Monday, January 28, 2013

Four Essential Questions

You may be one of those people who scoffs at technology.  Or perhaps you embrace every new gizmo that comes along.  You might be the type of person who has lots of accounts that need constant updating.  Or maybe you're the kind of person who will only agree to meet in person and won't even chat on the phone.

Regardless of your approach to technology, you'll likely find this interview with Seth Godin to be worth your while.

I tend to feel that way about every guest that Krista Tippett has on her On Being show, so I admit my bias.  But still, some are more fascinating than others, and Seth Godin has much to say that's important.

He's promoting a new book, The Icarus Deception.  This Godin quote will give you an idea of the book's thesis:  "So if you and I had been sitting around just after the Dark Ages and heard the story of Icarus — what we would have heard is this: that Daedalus said to his son two things — one, put these wings on but don't fly too close to the sun because it's too hot up there and the wax will melt. But more important, Son, do not fly too low, do not fly too close to the sea, because the mist and the water will weigh down the wings and you will surely perish. And for me the most important message that I've come to after thinking about this for so many years is, we are flying too low. We built this universe, this technology, these connections, this society, and all we can do with it is make junk. All we can do with it is put on stupid entertainments. I'm not buying it."

Krista Tippett mentioned the 4 questions that are worth asking about our work, and it holds true for our creative work too:  "Four questions worth answering. Who is your next customer? You mean that conceptually. Their outlook, hopes, dreams, needs and wants. What is the story he told about himself before he met you? How do you encounter him in a way that he trusts the story you want to tell him about what you have to offer? What changes are you trying to make in him, his life, his story? And then you wrote, start with this before you spend time on tactics, technology, scalability. I think that's really refreshing."

Refreshing indeed.  In a world that tells us we need ratings, we need people to spend gobs of money, we need a platform that people visit all the time, it's good to remember why we do this.

The lust for ratings and placing high on the charts is an industrialist mindset, Godin tells us.  And even if we have it, we may not be saved.  Look at all the TV shows that were once popular but are no longer with us.

Here's a better way of thinking about our work:  "Whereas, the other way to think about it is, how few people can I influence and still be able to do this tomorrow? Because if we can influence just enough people to keep getting the privilege to do it, then tomorrow there'll be even more people. Because we're doing something genuine that connects, as opposed to doing something fake that's entertainment."

Go here for a link to the transcript or to listen to the show.  Today I need to spend time deleting old e-mails; I may just listen to this interview as I do it!

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Thanks, I needed that!