Seth Godin Provides the Sunday Doughnut

Today’s Sunday Doughnut comes to us from Seth Godin. Seth is the author of 15 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 25 languages. 

In addition to his writing and speaking, Seth is founder of, a fast growing, easy to use website. His blog (which you can find by typing “seth” into Google) is one of the most popular in the world. 

Tribes, my personal favorite, was published in 2008 and instantly became a New York Times bestseller. It redefines what it means to be a marketer today–it turns out that leading a movement is the most effective way to spread your ideas. Tribes was named as business book of the year for 2008.

His most popular book is called Linchpin. It was a #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller and made the funky New York Times Bestseller list.

Seth’s latest venture is The Domino Project. The Domino Project is named after the domino effect—one powerful idea spreads down the line, pushing from person to person. The Project represents a fundamental shift in the way books (and digital media based on books) have always been published. Eventually consisting of a small cadre of stellar authors, this is a publishing house organized around a new distribution channel, one that wasn’t even a fantasy when most publishers began.

Seth Godin

The most important lesson I learned about b2b selling happened really early in my career, when I was pitching books in the mid-1980s to the editors at various book publishers.

For me, the goal seemed to be to publish a book that people would buy. After all, that was the business of the publisher, right? If they published books that sold, they’d sell more and their shareholders would be happy, and thus the bosses and thus the editor… I was assuming a congruence of goals.

In fact, that’s not at all the case. The people I was selling to were dramatically underpaid ($19,000 was an excellent starting salary) and not only didn’t get rewarded when a book turned a profit, they often never even found out if it did. A book took a year to come out and another year to pay off, and since there was no sophisticated reporting system in place, most editors had no clue what actually made money.

No, the goal of the editor was to publish books he was proud of. Proud as in a famous author or an erudite one or even a struggling one. Proud as in a topic that was worthy of a book.

I went on sales calls with spreadsheets and proof. They were looking for heart and soul.

It took me 900 (!) rejection letters and a year of total failure before someone taught me about the disconnect.

Think about this when you’re watching the Super Bowl. The people who are in the room with you aren’t watching it for the football. If they wanted the football, they could have watched better games all season. No, people are watching for the pageantry and the event and the camaraderie and yes, even the commercials. The NFL knows that, so they sell the hype, not the game itself.

If you’re selling b2b, it’s really important to understand that selling the right answer is rarely the right answer. What people buy is what they think their boss wants them buy


“People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.” ~Zig Ziglar

8 thoughts on “Seth Godin Provides the Sunday Doughnut”

  1. Technology changes, people don’t. Learn the patterns of emotions, what thrills us – essentially ANYTHING party related, and what turns us off, essentially anything having to do with being responsible for tough choices, and advertising is easy. It’s not that we don’t all make tough choices, or party, but we’re either attracted to pleasure or repelled by pain and those are the two events that are central to life, celebrating and being held accountable.

  2. >, a fast growing, easy to use website

    That’ s probably more than a website, I would see it more like a country of Triiibes. As such Seth is doing what he tell us can be done … build tribes !

  3. Thanks, Bob.
    It makes sense what you write about B2B selling to someone who has a boss.
    Now, let me ask you about selling to *the big boss.* In what ways are they influenced by their employees and management?

  4. Seth’s Response:

    That’s an interesting question.

    Often, the big boss still works for the board or the shareholders, but as you point out, she’s often quite influenced by what everyone else in the organization is going to think. That’s why there’s so much focus involved in b2b selling–it’s quite rare that you can walk in a stranger, meet one person (no matter how high up) and walk out with a sale.

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