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Seth Godin on the art of staying relevant

posted 21 Jan 2013, 11:35 by Mpelembe   [ updated 21 Jan 2013, 11:40 ]

Reuters Business  Report -   Seth Godin is an influential business blogger and bestselling author who's new book The Icarus Deception revisits an ancient Greek myth in hopes of offering a fresh perspective for the post industrial age.

 Matt Cowan, Reuters Technology and Media Correspondent,

"The title of your book is obviously a reference to the Icarus myth which is a warning against excessive ambition and disobeying authority. You say it's time to disregard those lessons. Why is that?"

Seth Godin, Author, 

"In fact, the original Icarus myth isn't about that. The original Icarus myth - if you read a book from 1825 to 1700 when it was first written down - was that Daedalus said to Icarus "two things my son: one, don't fly too high because the sun will melt the wax, but more important, don't fly too low. Because if you fly too low the water and the mist will weigh down your wings and you will surely perish." So the argument I'm making in the book is that the industrialists, the industrial age censored that. They rewrote that story as a warning against hubris, because they wanted obedient, compliant consumers. And obedient, compliant workers to keep the industrial age running and now that the industrial age is ending, we have to go back to the original story and understand that we are guilty of flying too low. And that the opportunity of our lifetime is in fact hubris, is to have the guts to do what we are capable of doing."

Godin says the idea of future-proofing oneself is itself an outdated concept.

 Seth Godin, Author, 

"You can't future proof yourself in the middle of a revolutionary time. What you can do is make yourself future-friendly."

He argues we're now part of a 'connection economy' where doing the safe and predictable is no longer likely to yield a safe and predictable result. Better then to behave like an artist, to do something risky, and hopefully, remarkable.

Seth Godin, Author, s

"So there are striations of value, right. A thousand years ago you grew rice and beans, that was valuable. A hundred years ago you built a factory, you had a machine in it, that was valuable. Today what we're paying for is not where the item was made, we're not paying for the piece of steel, We're paying for the connection and story that comes with things. That we go to this opera or use that phone because of the network that's woven around it, so value is now created by permission, trust, authority and connection. If that's what the economy is based on, how dare we make something that's boring. If you make something that's boring why would anybody go out of their way to talk about it? Why would anybody go out of their way to trust you or connect with you? No, we trust and connect and look for leaders and somebody doing something interesting and talking about. That's art."

Refreshingly, Godin states his perspectives without promises or guarantees.

Seth Godin, Author, 

"It's a completely insecure way to live. It's called being alive. We fooled ourselves for just one brief window of 100 years that there was going to be reliability and that tomorrow was going to be like today, but just a little shinier. And that was never true. We faked it for a century because the profits the industrial system created were so enormous. But that's not normal."

Tomorrow, he adds, will be weirder than today. But in place of yesteryear's outdated assurances are new possibilities.