A while back, Seth Godin’s tweet led me to Seth’s blog (as usual) and this blog (not as usual) had little content. It just led me to a video clip of a half hour talk he gave on the future of publishing. Talk about Shift!
The Monks Resist Change
First of all though, I have to comment on Seth’s central metaphor. He opened the talk with an amusing imagined dialogue between Guttenberg – inventor of the printing press – and a monk. The monk wanted to know how this new invention would affect the illuminated manuscript industry. Seth tells a story well, but then continued to refer to “the monks” throughout his talk, as the people who are tied to the old ways.
It’s a great talk and I certainly won’t upstage it anymore by giving away his material. I want to focus on his conclusion, because it represents a phenomenal shift in the way we should think of things.
I will, in passing, note that in his talk, he says that blogging works. I had been intending to start blogging seriously in the week I did start blogging seriously. But as the week approached and I was so busy, I honestly thought: “What’s another week or two?” Until, I saw Seth’s talk at just the right moment. It inspired me – thank you Seth.
Books as Souvenirs
So, to the principal thesis of Seth’s talk. Ideas and souvenirs.
What people value is ideas. But the problem is that there are far too many that are readily available on the internet, that we won’t pay for them now. I don’t need to buy an encyclopaedia when I can have Wikipedia for free. And I don’t need to buy a guide to Project Management, when I can get it all on the web. So why do we buy books. Seth’s answer is at once shocking and insightful. If we like an idea enough: a concept, a story, a character, an author – then we will want to mark that commitment with a souvenir. We’ll buy the book.
Seth even gave away the whole text of one of his books for free on the internet. Enough people liked it so much that they then spent $40 on Amazon for a hardback. Then other people heard about it. They were so seduced by the idea that, without knowing what it is, they bought the souvenir too.
How many books have you bought that you have never read? Why did you buy them? Was it perhaps that you liked the idea – the idea of the cover, the title, the author, the topic?
The “so what?”
Put your ideas out there, be generous, build up your reputation, then offer souvenirs that people can buy. For a professional project, risk or change manager, the big souvenir is you. If your ideas are great, people will want you to manage their project or lead their change. That’s how you get the best assignments.
I’m giving away ideas from my next two books on the blogs at their websites:
The Handling Resistance Pocketbook,
to be published in early autumn 2010 by Management Pocketbooks
to be published in late autumn 2010 by Pearson Education