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Zooming in with Seth Godin


Earlier this week I was supposed to see marketing and leadership expert Seth Godin LIVE at the Melbourne Convention Centre. Instead, I logged onto Zoom and participated in a large-scale remote learning exercise involving live interaction with Seth, facilitated discussions via chat, pre-recorded bites of video content, breakout sessions with various others to ponder key questions and share experiences, followed by an invitation to continue the conversation via the private discussion board. There was so much going on that I can see why many in the corporate world are feeling exhausted from their remote meetings and webinars.


Although initially feeling somewhat awkward and annoyed with the format, I eventually got used to seeing the heads of my many fellow participants, being toggled from one room to another, and people being cut off mid-sentence due to enforced breakout time limits.


Here are some key takeaways:

We were asked to consider what kind of leader we want to be, reminded that everyone suffers from imposter syndrome and encouraged to dig deep and act “as if”. Using poignant Ethiochicken and U.S. RSPCA examples, Seth challenged us to use our moral imagination to make change in the world.


There was discussion about the differences between management and leadership, how leaders earn the enrolment of others and step up and take responsibility. The trap of judging whether a decision is a good one based solely on the outcome was highlighted through a Super Bowl analogy.

As with many speaker events the highlight was the Q&A where Seth responded to a wide range of interesting questions from leaders with real life leadership challenges. This remote mode meant the questions were posted and selected so they were on topic. Those who posed the question were spotlighted and they asked their question quickly and humbly. Contrast that with a common live situation where there is often five-minutes of posturing before someone asks a random question to fit their agenda!

You’ll have to guess the questions but here are some of the answers:

  • As a leader, your journey or culture will not appeal to everyone. You can’t get people to go where they don’t want to go, so find people who do want to go there, who do want to follow. “Don’t water it down for everyone, rather enrich it for someone.”

  • On finding the right people: Seth no longer does job interviews and suggests the best way to find out if someone is a good hire is to work with them as a freelancer first.

  • On innovation: Enrol people with the opportunity to solve small problems that are low risk, then encourage incremental learning, often through a series of incompetences and failures. Taking on small problems and succeeding builds a culture where people are willing to try and to make bigger decisions.

  • It’s hard to make decisions in this environment because we don’t have all the data. It’s important to bring data to the table based on how the leader or decision maker sees the world. Take data they need to see and make it louder. For example, customers on video discussing their issues may be more powerful than the readily available calls per agent, hold times figures, for a decision on contact centres, so make the customer data louder.

  • If leaders are good at diversity, they are willing to listen to all perspectives, make a decision - despite it not being their idea, take responsibility and own the decision.

  • Most people just want to be seen, heard and understood, COVID-19 and working from home brings the more human element, people helping people, versus the company line.

So thanks to The Growth Faculty and Seth Godin for pivoting their business model and embracing technology to bring us an engaging session. Having experienced countless Skype, Zoom, GotoMeetings and webinars over the years, this was a well-executed exercise, with a few tweaks recommended for the next audience. I suggest more content from Seth and fewer facilitator comments and breakouts!

What I appreciated most in this experience was the opportunity to see Seth up close and personal, sitting in what I presume was his home office, just like the rest of us. A marked contrast to being in rockstar mode on the big stage!

For me, there is no substitute for face to face connection and sharing of experiences. Post COVID-19 I think LIVE will become an even more valued part of the communication and learning mix. The key is to find the right balance.

PS: I look forward to seeing Simon Sinek in the flesh next year!

#sethgodin

#thegrowthfaculty

#leadership

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