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Less than 20 minutes

That’s how long it took for Brian Peddle to respond to my query about paper airplanes. Impressive.

The link he found: Paper Airplane History Page isn’t definitive about whether the plane pre-dates the Wright Brothers, but it’s pretty clear from all the data that it does. I’m happy to consider this case closed. Thanks.

PS Five minutes later, we find this link: Cecil Adams on paper airplanes. While I don’t adore Cecil as I used to, he’s in violent agreement with me. Brian has once again come through.

Udderly breathtaking

Just got this picture in my email box.

That’s Charles Gerardi, VP Advertising at a major florida newspaper. He’s standing with his brand new Purple Cow. Here’s his story:

“Coming off of a very difficult year 2001 in our business (newspaper advertising sales), we needed a “rallying cry” to get focused on turning things around in 2002…and your theory of the “Positive Feedback Loop” (Survival Is Not Enough) was just the catalyst. By channeling our energies into positive recognition, we were able to get off to a fast start, making our revenue budget in January (for the first time in many months).

As the achievement momentum built throughout the year, we’d soon adopted Zooming! as our theme for the year. I began getting e-mails from many on my staff telling me about how they were zooming. (By April, we’d even had t-shirts made for everyone with “Zoom!, Zoom!, Zoom!” down the sleeve). When it was all said and done, we’d made our revenue goal in each of the 12 months of the year, and set an all-time performance record for the company. And people were loving their work!

Now for 2003, our focus had to be very different– doing the little things right so that we remained efficient and operationally sound. But this isn’t very glamorous stuff…this is doing the basics, the fundamentals well so that our foundation stayed strong. This time, we went in search of Purple Cows…the remarkable performances from amongst the herd of mundane tasks we do every day.

Well, that’s caught on too…Purple Cows are appearing everywhere…everyone is talking about them, looking for them, celebrating them.

And the excitement really took off yesterday when our new mascot– !Mooz– arrived at our offices…painted purple, of course. Found it on Ebay. Now !Mooz (Zoom! backwards… get it?) travels from department to department each day, inspiring the team to stay focused on doing the little things right to keep us on track. People have even started adding their own personal touches to her…it’s quickly becoming our roving graffiti board for good works.”

Wow. That sure made my day. Thanks, Charles… my guess is that you just drove the price of fiberglass cows on eBay way up!

A correction and a question

In my new book, I use the Japanese word “otaku” to describe a special kind of obsession. Alas, my source for this was overeager and mistranslated otaku. It turns out that otaku means, “a person with an obsession.” Sort of like a geek. Forgive me please.

As for my question, my google research can’t find the answer, so maybe you can: Were there paper airplanes before the Wright Brothers? Do we know who invented them?

No, she’s not a maniac.

So the big news today is that yet another A list musician has realized that the record industry is broken and that record labels are not a smart move for motivated, popular artists with a following. Visit NatalieMerchant.com and you can sign up for more info about her new album.

By producing music SHE wants to make, and selling it directly to people who want to be sold to, Merchant changes her life for the better. Even though she’s wasting tens of thousands of dollars on needless packaging, she’ll still break even in a few days of selling her CD online.

If she’s smart, she’ll build a permission asset and use it to create a group she can sell albums to whenever she’s ready to–not when the label says its time. Natalie, if you’re reading this, drop me a line. I can share what I’ve discovered over the last few projects!

More and more, industries where scale mattered are finding the opposite is true. More and more, people who are Purple Cows are discovering that they can write their own ticket and get what they want AND what they need.

New on the Purple Cow Website!

Red’s supposed to be on vacation, but if you visit Apurplecow.com you’ll find we put the banana on the home page (I hate writing about web design, because then people yell at me if I don’t follow my own advice.) The real win is to click on #3… two bonus chapters, free. I guess that’s the sirloin part of the cow…

Have fun.

You can come to my workshop for free

If you want to come to the new Purple Cow workshop and not pay for it, visit apurplecow.com and click on FREE STUFF for details. (hint: if you find a broken email address on the free stuff page, we’re fixing it. Sorry.)

Announcing the Purple Cow workshop

Longtime readers will remember that I don’t do consulting. As flattering as it is to believe that a successful organization might actually want my advice about their problems, I’m really hesitant to take this sort of commitment on. Why? Because I figure if I charge someone to solve their problems, I better be confident that I can. And in my experience, a consultant rarely solves your problems—you do. So I’m much happier teaching people to fish.

That said, it’s clear that there’s a lot of excitement about the Purple Cow concept and many people want the energy and insight they can get from brainstorming in person. So, here’s the first in what will become a series of semi-public Purple Cow training and brainstorming sessions.

WHAT YOU GET: 6 hours of intensive brain workout. The first two hours are me, laying the groundwork. The next 4 hours are you (and the other attendees) sharing their specific problems and challenges. As a group, we’ll figure out a thousand PC-approved ways of being remarkable, not invisible.

THE GUARANTEE: I’ve run sessions in my office before on other topics, and I can happily tell you that no one has ever taken me up on the following: If you don’t think you got ideas and insights that were worth way more than you paid to come, it’s free. I’ll give you back all your tuition.

HOW MUCH? $800 per person. Second person in your organization comes for $400, unless it’s your boss—she pays $300.

LUNCH? On me.

WHERE? In my funky office at 145 Palisade St, Dobbs Ferry, NY, 12 miles north of New York City. You can get here on the train from Grand Central in about 40 minutes.

WHEN? Thursday, May 8th. Starts at 10 sharp. Finished by 4, but you can hang for another half hour or so if you want to chat.

HOW TO SIGN UP? This is a very informal process, because space is so limited. Drop me an email at seth@sethgodin.com. Make sure you put the word YOGURT in the subject line. Why yogurt? Well, it’s milk from a cow, with some culture added, then you shake it up and the thing you end up with is better than what you started with. Sort of.

I’ve been on the wagon for a long time

But this particular website has driven me to re-enter the fray over bad web design. Clark’s Register is a hip clothing store (too hip for me, I was looking for a gift) and somewhere along the way, they decided that the checkout and navigation needed to be part of the overall hipness of the store.

Buttons that don’t click, type that’s hard to read, unnecessary steps, needlessly nested hierarchies and brand new interface conventions–all in one site, for your shopping convenience.


Free bonus chapter of my new book

Just for loyal readers. Go to apurplecow.com and click on #3, the (I’m guessing here) sirloin steak area. My plan is to write a bunch of new chapters as we go–sort of an evergrowing tome. New chapters will probably just go to people who buy the book.

Today’s top story

Purple Cow deli & grocery closes its doors. Sad, but not really a surprise. When they opened, they were remarkable. Then they became invisible. And finally, with plenty of remarkable alternatives, they became irrelevant.

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