199 Insights from Seth Godin’s Blog

sethbust199 Seth Godin Gems

I’ve compiled a collection of 199 of Seth Godin’s most relevant, insightful and inspirational posts. A must-read for anyone into: Marketing, Idea creation/transmission, The Magic of Respect, Business, Social Media, Human Relationships

Read, digest, and prosper.


Social Creativity

1219704815716BK at Toronto’s Cap C was cool enough to share his ideas on how new media is inspiring mass creativity. My take below.


“Rather comical, dude”: American vs. British humor- an academic perspective


Just watched a captivating Salman Rushdie interview in which he repeats a telling quote on the difference between American & British comedy.

British comedy is based on the question “Wouldn’t it be funny IF?” whereas American comedy is based on the question “Isn’t it funny THAT?

American humor is up-front, expressly stated, with laughs readily available and reflection rarely required. Conversely, British humor requires a curious sort of patience. It unravels itself slowly, titillating the imagination. It requires relationship-building- a character or mannerism may not seem funny until its been expressed over time and in many situations. For these reasons, it’s more intimate, and more likely to strike a lasting chord. You might guffaw hard at Zohan’s antics now, but in 20 years, you’re more likely to remember Basil Fawlty and chuckle.

Sybil Fawlty: You’re looking very happy Basil.
Basil Fawlty: Happy? Ah yes, I remember that.

ant-sexyIt’s sort of like a supermodel’s bare bottom versus the same celestial clad in a slit mini-skirt. While it’s amazing to have the instant gratification of the former, one somehow yearns for the artful allure of the latter.

US Visa: What, me worry?


Last Friday, I went to the US consulate in Toronto to renew my visa. It was quite a trip.

It’s cold. You walk to the gate rubbing your palms. A surly guard points to the cluster of people outside. You get into the line, the tension is palpable. These don’t look like people going in search of a career, an education, a vibrant vacation. These look like people afraid of screwing up. No smiles, no laughter, lest it be taken as a lack of respect for this hallowed ground. Paperwork is obsessively checked, last-minute tweaks, last-second prayers, and then we are filed in.

Security check. Bomb scare posters all over. Commands barked” “Purses out, coats off, keep moving!” People actually scurry, hoping to get through unscathed. A woman with a nail file is made to leave and return without the weapon. We move along.

cerberus2Paperwork inspected up ahead by two men. Neither’s American, but working @ the consulate has endowed them with the appropriate swagger and scowl. They go through my documents attesting to my birth my education my work my adventures my life and dolefully usher me through, as if they’ve somehow missed a trick.

I pick a number and wait. There’s two tiny TVs at the far end of the room, but screw weather updates, I’m in the middle of a live drama. The counters are manned by ordinary people with the extraordinary power to make or break a road trip, a dream job, college life. The visa applicants just stand and quiver, hoping their answers fit the grade. I see a Chinese man who’s got through the half-hour of checks and the hour of waiting for his number to be called, only to be told by the counter lady that he doesn’t speak adequate English and needs to come back with a translator. I hear the exasperated tones of an Arab man trying to exx-blain that being a pharmacist doesn’t make one a member of the ‘high-technology’ industry, and as such, doesn’t warrant extra documentation. Sorry, bro.

No ones at peace. The only happiness on display is the relieved  smiles of successful applicants. My number is called! My knees shaking and mouth arid, I feel like I’m being watched from all sides. It’s amazing how the right attitude can make an airy office room seem like a panopticon. My nervous smile is on even before I reach the counter and I inch forward, praying.


I’ve said it before, the US is an amazing place. And I know security is a pressing issue. Still, there’s no need for the macabre.

Thankfully, my visa was renewed for 10 years 🙂 But it shouldn’t have to be quite so harrowing.

Do You Feel Me? Social Creativity & ‘Virtual’ Mirror Neurons

Two questions important to the evolution of social creativity.

1)  What makes real-life interactions so compelling?

ConversationDaniel Goleman (Author of Emotional Intelligence): “During a conversation, mirror neurons in our brain replicate what’s going on in the other’s brain. When having a moment of real rapport- our physiology’s (heart rate, BPs, etc) connect. It’s almost like two birds dancing together.”

When this happens, there’s no need to ponder, reflect, worry about   offending someone, the conversation just ‘flows’. Creativity and joy multiply.

2) Can this neurological calibration happen even when two people are only connected  online?

That’s our job to find out, but what’s clear is that enriching the online experience by providing the right platforms, tools, and license to go wild IS transforming what’s being created.


somaSynesthesia is a fascinating condition in which inputs to one sensory pathway - such as music or shapes - produce sensations in a different sensory modality. As technology used in social media evolves, it might just become possible to achieve a temporary synesthesia. Through purely an online interaction, there might come about a way to gauge tone, excitement, etc, similar to the way we do in face-to-face communication. This would mean the birth of ‘virtual mirror neurons’, and enable a virtual connection between people that is as rich as a real one.

matrix1 Probability and timeframe? Slim & distant. Implications for creativity? Infinite & thrilling.

Brand Parkour: Managing brands in an urban & digital hyperspace

parkour-al-tairYesterday, I was re-playing the surreal Assassin’s Creed , a RPG in which the central character’s movement is based upon the principles of Parkour.

What’s that? A traceur, or practioner from Parkour North America breaks it down:

“Parkour is an activity with the aim of moving from one point to another as efficiently and quickly as possible, using principally the abilities of the human body. In a lot of ways, parkour is a means of reclaiming what it means to be a human being. It teaches us to move using the natural methods that we should have learned from infancy. It teaches us to touch the world and interact with it, instead of being sheltered by it.”

parkour-1It got me thinking…don’t brands aspire to the same skillset? They seek integration into the consumer’s life- always looking to dodge competition, scurry into the consumer’s imagination, and seamlessly navigate the dynamic environment that is the consumer’s mind.

Brands do want in, certainly, but it might work both ways.  Gen Y consumers may actually be calling out to their preferred brands, as per this week’s AdAge:

“Talk of restricting behavioral-targeting practices is heavy in the air these days. But what if Generation Y — the first demographic to grow up totally immersed in the digital life — actually wants to be behaviorally targeted by marketers? Forrester Research’s Emily Riley made a strong case for this idea. She even suggests the creation of a web portal that would enable Gen Y-ers to post their wants in an organized manner — so appropriate marketers could more efficiently respond to them.”

Social networking is accelerating this trend. Facebook recently recalibrated its marketing machine; brand pages will now move from segregated areas of Facebook to within users’ social graphs, giving the brands greater conspicuity and continuous consumer interaction.

"City challenge"

While this may leave sinister brandcrafters rubbing their palms in anticipation, it would do them good to remember another principle of Parkour:

“Because individual movements could vary so greatly by the situation, it is better to consider Parkour as defined by the intention instead of the movements themselves. If the intention is to get somewhere using the most effective movements with the least loss of momentum, then it could be considered Parkour.”

Ah, the heart of the matter, brand intent. Increased exposure combined with insider consumer information has endowed brands with sizable power. How they wield this power will make all the difference to their long-run viability. If the brand intent is driven by customer value-creation and backed up by momentum-conserving campaigns that choose clarity over loudness, that’s true Brand Parkour- an art that strengthens brand identity, customer loyalty, and all the rewards that go along with them.

parkour-lessonBrand Parkour- sign up for your first lesson today!

Wisdom in a box

Sport, music, dance. These are-all process driven activities; quote every existing statistic, recognize every sonata, memorize every salsa sequence…but until you kick, shoot, grapple, dive, strum, beat, play, jive, step- you aren’t a sportsman, a musician, or a dancer. It’s helpful to think of wisdom along the same lines; raw intelligence and scholarship are only two of the steps towards Solomon.


*Big ups to Dr. John Vervaeke, University of Toronto, CogSci, for this framework

Wisdom is largely process-driven, composed of the  5 INs:

  1. Intelligence: Processing power, speed & efficiency. Note that this intelligence is the only mechanical and capacity-driven component of wisdom.
  2. Insight: The ability to effectively formulate ill-defined problems (e.g. how can I be successful at work?), which compose of the majority of life’s problems.
  3. Integration: The ability to size up, prioritize and create background/foreground relationships, focus scattered bits and pieces into an intricate whole.
  4. Intuition: Procedural expertise that results from implicit learning, very stimulus-bound…the ability to ‘get’ the complex interaction between variables
  5. Induction: Involves discovering/understanding what is important/valuable to you…a sort of self-reflective insight

These 5 INs are guided and monitored by the 3 METAs:

  1. Metacognition: Awareness of our cognitive processes
  2. Metasystemic reasoning: Now craftily copyrighted as “Integrative Thinking” by the Rotman School, this involves using the ‘opposable mind’- the ability to synergize seemingly contradictory beliefs and make them work
  3. Metamotivation: Motivation by higher needs, such as truth, spirituality, etc.

Becoming ‘wise’ involves all the above aspects, plus practising mindfulness to gain new perceptions, souped-up neural circuitry, and altered consciousness.