Seth Godin: Life, the Internet, and Everything

I’m thrilled that almost everyone I meet has no idea who I am and what I do. Because I don’t want lots of people showing up and saying, “I read this, I read this, I read this. Can I have your autograph?” That’s not the point. The point is, will someone come up to me and say, based on what I learned from you I taught 10 other people to do this, and we made something that mattered.

.. Whereas, the other way to think about it is, how few people can I influence and still be able to do this tomorrow? Because if we can influence just enough people to keep getting the privilege to do it, then tomorrow there’ll be even more people. Because we’re doing something genuine that connects, as opposed to doing something fake that’s entertainment.

.. Oprah Winfrey problem, which is that every writer who wanted to make an impact 15 years ago dreamed that Oprah would pick them.

In a media-saturated world, we want to get picked. Like you, every day people show up to me and say, “pick me, put me on your blog.” If you would just talk about me, then my art will reach everyone I want to reach. But if we distinguish that from Darwin, the first lizard that crawled out of the mud and started walking on legs didn’t say to the media, “please pick me so that more for walking lizards could come along.” That’s not the way it worked; it’s bottom-up. So what I say to people is, I’m not in charge of what’s good. I don’t get to pick what’s a purple cow, what’s remarkable — anything. The world is, the bottom is, everybody, I’m on the bottom too, everyone is. So tell 10 people. There are 10 people who trust you enough to listen. And if you tell your thing to 10 people, if you send your e-book to 10 people, if you do your sermon to 10 people, or show your product to 10 people and none of them want to tell their friends, and none of them are changed — then you failed. You didn’t really understand what was good. But if some of them tell their friends, then they’ll tell their friends, and that’s how ideas spread. It’s this 10 at a time — 10 by 10 by 10. How do you put an idea in the world that resonates enough with people if they trust you enough to hear it. Then it can go to the next step and the next step.

.. I don’t have employees, so that way I don’t have meetings. I don’t spend time on Facebook and Twitter because that would be a huge suck of my time, and I could deny that I was wasting time, because everyone does it. The challenge for me with technology is this leveraging me in a way that makes me uncomfortable — that puts me in a spot where I have to dig deeper to do the work that I’ll be proud of. If that’s what it does, that’s what I want.

MS. TIPPETT: So your answer, if it’s harder, what did you say? If it’s challenging…

MR. GODIN: Right. If the leverage makes it harder for me to do that thing I’m defining as art, then I want to do it. The Kickstarter project I did — I did it because it was interesting, not because it was a financially important thing.

MS. TIPPETT: To raise the money for The Icarus Deception?

MR. GODIN: Right. But it wasn’t to raise money; it was to raise a tribe, to get 4,500 people to say, “we haven’t read it yet, but we trust you, go write it.”

.. Now those are pretty high stakes. And it meant I didn’t have any excuses left. I couldn’t say, well my editor wouldn’t let me do it, or my publisher wouldn’t let me do it because they weren’t a factor. It meant that these people trusted me and gave me a tool that could bring it straight to them. That raises the stakes.

.. the opportunity for each of us to be artists is that it’s precisely when you are doing something that no one has done before that you are not going to get the loudest applause, that you will not get picked. And that then requires us to develop some different kinds of internal resources. Right? I mean, how do we internally have faith in what we care about?

 

Trump Hosts Fiery Rally on the Heels of a Whirlwind Week

He ticked off what he said were his achievements — some coming just in recent days — on a laundry list of issues like North Korea, trade and the economy

.. He spoke admiringly of foreign laws imposing the death penalty on drug dealers, and seemed to brush aside the notion of due process as he spoke of American officers grabbing gang members “by the neck” and throwing them in the paddy wagon.

.. He pummeled his favorite targets: Democrats and the “fake” news media. And, always the showman, he dropped a bit of news, revealing the slogan for his 2020 re-election campaign:

Keep America Great. With an exclamation mark, he said.

.. While he will argue that he has done much to restore the country to greatness, he will have to make a case that there is enough left undone that he should be given another term to finish the job.

.. He said he would welcome a battle against another television celebrity who has been a fantasy candidate for Democrats: Oprah Winfrey. But if she runs, he warned a bit ominously, “I know her weakness.”

“Wouldn’t we love to run against Oprah?” he asked. “I would love it. I would love it. That would be a painful experience for her.”

.. dismissing Mr. Lamb as “Lamb the Sham.”
.. He embellished his derisive “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd” nickname for the “Meet the Press” host by calling him a “sleeping son of a bitch.” He said “Pocahontas” — his name for Senator Elizabeth Warren

A Reckoning with Women Awaits Trump

Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the unforgettably forgettable former White House aide in charge of nothing at all, tearfully confessing her global despair. “It’s not going to be O.K.,” she said.

.. Bannon, who is partial to grand pronouncements, acknowledged the political stakes, not least for the President. “You watch. The time has come,” he said. “Women are gonna take charge of society. And they couldn’t juxtapose a better villain than Trump. He is the patriarch. This is a definitional moment in the culture. It’ll never be the same going forward . . . The anti-patriarchy movement is going to undo ten thousand years of recorded history.”

.. When Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary, left his job after charges, and evidence, of abuse from his two ex-wives became public, the President showed not a trace of sympathy for anyone but Porter himself.

.. This was striking. One former wife had obtained a protective order against Porter; the other presented the F.B.I. with a photograph of herself with a black eye, the result, she said, of a beating Porter delivered her while on vacation in Italy. And yet Trump went to great lengths, in a public statement, to sympathize with the “tough time” that Porter was enduring, to praise the “very good job” he had done, and to express confidence that he had a “wonderful career” ahead of him.

.. Trump responded with similar fellow-feeling when charges were levelled at Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, late of Fox News, and Roy Moore, the right-wing former judge who had seemed headed to victory in an Alabama Senate race. (Trump, of course, is unforgiving when it comes to Democrats like Al Franken and John Conyers.)

.. Kellyanne Conway, whose defenses of Trump’s most preposterous statements are sometimes so tortured that they become the stuff of late-night satire, could not bear to back the President on this one. She told CNN that she saw “no reason not to believe” Porter’s former spouses. “In this case, you have contemporaneous police reports, you have women speaking to the FBI under threat of perjury,” Conway said. “You have photographs, and when you look at all of that pulled together, Rob Porter did the right thing by resigning.”

.. It has come to the point when even Trump’s closest aides know that a reckoning is coming. It’s not going to be O.K.

Trump, Oprah and the Art of Deflection

Will American politics return to normalcy in 2021 or 2025? I’m not betting on it.

Deflection as a media strategy has become an art form. Its purpose is to avoid answering a charge by misdirecting it and confusing the issue. It’s often used during crisis.

.. The paparazzi had chased her like jackals, raced after her car in the tunnel, surrounded it, and taken pictures after the crash. Fleet Street hunkered down in confusion, perhaps even some guilt. Then some genius noticed Buckingham Palace wasn’t flying a flag at half-staff. The tabloids rushed to front-page it: The cold Windsors, disrespecting Diana in death as they had in life. They shifted the focus of public ire. Suddenly there was no more talk of grubby hacks. Everyone was mad at the queen.

 

.. Ms. Lewinsky had gone into virtual hiding in 2008, when Hillary last ran, and didn’t want to do it again. So in 2014, just before the cycle got serious, she rather brilliantly wrote a piece for Vanity Fair in which she announced yes, she’d been a victim in a national scandal and the true culprit was . . . the press, the internet and the “feedback loop of defame and shame.”

In fact she was the Clintons’ victim, but she successfully deflected your gaze. Once Mrs. Clinton’s people understood Monica would be taking shots not at Hillary but at Matt Drudge, Ms. Lewinsky’s problem went away.

 

.. The best deflection has some truth in it. The Windsors were a chilly lot, and the internet does amplify a personal humiliation.

 

.. as I watched the Golden Globes. Hollywood has known forever about abuse, harassment and rape within its ranks. All the true powers in the industry—the agencies, the studios—have one way or another been complicit. And so, in the first awards show after the watershed revelations of 2017, they understood they would not be able to dodge the subject. They seized it and redirected it. They boldly declared themselves the heroes of the saga. They were the real leaders in the fight against sexual abuse. They dressed in black to show solidarity, they spoke truth to power.

 

.. They were upset, as Glenn Reynolds noted on Twitter , that you found out, and thought less of them. Anyway, they painted themselves as heroes of the struggle.

 

.. Deflection is brilliant, wicked, and tends to work.

 

.. But could she win? Absolutely.

Oprah is stable. Oprah is smart. Oprah is truly self-made. She has a moving personal story. She has dignity and, more important, sees the dignity in others. She is fully wired into modern media; she helped invent modern media. Reporters and editors are awed by her. People experience her not as radical but moderate. She has been a living-room presence for two generations and is enormously popular. The first poll, published Wednesday, had her leading President Trump 48% to 38%.

 

.. But it freaks you out, doesn’t it? Not that American presidents now don’t have to have the traditional credentials and governmental experience, but that maybe they can’t be fully accomplished and appropriate because that’s boring. History has been turned on its head. In falling in love with celebrity and personality, we are acting not like a tough and grounded country but a frivolous, shallow one.

 

.. I had a disagreement with a friend, a brilliant journalist who said when the Trump era is over, we will turn for safety to the old ways. We will return to normalcy. 

.. No I said, I see just the opposite. We will not go back for a long time, maybe ever. We are in the age of celebrity and the next one will and can be anything—Nobel laureate, movie star, professional wrestler, talk-show host, charismatic corporate executive.

The political class can bemoan this—the veteran journalists, the senators and governors, the administrators of the federal government. But this is a good time to remind ourselves that it was the failures of the political class that brought our circumstances about.

.. at least half the country no longer trusts its political leaders, when people see the detached, cynical and uncaring refusal to handle such problems as illegal immigration, when those leaders commit a great nation to wars they blithely assume will be quickly won because we’re good and they’re bad and we’re the Jetsons and they’re the Flintstones, and while they were doing that they neglected to notice there was something hinky going on with the financial sector, something to do with mortgages, and then the courts decide to direct the culture, and the IRS abuses its power, and a bunch of nuns have to file a lawsuit because the government orders them to violate their conscience . . .

 

.. The idea that a lot had to go wrong before we had a President Trump, and the celebrity who follows him, has gotten lost in time, as if someone wanted to bury it.

Sometimes I see a congressman or senator shrug and say, in explanation of something outlandish, “It’s Trump.” And I think: Buddy, you’ve been on the Hill 20 years, and we didn’t get to this pass only because of him. That’s a deflection.

Is Trump mentally ill? Or is America? Psychiatrists weigh in.

Review of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” by Bandy X. Lee (ed.), “Twilight of American Sanity” by Allen Frances, and “Fantasyland” by Kurt Andersen.

“The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” features more than two dozen essays breaking down the president’s perceived traits, which the contributors find consistent with symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder, sociopathy and other maladies.

.. In his new book, “Twilight of American Sanity,” psychiatrist Allen Frances asserts that Trump is not mentally ill — we are. “Calling Trump crazy allows us to avoid confronting the craziness in our society,” he writes. “We can’t expect to change Trump, but we must work to undo the societal delusions that created him.”

.. And those delusions, Kurt Andersen contends in “Fantasyland,” have been around for a long time. “People tend to regard the Trump moment — this post-truth, alternative facts moment — as some inexplicable and crazy new American phenomenon,” he writes. “In fact, what’s happening is just the ultimate extrapolation and expression of attitudes and instincts that have made America exceptional for its entire history.”

.. The volume’s contributors take solace in Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California, a 1976 case in which the California Supreme Court held that mental-health experts have a responsibility to speak out when they determine that someone poses a physical danger to others.

.. “The majority of mental health professionals tend to be liberal in their leanings,”

.. Noam Chomsky makes an odd cameo in the book’s epilogue, warning that the Trump administration may stage a fake terrorist attack.

.. Allen Frances wrote the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder used in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and he doesn’t think Trump qualifies. In “Twilight of American Sanity,” Frances says the diagnosis requires the patient to experience significant distress because of his condition. But throughout his life, Trump “has been generously rewarded for his Trumpism, not impaired by it,” Frances writes. “Trump is a threat to the United States, and to the world, not because he is clinically mad, but because he is very bad.”

.. He trashes Trump as a “secular antichrist,” a “two-bit, would-be Mussolini,” even an instrument of divine vengeance. “If you were assigned the task of punishing humanity for its original sins,” he thunders, “you could do no better than invent a Donald Trump and give him extraordinary power.”

.. America is delusional not just because it elected Trump, but because it doesn’t conform to Frances’s views on climate change, population growth, technology, privacy, war, economics and guns.

.. Kurt Andersen is here to tell us that America has featured magical thinking and nutty impulses for centuries. Thanks to our mix of religiosity and Enlightenment values — plus the do-your-own-thing vibe of the 1960s and the super-powered distribution channel known as the Internet — Americans have developed a “promiscuous devotion to the untrue,”

.. he chronicles those he considers purveyors of secular and religious pipe dreams, from Cotton Mather to P.T. Barnum, from Walt Disney to Oprah Winfrey. And, of course, from Donald Trump the real estate huckster to Donald Trump the commander in chief.

.. “Fantasyland” reads like the work of an author who comes up with a catchy idea and then Dumpster-dives his way through history for anything supporting it.

.. “Fantasyland” reads like the work of an author who comes up with a catchy idea and then Dumpster-dives his way through history for anything supporting it.

.. “Trump waited to run for president until he sensed that a critical mass of Americans had decided politics were all a show and a sham,” Andersen explains.

At that point, Trump fit right in.

.. writing books lamenting America’s generalized insanity — and the delusions of Trump supporters in particular — may not be the ideal first step to win that trust. For all their expertise in human behavior, these psychiatrists don’t seem well-equipped to coax us out of our current political madness.

Exclusive: Is Donald Trump’s Endgame the Launch of Trump News?

The candidate is considering starting his own cable empire.

He has also discussed the possibility of launching a “mini-media conglomerate” outside of his existing TV-production business, Trump Productions LLC. He has, according to one of these people, enlisted the consultation of his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who owns the The New York Observer.Trump’s rationale, according to this person, is that, “win or lose, we are onto something here. We’ve triggered a base of the population that hasn’t had a voice in a long time.” For his part, Kushner was heard at a New York dinner party saying that “the people here don’t understand what I’m seeing. You go to these arenas and people go crazy for him.”

.. Trump, this person close to the matter suggests, has become irked by his ability to create revenue for other media organizations without being able to take a cut himself. Such a situation “brings him to the conclusion that he has the business acumen and the ratings for his own network.” Trump has “gotten the bug,” according to this person. “So now he wants to figure out if he can monetize it.”

.. Republican candidates have historically used the protracted national election cycle to indirectly land gigs on Fox News or Sirius XM. Election cycles have become veritable job interviews for the likes of Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and others.

.. People around him have looked to the Oprah Winfrey Network—partly owned by Winfrey’s Harpo Productions and Discovery Communications—as a possible model, but OWN, too, was beset with its own issues in its early days. As Winfrey herself once famously noted, “Had I known that it was this difficult, I might have done something else.”