Seth Godin on The Game of Life, The Value of Hacks, and Overcoming Anxiety (#476)

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“Perfectionism has nothing to do with perfect.”

— Seth Godin

Seth Godin (@ThisIsSethsBlog) is the author of 19 international bestsellers translated into more than 35 languages, including Tribes, Purple Cow, Linchpin, The Dip, and This Is Marketing. He writes daily at, which is one of the most popular blogs in the world. He’s also the founder of the altMBA and The Akimbo Workshops, online seminars that have transformed the work of thousands of people. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership, and most of all, changing everything. His newest book is The Practice: Shipping Creative Work.

In this episode, we explore many topics, including:

  • The value of hacks
  • The magic of Hamilton
  • What learning to juggle and cultivating creativity have in common
  • The myth of quality
  • What Seth means by “Don’t steal the revelation.”
  • Focusing on generosity instead of anxiety
  • Choosing the ruleset of your own game of life
  • How Joni Mitchell eschewed the safety of the sinecure
  • What you would do if you knew you would fail?

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Brought to you by Athletic Greens all-in-one supplement, Four Sigmatic mushroom coffee, and Tonal smart home gym.

#476: Seth Godin on The Game of Life, The Value of Hacks, and Overcoming Anxiety


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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear the last time Seth was on the show? Click here to listen to our conversation in which we discussed how Seth deals with overwhelm, saying “no” and setting boundaries, long work vs. hard work, how to find your smallest viable audience, crafting April Fool’s jokes, and much more.

#343: Seth Godin on How to Say “No,” Market Like a Professional, and Win at Life



  • Connect with Seth Godin:

Website | Seth’s Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | altMBA | The Akimbo Workshops

Seth’s previous appearances on the podcast: 402, 343177138


Note from the editor: Timestamps will be added shortly.

  • What’s the etymology of the word “hack,” and how does it relate to Seth’s new book, The Practice?
  • What is the specific definition of the word “quality,” and how does it differ from its generally accepted meaning?
  • What makes Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway blockbuster Hamilton more “magical,” in Seth’s estimation, than West Side Story? Perhaps the real question: what is magic, and what does it take to make it?
  • Why hiding behind words like “quality” or “perfection” as a means of postponing action to avoid risk is a cop-out — especially these days.
  • What Isaac Asimov and Gary Gilmore can teach us about writer’s block and other common procrastinations.
  • Examining what we mean when we tell ourselves our work isn’t “good enough,” weighing the real reasons we might opt to take a less challenging path, what it sometimes takes to get us back on the right path, and why generosity doesn’t mean free.
  • “Process saves us from the poverty of our intentions.” -Elizabeth King
  • On the selfishness of authenticity, and why Seth believes the way we act determines how we feel way more often than the way we feel determines how we act.
  • If attitudes are skills, how do we sharpen them?
  • Skills with a disproportionate return on investment that entrepreneurs and creatives should consider cultivating.
  • On anxiety and the futility of reassurance.
  • One of the biggest mistakes ineffective teachers make, and what we should remember if we want to be effective learners.
  • The importance of applying constraints and boundaries to the learning process, and understanding the gift that tension gives.
  • How do you not steal the revelation as a teacher, but create tension so that people will plow ahead with developing a skill or learning something?
  • Examples of how the power of positive constraints have had an impact on Seth — and how they went from being a source of frustration to the core of his useful working life.
  • How would Seth usher a prospective entrepreneur through the process of deciding on constraints before they embark on creating some darling that they’re not willing to kill?
  • How can an entrepreneur or freelancer apply constraints when their plans are already in motion?
  • A nugget from The Practice: Seek joy. But how does one do this?
  • As someone who’s succeeded in zigging where others have zagged, How has Seth chosen the games he has played, and in what ways has this changed over time?
  • What provided Seth with a template to understand the difference between doing fulfilling work and simply training for the outcome? For that matter, what’s so bad about training for the outcome?
  • The Practice is Seth’s 20th book. What is he saying in this one that he didn’t get around to in the 20 before, and what should prospective readers hope to get from it?
  • How would Seth suggest someone literally learn how to juggle, and how does this process figuratively encapsulate the building of resilience necessary for thriving in an ever-changing world?
  • How the way I learned to swim — in my 30s — was similarly counterintuitive but completely effective (and by coincidence, the technique Seth uses to swim every day).
  • In what ways is cultivating creativity similar to learning how to juggle?
  • How does Seth separate genre from generic, and who was Earl Stanley Gardner?
  • With 230 chapters in less than 230 pages, which ones does Seth hope most resonate with readers?
  • How Joni Mitchell alienated her mainstream audience in order to find her smallest viable audience and, ultimately, do better work that didn’t train for the outcome.
  • What would you do even if you knew you would fail?
  • Parting thoughts.