When I first started freelancing, nearly 10 years ago, I consumed every Seth Godin book I could find, and I eagerly anticipated reading anything that he posted on Seth’s Blog. He was my small business sensei! When ATD announced that he was one of the keynote speakers, alongside Oprah Winfrey, I was torn. I couldn’t decide who I was most excited for…Oprah or Seth. After seeing Oprah yesterday, I can definitely say it’s both, but initially I struggled to decide.
One of my first screencasts was actually a book review of The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? To say that I’m excited to spend a bit of time with my small business sensei is an understatement.
Seth comes out and talks about how we always feel behind the eight-ball. He discusses how there is maybe a different way for us to get ahead! When we’re asked “What do we make?”, we should respond with ‘work that matters for people who care’. We tell stories!
“The essence of your work is that you make change happen. If there isn’t change then why did you even bother?” – Seth Godin (2019)
He explains how development is really different than training. Development involves showing up continually for the people we seek to change.
“Learning is something we choose to do” – Seth Godin (2019) PREACH!
We’ve learned, through a system, to hold a little bit back because we’ll always be asked for more. 16,800 hours of being trained to comply has done this (the public school system). He explains how the public school system was created to generate a world of compliant people. We’ve been taught to produce more value, more productivity…there’s no wonder why people are holding back. Your resume is a piece of paper that shows that you can comply.
Seth talks about the mindset of industry: productivity that is managed to go up, people that comply, a system of rewards. The model is “get people to listen to their boss.” The rate of change this year is the lowest we’ve seen in our lifetime because next year will be faster. Everyone is yelling and there’s too much noise. He talks about the Yoga Pant District in NYC…this is bad news for people like Lululemon, because they’re no longer the older one. There are too many competitors. The industrial model of ‘more’ is broken forever, so it’s a lot more difficult to get to move up and to the right on and org. chart.
“It’s very tempting to deny that this world is changing, but I hope that we can agree that it is.” – Seth Godin (2019)
Your job in talent development is to help people figure out what to do next…to figure out how to connect the dots. It’s not compliance; it’s something else. People forget that there are deep roots, and that is where development hangs out. It is a “long-term process to help people see.” When you are the only one, people will cross the street. They will seek you out. How can you be different? We should be paying attention to what things are worth (people, products, etc.). Seth breaks things down, task analysis style, to explain that what we make is feelings. That’s the goal. You’re not shopping for a 1/4 inch drill bit, you’re shopping for the feeling your spouse feels when they come home and you’ve hung the shelf.
We have big cultural challenges to address. He circles back to holding back, in that we hold back because we don’t want to make waves. How do you develop these individuals who hold back? We are way too hung up on compliance, how fast we can type. It turns out that real skills can be taught, and they shouldn’t be referred to as soft skills.
What we actually need is grit. We need to be gritty enough to stand up for ourselves, to fall down, skin our knees, and get up and do it again. And right now it is cheaper than ever for us to adjust…to raise your hand, speak up, and try something new. We live in an economy that is based on connection, and it is connection that creates value.
Together we create value, and this needs coordination, trust, privilege, and exchange of ideas. The foundation these four things are built upon is generosity and art. We can either go from scarcity, living smaller and smaller, or an abundance.
What’s going on in school is ‘colour inside the line’. There’s a huge difference between responsibility and authority. Responsibility is taken and authority is given. Competence is overrated. We don’t need help to create a competent workforce. We’re in a unique position because we have the Internet at our fingertips. Innovation is rewarded, and innovation is all about failing over and over until you succeed.
He discusses how training involves doing, not being lectured at. Doing allows us to explore, to fail, to experience. We need to realize that flying higher is a privilege, and we’re the most privileged people to ever live.
“Privilege is to do better, not more, but better.” – Seth Godin (2019)
Final thoughts: It was a true honour to listen to Seth Godin speak. He. Was. Incredible. A dream from this little small business dreamer, and I left his keynote swooning!