A Guide to Books by Seth Godin
Seth Godin and books simply go hand in hand, whether we’re talking his favorite nonfiction classics, spiritually enlightening texts, or even those written by him. He is the author of 20 best-selling books, which likely has something to do with his having been one of just three professionals inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame. In an astonishing turn of events, in May 2018, he was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame as well. He might be the only person in both.
Though renowned for his writing and speaking, Godin also founded two companies, Squidoo and Yoyodyne (acquired by Yahoo!). By focusing on everything from effective marketing and leadership, to the spread of ideas and changing everything, he has been able to motivate and inspire countless people around the world.
“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea,” he shares. “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.”
Reading undoubtedly played a profound role in shaping him as a person, and furthermore, this favorite educational activity of his must have had something to do with the spirited – and rewarding for that matter – approach he takes to life. Therefore, in order to get to the bottom of what inspired a most capable individual to the heights of societal influence, we’ve compiled this list of 10 books by Seth Godin.
Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
A tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years, humans have been seeking out tribes, be they religious, ethnic, economic, political, or even musical (think of the Deadheads). It’s our nature.
Now the Internet has eliminated the barriers of geography, cost, and time. All those blogs and social networking sites are helping existing tribes get bigger. But more important, they’re enabling countless new tribes to be born – groups of ten or ten thousand or ten million who care about their iPhones, or a political campaign, or a new way to fight global warming.
The Web can do amazing things, but it can’t provide leadership. That still has to come from individuals – people just like you who have a passion about something. The explosion in tribes means that anyone who wants to make a difference now has the tools at their fingertips.
Tribes will make you think (really think) about the opportunities in leading your fellow employees, customers, investors, believers, hobbyists, or readers. It’s not easy, but it’s easier than you think.
This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until you Learn to See
Seth Godin has taught and inspired millions of entrepreneurs, marketers, leaders, and fans from all walks of life, via his blog, online courses, lectures, and bestselling books. He is the inventor of countless ideas that have made their way into mainstream business language, from Permission Marketing to Purple Cow to Tribes to The Dip.
Now, for the first time, Godin offers the core of his marketing wisdom in one compact, accessible, timeless package. This is Marketing shows you how to do work you’re proud of, whether you’re a tech startup founder, a small business owner, or part of a large corporation.
Great marketers don’t use consumers to solve their company’s problem; they use marketing to solve other people’s problems. Their tactics rely on empathy, connection, and emotional labor instead of attention-stealing ads and spammy email funnels.
No matter what your product or service, this book will help you reframe how it’s presented to the world, in order to meaningfully connect with people who want it.
Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
In Purple Cow, first published in 2003 and revised and expanded in 2009, Godin launched a movement to make truly remarkable products that are worth marketing in the first place. Through stories about companies like Starbucks, JetBlue, Krispy Kreme, and Apple, coupled with his signature provocative style, he inspires readers to rethink what their marketing is really saying about their product.
In a world that grows noisier by the day, Godin’s challenge has never been more relevant to writers, marketers, advertisers, entrepreneurs, makers, product managers, and anyone else who has something to share with the world.
The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches you When to Quit (And When to Stick)
In this iconic bestseller, Seth Godin proves that winners are really just the best quitters. He shows that winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt – until they commit to beating the right Dip.
Every new project (or job, or hobby, or company) starts out fun…then gets really hard, and not much fun at all. You might be in a Dip – a temporary setback that will get better if you keep pushing. But maybe it’s really a Cul-de-Sac – a total dead end. What really sets superstars apart is the ability to tell the two apart.
Winners seek out the Dip. They realize that the bigger the barrier, the bigger the reward for getting past it. If you can beat the Dip to be the best, you’ll earn profits, glory, and long-term security.
Whether you’re an intern or a CEO, this fun little book will help you figure out if you’re in a Dip that’s worthy of your time, effort, and talents. The old saying is wrong – winners do quit, and quitters do win.
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there’s a third team, the linchpins. These people figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art.
Have you ever found a shortcut that others missed? Seen a new way to resolve a conflict? Made a connection with someone others couldn’t reach? Even once? Then you have what it takes to become indispensable, by overcoming the resistance that holds people back.
As Godin writes, “Every day I meet people who have so much to give but have been bullied enough or frightened enough to hold it back. It’s time to stop complying with the system and draw your own map. You have brilliance in you, your contribution is essential, and the art you create is precious. Only you can do it, and you must.”
The Practice: Shipping Creative Work
Creative work doesn’t come with a guarantee. But there is a pattern to who succeeds and who doesn’t. And engaging in the consistent practice of its pursuit is the best way forward.
Based on the breakthrough Akimbo workshop pioneered by legendary author Seth Godin, The Practice will help you get unstuck and find the courage to make and share creative work.
Godin insists that writer’s block is a myth, that consistency is far more important than authenticity, and that experiencing the imposter syndrome is a sign that you’re a well-adjusted human. Most of all, he shows you what it takes to turn your passion from a private distraction to a productive contribution, the one you’ve been seeking to share all along.
All Marketers Are Liars
All marketers tell stories. And if they do it right, we believe them. We believe that wine tastes better in a $20 glass than a $1 glass. We believe that an $80,000 Porsche is vastly superior to a $36,000 Volkswagen that’s virtually the same car. We believe that $225 sneakers make our feet feel better – and look cooler – than a $25 brand. And believing it makes it true.
As Seth Godin has taught hundreds of thousands of marketers and students around the world, great marketers don’t talk about features or even benefits. Instead, they tell a story – a story we want to believe, whether it’s factual or not. In a world where most people have an infinite number of choices and no time to make them, every organization is a marketer, and all marketing is about telling stories.
Marketers succeed when they tell us a story that fits our worldview, a story that we intuitively embrace and then share with our friends. Think of the Dyson vacuum cleaner, or Fiji water, or the iPod.
But beware: If your stories are inauthentic, you cross the line from fib to fraud. Marketers fail when they are selfish and scurrilous, when they abuse the tools of their trade and make the world worse. That’s a lesson learned the hard way by telemarketers, cigarette companies, and sleazy politicians.
The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?
Everyone knows that Icarus’s father made him wings and told him not to fly too close to the sun; he ignored the warning and plunged to his doom. The lesson: Play it safe. Listen to the experts. It was the perfect propaganda for the industrial economy. What boss wouldn’t want employees to believe that obedience and conformity are the keys to success?
But we tend to forget that Icarus was also warned not to fly too low, because seawater would ruin the lift in his wings. Flying too low is even more dangerous than flying too high, because it feels deceptively safe.
The safety zone has moved. Conformity no longer leads to comfort. But the good news is that creativity is scarce and more valuable than ever. So is choosing to do something unpredictable and brave: Make art. Being an artist isn’t a genetic disposition or a specific talent. It’s an attitude we can all adopt. It’s a hunger to seize new ground, make connections, and work without a map. If you do those things you’re an artist, no matter what it says on your business card.
Unleashing the Ideavirus
Counter to traditional marketing wisdom, which tries to count, measure, and manipulate the spread of information, Seth Godin argues that the information can spread most effectively from customer to customer, rather than from business to customer. Godin calls this powerful customer-to-customer dialogue the ideavirus, and cheerfully eggs marketers on to create an environment where their ideas can replicate and spread.
In this gem among books by Seth Godin, he looks at the ways companies such as PayPal, Hotmail, GeoCities, even Volkswagen have successfully launched ideaviruses and offers a “recipe” for creating your own ideavirus, identifies the key factors in the successful spread of an ideavirus (powerful sneezers, hives, a clear vector, a smooth, friction-free transmission), and shows how any business, large or small, can use ideavirus marketing to succeed in a world that just doesn’t want to hear it anymore from the traditional marketers.
What to Do When its Your Turn
Godin says about the book: It’s in full color throughout. It feels more like a high-end magazine than a book, and I think even people who hesitate to buy and read books will be engaged by this one. The format is new for me and as far as I know, no author has written a book quite this way. It explores, as directly as I can, the dance we all have to do with our fears, the tension we all must embrace in order to do work that we care about. It pushes us to dig deep inside so we can do better work and impact the things we care about. It is urgent, personal, in-your-face and as honest as I could make it.
If you enjoyed this guide to books by Seth Godin, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Most Inspirational Books by Malcolm Gladwell!