17 September 2014

I have a man crush and I’m not afraid to say it (well I’m a little afraid)…

Polo Jiminez 4

One of the most powerful business books that I can ever remember reading was entrepreneur Seth Godin’s (self-published) marketing antithesis, Purple Cow. It really resonated with me. It’s not just that it came in packaged as a milk carton – I immediately understood what Godin was suggesting, I believed his message. At last I had found a kindred spirit who shared my passion for doing business differently.

But in the years that followed I wasn’t so sure. There were so many radical ideas, lots of long-winded musings, much of the same stuff reiterated. It didn’t feel remarkable and transformational any more, and I have to admit, I lost a little faith in the Oracle.

Then I had the good fortune to spend a day with Seth in Sydney and I’m in love again. He is an exceptional presenter and his contrarian view on most business topics is wonderfully raw, real and relevant. Seth’s burning desire is to “change the way others see the world” – and I have no doubt he is achieving that in a very big way.

So what did I learn from my day with Seth?

To sum the day up, here are my 7 biggest lightbulb moments (please note that much of this terminology is directly from Seth, so don’t quote me – I’m simply quoting him):


“Today ideas travel at the speed of light, they don’t care about geography” – the same applies to building communities (or as Seth calls them, tribes). We are all looking for people like us, but opportunity is not created by building a massive list of contacts with no connection or value proposition. The greatest opportunities come from actually building a community with purpose. We form a tribe that trusts us, that thinks like we do, that understands us, that challenges us and that supports us. Tribe geography is largely irrelevant. We build trust by what we say, what we do, how we act and our intentions over time.


In a world where there are so many people, organisations and ‘stuff’ fighting for our attention, it certainly has become a precious commodity. Attention spans are getting shorter and yet the demand for attention is only becoming greater. Attention quite literally has its own supply and demand economy – our customers in particular are asking what their “return on attention” is going to be. If there is no return, they will go elsewhere and we will become less relevant (or worse, totally irrelevant … you might as well be invisible). The moral to the story here is that if you get your customers attention and you waste it, they will stop trusting you and without question, will stop paying attention to you. You’re dead to them. The end.


This was a very powerful point for me. As a marketing man, much of my life has been spent in the pursuit of markets for products and services, whether mine, or my clients. In the world of Seth, it is far more important to firstly build a strong tribe based on trust – one that is formed through meaningful connections – then develop the products or services that they need (as opposed to making stuff and trying to flog it to anyone who will buy it). If we focus on their needs and not ours, the benefits are mutual. This resonates much more deeply with me.


I love writing articles, and I write a lot of them. But I have to say I have fallen into the trap of writing articles to generate social media activity. After all, shares, likes and retweets are really the only way to quantify whether an article hits its mark or not, right? To a point, maybe. But retweet doesn’t equal referral. So, should the purpose of blogging be getting retweets or should it be to build trust? Clearly Seth feels it should be trust, and I agree. This means taking a step back, thinking about why you are blogging or writing articles and being prepared to write things that may not get a lot of shares, but will resonate with members of your tribe in a deeper way. Some people might not like them and perhaps others will even write negative comments, but that is not something that we should live in fear of (see lesson 6). Don’t write to be popular, write to be trusted – be open, be vulnerable, be real, be humble.


The most successful organisations change their customers in some way (and in many instances, actually reinvent their customers). Think Apple, Harley Davidson, Facebook and Wotif. Think about how these four iconic organisations have changed their customers, their buying habits, their lifestyle, their communication and their travel. We have to ask ourselves, how are we changing our customers? And if we aren’t, who is? Are our customers deeply connected and trusting of us, to the point where we become a big enough part of their life to evoke change?


If everyone loves everything you do, you are not trying hard enough. We need to learn to live with the fact that the outcomes are never certain, and we therefore need to learn to live with the tension that uncertainty creates. For writers and professional speakers like me, this means that if people are not disagreeing with you, walking out of your events, challenging your articles and ideas, you are playing too safe and not working at the edge. The edge is where great things happen! Living with the tension associated with uncertainty of how a concept might be received gives us an edge that playing safe does not. It keeps us alert and on our toes, which in turn makes us high performers.


A lot of businesses, particularly in the online space, are obsessed with numbers. How many followers, friends, likes, shares, connections etc do we have? In reality, what is the point of having a million disconnected followers? They are just numbers on a screen that look impressive, but soon amount to very little. It is much more about building a tribe that trusts you, a tribe filled with likeminded people who value you and the products and services you are selling. Spend less time worrying about the numbers and more time sharing valuable and meaningful information.

There is a revolution happening, I see it all around me every day. Entire industries struggling to reinvent themselves, or even survive in a world that they simply do not understand. Some are stoically forging on, changing nothing, living with hope that everything will be OK. Others (the disruptors, the embracers – those living on the edge), are changing everything, challenging the status quo and reinventing the world.

Now is the time to back yourself, believe in yourself, break stuff, find people like you, reinvent, evolve, make connections with mutual, tangible benefits, build trust, accept tension, share, change and challenge.

This is what Seth Godin reminded me of on a sunny Sydney day. Thanks Seth.



20 thoughts on “I have a man crush and I’m not afraid to say it (well I’m a little afraid)…”

  1. Hitesh Sahni says:

    Very thought-provoking. I actually disagree a little with referring to attention as a commodity. I’d rather think of it as a luxury so as to use it wisely.

    I have also written about your post on my blog. Looking forward to more good stuff from you. Thanks for posting about your day with Seth.

  2. Hi Hitesh – I understand your point, I guess the end result is the same – treat it with respect, use it wisely. Thanks for taking the time to comment on my article.

  3. Nicky Jurd says:

    I *love* #4. Click bait in social media has me yelling at my screen most days. This is one of the reasons I love Inc.com posts, they’re always quick to read and valuable. I trust their content because it doesn’t try to trick me into reading it.

  4. Haha – I can’t imagine you yelling at anyone Nicky – but it is a fun visual picture. A day with Seth was very cool – certainly made me rethink how I write and blog. Hence this article (on my brand new and EXTREMELY spiffy blog). Thank you!!!

  5. Andrew, thanks for sharing the insights you picked up from your time with Seth.

    I had a similar experience to yours with Seths work. Initially devouring his ideas, loving the contrarian nature of his musings and marvelling at his understanding of what motivates and instills loyalty and excitement in people.

    For me the cooling-off period coincided with my decision to quit the corporate world and start my own business. Suddenly Seth’s ideas seemed a little too left field and his rallying crys about creating and disseminating your ideas rang a little hollow. It rapidly became for me solely about winning business, doing a good job and getting paid.

    Your article reminded me that ploughing a safe furrow through the soft centre of the market is not always the best route. Embrace the tension, develop trust, create and don’t be afraid to play at the edge of the sandpit on occasion….thanks for sharing Andrew.

  6. Hello Cian – the game changers out there – we owe them a lot. They come along at the right time, say the right words, press the right buttons and inspire change. And I bet your world is MUCH better now.

    Good on you Mate,

  7. That’s a great summary of your key take-homes Andrew. I really like the idea of “what change do you want to create in your customers?” It was great to see you at the Seth event and you’ve inspired me to finish my write-up!

    By the way, nice blog design (well done Nicky!)

  8. Thanks Adam – great to see you and Toby at the event with Seth. It was a really great audience. I look forward to reading your take on the day Mate. All the best – Andrew

  9. Rosemary Shapiro-Liu says:

    #3 is where the challenge lies. Seth clearly says build your Tribe and meet their needs. So the challenge is creating product for your Tribe rather than treating each person as having distinct needs that need a personalised solution.

  10. Leona Watson says:

    Hi! I wasn’t able to see this genius in Sydney so your debrief was greatly appreciated. And what a kick up the *&$! to stop being safe. I’ve definitely fallen into that trap. Time to tighten up the tribe, lose a few, maybe gain a few and get a bit more ‘open’ and real and ask more questions. So simple, but never so easy. Thanks for the reminder and about my website too… Oh gosh what a thing to attack! Cheers Leona

  11. Haha – that is great Leona – yep, I hear you re “playing safe”. I loved Seth’s line re “if people are walking out of your events, or arguing against what you are saying, you are playing too safe”. Hard to hear when we are in a world looking for “thumbs up” are measurements of approval. I tell everyone I am moving out of Zig Ziglar phase and into my Seth Godin stage (more edgy, contrarian, less safe, more honest and real). Keep me in the loop Leona, all the best – Andrew

  12. Hello Rosemary – I couldn’t agree more! It is a challenge, but I like that shift in perspective, make building trust your priority – something you do very well I might add young lady! I look forward to catching up very soon. Cheers – Andrew X

  13. Hi Andrew, thanks for sharing this. For me it is all about #6. After I had seen Seth in Melbourne I came away with “Create something worth criticising.” At a speaking event last week I found myself saying things I have thought before but not dared to say. This time I let it out. The feedback was amazing. As a speaker I am so exposed anyway so I figure I may as well be authentically exposed. I might aim for walk outs next time!!

  14. Hello Kemi – isn’t it nice to be given permission to push the boundaries? I agree, aiming for a walk out at my next event too. Blimey, what has Sen done to us? Thanks for your thoughts Kemi – and good luck with that. Cheers – Andrew

  15. Thanks for this summary of Seth’s presentation, Andrew. It’s a huge learning curve for me – especially as a writer-turning-entrepreneur to think about creating products for an audience, rather than writing what I want to write about. I feel inspired to play it less safe, and to be edgier – I hate controversy and negativity, but I guess I just have to pull up my big girl panties and get some of Kemi’s raw energy going. Love all you do, Andrew. Such a blessing to have you in my life.

  16. Hello Jo – I understand completely – and it is a conversation for a long breakfast at Coogee Beach I think. It is a big mind shift to go from author to author/entrepreneur – and as much as I say my writing has always been commercial, the real shift for me came from several conversations with Daniel Priestly. We will continue this chat face to face, but in the meantime, I think we need to make sure we are upsetting a few people! And getting to know you has been and continues to be something I value enormously! Lots of love – Andrew XXX

  17. Mark Collard says:

    Hey again Andrew, I have finally stopped long enough on this US workshop juggernaut tour of mine to read your Seth article. I have to admit to a teeny weeny love affair with him too 🙂

    I love your take. It’s all about trust. Big time – how can it be anything else, because we are dealing with people. Anything less is a lie or a deception. In other words, if you want my attention, you have to earn my trust first. Makes sense. I also agree with your ideas re playing safe. In my field, playing safe is sticking to your ‘comfort zone.’ But no learning or development occurs in this space, only in the ‘stretch’ zone, which is where I stand out and make my mark – and yes, it can be scary, and challenging, etc and not everyone will fall in love with me. Then, as Seth says we are called to accept that maybe ‘It’s not for you.’

    Greetings from Oklahoma. Have a great week!

  18. Hey Mark – thanks for taking the time out during you US tour to give me your thoughts – I really appreciate it.

    Funny, on the weekend I ran a new workshop, “The Art of Storytelling” – it was a big success, totally new and out of my comfort zone to teach (I am big fan and a student of storytelling but not a teacher). Three people came up to me at lunchtime and said it wasn’t really for them, they were going to leave. Lovely that they came up and let me know and I totally understood where they were coming from. But most importantly for me, I didn’t go into a spiral of “OMG” the whole workshop sucked, it was terrible etc.

    I take it as a sign that I am playing closer to the edge, and that is where I want to play. So a breakthrough of epic proportion for me.

    Travel well Mark,

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