This new episode of The Moment podcast came to me via Hubbo, who is a podcast maniac.
It’s a great hour of conversation between Seth Godin and his friend Brian Koppelman, a movie producer and writer whose most recent project is the Showtime series Billions.
The conversation goes all over the place—they’re recommending books, talking about movies, ranging around the way friend conversations wander—but at the core here is the notion of excellence versus quality. They are not the same thing, we’re told.
It’s just the latest in a long stream of Godinism that I find very helpful.
Here are two things Seth Godin taught me to say:
“What am I waiting for?”
“I made this.”
His way of thinking has influenced me tremendously as I’ve wandered through a life of editing, writing, and making stuff. Years ago, he got me thinking about why I make what I make. Having worked in the book publishing industry for more than a decade, I spent most of my early adulthood certain that the validation of a gatekeeper was essential to success. Nothing was going to happen unless somebody picked me out of a crowd, unless I got a Golden Ticket.
Seth Godin explained to me that this is not true. Success sometimes follows quality, but often it doesn’t. That’s why we need to pursue excellence as the goal, because that is something to treasure no matter what else comes of a creative project.
This was wildly liberating news to me.
What is important is to try—write the book, create the website, knit the sweater—and to find meaning in the making and work hard to make it good. Whatever happens after that comes as a combination of luck, timing, and hard work. But nothing happens without an impulse to create something that is meaningful to me. The world will decide whether it’s meaningful to anybody else.
Seth and Brian talk about fear, how we all have the thing that feeds our fear. Seth Godin calls us to be courageous, to try. “Get the noise out of our heads about fear, and turn it into a noise about opportunity,” he says.
I can listen to that stuff all day long.
PS It’s hard to describe what Seth Godin does. Here’s a Wikipedia glance. He’s a writer and entrepreneur, but most of all he’s a noticer, watching industry and commerce and the creative world and figuring out the overlaps. His site SethGodin.com is a trove.
PSS I am heartened that Seth Godin says he doesn’t use semi-colons. Right on, man!
PSS Seth is about to publish a book that sounds really humane: Catherine Hoke’s A Second Chance. She does work in forgiveness and understanding how raw a deal we’ve given to people we’ve put in prison. She asks: what if you were known for the worst thing we did? We insist that everyone who went to prison walk around the world that way.