We Are All Weird, and we should Poke the Box
September 14, 2015
Seth Godin reminds us that We Are All Weird, and we should use that weirdness to Poke the Box.
The first book published in that latter project was one of Seth's own, Poke the Box. And after a great run of books—included Emerson's Self Reliance and what Seth called "a prequel, sequel and manifesto-companion to one of the best books I have ever read, The War of Art," in Steven Pressfield's encouragement to Do the Work—the project was book-ended by another Godin offering, We Are All Weird. And those two books from Seth are what we're giving away this week.
When the Domino Project wrapped, I wrote this:
Seth Godin is returning to Portfolio! That is the big news.
But the news is delightfully nuanced if you've been following Seth's progression since he left Portfolio in 2010 to start the Domino Project, which was as its name implied a project, and by almost all measures a successful one. It was, at the very least, a much bigger and more intriguing idea than any other author has come up with to explore the new possibilities in publishing. And the best thing about it was that it wasn't just about publishing his own ideas. He gathered a talented group of people around him and set up a project that shared other authors' voices, and put many great ideas into a world that desperately needs them.
Those two pieces, project and publisher, are now meeting as Portfolio reissues a selection of the Domino Project books this month, including the two from Seth. (You can get all four of The Domino Project Portfolio Reissue at a deep discount from us.)
In our Jack Covert Selects review last week, we covered Jeffrey Pfeffer's Leadership BS. Pfeffer takes the leadership industry to task in that book, and rightfully so, for selling good vibes and motivation in place of more rigorous research and scientific proof. It at times a bleak book, because we're used to being told what we want to hear. But the truth is, as Pfeffer points out, that inspiration is a poor substitute for results, and rarely leads to any.
There was a slight discomfort I had in writing that review that I couldn't peg at the time, but I think I've figured it out since then. I should have provided a caveat in that review that the book is focused on a very specific kind of leadership—the everyday leading of an organization of people. His diagnoses are important, because those are the kinds of organizations most of us work in, and more than twice of us are disengaged from our work in them than feel actively engaged in it, so something clearly needs to change. Pfeffer calling BS on the leadership industry is one facet of that work. But he is battling one status quo (the current state of leadership thought and training) while setting aside another (that of the standard workplace). That is incredibly important work, because most of work inside these types of organization—corporate, non-profit, or public—but...
Seth provides another facet. His books a just as blunt, but they are by no means bleak, and that is because he's looking farther out on the horizon, and turning an eye inward. Seth Godin writes books about leadership, but it's a different kind of leadership. For example, in Leadership BS, Pfeffer discusses Steve Jobs in his role as the leader of Apple. Seth writes about the moment before Apple, of an individual setting out and building something, of being on the brink of an idea and taking the plunge to make it happen. As he says in Poke the Box:
This Is a Manifesto About Starting
Starting a project, making a ruckus, taking what feels like a risk.
Not just "I'm starting to think about it," or "We're going to meet on this," or even "I filed a patent application..."
Going beyond the point of no return.
Making something happen.
Inspiration may not help you become a better leader, but no one becomes a leader without it. And this doesn't mean you necessarily have to start your own business. Barry Schwartz told us in Why We Work of janitors in a major teaching hospital that have become leaders in their own right, and how "Meaningful and engaged work emerged because they wanted to craft their jobs into callings ..." It means you can start your own initiative, take control over your own work, stop asking for permission, and take a chance on yourself. It means, quite simply, doing good work. It also means it's going to get weird up in here. As he says in We Are All Weird:
My argument is that the choice to push all of us toward a universal normal merely to help sell more junk to the masses is both inefficient and wrong. The opportunity of our time is to support the weird, to sell to the weird, and, if you wish, to become weird.
The epic battle of our generation is between the status quo of mass [mass media, mass market, mass consumption] and the never-ceasing tide of weird.
Seth knows what side of the battle he's on.
Mass is dead. Here comes weird.
So win a couple 'a books, get weird, and poke the box.
We have 20 of each available. There will be 40 winners, and each winner will receive one of the two. Let me know in the answers which one you prefer, and I'll try to make sure you get your preference. And, again, if you'd like all four of the Domino Project Portfolio editions, you can get them here.