It’s okay to disagree with Seth Godin

Seth Godin
Note: This is not Seth Godin's head. It is a replica.

Seth Godin has shared thousands of ideas, insights and philosophies on his blog over the last few years. I’m a fan of many of them.

He’s a game-changer (see Permission Marketing). He’s got ideas on branding, marketing, as well as your career (see Purple Cow, All Marketers are Liars, and Linchpin). He’s willing to try new things that may not go mainstream but serve a purpose (see Squidoo). And he’s got a loyal following (45,649 followers on Twitter, I don’t know how many RSS subscribers, and I’m not going to look up how many of those books he has sold).

It’s one of those “followings” where people hang on his every word. To the degree that some rush to tweet his new posts even before he does. Or at least to the degree that they feel they need to tell people they’re reading his just-released post right when it’s announced.

That’s all fine. But it doesn’t mean every idea is good or right for your career, brand, or business.

In other words, it’s okay to disagree with Seth Godin.

I’d even highly recommend anyone in marketing be extremely familiar with his ideas, books, and blog. I just don’t think everything he says is gospel and/or advice people shouldn’t question before agreeing with.

Take, for instance, this one: Rehearsing is for cowards. It’s a shorter post, so it’s up to your imagination as to how far you take Seth’s advice. (I say “Seth” though I don’t know him personally. I’d say “Godin” but that’s awfully formal. Work with me here.) The notion is that repetition of something before the first-time performance of that something is bad:

“I’m talking about the repetition of doing it before you do it, again and again. Just drilling it in so you can regurgitate later. Better, I think, as they say, ‘…let’s do it live.'”

Seth ties the neutral word repetition to a highly negative phrase like regurgitating later. Is that what repetition results in, always? I think no. Repetition should be something you do to be the opposite: more smooth, natural and flexible.

If you know you’re stuff cold, you can adapt during that first performance of “your stuff”. If you don’t, you’re reinventing while an audience of one or however many, watches and waits. Seth calls this “exploring” in his post, as though that’s always a good thing. But it’s not always a good thing to explore…when you’re expected to deliver…and you’ve got one shot to get it right.

Athletes repeat their motions in practice so that they can be quicker, more graceful, or more effective when they need to actually perform. If I rehearse for a presentation, I do it so I can feel more confident and prepared (and ultimately more natural).

Rehearsing should result in your ability to adapt on-the-fly, because you know where you’re going. You know the big picture. Exploring sounds sexy, but is that how you want to describe how you pulled off your first impressions and one-time opportunities?

Or maybe I’m just a coward.

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