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Lessons From A Linchpin: An Interview With Seth Godin

Apr 04, 2010 | Updated Nov 17, 2011

From time to time, as we've shared ideas and plans with friends and family, many of us have heard, "That's crazy!" Personally, I've heard it so many times I began to wonder if it were true.

In my quest to find other people who understood this, I began interviewing what I affectionately refer to as "crazy" people. These are not insane people by any stretch of the imagination, and in fact, they may be the sanest people I've ever met. I gathered wisdom from more than thirty people including Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group, Guy Laliberte, founder of Cirque du Soleil and Peter Diamandis of the X-Prize Foundation. These are all big visionaries who many would categorize as crazy.

One thing I learned for certain is that the game has changed in the last 10 years. If an idea isn't crazy, it may not be worth pursuing. What worked just 10 years ago doesn't work today. Adaptability and innovation have become the key to survival and growth.

According to a recent interview with America's Marketing Guru, Seth Godin, author of the new bestseller, Linchpin,

The world has changed and the stakes are higher than ever. Now we're facing a full-fledged revolution -- a hyper-competitive world involving art and gifts and fear and the ability for you or anyone to make an indispensable contribution to something you care about. If you're not indispensable yet, it's because you haven't made that choice.

In order to fully understand the changing rules of today, sometimes it's necessary to look at our past.

50,000 years ago if you didn't want to get killed by a Saber-toothed tiger, it was best to be in a village with other people. It turns out we've built a culture for ourselves in the last five to 10 years where the opposite is true. If you sound just like James Taylor no one's going to listen to your music because they can listen to James Taylor. If you make a film just like Spike Jones, nobody's going to watch it because they can just watch Spike Jones. Go down the list. If you fit in, we can ignore you. Being ignored means you don't get any traction, you don't get any job offers, you don't get any revenue.

"On the other hand", Seth says,

if you go to the edges, if you do something that feels risky, that's remarkable -- that's worth talking about. Richard Branson, Cirque du Soleil -- those things were risky -- that's why we know of them. If they had been boring, if they'd been clones, they would have had to be the cheapest or be gone, and cheapest is already owned by Walmart, so you have no choice left but to be risky.

Our world is changing fast.

There's a fundamental shift in our culture, bigger than anything since Henry Ford, bigger than anyone imagined. Being productive in the name of the factory, increasing the efficiency of the system, becoming an interchangeable part -- it's over. So what's left? What's left is to race to the bottom, which is no fun, or to climb to the top, which involves being artistic and original and surprising and thriving without a map and doing work that matters and makes a difference.

Being artistic and original can be a new concept for many. Seth believes,

We've brainwashed generation after generation to fit in instead of stand out. The lizard brain -- the part of our brain that's been around for a million years, rules our life when it shouldn't. It causes us to make bad decisions. The fear of being laughed at is a real problem.

Seth shared some tips to remember when breaking out of the mold and thriving without a map:

1) Don't worry about what other people think. "If you're willing to be laughed at you're way more likely to succeed."

2) Living outside your comfort zone isn't a bad thing. "When I feel the fear, I know that I'm doing something right. And if I don't, then I'm probably doing something boring. For me, the fear is a signal that I'm on the right track."

3) Marketing matters. "Everything is marketing. Marketing is not advertising. Everything you do, the stories you tell, the way you live your life -it's all marketing."

4) Do things that are scarce. "Things that are scarce are valuable. And what is scarce is respect, keeping your word and being transparent. What is scarce is originality, creativity and making a difference. What's not scarce is fitting in, doing what you're told and blaming someone else. If you want to create things of value, you should do things that are scarce."

5) You don't need anyone's permission. "You probably should stop waiting for permission. If your excuse is, 'My boss won't let me', well of course she won't. Because what you're saying to your boss is, 'I want to do this cool thing and if it fails it's your fault and if it succeeds I get the credit'. Who would give you that deal?" Don't wait for permission- just do it.

Today is a turning point where we get to make the decision to embrace those crazy, out-of-the-box ideas and choose to go down a less well-defined path. It may be scary, it may be crazy- but it will also be where we can make a bigger difference. It's a choice that we get to make individually. For me, I'm going to go embrace crazy and as Seth says, "Go make something Happen!"

We invite you to read more of today's FREE Inspired Interview with host, Gail Lynne Goodwin, Ambassador of Inspiration from InspireMeToday.com and today's guest, Seth Godin. Also, we invite you to check out our daily FREE inspiration! Thank you!