Friday, 6 October 2017

Is Seth Godin a genius - or does he tell you nothing?

I like reading the books of Seth Godin and I am currently working my way through The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? which is interesting for anyone who works for themselves. As a creative person who writes for myself ad others for a living, I always find books like this inspiring. Seth Godin does really well at capturing an inspiration and running with it. His blogs are short and to the point, which makes them pretty much essential reading in a day and age where volume of content appears to be king.

But I always walk away from a Seth Godin book with confusion in my mind. I can't make my mind up whether Seth Godin a genius - or does he tell you nothing?

The problem at hand

Words convey a feeling. As a content writer I know this more than most. The way that people think and feel as they walk away from your content is in many ways just as important as the actions that you carry out as a result of the book. But with Seth Godin, as far as I ma concerned there are no actions. I don't walk away with a checklist of things that I can immediately apply to my business as I do with other books. As a startup owner you want to be able to read something that you can use. Time is precious.

I am quite a pragmatic learner and this carries through to what I read. I want to be able to pick up at least two or three things from every book I read (and this includes fiction) that I can use in my life and work. From fiction books it might be -
  • A literary device that I haven't used before
  • Some characterisation that makes me think about what I am writing
  • An idea for a subplot in my next book
But whatever it is, I walk away happy with the knowledge that reading has given me. In many ways that's what reading is - an exchange of time for knowledge.

Why is Seth Godin different?

For the first few days I am happy after reading a Seth Godin book. I think about the world differently and feel like there are things I can do to make a difference. This is the processing stage. But once I have processed, then I am stuck for real, actionable ways to make a difference. My worldview has altered slightly but my business is no better or worse off for it.

In The Icarus Deception there is a great deal of rhetoric about how you should make a difference to the world. And this is where he is clever. The book deals with doing something that nobody else has done before and being true to your artistic self. But as nobody has done these things before, he can hardly give you any idea about how you might get there. It all feels a little emperor's new clothes. I can tell you how you should feel but not what you should do.

So, is Seth Godin a genius - or does he tell you nothing? Do you know what, I'm not really sure either way. There is something in what he says but it isn't always going to help.

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