Seth Godin:In Search of Resilience

Below is a blog from Seth Godin. How do you approach Resilience?

In search of resilienceIn search of resilience

Most of the time, we build our jobs and our organizations and our lives around today, assuming that tomorrow will be a lot like now. Resilience, the ability to shift and respond to change, comes way down the list of the things we often consider.
And yet… A crazy world is certain to get crazier. The industrial economy is fading, and steady jobs with it. The financial markets will inevitably get more volatile. The Earth is warming, ever faster, and the rate and commercial impact of natural disasters around the world is on an exponential growth curve.

Hence the need for resilience, for the ability to survive and thrive in the face of change.

A non-resilient hospital in New York City closed for months because the designers failed to design for a flood. A career as a travel agent ends when, fairly suddenly, people don’t need travel agents any longer. A retirement is wiped out because the sole asset in the nest egg is no longer worth what it was.

The choice is to build something that’s perfect for today, or to build something that lasts. Because perfect for today no longer means perfect forever.

Here are four approaches to resilience, in ascending order, from brave to stupid:

Don’t need it

Invest in a network

Create backups

Build a moat

Don’t need it is the shortcut to living in crazy times. If you don’t have an office, it won’t flood. If you have sixteen clients, losing one won’t wipe you out.* If your cost of living is low, it’s far less exposed to a loss in income. If there are no stairs in your house, a broken hip doesn’t mean you have to move. Intentionally stripping away dependencies on things you can no longer depend on is the single best preparation to change.

Invest in a network. When your neighbor can lend you what you need, it’s far easier to survive losing what you’ve got. Cities and villages and tribes with thriving, interconnected neighborhoods find that the way they mesh resources and people, combined with mutual generosity, makes them more able to withstand unexpected change. And yes, the word is ‘invest’, because the connection economy thrives on generosity, not need.

Create backups. Not just your data (you do have a copy of your data in two or three places, don’t you?) but anything that’s essential to your career, your family or your existence. A friend with a nut allergy kept a spare epipen at our house—the cost of a second one was small compared to the cost of being without.

Build a moat is the silly one, the expensive Maginot-line of last resort. Build a moat is the mindset of some preppers, with isolated castles that are stocked to overflowing with enough goods to survive any disaster**. Except, of course, they’re not. Because they can’t think of everything. No one can.

We’re tempted to isolate ourselves from change, by building a conceptual or physical moat around our version of the future. Better, I think, to realize that volatility is the new normal.

Putting all your eggs in one basket and watching the basket really carefully isn’t nearly as effective as the other alternatives. Not when the world gets crazy.

**Henry Mason describes a friend who said, “My dad had one job his whole life, I’ll have seven, and my kids will have seven jobs at the same time.”

**and not just preppers, but corporations that act like them


Stimulate Your Customer’s Lizard Brain to Make a Sale

Are you struggling with the status quo?

Stimulate Your Customer’s Lizard Brain to Make a Sale

by Tim Riesterer 

Many marketers and salespeople believe they are in a selling war against their direct competition. However, a less anticipated and more dangerous enemy exists, called “no decision” — otherwise known as “the status quo.” According to sales consulting firm The Sales Benchmark Index, nearly 60% of qualified leads fall victim to the status quo.

Here’s the root cause of the problem: most marketing and sales efforts focus on the wrong messaging and therefore do not stimulate the correct part of a prospect’s brain. This idea is supported by Forrester Research, which found that 65% of high-level decision makers give their business to the company that creates the “buying vision,” versus 35% who acknowledge putting candidates through a fair-and-square “bake-off.” In fact, as executives told us in our research for “Conversations That Win the Complex Sale,” they want companies to come in and tell them something they don’t already know about a problem or missed opportunity — but instead, most only talk about themselves.

The status quo problem is actually a sales messaging problem.

Breaking through the status quo is like breaking a habit. Your brain goes on auto-pilot when a habit is formed. To disrupt the status quo, you need to appeal to the part of the brain where decisions are actually made. That’s where brain science research comes in.

Your brain is divided into three parts. The neocortex is the brain’s analytical computer, which processes data. The limbic system is where all emotions reside. The brain stem and other brain structures are responsible for your survival. This part of the brain is also described by American psychologist Robert Ornstein as the “old brain” (or the “lizard brain” by Seth Godin, an American entrepreneur).

The old brain quickly assesses situations to determine if you are at risk or in danger. If it senses your well-being is in jeopardy, it forces you to react and move away from the potential threat. To break the status quo, you literally have to wake your prospects’ old brain by showing them how their current status quo is untenable, unsustainable, and even unsafe.

Context Creates Urgency

“Why change?” and “why now?” messaging starts with grabbing your prospects’ attention and creating a sense of urgency around your solution to stimulate a decision. One of the most effective ways to do this is to create the right context.

For example, let’s examine the tornado siren that goes off to test the warning system at noon every Saturday in my neighborhood in Wisconsin. When it’s sunny outside, everyone ignores it. But when the clouds are rolling in, it can clear our village park in minutes. The product — in this case, the tornado siren — doesn’t create the reaction. The change in our environment suddenly makes the product invaluable.

Your product or service differentiators aren’t the reason your prospects will change. It’s a clear, compelling sense that they won’t be able to hit their objectives by staying where they are that will prick the old brain’s survival instincts and cause it to start looking for an alternative to the status quo.

Contrast Creates Value

Once you’ve created context for the urgency to change, you must convince your prospects they can’t get what they need from where their status quo currently places them. That status quo is a formidable foe, and prospects will still seek the comfort of trying to “duct tape” their existing approach to overcome the threats you’ve exposed.

Your messaging needs to feed the old brain the thing it craves most to make a decision — contrast. This part of the brain relies exclusively on visual and emotional contrast to decide between what’s unsafe and safe. For your prospects, this means they need to see a clear distinction between what they’re already doing and what you’re proposing.

Contrast is best created in two ways: By using “before” and “after” stories, and by using visual tools.

Before and After Stories:For decades, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has been helping people overcome a problem they’re unwilling to admit having. People do not just accept you telling them they need a solution. AA instead helps alcoholics overcome their denial and ultimately seek help by telling or hearing others tell stories.

As they hear these tales, the new AA members are able to recognize themselves in other people and realize that they, too, have the same problem and need the same solution. Telling stories about your other customers in the same market who successfully overcame a similar challenge will help your prospects realize that they, too, need to change.

Visual Tools:Contrast can be best depicted in pictures — not big photos or metaphorical imagery, but images that make complex and abstract ideas more simple and concrete. A study cited in Dr. John Medina’s book “Brain Rules” found that people could remember only about 10% of information delivered via the spoken word 72 hours after hearing it — but that retention skyrocketed to 65% if a picture was added.

You must literally illustrate the current status quo as a messy situation fraught with peril, side-by-side with an alternative approach that addresses all of the issues and cleans up the mess. Therefore, visual storytelling that shows clear contrast is an essential messaging tool for waking the old brain and breaking the status quo.

Battling the status quo is a constant struggle for marketers and salespeople alike — but it doesn’t have to end in defeat. By applying the right, customer-focused messaging and appealing to the old brain through the techniques described above, it is possible to overcome the status quo barrier to help fuel your company’s success.

On Making a Ruckus in the Lumber Industry

Here are some ideas from Seth Godin. Who’s making a ruckus in the Building Supply industry? Is it you?

On making a ruckus in your industry

Bring forward a new idea or technology that disrupts and demands a response

Change pricing dramatically

Redefine a service as a product (or vice versa)

Organize the disorganized, connect the disconnected

Alter the speed to market radically

Change the infrastructure, the rules or the flow of information

Give away what used to be expensive and charge for something else

Cater to the weird, bypassing the masses

Take the lead on ethics

(Or you could just wait for someone to tell you what they want you to do)


Image representing Seth Godin as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase

This Seth’s blog was about Caring. Is your organization a caring one?

Caring by Seth Godin

No organization cares about you. Organizations aren’t capable of this.

Your bank, certainly, doesn’t care. Neither does your HMO or even your car dealer. It’s amazing to me that people are surprised to discover this fact.

People, on the other hand, are perfectly capable of caring. It’s part of being a human. It’s only when organizational demands and regulations get in the way that the caring fades.

If you want to build a caring organization, you need to fill it with caring people and then get out of their way. When your organization punishes people for caring, don’t be surprised when people stop caring.

When you free your employees to act like people (as opposed to cogs in a profit-maximizing efficient machine) then the caring can’t help but happen.

Inspiring Staff

Another excerpt from Linchpin : are you indispensible? By Seth Godin.

Inspiring Staff

Organizations obey Newton’s laws. A team at rest tends to stay at rest. Forward motion isn’t the default state of any group of people, particularly groups with lots of people. Cynics and politics and coordination kick in and everything grinds to a halt.

In a factory, this isn’t really a problem. The owner controls the boss who controls the foreman who controls the worker. It’s a tightly linked chain, and things get done because there is cash to be made. Most modern organizations are now far more amorphous than this. Responsibility isn’t as clear, deliverables aren’t as measurable, and goals aren’t as cut and dried. So things slow down.

The linchpin changes that. Understanding that your job is to make something happen changes what you do all day. If you can only cajole, not force, if you can only lead, not push, then you make different choices.

You can’t say, “Get more excited and insightful or you’re fired.” Actually, you can, but it won’t work. The front-desk worker at a hotel who runs out in the middle of the night to buy gym shorts for a guest isn’t doing it out of fear of being reprimanded. He does it because he was inspired to do so by a leader ~ho wasn’t even in the hotel when the clerk decided to contribute.

Two kinds of schooling(Seth Godin)

Two kinds of schooling

Type 1. You can take a class where you learn technique, facts and procedures.

Type 2. You can take a class where you learn to see, learn to lead and learn to solve interesting problems.

The first type of teaching isn’t particularly difficult to do, and it’s something most of us are trained to absorb. The first type of schooling can even be accomplished with self-discipline and a Dummies book. The first type of class is important but not scarce.

The second kind, on the other hand, is where all real success comes from. It’s really tricky to find and train people to do this sort of teaching, and anytime you can find some of it, you should grab it.

The sad thing is that we often conflate the two. We think we’re hiring someone to do the second type, a once in a lifetime teacher, someone who will change the outlook of stellar students. But then we give them rules and procedures and feedback that turn them into a type 1 teacher.

Even worse, we often pay as if we’re getting the scarce and valuable type 2 teachers but we end up hiring and managing type 1 teachers.

I spend a lot of time in colleges and other teaching institutions. Over and over I see the same thing–organizations that have painted themselves into a corner, keeping themselves busy but refusing to do the difficult work of teaching people to see. The dean of one college was so stuck in his type-1ness that he couldn’t even bring himself to participate in a session run by a gifted type 2 teacher.

Is there anything more important to you and your organization (or your kids or your town) than figuring out how to obtain and share the wisdom that real teaching can deliver?