Last December, Krista Tippett, the host of NPR’s On Being, interviewed Seth Godin, the internet marketing expert. Many have admired Godin for years, but I have only recently discovered him. What he says seems to apply to artists. Don’t worry about reaching masses of people, says Godin. Instead, make genuine connections with the people in your community, both in person and online. I particularly like it when he encourages meaning-making over entertainment.
Godin has a new book out that can only be purchased directly from the author. It’s called, What To Do When It’s Your Turn. “This is an urgent call to do the work we’re hiding from,” writes Godin on the book’s website, “a manifesto about living with things that might not work and embracing tension when doing your art.”
Below is an excerpt from his recent conversation with On Being’s Tippett (29:34):
It’s very hopeful what you write, and even how you describe what succeeds, what can succeed. I think maybe better than that—what endures: The winning strategy of giving customers a platform to be their best selves. Again, that’s a really different concept from how we usually think about what we can be successful in offering in any sphere. Is that true? Is that really true? It’s like you want it to be true. How do you know that’s true?
The reason I know it’s true is because all I do for a living is notice things. And there’s one view of the world called the “Walmart View” that says that what all people want is as much stuff as possible for as cheap a price as possible. If you look at the world through that lens—and there are plenty of people who do—you can come up with a strategy to achieve that. That’s Black Friday sales. That’s self storage units. That’s somebody who’s happy to push you to buy something that you don’t need because the object of the game is for them to have more stuff. That’s a world based on scarcity. “I don’t have enough stuff. How do I get more stuff?” There’s a different view. We see it in so many places. It doesn’t get a lot of press, which is the view not based on scarcity but based on abundance. That in an abundance economy the thing we don’t have enough of is we don’t have enough connection. We’re lonely. And we don’t have enough time. If people can offer us connection and meaning and a place where we can be our best selves, yes, we will seek that out. No, it probably doesn’t help you build a big profitable public company. But yes, it helps you make a better difference to the community that you’ve chosen to live in.