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My Saturday Afternoon With Seth Godin

My Saturday Afternoon With Seth Godin

About 2 years ago, I had the audacity (some should argue stupidity), to email Seth Godin my very first blog post. Let me be blunt, the post was terrible. But that’s not what he said when he wrote me back within a few hours of hitting send. Don’t get me wrong, he didn’t say it was good, but he was full of encouragement. I had “shipped my art” as his books encourage us all to do. And as it turns out, that’s what mattered at that stage of the game. And so I kept writing.

I’ve got some big plans brewing for our LGL community (more to come April 1st), so when I received his invitation to attend his interactive “Impresario Workshop” in NYC, I signed up in minutes. I wanted to share my vision and get his perspective. More importantly, I wanted him to know how much his early note had meant to me. I’m a strong believer in ensuring people know the impact they’ve had on our development. The crazy part was that before I could thank him, he blew me away with more confidence-building observations. When I finally got to my “thank you part” I was busting with energy and even deeper gratitude. Real leaders light people up through genuine connection and intrapersonal inspiration.

Why Seth Godin Stopped Doing All the Talking

The real brilliance of the workshop was not what Seth Godin said from the stage. It came from who was in the room and how they connected. Unlike most workshops, the ratio of stage-to-audience content and audience-to-stage interaction (Through Q&A) was about 1:4. Seth Godin set the table for conversation, and then created a dialogue. His detailed responses made us all think more deeply.

It started by who he invited to the table. As part of the “application” process for early entry, we had to share what we were up to, including our websites and other social media presence. He knew his workshop would work because of who was in the room and what they were up to. He knew his job was to attract, connect and inspire. Of course, that’s entirely the point of being an “Impresario.” To change the culture by getting the right people in synch.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

The magic of the workshop came after it was over. We were invited to sign-up for optional dinners around the city, paired by areas of “common interests” as articulated in our applications. We didn’t know who we’d be meeting with until we showed up. My kindred spirits turned out to be a millennial gamer/game developer; an engineer turning into a consultant; an app developer preparing to launch a company overseas, and a PR consultant. Not a leadership thinker in sight…our conversation was on fire, and could have continued all night. Within 3 minutes we knew exactly why we were selected to be connected. We offered new angles and insights, and took away “action items” to continue the support.

Beyond the Usual Suspects

We tend to focus our networking efforts on folks with obvious common ground. Execs connect with execs. Leadership thinkers connect with other leadership thinkers. Bloggers with bloggers. Sales guys with sales guys. Call center experts with others in the same scene.

There’s risk in assuming you know who you’re looking for as you build your network.

What my dinner companions (and everyone I met throughout the day) had in common was not our day jobs.

Instead of chasing the usual suspects seek out humans who…

  • Are up to something amazing
  • Have a curious spirit
  • Are truly interested in other people
  • Have open minds
  • Are hungry for success
  • Have a propensity to connect
  • Ooze generosity
  • Engage in transparent and real conversations #meanit
Your Turn: How have you benefited from surprising connection with unusual suspects?
Filed Under:   Career & Learning, Communication
 
 
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.
 

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What People Are Saying

Bob Whipple   |   05 March 2014   |   Reply

Hi Karin. Nice piece on Seth Goden. I enjoy reading his daily thought-provoking articles. I also have admired him for reaching out to touch real people in ways that changes them forever. Few “famous” people take the time to actually walk the talk in that way. How wonderful that you had the chance to work with him.

letsgrowleaders   |   05 March 2014   |   Reply

Bob, Great to have you join the LGL community and conversation. I read Seth every day as well. I would highly recommend his book Icarus Deception. Here’s a video with Seth Godin where he talks about it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3K7tYdUZZ_c

Steve Borek   |   05 March 2014   |   Reply

Serendipity in play. Here’s how it happened. http://ringoldnet.blogspot.com/2008/01/so-i-met-this-guy.html

letsgrowleaders   |   05 March 2014   |   Reply

Steve, LOVE that story. Thanks for sharing.

Ali Anani (@alianani15)   |   05 March 2014   |   Reply

Karin- it happens that you post mostly during our lunch time here and my real feed is a great post like this one.
As I was reading the post I got so interested in meeting Seth Godin. Because he is such a great motivator and LINKER, I thought of giving him the God_in title (in emulation of linkedin, but it didn’t work because of respect to God, the almighty.

You remind me of an extremely successful manufacturer. He only completed 11 years at school and then worked in different fields before opening “under the stairs” manufacturing shop. In few years he became a millionaire. I invited him as a PhD candidate to a university to lecture about his achievements. Nobody detected he had less formal education, but his persistence, dedication, love and ambition “fooled” the university staff from finding that…till next day when I revealed the secret.
Life is the real educator. It teaches us how to humble ourselves and feed our souls with attention and care to others.

letsgrowleaders   |   05 March 2014   |   Reply

Ali, Terrific. Nice to “have lunch” with you. Terrific story of your manufactuer friend. I love collecting stories of genuine success. Thank you for all you do for our community.

bill holston   |   05 March 2014   |   Reply

i love your example Ali. I have in my office a very creative piece of artwork, the base of a table made by a friend who is a welder. If you were to say, ‘this guy is a welder, ‘ it would not really describe the creative energy and design he brought to this piece.

Ali Anani (@alianani15)   |   05 March 2014   |  

Bill- I like your example, too. Yes, success is not limited to university degrees. In fact, I know of graduates who advanced to the rear post to their graduation.

letsgrowleaders   |   06 March 2014   |  

Bill, I love that story. We are all so much more complex than our titles or job descriptions.

Terri Klass   |   05 March 2014   |   Reply

How exciting Karin! You are an inspirational leader and chutzpah and energy!!!

letsgrowleaders   |   05 March 2014   |   Reply

Terri, You are so kind! Thank you.

Joy Guthrie   |   05 March 2014   |   Reply

Sounds like a wonderful ongoing opportunity. Great suggestions!

letsgrowleaders   |   05 March 2014   |   Reply

Joy, it was an amazing way to spend the day.

bill holston   |   05 March 2014   |   Reply

I LOVE your list of creating a network. I have s small group I get together with for Friday Happy Hour. It’s worked best when it was most diverse. Teachers, Journalists, Judges, Students, crossing political and religious boundaries.Your words really inspire me to be more intentional about building that network.

I see that at work here too. It’s why I always stop.
I heard Seth speak here a couple years ago on the power of story. Really great.

letsgrowleaders   |   05 March 2014   |   Reply

Bill, What a wonderful idea for a regular diverse happy hour. Hmmmmm….. you’ve got me thinking.

Alli Polin   |   05 March 2014   |   Reply

Sounds like an absolutely amazing experience! I love that you put yourself out there and emailed your post. You can’t play big without putting yourself out there.

letsgrowleaders   |   06 March 2014   |   Reply

Alli, So excited for the big stuff we’re up to.

Bill Benoist   |   05 March 2014   |   Reply

Karin,
I would like to say I’m amazed at how far you’ve come in two years, but quite honestly even your first blog post was an enjoyable read.

You’ve done a remarkable job creating and promoting your brand during the past couple of years and I feel fortunate to have found this community of leaders.

Jon Mertz   |   05 March 2014   |   Reply

Very excited for you, Karin! Putting our “art” out there will always open some doors and hone our thinking. Excited to see what unfolds for you in April! All the best, Jon

letsgrowleaders   |   06 March 2014   |   Reply

Jon, There’s such joy in the unfolding. Thanks so much for you support.

Cat Williams   |   06 March 2014   |   Reply

Hi Karin,

A great story and great stories in the comments too. I am looking forward to our ‘lunch’ on Tuesday.
Connections with inspirational people like yourself are vital to keep my own aspirations going, thank you Twitter for bringing us together. I am loving your posts, they fit well with my own, yours from the professional & leaderships perspective and mind usually from a personal one, I feel we are all ‘leaders’ within our home environment as well so honest communication is vital everywhere. Thank you! Cat x

letsgrowleaders   |   06 March 2014   |   Reply

Cat, I’m so looking forward to talking with you. Next week I have “lunch” in Canada, and “dinner” in Australia ;-)

LaRae Quy   |   06 March 2014   |   Reply

Great post, Karin. I have so much more respect for Seth Godin!

One individual I learned tons from was my housekeeper, Donila. I guess I thought her job was just to clean up after me…but I was wrong. She was truly a professional and took great pride in her work. She didn’t cut corners or shuffle through the day.

I thought to myself: she truly inspired me with her dignity and integrity.

Great thoughts can come from any corner…

letsgrowleaders   |   06 March 2014   |   Reply

LaRae, I’m inspired everyday by people I meet who invest deeply in what they do. Thanks for sharing your beautiful example.