Interview With Seth Godin

By on February 26, 2009

seth2007audrey-bernsteinI had the great pleasure and opportunity to interview Seth Godin.

SETH GODIN is a bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change.

Godin is author of ten books that have been bestsellers around the world and changed the way people think about marketing, change and work. His books have been translated into more than 20 languages, and his ebooks are among the most popular ever published. He is responsible for many words in the marketer’s vocabulary, including permission marketing, ideaviruses, purple cows, the dip and sneezers. His irrepressible speaking style and no-holds-barred blog have helped him create a large following around the world.

Seth’s latest book, Tribes, is a nationwide bestseller, appearing on the Amazon, New York Times, BusinessWeek and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. It’s about the most powerful form of marketing–leadership–and how anyone can now become a leader, creating movements that matter. The Miami Herald listed it among the best business books of 2008.

Unleashing the Ideavirus is the most popular ebook ever written. More than 1,000,000 people downloaded the digital version of this book about how ideas spread. Featured in USA Today, The New York Times, The Industry Standard and Wired Online, Ideavirus hit #4 on the Amazon Japan bestseller list, and #5 in the USA.

The Big Red Fez, Godin’s take on web design, was the #1 ebook (worldwide) on Amazon for almost a year before it was published in paperback in 2002. The Miami Herald called it one of the best business books of the year.

Survival is Not Enough has made bestseller lists in Germany, the UK and the United States. With a foreword by Charles Darwin, this breakthrough book redefines what change means to anyone who works for a living. Tom Peters called it a, “landmark.” The book was first excerpted in Fast Company, where Godin is a contributing editor.

His latest book, Purple Cow, was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. It’s all about how companies can transform themselves by becoming remarkable.

Seth is a renowned speaker as well. He was recently chosen as one of 21 Speakers for the Next Century by Successful Meetings and is consistently rated among the very best speakers by the audiences he addresses.

Seth was founder and CEO of Yoyodyne, the industry’s leading interactive direct marketing company, which Yahoo! acquired in late 1998.

He holds an MBA from Stanford, and was called “the Ultimate Entrepreneur for the Information Age” by Business Week.

Now for the interview:

Name of Company: Squidoo.com
Industry: the internet
Type of company:  the #1 site where anyone can post information about what they are passionate about
Year founded: 2005
Location: 5 cities, including NY
Number of employees: 5

Adam: What is the start-up story behind your business venture?
Seth: Our goal is to raise millions of dollars for charity at the same time that we make it easy for people to share their ideas, build a following and arn money.

Adam: What is your definition of success and has your company achieved it?
Seth: I think success is being able to repeatedly do work you’re proud of. And yes, we’ve achieved it, from the first day, and three years later we get to keep doing it.

Adam: To what do you attribute your company’s recent achievements?
Seth: Understanding the Meatball Sundae, doing work that matters, working with great people and trusting our users.

Adam:
What three pieces of advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Seth: Scale matters. Be the right size in everything you do. Persist through the Dip or don’t bother starting.

Adam: What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
Seth: I’ve posted many of them. Sometimes it has to do with misunderstanding a market. More often, it’s about getting stuck in the Dip, not having the resources or wherewithal to push through.

Adam: Describe/outline your typical day?
Seth: That’s the great thing. There isn’t one! Here’s what’s always true:

  • 1. I work with only amazing people.
  • 2. I don’t go to meetings.
  • Because my scale is comfortable, I don’t have to sweat revenue on a daily basis. We are at a size we can afford.

Adam: Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it?
Seth: Self-funded based on low low overhead.

Adam: What stops you from throwing in the towel and giving up during those frustrating days of running your business?
Seth: Because the alternative was to get a job as a bank teller! This is what I was born to do, and I do it.

Adam: Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Seth: All failures are the same, all successes sure seem different.

Adam: Who has influenced you most and been your greatest inspiration?
Seth: My mom and my dad. My readers. Jacqueline Novogratz at acumenfund.org

Adam: What book has inspired you the most?
Seth: This is a tough one. Probably, “The Republic of Tea”.

Adam: How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Seth: Deliver anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people that want to get them. Be remarkable. Earn permission.

Adam: In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Seth: Onomatapeia. Not because it is, but because I like that word a lot and get to use it rarely.

Adam:
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Seth: Ideo. They have a manifesto and they deliver.

Adam: How do you achieve balance in your life?
Seth: You only achieve balance if you make hard decisions. That means saying ‘no’ when ‘yes’ feels right. If you can’t do that, forget it.

Adam: Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 years? 10 years?
Seth: I have no idea! I love that I have no idea.

Adam: If we could introduce you to anyone, who would it be and why? (you never know who we know!)
Seth: I’d like to give Steve Jobs a hug. I hope he gets better soon.

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Adam Toren

About Adam Toren

Adam Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur, and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Matthew. Adam is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.