Best Books by Seth Godin
PUBLISHED ON JUNE 25, 2020 | 20 MIN READ
Books have always been an important tool for humans. Some books can tell compelling stories that impact our perspective of the world and the way we live our lives.
For authors, on the other hand, books become a platform for them to impart knowledge onto others – a type of knowledge that readers could use to make important life decisions or re-evaluate their beliefs. Words carry a certain power and through books, our values are tested and possibly changed.
People like Seth Godin have made waves in the writing industry, specifically in the field of marketing, business, and creative advertising.
His concepts have been controversial as well as influential and for over thirty years, this marketing guru has been inspiring readers through his books, blogs, and public speaking. Who is Seth Godin? What are Seth Godin’s best works? What is he best known for?
Getting to Know the Author Seth Godin
A wise man once said “Change is not a threat, it’s an opportunity. Survival is not the goal, transformative success is.” This man is Seth Godin. He is a famous American writer, blogger, entrepreneur, investor, and public speaker.
He has a total of nineteen best-selling books around the globe. Godin’s writing does not only teach about effective marketing and business but as well as personal growth and life. He has tackled on post-industrial revolution, challenging traditions, the mechanics and impact of spreading information, leadership, and creating change.
Seth Godin was born in New York and attended Tafts University wherein he received a degree in Computer Science and Philosophy. He took up his MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business while at the same time working as a brand manager for Spinnaker Software. In the following years, he ventured into starting his projects such as Seth Godin Productions and Yoyodyne, all a huge success.
Godin has then been involved in numerous projects since 1985 up to his most current ones in 2019 – the sixth season of The Marketing Seminar, the launch of The Boostrapper’s Workshop, Freelancer’s and the new season of his podcast Akimbo. He also released his latest best-selling book called This is Marketing.
Apart from producing critically acclaimed books, this man is also a force to be reckoned with on the internet. He has made appearances in podcasts and started up an online global conversation about business and marketing.
He founded also Squidoo.com in 2005, a network wherein users could share about anything to an online audience. He has been described by Forbes as a “Demigod on the Web” and praised for his unique understanding of the online platform. Seth was inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame twice in 2013 and 2018 and maybe the only person to do both.
What is Seth Godin Best Known for?
Seth Godin is best known for his ideas on business and marketing in the digital age. He has been the author of numerous best-selling books on these topics such as Permission Marketing, All Marketers Are Liars, and Purple Cow.
His methods and ideas on digital marketing caught even the attention of Yahoo! who bought one of his biggest projects, Yoyodyne, back in 1998. Business Week has described him as the ultimate entrepreneur for the Information Age.
What are the Best books by Seth Godin?
Best Books by Seth Godin
|1. This is Marketing|
|2. Purple Cow|
|4. The Dip|
|6. All Marketers Are Liars|
|7. Permission Marketing|
|8. What to do When It’s Your Turn|
|9. V is for Vulnerable|
1 – This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See
This is Marketing is Seth Godin’s latest best-selling book which was released in 2018. The book talks about how marketing has impacted us throughout our lives. People have unconsciously or consciously acted a certain way because of what they see or learn from their environment.
For those who want to see a change in the world, marketing becomes an opportunity for them to promote the welfare of others and change bad habits into something good.
It is a useful tool in teaching readers how to trigger action that would consequently lead to positive change. The book gives you a roadmap of asking the right questions and reaching your vision to an audience effectively.
Quotes from the book;
“Persistent, consistent, and frequent stories, delivered to an aligned audience, will earn attention, trust, and action.”
“Service to the change they seek to make. Willing to tell a story that resonates with a group that they care enough to serve. There could be an overlap. It’s possible that it’s the way you feel right this minute, but it might not be. The version of you on offer might run many layers deep, but it can’t possibly be all of you, all the time.”
“You do people a service when you make better things and make it easy to talk about them. The best reason someone talks about you is because they’re actually talking about themselves: “Look at how good my taste is.” Or perhaps, “Look at how good I am at spotting important ideas.”
“How many people would reach out and wonder (or complain) if you didn’t send out that next email blast? That’s a metric worth measuring and increasing.”
“When in doubt, assume that people will act according to their current irrational urges, ignoring information that runs counter to their beliefs, trading long-term for short-term benefits and most of all, being influenced by the culture they identify with.”
“Yes, the Internet is a discovery tool, but no, you’re not going to get discovered that way. Instead, you will make your impact by uniting those you seek to serve.”
“Marketing is our quest to make change on behalf of those we serve, and we do it by understanding the irrational forces that drive each of us.”
“You’re not running around grabbing every conceivable lock to try out your key. Instead, you’re finding people (the lock), and since you are curious about their dreams and desires, you will create a key just for them, one they’ll happily trade attention for.”
“The most important lesson I can share about brand marketing is this: you definitely, certainly, and surely don’t have enough time and money to build a brand for everyone. You can’t. Don’t try. Be specific. Be very specific.”
“If you can bring someone belonging, connection, peace of mind, status, or one of the other most desired emotions, you’ve done something worthwhile. The thing you sell is simply a road to achieve those emotions, and we let everyone down when we focus on the tactics, not the outcomes. Who’s it for and what’s it for are the two questions that guide all of our decisions.”
2 – Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
This term is defined by Godin as someone being phenomenal. Marketers have used their own checklist of Ps such as Pricing, Promotion, Publicity which doesn’t cut it anymore for Godin.
The book pushes readers to challenge their limitations and stray away from comfort. To be the best version of ourselves, we must do something unexpected and create an impact that would turn heads. It challenges everyone to become a Purple Cow and thereby make waves in the world of marketing products or services.
Quotes from the book;
“A slogan that accurately conveys the essence of your Purple Cow is a script. A script for the sneezer to use when she talks with her friends. The slogan reminds the user, “Here’s why it’s worth recommending us; here’s why your friends and colleagues will be glad you told them about us.” And best of all, the script guarantees that the word of mouth is passed on properly – that the prospect is coming to you for the right reason.”
“As it becomes easier to monitor informal consumer networks, the winners will be companies that figure out what’s working fastest – and do it more (and figure out what’s not working – and kill it). Zara, a fast-growing retailer in Europe, changes its clothing line every three or four weeks. By carefully watching what’s working and what’s not, they can evolve their lineup far faster than the competition can ever hope to.”
“If you travel on an airline and they get you there safely, you don’t tell anyone. That’s what’s supposed to happen. What makes it remarkable is if it’s horrible beyond belief or if the service is so unexpected (they were an hour early! they comped my ticket because I was cute! they served flaming crêpes suzette in first class!) that you need to share it.”
“If a product’s future is unlikely to be remarkable – if you can’t imagine a future in which people are once again fascinated by your product – it’s time to realize that the game has changed. Instead of investing in a dying product, take profits and reinvest them in building something new.”
“Do you have the email addresses of the 20 percent of your customer base that loves what you do? If not, start getting them. If you do, what could you make for these customers that would be superspecial?”
“The obvious winners are the mid-sized and smaller companies looking to increase market share. These are the companies that have nothing to lose, but more important, they realize that they have a lot to gain by changing the rules of the game.”
“The hard work and big money you used to spend on frequent purchases of print and TV advertising now move to repeated engineering expenses and product failures. If anything, marketing is more time-consuming and expensive than it used to be. You’re just spending the money earlier in the process (and repeating the process more often). This is worth highlighting: The Purple Cow is not a cheap shortcut. It is, however, your best (perhaps only) strategy for growth.”
“For the frequent user, the impact of a cooler, better, easier-to-use input device is profound – so profound that many users are happy to proselytize to their peers. More sneezing of a Purple Cow.”
3 – Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
Published in 2008, Tribes is a 160-page book for leaders or managers that would want to inject a value of loyalty among their employees. According to Godin, effective and lasting change is produced by a group of people that are interconnected by a vision or a person.
Such a concept makes an effective united movement. The Obama campaign was a success since it rallied like-minded people who were hyped up for one similar purpose or vision.
Godin argues that anyone can become leaders, but most are inhibited by their fears and doubts. The book emphasizes the importance of tribes and how it can create the change we want in our organization.
Change isn’t by asking permission but by asking for forgiveness after. However, in his book, Godin left a disclaimer to use such a concept cautiously as the risks can also be high.
Quotes from the book;
“The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.”
“The secret of being wrong isn’t to avoid being wrong! The secret is being willing to be wrong. The secret is realizing that wrong isn’t fatal. The only thing that makes people and organizations great is their willingness to be not great along the way. The desire to fail on the way to reaching a bigger goal is the untold secret of success.”
“Heretics must believe. More than anyone else in an organization, it’s the person who’s challenging the status quo, the one who is daring to be great, who is truly present and not just punching a clock who must have confidence in her beliefs.
Can you imagine Steve Jobs showing up for the paycheck? It’s nice to get paid. It’s essential to believe.”
“If your organization requires success before commitment, it will never have either. Part of leadership (a big part of it, actually) is the ability to stick with the dream for a long time. Long enough that the critics realize that you’re going to get there one way or another…so they follow.”
“The easiest thing is to react. The second easiest thing is to respond. But the hardest thing is to initiate.”
“Yes, I think it’s okay to abandon the big, established, stuck tribe. It’s okay to say to them, “You’re not going where I need to go, and there’s no way I’m going to persuade all of you to follow me. So rather than standing here watching the opportunities fade away, I’m heading off. I’m betting some of you, the best of you, will follow me.”
“Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work.”
“Leaders lead when they take positions, when they connect with their tribes, and when they help the tribe connect to itself.”
“How was your day? If your answer was “fine,” then I don’t think you were leading.”
“Leadership, on the other hand, is about creating change you believe in.”
“Change isn’t made by asking permission. Change is made by asking forgiveness, later.”
“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”
4 – The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit ( and When to Stick)
This book teaches its readers a counter-intuitive way of achieving success. In Seth Godin’s 96-page book published in 2007, it tells readers about one of the secrets to winning life, which is knowing when to give up.
The book provides a fresh take in looking at our failures. Quitting and failing can become a catalyst for profound change in what we’re doing and can make us look for other solutions, ultimately propelling us toward a better disposition than where we were before.
Through this book, the author shows readers how to identify problems and when to confidently quit “cliff” situations. Godin put it best when he said: “We fail when we get distracted by tasks we don’t have the guts to quit”.
Quotes from the book;
“The people who are the best in the world specialize at getting really good at the questions they don’t know.”
“The time to look for a new job is when you don’t need one. The time to switch jobs is before it feels comfortable.”
“You and your organization have the power to change everything. To create remarkable products and services. To over deliver. To be the best in the world. How dare you squander that resource by spreading it too thin. How dare you settle for mediocre just because you’re busy coping with too many things on your agenda, racing against the clock to get it all done.”
“No one knows more about the way you think than you do.”
“Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt”
“The next time you catch yourself being average when you feel like quitting, realize that you have only two good choices: Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.”
“Stick with the Dips that are likely to pan out, and quit the Cul-de-Sacs to focus your resources”
“To be a superstar, you must do something exceptional. Not just survive the Dip, but use the Dip as an opportunity to create something so extraordinary that people can’t help but talk about it, recommend it, and, yes, choose it.”
“All coping does is waste your time and misdirect your energy. If the best you can do is cope, you’re better off quitting.”
“Never quit something with great long-term potential just because you can’t deal with the stress of the moment.”
“The people who skip the hard questions are in the majority, but they are not in demand.”
“A woodpecker can tap twenty times on a thousand trees and get nowhere, but stay busy. Or he can tap twenty-thousand times on one tree and get dinner.”
“Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.”
“Persistent people are able to visualize the idea of light at the end of the tunnel when others can’t see it”
5 – Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
Linchpin refers to n indispensable person. In this fun and insightful book, readers are taken on a journey on what it means to truly be a Linchpin of a company. While a company has employees that follow policies and norms, a linchpin goes further than that.
The book is a good read for anyone that is looking for a fresh idea on how to become a sought-after employee. To Godin, a linchpin is someone that carries a transformative atmosphere in an imbalanced environment or someone that holds the key to solutions. Anyone can make a great linchpin and Godin’s book helps you build yourself up into one.
Quotes from the book;
“An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it personally.”
“Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you’re doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they’re hiding out in the comfortable zone. When your uncomfortable actions lead to success, the organization rewards you and brings you back for more.”
“The competitive advantages the marketplace demands is someone more human, connected, and mature. Someone with passion and energy, capable of seeing things as they are and negotiating multiple priorities as she makes useful decisions without angst. Flexible in the face of change, resilient in the face of confusion. All of these attributes are choices, not talents, and all of them are available to you.”
“As our society gets more complex and our people get more complacent, the role of the jester is more vital than ever before. Please stop sitting around. We need you to make a ruckus.”
“Here’s the truth you have to wrestle with: the reason that art (writing, engaging, leading, all of it) is valuable is precisely why I can’t tell you how to do it. If there were a map, there’d be no art, because art is the act of navigating without a map. Don’t you hate that? I love that there’s no map.”
“Not only must you be an artist, must you be generous, and must you be able to see where you can help but you must also be aware. Aware of where your skills are welcomed.”
“Transferring your passion to your job is far easier than finding a job that happens to match your passion.”
“If you need to conceal your true nature to get in the door, understand that you’ll probably have to conceal your true nature to keep that job.”
“When you set down the path to create art, whatever sort of art it is, understand that the path is neither short not easy. That means you must determine if the route is worth the effort. If it’s not, dream bigger.”
“The tragedy is that society (your school, your boss, your government, your family) keeps drumming the genius part out. The problem is that our culture has engaged in a Faustian bargain, in which we trade our genius and artistry for apparent stability.”
“If you are deliberately trying to create a future that feels safe, you will willfully ignore the future that is likely.”
“Perhaps your challenge isn’t finding a better project or a better boss. Perhaps you need to get in touch with what it means to feel passionate. People with passion look for ways to make things happen.”
6 – All Marketers are Liars: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works – and Why Authenticity Is the Best Marketing of All
Godin’s All Marketers are Liars emphasizes the importance and benefits of utilizing an authentic story when marketing a product or service. Marketers can tell any story, but the quality and effectiveness of a story also depend on how marketers present it to the public.
Stories can be very powerful, and it is the responsibility of the marketers to orchestrate one that is honest and beneficial and in most cases, avoid fraud. Consumers need a reason why they should indulge themselves in a product.
We are faced all the time of countless options and it’s a challenge for marketers to find the thread or story that would have their customers choose them. This book by Godin gives anyone in the marketing business a framework of just how to do that.
Quotes from the book;
“We drink the can, not the beverage.”
“All marketers are storytellers. Only the losers are liars.”
“We’d like to believe that efficient, useful, cost-effective products and services are the way to succeed. That hard work is its own reward. Most marketers carry around a worldview that describes themselves as innovators, not storytellers.”
“Your story is a symphony, not a note.”
“Key fact: in 2003 pharmaceutical companies spent more on marketing and sales than they did on research and development. When it comes time to invest, it’s pretty clear that spreading the ideas behind the medicine is more important than inventing the medicine itself.”
“A worldview is the lens used to look at every decision a person is asked to make.”
“Ralph Lauren generates a huge portion of its sales from seconds and job lots sold at the many Polo factory stores around the country. There are so many of these stores (and the demand is so high) that many of the items sold aren’t seconds at all. They’re designed and produced for the factory stores. People tell themselves a story about finding a bargain, they build up the expectation by driving thirty miles out of their way (while on vacation, no less) and then are delighted to spend $40 for a $400 jacket that was never intended to be sold for $400 and probably cost $4 to make.”
“These are all commodity-focused issues. The old conceit of a retailer was that if you offered the right products at a fair price in a convenient location, you’d do fine if you watched your expenses. Today, the issues are totally different.”
“If consumers have everything they need, there’s nothing left to buy except stuff that they want. And the reason they buy stuff they want is because of the way it makes them feel.”
“We vote for a presidential candidate without saying, “Why not run the country for a month and then we’ll see . .”
“Instead of being scientists, the best marketers are artists.”
7 – Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers
According to Godin, the traditional ways of advertising are not as effective as they were. The golden age of commercial breaks, telemarketing phone calls or as what Godin likes to call it “Interruption Marketing” has ended its reign.
Godin believes that building a relationship between customers is more effective and improves product sales. In present times, people are already desensitized with the constant bombardment of different advertisements.
People might pay more attention when they are asked to participate in the advertisement itself or benefit from it such as discounts or free samples.
Quotes from the book;
“Creating value through interaction is far more important than solving a consumer’s problem in thirty seconds.”
“Frequency led to awareness, awareness to familiarity, and familiarity to trust. And trust, almost without exception, leads to profit.”
“Before a marketer can build trust, it must breed familiarity. But there’s no familiarity without awareness. And awareness—the science of letting people know you exist and getting them to understand your message—can’t happen effectively in today’s environment without advertising.”
“Marketing guru Jay Levinson figures you have to run an ad twenty-seven times against one individual before it has its desired impact. Why? Because only one out of nine ads is seen, and you’ve got to see it at least three times before it sinks in.”
“Because frequency is free in an online permission program, and much more effective offline, the marketer has the luxury of riding the impact curve up without a matching cost curve.”
“Interruption Marketing was easy. Build a few ads, run them everywhere. Interruption Marketing was scalable. If you need more sales, buy more ads. Interruption Marketing was predictable. With experience, a mass marketer could tell how many dollars in revenue one more dollar in ad spending would generate. Interruption Marketing fit the command and control bias of big companies. It was totally controlled by the advertiser, with no weird side effects.”
“in virtually every industry the most trusted brand is also the most profitable. Frequency led to awareness, awareness to familiarity, and familiarity to trust. And trust, almost without exception, leads to profit.”
“Permission Marketing is just like dating. It turns strangers into friends and friends into lifetime customers. Many of the rules of dating apply, and so do many of the benefits.”
“By being customer-focused instead of retail-focused, or factory-focused, a manufacturer or merchant can widely increase its offerings, thus increasing share of wallet.”
“Multiply that scenario by one hundred or one thousand books a year. Using permission, Amazon can fundamentally reconfigure the entire book industry, disintermediating and combining every step of the chain until there are only two: the writer and Amazon.”
8 – What to Do When It’s Your Turn (and It’s Always Your Turn)
This book is another thought-provoking masterpiece by Seth Godin. Its stories and quotes are in-your-face and personal but are compelling to readers who aspire to positive change and personal growth.
Godin’s book is composed of colorful photos and powerful illustrations and a writing style showing a sense of urgency. The messages found in every page provide readers support into testing out the limitations of life and the opportunities it could offer.
The points written by Godin hopes to re-frame the reader’s perspective of how they lived their lives and how to make more out of it.
Quotes from the book;
“Our need for motivation is due to our need for reassurance.”
“Consider our avoidance of feeling tired. If you’re unwilling to be tired, unwilling to feel fatigue in your legs, you can’t run a marathon. Successful marathon runners haven’t figured out how to avoid being tired, they’ve figured out where to put the tired when it arrives. If you’re not willing to be tired, you can’t run. If you’re not willing to imagine failure, you’re unable to be free.”
“What do you care enough to fix, or disrupt, or invent? Starting right here, right now. If we are willing to suffer enough to matter, we are able to make change happen. Or at least we can try. Don’t avert your eyes. Look at the opportunity. Take it.”
“But the productive artist refuses to incur an artistic obligation. She acts as though the audience doesn’t owe her anything, and forgiving them in advance gives her the freedom to make the work she needs to make. The flipside, though, is also true. The productive artist must act as if she owes the audience, and in unlimited measure.”
9 – V is for Vulnerable: Life Outside the Comfort Zone
V is for Vulnerable is another fun book for adults which has illustrations by the famous cartoonist Hugh MacLeod. The book is a colorful ABC wherein each page delivers a powerful concept of doing your best at work. The messages feature Seth Godin’s six principles about treating your work as an art form.
The ABC format helps readers remember his cut-through and inspiring messages that would impact them throughout a lifetime. For example, F is for Feedback, which can be harmful or catapult people into working hard and succeed. The book contains wisdom that can be utilized by anyone who reads it.
Seth Godin is a unique gem on the internet and in the world of writing. His ideas can be unconventional but also hold a lot of genuine truth and influence.
Godin’s books are enough proof as to why people, not just in the marketing or business industry, listen and follow what he has to say. Throughout history, books have guided people in how to live out their lives and Godin’s works are great examples of that.
Seth Godin is truly a master of his craft. From Purple Cow to This is Marketing, Godin has relayed relevant, informative, and transformative ideas to millions of people. His books can be for anyone that wants to succeed in attaining a vision and create important movements – from CEOs, managers, entrepreneurs to parents or teachers.
After reading one of Godin’s books, you get to gain a fresh outlook on how to market your services or yourself in front of a public audience. Our biggest hurdle to success is ourselves, but with enough knowledge, an awareness of what’s wrong and unwavering dedication, we can act out the change that Seth Godin believes we could do.
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