At the outset it’s worth stating that for those of you who are already fans of Seth Godin, this new book will be familiar territory. Its form and structure are new, much more akin (as he himself has said) to a coffee table book. Don’t let either of these observations fool you, however. This is a book worth reading, scanning, dipping into.
In accessible language, Godin forces you to consider what you ought to be doing with your career, what you should be doing, and what you are doing.
And then, what you might do next.
And then ratchets things up a notch, and asks the same questions of your life overall.
At its core the book revisits value, shipping, relevance, concepts such as not relying on the other guy, and not falling into the trap of assuming the world owes you a living.
These are ideas he’s introduced and developed in earlier books, and talks.
What’s developed is the concept of choice.
While luck, circumstance and environment are not discarded by him, he’s clear that, to a large degree, we make our own.
We choose to turn up for lectures, or to work, or to school projects, or we choose not to do so.
We accept what life throws at us, or resolve to change things if at all possible. (And Godin does not shy away from acknowledging that for some, these choices will be terribly hard, made in the face of difficult personal circumstances. This is not a glib mantra about success coming to those who take it.)
We choose to embrace change, or to go with the safety net of familiarity. We choose, in short, to read this book, then to consider what it says, then to consider what actions we might take.
In a way, that’s the clever part, on a number of levels. He produced the book as a crowd-sourced venture, so he knew his sales would be guaranteed (the book was, inevitably over-subscribed – I bought 12 myself). And so he wasn’t cornered into saying things people might want to hear. And of course, he’s built his tribe of followers, so he’s living his own advice.
He also doesn’t care, per se, whether we read and discard, or read and act. Again, both of these are our choices to make.
And that’s its strength, even if you think you’ve read it before, even if you’re cynical about him or his work.You end up thinking.
Two points I especially liked from Seth Godin’s new book: choice is all there is, and the only think that now matters; and stupid is not bad, it’s what comes just before clever. Embrace stupid (or failure, or learning, or reskilling, or being afraid of change) and you’re on your way.