Seth Godin Purple Cow


Happy Birthday Seth!

Seth Godin has long been one of my thought leader heroes. You can find him in my elite list to the right here.  He fits in frequently here as an evangelist of embracing and great leadership (though I do take issue with his take on ‘management’).

“I’ve failed way more times than I have succeeded.”

“If I fail more than you do, then I win.”

Seth regularly proselytizes the value of embracing failure. The quotes above are from his video piece on HelpMeStartSomething titled ‘Embracing Failure in Entrepreneurship’. He has also penned his own pieces devoted to the subject on his own blog like his piece on the ‘Overwhelming Fear of Being Wrong’ or ‘Disaster Tolerance’

“Not all disasters can be avoided. Not all disasters are fatal. If you accept these two truths, your approach to risk will change. If you build a disaster-tolerant nation or project or lifestyle, you will be more willing to challenge the fates and won’t hide out. The disaster-tolerant approach means that you can focus on the upside of risk instead of obsessing about the worst possible outcome. And once you do that, the upside is more likely to occur. If your hard drive has backups, you don’t have to be as careful in buying hard drives. It’s okay if a cheap one breaks. If your portfolio of artistic or financial endeavors isn’t wrapped up in one project or one gallery, it’s okay to do something a bit more daring, because one critic can’t cripple you. That outcome you were so afraid of isn’t so bad, and once you realize you can tolerate it, it’s (amazingly, perversely and ironically) less likely to happen.”

He has even written whole books on failure (‘The Dip’) and Leadership (‘Tribes’). My biggest beef with Godin is his tendency to talk down ‘Management’ as a foil to his advocacy for ‘Leadership’, but the above piece actually strongly reflects the upside and downside of dimensions of risk paralleled by Leadership and Management. It is powerful endorsement of the power of Management (“backups…portfolio”) to underpin great Leadership (“focus on the upside”).