Global Leadership Summit 2011, Part 4: Seth Godin

Next up was Seth Godin. I was pretty exited about hearing him for 2 main reasons:

  1. I had read some of his blog posts (confession: I haven’t finished any of his books)

  2. I heard he had 142 slides for his 30 minute presentation

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A lot of the stuff he said struck more an individual and entrepreneurial tone. I think if you listened to this talk but were stuck in a corporate grey cube you’d be really really frustrated.

He talked about the individual hand made item vs. the mass-produced item. The former Better Crocker R&D kitchens now house a hand-made (and expensive) chocolate business.

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There are a couple good things in here. The first was about owning your own business. If you are creating great things, and you are full of ideas, why do you hold back and not let them flow‽ He was talking about the pen making machine at this point. Before the pen making machine, it would take a skilled craftsman to make 4-5 pens in a day. Once the pen-making machine was invented, a stooge off the street with 5 minutes of training could make 10,000 pens a day. Karl Marx said, “Workers of the world unite!” and boycott such machinery. Adam Smith said, “Go buy a pen-making machine. Now.”

In 1917, Marcel Duchamp put a urinal in an art exhibit. It was new, revolutionary, and shook a lot of people up. It changed the way people began to regard art and the adoration and worship of art. If anyone would have come along after him and put a urinal in an art show, though, it would have been a copy. It would not have been as revolutionary.

Basically Godin is saying that if you are the first to come up with something, you are unique and you’re going to change people. If you copy off of someone else it will be mundane and ordinary.

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