Seth Godin Teaches How to Reach the Top of Your Field
We all know one.
It could be the Johnny Rockstar in your office – the guy everybody wants to have on their team.
Or maybe it’s your friend from college. She’s climbed the corporate ladder three times faster than everyone else.
Seth Godin has a name for these kinds of people – Linchpins.
They’re so good at what they do that they’re irreplaceable.
And when you’re that good, success naturally follows.
Godin says that anyone can (and should) become a Linchpin. Change the way you think and the rest will follow. He shared a few of his favorite lessons with Andrew Warner during their Mixergy interview:
- Embrace Your Failures
- Allow Others to Be Great
- Fight the Resistance
- Stay Generous
- Be Intentional
You’ll learn why Seth subscribes to these principles, and why you should too. Are you ready to become a Linchpin?
Seth Godin Teaches How to Reach the Top of Your Field
1. Embrace Your Failures
Seth said he’s failed more often than anyone can imagine. But that’s exactly what’s allowed him to find success.
“I’m gonna have a lot of bad ideas. People are going to laugh at me. I’m going to do things that don’t make any sense all the way to the edges and then I’m gonna fail again. That’s OK. I’m willing to do all those things because my study of every artist in history shows that’s the way it works. That’s the map.” – Seth Godin
Godin’s blog posts are some of the most popular on the web. But what most people don’t realize is that for every article that gets published dozens more die in his head.
Same goes for special projects. Some are a hit, while many others are cancelled before ever being launched. Seth calls these events his “private failures” because most others never know about them.
“I started more than 100 businesses before I had one that really worked. I was three weeks away from bankruptcy for six years in a row. I went window shopping in restaurants. I launched a video tape with fish swimming back and forth for people who couldn’t have an aquarium. There’s a really long list of failures.”
“The difference is once you get going you have enough reserve that you can fail more quietly because you can test market. You can put things into a different space. That’s the privilege you get after you have momentum.”
2. Allow Others to Be Great
Want to know how to assemble an awesome team? It’s simple.
Hire great people and then get the hell out of the way.
Godin describes how this worked after hiring one of his prior MBA students. He told her who was the boss…
“‘You’re in charge. You’re the head of Hoopla. Tell me what to do.’ And I work for her. You start by hiring somebody who loves to be like this. Not somebody you have to tell to be like this. And then you completely get out of the way. You get out of the way and say ‘You are better at this than I am.’”
“If I can support what she is doing, that’s my job. It is not my job to tell her what to do. Because then she becomes a compliant cog in the factory of Seth Godin. That’s not the deal.”
In essence, hire people who are better at doing specific things than you are, and then let them do it.
3. Fight the Resistance
Godin says the biggest obstacle people face in finding success is overcoming their own “resistance.”
“This resistance is nefarious, it will never give up, it will use every opportunity it can to find an excuse to get you.”
Whether it’s checking social media just one more time or making sure you’re “emotionally ready” to start that new business…
It’s all just BS to avoid doing the work that needs to be done.
Seth says there’s no “road map” or “checklist” that you can use to overcome resistance. Each person faces unique circumstances, so finding your own specific solution is the only way to address it.
“There’s a million ways to beat the resistance, after all it’s a hundred thousand years old, it’s very primitive. You’ve just got to decide that it’s your job. Once you decide that that’s the job you’ll figure out how to beat the resistance. If I tell you how I beat it, it will not help you. You have to beat it your way.”
So how do you defeat the resistance?
“What you do, is sit quietly in an empty room. Confront it, deal with it, live with it, talk to it, and figure it out. If you don’t figure it out, no tool, no rulebook is going to help you.”
Godin explains that people get stuck because, as human beings, we all want reassurance that everything is going to be okay. Nothing bad is going to happen.
Once you overcome this fear, great things can happen. Because you’re riding on the edge.
“You discover you don’t need reassurance and if you don’t need reassurance you’re more willing to do stuff that might get you laughed at.”
“You have an obligation to do the work, and you have to do the work even if it gives you a stomach ache. Even if you’re not going to get to sleep tonight. Doing the work is more important than you getting to sleep tonight.”
4. Stay Generous
Godin explains that most people covet “things” and “stuff” in the belief that they will bring power. But they have it all wrong.
It’s not about what you have, it’s about what you give.
“Guess what the most valuable thing to accumulate is? Respect. Attention. People who think they owe you something. This idea of people opening themselves to your idea. That’s where power lies. That’s where joy lies.”
But how do you earn their respect?
By practicing relentless, persistent, over-the-top generosity and expecting nothing in return.
Don’t do the work for yourself, do the work to serve others.
“It’s a privilege for me to write a blog post that even four people are going to read.
This is my pride and joy that people are trusting enough of me, that in the morning, they’ll tune in to see what I have to say. Thank you so much for letting me give you this.
And that is where we’re headed as a culture. That the people who can give the most…[they] get what really matters, which is peace of mind. The ability to do their art. The ability to leverage new genius and make change in the world. That’s the new economy.”
When you get into the habit of being generous, something strange happens – you become indispensable at the same time.
“We either fool ourselves into thinking that the only way to make money is to sell out and do what we’re told. Or we make money by being exceptional, by being indispensable, by being someone they can’t live without.”
5. Be Intentional
Godin says you need to know what you stand for and what you’re trying to accomplish. Otherwise, you’re just spinning your wheels.
“I don’t write books to make a living. I don’t write books because I like it. Writing books is exhausting. And it’s nerve-racking, and it’s a pain in the neck. And it’s not lucrative. I write books because I have to.”
The idea for his bestseller, Linchpin, came from emails from people who were in pain. People who were upset. They followed the rules like they were told but were left with nothing in return.
“I realized I couldn’t talk about strategy any more. I had to go grassroots, bottom up, and talk about people. Because if we don’t have people with the right intent, no strategy is going to pay off.”
Godin says if he can help one person, and change their perspective, then all the pain and suffering of writing a book is worth it.
Andrew and Seth went deep into these topics (and many others) and discussed exactly what you need to do to make your mark and leave people begging for more.
Get the interview below to find out how you can become a Linchpin, too…