The debut of our Untemplater Video Interview Series is with none other than Seth Godin! Seth was gracious enough to chat with us about entrepreneurship, the value of an MBA, the best way to start a company, and his new book Linchpin.
Read below to see the full list of questions that I got to ask Seth and short excerpts of his answers:
Can you tell us about your first entrepreneurial experience?
There is a difference between being a freelancer and an entrepreneur:
Freelancers don’t have bosses; they work for themselves but they get paid for the hours that they work. If they don’t put in the hours, then they don’t make money.
Entrepreneurs build something bigger than themselves. They use other peoples money and they build organizations that can live and die without them.
If you act like an entrepreneur, but work like a freelancer, sooner or later you’ll go nuts or work yourself to death.
You have founded some amazing companies. Can you tell us about the companies that failed?
- The first company that made video tapes of fish swimming in an aquarium for people that couldn’t take care of their fish
- Company that did fund-raising for high school bands selling light bulbs door-to-door
- In the book packaging business, Seth got 900 rejection letters in the first year
There have been many failures that Seth has overcome for every success that he has had.
When you failed, how do you still have the income to continue pushing and starting another company?
Seth’s biggest fear is having to get a job as a “bank teller.” The battle as a freelancer or entrepreneur is to have enough money to make sure that he would never have to succumb to getting a job as a bank teller.
Advice Seth gives:
- Have enormously low overhead and rent
- Keep forward motion with your projects: build new relationships, sharpen skills, push your name out there
With your startups, are you building something that you’re passionate about or are you solving a pain?
Seth has never said, “Here’s a cool thing that’s going to make me money.”
Seth is always looking to change people for the better, to set a positive example, and to build a platform to spread ideas.
Would you advice a young aspiring entrepreneur to do something that she is passionate about or solve a pain?
Seth believes it’s important to be passionate about the process.
If you try to make your hobby into a career, then more likely than not you’re going to end up wrecking your hobby.
What you need to become passionate about is the process of running projects, the process of ideation, the process of thinking through a business model.
Do you feel an MBA is necessary for an entrepreneur or someone looking to move up the corporate ladder?
Seth believes an MBA is dramatically overrated unless you want to become a Management Consultant or Investment Banker. If you don’t want those two jobs AND if you can’t get into the top 4 in Business Schools, don’t get an MBA.
Tell us about the 6-month Alternative MBA Program that you created
9 professionals were chosen to go through a 6-month educational experience with Seth Godin where they learned all the highlights of a traditional curriculum, but more importantly, built things and experienced real-life businesses.
Lets pretend that tomorrow you start with a blank slate. If you wanted to build Squidoo again, what would be your first steps?
The big win on the internet is in organizing micro tribes who want to be a part of what you’re doing and where you’re going.
The challenge is how do you find that tribe and how do they find you. And how do you develop a business model where your tribe decides that they love you and will follow you before they end up giving you lots of money.
There is so much free content online. What is the X-factor that compels someone to pay you money for an Ebook or newsletter
There are only two types of content that are worth paying for online:
- Content that gets you stuff faster than anyone else: Bloomberg
- Information that connects you to other people
People aren’t going to pay for a newsletter or a well written article.
What can people expect from Linchpin
The new economy does NOT reward people who fit in. If you fit in, if you follow the manual, if you are average, if you are obedient, if you do what you are told, if you are compliant, then we will ignore you, mistreat you, disrespect you, and then discard you.
Linchpin shows you how to become indispensable.
Amazing interview Jun. You were really prepared and got him to answer questions that everybody within our age group seems to have. My favorite question was when you asked Seth in regards to how would you approach the internet who’s starting off with a clean slate. I feel I am sort of in that field right now and understand now that I just need to find my tribe and lead them. Thanks for the great content Jun!
No way dude, thats probably not what he means. He means stuff like:
– dont get an expensive office you can’t afford
– dont get ridiculous server crap you need to manage yourself
I think he means “think smart about expenses” not “dont spend anything”.
Cameron Plommer says
Seth mentioned “keeping your overhead low.” Does this mean that you should live below your means in order to be a success. Do I have to eat macaroni when I know how to cook a great meal for a few more bucks? Should I have an angry girlfriend from not going out to get drinks or go to dinner once and a while?
Katrina London says
Keeping your overheads low means being more passionate about what you’re doing than about the wonderful meal you miss today. You miss it today so you can create your dream, certain in the knowledge that your dream will feed you a hundred great meals down the track.
It also means being passionate enough about what you’re doing that you get your girlfriend ON YOUR TEAM. Not necessarily working for you on your project, but getting her on your side, selling her your dream and getting her support for it.
Your lizard brain wrote that comment baby! Shoot it down!
Chris Taylor says
This interview was awesome dude – I love the passion you have for what you do. Great questions too! (Nice and original). I see this is part of a series? Who else do you have on the roster?
Srinivas Rao says
Great interview man. I am really glad that you guys put this up. I learned alot from it and it already generated a ton of ideas in my mind for personal strategy.
Yu-kai Chou says
Bravo my brother.
James Schipper says
He really is a brilliant man. I haven’t spent as much time listening to him as I should, but that was a fantastic interview. Both the questions and answers, Jun.
Alexandre Guertin says
Amazing interview! Did you think about putting it into a podcast? It would be great for people on the go to listen/watch the interview, thanks!
James Toddj says
All great info. The hard part is getting started. Getting an idea you REALLY believe in. An idea so good that you never question its ability to succeed. Because if you doubt your idea or your ability to succeed you’ll slow yourself down and compromise your ability to succeed. The most successful entrepreneurs believed in themselves that they could succeed so even when specific ventures failed they had the energy and enthusiasm to go forward. Successful entrepreneurs are those that believe that its not a question of if they will succeed but when.
Cody McKibben says
Seth & Jun, incredible interview! I was a bank teller for a while, among my 17 or so jobs. 🙂
I’m currently participating in the Personal MBA program, and loving it—I think he’s right about getting the same education without the huge cost. You go to a top-4 school for the network.
Ryan @ Planting Dollars says
Awesome interview and great questions. Lots of stuff I would’ve asked so I was thrilled to find this. Thanks for setting this up Jun.
Financial Samurai says
Cool set up Jun! Nice work getting Seth. Now you don’t need to get your MBA and just push forward!
It’s interesting though, as there is nothing wrong with being a bank teller, and I feel bad for everybody who didn’t go to Haas Berkeley for b-school since he says only the top 4 b-schools are worth it.
Jun Loayza says
There is nothing wrong with being a bank teller. It’s just something that Seth fears.
Seth brings up a good point about B-School. My friend has been accepted into a top 50 B-school, and I’m trying to convince him not to go. The opportunity costs just seem to outweigh the benefit.
Do you have an MBA by any chance?
Financial Samurai says
Yes, went part-time. That’s another angle folks should try, going part-time and having your employer pay the bill. Some great programs such as Wharton, Haas, Stern, and Booth. Why not get a free MBA if you don’t have to skip 2 years of work experience.
Jun, hope you leverage the interview into something even bigger for yourself. Directly ask him to help you support/invest in something, or look for a direct working opportunity!
This was a wonderful first interview for your site. Just listening to Seth Godin makes my brain create great ideas. Now I have to remember not to let the lizard brain talk me out of them:-). Awesome job!!!
Excellent interview! Thanks for sharing this. Loved it.
Doug Wagner says
Everytime I listen to Seth I learn something. Good job on the interview; the questions really covered some good points. Be passionate about the process, keep moving forward and ship… ordering the book soon too.
Tony Ruiz says
I’m looking forward to reading Seth’s new book. I’m interested in Seth’s concept of being an artist because I truly think entrepreneurship is a form of art.
Great interview man
Mike Key - Entrepreneurial Ninja says
Jun you look so much older and professional in your Gravatar and in the interview you looked all of 19. Great interview though man, really a lot of good nuggets in that one. Hope you plan on doing more.
Jun Loayza says
Hahaha.. I guess I’ll grow out some facial hair
Ken Kurosawa says
Thanks for highlighting the failures. (aka: learning opportunities) Successes do a great job motivating people, but failures also teach us that successful people don’t get things handed to them on a silver platter.
I’ll have to re-think the value of getting an MBA.
Yeah, really rethink that. Its not worth it if its not worth it! 😉
Wonderful interview. Thanks Jun and gang!
I’ve really wrestled with the MBA question myself. I always leaned towards real-world experience creating something and learning from your failures. It’s motivating to know that such a wise and well-regarded person like Seth shares the same sentiments about MBAs.
Greg Rollett says
Awesome job Jun! Way to bring the video interviews back with a bang! The new Seth book looks good and so far his points have been interesting to say the least. He was over on Derek Sivers site talking about the music industry and I can really see the similarities between the 2 career paths.
Dope work and glad to see the videos back.
Oh man. Hands down, best interview. These exact questions have been on my mind for the last 3 months.
Seriously, thank you.
I’m curious about the software too.
Jun Loayza says
Here is the software David: http://www.ecamm.com/mac/callrecorder/
Glad we could help 🙂
Daniel Wong says
Thanks Jun! learn so much from the interview. I bought all Seth Godin’s book.. and so far The Dip and Tribe is my favorite one. How did you manage to arrange interview with Seth? Good work, Jun!
I have to specially thank you for the interview summaries, this saves a lot of awful loading time for lousy my connection.
Jun Loayza says
Seth and I go way back. I met him at the sandbox while playing w/ my toy truck in kindergarten 😛
I’m in a deadend job, I really need to take some advice and get some small business going! =) I need to find a niche small company of some sort.
Tyler Gillies says
what software did you use to record this?
Jun Loayza says
I use http://www.ecamm.com/mac/callrecorder/
Wow, something just crystallized here for me.
“If you act like an entrepreneur, but work like a freelancer, sooner or later you’ll go nuts or work yourself to death.”
That my Untemplater friends, is a gold mine. It’s my daily struggle, how and when do I make those mental jumps. How do I know if my game plan and mindset is still in freelancer work harder than I’d like, trying to escape mode, or building something that will be sustainable and product income so I can continue to build ideas and develop process. On the business not in the business.
Nice job getting Seth to come on too!
Mike Key - Entrepreneurial Ninja says
Man, that same line really drove it home for me as well. I just realized I have been working as a freelancer again.
You know, some people have job’s and other people just own their job. Not what I want.
Awesome to see Seth Godin on Untemplater! Loved the interview, really inspiring, thanks again Seth 😀