Seth Godin on NPR’s “On Being”

(Originally posted on Blogger site.)

I subscribe to the podcast for On Being, a great show on NPR that deals with all sorts of abstract and philosophical questions. This week, I heard a very interesting interview with guest Seth Godin. You can hear the broadcast version of interview here: Seth Godin / On Being. (For the complete, unedited interview, click the link on the right-hand menu.)

There are a few things that I found very interesting in this interview:

Godin’s re-imagining of “marketing.” My understanding is that he advocates for a different approach to the idea of marketing, something that operates differently from the model traditionally meant when using that term. He advocates for the creation of connections, that these are what we seek out and appreciate most as human beings, and that this sort of “good marketing” works towards such linkages. The idea of remaking marketing so that it is inextricably connected to positive social benefits seems, on the surface, a great idea to me. I read one of Godin’s recent books, We Are All Weird, and found it quite a thoughtful and interesting work. I confess that I still need to sort out some of my thoughts on his approach to all of this; there was still something that didn’t sit with absolute comfort in my brain, though I withhold judgment until I determine that it’s not just my knee-jerk reaction to its using “marketing” as a key idea. Though I feel that a lot of Godin’s ideas are moving in a good direction, it’s possible that it is still too closely aligned with current social practices (capitalism?) that I just can’t endorse. Nonetheless, I understand the want to remake the world from within, through many, tiny changes, which relies on working within existing social structures.

Godin’s argument for why a small audience of fans/followers/readers is a better, more-realistic approach than seeking the broadest, most-encompassing audience. This resonated with me, as I’ve lately been wrestling with this idea. It’s my goal to make my writing available on this blog, free for anyone to download, but how exactly do I let the public-at-large know that this fine-quality literature is here and available? Is there a “most effective way” to go about disseminating this information? Inevitably, I start considering that: 1) in the grand scheme, ideas like fame and notoriety are more relative/transitory/imaginary than we like to admit; 2) there are so many, varying degrees of notoriety and fame that the idea of the category itself seems ridiculous; 3) I’m doing what I’m doing for personal fulfillment anyway, so it’s not as though I’d actually stop or do something else. By the time I’ve sorted through that, I can actually appreciate his line of thinking. Maybe reaching just 10 people in a meaningful, impacting way is a good end towards which to work, so long as it results in something that forges some new meaningfulness or honest appreciation.

I’ll warn you, though: Tippett refers to Godin as a “thought leader,” a term I’ve come to despise lately. I feel it’s a meaningless and trendy label, especially rife with use in the library world. Still, in spite of that, I’d advise giving it a listen.

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