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Seth Godin – Genius and Breaker of Things

seth godin - genius and breaker of things
Seth Godin is one of my personal heroes. He has an uncanny ability to pare things down to their absolute essence, demystifying them and making them seem simple.

That’s Seth Godin’s genius in action.

Now that Seth has plenty of success, he devotes himself to breaking things. It’s hard to say which came first, that he had a natural penchant for breaking things and developed that into his profession, or vice versa.

I first caught wind of this attitude of his in the absolutely priceless Seth Godin’s Startup School. If you’re in business, or planning to get into business, you could do yourself no better favor than to spend a few hours listening to the captured podcasts, available here (by the way, they are in descending order – if you want to begin in the beginning, start from the bottom and work your way up).

There’s also a transcript here, if you’d prefer to read it.

I’m not kidding when I suggest you do both. Talk about giving away massive value!

This is a man who does what he says – he earns your trust and doesn’t betray it.

Anyway, Back to Breakage

Seth is suggesting that you find a way to become replaceable in the business you’re building. And then, even worse, you don’t let sacred cows prevent you from making change to something that’s working. BREAK IT and see if fixing it makes it better.

An example, from Godin’s Startup School:

If you have three pizza shops and they are all working, you have a choice. You can just keep them working and go to the south of France and they’ll mail you a $1,000 a week because you own the business.

Or you can say, “For me to get from 3 to 30, I’m going to have to do something that might not work. So I’m going to have to take all the money and put it into advertising or Groupon coupons or I am going to have to put a new menu in that breaks what was working and maybe makes it better, but maybe doesn’t.”

And you are the only person who has the authority to do that. You don’t want the guy behind the pizza counter coming in with a giant bag of raisins and making raisin pizza just because it’s fun.

As you’re structuring this business to grow, your job is to figure out where it goes.

My Heroes Have Always Been Firebrands

Heroes seem to have become harder and harder to come by in the modern world. And, personally, there are only a handful of people that can move me to radically adapt my perspective at this stage of my life. But Godin is one of those people. My personal version of success used to be that I could go away from my business for a week, a month, a year and it would be popular, thriving and profitable when I return.

Now, thanks to his insight (and his ability to get such ideas to spread), I’ve revised my definition of success to purposefully breaking things and having people happily putting them back together, hoping to find a way to make them better.

More on Breakage

In the video below, Godin riffs on his website, This is Broken (rebranded as Good Experience Blog), shows us a collection of hilarious images and then offers a moment of absolute genius at around the 18:00 mark.
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