Seth Godin and the National Stationery Show
As readers of the Stationers’ Guild News are aware, I am a huge fan of Seth Godin. Kudos to Patti Stracher and the organizers of the 2011 National Stationery Show for snaring Mr. Godin – the author of 10 or more books and founder of Squidoo – and enticing him to be the keynote speaker of NSS’s Future Conference - Put it on Paper: The Imporatnce of Pen and Ink in the Digital Age.
Mr. Godin is an enthusiastic and engaging speaker, brimming with ideas and no shortage of courage. He encourages us all to “run straight at the fear factor,” and become a leader. “This is no time for the timid.” Mr. Godin characterizes the stationery business (and other businesses) as an “idea business.” It is our job, as business owners to “spread the story.” Stationery is “not needed anymore” and we need to figure out how to appeal to an audience that may “want” what we have to sell but certainly doesn’t “need” it.
Clearly, spinning our wheels trying to sell stationery and invitations to an audience that doesn’t NEED it is the wrong approach. Mr Godin argues that we need to “create a conversation worth talking about,” and each of us can do this by becoming a “tribal leader” of people interested in listening to your message – not a sales pitch. Our job is to send relevant messages to people who want to hear it and make it a conversation where others can join in and share in the enthusiasm. The “converstation” may not be for everyone, but your ideas – if they are compelling, interesting or simply fun – are likely to resonate with an audience who is attracted to the subject. Mr. Godin argues that society wants you to “fit in” so that you can be ignored. It’s a pretty scary thought, but probably rings true. Leadership requires courage.
Mr. Godin provided a “big picture” view of what you need to do to become a tribal leader. Nevertheless, one of my colleagues was disappointed that he didn’t tell us “what to do.” I think his complaint or observation is valid. Mr. Godin didn’t provide a recipe for success, but he did tell you what may succeed: Ideas that spread! While everyone may have a different slant on Mr. Godin’s presentation, I take away that one should share ideas about causes or issues that we are passionate about. In the case of a bricks and mortar stationery store, I see many engaging ”local” topics that one can unite a tribe that may have little to do with one’s business but would certainly make you stand out as a community leader. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I plan to do just that.
Thank you Mr. Godin and the organizers of NSS for this useful opening to the National Stationery Show of 2011.
Richard W. May
Therese Saint Clair