An Interview with Seth Godin [Video]

Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of hosting the Chick-fil-A Leadercast Backstage program. I interviewed several notable authors as they came off the stage, including John Maxwell, Sir Ken Robinson, Dan Cathy, Suzy Welch, Frans Johansson, and several others. I thought I would share these with you over the next several weeks.

This one is with Seth Godin. He talked about several topics, including:

  • Why things are the way they are
  • The massive change we are witnessing in almost every field
  • Why the “new normal” is the chance of a lifetime
  • How people can approach change
  • Why we experience stress
  • Why he started The Domino Project and how it is disrupting the publishing industry
  • The old model of publishing compared to the new
  • What kind of push-back has he received from traditional publishers
  • His advice he has for new authors (caution: this is radical)
  • Why authors don’t need to wait to be picked
  • The role of traditional publishers in the future
  • His favorite book out of all the ones he has written (I hadn’t even heard of it!)

Seth was as delightful as always. I could have talked with him for hours.

Question: Of all the comments Seth made, what intrigued you the most? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Chris Cornwell

    Love Seth Godin. Guy is brilliant. He just makes sense. And I just googled “advice for authors.” :)

    • Patricia Hunter

      I’m getting ready to do the same thing, Chris.

      • Chris Cornwell

        Good luck Patricia!

        • Patricia Hunter

          Chris, I guess you noticed that Seth was right…his post and Michael’s were at the top.

    • Ryan Haack

      Same here! hehe

    • Joe Abraham

      I did. What he says is true!

    • Michael Hyatt

      That’s the first thing I did, too. Seth is right: his article and mine are the first two that come up.

      • TNeal

        Bubble burst! Seth is one and two now (subject to change by morning). Darn pesky fella. But will read his and reread yours in the next 24 hours.

        • Michael Hyatt

          Ha, I just Googled it myself. I was #1. I think it must bounce back and forth as Seth suggested.

          • TNeal

            Best laugh I’ve had all day and I’ve got a puppy (plus read Maxwell’s connecting book this morning). Thanks for adding a few more minutes to my life (“a merry heart doeth good…”).

    • Joe Lalonde

      I was tempted to do the same thing when I heard him say that.

    • Anonymous

      Too funny.  I actually googled it as soon as he mentioned it.

    • TNeal

      And I went to Amazon for “Do the Work.” Rats! Too late.

      Hurrah! Seth Godin’s “The Real Revolution” is free right now and perhaps always will be.

  • David Santistevan

    Fascinating interview. I couldn’t turn it off.

    What struck me most was when he said, “All authors should give their first book away. If it only reaches your 20 friends, you’re not a good writer.” Wow. Convicting and challenging.

    • Joe Abraham

      I also like that point! Seth is so frank in expressing his views. I like that.

      • B_schebs

        That is a great Idea, and makes sense.

      • David Santistevan

        Agreed! So challenging.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I thought that was radical advice. But it makes sense.

    • Joe Lalonde

      I liked his point about that also. I’m sure it won’t settle well with a lot of authors though.

      • David Santistevan

        Yea, but authors need to be challenged that way. If they don’t take the advice they may not have what it takes to succeed.

        • Joe Lalonde

          That is true David. I just think a lot of “authors” would not like the response they would get from doing that.

          • David Santistevan

            Yea, probably not.

        • Steven Cribbs

          This is an interesting thought…  When people are trying to figure out their passions, I tell them to try out some different things and see what sticks.  In writing, there is a great allure with the thought of being able to make a lot of money without having to “go to work”.  But, writing does take a lot of work, passion and development of the craft.

          So, writing a book and giving it away is a great (radical) way to start the process.

      • TNeal

        It does and it doesn’t. Kind of depends on how loose the jeans are fitting (cue starving artist theme music here).

    • Matthew Erxleben

      That stuck with me too.  Great thoughts

    • TNeal

      Agree with the general thought here. If you write poorly, your friends will tell you, “Oh, I liked your stuff” (unless they use the word “interesting” or “has potential” instead). The true test is if someone says, “I read your book and liked it,” and your thinking, “Do I know this person?”

  • Pam Cain

    I follow many blogs but there are two I never miss no matter how busy – Michael Hyatt and Seth Godin.  Loved his comment about stress – “wanting to be in two places at once — you want to be there and you want to flee”.  So insightful.  

    • Joe Abraham

      God bless Michael and Seth for the awesome work they do through their blogs! Rich and generous!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words, Pam. I thought his insight about stress was spot-on. I had never heard it put that way, but it makes sense.

    • David Santistevan

      Loved that insight! I fully agree that’s what stress looks like in my life.

    • TNeal

      I’m with you on Michael and I need to add Seth to that list. I enjoyed the two books of his I read. He really pushes the envelope.

  • Patricia Hunter

    Great interview. One I’ll come back to, I’m sure.  Thank you. And what Seth Godin said at the end about you, Michael? So, so true. 

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Patricia. That comment from him was unexpected. Made my day!

  • Connie Brown

    This interview with Seth Godin is an eye opener. I liked his succinct definition of stress as being a state where we want to do two things. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but that exactly explains what I’ve experienced.

    Thanks for offering this interview.

    Leaning into the change going on sounds wise. Seeing the opportunities…

    • TNeal

      Funny how rereading what I’ve already heard highlights the much-needed point. Thanks, Connie, for being one of many who noted Seth’s definition of stress. I think I’m finally getting it.

  • lance cashion

    Seth is great!  Thanks for posting this interview.  Seth’s insights resonate with me in regard to my business and industry.  I WAS 100% immersed in the health insurance industry until one piece of legislation changed everything for me, my family and my organization.  I had become dependent on an old model of doing business that had been successful since my father began in the insurance industry in 1968.

    I was forced to either embrace the ‘new normal’ or shrink away in fear.  I chose the former in early 2010 and it has been the most exciting trip I have experienced in my career.  The only analogy I can use is the experience of surfing.  The hard work of paddling, duck-diving, waiting and choosing the perfect wave from an approaching set unleashes its reward when you balance and ride the wave.  The ‘new normal’ is happening around us. 

    I made a decision to re-purpose my business to break traditional molds within my industry.  We have embraced the idea of being a fiduciary for our clients.  Dynamic custodian teachers who help clients understand the ‘new normal’ and safely navigate the (sometimes) choppy waters.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Good for you for leaning into the change.

    • Theresa Ip Froehlich

      Lance, Change is always challenging, particularly when the “new normal” is much less desirable than the old one. You demonstrated a great deal of courage to acknowledge the new normal and move on!

    • TNeal

      Dusting off my surfing memories to follow your analogy. I don’t know how that translates into the insurance business but I do recognize the power of riding the waves. It’s exhilarating but, as you noted, it takes a lot of work to get to that point. You also have to develop an eye for waves and good timing to catch the right ones. But that doesn’t happen without first getting wet and working your way out to where they break.

      What your analogy does is help me…
      1) Recognize the need to go through a rough start.
      2) Prepare for the ride after the rough.


  • Ryan Haack

    Jeepers creepers…Seth is so engaging!  Thanks for stretching yourself, Mike, and asking difficult and insightful questions.  I appreciate it!

    • Joe Abraham

      Yes Ryan! Add on: And Michael did it with a smiling face! I like that.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Ryan. I was a little intimidated, just because he’s so stinking smart. He is also one of the warmest and most generous people I know.

      • Theresa Ip Froehlich

        Michael, you think Seth is “so stinking smart”. Many in this community here feel the same way about you! :)

        • Michael Hyatt

          Thanks. They need to get out more. ;-)

  • Kathleen Carol Langridge

    I have spent many sermons advocating embracing change and hopefully compassionately helping people to do just that. I loved his give away the first novel idea  and may do just that.

  • Jennifer L Oliver

    Great interview! Seth Godin gave me much to think about today.
    His comment about authors giving their first book away blew my mind. Great concept – challenging opportunity.
    I can’t wait to see the rest of your interviews!

    • Michael Hyatt

      I’m planning to post one a week. I think there are probably 8–10. Thanks.

  • Joe Abraham

    Lots of insights about the new ‘normal’!

    One thing that really grabbed my attention was Seth’s advice to first-time authors about offering their first book free! The reason it was quite interesting was that recently I’ve been talking with a publisher about my first book project and I was weighing different options with regard to sales and marketing. And Seth’s advice is really helpful – but bit risky too! But I like that new ‘normal’ approach! Worth trying!!!

    • Michael Hyatt

      I think so, too.

  • Todd Vaters

    Great stuff. I had to google the piracy-obscurity quote. I’m a musician but have never heard that before. I think what you view as the enemy or opportunity really depends on which model you follow, old or new.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I actually wrote about that in a post called, “How to Protect Your Intellectual Property Online.”

      • Theresa Ip Froehlich

        Gotta find this one. Particularly about protecting blogposts!

  • John Richardson

    I was intrigued on what he said about you, Michael. That when he goes to events like Leadercast, he doesn’t see the other publishers backstage. He doesn’t see them doing community or leadership, like you do. I think that is important in 2011. I think it will make all the difference in who we see publishing in 2021. The companies that get it, will thrive. The rest will slowly fade away.

    • Joe Abraham

      I too agree on that! Long-term success is directly proportional to the number of changes you make on the go! No change, no success.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I was really humbled by what he said. I wasn’t expecting that!

      • TNeal

        But we who have read you and received your publishing world wisdom are not surprised by his view or words. What surprises us (as I’ve already mentioned in response to Richard and in my own comment) is that you are unique or out of the norm. For us, you are truly the “new normal” (which happens to be old hat now for those who’ve followed you).

    • Steven Cribbs

      This really does speak to changes that we see happening in leadership.  Instead of being isolated and issuing commands, effective leaders are engaging the community, being a part of things, giving themselves away to others.

    • TNeal

      That’s what struck me as well, Richard. Since Michael is approachable and open-handed, and he’s the one I’ve connected with through this website, I assume many others in the publishing world are like him. Seth’s comments suggest otherwise.

  • Anonymous

    My two favorite statesmen! This interview made my morning and renewed my motivation. You both are great leaders and influencers. Oh, and … I Googled “advice for authors” and you two hold the top three hits!  

    Now, I’m off to work on my first novel (self-editing in progress). I want to make it the best it can be before I give it away. Thanks, Michael & Seth!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words.

  • Burl Walker

    Two of the four blogs I read every day are your’s and Seth’s. It was great to see both of you combined into one!

    • Anonymous

      What are the other two?

  • Christa Allan

    Seth’s succinct and simple definition of stress may actually help to de-stress me. At least now I can attribute the live-wire churning in my gut to the fact that I’m teaching and wanting to be home writing at the same time.

    I love Seth’s absolute conviction and his no apologies approach to the new normal. The internet is not about scarcity is what resonated for me.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I agree. I thought his definition of stress was enormously helpful.

  • Ivanhoe Sánchez

    Mike, thanks for sharing this with us.  I love it. 

  • Kevin Foster

    Would love to see a lot more of you two together discussing topics!  Thank you!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Maybe our own TV show! (Just kidding.) He is easy to interview, because he is so engaging.

      • Anonymous

        In all seriousness, it would probably work.  You could just go on every episode and ask random questions like “What do you think about eggs?” and just let him go.

  • Karen Jordan

    “All authors should give their first book away. If it only reaches your 20 friends, you’re not a good writer.” As I’ve been weighing which book idea to pursue first, this statement really got me to thinking about it in a new way.  

    • Joe Abraham

      That’s a smart way of looking at things: going for good ideas that others consider as good for them! Have a great book project!

  • Cynthia Herron

    Michael, I would be interested in his advice for new authors. Since I’m a traditionalist, I’m curious what kind of “radical” you’re talking about. I’m more than willing to think outside of the box…but please tell us it doesn’t involve subjecting ourselves to poison darts or anything… : )

    • Michael Hyatt

      Did you watch the video? His radical advice is there. Thanks.

  • Cynthia Herron

    The video’s sound is getting a bit hung up on my computer this morning, but I’m going to give it another go…  : )

  • Randy Kinnick

    Great interview, Michael.  I’m always stretched by the “out of the box” thinking of Seth Godin.  Your interview with him was great as you pulled out some very interesting insights about “the new normal.”  I think, in the church world (which is my field), we must be constantly challenged to adjust how we do things to take advantage of the opportunities our culture is offering for the propagation of the gospel.  Thanks for sharing…with your permission, I would like to share this video on my blog.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, have at it!

      • Randy Kinnick

        Thanks, Michael.  I’ve posted it today (7/5)

    • Steven Cribbs

      I had a similar conversation yesterday about the challenges churches are facing and changes that are necessary to be effective in modern culture.  One of the ideas we noted is the difference between churches that hold on to everything (or even ministry departments within a church) as compared to those that give themselves away – being as concerned with the success of others as we are about ourselves.

      I can definitely see a connection, in the context of church, with the idea of an author giving their first book away…

      • Randy Kinnick

        Excellent point, Steven!  I have been involved in “conferences” where the host church just wanted to share what they’d learned and give away as much as possible.  Their gain was significant too as there was collaboration from the participants as well.  We are actually in early planning stages for doing something similar for leaders in our realm of influence.  It’s exciting.

  • Bryan Patrick


    Thank you for sharing this and thanks to Seth as well for sharing his ideas.

    Apparently the publishing industry is not unlike the industry known as my large, southern, denomination. For those in the Christian church to not embrace change is a slap in the face to it’s founder, Christ Himself. He was the great embracer of change.

    Every time I begin to fear change I always remind myself that it is the natural process of generations. I look forward into digging a little deeper into some of Seth’s writings, especially “Survival is Not Enough.”

    – BP

    • Michael Hyatt

      I just ordered his book, Survival Is Not Enough.” I can’t wait to read it.

      • David Santistevan

        Thanks for the reminder about that book. I’m picking it up as well.

  • R. Leigh

    I enjoyed the entire interview and many of his comments made me smile but only one made my eyes literally pop open. I am one of those sitting in the audience with my arms crossed. :) That has been me on so many levels. I left my testimony sitting on the closet shelf for years convincing myself that I listened to Papa (God) by writing but if He wanted it published, the rest would be up to Him.

  • Anonymous

    I loved this interview. Thanks for posting. He’s such a profound thinker. 

    • Michael Hyatt

      He really is.

  • W. Mark Thompson

    The most intriguing comment to me was a counter intuitively, yet common sense idea. It was when Seth said to write the book, convert it to PDF, give it away.

    On one level, it makes me cringe. On another level it makes me feel like… “Okay… let’s see what you got!” And like he said… you can always charge money for it later.

    With the “giveaway” model, the author still gets paid. It’s just a different kind of payment. We’re not used to that (yet).

    Good video. Looking forward to others.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yep. That is exactly what I have done with my Creating Your Personal Life Plan e-book. I gave it away free to everyone who was willing to subscribe to my e-mail newsletter. Three months later, I have 20,000+ subscribers. It was definitely worth it.

      • W. Mark Thompson

        That’s a great book too. Obviously, with 20,000+ new subscribers! That’s phenomenal!
        (Disclaimer: Results not typical.)

  • ThatGuyKC

    I am a Seth Godin fanboy and have drank the koolaid. Poke the Box and Do the Work are phenomenal books.

    I have been reading Seth’s blog and following Project Domino closely, but haven’t read Linchpin yet. I just bought the Kindle version and am excited to read it.

    Thank you, Michael and Seth for all you do.

    • Steven Cribbs

      I loved Poke the Box and Do the Work as well.  And, I too have waited on Linchpin.  I may pick it up in short order as well.

  • Pete

    Just wanted to say I agree with Seth’s final words. Thanks for being such a great example Mike!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Pete. I appreciate that.

  • Christin

    Oh goodness, it’s hard to choose. I guess I’d have to say his advice about giving away your first book for free. I certainly don’t have a problem with this as I love receiving free stuff, so why not give it!
    My issue is I have to pay a designer with money I don’t have generating from the sale of the eBook. Perhaps I shall have to find a different income stream for that–not a biggie, just need to do a shift in thinking and track.

    Thanks so much for sharing the interview!! Nice to know how to pronounce Seth’s last name as I was pronouncing it God-in, not Go-din. {Sorry about that Seth!}

  • Tracey solomon

    “Don’t wait to be picked.” also- in the back of my mind I have this haunting fear about “giving away” a first book…. I hear my mother’s favorite dating advice: “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” I’m thinking in dating- she has a point- but in publishing, she may be wrong. 

    • Michael Hyatt

      Think of it as a free sample that gets people hooked. You can charge them for every book after that first one.

      • Tracey solomon

        It works at Costco. #justsayin

        I’m looking at e-pub process. If I go this route for the first, I want maximum impact and quality. The project is awesome and deserves it. ;) Besides- it’s about the message, and packaging matters. Ugly (shoddy quality)  e-books (even if free) sit on my Kindle/ Nook but never get read. So do books that use the same stock photo covers……I’m shallow, but honest. 

        I want quality. ;) 

  • Kevin Ward Music

    The strategy for first time authors in so simple and so good!  I love Seth and I love what you do Michael!

  • Jason Fountain

    Awesome video! During the interview Seth mentioned the word “mindset” four different times. I think that is what life comes down to – choosing our mindset. We can choose to try and hold on to the “way it was” or we can embrace the ambiguity and change.

    The other powerful point, as others have mentioned, is the concept of giving away a book. Why is this so hard for us? If you’re like me, my “mindset” is, why would I give my best work away for free? And that is the “scarcity” mindset at work. We can’t give our “best” work away! There will always be plenty more where that came from.

    Powerful, powerful piece! Thanks, Michael for sharing.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, mindset is everything. I agree.

    • Steven Cribbs

      “Mindset” is a powerful concept.  Once we adopt a mindset, it is generally difficult to change – especially difficult to change someone else’s mindset.  I think we hold on tightly to what we have, not as much because we disagree with the future, but because we are afraid of losing what we have or what we think we will have based on our existing mindset.

      • Anonymous

        The catchword used to be “paradigms”.  Every time I think of that word, I remember a student who came in talking about “pair-uh-diggums”.  :-)

        • Steven Cribbs

          “pair-uh-diggums”…I bet that brought a good laugh (at least on the inside)!

          • Anonymous

            I’m afraid I actually laughed out loud. They tell you in education classes not to laugh at students. What they don’t tell you is that sometimes students are really funny.

  • Jon Stallings

    His comment of “Give your 1st book away” It really messes with my logical mind.  I have read Seth’s blog for a while now and he often says to “give it away” regarding a lot things,  not just book. If we can just break out of our old mindsets we can accomplish so much more.  The old saying “what goes around, comes around is true” Give it away and so much more will come back.

  • Dylan Dodson

    I think Seth is a prime example of how when we willingly accept change, we have the ability to be successful. The longer we resist change and new ideas, the harder it is the be successful.

  • Alicia Scott

    Love it. Challenged. Always encouraged to think OUTSIDE the box when I hear or read Seth Godin. Thanks a bunch, Michael Hyatt! Thanks, Seth Godin. And God HELP us to press INTO the challenge instead of running from it. Have thoroughly enjoyed all three Domino Project books thus far.

  • David Barry DeLozier

    Wow! I’ve been a Seth Godin fan since Purple Cow changed my business mindeset in 2004.  Most thought provoking point in this video  for me? “Don’t wait to be picked, push yourself.” You’ve been saying this for some time MH but hearing you and SG verbalize it, something clicked on a deeper level. Look forward to more of these videos!  Question: If Thomas Nelson is really a bank looking for deposits of great ideas, where do you shop for new customers? Still through the traditional “get an agent and get in line” model or is there another way you discover talent?

    • Michael Hyatt

      We do two things: (1) we evaluate proposals sent to us from agents and (2) we comb the market looking for potential authors. We read blogs, attend conferences, and consider referrals from our existing authors and other partners.

  • Joe Lalonde

    Great interview with Seth. He always brings some interesting thoughts to the table.

    The first thing that caught my attention is that he feels eBooks should not cost as much as a traditional book. That is something that has always confused me. A book with less overhead, no printing costs, no shipping costs, etc is the same price, or at times, more expensive than a traditional book.

    The other point that intrigued me was to give away your first book free. It seems counter-intuitive but it makes a lot of sense. You can grab a very large audience with a free product. This will lead to some of them becoming followers and promoters which helps build your base.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve wondered about the price difference as well.  Not only with books, but with online education.

      • Joe Lalonde

        Also with music when the digital format became popular. I wonder if the same adjustments, slow as they may have been, that the music industry has made will occur with other digital formats.

  • Joy DeKok

    Wow! 2 of my favorites in one amazing video. He’s right Michael – you’re doing some great things – thanks!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Joy.

  • David Rockett

    Still believe his advise to “give away your first book as pdf” with the implication that IF it’s good enough, it should  “grow/create your own Tribe” of followers for the next…is most salient. You see the same idea popping up everywhere. Free Youtube music videos largely exposed singer/song-writer Jason Mraz and others…as is the same advice I’ve seen for “Online Product Sellers”…”give your 1st away, and IF it’s good enough to resonate to a Tribe…you are on your way”. Thanks Michael.

  • Maria keckler

    Timely and awesome!  Getting ready to set my first book free :)

  • Kim B.

    I’m not an author, but I am a small business owner since 2004.  Our revenues have increased exponentially every year since 2004, but I have been struggling with knowing when to hire additional staff.  I’ve been saying since about mid-2006 about most everything in my business, “…as soon as things get back to normal….”  At the beginning of this year as I was planning and budgeting for 2011, I declared, “This is the new normal,” and planned in a whole new way.  Seth Godin is right – there is freedom in embracing the “new normal.”

  • Al Pittampalli

    I love Seth’s new approach on publishing. I can hear him talk about it over and over again. The customer is NOT the bookstore, it’s the reader. Great interview…I wish you would’ve talked for hours…I would’ve watched.

  • Kim Bruce

    What resonated with me was pretty much the same as everyone else.  First, the definition of ‘stress’.  Such a simple definition, yet so spot on.  Second, that every author should give away their first book for free.  That inspires me to go for it…write a book…give it away…see what happens.  Like he said, if only my 20 friends read it, then I’m not a good writer, but at least I put something out there and tried, right?

    • Michael Hyatt


  • Chad M. Smith

    I can’t believe how many times during that interview you said, “I can’t believe I just said that.”  : )

  • Anonymous

    Seth Godin called your bluff….but you gave away your book on life planning.

    • Tony Alicea

      Seth was calling his bluff on having a NEW author give away their FIRST book. I thought his boldness was incredible!

      • Dylan Dodson

        Yeah, that was pretty bold (and funny)!

  • Anonymous

    I like you point on shorter books.  I think that Spencer Johnson and Ken Blanchard doing the short book parable look really changed business books.

  • Diane Owens

    The ONE thing that intrigued me the most? I cannot listen to Seth Godin for ten minutes of brilliance and pick just one thing. Ever since I listened to his speech last year at a publishing convention, I have been blown away by his take on where publishing is headed. He is my new Gandhi who is showing us all how to resist traditional publishers. Sorry, Michael, for that comment, but thanks for all that you do for the publishing world!

  • @kylereed

    I have listened to his talk at the chick fil a leadership cast 3 times and took two pages of notes. I am still processing. 

    What I found amazing about this interview is this quote “The enemy is not piracy, its obscurity”
    What a great thought. 

    What is also exciting is that Seth is talking about the new way of doing things and how everything is changing. It excites me because everything is changing and there seems to be no limits. I am excited about that. 

  • Mike Johnson

    I agree with a number of your comment-ers that the most intriguing concept was giving away your first book.  Wow – makes perfect sense.  However, what actually intrigued me the most was the subject matter and that a major publishing CEO was asking the questions.  I think that spoke volumes about you Michael!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Mike.

  • Lynda Smith

    Awesome interview. I am inspired to change my way of thinking.  Thank you Michael!

  • Matt Powell

    Such a fascinating interview… and incredibly creative thoughts.  Honestly, I’m very impressed with your approach to all of this, Michael.  With your experience and ‘investment’ in the publishing world I would expect initial resistance.  But, you seem to be really leading the charge and I’m very encouraged and motivated by that… You exhibit such a great example of not getting stuck in rut… or doing things the way they have always been done… just because that is the way they have always been done.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Matt. I’m most just stumbling along, trying to figure it out.

  • Jack Lynady

    Favorite Comment: was about his book no one’s heard of. That says a lot to me about what and why u write. And even for who.

  • Sarah Siegand

    Totally agree that authors need to pick themselves and give away their first book. Wondering if there is an opportunity for authors to partner with people who know how to turn their work into a pdf (and not just one that is visually uninteresting). I am a graphic designer who used to get work from publishers all the time, but that work is gone now that the industry has changed. Now I am finishing my own written work and able to self-publish it exactly as I see fit because I know the tricks of the trade. What are other authors to do? Is there a forum for them to connect with someone to take their Word doc manuscript to the next step?

    • Michael Hyatt

      You might find this helpful, Sarah: How to Create an e-Book in Seven Steps

      • Sarah Siegand

        Thanks Michael. I think most self-publishing authors have trouble executing step 4 & 5 in a way that looks professional and compelling. Because of your position in the industry, you of course have an understanding for how to space your text, what should be larger, how to ensure copy space on your stock photo — what an advantage. Just wondering if maybe authors and designers still need each other to some degree.

        • Michael Hyatt

          Absolutely, I think they do. I am the exception in that I can both write and design. Design is not something authors should skimp on. This just cheapens the whole book. Thanks.

    • Jack Lynady

      That’s huge Sarah. I’ve been looking at self-publishing. There still seems to be way to much “technical” stuff behind it. WordPress has made it easy to post a blog. Someone needs to make it easy to make an e-book. And also cheep. Seven steps is good. Get it down to one. One website, one app, whatever.

  • Spate1

    How do you see the future for academics who write long books for those who have a lot to learn?  

    • Michael Hyatt

      I am very excited about this, because the books will be able to be delivered less expensively and updated more easily.

  • Anonymous

    Watching this video is like the proverbial drinking from a fire hydrant.  I could listen to him talk for hours.

    Has Godin ever mentioned advice specifically for pastors or leaders of parachurch organizations?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I am not sure. He has spoken at Catalyst several times. As I recall, most of his talks have been applicable to anyone in leadership.

    • Steven Cribbs

      “drinking from a fire hydrant”…I like it!  And, it’s true.  There is so much stuff that it will take time to process.

  • womenlivingwell

    Excellent interview!  I wish you would have talked for another hour!!! Thanks for this!

  • David

    I’m jealous, the video won’t load for me… :>( 

  • W. Mark Thompson

    Just watched the video again. Apart from the great content, you’re a really good interviewer, MH. Wouldn’t say it if it weren’t true. :)

    • Dylan Dodson

      I thought so too. Interviewing is much harder than you would think.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Mark.

    • David Santistevan

      There’s definitely an art to interviewing. Michael did a great job but Seth is also always ready with his thoughts. I think even if Seth had a bad interviewer it would still be a great interview. He’s always ready to share his ideas.

  • Matt Lynn

    “Stress is what happens when you want to be two places at the same time.” An interesting way of putting it.

  • Theresa Ip Froehlich

    I suppose the “Give away your first book” idea is like sitting for a pilot license test. If your first book flies, this proves you have piloting abilities.
    My question is this: if you have a couple of small books to give away but are totally unrelated to the genre or topic of the first book you really want to publish, does this help in any way?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I am not sure that would help. Your first book kind of establishes your brand.

  • Jeremy Santy

    Wonderful interview, thanks for sharing Michael.

    I google’d “the enemy of authors isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity” some interesting articles came up. But, I would love to see a blog post with your perspective Michael! I imagine others would too. Thanks again for sharing this great resource!

    • Michael Hyatt

      I wrote about this a while back using almost this exact same idea, “How to Protect Your Intellectual Property Online.”

      • Jeremy Santy

        Solid. Lot’s of steps in that article that I need to think through. Thanks Michael!

  • Ayoung24

    Aside from his idea to give away your first book, the idea that short is not bad was the most interesting fact. .  With all the digital distraction,  shorter really is better.   

  • Greg Lee

    I think many of us live in the past in relation to what normal was, and now is. Ive often used the phrase “new normal” myself in counseling sessions and in talks with teens in our student ministry. The simple truth is, there is always going to be “new normals.” Its inevitable with no way of skirting around this concept. 

    For myself, I’ve often found and seen the resiliency of todays teens in relation to the idea of new normality in whatever form it takes. This is especially true in the realm of technology and social networking. Somehow, I think teens, today and past, are somehow hardwired to adapt and implement things they are exposed to. That for me says that we have a lot to learn as adults and leaders. 

  • Christine Cape

    I just love Seth Godin opens your mind and makes you think outside of the norm. He challenges each of us to think differently, think in a new way and realize that there are no lines. Great interview. 

  • Gwendolyn Lewis

    Why the “new normal” is the chance of a lifetime.

  • Mary DeMuth

    I like Seth’s mind. I have sort of a crush on it. Having been a rule following girl all my life, it’s been freeing to think beyond traditional and start to embrace ebooks as an entrepreneurial possibility. So on my strategic plan this year, I am developing several ebooks, including some I’ll give away. I’m cautiously optimistic.

  • Diana Trautwein

    this was just amazing – thank you so much for doing this and for helping us oldsters to try and stay in step with the time.  yeah, i’d like to write a book, too.  wouldn’t everyone you’ve ever met??  and I do have some stories and some stuff i’ve learned over a good, rich life.  and i love the idea of a pdf, sent to friends – great help, great encouragement to this particular old broad.  thanks so much.

  • TNeal

    Intrigued me the most? I think his comments about publishers in general and you in particular. How you run your site, what you post on, the people who respond, the books I’ve read thanks to you–all of this seems normal, business as usual, doesn’t everyone do publishing the way you do? (that’s not a question, just the end of an observation).

  • Brooke McGillivray

    Thanks for this great interview.  Giving my first book away for free has me intrigued – – lots of new ideas rolling in my head now.

  • Eric

    Great interview. I’m always amazed at Seth’s view on business and change. He always seems to be ahead of the game. He even seems to rewrite the rules of business. As leaders how do we get to this point?

  • Anonymous

    I Googled “advice for authors”! Next, position my first book as FREE in preparation of the second… absolutely brilliant!!!

  • Robinson Mertilus

    Seth never fails in offering great advice. His suggestion to give your first book away for free used to be  absurd, but now it makes so much sense. I call it “pulling people in.” This gets your message out and keeps people wanting more.

  • Anonymous

    I always chuckle when I see Seth in a necktie.  I know he’s just being courteous for the audience he’s speaking to but it seems to scream conformity when nothing that comes out of his mouth is.

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  • Caleb McNary

    Great interview! You really make room for the speakers to expand their thoughts, I’ve seen a few “pros” that could use a lesson in this art. I can’t wait to see the other interviews you did.

  • Anonymous

    Michael (and Seth),

    thanks for doing this – an excellent interview; I wholly agree with Seth’s comments at the end.


  • Danblackonleadership

    I really enjoyed watching this interview. Seth Godin is great.

  • Beck Gambill

    Hot Dog! That was a fantastic interview! I was intrigued by his whole outlook of work, spreading  information and publishing. His advice on how to share a book to your friends and on from there was great. It made my spine tingle when he said, essentially, if the book doesn’t go past your 2o friends, you’re not a good writer but if it spreads you’ll have an audience, they’ll be standing in line for what’s next. I want to step up to that challenge. I was excited by your conversation about word count, padding, cost, etc. of a book and how sharing smaller books on line has changed the old word count model. I think I’ll have to re-watch the interview and soak up all that great advice! I also agree with his closing remarks, what you are offering to people in information and encouragement is so valuable. I’ve been surprised in the last several weeks to discover that your blog has become my favorite and I look forward to reading each post!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words and for your encouragement!

  • Brad Voigt

    Thanks for posting this and asking such great questions!

  • Tammy Helfrich

    Great interview. Thank you for all you do to bring awareness and insight to relevant topics.

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  • Kim Gentes

    I watched the interview with Seth Godin. I agree with a lot, and yes, Seth is right to call for change in publishing. He is generally a brilliant guy, but I think he is off fundamentally with his understanding of the whole publishing situation.
    At the core of error (in my opinion) is his belief of assessment of zero-value for books. I think he missed it, really. If you listen to what he is saying, he thinks scarcity is equivalent to pricing. That is where he is wrong. Even in a digitally enabled world scarcity does not mean “free”- it means *access*. The answer is to make your products (free or for cost) available to as many people as possible.  This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make them free. Make them accessible, don’t necessarily make them valued at zero. I am not talking dictionary definitions here, but reality of valuation.

    He says that access means “free”. Wrong.  Netflix, Redbox, XBOX, iTunes, Harry Potter books, Starbucks, Taylor Swift concerts, Amazon, and many others are not free- instead, they provide so much access (or even evil advertising about themselves) to their products or offering that people pay for it. You can’t go anywhere without knowing you are just a minute or two from those products. You believe in the value of the products, so you pay money. The fact that they are accessible means you just know its easy to buy when you are ready.

    The problem is that Godin is trying to create an answer in book publishing by trying to superimpose the failure of the music industry on it. That is another error he makes. He is assuming that people think of books and music the same way- make them digital and they should have instant free access. But the truth is people don’t think of books this way. Yes, they may certainly like them in digital formats, that is not the issue. But there is something intrinsically different in books than music. It has to do with people and their understanding of value. Godin loses by trying to assume that people value books at zero, like they do music.  I am not saying that the publishing business isn’t in trouble. It is. But it has something going for it that music never had. And if Godin can’t see that, he is going to miss the real issue with the value of artistic and content based products.

    Again, don’t get me wrong. Godin is brilliant. He is just wrong on this.  He may find a small measure of acceptance, but in large part, thoughtful people who consume entertainment and informational material – readers! – represent the market, not Godin’s idea about giving things away free. There are places for giving away things, and I am not saying that strategy is worthless. But the publishing market (real people) ultimately won’t believe it.  Mark my words. On this one, he’s just wrong.

    Then again, I could be wrong too :)

    btw, I am NOT in the publishing industry. I am saying this to defend some archaic industry that is in dire need of revolution. I am just saying Godin has the wrong answer here. Not saying he isn’t right for trying.

    • Kim Gentes

      woops.. my last sentence was missing a key word. Here is the last paragraph, corrected—

      btw, I am NOT in the publishing industry. I am also NOT saying this to defend some archaic industry that is in dire need of revolution. I am just saying Godin has the wrong answer here. Not saying he isn’t right for trying.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I don’t think Godin is advocating “free” as a business model but as a promotion model. Just look at The Domino Project, his own publishing company. They often give away books at the launch, but then charge. If you try to buy any of the three books they have published so far, you pay for them.

      • Kim Gentes

        You are right Michael. Good point. I was mixing the two – promotional models and business models.  Thanks for correcting me on the distinction. 

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  • BG Allen

    Good job – really appreciate Seth Godin’s challenge!

  • Kev sutherland

    The Domino Project was such an innovative concept. Make the body of work avaiable, and publishers can get excited about that particular work! Seth is smart, and such a forward thinker! 

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  • Anonymous

    This is a great  video. I learned so much by watching it. I have quite a few blog post ideas for my leadership blog. Thank you for sharing.

  • anon

    While Seth is definitely smart and finds creative ways to describe things, I don’t quite understand why people think ‘The Domino Project’ is so revolutionary. There are hundreds (maybe even thousands?) of independent publishers who have been doing what he’s talking about for years. As one of those publishers, Seth’s claim that this is new or original makes me like him a little less (perhaps he has his marketing hat on rather than his truth/reality hat on?). The only thing new or original is that he’s bought Amazon’s line that they’ll take care of him better than a ‘traditional’ publisher. And they probably will because he’s basically now their publisher and spokesman. I’m not sure your average writer will get quite the same deal. Consider this a warning!

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  • Anonymous

    “The enemy is not piracy, it’s obscurity.” This thought is leading today’s new media economy. You see this idea in companies like StumbleUpon and new products like Google +. When people find something valuable, they share it; and if you can find a way to capture that information and then share it in a meaningful way, you have found the “golden marketing ticket.”

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  • MichaelBungayStanier

    Michael – I’m the initiator of the “charity book” that Seth is talking about. Would love to connect with you about it directly – I’m at

    Michael Bungay Stanier

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  • Sophia Dare

    It’s amazing how much I learn even from reading the comments on this site. Thanks for a great interview. I am anxiousto read Seth’s books, and have developed some clarity about an ebook I have been working on.

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  • Dan Baker

    Love it! The same thing is happening in the film world, and I can’t wait. Onward and upwards!

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  • Rick Carter

    Giving a book away idea sounds great and I understand but some books need a price of $10 or 12. Particularly if you’re giving a portion … not 1% but more like 15 or 20% to create a foundation to help solve the need or problem you’ve uncovered … So what do you do then — does it hurt you?  Ways around it?  Thanks Rick =)

  • Chance Smith

    Love it! Give your first book for free. Keep it short and dense, so you can save your reader’s time. Got it!

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  • James

    It still seems odd how few people seem to get it the way that Seth does. God bless him, he gives inspiration to some of us young bucks who look around and see a disconnect everywhere around us.

  • Rocio

    I agree with Seth Godin in his commendations your direction.  I look forward to following your example as people continue to come to my mind whom I would love to interview when I hear things about them. 

    I loved what you said about fluff in the books to justify the price.  I remember talking to my dad about that.  A big reason that I didn’t buy many books for some time was that I didn’t have the patience and wanted the authors to please get to the point.  My dad said they could make books much shorter if it were about getting to the point.  True. 

    A huge thank you to Seth for his thoughts about a free PDF!  I love the idea!

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  • ferdifred

    haha – i love the openness you’re showing here Michael – you were way ahead of your time. You both have amazing presence for the people that want to go public with their voice!

  • Professional Wordpress Themes

    I love Seth Godin and his books…I once watched his interview on TED…Was awesomely inspired since then…

  • Robbie

    Seth’s comments are timeless. Thanks Michael for sharing this interview!

  • Entreb

    Seth Godin is one of my favorite marketers and influencers in our time. Thank you for this interview.

  • Hans-Jörn Eich

    I was never star struck, until…

    In my previous profession as a sound guy, working on gigs with the likes of Tom Cochrane, Shakira, Alanis Morisette, I’ve never really been star struck. One day I had to clip on some lavalier mics onto Seth Godin for a presentation in Toronto. I had been reading his books for many years, and there it was, I wanted to say something smart, but nothing was coming out. It caught me completely of guard. Too bad, here I was fumbling around on his suit and I might have exchanged a few words of wisdom (of course they would have come only from him), but my lips were glued shut.

    Needless to say, I’m a big fan.

  • Kelly Twigger

    Michael, this is a fantastic interview with Seth. He is common sense, and in today’s world, that is brilliant. His message resonates so well with me as I am in a new field of the law where Judges and lawyers alike are sitting back in the chair with their arms crossed as Seth describes and it’s costing everyone a fortune in so many ways. I’d love to be able to use this video on my blog at as part of my message that we need to move forward. Is that something I can do? Thanks for all your work — I follow you on Facebook too and get a lot of value out of what you put out there. It’s inspirational. (I’ve just bought Lynchpin and googled advice for authors, but didn’t get his or your post!)

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Kelly. In terms of re-posting, I think you will need to check with the folks at Leadercast. I don’t own the rights to it. Sorry.

  • Peter M. Beaumont

    Just seen this…….you are indeed a good and comfortable interviewer…

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Peter. I appreciate that.