The new book is out on Tuesday. I think it will resonate with you and your work.
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Forward or back?

In revolutionary times, it's tempting to work to get things back to the way they were.

How often, exactly, does that plan actually work out the way you hoped?

I think it's worth beginning a policy, strategy or tactical discussion that revolves around a choice between forward or back by saying, "We'd like to roll the market/technology/competitive landscape back to the way it used to be, even though it almost never works out that way. Here's why it's going to be different this time."

A little bit of honesty goes a long way in helping you be realistic about how you're going to spend your time. The good old days are old. That's part of the deal.

We Are All Weird

My new book launches today. (Link includes translations to three languages and worldwide availability, too).

What are you going to do with your weirdness? Or the weirdness of everyone around you?

During the age of mass (mass marketing, mass manufacturing, mass schooling, mass movements) the key was normal. Normal was important because you needed (were required) to fit into your slot. Manufacturers insisted because profits depended on it.

Normal diets made it easier for mass food manufacturers to generate a profit. Normal driving habits made it easier for mass car manufacturers to reach their production minimums. Normal behavior made you easier to control.

But what happens when mass disappears? When we can connect everyone, customize and optimize–then what happens to normal?

Normal is so ingrained in what we do every day that it's difficult to notice that your tendency toward the normal is now obsolete.

This book is personal, heartfelt and urgent. I hope that you'll take the time to read it. In the words of the philosopher Dr. Seuss, "We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love."

I'm going to dive into the details here over time, but since you're in a hurry, here are a few early reviews:

"This is a book about giving a damn. It's about caring about what you do and (as importantly) who you do it for. Professional apathy is a relic of a dead era and, as Seth teaches brilliantly, a mentality you cling to at great peril. Everyone with a pulse and a paycheque should be living We Are All Weird."

–Chris Taylor, Founder of (book summary here)

"This book will resonate with anyone who wants to lead a tribe, be authentic, dance to the beat of their own music and make a difference in the world. If your inner critic (the resistance) has been telling you that you are not enough, your work is not good enough and who do you think you are to make a difference, then buy this book. Let your freak flag fly high!"

–Sherold Barr, Master Coach + Freedom Fighter

"Seth has done it again. Open this book to almost any page. Read it, and change your thinking, your work, your life, or better express your art. Weird how he does this, isn't it?"

–Rob Berkley, Executive Coach,

PS We've done some interesting things with the publishing of this book, and as always, I share the best parts on the Domino blog.

“Please complain”

Acquiring and processing user feedback is a choice.

There are good reasons to hide from it:

  • You might believe that inviting disgruntled customers to call or write to someone who will actually take action will encourage them to become more disgruntled. If no one is listening, the thinking goes, then perhaps the annoyed will quietly go away.
  • You might believe that it's expensive to listen to squeaky wheels, particularly if you have someone in authority (as opposed to a low-paid clerk) actually listening and responding.
  • You might believe that the noisy minority don't share the objectives of the rest of your audience, particularly the higher-paying and silent majority.

On the other hand, you might believe:

  • That direct feedback in real time is a competitive advantage which will help you grow.
  • That assuaging an unhappy customer now is worth way more than negative word of mouth later.

Whichever strategy you choose, you should choose. It's the middle way that vexes… the pretending, the grudging acceptance, the insertion of many levels of filters–when you do this, you get none of the benefits of either plan.

If you want people to speak up, be clear and mean it. If you don't, don't pretend.

Can’t watch your parade if the house is on fire

People are in pain. Often of their own making, they tell themselves a story that obsesses/distracts and compels them. "I'll never get a movie gig again," "I can't believe they didn't like what I offered," "My job is in jeopardy," "Money's too tight to buy all the things I want…" "Does my butt look fat in these shorts?"

You can jump up and down and sing and dance and launch fireworks, but if the consumer's story of pain is vivid enough, you will be ignored. When the house is on fire, all your audience wants is a hose.


Here's a way to figure out if it pays to adopt a new technology.

When you talk about your market or your peers, do you say, "no one is using it…" or "no one is using it yet"?

Yet implies inevitability. If they're going to use it, it might make sense to get there before they do.

[Worth considering: The difference between a technology where getting in early pays dividends, and those that don't. For example, having a website or a blog or a Twitter account early can help, because each day you add new users and fans.

QR codes, on the other hand, don't reward those that get in the ground floor. You can always start tomorrow.]

Lousy tomatoes and the rare search for wonder

My local supermarket stocks waxy, tasteless tomatoes from Chile and Mexico and Florida. They even do this in early September, when local tomatoes are delicious, plentiful and ought to be a bargain.

Are they clueless, evil or incompetent?

Perhaps none of these. This supermarket, like most supermarkets, is a checklist institution, one that is in the business of providing good enough, in quantity, at a price that's both cheap and profitable. You need a staple, they have it. They have flour and salt and eggs and macaroni and cheese. They've trained their customers to see them as an invisible vendor, as an organization that satisfices demand. It's too much work, too demanding and too risky to do the alternative…

They could program the store instead.

Program it the way a great theater programs the stage. No one goes to the theatre two or three times a week, expecting a good enough show. No, we only go when we hear there's something magical or terrific happening.

Over time, as institutions create habits and earn subscribers, they often switch, gradually making the move from magical (worth a trip, worth a conversation) to good (there when you need it). Most TV is just good. Magazines, too. When was the last time People magazine did something that made you sit up and say, "wow"? Of course, you could argue that they're not in the wow business, and you might be right.

One of the disrupting forces of the new media is that it makes harder and harder to succeed without wow. Since you have to earn the conversation regularly, phone it in too often and in fact, attention disappears.

“But what if it works?”

Dr. Dre licensed his name for a line of headphones. I have no idea how much his royalty is, but figure it's $20 a pair.

At some point during the negotiations, perhaps someone said, "wait a minute! What if it's a hit? What if we sell more high-end headphones than anyone has ever sold, ever, and we sell 5,000,000 pairs. That means that he'll get a hundred million dollars. That's absurd! We need to put a limit on this."

We often hesitate to pay a portion of the upside to someone who is taking a risk, because we're worried that perhaps, just perhaps, his risk will pay off and he'll make a fortune…

The thing is, if they make a fortune, you make five fortunes. Don't worry about it. Go ahead and give people the opportunity to have their risk pay off. More than ever, people are motivated by the opportunities that come with scale.

Why wait?

Who cares when it's due?

If you're on the critical path, if someone is waiting for your contribution, ship now.

We have deadlines for a reason, but the key word is 'dead'. In fact, you don't have to wait for the deadline or get anywhere near it, especially if you want to speed things up.

Too often, we find ourselves using the deadline as the lever to overcome our fear. If you're relying on drop dead dates to push yourself, the project is paying a price.

The bias is to slow down because otherwise the boss will just give you more work to do. Are you still stuck in the us/them dichotomy of factory work?

All other things being equal, faster wins.

PS the challenge with being an initiator of projects is that you are never, ever done.


Emerging is when you use a platform to come into your own. Merging is when you sacrifice who you are to become part of something else.

Merging is what the system wants from you. To give up your dreams and your identity to further the goals of the system. Managers push for employees to merge into the organization.

Emerging is what a platform and support and leadership allow you to do. Emerging is what we need from you.

Confusing obedience with self-control

It’s an expensive confusion.

We organize our schools around obedience. Tests, comportment, the very structure of the day is about training young people to follow instructions.

We organize our companies around obedience as well. From the resume we use to hire to the training programs to the annual budgets, revenue targets and reviews we create, the model employee is someone who does what he’s told.

And the rationale for this appears to be that at some point, obedience transforms into self-control. That at some point, people start obeying themselves and become leaders. Self-control is without a doubt one of the building blocks of success, a key element of any career worth talking about. We need self-control if we’re going to make a difference.

But help me understand why obedience is the way to get there? Compliant sergeants rarely become great generals.