When it comes to Seth Godin, I must admit to harboring a bit of “blogger envy.”

Let me explain: For those of you who haven’t heard of him, Seth Godin is a business writer/blogger like myself who (cough) is just a bit more successful than I am at the moment.

To date, Godin has written 18 bestsellers that have been translated into 35 languages. According to his website, they cover such topics as the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, leadership and “most of all, changing everything.” One of those texts, Purple Cow (2009), has had 23 print runs and sold over 150,000 copies.

(I should point out that I’m still working on my first book.)

Mr. Godin also maintains his own daily blog which is admittedly more popular than the one you’re reading now. According to Typepad, Seth’s Blog has 4459 active followers, and in May 2009, it was ranked by AdAge as the #1 marketing blog (out of 976 tracked).

Seth also boasts over 549,000 followers on Twitter.

So it is with this in mind that I focus on Mr. Godin, for this, the latest installment in my “Paradox of the week”* series of posts.


  • On page 18 of his international bestseller, Purple Cow, Godin offers the following anecdote about the creation and success of Cap’n Crunch cereal – an achievement in marketing he seems to feel one might be inspired by, or possibly emulate:

“In 1962, a smart ad agency hired Jay Ward, creator of Bullwinkle, and asked him to make a commercial. He invented Cap’n Crunch and came back with an animated commercial. Then, only after that was done, did the cereal company go about actually making a cereal.”

However, back on page 5 Godin can be found urging companies to “stop advertising and start innovating.”

  • And then on page 30, he makes the following paradoxical assertion:

“My goal in Purple Cow is to make it clear that it’s safer to be risky…”


There is also this from his blog:

  • In an entry titled “Stretching Without Support” (posted June 18, 2016), Mr. Godin chides readers who believe that they need more organizational “support” to succeed in their careers/lives. Although he concedes that with “more education…each of us is likely to contribute even more,” this isn’t absolutely necessary in his opinion:

“It turns out that every day, some people shatter our expectations. They build more than they have any right to… Every day, some people stretch further.”

And “stretching,” he insists, is “under your control, not someone else’s…”

I would agree…however, it would then seem an odd editorial choice to remind readers of the following in that same post: “Sunday is the last day to sign up for the summer session of the altMBA [Godin’s leadership workshop]” which boasts a “safe place to stretch.” (Perhaps “more education” shouldn’t be dismissed quite so quickly after all?)

As for how you might “stretch” your budget to afford the $3,000 in tuition for the 4-week online course? The workshop’s application gently suggests the following:

“(your company may offer reimbursement, ask your HR person)”

So much for “stretching” being under your control necessarily, and not someone else’s, I guess.


See you next week.


Blogger’s notes: In the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that I stopped short of reading Purple Cow in its entirety for two reasons: (1) The book’s focus seems to be more on marketing, as opposed to managing, and (2) it only took me about 30 pages to find what I was looking for.

Biographical information on Mr. Godin was taken from both his website and the Seth Godin Wikipedia entry.


*An instance in which a business or management “expert”/author/advice-giver/guru offers contradictory, or otherwise paradoxical advice, typically without any apparent awareness of having done so. For more on why this happens—or more specifically, why it is all but impossible to avoid—please see my post “Why you can throw out that management advice book (Parts 1, 2, & 3).”