A Peak Inside Seth Godin’s New Book

People often ask me if I majored in marketing and when I say I didn’t, they ask me how I learned so much about it.

The full answer is complicated, but Seth Godin’s work is a key component. Over the years, his books and his blog shaped how I view the world, how I tell stories, and how I get over tiny creative hurdles that stunt my growth.

When I heard he was compiling a collection of his work in a limited edition book, I jumped at the opportunity to get my hands on a copy. The book finally arrived today and it was better than I ever imagined.

For starters, the book is huge and heavy. The weight on the shipping label says 17 lbs!

Everything from the packaging to the inside flap description to the very last page feels like a tailored experience for the reader. And that’s the beauty of Seth. No matter who you are or what you do, his words manage to find a truth that stirs something inside of you.

Fun seeing my name in print as part of “the tribe” aka early supporters of the project.

A tapestry of images are woven throughout the book and serve as a beautiful backdrop to the words on the page.

My first pass made me feel like I was revisiting an old friend and recalling some of our favorite conversations over the years.

Here are two pages that reflect some of the awesome that lies within:

And there you have it. A tiny glimpse into my new desk companion and source of daily inspiration.

Thank you, Seth! <3

Unreasonable

I’ve been doing a lot of things in the last six months that by previous standards, would have been considered unreasonable in my book.

I say no a lot. First I started by saying no to meetings, at least the kind that don’t have an agenda or some type of pre-written document to go with it. Then I started saying no to social engagements, projects, and the frequent, “Can I pick your brain over coffee?” meeting. More recently, I started saying no to alcohol, caffeine, grains, dairy, and soy.

I started putting myself first. I can’t remember the last time I pulled an all-nighter or worked through a weekend. I stopped telling myself that being “always on” was a good thing and started incorporating things like gym time in the middle of the work day.

I let vulnerability and spontaneity into my life in big ways. I stopped judging myself for the things I was or wasn’t doing. I stopped censoring my emotions. I learned to incorporate travel into my life in a way that fuels creativity and productivity. I spent 161 days away from New York this year and covered nearly 160K miles.

In short I learned that there’s a difference between selfishness and self-care. As I’ve become more unreasonable, I’ve found myself happier, healthier, and more fulfilled than I’ve ever been.

 

A Saturday Morning at SFMOMA

I have been overdosing on art and culture lately and it’s done wonders to elevate my mood and inspire creativity. A highlight for me was a recent visit to San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).
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I had no idea that this space and collection is larger than the one in New York. I went when they opened at 10 AM on a Saturday and it was surprisingly empty.  No complaints here!

The mobile app kinda blew me away. It’s probably the best museum app I’ve ever used – intuitive, informative, and genuinely fun to use. Anyone in the tourism marketing industry should download it just to get a sense of what is possible. Wired has a good overview video here.

Around every corner I found my eye drawn to really sexy curves and geometric shapes.  Here are a few shots I snapped on my iPhone.

I couldn’t take photos inside, but the Bruce Connor exhibit is excellent. The other highlight for me was new work from Japanese artist Sohei Nishino. He created a series of diorama maps, large format representations of different cities. Look at the photos below and see if you can guess which cities they are.

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Amazing, right? Kudos if you recognized Rio de Janeiro, Jerusalem, and London.

I know Modern art isn’t for everyone, but it’s something I’ve come to appreciate more in recent years. There are still times when I look at a piece and think “How is this art?” or “I can make that!” but then I pause and think about the reaction it provoked. It did its job.

 

The WordPress Growth Council: An Experiment in Open Source Marketing

Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress and CEO of Automattic, just posted a call for contributors to form a WordPress Growth Council. As a long-time WordPress user and marketing executive, the project interests me for a few reasons.

The first is the challenge itself. To paraphrase Matt’s blog post, WordPress and the open web are under threat. The likes of Medium, Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to promote what are essentially proprietary, walled-off gardens. These systems diminish the freedom of the user and put the notion of an open web under jeopardy. I’ve already resigned to the fact that my Internet life is mostly dictated by closed systems like Facebook, Twitter, and Apple, and while many enterprises are beginning to invest more in open source projects, there’s an imbalance in the force. The fact that an open source platform like WordPress powers 27% of the web makes it the greatest agent in defending Internet freedom.

As a marketer, the WordPress Growth Council is an incredible experiment in pushing marketers to think more like developers and adopt open source principles. Since I started working at Stack Overflow, I’ve become immersed in the working world of developers and often found myself jealous because of how they operate. Marketers believe in control and polish where as most developers are public by default and make iterative changes to their work. It’s so much easier for developers to collaborate on projects in distributed ways where as brand managers are too often constrained by proprietary business information or rigid hierarchy and specialist roles within an organization. It comes as no surprise to me that after 10+ years of architecting Automattic and WordPress to be distributed and open that Matt would by a catalyst in what I’d deem “open source marketing”.  I think about how marketers can be more collaborative and generous with their knowledge so I welcome the opportunity to experiment and test my theories in this arena.

Lastly, I’m motivated as an end-user to help improve the overall consumer experience. I’ve been tinkering with self-hosted WordPress sites since 2007 and I’ve helped probably 100+ individuals and organizations explore the merits of the .com and .org experience. Let’s get real – the relationship is confusing, the admin panel is intimidating, and the learning curve is steep. The product marketer in me is itching to help streamline the value proposition across these funnels to help make it easier to educate and on-board new users.

My day job keeps me pretty busy so it’s somewhat scary to sign up for something like this, but the initial time commitment of 3-4 hours/month seems reasonable. If you’re as intrigued by the challenge and learning opportunity as I am, I hope you’ll join me in the cause.

 

 

The Beatrice Inn – A Meat Lover’s Paradise

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I’ve had too many wonderful meals to recount in New York, but tonight’s Beatrice Inn dinner just might be one of my favorites. It’s certainly one of the few meals in recent history that I actually feel inspired to write about.

What did I love so much about the experience? Just about everything. 

It’s a meat lover’s paradise. In all seriousness, if you’re vegan, vegetarian, or not a fan of delicious proteins, don’t even bother. Once you step foot into this basement-level den of indulgence, you will lose all ability to self-regulate.

The restaurant has a storied history as a speak easy, celebrity hangout spot, and in recent years, a somewhat lackluster chophouse. When I heard Angie Mar, former sous-chef at the Spotted Pig, was taking over, I had high hopes for what she’d do. Take a look at her Instagram.

The woman is a mistress of meat and my new favorite lady boss (she’s Executive Chef AND owner).

The space is basement level and everything you’d expect out of a West Village dining experience – fireplaces, low lighting, and a New Yorker’s definition of the word cozy, a narrow bar in the entrance where late twenty somethings accidentally dry hump each other over post-work drinks.

When you read through the menu, the chef’s voice comes through loud and clear. “I’m a raging carnivore who loves dead animals and by the end of this meal you will too.” As a foodie who usually eyes the 2-3 “must-haves” almost instantaneously, I was dazed and confused. Do I order the 60 day dry-aged cote de boeuf with prawn butter, the braised oxtail, game pie, milk braised pork shoulder, duck flambe, 45 day dry aged burger, or perhaps lose my mind and go for the 127 DAY WHISKY AGED TOMAHAWK RIBEYE?!  The menu is audacious, the most indulgent in your face menu I’ve looked at in a long time.

We actually did go crazy and attempted to order the ribeye and then the waitress said, “Tonight’s market price is $679”. LOL. Here’s the deal. I’m actually one of those people who would order this, but I have to mentally prep myself first. I’ve spent obscene amounts of money on food and drink, but it always feels like this internal battle with myself to rationalize the decision. You can book a direct nonstop flight to Hawaii for $679! You could also go to McDonald’s and get a delicious box of 20 chicken nuggets with the most perfect sweet and sour sauce ever created for $5!  One whiskey aged tomahawk ribeye = 2,716 chicken nuggets!

We bailed on the ribeye and opted for the roast duck flambe instead.

New life goal: become a badass in the kitchen like @angiekmar and host dinner parties with duck flambé 🔥

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You can go through all the photos below where I captured every magical mouthful.

I’m full. I’m inspired. I’m in love with Angie Mar’s West Village meat den and I can’t wait to go back with a group and devour that ribeye.