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Put a Linchpin on That: 10 Nonfiction Books Recommended by Seth Godin

Are you a marketer looking for inspiration for what to read next? Here’s a list of 10 books recommended by Seth Godin, marketer and teacher extraordinaire.
by Joshua H. Phelps | Jul 8 2020

Navigating the modern marketing landscape is no easy feat. Whether we’re offering a product or a service, it can feel like the ground under our feet shifts every few seconds. To steady and guide us, we look for grounding principles to which we can hold fast, sometimes in podcasts, other times in book recommendations.

“Mostly I make a ruckus and I teach people.”
Seth Godin

The works of Seth Godin have provided readers with insights into this ever-changing geography for nearly thirty years. In books like Purple Cow and Linchpin, Godin combines his underlying innovation-forward philosophy with astute observation. In a twist of irony, Godin often advocates against making the safe decision. And he has lived this philosophy as well, experimenting and learning along the way. As a result, his prolific writings have inspired entrepreneurs and industry leaders alike.

Blinkist has had the opportunity to speak with Godin on a few occasions, most recently in the series on the Blinkist app, 2 Minutes with Seth Godin. Godin’s tidbits open up whole panoramas of thinking. Using the metaphor of a marathon to describe a long-term task becomes freshened with his delivery. And that’s just one example.

Seth godin quote

Through reading widely and pulling from a broad spectrum of ideas, Godin has been able to draw these unexpected conclusions that feel obvious once he states them. And in the list below, you will find ten book recommendations from the Blinkist library that have the Godin seal of approval.

Outside the Box

We often place originality on a pedestal and tell ourselves only a select few, like da Vinci or Picasso, can attain it. However, Adam Grant’s book Originals shows us otherwise. Godin says it “will surprise you on every single page.” And indeed, Grant’s often counterintuitive findings cast a new light on generating original ideas, as well as bringing other people on board.

Know When to Hold ‘Em

Resulting, outcome fielding, and CUDOS may sound like up-and-coming meeting buzzword lingo, and they ought to be. Annie Duke uses these terms in Thinking in Bets to define logical fallacies and processes that aid in decision-making. As a professional poker-player, Duke relies on impactful forms of thinking to win, which is likely why Godin said “[t]he first chapter alone will change your life.”

The Long and Short of It

A classic since it was released in 2006, The Long Tail helped define marketing in the age of the internet. Chris Anderson’s book looks at how the internet can cater to more diverse interests and move beyond blockbuster-oriented thinking. Godin’s esteem for the book is so high, he once admitted he wished he had written it.

Push the Start Button

Starting a business often sounds like one of the most challenging endeavors. People spend years in the undertaking. But maybe it’s not quite the mountain climb we picture. That is the argument in Jason Fried’s and David Heinemeier Hansson’s book ReWork. Building from a model that emphasizes leanness and action, ReWork offers a modern vision for today’s entrepreneurs.

To Our Credit

David Graeber’s Debt looks at the titular concept as a cultural invention. Through this anthropological and sociological framework, he illuminates some surprising connections and challenges our received wisdom about the evolution of our monetary systems. These insights led Godin to declare Debt the most fascinating book he read in all of 2015.

Resisting Resistance

What prevents you from pursuing a creative idea? Other peoples’ potential judgments? Your own? These are just a couple of the inhibitive forces Steven Pressfield calls resistors in The War of Art. Luckily, resistors can be surmounted, and Pressfield offers advice and examples from writers, artists, Oprah, and others to show how you can fight through this struggle.

Give It Your Best

We tend to ascribe success to amassing control over resources. Adam Grant poses a strong argument against this thinking in his second book on this list, Give and Take. Grant finds that rather than the people who take at every opportunity, those who give their knowledge and resources actually end up more successful more often. Though there are limits to this as well. Ever one to challenge the status quo himself, Godin has called this book a milestone.

Hustle and Flow

If Give and Take is the textbook, then Thirst is the case study. Scott Harrison’s career started out in the New York City nightlife. He spent years wanting things more lavish and flashier than before. Over time, triggers in his life caused a turnaround that led to him giving more rather than taking. Now, his organization charity: water is a leader in its field.

Avoiding the Void

It’s not enough just being innovative. In fact, it can be a major obstacle. There will always be early adopters, but trying to leverage that into success with more general markets means traversing a tightwire, or Crossing the Chasm, as Geoffrey A. Moore titled his book. Moore offers strategies for accomplishing this feat. Godin lauds the book for deconstructing some of the persistent myths we believe about the ideation and lifecycle of new products.

Dignity and Responsibility

How do you improve charitable giving? After her early experiences trying to help people in the developing world start businesses, Jacqueline Novogratz sought ways to do just that. By questioning certain base assumptions and by putting structures in place that emphasized the dignity and responsibility of the recipients of her organization’s loans, she helped to innovate the approach to charity work. For her contributions, she was listed as one of the 100 greatest living business minds by Forbes magazine in 2017.

When everything seems in flux, it is tempting to dig deep into entrenched forms of thinking. Yet the books Godin recommended encourage us to reassess and innovate where and when we can. As Godin himself has stated, it’s in those kinds of moments where real progress is made.

Go make a ruckus!

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