Today’s podcast is a little different. I’m sharing the audio from a Daily Dose of OPTIMISM! that I recorded with Seth Godin on LinkedIn Live. Be sure to follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn for resources to help guide you as we face this pandemic together!
In today’s show, we’re joined by the New York Times bestselling author and guru, Seth Godin, who’s written over 19 books. He’s the founder of Akimbo, and author of the popular, marketing-oriented, Seth’s Blog. Seth and I have a great conversation about leadership as he breaks down some of the “alphabets of humanity” from his book, V is for Vulnerable: Life Outside the Comfort Zone. We discuss how some of the principles from this book can be used to guide and grow an organization with humanity and purpose.
In our conversation, Seth talks about the idea of “leadership art,” as a way to create something that makes a change. Seth believes that art is a human act of making a change in the world, and if you’re making a change, you’re leading. We’ll explore a few of the different ways we can all think more deeply about our roles as leaders and the importance of showing up as the best versions of ourselves.
Watch the LinkedIn Live Interview
Cause a Ruckus With Your Leadership
Seth and I discuss his concept of “causing a ruckus” and how that can be translated into business behaviors. When it comes to leading transformations inside of businesses, Seth says, “It doesn’t mean hustling people, and it doesn’t mean being reckless. What it means is that you are showing up in a way to make things better. And if you’re gonna make things better, it means you’re going to change things. If you’re going to change things, that’s going to make some people a little uncomfortable. Because change, in addition to making things better, presents the chance that because they’re not going to be the same, it might not be exactly what you wanted. So to make a generous ruckus means to show up with right intent on behalf of the people you seek to serve, but to make a change happen, and go together.”
Emotional Labor is Valuable Work
“There are different kinds of labor that we put into the work that we do, most of us do not dig ditches for a living, right? Most of us work with our emotions for a living. And so the question is, what does hard work even look like when you’re sitting there using nothing but a keyboard? It feels to me like hard work is showing up when you’re afraid, or showing up when you’re not sure what you’re going to get out of it, or showing up when it’s hard to see the other person. It’s hard to see their point of view, but you exert the effort to do so anyway. And this energy is missing from so many people in our lives who are just taking care, or just because they feel like they’re drowning; they’re entitled to grab whatever they want. But at some level, we’re all falling. We’re all drowning. And the best way forward is to raft up and to figure out how to get in sync,” says Seth.
Do the Emotional Labor That Connects to Other People
Seth expounds on this idea by stating, “One way to tell if you matter is if people would miss you if you didn’t show up tomorrow to do it again.”
He discusses a potential reality about hotel front desk employees being replaced by check-in machines once they start opening up again because this will save the hotel money. Seth explains that the front desk employees of the hotel are conducting emotional labor. They show up as humans, and he appreciates feeling seen when he arrives. Seth wants to stay at a hotel where he’ll be welcomed by a person, not a machine. So, when it comes to emotional labor, he asks, “What will you as a contributor do so that your job can’t be easily replaced? Because if you can be replaced by someone cheaper than you, or by a piece of software, you will be.”
Infuse Your Work with the Quality of Magic
“Q is for quality. Quality is a given. That’s not the point, right?” says Seth. And while discussing quality, Seth identifies three different kinds of quality and what it means for the type of service that we can provide to our audience:
“The first quality is the quality of luxury goods, the quality of Louis Vuitton, the quality of the Rolls Royce. This means it’s expensive; I’m not interested in that. The second kind of quality is the quality of meeting specifications. And this is the quality that built our industrial world. This type of quality is easily measured. This is why a 1999 Toyota was actually a better car than a Rolls Royce, because its quality was higher, not its luxury, but the parts fit the way they were supposed to fit. And so I want to argue that that sort of quality is a given. If you don’t have it, you’re in big trouble right? But the third kind of quality is the quality of magic. It is the quality of it’s just better, it just feels right; it’s just human. And that’s the place where so many of us can choose to excel. But we got to be really clear about which words we mean,” says Seth.
When we bring the quality of magic to our work, we offer something that’s different. According to Seth, you have to do work that you’re proud of. Work that can’t simply be replicated by someone who’s one click away. We put this into context by discussing the Italian dessert, the zabaglione. The zabaglione consists of mostly whipped foam, which means that each batch comes out a little different than the previous one – but it’s delicious, and it doesn’t last long, it’s evanescent. This is the type of feeling that people enjoy and want more of. Seth reminds us that as leaders, as employees, we should bring this type of magic with us to work. It’s looking forward to the work that you “get to do again”—it’s asking ourselves, how can we be responsible for the work we do, how can we create another batch of magic?
What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?
“What I would say to the 21-year-old me is nothing different than what I already knew, which is, there’s going to be a huge number of speed bumps, but the speed bumps all enabled me to get to this moment that the challenges in the speed bumps are part of the deal. And I guess if I could have only known one thing, it would have been, it’s gonna be okay. It’s gonna be okay. The speed bumps are fine. You’re gonna be fine.”
About Seth GodinSeth Godin is the author of nineteen international bestsellers that have been translated into over 35 languages, and have changed the way people think about marketing and work. For a long time, Unleashing the Ideavirus was the most popular ebook ever published, and Purple Cow is the bestselling marketing book of the decade.
He’s a recent inductee to the Marketing Hall of Fame, and also a member of the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame and the Guerrilla Marketing Hall of Fame. Prior to becoming a writer and blogger, Godin was Vice President of Direct Marketing at Yahoo!, a job he got after selling them his pioneering 1990s online startup, Yoyodyne.
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