Seth Godin: Marketer, BootStrapper, Truthspeaker, Nut?
For those of you who haven't heard of Seth Godin, he's sort of a paragon in terms of online marketing, bootstrapping, and generally making things happen. He has a pretty impressive record with connecting people and generally lining things up. I don't happen to think he's a nut, but some of the stuff he does – like offering a $5000 bounty for finding them a Chief Engineer – manages to send ripples throughout huge swathes of the community.
I'm about 10 pages from finishing his Bootstrapper's Bible – Yes, I know you can download it for free, but sometimes I like using dead trees because I can make notes, read it on the train, etc. – and wanted to share some points. I'm going to write a full review at some point and pass it along to BootStrapDC for further discussion.
One of the big discussions revolves around the concept of The Ten BootStrapper Commandments, but I'm only going to talk about the first three here:
First, is Be Audacious. It's basically the idea that you have very little to lose, so get out there and do something huge to shake things up. It makes sense, we're not the GM's, the United's or other companies which have long established history of “professionalism” or bureaucracy that slows us down and encourages people to play it safe. Get out there, make noise, and get some ink. The DotComs had this down pat and Seth's call for a Chief Engineer is exactly that.
Next is Be Cheap. This is where the DotComs fall down. When you're flush with VC cash, you're not encouraged to keep the money in the bank for a rainy day. I was working with a customer – and trusted associate – who runs a firm just outside New York City. I did a top to bottom technology assessment and recommenation for him and recommended a couple different places to cut costs without sacrificing flexibility and power. This applies to everyone. If you can cut costs without sacrificing what you need, do so. Seth recommends getting cheap furniture if your customers don't come to your office. If your customers don't visit, I would say “why do you need an office?” I can't count how many meetings I've done at local Starbucks around Metro DC.
Third is Enjoy the Ride. When you're deep into the code, buried in tax paperwork, or trying to make the big sale, you're not going always going to be having fun. At some point, you need to draw your line and stick to it. If you decide to work 20×7, are you going to enjoy the rest of your life? Are you going to be as effective as you were working 12×6? Do you have something else to do and balance out your life? Make some rules and stick to them. Seth suggests that if you're not enjoying the ride at the beginning, you never will. I'd throw in that if you burn yourself out, it's going to be worse than the worst corporate job you ever had… because here you work is also your home.
Don't worry, I'm going to cover the other points and write a formal review. I just thought this information was good enough to share right now.