burning questions with seth godin: faith, lizards, and your art

Seth Godin has one of the most highly respected and trafficked blogs on the world wide web; the most-viewed presentations on TED; the most charitable social and information systems in action, the best-selling series of books on marketing, culture, and idea-generation.

His new book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? goes on shelves and ships TODAY! It’s a whole new kind of Seth fabulous that speaks to the heart (and primal encoding) of creativity in all pursuits. It is beautiful.

Seth’s views on collaboration, endurance, and what it means to be an artist give me a deep sense of belonging and optimism. His definition of “art” contains three elements:

1. Art is made by a human being.
2. Art is created to have an impact, to change someone else.
3. Art is a gift. You can sell the souvenir, the canvas, the recording… but the idea itself is free, and the generosity is a critical part of making art.

Art is what we’re doing when we do our best work.

Ladies and gentleman, it is a true honour to bring you, The Integrity Artist, The Amplifier of other people’s goodness, and one of my biggest intellectual crushes, Mr. Seth Godin.


1. What do you know to be true, unquestionably beyond doubt, certain with every cell of your being, completely, passionately, righteously certain?

Somewhere, someone is going to have a spectacular day tomorrow, the best day they ever had. Maybe even more than one person. Maybe you.

2. How do we rise above the grip of resistance-addicted lizard brain into unleashed, energized, full tilt mojo and artistic moxy?

The lizard is the prehistoric brain stem, the amygdala, the part of our brain responsible for anger, revenge, sex and safety. It’s what a chicken has, all that a chicken has.

The lizard is mistaken.

The lizard successfully believed, for a really long time, that safety was good. Avoid saber-tooth tigers. Duck your head. Don’t raise your hand. That = survival.

Now, of course, that equals burger-flipping and Wal-Mart greeting. Safety is a recipe for food stamps.

What the lizard ought to be doing is pushing you to do art, pushing you to stand out, pushing you to do work that matters and to make a difference.

So, you rise above by seducing and quieting the lizard, and then, when it’s snoozing, do exactly the opposite of what it wants you to do.

3. What was the dumbest thing that you used to believe in?


That some people got what they deserved. That someone deserved to be taught a lesson at my expense. That bad luck hurts people who deserve better.

What’s true: Stuff happens. We dance with it. The better and happier you dance, the better you do. And every minute you spend teaching people a lesson is a minute wasted forever.

4. I think we crave originality and individuation as much as we crave belonging and the beautiful symmetry of being in tribe. How do we steer clear of, as you call it in Linchpin, the “Faustian bargains in which we trade our genius and artistry for stability”? How do we access our own originality? (This, by the way, could be the best question I’ve ever asked anyone. Ever.)

Join a tribe of artists. Lead a tribe of people intent on making a difference.

1984 is a scary book because belonging to a tribe of cogs is the most frightening thing of all. Better to be Neo or Trinity than to live in the Matrix, I think.

5. Dante and “all who entered”, had to abandon hope at the gates of the inferno. I have my own theory on that (I’m not a fan of h-o-p-e.) Is hope a requirement for Linchpins and change agents? Or trust?

Mostly faith.

Faith in your art. Faith in your ability to matter. Faith in the future and opportunities that will present themselves. The reality is you need low overhead and an ability to get through the Dip and the reality is you must put in the hours and push yourself harder than you can imagine. Then the faith pays off.

6. What question are you currently living?

Whatcha talking about Willis?


how about, “How can I leverage this opportunity to spread an idea that people really need to hear… and not waste my chance.”

7. What’s your super hero name? (You have one. To discover it, stand with hands on your hips, chest up, and eyes to the sky. It’ll come to you. FYI, Mine is Agent Now, which in French translates to L’Agent Maintenent. Adorable n’est pas?)

The Amplifier.


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The Squidoo Linchpin Interviews
Linhpin: Are You Indispensable?
TED Lectures