• Scott Herring

Seth Godin Is NOT a Renegade

My time is precious. So is yours. And that's why we push the Renegade Style. Who wants to read obvious writing? One of the "get off my lawn guys" of blogging used to be a renegade. Years ago, I read a bunch of Seth Godin's books. He wrote some legendary titles back in the aughts: Linchpin, Purple Cow, Poke the Box... And some of his ideas have withstood the test of time. I'd say Linchpin is still valid -- be so good they can't ignore you. Purple Cow didn't break the ground of being different (neither did we), but it's still critical. Somehow Seth Godin still turns up in my feed sometimes. I don't know if it's Facebook or LinkedIn, but I see his posts go by. Note, I'm not clicking them anymore, but that memorable bald head and glasses with some weird headline shows up. The other day, I clicked on one to see if I was missing anything. I was not. Godin's idea was completely unremarkable. The sky is blue. Pain hurts. Marketing is hard. And since we're espousing our Renegade Style to you, I realized immediately: Seth Godin is not a renegade.

If you've read the books or the blog, you know that Godin is like Jerry Seinfeld, just not funny. He has a headline hook, he tells a story, and you (supposedly) learn a lesson. They're short, simple, and (supposedly) poignant. And yet after reading a few of them (I clicked from the one to the list), I noticed just how useless his messaging has become. One of the most successful bloggers of all time has become quite boring. He's not teaching his readers anything anymore. He's not moving the needle.

"Blasphemy!" you may say. Hear me out. Take a look at these recent posts:

Good writing is cheaper than special effects

Wait, you mean to tell me they pay writers less than CGI programmers? THAT is UNBELIEVABLE. I always believed that the reason the picture cost $100 million to make was they paid a $hit ton of money to the guy with the typewriter. Oh, and applying that to software as a service (one of the markets I work in), you pay the engineers less than sales & marketing? NO WAY. You are lyin'. Well, maybe not, Seth. You see, it's always been that way. Watch a documentary about Apple. Read a book about any technology company. Jeez, go to Starbucks and ask a screenwriter.

Lines and curves

"Curves are complex and hard to get right." Whoa. Mind blown. Who knew that pi was complicated? Who, besides me, flunked engineering calculus because he didn't know trigonometry. Hell, Archimedes gave up on calculating the area of a circle back in ancient times. What is the point? It's pulp.

Writer's note: BTW, I'm reading a great book on the origins & impact of calculus called Infinite Powers by Steven Strogatz to figure out why I flunked.

Use your hips

What the actual eff? I want my money back on this useless article. Use my hips? At work? Did I miss the metaphor? I play a lot of sports, and I'd bet Seth isn't much of an athlete. Using your hips is certainly not all sports. Sure, golf and baseball (swinging) it matters. But I run, and my hips get sore when I have an injury somewhere else. I play beach volleyball, and my core matters way more than my hips. And I write a great deal...with my FINGERS. Don't waste my time, Seth. Tell me something useful.

Luck is not a strategy

STOP THE PRESSES! You mean to say that buying a lottery ticket each week isn't a strategy? Please tell me that my rabbit's foot isn't the best tool on my desk. And dammit, if my horoscope isn't gonna come through this week, I'm doomed. I'm losin' it over here right now. Roman philosopher Seneca famously said “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." ROMAN philosopher. As in a couple of millenia ago. This Godin thought is so not renegade.


At least this post was brief. Meaningless, but as Green Day once said about why their album was only 30 minutes long "we didn't want to waste too much of your time." In this case, however, I want my money back, Mr. Godin. I suppose I'm supposed to spend 10 minutes after reading this nonsense to put meaning to it. Guess what? I won't. I'll just move on to material that teaches me something or at least entertains me.

What It All Means

We don't try to be contrarian -- in that insincere ESPN Steven A. Smith sense -- when we say go renegade. Michael pushes me to use my old skool punk rock attitude and voice. So here I sit, writing in my leather jacket, bondage pants, Doc Martens, telling you I will not get off your lawn. Mr. Godin fills the interwebs with time-wasting materials, while we're here telling you to add some extra jalapeno, take off the sugar coating, write meaningful content, and don't waste your audience's time. If it brings a fresh viewpoint and delivers some kind of value, you're not wasting my time. Your audience will be served. You will not be Seth Godin, most certainly, and maybe, just maybe, you'll be a renegade.


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