I Emailed Seth Godin And He Totally Responded

I emailed Seth Godin yesterday and he replied within the hour with a direct answer to my query and a couple of links for follow up.

Short. But no so short that he hadn’t paid attention to what I asked him. Clear: “not only this–also that.” Practical but not without heft.

There’s no reason we can’t all engage people with the same level of class and attention. It costs only minutes, and who could argue it doesn’t make us better too?

Bonus: check out Seth’s interview with Tim Ferris (h/t Adam Walker Cleaveland) and his talk to music students at Carnegie Hall.



What Are You Reading?

Cribbing Seth Godin again for this late edition. In this post, he takes down people who aren’t doing the reading. Here’s the money quote:

The reading isn’t merely a book, of course. The reading is what we call it when you do the difficult work of learning to think with the best, to stay caught up, to understand.

So, for those of you in youth ministry, how are you doing the reading? I read everything Kenda Creasy Dean writes, and the research of danah boyd is invaluable. I also like the work that Sherry Turkle is doing on conversation in a digital age, because so much of that work focuses on teenagers and young adults. Andy Root’s writing on the theological foundations of youth ministry seems really important too.

As for non-book reading, the Progressive Youth Ministry conference is a marquee opportunity to think with some of the best youth workers in the church today.

For my money, a Youth Ministry Coaching Program cohort is one of the best ways to do the reading these days.

What about you? How are you doing the youth ministry reading?


Grow Up (Or Don’t?)

In the past month I’ve had conversations with friends who are professors, pastors, and physicians, and who all feel crushed by the state of their work. My Godin-fueled optimism for the opportunities our era affords us to do our work in new ways hits a real barrier in these conversations, because people are up against serious and systemic constraints that can’t be overcome with an attitude adjustment.

The tension in all of their situations is between the desire to make change and the responsibility to endure difficulty for the sake of stability and providing for one’s family. My pastor friend calls it “Being a grownup.” She has tattoos that her congregants don’t know about, and she separates most of her interests and tastes from her pastoral work. She’s miserable, but, she says, this is part of being a grownup. Is she right?

Or take my professor friends. As tenure track positions fade into the professional sunset and colleges and universities employ more and more adjunct faculty as cheap labor, they’re scrambling all over the place trying to make a living by piecing together various temporary, adjunct appointments. There’s got to be a way to break out of that cycle and to do your work in a way that adds value to people, value they will pay you for, but I can’t imagine what that is. So my friends act as grown ups. They’re killing themselves to follow these new rules.

How much of doing meaningful work today amounts to working within the conditions set by your profession, or how much of it, in the “connection economy,” amounts to establishing your own conditions to make your work work for you?


Andrew Sullivan, Ezra Klein, And Megan McArdle vs. Seth Godin on Blogging

Reader Murphy posted a link in the comments to this post about journalism and data. It’s an essay by Megan McArdle lamenting Andrew Sullivan’s retirement that advances angst expressed by Ezra Klein (linked here) on that event that fingers social media as the culprit killing blogging.

Here’s a money quote from that essay:

But the problem with the old model of blogging is not just social media; it’s that blogging is exhausting. Two or three items a day doesn’t sound like a lot, but it takes a long time just to find something you want to write about. And the slowly dying ecosystem of other blogs makes it harder, because there’s no longer a conversation you can just easily hook into. Instead of plopping yourself down at a table where people are already talking, you have to wander through a room filled with people who are speaking to an audience through a megaphone and decide which of these oratorial topics might interest your own audience and a few thousand of their Facebook friends. It’s much lonelier, and consumes more energy, than it was in days of yore.

It’s hard to find something to write about. You can’t just hook into a running conversation. Who knows what your audience (and their social network) wants to read? It’s lonely.

Sullivan said this in the post announcing his retirement:

We’re a tiny team, already stretched beyond any sane life/work balance, with no financial backer, and a work ethic that might be alternately described as manic or masochistic. I’m not the only one exhausted and drained after years and years of intense, always-on-deadline work – not just editorially, but also these past two years in running a small business. We’re a very tight ship as we are, with a drained crew.

Making a career out of blogging seems impossible and, frankly, not worth attempting.

But blogging as a personal discipline that keeps you honest and supplements your other work? There’s nothing stopping us from doing that. You write about personal and professional learnings; you start conversations; you write for yourself first and then see if there’s an audience for what you’re writing. That has always been the harder work of blogging–of all writing.

Here’s Seth Godin’s approach to blogging:

I believe that everyone should write in public. Get a blog. Or use Squidoo or Tumblr or a microblogging site. Use an alias if you like. Turn off comments, certainly–you don’t need more criticism, you need more writing.

Do it every day. Every single day. Not a diary, not fiction, but analysis. Clear, crisp, honest writing about what you see in the world. Or want to see. Or teach (in writing). Tell us how to do something.