I devoured Seth Godin’s books, learned the principles and applied them in my business practice. To say that I am a fan is an understatement. I always find something to learn from this prolific writer and speaker.
Two years ago, I went to New York City, attended the World Business Forum, and had the opportunity to interview him. I thought I would miss the conference this year because of the Pandemic but imagine my delight when I found out that the conference comes to my home in the form of a virtual conference. When I saw that Seth Godin is in the line-up, I thought to myself that I just heard him recently and that he might be presenting the same material and rehash it a little. I was wrong! He gave a brilliant presentation full of new and fresh ideas relevant to the current times.
Let me share some ideas he presented.
Seth Godin said: “Every time we show up, when we see a problem or make a product or provide a service, we need to ask two crucial questions. “What is it for?” and “Who is it for?” Marketing is the act of making things better by making better things. Marketing is establishing culture. Marketing is our chance to show up in the world and improve things. And marketing is what we call it when we engage with the market.
So just about everything that you do is marketing. If you work in operations and you are dumping poison into the river, that’s a marketing problem. If you work in HR and you are not building a diverse workforce, that’s a marketing problem.
Marketing is what happens when we engage with the market in any form. And if you’re in marketing, it means everyone in your organization sooner or later works for you. Because each of us, whether we do it intentionally or not, is changing the culture. We’re showing up with our actions or our inactions. And the culture changes. You may not fully appreciate his words’ impact and wisdom because these are mere bullet points, I am presenting. But the brilliance of Seth Godin is in his ability to put a philosophical proposition to marketing that makes one say: “It makes sense!”
Let me present to you the last portion of his presentation when he challenged his audience to go out into the world and create a difference as marketing, in his opinion, is all about changing culture and making the world a better place.
And so, the last story I want to share with you is a true story that happened about five or seven years ago, I went to this event. It was thrilling, and there were all these cool speakers there. There were playwrights and business people. And on the last night, Neil Armstrong was going to speak. Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, was there to talk to us about his mission. And he did it outside on an open field. Mexico was 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 °C.). Everyone had blankets. They’ve got this huge fire. And Neil’s up there, talking about the Apollo 11 mission. As he’s talking, the biggest full moon I’ve ever seen, rises over his shoulder. He stops, he pauses, he turns and says, “I’ve been there.”
There are footprints on the moon that were left by brave men. In 1969, when the sum, NASA’s total computing power was less than the phone in your pocket. The men and women who are on the ground, who built those systems, did something extraordinary. And did it with fewer resources than we have. And there, are footprints on the moon.
So when you think about how the chips are stacked against you, you think about how difficult it is to move forward to ship this creative work. Look up in the sky and realize the opportunity that’s in front of us. I like to say go make a ruckus, and what I mean by showing up with generosity, seeing the world as it is making better decisions, leaning into what is possible, and becoming an even better version of yourself. Go, make your way.
It is rare to have a marketing guru presenting a marketing concept that touches the heart and inspires me deeply. But then that is Seth Godin. I cannot wait for next year’s conference. These are worthy investments that inspire me to do business better and churn out better stuff—something we desperately need in times like these. By the way, Godin has a new book now entitled: “The Practice.” And I am reading it.
(Connect with Francis Kong at www.facebook.com/franciskong2. Or listen to “Business Matters” Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. over 98.7 DZFE-FM ‘The Master’s Touch’, the classical music station.)