Here is the audio, video, and transcript from a very good session. Here is part of the episode summary:
Seth joined Tyler to discuss why direct marketing works at all, the marketing success of Trader Joe’s vs Whole Foods, why you can’t reverse engineer Taylor Swift’s success, how Seth would fix baseball, the brilliant marketing in ChatGPT’s design, the most underrated American visual artist, the problem with online education, approaching public talks as a team process, what makes him a good cook, his updated advice for aspiring young authors, how growing up in Buffalo shaped him, what he’ll work on next, and more.
Here is one excerpt:
COWEN: If you were called in as a consultant to professional baseball, what would you tell them to do to keep the game alive?
GODIN: [laughs] I am so glad I never was a consultant.
What is baseball? In most of the world, no one wants to watch one minute of baseball. Why do we want to watch baseball? Why do the songs and the Cracker Jack and the sounds matter to some people and not to others? The answer is that professional sports in any country that are beloved, are beloved because they remind us of our parents. They remind us of a different time in our lives. They are comfortable but also challenging. They let us exchange status roles in a safe way without extraordinary division.
Baseball was that for a very long time, but then things changed. One of the things that changed is that football was built for television and baseball is not. By leaning into television, which completely terraformed American society for 40 years, football advanced in a lot of ways.
Baseball is in a jam because, on one hand, like Coke and New Coke, you need to remind people of the old days. On the other hand, people have too many choices now.
COWEN: What is the detail you have become most increasingly pessimistic about?
GODIN: I think that our ability to rationalize our lazy, convenient, selfish, immoral, bad behavior is unbounded, and people will find a reason to justify the thing that they used to do because that’s how we evolved. One would hope that in the face of a real challenge or actual useful data, people would say, “Oh, I was wrong. I just changed my mind.” It’s really hard to do that.
There was a piece in The Times just the other day about the bibs that long-distance runners wear at races. There is no reason left for them to wear bibs. It’s not a big issue. Everyone should say, “Oh, yeah, great, done.” But the bib defenders coming out of the woodwork, explaining, each in their own way, why we need bibs for people who are running in races — that’s just a microcosm of the human problem, which is, culture sticks around because it’s good at sticking around. But sometimes we need to change the culture, and we should wake up and say, “This is a good day to change the culture.”
COWEN: So, we’re all bib defenders in our own special ways.
GODIN: Correct! Well said. Bib Defenders. That’s the name of the next book. Love that.
COWEN: What is, for you, the bib?
GODIN: I think that I have probably held onto this 62-year-old’s perception of content and books and thoughtful output longer than the culture wants to embrace, the same way lots of artists have held onto the album as opposed to the single. But my goal isn’t to be more popular, and so I’m really comfortable with the repercussions of what I’ve held onto.
Recommended, interesting throughout. And here is Seth’s new book The Song of Significance: A New Manifesto for Teams.