TGM14: Dancing With the Fear with Seth Godin

What an honor it was to talk to Seth Godin. I almost decided to title this episode The One Where Seth Godin Kicks Me in the Ass, because that’s kind of what happened.

I kept talking about one thing and Seth kept trying to bring me around to another thing. I’d like to think in the time since we recorded this conversation, I’ve taken put some of Seth’s advice into practice.

Regardless, I had a tremendously fun time talking to one of my heroes. Seth is an amazingly smart and kind man and oozes wisdom.

A self-described starter of projects, Seth is the author of 18 bestselling books and I was was truly delighted to speak with him about life, business, meaning and how all of that intersects.

Here are some of my favorite bits from the show:

On Marketing and Shortcuts

“A marketer’s job is to tell a story that resonates with us.”

“All the people who talk about market and study up on the short-cuts are never heard from five years later.”

“You do not find anybody who has built a career or a life that they’re proud who says,’Seven years ago I discovered shortcut X and told everyone and spent all my time on shortcut X’. This is not the way it works.”

The Difference Between Jobs and Work

“I think that it is worthy to have a job. I think that many of us need to have a job and a job is the thing you do to feed your family. And the work is what we call it when we are doing the thing that is personal, when we are doing the thing that makes our heart beat faster, when we are doing the thing that contributes to the community. And sometimes (and I would put myself in this category), we are fortunate enough to have both be the same thing. But if you are requiring both to be the same thing and want to bootstrap your way into that, you’re going to cripple each of them.”

On Tension and Fear

“I think what makes the work worth talking about is tension and fear. There is tension because we are simultaneously doing something that might work and something that might not work. And living with both of those things at the same time is very difficult for most people.”

“It’s one thing to be afraid. But mostly we are afraid of being afraid. Mostly we are insulating ourselves from any situation where we might actually feel afraid. And that is why people look for shortcuts and that is why people hesitate to do work that matters. Not because we can’t deal with the fear, but because the fear of the fear is keeping us from even trying.”

“My thesis is that this tension, this fear, this felling is the *point*. If we go to work and we do not feel it, we’re not actually at work.”

What Professionals Do

“What professionals do is they go to work to face the fear on a regular basis. What professionals do not do is wait until they’re in the mood. They do not wait for inspiration to strike. They show up on a regularly basis, find the thing they’re afraid of and dance with it.”

“I think that most people have the ability to have a job where someone doesn’t tell them what to do every minute of the day. If you have one of those jobs, you could *chose* to fill it with meaning.”

On The Struggle and the Work

“The fact is if you’re trusted and known by people who count on you, you’re probably not going to have trouble making a living.”

“It is entirely possible to make a living doing work you believe in. But it’s also true that most of the people who whine about this have not developed sufficient talent. They’re just not that good at what they do. They are *capable* of getting better at what they do, but they’re either too lazy or too afraid to do so.”

“The world does not owe any of us a living. The world does not owe any of us attention. If we contribute enough and we push ourselves to get ever better, then over time the world will *insist* on us making a living.”

“It’s a really good thing the struggle never ends. The struggle is the entire point.”

As always, I had a great time talking to Seth. Enjoy the show!

Show Notes

  • Min 22:11: Why Seth Godin says no to most Podcasts.
  • Min 24: Adam’s 7-year-old daughter, Izzie, makes her first podcast appearance.
  • Min 25:45: Seth’s worst book title (and his favorite book titles).
  • Min 29: Is it possible to find meaning in or work?
  • Min 30:23: The difference between our “job” and our “work”.
  • Min 33: Why failure is not really our greatest fear.
  • Min 42:37: The difference between fear and choice.

Bits & Bytes Mentioned in the Show

More About Seth

Published by Adam Clark on January 12, 2015

If you enjoyed this episode, I'm willing to bet you'll enjoy the newsletter. Free weekly bits and bites about business, podcasting, audience building and the like. Go on. Treat yourself. You deserve it.