Since discovering Seth's work, my world has changed because...

it seems I have been lucky enough to tap into an endless well, a reservoir of wisdom, humor, experience, and truth. Seth sends daily, (sometimes multiple times a day,) inspiration in what appears to be a non-threatening, tame email. But, really, the emails are dangerous for this reason: once you know something, you can't unknow it. Seth introduces, draws my attention, spots, names, and wrangles truths that too often we let our politeness or fear or procrastination render unspoken. Quietly, without rancor, Seth speaks it, and puts me in the position as his reader to pick up that truth and make it a part of my operating vision, a part of my drive to action. It's like the jennie out of the bottle, the toothpaste out of the tube. The truth, because it causes new strains of thinking to become developed and to flourish, like the new course a river might forge, becomes a constant source of inspiration, nourishment, as I work to be inspired and inspiring in my own work.

Some truths from Seth that particularly resonate with me:

"No need to wait for someone in a cubicle halfway across the country to decide if you're worthy."

from Validation is overrated
Starting a new project is hard because we are often controlled by an unconscious idea that we need permission to launch. In so many ways, many of the things that I pick up from Seth from Bootstrapper's Bible to Linchpin and hundred of blog posts in between revolve around his idea that we don't need permission from anyone to be creative and contributing in the way we see fit. Thinking we need permission is just another way to appease our fear, or in my case my FEAR. I was and am often scared to death to share a resource, offer an opinion, to elaborate on a perspective, yet I do it with the fear because it is important for me to create new understanding and new visions and wondering in the arena of education.

"Are you doing work worth doing, or are you just doing your job?"

from What's the point

Why is important for me to create new understanding and new visions and wondering in the arena of education? I was asked this very question, in different words, last week at a workshop I was conducting. Many people know that I am involved in inspiring change in education because of a personal crisis that happened 8 years ago with my youngest child. My dinner companion, after hearing the story of my son and how that led me to start working in education asked me so why do you care? As in, so your son is fine and now on his way, why bother? To me, there is no more important work, no more enduring purpose that to ensure that our children, our biological children and other people's children, have the strongest, most relevant, secure foundation that we as a society can give them in the form of their education. When my son's literacy was put at risk from good people just doing their job, I imagined the struggles every adult has that cannot read, the marginalized life that is the reality of the uneducated or the undereducated. When I said, "But, he can't read" more than one replied "but he is such a nice boy." I read Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire. I got bit. Maybe I overreacted in my imaginings, but I am glad I did because I have found work worth doing, and doing, and doing. But really, this work found me. For me, that makes it profound, and way more than work. For me, it's a calling.

"An idea that just sits there is worthless. But an idea that moves and grows and infects everyone it touches, that is an idea virus."
from his book Unleashing the Idea Virus

I am amazed and delight in the power of ideas. All of human history is an activated idea. Yet, as a culture we seem to be burdened by ideas, too much information. Ideas scare us because ideas represent what could be instead of what is and has been. I have ideas and struggle with the fear that works against my putting them into action. Seth's ideas get rooted and grow in new form as they merge with the people who decide to pick them up and tend to them. Being that source of fertile ideas for people's making and mixing with their own is what I seek to do.

"But please, don't do that presentation you did last time."

from The 200 slide solution

I do a lot of public speaking, despite great stage fright. I was so happy to read Seth's post that talked about tons of slides instead of overburdened slides. I share a vast amount in my presentations and offer lots of ideas, seeds to sow, because you never know which seed will find its match in the listener. Despite the similarity of the topics at different venues, I start from scratch each presentation. I do this for me as much as for my audience. I don't get paid to come share has beens and leftovers. I get paid to be fresh, provocative, and inspiring. I can't do that if I am just dusting off a relic from the arsenal. I create a new conversation with each appearance based on what I can determine about my audience, their current understanding, and their comfort level and biases. I create a new conversation with each appearance because I have grown and changed since the last time I talked about a topic. I am certain I have met someone who shared an insight with me that forever changed my ideas. I work to take my audience with me on a journey just outside the doors of their comfortable, habitual intellectual dwelling. Each journey is different and we are both fed, and hopefully forever changed.

"What if the win is the ability to give a true gift?"

from Winning

I could have quoted this whole post because it was so true for me. I thought after reading this post that a good question to ask someone I am about to work with would be about their definition of winning. I try real hard not to work with those that see the world as I win, you lose. It's miserable.

"The product was remarkable enough that just a few happy customers were enough to spread the word. So good that a few happy customers sold it to others. They gathered the tribe."

from Lula's logic

Being remarkable is a strategic advantage like no other. I read Purple Cow in 2003. Sounds simple - be remarkable - but it is difficult and take tremendous intention, effort, and leadership. It takes realignment around the objective of being remarkable. Lots of people in your organization don't want to play. I loved how being remarkable merged with Tribes and the idea and power of developing and harnessing passionate followers. In the independent school world, we have tremendous tribal potential. Word of mouth that is influenced and managed effectively offers great benefits and potential sustainability to our institutions.

"Getting people and organizations in sync is the project of our times."

from Organizing the unorganized

The world has changed. It doesn't matter who was your Paul Revere on this - Thomas Friedman with The World is Flat, 9/11, the Great Recession of 2008, Facebook and the host of other social media tools, or all of the above, we are not going back to the way it was. Our children will not know a world other than how it is today and tomorrow. So, being relevant and in sync involves a tremendous shift that is mired in great emotional briers. Being relevant and in sync requires courageous leadership and insightful creativity. Education has great work to do in this area with predictable and unforeseen obstacles in the path. The obstacles are not financial by and large. The obstacles are lack of imagination, lack of will, lack of leadership, lack of courage. It is a great project for our times least we rob our children of their future.

"The power of this new era is simple: if you want to, or need to, or must lead, then you can. Every leader I have met shares one thing and one thing only: the decision to lead. The secret of leadership is simple: do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow."

from his book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

This last snippet of wisdom and truth from Seth is indicative of what he gives me - simple, to the core, calls to action. Seth inspires me to define my hero's journey and work along the path every day because I believe in what I am doing and because I love the challenge of the work. Without the influence that appears quietly in my inbox yet urgently incites my yearnings, I would not have shipped 5 years ago. I would have mulled over a good idea and waited for someone to ask me to do it. I would have given into fear.

Thanks for the giving, Seth. For me you activate a virtuous cycle if inspiration: take in inspiration, turn out inspiration. Or, as you might say, receive inspiration, ship inspiration. Happy Birthday.


Some of my books have been short... one was under a hundred pages long. It could certainly have been a series of blog posts. And the posts might even have reached more people than the book ultimately did. If my blog posts were counted on the same metrics as bestselling books, every single one would be a New York Times bestseller. Yours too, most likely. Books don't sell that many copies. The goal isn't always to spread an idea. Sometimes the goal is to make change happen. A book is a physical souvenir, a concrete instantiation of your ideas in a physical object, something that gives your ideas substance and allows them to travel. Out of context, a 140 character tweet cannot change someone's life. A blog post might (I can think of a few that changed the way I think about business and even life). A movie can, but most big movies are inane entertainments designed to make a lot of money, not change people. But books? The reason I wrote Linchpin: If you want to change people, you must create enough leverage to encourage the change to happen. Books change lives every day. A book takes more than a few minutes to read. A book envelopes us, it is relentless in its voice and in its linearity. You start at the beginning and you either ride with the author to the end or you bail. And unlike just about any form of electronic media, you get to read the book at your own pace, absorbing it as you go. I published a book today. My biggest and most important and most personal and most challenging book. A book that scared me. It took me ten years to write this book. I'm hoping it changes a few people. Thanks.