What Makes Creatives Successful? Seth Godin Says, ‘A Practice’

Seth GodinOn October 30, “An Evening with Seth Godin” brought the entrepreneur and best-selling author before an FIT audience. Students, faculty, and alumni gathered in the Katie Murphy Amphitheatre for an intimate conversation.

Godin’s career spans five decades and includes the foundation of two companies: Yoyodyne, an unconventional marketing firm, launched in 1995 and sold to Yahoo! three years later; and Squidoo, a user-generated website, founded in 2006 and sold in 2014. Many of his 21 books have become best-sellers. His writing covers topics such as the global landscape post-Industrial Revolution, how ideas spread, and Godin’s particular concept of marketing. “Marketing is anything we do that changes the culture for the better,” he has said.

William Reinisch, associate chair and assistant professor of Entrepreneurship, organized and moderated this event. Reinisch came with a list of prepared questions that Godin, in the interest of being spontaneous, refused to read in advance.

“What’s your advice for young creatives?” Reinisch asked.

“Start developing a practice,” Godin replied. “It’s the practice that enables Diane von Furstenberg to be Diane von Furstenberg.”

Godin’s story is one of perseverance. In 1986, he launched a book-packaging venture operating out of his studio apartment. His first year, he received 800 rejection letters. Taking risks, he said, is an important part of a creative’s career. “If you’re not willing to say, ‘’This might not work,’ then you’re not willing to do creative work,” Godin said.

The first 10 attendees to ask a question received signed copies of Godin’s latest book, The Song of Significance, a manifesto for contemporary workers.

One student asked about an earlier Godin book, Purple Cow, a primer on advertising. “What is an idea you wish you included or explored more to cement the whole idea?”

Godin replied, “I wish I had written in all capital letters: THIS IS NOT A GIMMICK.” (An early, self-published edition came packaged in a milk carton.)

Another student asked: “Do you ever feel lost?”

Godin replied, “It happened about five hours ago!”

—Written by Sydney Bigelow, International Trade and Marketing ’21

The event was presented by the Entrepreneurship Department, the Marketing Communications Department, and the Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology.

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