SETH GODIN: HOW TO WIN IN THE “FOREVER RECESSION”

Marketing genius Seth Godin says the world is changing faster than ever and people aren’t adapting fast enough. He says as the industrial age transforms into the technological age your entire mentality has to change. You have to adapt to your surroundings if you want to win the race to the top.

Today’s world is no longer about waiting for some big corporation to choose you to become important. It’s no longer about thinking that the only thing you have to offer the world is a specific expertise based on a degree that likely didn’t help you understand the modern world. It’s no longer about waiting on everyone else to decide that you matter. It’s all about empowering yourself and finding ways to make the rest of society see the value in you.

So ask yourself – are you still working and thinking in the defunct model? This model that says we have to work for someone else? This model that says you can’t break from conventional wisdom and succeed? Success is there for those who want it and they’re the ones winning the race to the top in the “forever recession”.

See the full interview here (thanks to Josh Brown):

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Got a comment or question about this post? Feel free to use the Ask Cullen section, leave a comment in the forum or send me a message on Twitter.

Cullen Roche

Mr. Roche is the Founder of Orcam Financial Group, LLC. Orcam is a financial services firm offering research, private advisory, institutional consulting and educational services.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterLinkedIn

Comments

  1. Hmmm..that’s funny. I think I’m adapting just fine. I don’t expect anything ever and mostly I detest anything wrought by every part of this so-called civilization. That goes double for the nonsense spewed by “thought leaders” like Seth Godin who come up with vast piles of “should” and “suppos’ta” lists to make everyone feel somehow behind the curve. Here’s a meme for Seth…there is no curve to be behind. There’s just stuff out there and your never-ending marketing attempts at trying to co-opt everything by assigning your words and your memes to it are starting to become obvious and cloying. The fact that you say it means people like me will instantly reject it.
    -rufus

  2. Nothing new here. There will always be self-motivated people who figure it out. And there will always be people who try to make self-motivated people out of those who are not.
    By the way, did anyone see the new Nike Kobe Bryant commercial about ultra-success? Pretty funny.

  3. > Marketing genius Seth Godin says the world is changing faster than ever and people aren’t adapting fast enough. He says as the industrial age transforms into the technological age your entire mentality has to change. You have to adapt to your surroundings if you want to win the race to the top.

    ——————-

    It is not new insight but it is still valuable since it is true. I am not sure why it is not well received. Isn’t it at the core of our economy problems and unemployment? People cannot adapt to suddently globalized world where they have to compete with chinese for food.

  4. I am a big fan of this guy simply because he’s focuses on entrepreneurs and what it takes and means to become one.

    It’s not easy starting a business, yet the products businesses create are the lifeblood of progress.

    Increasing living standards mostly come from better products.

  5. Ironic if it turns out that the way to “adapt to your surroundings”, deal with change proactively, and position yourself for the long haul is precisely not to engage in a “race to the top” of the precipice, but to develop ways to collaborate with others in building a sustainable way of life/economy/world.

  6. The money shot for me:

    “If you can figure out how to do something interesting or unique, or noteworthy, people will find you and pay you extra, because you’re not like everyone else but cheaper, you’re different than everyone and more expensive.”

    There’s something evolutionary in all this, and imo it has something to do with consuming content vs producing quality content in the largest sense imaginable (by you), yourself.

  7. We’ve heard these calls before.

    Anyone remember the howls from the 90s, at least here in Europe, about the ‘knowledge economy’.

    That’s what Britain did. Germany ignored that, and doubled down on manufacturing.

    And who won out in the end?
    That isn’t to say that technology etc will play an increasingly bigger role in our lives. But for me it’s not really about the mode of the economy, rather than the segmentation.

    Work is becomming increasingly scarce even for college grads.
    To only have high school and get a decent job that will stay, that’s gone forever, unless you’re incredibly smart like Sean Parker or other start-up guys.

    The thing is, most people are not entrepreneurs by nature. Most people go somewhere, do the work, and then go home. That’s just how it is and you have to adapt the society around those premises. Human nature won’t change.

    And if the economic system doesn’t favor that, you’ll have anarchy and social revolts. See the Arab world, or even Israel last summer. The welfare state can only take so much.

    Like all marketing guys this guy is over the top. They all are, but what he says isn’t profound. He basically says that job security for most average people is gone, big shocker. But end of manufacturing? Pff. China has a lot of that, India has a lot less. Which country has a much more developed countryside? India has a nice IT sector and that’s about it.

    China has a much lower unemployment, higher literate levels and so on. It’s because they understand that you can’t employ more than, say, 3-4 % in IT. You can employ over 25 % in manufacturing if done right, doing everything from ipods to cars to wind and solar panels.

    Nontheless, where will it all end up? Who knows? I think less and less people will work generally. Schools are typically worse today than they were 40 years ago. Ask any professor, they’ll tell you the material is dumbed down because every politician wants more and more people into college, hence the dumbing down, hence the debasement of the college degree and so forth.

    In the short run, we can probably employ most people out of work today. From 2020 and onwards, however, I’m not so sure.

    By the way, Cullen, a ‘marketing’ guy is a kind of person who thrives on sensationalism and typically writes loads of stuff for the sake of writing stuff. I’d prefer an academic, someone who is knowledge about the technological singularity and it wouldn’t hurt if s/he had some economic background too.

    Then you could get something intellectually rigorous instead of a guy just selling a book. His conclusions are old, said by many other people. He just takes them very far and dramatizes them with baseless statements.

    This post sort of debased this website a little bit further for me ;/
    Take this the right way.

  8. This sounds like the “You Tube Generation” nonsense they made fun of on Saturday Night Live this weekend. Everybody is so unique and special in this oh-so-special new era.

    Entrepreneurs always overrate the social role of entrepreneurialism. The fact is, most people in this economy work for someone else, and probably as part of a fairly large organization. Obviously, it is in the nature of modern business enterprise that very few people can succeed as entrepreneurs. Certainly ingenuity is a plus in any walk of life. But if we try to teach everyone that there is an entrepreneurial path to success for each individual, we are just going to create a society of embittered failures.

    Godin is preaching the crazy radical individualism of our crazy era. But it will pass.

  9. I see Set is very good micro guy.
    He must good businessman too, just like the pastor Joel Osteen.
    Such people can create money out of thin air, almost like the federal government. If only all of us could be like them!

  10. Yeah, so get in line! Life is hopeless. The rat race is your destiny! Don’t think outside the box. Don’t try to break the mold! Don’t empower yourself. Accept the reality that you’re destined to being a slave for corporate America or some govt bureaucracy! I like that mentality…. :-)

  11. I think you’ve taken the whole post a bit too seriously. I like to encourage entrepreneurial and outside the box thinking. I know it’s not for everyone. But hey, it doesn’t hurt to try….

  12. It’s only a rat race if you’re in a race. For most working people, their job is just what they do to pay the bills, so they can then focus on the things in their lives that are most important to them.

    And suppose your goal is to be a entrepreneur who starts a company that employs 500. If you succeed, that means you have succeeded in creating 500 employees – not 500 entrepreneurs.

  13. That seems to be one of the key points people have missed in all of these conversations over the last few days. Money isn’t just about paying the bills so you can barely scrape by. It’s not about collecting a pay check from the govt so you can go man a post with a shovel. Money is all about your value to society. Are you something valuable? Different? Unique? Worthy of a premium? There’s nothing wrong with not being entrepreneurial or innovative. But I don’t think it’s a bad thing to strive for and it’s sad that people are coming here writing comments basically undermining the efforts of entrepreneurs because they see this post as some pseudo rejection of MMT’s job guarantee….

  14. This guys is Ayn Rand reloaded. Nothing against him, it’s just that he’s propagating disequilibrium by endorsing people to ‘get on top’ by all means. I’d rather prefer a game theory approach with ‘do no harm’ attitude as a baseline.

  15. “Money is all about your value to society”

    Yes, Bach, Tesla etc were complete failures.

  16. Everyone is cranky today…. no financial markets to follow…. what’s a money obessessed audience to do? bitch about the non-money post :)

    Cullen, I saw your tweet about another JG email blast… that should fire up the troops for another 381 comments

  17. By golly gee wiz…It’s so nice to be able to rant on Godin. Note how on his site he does not allow commentary ever because quite frankly I’m certain he feels us “lesser folk” have nothing of value to add. Seth’s “to get ahead, be unique, just like everyone else” piece is looking dimmer by the minute.
    -rufus

  18. Cullen, I enjoyed it and while his points about creating value and continual renewal are obvious to your readership, as a parent of teenage children…..it’s nothing to take for granted (in either direction).

  19. I don’t think that “life is hopeless” is the what you should take out of people criticizing Seth’s point. I think most people here support self-empowerment and the entrepreneurial driving spirit. The point you should take away from them is that even if they wanted to be entrepreneurs, there’s a TON of barriers from them being successful, including and especially getting started in the first place.

    First you have the fact that small businesses in America have a VERY tough time to succeed compared to other OECD countries, ranking last or close to it in terms of people self-employed or employed by small firms: http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/small-business-2009-08.pdf . I’d postulate that this disparity comes from a combination of governmental favoritism when it comes to large corporations (whether it’s from advantages in taxation and ability to avoid taxes, to receiving government contracts or writing the laws that govern them) and simpler things like economies of scale, access to capital or the power of established Brand names.

    Then on the individual level, you have barriers ranging from individual abilities (or lack thereof), having a good idea, the know-how of how to start, run and manage a business with all of the permits and regulations it requires, to the need of money (or capital) for starting a business. As the old saying goes, “It takes money to make money”, you will need a certain amount saved (20k, 50k, 100k, 1 million, etc.) to get most small businesses launched from off the ground. Given that we’re a nation of debtors, and that the median income in the country is less than 27k a year ( http://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/netcomp.cgi?year=2010 ), you’re not going to find many people with the savings to launch a business even if they ‘tighten their belts’ and save that extra 2-5k a year. Seth seems to be recommending this on those with less income security (or none at all), but they are typically those with the smallest means. Of course, you can try to access capital from a bank (but if you have a bad credit score… plus the frosty credit markets to smaller businesses…), or stake out a rich person WITH capital, but not everyone is willing to track down a venture capitalist in cocktail party or ask your uncle for money (and even if they do, rejection is more likely than not).

    That all being said, I think that if people can start small or on the side, if they have an idea that can feasibly succeed, and/or if they have the resources to launch, I think you should go for it. But realize that entrepreneurship just may not be for everyone, and motivation and drive are far from the only factor preventing it.

  20. All of this suggests that if income distribution in the U.S. was more equal and health care was guaranteed and bankruptcy laws were more generous (in short, the opposite of what “free market” conservatives advocate) the U.S. would actually be MORE favorable to potential entrepreneurs. Interesting.

  21. He is probably right on when he says there is going to be inevitable change and that we are really on a downward spiral. I see technology and scientific advances becoming property of the state and being used to supply the necessities of life. Instead of working 40 hours as the norm I think it will be necessary to reduce the standard week to 25 or thirty. All those special people that Seth talks about will not have customers to buy those special products or services if they are not working.Everyone can’t be special. There is only so many ways to make a hamburger and fries and the same is true with anything else.

  22. I saw Seth Godin at a Leadership conference last year; he was captivating. Being someone interested in innovation and helping clients with getting outside of their own thinking, he was inspiring. His message is simple when you step back from your normal hectic frantic pace – common sense does not mean common practice. We need more Seth Godin personalities IN OUR organizations and pray that we have the ears to hear the message… simple as it is.

  23. Seth shows us a different view of the world around us. Why do we look at the world in a certain way when we can choose to look at it however we want. I have really enjoyed Seth’s work, not because he is groundbreaking but rather just one off which is truly rare.

    I think about how often I can look for something I need to purchase and within two seconds while shopping at the store I can scan the items barcode with my phone and know the price I can get that item anywhere. If I pay more than I have to how does one justify that. Convience? Charity? Pure laziness? However some places I never have to question the price because I can walk in and describe a situation and the seller answers all my questions as well as tells me what I didn’t even know to ask. There I don’t check the price because they have given me more than I can pay for so whatever they charge is a great deal.

    We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just one degree of difference makes all the difference.

  24. The US Government is already the sole customer for all basic scientific research and semi-basic research done in the USA. Industry only pays for highly applied research that is directly linked to product development. This is simply reality as it is.

  25. Might be an age thing. I was born in 1955, so I’ve been listening to these kind of guys since the late 70″s. After a while, they seem to blend together. I liked Seth’s TED talk about tribes. Maybe because in was more academic and less marketing.

  26. I started to read through the comments, and yeah … I think a lot … well … maybe are not “missing” the point of what Seth said, more than “dismissing” the point that Seth made.

    “Entreprenuers will always overstress their importance”

    The fact of the matter, is that there is a structural productivity problem within the economy. It’s a increasing productivity / diminishing labor demand problem. To depend on being hired, is to place yourself within that structural loop. So Seth is exactly correct. The best way to move ahead, is to not place yourself within the diminishing productivity cycle.