Seth Godin: Why The New Economy Rewards Risk Not Fear

Beating the fear machine

By Jack Delosa
Thursday, 31 March 2011

Jack DelosaThe industrial age is over. No longer do we have average products for average people.


The factory style model of the industrial age that saw people walk the conveyor belt of traditional education, only to graduate and join a production line, is dead.


In his latest book Poke The Box, bestselling author and entrepreneur Seth Godin discusses how this industrial era taught people to follow instructions. It taught people to wait in line and to act only once they had been given their permission slip.


“Access to so many elements is easier than ever before; manufacturing, finance, freelancers. What’s missing is the person who will say ‘Go’,” Godin says in an email interview.


“We can no longer expect to be rewarded for being a compliant cog in the system.”


Poke The Box is Godin’s manifesto that is designed to get us to start things. To initiate projects in our place of work, to start businesses, build charities or even simply develop new ideas.


“We all grew up with the model of the factory and a job and a product and a paycheck and a career and a boss,” he says.


“What happens when for the best gigs, that goes away? It’s going away right now. The most successful, and some of the happiest people don’t live like that anymore.”


Godin argues that the best businesses and the most successful people are those that start things without being deterred by failure.


In fact, he argues managers should reward failure within organisations because it’s a sign of initiative on the part of the employee.


When asking their people to take on a challenging task, the manager that punishes failure will have very few hands go up.


What Godin didn’t bring up in our discussion, is that he himself is a resounding example of not being deterred by failure.


After he had written his first book he was rejected 900 times before he had a publisher take him on.

Twenty-five years have now past and he has written 13 books that have been translated into more than 30 languages. Every one of them is a bestseller.


Stopping most people from Poking The Box is fear. Godin attributes this to the traditional education system that trains people to do what they’re told and be reactive.


However, if we want to start things and take initiative, we need to do the exact opposite and be proactive.


“Fear,” he states. “Fear that comes from a millennia of evolution and fear that comes from 20 years of organised brainwashing at the hands of school and society.”


The misconception in our culture is that the safe path for people to take is school, university, job, manager, retire, pension.


The truth is that this path doesn’t work for a lot of people with the dream of working their way to financial independence, rarely being realised.


Two thirds of the Australian population will retire on the pension which if you are in a couple, equates to approximately $253 per week each.


This is the outcome for two thirds of Australians after a lifetime of working hard for somebody else.


In today’s economy, the riskiest approach we can take is to play it safe. The safest approach we can take is to take risks.


Start a business outside of work hours, launch a website, initiate a project or develop an investment portfolio. All of these are initiatives that require initiative but when executed well do bring reward.


In an age where personal branding and gaining exposure can make a career, Godin suggests that the end game is not what’s important, it’s the beginning which is crucial.


“The end isn’t the point, the beginning is the point,” he says. “Ship. Blog. Contribute. Find problems and solve them. Donate. Help. Lead. Blog. Step by step, inch by inch, this is where influence comes from.”


In his latest project, The Domino Effect, Godin is revolutionising the publishing world and again poking the box to make sure that ideas worth spreading can spread even quicker.


The outcome of projects like The Domino Project mean that for people with ideas and potential projects, now more than ever is your chance to initiate.


Godin asks, “What would our world look like if more people started projects, made a ruckus and took risks?” Maybe this could be your permission slip.


Jack Delosa heads up The Entourage, offering education and advisory to high-growth companies. Jack specialises in capital raising, acquisitions and exit strategies.

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