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The Genius of Seth Godin

In his new book, Linchpin, businessman, marketer, blogger, auteur Seth Godin asks the question: Are you indispensible?

Seth, if you don’t know, is a genius. On the first page of Lynchpin he describes what a genius is:

“If a genius is someone with exceptional abilities and the insightto find the not so obvious solution to a problem, you don’t need to win a Nobel Prize to be one. A genius looks at something that others are stuck on and gets the world unstuck”

By that account, Seth is a certifiable genius.

This blog is about making sense of a complex world and Seth is one of those people that does that, paradoxically, by making things simple. Paradox is a hallmark feature of complexity and one of the reasons why the world is so often puzzling to us. Efforts to quell terrorism lead to more terrorism, exercises in control lead to greater instability (for more examples see another great book by Joshua Cooper Ramo) — that sort of stuff.

Seth is a straight-talker without being arrogant or simplistic. He his assertive without being aggressive. He challenges, while supports and understands. He is a rare being and one that I think deserves a blog post and some promotion.

Some examples? In his book “The Dip” he makes the case for quitting. We often hear that quitters never win and winners never quit, yet Seth shows how that’s not the case. It’s thoughtful and strategic quitting that counts.

In his recent interview on CBC’s Spark, Seth courageous says: “If you can’t get over your fear of the stuff that’s working, then I think you need to give up and do something else” . Few people are willing to say this stuff, but its true. We often fear success, because we’re not supported in doing something that doesn’t fit the system of production created for us in work, school and society from the 20th century onward.

Another great interview from Seth (also on Spark) is available here .

Lastly, I want to say that Seth is one who not only speaks but he acts. He invited a couple thousand of his blog readers to get a free copy of Linchpin in exchange for a donation to the Accumen Fund, which aims to transform the lives of people in poverty worldwide, particularly in Africa. I took up this offer. Seth believes that the world works best when we’re able to tap into our natural motive for generosity and to further back that up, he sent me a SECOND book for free to give to someone else. I’ve done one, well five, better in return. I chose to purchase a five copies of the book for each of the members of my research team; a talented group who form a wonderful linchpin for the future of health promotion and social innovation.

I’ve endorsed a product like this because I think it has a message that is necessary in a complex world of rapid change, where making sense is hard and often confusing. But in an age of uncertainty, stress and the collapse of many of our institutions due to rapid change, Seth provides inspiration, guidance and clear-headed thinking in a way that few others have. If I can offer one thing to Seth in small payback for his inspiration in me, the least I can do is write about him and encourage you to follow his lead and, in doing so, follow you own.

The book can be bought online below or from your local independent bookseller:

Amazon (Canada)

Amazon (United States)

Chapters/Indigo (Canada)

Barnes&Noble (United States)

Borders (United States)

design thinkingeHealthfood systemsscience & technology

Amazing Stuff: November 14th Edition

It’s been another busy week filled with lots of ideas, but little time to post them. Expect a lot more on the blog in the coming weeks however as there is too much going on not to discuss.

Thankfully, the rest of the world was still Tweeting, blogging, You-tubing and sharing all kinds of amazing things with us and here are the top ones that captured my attention this week:

1. I love food from all kinds of sources and certainly those that come from animals are the ones I spend the most time thinking about. A new book by Jonathan Safran Foer looks at the ethics and industry of eating animals. I haven’t read the book, but a detailed and insightful review in the New Yorker suggests that I might be thinking a lot more about this in the days and weeks to come based on the arguments that Foer puts forth. Natalie Portman is one who also has thought differently because of this book — this time about vegetarianism and veganism — and she writes her review in the Huffington Post. Read any of the reviews and you’ll know that this is a book making buzz and adding to our already considerable array of options when considering the merits of what we choose to eat. Tofu anyone?

2. Keeping with the contrarian perspectives: have you thought about how healthcare might actually be unhealthy for the planet? This week Ariel Schwartz posted an interesting article in Mother Jones (and replicated in Fast Company ) questioning the carbon footprint of the healthcare industry and whether we ought to be working harder to consider how green our care facilities are. Could a sick planet be coming from healthy humans?

3. While we’re on health care, The New York Times published a story about text messaging for teens as a possible way to engage young people more in health care using mobile phones. Seems like a no-brainer to me, but will it fly in the face of most healthcare organizations, which are a little slow to adopt technologies like this into practice?

4. The international social innovation leadership group, Ashoka, announced the winners of this year’s sustainable food (GMO: risk or rescue?) contest. The blog biofortified was the grand winner. There are some novel ideas and certainly opportunities to expand the dialogue on food safety and security in some new ways through this initiative. GMO good or bad? The answer seems to be: yes.

5. Lastly, Mobifest is coming to Toronto and I was captivated by some of the novel and creative films on display as the finalists in this year’s competition. Mobile filmmaking is getting bigger, better and more creative all the time and I’d encourage anyone interested in looking at one of the futures of film to check this mini and mobile film fest out.