I just got back from a talk by Seth Godin at Tufts University. As expected, it was inspiring. His core message to students was to get out there and connect. It’s a connection economy. Connect and you get noticed. Do something to help others connect, and we will notice you and care about you. This is essentially a new take on his “permission marketing” concept of past: turn strangers into friends and friends into customers.
Today, says Godin, success means being a connector. But the more he talked, the more I felt that he meant more than that. He seems to take Malcolm Gladwell’s tipping point concepts of Connectors, Mavens and Sales People and make them all requirements of a successful entrepreneur. “You have to be all three of these things.” He did not say this in so many words, but he did say, “Pick up the microphone while it’s still available.” This is essentially what a Maven does, right? Speaking out will help you build your network of connections and followers. The more you speak out, the more of a sales person you will become. And of course, it’s all about the 10,000 hours, too. Do it, do it, do it. You will fail, but you will fail less over time. If you’re not doing something that rubs someone the wrong way, you’re probably not pushing yourself, and you will be doomed to a life of mediocrity. As Tufts students, the audience is not prepared for mediocrity, but Seth called out the students to say, “What got them in will not get them out” — following all the rules that created success in school and got them into a great college will not be the rules for success in the real world outside of college. School does not teach enough of 21st century skills like Creativity and Innovation, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Communication and Collaboration, and most important, FAILURE — wonderful, experiential failure in all of its wholesome glory.
Break the rules. Speak out. Don’t fear failure. Connect with everyone and everything.
These are not the messages that your father will be comfortable with, but then again, he’s lived his life. Now, it’s your turn. But don’t expect it to come easily. It took Seth 25 attempts, mostly failures, just to graduate from college, and then another 30 years to fast forward to today. Yes, Seth is an icon and a master, but that took time to cultivate. The good news is, the youth of today can do it, too.
I was left reeling at his messages as I rewound my thoughts to his quick, fashionably late entrance pulling a suitcase on wheels behind him. I relived his telling stories of starting college businesses and how most of them failed. I visualized students carrying garbage bags over their shoulders and calling out, “Bagels! Bagels! Bagels!” As I walked down the Tufts hill to where I had parked, I chanted in my mind to keep warm, “Godin, Godin, Godin, Godin, Yoda… Yoda?” Where had that come from? Had the wisdom of this cult icon merged with my subconscious and conjured up the master Jedi knight? I chuckled to myself, realizing that Seth was a Jedi.
When I returned home, I searched for some Yoda quotes to align them with Seth’s, and I was horrified. I could not find any true wisdom coming from Yoda. everything was mere appearance, created by pushing his verbs to the end of his sentences.
“This is a connection revolution.” Seth, not Yoda. “And revolutions destroy the perfect while enabling the impossible.”
That which appears to be perfect and work perfectly will be destroyed, and the things that the mainstream culture flicks away become the disruptive elements. It sounds more like Clay Christensen’s disruptive innovation. Does that make Clay the Jedi? Does it make Seth, Clay?
Connections are the Force, and the Force will disrupt the status quo.
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