Seth Godin: Exposure Can Be Better Than Money

“I can’t teach you about the tactics and mechanics about the work that you do,” the author and entrepreneur recently told a rapt crowd, “but I can talk to you about the leverage that’s available to you.”

Seth Godin: Exposure Can Be Better Than Money

At the beginning of his recent CreativeMornings talk, Seth Godin peppered the crowd with questions, asking: How much of your day is spent working to get better clients? (Or bosses?) How much is spent pleasing the clients you already have? And is pleasing the clients you already have the best way to get better clients?


And that’s only in the first few queries. The next volley: Is a better client someone who pays you more? Or “are you selling your soul and selling out your career by taking someone today who’s going to put you in the wrong box versus choosing your own path to find the client who is capable of giving you the platform you deserve?”

Godin, he of Linchpin, Tribes, and TypePad fame, plays the role of chipper existentialist instigator at SwissMiss‘s monthly CreativeMornings talk. While the whole talk is well worth the watch, let’s pull out a few key points for spiriting your career journey along.

Godin trusts that you’ll be a success.

But what he’s more interested in is knowing whether you’ll matter. To matter, he says you have to do work that transforms people: makes a change happen, makes someone cry, saves a life.

That sense of transformation isn’t only for the person that encounters your art or your work, but your clients and bosses, too: He paraphrases Michael Schrage, an MIT fellow who we excerpted and interviewed that last year asked the Big Question of who do you want your customers to become?

Example: Apple. The genius of Apple was that they made their customers people with better taste, people who cared about what their devices looked like and how it was to interact with them. If they got into design, they’d get further into Apple.

The task for you (and me), then, is to figure out how we want our bosses and our audiences to change. That transformation happens through the work we do for them–and doing work that makes our bosses look good gives potential for forming the platform of exposure Godin speaks of.


“When you think about what change you want to make in your clients, in their customers, in your boss, and you realize that your work can make that change happen,” Godin says, “you’re more likely to do that on purpose.”

And while purpose is the work of a lifetime, it’s also the work of a day.

The Bottom Line: Do the work that makes your bosses–and your company’s customers–better at what they do.

CreativeMornings with Seth Godin

[Image: Flickr user mrgreen09]

About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.