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Seth Spreads the Idea of Mastery

by Hal on May 16, 2007

in books, leadership, training

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Vince Lombardi was wrong when he said, "Winners never quit and quitters never win." Do I have your attention? That's how Seth Godin opened his presentation this morning in Philadelphia. It's the first stop on his book tour to promote The Dip. I've been asked many times, "Why does a project management guy write about a marketing guy." Seth is not just a marketing guy. He's strung together one best-selling book on marketing one-after-another. Seth describes himself as a guy committed to spreading the best ideas. His book Purple Cow on doing work that stands out is great advice for individuals and teams.

Follow Toyota's example: Stop and fix the problem.His latest book is encouragement to work your way through the inevitable low points or challenges in every worthwhile endeavor. Or, he says, "Quit." That's right, quit. Seth says don't pursue something that you don't intend to be the best at. And he says don't pursue goals where the odds are stacked against you. He illustrates that point with the madness associated with getting into the best colleges. The very best schools accept fewer than 10% of applicants. Seth's advice,

Reject Harvard!

The dip is unreliable. Your son or daughter could prepare throughout high school doing all the "right things" to get into an elite school and still not get in. With odds that bad your child could apply to all eight Ivy League schools and not get into any. Take a different approach.

What else did he say?

  • Being the best is under rated.
    He compared Amazon with Barnes and Noble. Last year, half the books Amazon sold — 1 million titles — B&N doesn't stock. At the same time the best-sellers accounted for the large majority of total book sales.
  • Work towards cumulative advantage.
    This is also known as the law of increasing returns. Getting attention results in more people willing to give you attention.
  • Follow Toyota's example: stop and fix the problem.
    Pay attention to what is different from your expectations. Make it your habit to continuously adjust.
  • Prominently display a Post-It reading, "Best in the World!"
    Remind yourself and others to not settle for less. At Toyota it's called never be satisfied.

Seth finished with Q&A. Two more points are memorable. First, "Best" is not perfect, nor is it permanent. "Perfect is the enemy of good." Best is a journey of mastery. Second, "Avoid polishing before publishing." Get your work in front of people. Find out how good it is and then make it better.

Still wondering why I write about Seth? I didn't think so!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Joe Ely May 16, 2007 at 4:52 pm

Cool you got to see Seth today, Hal. The points you make here are entirely compatable with excellent project management and very consistent with Lean principles.

I’ve ordered The Dip and await its arrival, as it just published.

Great summary…thanks.

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