002: This Might Not Work: A Conversation with Seth Godin About Art [Podcast]

Note: I originally published this interview on my blog over a year ago, but because it was so good, I resurrected it to include with the launch of my new podcast. Enjoy!

Are you afraid to share your work with the world? Do you secretly worry if you created something that mattered, people would hate it? That’s what making art is all about — and why I wanted to interview Seth Godin.

Seth Godin
Photo credit: Mike Allebach

It’s not every day you get to interview one of your heroes. In this conversation with Seth Godin, I got to do just that. For 34 minutes, we talked about art, fear, and making a ruckus.

It was a lot of fun.

Listen to the interview

Art and the lies we believe

I’ve always wanted an excuse to chat like this with Mr. Godin. When I saw his recent book, The Icarus Deception, come out, I knew I’d found one.

The book is all about how we’ve been deceived into settling for less than we should — in our work, in our culture, and in the way we relate to one another.

The Icarus Deception is a call to resist the model of the factory, make better art, and create connections that matter.

In my interview with Seth, he mentions artists like Amanda Palmer, who raised over a million dollars on Kickstarter, and Shepard Fairey, whose once-free graffiti art now goes for tens of thousands of dollars. Each is an example of generosity, creativity, and how the world rewards art.

I also took this opportunity to ask Seth some things I’ve always wanted to ask (even taking a few questions from the audience). I hope you enjoy our conversation and that it gives you the courage to create your own art.

Interview highlights

We talk about:

  • What Seth is afraid of (yes, he actually has fears)
  • Why generosity wins (and where it comes from)
  • The book he’d recommend to his younger self
  • Whether or not artists should get paid for their work (and exactly how that works)
  • What makes Seth Godin go, “Sheesh!”
  • The name of his upcoming boy band (honest)

Memorable quotes

  • “We can’t have an art factory.” [Tweet]
  • “We don’t reward people who are wandering generalities.” [Tweet]
  • “Knowing where things are is worth more than the things themselves.” [Tweet]
  • “The only thing we want to connect to is art.” [Tweet]
  • “We have been brainwashed into flying too low.” [Tweet]
  • “I’m better off shipping than I am making it perfect.” [Tweet]
  • “The reason we read our reviews on Amazon is to beat ourselves up and to hide.” [Tweet]
  • “If I’m not saying to myself, ‘This might not work’ … then I haven’t pushed myself hard enough.” [Tweet]

Recent books by Seth + how to get a free copy

Seth actually has three new books out (one is a manifesto, another a companion piece, and the third a collection of blog posts). I recommend all of them. They are:

Seth Godin books
Seth’s new books

I bought each of these and loved them. I encourage you to do the same.

Also, because I’m inspired by Seth’s example of generosity, I will give away four copies of The Icarus Deception in the next 48 hours.

Here’s what you need to do to enter:

  1. Leave a review of my new podcast on iTunes.
  2. Tweet a link to this article or like it on Facebook.
  3. Post a comment on this post answering the question below.

That’s it! Good luck. I’ll announce the winners on this page in 48 hours. (Contest ends on April 16, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. CST).

UPDATE: Gary Morris, Todd Brison, Pamela Black, and Walter Ruggieri have been selected as winners for this giveaway. Congratulations!

What’s something you’ve done that might not work? Share in the comments.

182 thoughts on “002: This Might Not Work: A Conversation with Seth Godin About Art [Podcast]

  1. I’m composing a letter I’m sending out to notable and not-so-notable pastors asking their opinions and insights on what stops people from being active and involved in their church. I might not get any replies. It might not work. But I’m going to “ship it”.

  2. I have written some seriously good songs that I have been sharing with friends for 25+ years. Now that my kids are old enough, I’m going to have my daughter record one in particular that we will release on iTunes. Never too late to produce a hit song…

  3. I am starting up my first business called The Gilder Initiative, after economist George Gilder. A volunteer organization designed to help struggling entrepreneurs, artist, musicians and professional sports athletes start, launch and market their product free of charge the first 6 months with optional contracts after. Scary, fun and exciting.

    1. Free for six months? That’s incredible! How do you find the volunteers for it? And how many do you need?

      1. In order to do this we really needed to have three things in place to make it happen. 1) Love the product and/or point of the organization. 2) Be something connections through local churches or recipients could get behind. 3) Work in phases.

        This way no one person is on it for 6 months other than me. We promote the person and or product solely on our page to see if it generates enough traffic (free part). We will end up shortening this time to 3 months in the future. But still only selecting certain business plans.

        1. Wow, what a cool idea. The phase idea really bring it down to earth and makes it practical. Hope it works out!

  4. Hi all! Man, terrific interview. Thank you so much for resurrecting that, Jeff. I’m ten posts into a blog that I’m trying to use to tighten up my tribe of leadership club students here in Kyrgzystan – and I’m running into a dip of sorts now, but have made up my mind to push through. I’ve learned so much just from “shipping” every week, and although the club is small, I’m seeing how writing and building community are going hand in hand.

    By the way, thanks for the thirty day challenge that you kicked off the year with – I tried and didn’t quite make it – and yet after forty days, I got out with over 15,000 words that have been carrying me through the first four months of the year!

    It wasn’t all directly usable, but it really got me moving and on my way to find my voice – nd helped me think through better about what would really resonate with my students!

    Thanks again! And hoping to win a book, haha! But I’m so glad you started a podcast. Excited for all that will come next!

  5. “I’m better off shipping than I am making it perfect.” I dig that. Thanks to Jeff and Seth for bringing perspective. Thanks for everything both of you do to encourage the creators of art.

  6. I’ve spent the past year scaling back my client base so I can focus on writing. Having owned a successful data consulting business for ten years, this “phasing out” process scares me. Of course I know it’s necessary if I want to write. But I’m increasingly aware of the very real possibility that my story, even though its message has the potential to change lives, might not work at all if I tell it wrong. Yikes.

  7. Wow missed it buy 14 minutes. Shouldn’t have taken that break. Well anyway, something that I am trying that might not work… I am trying to build a blog while having a full time job and am hopeful that someday it will mean something a few extra people other than my grandma (thought it means the world to me that it is important to her). I think whether or not something “worked” is relative to the amount of time it takes me to give up on it. Since I never plan to give up, I guess than eventually, it will have worked.

  8. Oops, missed the deadline by about a half hour. What I’m working on right now that might not work (but I hope it does!) is writing a book. I am hoping to publish, hoping to get readers…but right now I’m just working on the writing part!

  9. What might not work…everytime I stepped into the classroom, I wondered…is the prep work I did for 8 hours going to work. i designed it as a frame by which i hang the interest of the learners. If there was no interest, we’d move on to something else: there was always something to learn. I love the learning process and love taking it with those I work with. I loved this interview: it reminds me of what’s real, true, and important…Seth Godin knows and so does Jeff!

  10. It might not work out to be published, but I’m writing a novel (semi-autobiography) about the way I wish my relationship was with my estranged father.

  11. Amazing! Two artists who inspire me so much just kicking it and dropping dimes, love it! Icarus Deception transformed my life can’t recommend it enough, I’l have to check out the other two. Anything by the Godfather is usually gold!

  12. Damn dude, this was awesome! I’ve scoured the internet for Seth Godin content haha, you def got some stuff out of him that I’d not heard before. New fan! Thanks man

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