware of it, you have no excuse.
In a later post, we’ll unpack a few techniques Seth cited for “leading up,” so stay tuned!
Watch the talk.