I’ve tried not to share single book sections, but this excerpt from The Icarus Deception is too important to miss.
My work as a business storyteller is sunk deeply into the soil of these ideas. Of humanity, of attention, of trust … of the insane value of long-term thinking in a short-term world.
The fantastic thing is – whoever you are and whatever you’ve got – you can start building these assets today. You don’t need to be rich, or funded, or lucky.
Seth wrote about these assets more than a decade ago. Today they matter even more.
Trust and Permission Assets
In a marketplace that’s open to just about anyone, the only people we hear are the people we choose to hear. Media is cheap, sure, but attention is filtered, and it’s virtually impossible to be heard unless the consumer gives us the ability to be heard. The more valuable someone’s attention is, the harder it is to earn. And who gets heard? Why would someone listen to the prankster or the shyster or the huckster? No, we choose to listen to those we trust. We do business with and donate to those who have earned our attention. We seek out people who tell us stories that resonate, we listen to those stories, and we engage with those people or businesses who delight or reassure or surprise in a positive way.
The same bias toward art exists in the way we choose which ideas we’ll share with our friends and colleagues. No one talks about the boring, the predictable, or the safe. We don’t risk interactions in order to spread the word about something obvious or trite. The remarkable is almost always new and untested, fresh and risky.
Management is almost diametrically opposed to leadership. Management is about generating yesterday’s results, but a little faster or a little more cheaply. We know how to manage the world—we relentlessly seek to cut costs and to limit variation, while we exalt obedience.
Leadership, though, is a whole other game. Leadership puts the leader on the line. No manual, no rule book, no überleader to point the finger at when things go wrong. If you ask someone for the rule book on how to lead, you’re secretly wishing to be a manager. Leaders are vulnerable, not controlling, and they are taking us to a new place, not to the place of cheap, fast, compliant safety.
Stories that spread Assets
The next asset that makes the new economy work is the story that spreads.
Before the revolution, in a world of limited choice, shelf space mattered a great deal. You could buy your way onto the store shelf, or you could be the only one on the ballot, or you could use a connection to get your résumé in front of the hiring guy.
In a world of abundant choice, though, none of these tactics is effective. The chooser has too many alternatives, there’s too much clutter, and the scarce resources are attention and trust, not shelf space.
This situation is tough for many, because attention and trust must be earned, not acquired. More difficult still is the magic of the story that resonates.
After trust is earned and your work is seen, only a fraction of it is magical enough to be worth spreading. Again, this magic is the work of the human artist, not the corporate machine.
– connection, compassion, and humility
We don’t worship industrial the way we used to. We seek out human originality and caring instead.
When price and availability are no longer sufficient advantages (because everything is available and the price is no longer news), then what we are drawn to is the vulnerability and transparency that bring us together, that turn the “other” into one of us.
For a long time to come the masses will still clamor for cheap and obvious and reliable. But the people you seek to lead, the people who are helping to define the next thing and the interesting frontier, these people want your humanity, not your discounts.
All of these assets, rolled into one, provide the foundation for the change maker of the future. And that individual (or the team that person leads) has no choice but to build these assets with novelty, with a fresh approach to an old problem, with a human touch that is worth talking about.
And here’s the thing: All six of these are the result of successful work by artists. These assets aren’t generated by external strategies and MBAs and positioning memos.
These are the results of internal trauma, of brave decisions and the willingness to live with dignity. They are about standing out, not fitting in, about inventing, not duplicating.
The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? (2012) – Seth Godin
On Art |On Attention | On Authenticity | On Average | On Challenging Yourself | On Cliche | On Foundations | On Humans | On Ideaviriuses | On Intangibles | On Leadership | On Permission | On Storytelling | On Your Story | On Tension | On True Lies
Or choose a path towards stories that mean business.
Journey into the art and science of business storytelling. The rabbit hole goes way deeper than you think.
The Business Storytelling Glossary lists the concepts, ideas and definitions that use in my work. Your mileage will vary.
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